MIGUEL VS. CATALINO G.R. No. L-23072 (November 29, 1968)

FACTS:
Simeon, Emilia, and Marcelina Miguel, and appellant Grace Ventura brought suit against
Florendo Catalino for the recovery of the land, claiming to be the children and heirs of the original registered owner, and averred that Catalino, without their knowledge or consent, had unlawfully taken possession of the land, gathered its produce and unlawfully excluded plaintiffs therefrom. The land in dispute is in the Municipality of Tuba, Benguet, Mountain Province, covered by the original Certificate of Title No. 31, which was issued on December 28, 1927, in the name of Bacaquio, a widower. No encumbrance or sale has ever been annotated in the certificate of title. Grace Ventura is the only child of Bacaquio by his first wife, Debsay. Meanwhile, Simeon, Emilia, and Marcelina are his children by his third wife, Cosamang. He had no children with his second wife, Dobaney. All three successive wives have already died. Bacaquio, who died in 1943, acquired the land when his second wife died and subsequently sold it to Catalino Agpayao, father of Florendo Catalino. No formal deed of sale was executed, but since the sale, Catalino Agpayao and Florendo Catalino had been in possession of the land, in the concept of owner, paying the taxes thereon and introducing improvements.

ISSUE:
What is the status of sale between Bacaquio and Catalino?

RULING:
The sale of the land in 1928 by Bacaquio to Catalino Agyapao, defendant’s father, is null and void ab initio, for lack of executive approval. However, it is not the provisions of the Public Land Act (particularly Section 118 of Act 2874 and Section 120 of Commonwealth Act 141) that nullify the transaction, for the reason that there is no finding, and the contending parties have not shown, that the land titled in the name of Bacaquio was acquired from the public domain (Palad vs. Saito, 55 Phil. 831). The laws applicable to the said sale are: Section 145(b) of the Administrative Code of Mindanao and Sulu, providing that no conveyance or encumbrance of real property shall be made in that department by any non-christian inhabitant of the same, unless, among other requirements, the deed shall bear indorsed upon it the approval of the provincial governor or his representative duly authorized in writing for the purpose; Section 146 of the same Code, declaring that every contract or agreement made in violation of Section 145 shall be null and void.

Digest Credit: Shem Gasatan

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