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Republic vs. CA

Republic of the Philippines vs. The Honorable Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 106763 May 9, 2001

Gonzaga-Reyes, J.:

Facts: The Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite sold lots with an approximate combined area of 3.1437 hectares, located at Barrio Salinas, in the said municipality, to private respondents’ predecessors-in-interest for P188.20 pursuant to Act No. 3312 and Municipal Resolution No. 89 as amended by Resolution No. 289. Private respondents later filed an application for land registration before the CFI of Cavite, covering the lots. A decision was then rendered adjudicating to the applicants, herein private respondents, the subject parcels of land.

Twenty-five years later, the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) filed with the Court of Appeals a petition to annul the decision of the CFI of Cavite, and to order the restoration or reversion of the subject parcels of land to the mass of the public domain. The OSG alleged that the registration proceedings were null and void for lack of jurisdiction because the parcels of land subject thereof were still classified as forest land; that the OSG was not furnished with a copy of the application for registration and other records as mandated by Section 51, of the Public Land Act; and that the applicants have not shown possession and occupation of the lands in the manner and for the length of time required by section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as amended.

Issues:
1. Whether the sale of communal lands of the Municipality of Bacoor to private respondents’ predecessors-in-interest was authorized by law; and

2. Whether the land registration court acquired jurisdiction over the parcels of land covered by the decree issued on October 7, 1965 pursuant to the decision of said court of August 4, 1965.

Held:
1. ACT 3312 authorized and recognized the sale of communal lands in the municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, to qualified applicants. It is error to say that private respondents, as qualified applicants, could no longer avail of the benefits of Act 3312, due to the subsequent passage of C.A. 141.

There can be no implied repeal of Act 3312 by the subsequent enactment of C.A. 141 as it is a well-settled rule of statutory construction that repeals of statutes by implication are not favored. If repeal of particular or specific law or laws is intended, the proper step is to so express it.10 The Public Land Act is a general law governing the administration and disposition of the lands of the public domain; while Act 3312 is a special law on the sale of lands designated as communal situated in the Municipality of Bacoor in Cavite. The presumption against implied repeal is stronger when of two laws, one is special and the other general; and this rule applies even though the terms of the general act are broad enough to include the matter covered by the special statute. Unless otherwise repealed by a subsequent law or adjudged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, a law will always be presumed valid and the first and fundamental duty of the court is to apply the law.

2. Yes. The Republic as petitioner, does not stand to be deprived of its patrimony, as the said parcels of land had already been declared alienable and disposable and if there is any reversion in favor of the Republic, the land recovered would not be for public use, but for eventual disposition to other private persons. It would be grave injustice and would not serve any declared national land policy to dispossess private respondents of the said parcels of land at this point, only to enable the government to dispose anew the lands covered thereby to subsequent applicants.

Caveat: Anyone who claims this digest as his own without proper authority shall be held liable under the law of Karma. 

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