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G.R. No. 1413. March 30, 1904



Valenton vs Murciano G.R. No. 1413 Facts: In 1860, the plaintiffs, and each one of them, entered into the peaceful and quite occupation and possession of the larger part of the lands described in the complaint of the plaintiffs. From 1860, the plaintiffs continued to occupy and possess the said lands, quietly and peacefully, until the year 1892, by themselves, by their agents and tenants, claiming that they were the exclusive owners of said lands. That on or about the 16th day of January, 1892, Manuel Murciano, defendant -attorney in fact of Candido Capulong, by denounced the said lands to the then existing Government of the Philippine Islands, declaring that the said lands belong to the then existing Government of the Philippine Islands, and petitioned for the sale of the same to him. Andres Valenton filed for protest against the proceeding. On the July 14, 1982

Don Enrique Castellvi ’e Ibarrola, secretary of the treasury of the Province of Tarlac, in executed a contract of purchase and sale to Murciano. From the said 14th day of July, 1892, Manuel Murciano has at no time occupied or possessed all of the land mentioned, but has possessed only certain indistinct and indefinite portions of the same. CFI ordered judgment for the defendant on the ground that the plaintiffs had lost all right to the land by not pursuing their objections to the sale mentioned. Plaintiff contended that in 1890 they had been in the adverse possession of the property for thirty years; that, applying the extraordinary period of prescription of thirty years, found as well in the Partidas as in the Civil Code, they then became the absolute owners of the land as against everyone, including the State, and that when the State in 1892 deeded the property to the defendant, nothing passed by the deed because the State had nothing to convey.


Whether or not during the years from 1860 to 1890 plaintiffs could have obtained as against the State the ownership of the public lands of the State by means of occupation


No. Judgement affirmed. Special laws which from the earliest times have regulated the disposition of the public lands in the colonies not Partidas. Law 14, title 12, book 4 was the first of a long series of legislative acts intended to compel those in possession of the public lands, without written evidence of title, or with defective title papers, to present evidence as to their possession or grants, and obtain the confirmation of their claim to ownership. While the State has always recognized the right of the occupant to a deed if he proves a possession for a sufficient length of time, yet it has always insisted that he must make that proof before the proper administrative officers, and obtain from them his deed, and until he did that the State remained the absolute owner. In the preamble of this law there is, as is seen, a distinct statement that all those lands belong to the Crown which have not been granted by Philip, or in his name, or by the kings who preceded him. This statement excludes the idea that there might be lands not so granted, that did not belong to the king. It excludes the idea that the king was not still the owner of all ungranted lands, because some private person had been in the adverse occupation of them. By the mandatory part of the law all the occupants of the public lands are required to produce before the authorities named, and within a time to be fixed by them, their title papers. And those who had good title or showed prescription were to be protected in their holdings. It is apparent that it was not the intention of the law that mere possession for a length of time should make the possessors the owners of the lands possessed by them without any action on the part of the authorities. It is plain that they were required to present their claims to the authorities and obtain a confirmation thereof. What the period of prescription mentioned in this law was does not appear, but later, in 1646, law 19 of the same title declared "that no one shall be ’admitted to adjustment ’ unless he has possessed the lands for ten years."

Another legislative act of the same character was the royal cedula of October 15, 1754 (4 Legislacion Ultramarina, Rodriguez San Pedro, 673). The wording of this law is much stronger than that of law 14. As is seen by the terms of article 3, any person whatever who occupied any public land was required to present the instruments by virtue of which he was in possession, within a time to be fixed by the authorities, and he was warned that if he did not do so he would be evicted from his land and it would be granted to others. By terms of article 4 those possessors to whom grants had been made prior to 1700, were entitled to have such grants confirmed, and it was also provided that not being able to prove any grant it should be sufficient to prove that prove "that ancient possession," as a sufficient title by prescription, and they should be confirmed in their holdings. "That ancient possession" would be at least fifty-four years, for it would have to date from prior to 1700. Under article 5, where the possession dated from 1700, no confirmation could be granted on proof of prescription alone.


The length of possession required to be proved before the Government would issue a deed has varied in different colonies and at different times. In the Philippines, as has been seen, it was at one time ten years, at another time fifty-four years at least. In Cuba, by the royal cedula of April 24, 1833, to obtain a deed one had to prove, as to uncultivated lands, a possession of one hundred years, and as to cultivated lands a possession of fifty years. In the same islands, by the royal order of July 16, 1819, a possession of forty years was sufficient.

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