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Digest: Republic v. CA

Digest: Republic v. CA


1)    Private respondents, the Tancincos, are registered owners of a parcel of land situated at Barrio Ubihan, Bulacan bordering on the Meycauayan and Bocaue rivers.

2)    On June 24, 1973, they filed an application for the registration of three lots adjacent to their fishpond property.

3)    The Assistant Provincial Fiscal, in representation of the Bureau of Lands, filed a written opposition to the application for registration.

4)    The private respondents filed a partial withdrawal of the application for registration with respect to Lot 3 in line with the recommendation of the Commissioner appointed by the Court. Lot 3 was then ordered withdrawn from the application and trial proceeded only with respect to Lots 1 and 2.

5)    Petitioner Director of Lands submits that there is no accretion to speak of under Article 457 of the New Civil Code because what actually happened is that the private respondents simply transferred their dikes further down the river bed of the Meycauayan River, and thus, if there is any accretion to speak of, it is man-made and artificial and not the result of the gradual and imperceptible sedimentation by the waters of the river.

6)    The lone witness of the private respondents who happens to be their overseer and whose husband was first cousin of their father noticed the four hectare accretion to the 12-hectare fishpond only in 1939. The respondents claim that at this point in time, accretion had already taken place.

7)    The lower court rendered a decision granting the application on the finding that the lands in question are accretions to the private respondents' fishponds.

8)    The respondent Court rendered a decision affirming the decision of the lower court.



Whether there was accretion under Article 457



None. Article 457 of the New Civil Code provides: "To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters."

Art. 457 requires the concurrence of three requisites before an accretion covered by this particular provision is said to have taken place. They are: (1) that the deposit be gradual and imperceptible; (2) that it be made through the effects of the current of the water; and (3) that the land where accretion takes place is adjacent to the banks of rivers.

The requirement that the deposit should be due to the effect of the current of the river is indispensable. This excludes from Art. 457 of the New Civil Code all deposits caused by human intervention. Alluvion must be the exclusive work of nature. In the instant case, there is no evidence whatsoever to prove that the addition to the said property was made gradually through the effects of the current of the Meycauayan and Bocaue rivers. The Court agreed with the observation of the Solicitor General that it is preposterous to believe that almost four hectares of land came into being because of the effects of the Meycauayan and Bocaue rivers. The witness of the private respondents was incompetent to testify to a gradual and imperceptible increase to their land in the years before 1939. However, the witness testified that in that year, she observed an increase in the area of the original fishpond which is now the land in question. If she was telling the truth, the accretion was sudden. However, there is evidence that the alleged alluvial deposits were artificial and man-made and not the exclusive result of the current of the Meycauayan and Bocaue rivers. The alleged alluvial deposits came into being not because of the sole effect of the current of the rivers but as a result of the transfer of the dike towards the river and encroaching upon it. The land sought to be registered is not even dry land cast imperceptibly and gradually by the river's current on the fishpond adjoining it. It is under two meters of water. The private respondents' own evidence shows that the water in the fishpond is two meters deep on the side of the pilapil facing the fishpond and only one meter deep on the side of the pilapil facing the river.

The reason behind the law giving the riparian owner the right to any land or alluvion deposited by a river is to compensate him for the danger of loss that he suffers because of the location of his land. If estates bordering on rivers are exposed to floods and other evils produced by the destructive force of the waters and if by virtue of lawful provisions, said estates are subject to incumbrances and various kinds of easements, it is proper that the risk or danger which may prejudice the owners thereof should be compensated by the right of accretion.

Moreover, the lower court cannot validly order the registration of Lots 1 & 2 in the names of the private respondents. These lots were portions of the bed of the Meycauayan river and are therefore classified as property of the public domain under Article 420 paragraph 1 and Article 502, paragraph 1 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. They are not open to registration under the Land Registration Act. The adjudication of the lands in question as private property in the names of the private respondents is null and void.

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