Land Titles and Deeds Bar Exam Questions and Suggested Answers

Here is the PDF version of all LTD-related Q&As in the Bar Exams from 1979 to 2019

Application for Registration

2013

(2013 BAR) Michael was born on 12 March 1940 in a 1000-square meter property where he grew up helping his father, Michael, cultivate the land. Michael has lived on the property since the land was opened for settlement at about the time of the Commonwealth government in 1935, but for some reason never secured any title to the property other than a tax declaration in his name. He has held the property through the years in the concept of an owner and his stay was uncontested by others. He has also conscientiously and continuously paid the realty taxes on the land. Michael died in 2000 and Manuel – as Michael’s only son and heir – now wants to secure and register title to the land in his own name. He consults you for legal advice as he wants to perfect his title to the land and secure its registration in his name.

A.) What are the laws that you need to consider in advising Manuel on how he can perfect his title and register the land in his name? Explain the relevance of these laws to your projected course of action.

PD 1529 Section 14(1) as amended by RA 11573 or Section 48(b) of CA 141- should be considered provided that the “opening of the land for settlement” includes an express declaration that the land has been classified as A&D and no longer reserved for public use, service or development of national wealth. The other elements such as OCEN occupation in the concept of an owner and for at least 20 years (under RA 11573, July 16, 2021 amendment) are already evident in the facts as Michael’s father has been cultivating and paying the taxes for the land since 1940.

Section 14(2) as amended by RA 11573 – that they have acquired the land through extraordinary acquisitive prescription. Provided, that the land has been classified as patrimonial land for at least 30 years at the time of prescription.

If application is based on Sec. 14(1) of PD1529, land must be A&D from…

Anytime upon the application for registration

But if the application is based on Sec. 14(2) or acquisitive prescription, land must be A&D…

At the time of occupation to consider the period for acquisitive prescription

B.) What do you have to prove to secure Manuel’s objectives and what documentation is necessary?

That there is an express declaration by the State or by the President classifying the land as A & D at the time of the application for registration.

That they have been in an OCEN possession for at least 20 years (Section 14(1) of PD 1529 as amended by RA 11573 [July 16, 2021]). The evidence may include: Paying real property taxes, cultivation, and introducing improvements if applicable.

Actions after registration;

Action for reconveyance

2019

Q: In 2015, O, the original registered owner of a 300-square meter property covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. D-1234, appointed F as its caretaker. A year after, while O was abroad, F surreptitiously broke open O’s safe and stole the duplicate copy of the said OCT. F then forged a Deed of Absolute Sale and made it appear that O sold the property to him. Consequently, F was able to have OCT No. 0-1234 cancelled and in lieu thereof, a new title, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-4321, was issued in his name.

A few months after, F offered the property for sale to X. After conducting the required due diligence to verify the title of F, and finding no occupant in the property during ocular inspection, X signed the contract of sale, and thereupon, fully paid the purchase price. A few days later, X was able to obtan TCT No. T-5678 under his name. When O discovered F’s fraudulent acts upon his return in 2017, O immediately filed a complaint for reconveyance against F and X, principally pointing out that F merely forged his signature in the Deed of Absolute Sale purportedly made in F’s favor and thus, F could not have validly transferred the title thereof to X. Consequently, he sought the return of the subject property to him.

A.) Will the prayer of O for the return of the subject property prosper? Explain. (3%)

No.

Section 39 of Act 496 (Land Registration Act)

What are the requirements to be considered as a buy in good faith?

  • Relied on the face of the certificate of title
  • Lack of knowledge that will put a reasonable man in inquiry or an existence of a prior right
  • Exercised due diligence

B.) Assuming that O could no longer recover the subject property in view of X’s registration thereof in his name, may a claim against the Assurance Fund pursuant to the provisions of the Property Registration Decree be instituted? Explain. (3%)

Yes.

Section 95 of PDF 1529 or PRD

Stipulations

2015

Mr. and Mrs. Roman and Mr. and Mrs. Cruz filed an application for registration of a parcel of land which after due proceedings was granted by the RTC acting as a land registration court. However, before the decree of registration could be issued, the spouses Roman and the spouses Cruz sold the lot to Juan. In the notarized deed of sale, the sellers expressly undertook to submit the deed of sale to the land registration court so that the title to the property would be directly issued in Juan’s name. 

Is such a stipulation valid? (2%)

Yes. Legal basis: After filing an application for registration, applicants may still subject, stipulate or undertake the land, in whole or in part, to certain dealings, conveyances, or encumbrances in favor of other persons, so long as it is done before the _________.

Section 22 of PD 1529, issuance of decree of registration

Distinguish a direct attack from a collateral attack on a title. (2%)

Direct AttackCollateral Attack
Raised for the purpose ofPointing out the defects in the title with the prayer to invalidate it.Not attacking the title directly, but is done while a different relief is being sought for.
Direct vs. Collateral Attack

If the title in Item is issued in the names of the original sellers, would a motion filed by Juan in the same case to correct or amend the title in order to reflect his name as owner be considered a collateral attack? (2%)

No. A collateral attack is applying for a relief in a different action while indirectly questioning the validity or pointing out the defects in the title.

Here, Juan does not question or attack the validity of the sellers’ title. He is in fact, recognizing them and appealing that the court recognizes his subsequent right as a purchaser. Moreover, he is not applying for relief in a different action.

Quieting of Title

2010

Which of the following is an indispensable requirement in an action for “quieting of title” involving real property? The plaintiff must:
A. be in actual possession of the property.
B. be the registered owner of the property.
C. have legal or equitable title to the property.
D. be the beneficial owner of the property.

Answer: C

For an action to quiet title or remove cloud to prosper, two requisites:

  1. Article 476 of NCC – there must be an instrument, record, claim that appears to be valid prima facie but in truth is invalid, voidable, and unenforceable.
  2. Article 477 of NCC – the plaintiff must have legal or equitable title or interest over the property. This does not necessarily mean that the plaintiff is the registered owner or possesses the owner’s certificate of title, but it can connote that he or she has title through acquisitive prescription.

Adverse Claim

2018

Q: Socorro is the registered owner of Lot A while Segunda is the registered owner of the adjoining Lot B. Lot A is located at an elevated plateau of about 15 feet above the level of Lot B. Since Socorro was allegedly removing portions of the land and cement that supported the adjoining property, Segunda caused the annotation of an adverse claim against 50 sq. m. on Lot A’s Transfer Certificate of Title, asserting the existence of a legal easement.

(b) If a legal easement does in fact exist, is an annotation of an adverse claim on the title of the servient estate proper? + Legal basis

No. If a legal easement does in fact exist, the annotation of an adverse claim on the title of the servient estate is no longer necessary because the legal easement exists whether or not it is annotated in the registry. – Castro vs. Monsod

Castro vs. Monsod

What is required in the annotation of adverse claim that is not existing in legal easements?

The claim or interest over the registered land of the defendant. In this case, Segunda has no claim or interest over Socoro’s land. Therefore, annotation of adverse claim is not proper.

What should the dominant estate (entitled to lateral and subjacent support) do to bind the property, owner, and succ of the elevated estate/servient estate?essors

File a petition for judicial recognition of legal easement (Castro vs. Monsod)

2016

Q: Macario bought a titled lot from Ramon, got the title and took possession of the lot. Since Macario did not have the money to pay the taxes, fees and registration expenses, he was not able to register the Deed of Absolute Sale. Upon advice, he merely executed an Affidavit of Adverse Claim and had it annotated at the back of the title. A few years after, he received a Notice of Levy on Attachment and Writ of Execution in favor of Alex. The notice, writ and certificate of sale were annotated at the back of the title still in Ramon’s name. Alex contends that since the Affidavit of Adverse Claim is effective only for 30 days from the date of its registration, then its validity has expired. Macario posits that the annotation of his adverse claim is notice to the whole world of his purchase of the lot in question. Who has the superior right over the disputed property–Macario or Alex? Explain. (5%) 

What should reasonably put Alex into question and serve as constructive notice?

The Annotation of Adverse Claim in favor of Macario, coupled with the latter’s possession of the disputed property

Legal basis: The annotation of adverse claim does not ipso facto lose its effectivity after 30 days. An independent action is still necessary.

Sajonas vs. CA

Public Lands

2017

Q: In 1960, Rigor and Mike occupied two separate but adjacent tracts of land in Mindoro. Rigor’s tract was classified as timber land while Mike’s was classified as agricultural land. Each of them fenced and cultivated his own tract continuously for 30 years. In 1991, the Government declared the land occupied by Mike as alienable and disposable, and the one cultivated by Rigor as no longer intended for public use or public service. Rigor and Mike now come to you today for legal advice in asserting their right of ownership of their respective lands based on their long possession and occupation since 1960.

A.) What are the legal consequences of the 1991 declarations of the Government respecting the lands? Explain your answer. (2%)

Can Mike register his land when the Government declared it as A&D in 1991? + Legal basis

No. The classification by the government as A&D does not change the land’s status as property of public dominion. There must an express declaration by the State that such land is already patrimonial (no longer intended for public use, service, national wealth) – Heirs of Malabanan vs. Republic

Can Rigor register his land when the Government declared that “it is no longer intended for public use or service”?

Yes. Such an act by the government removed the land from the ambit of public dominion and converted it into a patrimonial land. Requirements for the “government’s act”? The declaration must be made by Congress in the form of a statute or by a Presidential proclamation where the President is authorized by law to that effect. – Heirs of Malabanan vs. Republic

Q: B.) Given that, according to Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141, in relation to Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529, the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain as basis for judicial confirmation of imperfect title must be from June 12, 1945, or earlier, may Mike nevertheless validly base his assertion of the right of ownership on prescription under the Civil Code? Explain your answer. (4%)

No, because for acquisitive prescription to prosper, the land must not only be declared A&D, but also “no longer intended for public use, service, or development of national wealth” or as a patrimonial property. (Section 14[2] of PD 1529 and Article 1113 of NCC) Here, Mike’s land was only classified as A&D in 1991. The land was never removed from the ambit of public domain, and no prescription can run over such lands.

Legal basis: The properties of the State that are not patrimonial in character are not subject to prescription

Article 1113 NCC

Q: C.) Does Rigor have legal basis for his application for judicial confirmation of imperfect title based on prescription as defined by the Civil Code given that, like Mike, his open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation was not since June 12, 1945, or earlier, and his tract of land was timber land until the declaration in 1991? Explain your answer. (4%)

Yes, Rigor has legal basis to apply for registration over his land. His legal basis is only extraordinary acquisitive prescription which requires at least 30 years possession of patrimonial property regardless of good faith or title. Under Article 1113, acquisitive prescription only runs against the properties of the State which are patrimonial in character. 

When the government declared his land as patrimonial, there is a total of 30 years if we count until 2022. Rigor possessed the land for a total of 31 years. He also exercised acts of dominion such as “fencing and cultivation” since 1960. There is no showing that he discontinued such exercises. Therefore, he acquired the land through extraordinary acquisitive prescription.

Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession in good faith and with just title. In 1960, it was classified as timber land therefore Rigor was in bad faith. However, when it was declared patrimonial in 1991, the period of prescription started and as early as 2001, Rigor has already acquired it by ordinary acquisitive prescription. (Heirs of Malabanan vs. Republic)

Legal basis: Prescription only runs against the State’s patrimonial properties

Article 1113 of NCC

2014

On March 27, 1980, Cornelio filed an application for land registration involving a parcel of agricultural land that he had bought from Isaac identified as Lot 2716 with an area of one (1) hectare. During the trial, Cornelio maimed that he and his predecessor in interest had been in open, continous,uninterrupted, public and adverse possession and occupation of the land for more than thirty (30) years. He likewise introduced in evidence a certification dated February 12, 1981 citing a presidential declaration to the effect that on June 14, 1980, agricultural lands of the public domain, including the subject matter of the application, were declared alienable and disposable agricultural land.

(A) If you are the judge, will you grant the application for land registration of Cornelio?

No, because when Cornelio filed, the land was not yet declared as A&D. Under Section 14(1) of PD 1529 as amended by RA 11573 (July 16, 2021), the applicant or his P.I.I must be in an OCEN possession of A&D land under bona fide claim of ownership for at least 20 years. What is required at the time of registration is that the land has been declared A&D. (Republic vs. Naguit) Here, the land was only declared A&D only after almost 3 months from the date that Cornelio filed his application for registration.

Legal basis: Applicant or PII must be in an OCEN possession of A & D land since June 12, 1945 or earlier for at least 20 years:
Section 14(1) of PD 1529 and Section 48(b) of CA 141, as amended by RA 11573 (July 16, 2021) RA 11573 (July 16, 2021)

Legal basis: Section 14(1) of PD 1529’s interpretation is that the land applied for must be A&D at the time of application for registration, and not necessarily since June 12, 1945 or earlier.

Republic vs. Naguit, Malabanan vs. Republic

Q: (B) Can Cornelio acquire agricultural land through acquisitive prescription, whether ordinary or extraordinary?

No. Ordinary AP requires possession of 10 years in good faith or with just title. Extraordinary AP requires 30 years regardless of title. The period of counting starts from the time the land was declared not only as A&D but also patrimonial properties. The reason is that A&D lands still do not depart from the ambit of public domain, and thus not prone to prescription. 

Legal basis: Only patrimonial lands can be subject to prescription

Article 1113 of NCC

How can a land become patrimonial?

There must be an express declaration by the State that the land is no longer needed for public use, service, or development of National Wealth.

Legal basis: Only lands that are private in character (e.g. patrimonial lands) are susceptible to acquisitive prescription. There must be an express State declaration that an A&D land is no longer needed for public service, use, or for national wealth.

Section 14(2) of PD 1529 vis-a-vis Article 1113 of the CC

2 kinds of acquisitive prescription, years before it transpires, and where prescription does not apply

  1. Ordinary acquisitive prescription – possession in good faith for 10 years or with just title.
  2. Extraordinary acquisitive prescription – possession for 30 years regardless of good faith or just title
  3. Prescription does not apply to properties of public dominion

Clean Title/Torrens Title Registration

2016

Joven and Juliana are the owners of a 30-hectare plantation in Cotabato, covered by a title. One day, a group of armed men forcibly entered their house and, at gunpoint, forced them to sign a Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of Romeo. Romeo got the title from them and they were ejected from the house and threatened not to come back or else they will be killed. The spouses went to Manila and resided there for more than 35 years. They never went back to Cotabato for fear of their lives. Word came to them that peace and order have been restored in their former place of residence and they decided to reclaim their land for the benefit of their grandchildren: Joven and Juliana filed a suit for reconveyance of their property. This was opposed by the grandson of Romeo to whom the title was eventually transferred, on the ground of laches and prescription. Decide the case and rule on the defenses of laches and prescription. Explain your answer. (5%)  

Legal basis: No title, in derogation of the registered owner’s title, can be acquired through prescription or adverse possession.

Section 47 PD 1529

The right to recover is imprescriptible if owner is registered under Torrens system because _______

Possession is a mere consequence of ownership (Republic vs. Mendoza)

Laches cannot be setup if there is no unreasonable delay. An example is.. 

…when the registered owners were coerced or intimidated by the defendant to sign the deed. In this case, the delay to institute a claim is reasonable because of the death threat to someone’s life.

Q: On February 28, 1998, Arthur filed an application for registration of title of a lot in Ternate, Cavite before the Regional Trial Court of Naic, Cavite under Section 48(6) of Commonwealth Act No. 141 (CA 141) for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. Section 48(b) of CA 147 requires possession counted from June 12, 1945. Arthur presented testimonial and documentary evidence that his possession and that of his predecessors-in interest started in 1936. The lot was declared alienable and disposable (A and D) in 1993 based on a PENRO certification and a certified true copy of the original classification made by the DENR Secretary. The government opposed the application on the ground that the lot was certified A and D only in 1993 while the application was instituted only in 1998. Arthur’s possession of five (5) years from the date of declaration does not comply with the 30-year period required under CA 141. Should the possession of Arthur be reckoned from the date when the lot was declared A and D or from the date of actual possession of the applicant? Explain. (5%)   

Legal basis: From “possession for 30 years” to “possession of applicant or PII since June 12, 1945 or earlier” to “at least 20 years”

CA 141 Section 48(b) as amended by PD 1973

Legal basis: Classification to A&D is a requisite before application for registration, but the counting of the period shall include actual possession even before the classification.

Malabanan vs. Republic

Writ of Possession over Foreclosed Property

2012

Does the right to request for the issuance of a writ of possession over a foreclosed real property prescribe in five years?

Yes, the right to request for the issuance of a writ of possession over a foreclosed property does prescribe five years.

In the case of BPI vs. Icot. G.R. No. 168081, Dated October 12, 2009, The Supreme Court has stated that if a real property mortgaged is judicially foreclosed, the action for judicial foreclosure should be filed within a period of ten years. The request for issuance of a writ of possession should be filed upon motion of the winning bidder within five years after the judgment of foreclosure.

The writ of possession is an order commanding the sheriff to place a person named therein in possession of real property.

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