Question 2, 2017 Civil Law Bar Exam

Atty. Jericho Del Puerto

Atty. Jericho Del Puerto

Lawyer, Author, Mentor

II.

(Question II, Civil Law, 2017 Bar Exam)

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%)

(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 nonetheless validly base his assertion of the right of ownership on prescription under the Civil Code? Explain your answer. (4%)

(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%)

Suggested Answer:

(a) After the 1991 declaration of the Government, the lands are now alienable and disposable unlike to its previous status as inalienable being lands of the public domain. With the change in status, these lands may now be acquired by persons through grants or acquisitive prescription, among others.

(b) No. Answer

Under the Civil Code, acquisitive prescription is the possession in the concept of owner of private properties or those which are alienable and disposable. The possession should be uninterrupted adverse possession for a period of at least thirty (30) years, without need of title or of good faith. Further, under jurisprudence, unless lands public lands are reclassified and considered disposable and alienable, occupation thereof in the concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot ripen into ownership and be registered as a title. Rule

In the case at bar, Mike’s possession is only for a period of twenty-six (26) years from the 1911 Government declaration to 2017. The possession from 1960 up to 1991 does not count as the land was in the public domain.  Apply

Thus, Mike may not validly base his assertion of the right of ownership on the prescription under the Civil Code. Conclusion

NB: Since this was asked in the 2017 Bar Exam, the counting is only from 1991 to 2017 making it 26 years.

(c) No. Answer

Under the jurisprudence, for public lands subsequently reclassified such as timber land, acquisitive prescription runs only after the reclassification of the public land to private property. Once reclassified, the thirty (30) year acquisitive prescription to acquire title is applicable. Rule

In the case at bar, Rigor’s possession is only for a period of twenty-six (26) years from the 1911 Government declaration to 2017. The possession from prior to the 1991 declaration reclassifying the land does not count. Apply

Thus, Rigor does not have legal basis for the judicial confirmation of imperfect title. Conclusion

NB: Since this was asked in the 2017 Bar Exam, the counting is only from 1991 to 2017 making it 26 years.

..

(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)

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