DENR Favours LGU Valencia for City Hall Property Patent and Titling Application

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 10 recently released its Decision in PENRO Claim No. 2016-02 Heirs of Justiniano Paloma vs. City Government of Valencia, Bukidnon Rep. by Hon. Azucena P. Huervas, City Mayor dated 15 October 2018 on the issue of who has a better right between the Heirs of Paloma and the City Government of Valencia to apply for free patent and titling over the disputed property where the City Hall is situated.

The Heirs of Justiniano Paloma filed a protest before the DENR on 5 April 2016 for the Cancellation of the Survey Plan AS 10-000545 covering LOT No.1, CAD 791-D with an area of 17,403 sq.m. The heirs argued on the following grounds: First, that they are the lawful owners of the disputed property having a prior private rights and/imperfect title since Justiniano Paloma was in possession of the subject property on the year 1941. Second, the tax declarations and survey plan under the name of the Respondent, the City Government of Valencia, Bukidnon are fraudulent. Third, that the occupation of the Respondent was merely tolerated by the Protestants’ predecessor-in-interest as Justiniano Paloma intended to donate the subject property in 1961 but up to this present no Deed of Donation was executed between the parties.

However, the DENR ruled that the first two allegations were not justified by the Heirs of Paloma because of the failure to present clear and convincing evidence and there was no proof of actual possession of the property. On the third allegation, the necessity of execution of Deed of Donation or relinquishment of right is no longer necessary as the ownership of the City Government of Valencia was acquired through extraordinary acquisitive prescription. Under the law, Article 1137 states that ownership and other real rights over immovable also prescribe through uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for thirty years, without need of title or of good faith.

The City Government of Valencia has been occupying the disputed property for over a period of fifty-five years (55) years at the time it applied for titling. It took twenty-seven (27) years, almost three (3) decades, after the survey was approved on 30 March 1989 before the Heirs filed the protest. The Heirs are deemed to have slept on their rights to question the validity of the survey plan. Thus, the DENR DENIED the protest for lack of merit and has GIVEN DUE COURSE to the application for titling of the City Government of Valencia, City.

The Decision constitutes a great legal victory for the City Government as it erases all doubts on the LGU’s ownership and possession over the subject land. Consequently, the City Government may now proceed with its pending application for titling of the said property.

Administrative Aide IV

City Legal Officer