REPUBLIC V. CA
Respondent Morato filed a free patent application on a parcel of land, which was approved and issued an original certificate of title. Both the free patent and title specifically mandate that the land shall not be alienated nor encumbered within 5 years from the date of the issuance of the patent. The District Land Officer, acting upon reports that Morato had encumbered the land and upon finding that the subject land is submerged in water during high tide and low tide, filed a complaint for cancellation of the title and reversion of the parcel of land to the public domain. RTC dismissed the complaint. CA affirmed.
1. Whether or not respondent violated the free patent condition prohibiting encumbering the land within the 5-year period?
2. Whether or not the land is of public domain?
1. Yes. Public Land Act Sec. 18 provides that…lands acquired under free patent or homestead provisions shall not be subject to encumbrance or alienation from the date of approval of the application and for a term of 5 years from and after the date of issuance of the patent or grant…The contracts of lease and mortgage executed by Morato constitute an encumbrance as contemplated by section 18 of the Public Land Act because such contracts impair the use of the property.
2. Yes. Based from the facts, the land is clearly foreshore as it is subject to the ebb and flow of the tide. When the sea moved towards the estate and the tide invaded it, the invaded property became foreshore land and passed to the realm of the public domain. In Government v. Cabangis, the Court annulled the registration of land subject of cadastral proceedings when the parcel subsequently became foreshore land. In another case, the Court voided the registration decree of a trial court and held that said court had no jurisdiction to award foreshore land to any private person or entity. The subject land in this case, being foreshore land should therefor be returned to the public domain.