Eduave claims that she inherited a parcel of land from her parents, which later increased in size due to erosion caused by typhoon Ineng. In 1973 Jagualing asked her permission to plant corn and bananas provided that they prevent squatters to come to the area.

The land was the subject of a reconveyance case between Janita Eduave vs. Heirs of Antonio Factura which was the subject of judgment by compromise in view of the amicable settlement of the parties. In the amicable settlement the heirs of Antonio Factura (Jagualing), ceded a portion of the land with an area of 1,289 square meters more or less to Eduave.

Later, Jagualing denied the claim of ownership of Eduave, and asserted that they are the real owners of the land in litigation containing an area of 18,000 square meters more or less. According to them, they acquired the land by acquisitive prescription since they have occupied the land since 1969. They presented tax declarations and photos of actual occupation to prove claim of prescription.

Eduave filed an action to quiet title and/or remove a cloud over the property in question against Jagualing. RTC dismissed the complaint for failure of Eduave to establish by preponderance of evidence their claim of ownership over the land in litigation and that the land is a delta thus is part of public domain not susceptible of appropriation.

The CA found that the island was formed by the branching off of the river and subsequent thereto the accumulation of alluvial deposits. Basing its ruling on Articles 463 and 465 of the Civil Code the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court, declared private respondents as the lawful and true owners of the land subject of this case and ordered petitioners to vacate the premises and deliver possession of the land to private respondents.


Whether or not Jagualing acquired the island thru prescription?


From the evidence thus submitted, CA had sufficient basis for the finding that the property of Eduave actually existed and was identified prior to the branching off or division of the river. The CA, therefore, properly applied Article 463 of the Civil Code which allows the ownership over a portion of land separated or isolated by river movement to be retained by the owner thereof prior to such separation or isolation. The parcel of land in question is part of an island that formed in a non-navigable and non-flotable river; from a small mass of eroded or segregated outcrop of land, it increased to its present size due to the gradual and successive accumulation of alluvial deposits. In this regard the CA also did not err in applying Article 465 of the Civil Code. Under this provision, the island belongs to the owner of the land along the nearer margin as sole owner thereof; or more accurately, because the island is longer than the property of private respondents, they are deemed ipso jure to be the owners of that portion which corresponds to the length of their property along the margin of the river.

It is well-settled that lands formed by accretion belong to the riparian owner. This preferential right is, under Article 465, also granted the owners of the land located in the margin nearest the formed island for the reason that they are in the best position to cultivate and attend to the exploitation of the same. In fact, no specific act of possession over the accretion is required. If, however, the riparian owner fails to assert his claim thereof, the same may yield to the adverse possession of third parties, as indeed even accretion to land titled under the torrens system must itself still be registered.

However, Jagualing failed to prove adverse possession of the land for the required period and their possession cannot be considered in good faith since by their admission they have recognized Eduave’s ownership over the land. Thus the land still belongs to Eduave.

Islands formed by accretion belong to the riparian owner nearest to its margin. However such accretion may be lost to third parties thru prescription.