ROBLES v. CA- Action for quieting of title | Free patent


Petitioners (all surnamed Robles) trace their ownership of a parcel of land (9,985 sq m.) to Leon and Silvino, their grandfather and father, respectively. Upon Silvino’s death in 1942, said petitioners inherited the property and started cultivation thereof. Hilario Robles, private respondent and half-brother of the petitioners, was entrusted with the payment of land taxes due on the property. In 1962, Hilario caused both the cancellation of the tax declaration covering the property and its transfer to Ballane (his father-in-law). Ballane mortgaged the property and, for some reason, the tax declaration thereon was subsequently named to Hilario. The latter then mortgaged the property to private respondent Rural Bank of Cardona. The mortgage was foreclosed and said bank acquired by public bidding the property which was then sold by it to the spouses Santos. Petitioners learned of the mortgage only in 1987. Subsequently, the action was filed, impleading also as parties-defendant the Director of Lands and the District Land Officer sue to an issuance of a free patent in favour of spouses Santos. Trial court ruled in favour of petitioners, declaring null the patent, declaring the heirs of Silvino absolute owners of the subject land. CA reversed on the ground that petitioners no longer had title to the property.


(1) whether petitioners have the appropriate title essential to an action for quieting of title (relevant issue) and whether title claimed by respondents is valid
(2) whether REM between Hilario and RBC is valid
(3) whether issuance of free patent is valid


(1) Petitioners have valid title by virtue of their continued and open occupation and possession as owners of the subject property.
In this case, the cloud on petitioners’ title emanate from the apparent validity of the free patent issued and the tax declarations and other evidence in favour of respondents ultimately leading to the transfer of the property to spouses Santos. WRT title of the spouses Santos, such is deemed invalid/inoperative insofar as it is rooted in the title and appropriation of Hilario. Hilario could not have prejudiced the rights of his co-heirs as co-owners of the real estate. He must have first repudiated the ownership clearly and evidently. CA failed to consider the irregularities in the transactions involving the property. No instrument/deed of conveyance was presented to show any transaction between petitioners and Ballane or even Hilario.

(2) Mortgage was only valid insofar as Hilario’s undivided interest is concerned there being co-ownership between the heirs. Court also delved into gross negligence which amounted to bad faith on part of bank by not exercising due diligence in verifying the ownership of the land considering such was unregistered.
Free patent was also not valid, the land in question having been converted ipso jure to private land by virtue of the adverse possession in the concept of owners since.

(3) 1916 by the petitioners. Issuance of patents covering private lands is out of the jurisdiction of the Director of Lands or Bureau of Lands.

Hence, the sale of the property in favour of the spouses Santos WRT the share of Hiario was valid but the patent issued was null.