LASAM V. DIRECTOR OF LANDS- Possession
Possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession, however, possession is not gained by mere nominal CLAIM.
Lasam files a case in Court for the registration of a parcel of land, containing an area of around 24,000,000 hectares. He presents Exhibit L as proof of his possession over the land. Exhibit L is a certified copy of an application. This application states that Lasam’s predecessor in interest, Domingo Narag, has owned the land since time immemorial. However, the property described in Exhibit L is 15,000,000 hectares only and the property sought to be registered is 24,000,000 hectares.
Furthermore, the document, mentions a fifth parcel of land which is the same parcel described in another Exhibit K. Apparently, the surveyor of the land delineated the property based on what the possessor at that time pointed out to him; he based his study mostly on hearsay. According to the applicant, before his occupation of the land, only about 2 hectares were cultivated. But then, they justified this by invoking the doctrine of constructive possession (That a person in possession of the land does not have to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession).
Thus, the Director of Lands opposed the registration on the ground that
a) it is not supported by any title fit for registration and
b) that the land sought to be registered is public land.
Is the applicant entitled to registration because of the required possession during the time prescribed by law? Is he entitled to the 24,000,000 hectares of land considering that the area possessed is only 2 hectares?
First, the Court ruled that Exhibit L cannot be a valid application because the identity o the land was not clearly established.
Second, although there is proof that Lasam might have possessed a portion of the parcel land, the proof is lacking in certainty as to the portion occupied and the extent thereof. Although the counsel invokes the doctrine of constructive possession, the said application is subject to certain qualifications, and this court was careful to observe that among these qualifications is one particularly relating to the size of the tract in controversy with reference to the portion of land actually in possession of the claimant. While, therefore, possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession, possession is not gained by mere nominal CLAIM. The mere planting of a sign or a symbol of possession cannot justify a Magellan-like claim of dominion over an immense tract of territory.