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Land Registration

 If a person has long been in possession of a forest land, can he register it under his name? Explain.

Answer: No. If the land is a public forest, the land registration has no jurisdiction to decree its registration, otherwise, the tile is null and void.

The reason for this is the fact that public forests are inalienable public lands. The possession of public forests on the part of the claimant, however long, cannot convert the same into private property. Possession in such an event, even if spanning decades or centuries, could never ripen into ownership. It bears stressing that unless and until the land classified as forest is released in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply. (Heirs of the Late Spouses Pedro Palanca & Soteiranea Rafols Vda. de Palanca, etc. v. Republic, et al., G.R. No. 151312, August 30, 2006, Azcuna, J).


While it is true that the land classification map does not categorically state that the islands are public forests, the fact that they were unclassified lands leads to the same result. In the absence of the classification as mineral or timber land, the land remains unclassified land until released and rendered open to disposition. When the property is still unclassified, whatever possession applicants may have had, and however long, still cannot ripen into private ownership. This is because, pursuant to Constitutional precepts, all lands of the public domain belong to the State, and the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership in such lands and is charged with the conservation of such patrimony. Thus, the Court has emphasized the need to show in registration proceedings that the government, through a positive act, has declassified inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes.