How and when can an adverse claim be canceled from the title of a piece of land?
An adverse claim is a statement made under oath by someone who claims any part or interest in a registered piece of land adverse to the registered owner and serves as a notice to all of such a claim. This was explicitly expounded by the Supreme Court in the case of Equatorial Realty Development Inc. vs. Frogozo (G.R. No. 128563, March 25, 2004, 271 SCRA 426):
“xxx The annotation of an adverse claim is a measure designed to protect the interest of a person over a piece of real property where the registration of such interest or right is not otherwise provided for by the Land Registration Act or Act 496 (now Presidential Decree 1529 or the Property Registration Decree), and serves as a warning to third parties dealing with said property that someone is claiming an interest on the same or a better right than the registered owner thereof.”
Under the law, an adverse claim shall be effective for a period of thirty (30) days from the date of registration. It does not follow, however, that after the lapse of the period, the same has no force and effect. The adverse claim shall remain annotated and continue to be a lien on the property, until the same is canceled through a verified petition in court. This is according to Section 70 of Presidential Decree (PD) 1529, to wit:
“Section 70. Adverse claim. xxx
Xxx The adverse claim shall be effective for a period of thirty days from the date of registration. After the lapse of said period, the annotation of adverse claim may be canceled upon filing of a verified petition therefor by the party in interest: Provided, however, that after cancelation, no second adverse claim based on the same ground shall be registered by the same claimant.
Before the lapse of thirty days aforesaid, any party in interest may file a petition in the Court of First Instance where the land is situated for the cancelation of the adverse claim, and the court shall grant a speedy hearing upon the question of the validity of such adverse claim, and shall render judgment as may be just and equitable. If the adverse claim is adjudged to be invalid, the registration thereof shall be ordered canceled. xxx”
As further explained by the Supreme Court in the aforementioned case, Section 70 of PD 1529 shall be construed as follows:
“Construing the provision as a whole would reconcile the apparent inconsistency between the portions of the law such that the provision on cancelation of adverse claim by verified petition would serve to qualify the provision on the effectivity period. The law, taken together, simply means that the cancelation of the adverse claim is still necessary to render it ineffective, otherwise, the inscription will remain annotated and shall continue as a lien upon the property. For if the adverse claim has already ceased to be effective upon the lapse of the said period, its cancelation is no longer necessary and the process of cancelation would be a useless ceremony.
It should be noted that the law employs the phrase “may be canceled,” which obviously indicates, as inherent in its decision-making power, that the court may or may not order the cancelation of an adverse claim notwithstanding such provision limiting the effectivity of an adverse claim for thirty days from the date of registration. The court cannot be bound by such period as it would be inconsistent with the very authority vested in it. A fortiori, the limitation on the period of effectivity is immaterial in determining the validity or invalidity of an adverse claim, which is the principal issue to be decided in the court hearing. It will therefore depend upon the evidence at a proper hearing for the court to determine whether it will order the cancelation of the adverse claim or not.”
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com