The Supreme Court has ruled against Ayala Land, Inc.’s claim of ownership over a large tract of land in Las Piñas after finding that the corporation’s title bore erroneous land survey details.
In a 30-page decision dated July 26 but released only recently, the court’s 2nd Division granted the petitions filed by the spouses Yu Hwa Ping and Mary Gaw as well as the heirs of the spouses Andres Diaz and Josefa Mia.
It found that the numerous errors in the land survey affected the validity of the titles from which Ayala Land’s own title was derived.
Typically, a genuine land title cannot be assailed and is considered conclusive proof of ownership. In this case, however, the court came up with the exception to the effect that blatantly erroneous surveys could be cited as a ground to invalidate a title.
“To allow these certificates of title in the registration books, even though these were sourced from invalid surveys, would tarnish and damage the Torrens system of registration, rather than uphold its integrity,” the SC said.
It added: “Good faith must concur with registration because, otherwise, registration would be an exercise in futility.”
The decision was penned by then Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza and concurred in by Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Diosdado Peralta, Marvic Leonen and Samuel Martires.
The property is situated inside Ayala Southvale in Las Pinas City, which was converted into the golf course of Southlinks and a materials depot.
The case stemmed from a suit filed by the spouses Yu to recover ownership over the land claimed by Ayala Land.
The property was originally owned by the spouses Diaz until it was transferred to the spouses Yu in whose favor two land titles were issued in 1993 and 1994.
However, CPJ Corp., which allegedly had an interest over the land, transferred its interests to several entities. Eventually, Ayala Land supposedly acquired a consolidated interest over the property.
A trial court earlier ruled that the Diaz spouses committed fraud when they applied for the original registration of the property without informing other interested parties such as CPJ Corp.
Ayala Land had the property fenced and prevented the Yu spouses from occupying the land. The corporation also had land titles issued in its name with technical descriptions overlapping with the properties being claimed by the Yu spouses.