My family has a dispute with John regarding a piece of land located in Isabela province. John claims almost 500 square meters of the land that my family occupies. The property was classified as agricultural land sometime in 1980, and had been the subject of barangay (village) conciliation proceedings that failed. Recently, a relative of mine informed me that he saw a notice of initial hearing in front of the municipal hall pertaining to a petition, which John had filed in court for issuance of title covering the land, including the 500 square meters that we occupy..
The notice was addressed to all persons who have a claim to John’s property, including my neighbors. My name and those of members of my family are not included in the notice. Can I oppose the petition for the issuance of title filed by John? Will John get the property if I will not oppose his application?
The provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) 1529, or the Property Registration Decree, shall govern in case of land registration. It is a requirement under Section 23 of the law that says:
“The court shall, within five days from filing of the application, issue an order setting the date and hour of the initial hearing which shall not be earlier than forty-five days nor later than ninety days from the date of the order.
“The public shall be given notice of the initial hearing of the application for land registration by means of (1) publication; (2) mailing; and (3) posting.
Xxx xxx xxxx”.
Relative thereto, under Section 25 of this law:
“Any person claiming an interest, whether named in the notice or not, may appear and file an opposition on or before the date of initial hearing, or within such further time as may be allowed by the court. The opposition shall state all the objections to the application and shall set forth the interest claimed by the party filing the same and apply for the remedy desired, and shall be signed and sworn to by him or by some other duly authorized person.
“If the opposition or the adverse claim of any person covers only a portion of the lot and said portion is not properly delimited on the plan attached to the application, or in case of undivided co-ownership, conflicting claims of ownership or possession, or overlapping of boundaries, the court may require the parties to submit a subdivision plan duly approved by the Director of Lands.”
The notice, which your relative saw in front of the municipal hall, is in compliance with the above-mentioned requirement of law in land registration. Its purpose is to inform all persons or the public who have a claim to or interest in the land to appear before the court and show cause why the application should not be granted. So, even if you are not specifically mentioned in the notice, you can still oppose the application for registration filed by John since the latter is claiming five hundred (500) square meters of your land.
Please be guided also by Section 26 of the same law, which states:
“If no person appears and answers within the time allowed, the court shall, upon motion of the applicant, no reason to the contrary appearing, order a default to be recorded and require the applicant to present evidence. By the description in the notice “To all Whom It May Concern,” all the world are made parties defendant and shall be concluded by the default order.
“Where an appearance has been entered and an answer filed, a default order shall be entered against persons who did not appear and answer.”
It is essential in your situation that you oppose the application of John, otherwise you will be declared in default. In which case, John will be required to present his evidence to prove his ownership over the land.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
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.