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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G. R. No. 109645 July 25, 1994

ORTIGAS & COMPANY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, petitioners,


vs.
JUDGE TIRSO VELASCO and DOLORES V. MOLINA, respondents.

G. R. No. 112564 July 25, 1994

DOLORES V. MOLINA, petitioner,


vs.
HON. PRESIDING JUDGE OF RTC, QUEZON CITY, BR. 105 and MANILA BANKING CORPORATION, respondents.

Eulogio R. Rodriguez and Joselito Cabote for Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership.

Doroteo B. Daguna & Associates, Teodorico V. Molina and Eufracio T. Layag for Dolores Molina.

Villaraza & Cruz for Manila Banking Corporation.

NARVASA, C.J.:

I. Scope of Decision; Chief Issue

This decision deals with two (2) special civil actions, separately filed and docketed as G. R. No. 109645 and G. R. No.
112564. 1 They have been consolidated and are here jointly decided because they involve one and the same Torrens
title: Transfer Certificate of Title No. 124088, reconstituted in the name of Dolores V. Molina. The land covered by said title
overlaps that embraced in other titles issued to Ortigas and Company, Ltd. and subsequently transferred by it to other
persons. More specifically, the property covered by Molina's reconstituted title is described by the petitioner as "a 13-
hectare prime residential land, within (its) fully developed Greenmeadows Subdivision, . . . situated between the plush
residential subdivisions of Corinthian Gardens and the Millionaires' Row of the Greenmeadows subdivision in Quezon City
. . ."

The issue centers chiefly on the validity of the judgment of the respondent Trial Judge reconstituting said
TCT No. 124088 in favor of Dolores V. Molina despite objections, among others, that there was a lack of
actual notice to the adjacent owners, and that the land therein described is already covered by other
Torrens titles earlier issued and accorded judicial recognition by this Court.

II. G. R. No. 109645

A. Origin: Reconstitution Proceeding (LRC Case No. Q-5404)

G. R. No. 109645 originated from a petition filed on November 14, 1991 with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City by
Dolores V. Molina, praying for the reconstitution of her Transfer Certificate of Title No. 124088. The case was docketed as
LRC Case No. Q-5404. In the petition, she alleged that the original copy of the title on file with the Quezon City Register of
Deeds was lost during the fire that gutted said Office on June 11, 1988; that she was however in actual custody of the
owner's duplicate copy of the title (i.e., the title "has been and still is in . . . (her) possession"); and that the title is not
subject of any document or contract creating a lien or encumbrance on the land therein described. 2

B. Withdrawal, and Reinstatement of Case

On November 29, 1991 Molina moved for permission to withdraw her petition, stating that it had become necessary for
her to go to the United States for some ten (10) months, to attend to her property in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The
respondent Judge, Hon. Tirso Velasco, forthwith issued an order granting the motion; the case was dismissed, the petition
being considered withdrawn. 3

Four months later, however, or on or about April 3, 1992, Molina filed an ex parte motion for "revival" of LRC Case No. Q-
5404 and admission of an amended petition for reconstitution of her title. In the "affidavit of loss" appended to her
amended petition, dated March 31, 1992, Dolores Molina averred that the owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. 124088
which, in her original petition of November 14, 1991, she claimed "has been and still is in . . . (her) possession, "was
missing — a fact she discovered in "the middle part of September, 1991" — and that, since said owner's duplicate could
no longer be found despite diligent efforts to locate it, she had secured a certification from the Land Management Bureau
to the effect that there is "a record of . . . (her) property in a microfilm negative. 4

By Order dated April 3, 1992, Judge Velasco reinstated the (original, withdrawn) petition and admitted the amended
petition, giving it "due course." In a separate Order of the same date, His Honor declared the amended petition sufficient
in form and substance, and set it for hearing on June 29, 1992. He also directed that the Bureau of Land Management
and the Land Registration Authority be given copies of the amended petition for their verification, comment, report and
recommendation; that the amended petition be published in the Official Gazette; and that the Solicitor General and the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City be furnished with copies of the order. 5

C. Objection to Petition by Office of Solicitor General

The Solicitor General's Office objected to the petition on the ground among others that no actual notice had been given to
the adjacent owners. This resulted in the Court's acknowledgment, in its Order of July 3, 1992, of its inability to "declare
as of now that it had already acquired jurisdiction over . . . (the) case considering the manifestation of . . . (Solicitor) Ma.
Eloisa Castro that the requirement of notice to the other adjacent owners has not as yet been submitted to the Court altho
(sic) apparently the land in question is being bounded by roads. 6

Molina thereupon filed an ex parte motion dated July 13, 1992, praying that notices be served on the (a) "subject owners"
of specified lots in the corresponding "Technical Description of the subject land;" (b) the "President of the Corinthian
Neighborhood Association or Corinthian Homeowners Association thru the Barangay Chairman of Barangay Corinthian
because the adjoining property designated as Vicente Madrigal is now part of this Barangay Corinthian; " (c) the "Director,
Bureau of Land, Plaza Cervantes Manila as adjoining owner designated as Public Land;" and (d) the "City Engineer of
Quezon City for the adjoining boundaries designated as Roads or Road Lot." 7 The motion was granted by Order of
respondent Judge Velasco dated July 16, 1992, which also set the hearing of the case on July 20, 1992 at 2:30 o'clock in
the afternoon. 8

D. Notice of Hearing

The notice of hearing, issued by the Clerk of Court under date of July 16, 1992, was addressed to only the last three (3)
parties above named, to wit: the "President of the Corinthian Neighborhood Association or Corinthian Homeowners
Association thru the Barangay Chairman of Barangay Corinthian because the adjoining property designated as Vicente
Madrigal is now part of this Barangay Corinthian;" the "Director, Bureau of Lands, Plaza Cervantes Manila as adjoining
owner designated as Public Land;" and the "City Engineer of Quezon City for the adjoining boundaries designated as
Roads or Road
Lot." 9

E. Opposition by Ortigas & Co. Ltd.

Ortigas & Co., Ltd. allegedly learned of Molina's petition for reconstitution by accident and filed a formal opposition
thereto. In a supplemental pleading dated July 21, 1992, 10 it adverted to "a proliferation of syndicates taking advantage
of the destruction by fire of land titles kept by the Quezon City Register of Deeds," and described Dolores Molina as "a
well-known land speculator (who) . . . has filed several petitions which are glaringly contradictory to one another (and)
therefore . . . perjurious." It pointed out that in Land Registration Case No. Q-336 entitled "Windows and Orphans
Association, Inc. (WIDORA) — Applicant, LRC Record No. N-50589," for instance, Molina had filed an Opposition on
August 25, 1978 claiming ownership over the property subject of the reconstitution case on the basis of "open public,
adverse against the whole world, continuous and uninterrupted possession (thereof) for more than thirty (30) years or
since time immemorial thru herself, her tenants or predecessors-in-interest under claim of ownership;" said claim of
Molina, of dominion gained through acquisitive prescription, was contradictory of her claim in a complaint earlier filed by
her on February 22, 1990 — with the same Quezon City RTC branch (No. 88) having cognizance of the reconstitution
case — docketed as Civil Case No. 90-4749 entitled "Dolores V. Molina v. Ortigas & Company, Limited Partnership, et
al.," in which complaint, she alleged that sometime in 1939 she acquired the property by purchase from Eusebia Molina
and her heirs, Avelino P. Ramos and Felix P. Micael; the deed of conveyance that was entrusted for safekeeping to her
late husband, Pio Q. Molina, having been lost during World War II; and she had been unable to have the property titled
because "she was so preoccupied as the sole breadwinner of the family . . . ;" (and that in the meanwhile Ortigas
succeeded in having the land "titled in its name through deceit, fraud and misrepresentation and scheme . . . ," and
thereafter subdivided the same and sold the individual lots to other persons, including Interpublic Development
Corporation and Breeders Feeds Incorporated). 11 These contradictory assertions, according to Ortigas, betrayed the
"highly suspicious and irregular" character of the Molina petition.

1. Report of Land Registration Authority

Ortigas' opposition also cited a report of the Land Registration Authority to the Court a quo drawing attention to
irregularities in the petition, among these being: that the plan relied upon by Molina, Psd-16740 "appears to be derived
from two different surveys, numbered Psu-1148 & Psu-20191, neither of which appear(s) to have been the subject of
original registration; thus it is presumed that no original title had been issued from which TCT-124088 could have
emanated;" that said plan "is a portion of (LRC) SWO-15352 which is being applied for registration of title in Land Reg.
Case No. Q-336, LRC Rec. No. N-50589," etc.
F. Opposition by Mormons (Manila Mission)

Molina's petition for reconstitution was also opposed by the Manila Mission of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Inc.
(Mormons), 12 which had been apprised of LRC Case No. Q-5404 by Ortigas' counsel. The Mormon Mission referred to
the pendency of Civil Case No. 90-4749 ("Dolores V. Molina vs. Ortigas et al.") wherein it (the Mission) is one of the
defendants, and to the "contradictory circumstances" asserted by Molina in that case and in the reconstitution proceeding,
and alleged that a portion of the property claimed by Molina was covered by its own Transfer Certificate of Title No.
348048, involving land acquired by it in good faith and for value.

On the issues thus raised, hearing of the petition for reconstitution proceeded in due course.

G. Testimony of Dolores Molina

As might be expected, Molina testified at the hearing. Her testimony is summarized in the Velasco decision of September
23, 1992. 13 She made no reference whatever in her testimony to the theory of prescription as her mode of acquisition of
the land in dispute. She deposed that she and her late husband had acquired the two (2) parcels of land in question from
the latter's relatives in 1939; that she had in truth seen the deed of sale and the titles in her husband's possession; that
her husband was killed by the Japanese in 1944; that it was only in the 1960's that she attempted to obtain titles to the
property in her name, and sought the help of President Marcos, who "became her boyfriend;" that Marcos had, in turn,
referred her for legal assistance to former Judge Echeverri; that she had subsequently left for the United States where she
stayed until her return during the martial law regime at which time, however, she could no longer get in touch with either
Judge Echeverri or President Marcos; that sometime in 1990 she met Gen. Fabian Ver in Singapore, and she was then
told that Marcos had given instructions for the delivery to her of the title to the disputed lands, to be accomplished back in
Manila; that the title (TCT 124088) was actually delivered to her by Col. Balbino Diego in November, 1990 at her house in
Philam Life Homes Subdivision in Quezon City; that she learned that the title had been entrusted to Col. Diego in 1986,
when Gen. Ver and President Marcos fled the country, but Diego had been unable to give her the title earlier because he
was placed under house arrest shortly after Marcos' deposal and remained under such restraint until May 11, 1988.

H. Trial Court's Judgment, September 23, 1992

Respondent Judge Velasco rendered judgment in Molina's favor on September 23, 1992, directing the Register of Deeds
of Quezon City to reconstitute the original copy of TCT No. 124088 in her name.

I. Appeals by Ortigas and Office of Solicitor General; Mormons' Motion for


Reconsideration; Molina's Motion for Striking Out Appeal or for Immediate
Execution

On September 30, 1992, the day following its receipt of Judge Velasco's decision, Ortigas filed its notice of appeal
therefrom. 14 On October 6, 1992, Molina filed a motion to strike the notice of appeal or in the alternative, to allow
execution of the decision pending appeal. This motion Ortigas opposed in writing. The Mormons, for their part, filed a
motion for reconsideration of the decision. The Solicitor General also filed a notice of appeal in the Republic's behalf. 15

J. Order, October 14, 1992 Dismissing Ortigas' Appeal, Denying Mormons'


Motion for Reconsideration, and Authorizing Immediate Execution

In an Order dated October 14, 1992, 16 Judge Velasco passed upon these remedial steps taken by Ortigas and the
Mormons.

His Honor declared that "Ortigas is . . . not vested with any justiciable interest to be a party in (the) case" because it had
admittedly "already sold all the subdivision lots which it claims to overlap the disputed two lots (of Molina)," and Ortigas'
pleadings "failed to disclose . . . any allegation about its ownership of road lots that may overlap the land covered by the
certificate of title of petitioner sought to be reconstituted;" it was not therefore a real party in interest since it would neither
derive benefit nor suffer injury from the decision; hence, its opposition could not be entertained and, "by force of law," it
could not also appeal the decision. The lower court thus declared Ortigas' notice of appeal to be "a mere scrap of paper."

Said court also granted Molina's motion for immediate execution, opining on the ostensible basis of case law, that Ortigas'
appeal was "frivolous and interposed only for purposes of delay," preclusion thereof was justified by the need "to prevent
wastage of income," or "avoid the possibility of . . . judgment becoming illusory or to minimize damage unduly suffered by
the prevailing party or to prevent further damage," as well as by Molina's advanced age.

In the same Order, Judge Velasco declared the Mormons' motion for reconsideration — premised on the failure of the
court to acquire jurisdiction over the case due to lack of notice — a mere pro forma one, since it posed issues already
raised and considered, and any defect of notice had been cured by the actual participation of the Mormons in the
proceedings.

K. Molina's New (Reconstituted) Title

Pursuant to this Order, Molina succeeded in having her title (TCT No. 124088) reconstituted; and it was assigned a new
number: TCT No. RT-58287. Molina caused the land thereby covered to be subdivided into five (5) parcels and obtained
separate titles for them (the reconstituted title being, of course, consequently cancelled in the process). These titles over
the five (5) subdivided lots, TCT's Numbered 83163, 83164, 83165, 83166 and 83167, were all issued in the name of
Dolores V. Molina. Later, TCT No. 83164 was cancelled and replaced by TCT No. 83869 in the name of Gateway
Enterprises Co., Inc. to which Molina had apparently sold the land therein described for P24,408,000.00. 17

On November 23, 1992 the Solicitor General filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated October 14, 1992. The
Mormons, for their part, filed a notice of appeal in respect of which Molina filed a "Motion to Strike Out Notice of Appeal"
on December 10, 1992.

L. Order, February 10, 1992, Striking Out Solicitor General's Appeal

The motions were resolved by Judge Velasco in an order dated February 10, 1993. He denied the Mormons' plea for
reconsideration on the ground that as to them the case had become moot and academic in light of Molina's "uncontested
manifestation dated December 22, 1992 that she has already executed QUIT-CLAIM AND WAIVER in favor of the
Mormons and . . . the Mormons had already filed a motion withdrawing its notice of appeal."

It appears that the Mormons Manila Mission did indeed file a "Withdrawal of Appeal" dated December 11, 1992 because
Molina had "already recognized . . . (its [the Mormons']) ownership and possession . . . over the portion covered by RT-
58287 (124088) with an area of 8,860 sq. m. and covered by TCT No. 348048 of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City," a
copy of Molina's "Quitclaim and Waiver" to this effect, dated December 18, 1992, being appended to said "Withdrawal of
Appeal." 18

The Judge also granted Molina's motion to strike out the Solicitor General's notice of appeal, holding that since the
Solicitor General "has not filed any formal opposition to the petition and neither has it introduced and/or formally offered
any evidence to warrant its dismissal," it appearing on the contrary, that "the Land Management Bureau, the DENR, the
Register of Deeds and the City Engineer's Office of Quezon City, which are the government agencies . . . directly involved
in this kind of proceeding has not registered any opposition to the petition," the notice of appeal filed by him was "sham"
aside from being ten (10) days late. 19

M. The Present Petition

Ortigas thus instituted in this Court on April 20, 1993 the special civil action of certiorari and mandamus, now docketed as
G. R. No. 109645, praying that Judge Velasco's Orders of October 14, 1992 and February 10, 1993, be invalidated; that
"all Transfer Certificates of Title, including owner's duplicate and mortgagees' copies, if any, arising out of the
reconstituted Transfer Certificates of Title of the disputed order of respondent Judge dated October 14, 1992 . . . . be
declared void ab initio;" and that, alternatively, respondent Judge be ordered "to act on the notices of appeal seasonably
filed by forwarding the records of LRC Case No. Q-5404 to the Court of Appeals." It also prayed for a temporary
restraining order — which this Court granted upon a bond of P50,000.00, in a Resolution dated May 12, 1993 —
prohibiting respondent Judge from further acting upon the case and enjoining Molina from selling, encumbering or
otherwise transacting over the land covered by her reconstituted Torrens title issued on the basis of the questioned order
of October 14, 1992. 20 After pleadings had been submitted by the parties on the Court's instructions (i.e., comment, reply
thereto, and rejoinder to the reply), the petition was given due course. The parties were required to file memoranda, which
they have done.

III. G. R. No. 112564

A. Origin: Action by Manilabank for Annulment of Molina's Title

G. R. No. 112564, on the other hand, 21 originated from an action commenced in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court by
the Manila Banking Corporation against Dolores V. Molina and Gateway Enterprises Company,
Inc. 22 The action was denominated one for "Annulment of Transfer Certificate of Title with Damages and Prayer for
Preliminary Injunction and Restraining Order," and was docketed as Case No. Q93-15920. It prayed for nullification of the
same title of Dolores V. Molina (TCT No. 124088) over parcels of land situated at Ugong Norte, (now) Quezon City.
According to the bank it was the owner of those parcels of land, having acquired them at a mortgage foreclosure sale from
two (2) corporations which had earlier bought the same from Ortigas & Company. 23 It alleged that originally, the land
formerly covered by TCTs No. 77652 and 77653 in the name of Ortigas had been converted into a large subdivision
comprising numerous lots. A number of these lots were sold to Manila Interpublic Development Corporation (Interpublic)
and to Breeders Feeds, Inc. The Interpublic lots were later mortgaged to Manilabank as security for loans of Interpublic
itself and of seven other persons in the total amount of P195,985,200.00; and the lots of Breeders Feeds, Inc. were also
mortgaged as security for its own loans. The mortgages were foreclosed over a period of time from 1986 to 1990, and
new titles issued in favor of Manilabank as the highest bidder at the foreclosure sales. Manilabank further alleged that
since then, it had paid and been paying all taxes corresponding to the property (e.g., transfer and real estate taxes).

Molina filed a motion to dismiss this complaint, dated May 18, 1993. She alleged several grounds: litis pendentia, lack of
jurisdiction, bar by prior judgment, plaintiff's lack of status as a real party in interest, and failure of the complaint to state a
cause of action. She adverted to G. R. No. 109645 entitled "Ortigas & Co. Partnership Limited v. Judge Tirso Velasco and
Dolores Molina," in which the same relief is sought, i.e., "the declaration of nullity of the same Orders that ordered the
reconstitution of Title No. 124088 of . . . defendant Molina . . . ," and in which had been issued "a restraining Order/writ of
Injunction against selling/encumbering the property covered by the said title and those derived therefrom." It alleged that
the Trial Court had no jurisdiction to annul the judgment of a coordinate Court (reconstituting Molina's title); that the latter
orders constituted a bar to the action; and that plaintiff Manilabank was not a party to the agreements in question. A
similar motion was filed by Molina's co-defendant, Gateway Enterprises Co.

B. Orders of September 17, 1992 and November 25, 1993 Adverse to Molina
The motions were denied for lack of merit, by Order dated September 17, 1993. The Court pointed out inter alia that —

. . . The case in G. R. No. 109645 involves reconstitution while this case involves quieting
of title. The two actions are dissimilar in nature, rights and reliefs. This case does not
involve the annulment of orders/decision of a coordinate court. The LRC case merely
directed restoration by way of reconstitution of the titles, whereas this action is a direct
attack on Molina's title, whether reconstituted or not. Consequently, the order/decision in
the LRC case is not a bar to this suit wherein plaintiff is a real party in interest with a valid
cause of action.

After the filing by Molina of supplemental pleadings in support of her original motion to dismiss, the Court reaffirmed its
denial of Molina's attempts to summarily terminate the action, by another Order dated November 25, 1993.

C. The Present Recourse

Molina then filed in this Court on December 1, 1993, through counsel, Atty. Eufracio T. Layag, a petition for certiorari
dated November 29, 1993, seeking annulment of said Orders of November 25, 1993 and September 17, 1993 and the
dismissal of the action before the Court a quo upon the grounds set out in her motions to dismiss. This was docketed as
G. R. No. 112564. At the Court's direction, comment on the petition was filed by the respondents. Molina's cause in this
case is in essence dependent on the validity and efficacy of the reconstituted title she asserts over the land in dispute,
TCT No. 124088, which is the precise matter in issue in G. R. No. 109645. Hence, as announced in the opening
paragraph of this opinion, the two cases are hereby resolved jointly.

On December 9, 1993, through the same lawyer, Atty. Eufracio T. Layag, Molina filed a petition for certiorari with the
Court of Appeals, also dated November 29, 1993, which is identical in every respect, in content, allegation and prayer, to
that filed in this Court on December 1, 1993. Except for addressing itself to the Court of Appeals, said petition is identical,
page by page from page 1 to page 11, to the petition before this Court. 24

IV. Other Relevant Antecedents

Other facts, of judicial notice, or either admitted or uncontested, need be mentioned so that the issues may be placed in
proper perspective and thoroughly understood.

The cases just described — G. R. No. 109645 (QC RTC LRC Case No. Q-5404) and G. R. No. 112564 (QC RTC Case
No. Q93-15926) — are not the only ones which involve the parcels of land covered by Molina's reconstituted title (TCT
RT-58287 [formerly TCT No. 124088]), on the one hand, and Ortigas' titles (TCT's No. 77652 and 77653), on the other.
There are others which, considered conjointly with the cases at bench, reveal Molina's disparate efforts to assert
ownership over the property and nullify Ortigas' titles over them.

A. G. R. No. 91797 (CA G. R. SP No. 18085 and Quezon City RTC Case LRC
No. Q-336)

One such case is that which also originated in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, docketed as LRC No. Q-336 and
assigned by raffle to Branch 83. The case was one for registration of land, instituted sometime in August of 1974 by an
entity calling itself "Widows and Orphans Association, Inc.," or "WIDORA."

1. Dolores Molina's Claim

In that case, Dolores Molina filed a document entitled "Motion, Manifestations and Notice of Claim" dated August 24, 1978
as well as a separate opposition to the application for registration. Molina claimed ownership of 12 hectares of the land
applied for — the same property later made subject of her reconstitution petition — alleging that WIDORA had executed a
Deed of Quitclaim and Assignment dated August 10, 1978 in her favor, and that in that deed, a certain Flaviana V. Vda.
de Leon, "for herself and as President of the . . . (WIDORA)" "acknowledged and recognized" the ownership of Dolores
Molina — by acquisitive prescription, no mention being made of any purchase by the latter — over an unspecified portion
of the land sought to be registered with an area of twelve hectares, more or less. 25 The deed also assented to Molina's
intervention "as a party in Registration Case No. Q-336 . . . in order to protect her interest or claim in the above-described
property."

Ortigas also opposed WIDORA's application. It filed a motion to dismiss the proceeding on October 24, 1978 on the
ground that the land applied for was already titled in its name, its muniments of ownership being TCT's Numbered 77652
and 77653.

2. Trial Court's Order, March 30, 1988

However, the Regional Trial Court eventually rejected Ortigas' claim by Order dated March 30, 1988, holding that said
TCT's Numbered 77652 and 77653 were null and void because not derived from any decree of registration; and that
Molina was the lawful owner of the area of 12 to 14 hectares claimed by her.

3. Judgment of Court of Appeals of November 27, 1989


Its motion for reconsideration having been denied by Order May 19, 1989, Ortigas went up to the Court of Appeals on
certiorari, its action being docketed as CA G. R. SP No. 18085, praying for the setting aside of the Orders of March 30,
1988 and May 19, 1989, and for the dismissal of the registration case. The Appellate Court granted the writ prayed for. In
its decision promulgated on November 27, 1989, it declared that the decree recognizing Ortigas' ownership of the lands
embraced in its titles (TCT's No. 77652 and 77653) was binding against the whole world and constituted res judicata. It
categorically ruled that "Widora and Molina had no more right to apply for the same lands which had already been titled in
the name of Ortigas."

WIDORA appealed to the Supreme Court. Molina did not, and consequently the judgment in CA G. R. SP No. 18085
became final and executory as to her.

4. Review Proceedings in Supreme Court

WIDORA's appeal was docketed in this Court as G. R. No. 91797 and initially met with success. In a Decision rendered by
the Third Division on August 28, 1991, 26 the judgment of the Court of Appeals was reversed. But WIDORA's success
was short-lived.

5. Resolution of August 7, 1992

Acting on Ortigas' motion for reconsideration, and after hearing the parties in oral argument, considering their memoranda
in amplification of said oral argument, and re-examining the evidence of record, including the records of previously
decided cases — cases involving the titles of Ortigas which had gone through the whole range of ventilation before the
Court of First Instance, then the Court of Appeals, and finally the Supreme Court — the Court reconsidered its Decision of
August 28, 1991, in an extended Resolution promulgated on August 7, 1992. 27 It ruled that Ortigas' titles had already
been upheld and affirmed in three (3) other cases determined in 1906, 1985 and 1987, and that WIDORA's claim had
already been rejected by this Court.

The points stressed in the Resolution of August 7, 1992 and the precedents relied upon, may be summarized as follows:

1. TCT's No. 77652 and 77653 are genuine derivatives of Original Decree of Registration No.
1425, duly issued in G.L.R.O. Record No. 917 on April 26, 1905 by the Land Registration Court of
Manila. The validity of this Decree was affirmed on appeal by the Supreme Court in Cia. Agricola
de Ultramar v. Domingo, 6 Phil. 146 (1906).

2. The facts in Ortigas v. Hon. Ruiz, 148 SCRA 326, 331 (1987) prove that Decree No. 1425
confirmed ownership by the Compañia Agricola de Ultramar, Ortigas' predecessor-in- interest, of
the Hacienda de Mandaloyon, a large tract of land situated in what are now the cities of Manila
and Quezon City, and the municipality of Pasig.

3. The extent documentary sources of the boundaries of the Hacienda are the technical
descriptions thereof appearing in the initial notice of hearing in G.L.R.O. Record No. 917, which
was published in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in 1904: the "Manila American" and
"La Democracia." Copies of the pertinent issues of these newspapers were found in the Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C. and certified copies thereof were presented in the trial court
proceedings upheld by the Court of Appeals and ultimately by the Supreme Court through a
minute resolution, in del Rosario v. Ortigas, G. R. No. 66110, 16 February 1985.

4. The technical descriptions of the land covered by the two titles above mentioned, No. 77652
and 77653, demonstrate that the land lies within the boundaries of the Hacienda, as defined in
those extant sources.

5. These factual matters are set forth with greater clarity and detail in the decisions upheld by this
Court through minute resolutions in Navarro v. Ortigas, G. R. No. 50156, May 7, 1979 (affirming
the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G. R. No. 53125-R dated December 13, 1978), and in
del Rosario v. Ortigas, G. R. No. 66110, February 16, 1985 (sustaining the judgment of the Court
of Appeals in AC-G. R. CV No. 61456 dated December 29, 1983). 28 The judgments having been
rendered in proceedings in rem, and the factual matters resolved in Navarro and del Rosario
showing that "the land covered by Widora's application forms part of that vast tract of land
adjudicated to Ortigas' predecessor-in-interest in the 1906 decision," the judgments therein are
binding on Widora.

6. Equally important, Navarro and del Rosario sustained the judicial pronouncement that Transfer
Certificates of Title Numbered 77652 and 77653 had become and are now indefeasible and
incontrovertible; and this circumstance precludes cognizance by the Trial Court of WIDORA's
application for registration in its name of the same land in LRC No. Q-336 or acquisition of
jurisdiction over the case, the land now being conclusively registered under the Torrens System
in the name of Ortigas.

7. Parenthetically, WIDORA was also a party in Benito and WIDORA v. Ortigas, G. R. No. 69343,
February 6, 1985 — wherein the Court pronounced valueless the foundation of WIDORA's claims
over the land covered by TCT's No. 77652 and 77653: and alleged Spanish title dated April 25,
1894, Titulo de Propiedad No. 4136, said to be issued in the name of one Mariano San Pedro y
Esteban — "supposedly covering land of unimaginably large proportions: 173,000 hectares in
Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Rizal, Quezon City, Caloocan City and Pasay City."

WIDORA's motion for reconsideration of the Resolution of August 7, 1992 was denied with finality by the Court in its
Resolution dated October 28, 1992. It bears emphasizing that this Court's Resolution of August 7, 1992, which affirmed
the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G. R. SP No. 18085, is binding not only on WIDORA but also on Dolores V.
Molina who, as already mentioned, did not appeal from that decision of the Court of Appeals.

B. CA G. R. SP No. 23588

1. Origin: Case No. Q-90-4749) Filed by Dolores Molina

On February 22, 1990 — two (2) months or so after the judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA G. R. SP No. 18085
became final and executory as to her, declaring inter alia that "Widora and Molina had no more right to apply for the same
lands which had already been titled in the name of Ortigas" — Molina launched another attempt to litigate the same
cause. She commenced in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City an action for reconveyance against Ortigas, Interpublic
Development Corporation, Breeders Feeds, Inc., 29 Atty. Renan V. Santos (Receiver of Manilabank and Interpublic and
Breeders), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Manila Philippines Temple), City Treasurer of Quezon City, City
Assessor of Quezon City and Register of Deeds of Quezon City. The action was docketed as Case No. Q-90-4749 and
raffled to Branch 88. This time Molina based her claim to the twelve hectares of land at Ugong Norte (indicated more
precisely as measuring 126,278 sq. m.) on an alleged transfer — not from WIDORA but from Eusebia Molina and her
heirs Avelino P. Ramos and Felix P. Micael sometime in 1939 — and further averred that she had been unable to attend
to the titling of the property in her name because her time and efforts were entirely occupied with being her family's
breadwinner.

2. Trial Court's Orders of August 9, and November 14, 1990

Ortigas filed a motion to dismiss Molina's complaint, dated April 6, 1990. This the Court denied, by Order issued on
August 9, 1990. Ortigas' motion for reconsideration was also denied, by Order dated November 14, 1990.

3. Judgment of Court of Appeals of July 23, 1991

Again, Ortigas went up to the Court of Appeals on certiorari (docketed as CA G. R. SP No. 23588), and again succeeded
in reversing the Trial Court's judgment. In a Decision promulgated on July 23, 1991, the Court of Appeals directed the
dismissal of the reconveyance case instituted by Molina.

4. Modifying Resolution of December 4, 1991; Error Therein

The Court of Appeals however subsequently modified its decision. By Resolution dated December 4, 1991, 30 said Court
ordered the remand of the reconveyance case to Branch 88 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, there to be
consolidated with the registration case of WIDORA, LRC Case No. Q-336.

The Appellate Court evidently placed reliance on the original Decision of this Court (Third Division) in G. R. No. 91797
dated August 28, 1991 (directing remand "to the trial court [of the proceedings] for trial and adjudication on the merits"),
which had not attained finality at that time and, what is worse, was later completely reversed and set aside. As already
stated, this Court reconsidered the decision of August 28, 1991 and eventually affirmed the judgment of the Court of
Appeals, commanding the dismissal of WIDORA's application for registration. 31 Consolidation of Molina's reconveyance
case with said LRC Case No. Q-336 was therefore no longer possible.

It is germane to point out that on November 11, 1991 — about a year after the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.
R. SP No. 18085 became final and executory as to her, holding inter alia that "Widora and Molina had no more right to
apply for the same lands which had already been titled in the name of Ortigas," and barely two (2) months after the Court
of Appeals had resolved (albeit erroneously) to remand her reconveyance case (No. Q-90-4749) to Branch 88 of the
Quezon City Regional Trial Court for consolidation with LRC Case No. Q-336 — Molina initiated still another attempt to
litigate exactly the same claim. She filed the petition for reconstitution (LRC Case No. Q-5405) which has given rise to one
of the present proceedings (G. R. No. 109645).

V. The Court's Opinion

A painstaking analysis of the record of the cases at bar in relation to the relevant antecedents convinces the Court that the
proceedings in the sala of respondent Judge Velasco, LRC Case No. Q-5404, which resulted in the reconstitution of
Molina's title, are tainted with serious, even invalidating, defects and must consequently be nullified and set aside.

A. Lack of Jurisdiction for Failure of Notice

The respondent Court heard and decided the reconstitution case without having acquired jurisdiction of the nature or
subject matter. Republic Act No. 26, entitled "An Act Providing A Special Procedure For the Reconstitution of Torrens
Certificate of Title Lost or Destroyed," specifies the requisites to be met in order that the court may acquire competence to
act on a petition for reconstitution of title and grant the appropriate remedy. These requisites, which this Court has
repeatedly held to be mandatory and jurisdictional, are set forth in Section 13 of the statute. 32 Said section provides as
follows: 33
Sec. 13 The Court shall cause a notice of the petition, filed under the preceding section,
to be published, at the expense of the petitioner, twice in successive issues of the Official
Gazette, and to be posted on the main entrance of the provincial building and of the
municipal building of the municipality or city in which the land is situated, at least thirty
days prior to the date of hearing. The court shall likewise cause a copy of the notice to be
sent, by registered mail or otherwise, at the expense of the petitioner, to every person
named therein whose address is known, at least thirty days prior to the date of the
hearing. Said notice shall state among other things the number of the lost or destroyed
certificates of title if known, the name of the registered owner, the name of the occupants
or persons in possession of the property, the owner of the adjoining properties and all
other interested parties, the location, area and boundaries of the property, and the date
on which all persons having any interest therein must appear and file their claim of
objection to the petition. The petitioner shall, at the hearing, submit proof of the
publication, posting and service of the notice as directed by the court.

As the law makes quite clear, it is essential in reconstitution cases that:

1) notice of the petition be (a) published, at the expense of the petitioner, twice in successive
issues of the Official Gazette, and (b) posted on the main entrance of the provincial building and
of the municipal building of the municipality or city in which the land is situated, at least thirty days
prior to the date of hearing;

2) the notice state among other things the number of the lost or destroyed certificates of title if
known, the name of the registered owner, the name of the occupants or persons in possession of
the property, the owner of the adjoining properties and all other interested parties, the location,
area and boundaries of the property, and the date on which all persons having any interest
therein must appear and file their claim of objection to the petition;

3) a copy of the notice also be sent, by registered mail or otherwise, at the expense of the
petitioner, to every person named therein (i.e., the occupants or persons in possession of the
property, the owner of the adjoining properties and all other interested parties) whose address is
known, at least thirty days prior to the date of the hearing; and

4) at the hearing, petitioner submit proof of the publication, posting and service of the notice as
directed by the court.

The controlling doctrine as regards the indispensability of notice on the parties named in the statute is set out in Manila
Railroad Company v. Hon. Jose M. Moya, et al., 34 viz:

If no notice of the date of hearing of a reconstitution case is served on a possessor or one having
interest in the property involved, he is deprived of his day in court and the order of reconstitution
is null and void, even if otherwise the said order should have been final and executory.

Under Section 13 of Republic Act No. 26, notice of publication is not sufficient but such notice
must be actually sent or delivered to parties affected by the petition for reconstitution.

Judge Velasco's attention was drawn to the defects in the notice required by law. In point of fact, neither the petition for
reconstitution nor the Trial Court's Order requiring publication in the Official Gazette indicated the names and addresses
of any occupant or person in possession of the property covered by the reconstitution case, or any owner of the adjoining
properties. It was clear, too, that no notice had been given to Ortigas which, as owner of road lots within the area in
question, should be deemed an "interested party" in legal contemplation (although this latter defect was cured by Ortigas'
subsequent intervention and participation in the reconstitution case).

Yet the Judge did not require Molina to give notice of the petition to the adjoining owners and interested parties; this,
despite expressly acknowledging in his Order dated July 3, 1992, that his court had not as of that time indeed acquired
jurisdiction over the reconstitution case "considering the manifestation of . . . (Solicitor) Ma. Eloisa Castro that the
requirement of notice to the other adjacent owners has not as yet been submitted to the Court altho apparently the land in
question is being bounded by roads." 35 Instead, at Molina's instance, he authorized her to send notices of the petition to
the President of the Corinthian Homeowners Association, the Director of the Bureau of Lands and the City Engineer of
Quezon City. Now, obviously these three, whatever interest they may have in the case, or in the property involved, are not
the adjoining owners contemplated by law, on whom notice of the reconstitution proceedings must be served. Nor did
they, by their receipt of notice of the petition, incur the legal obligation to transmit such notice to the actual owners of the
adjoining lots, assuming they had knowledge of the latter's identities. There was thus, as a matter of actual fact, no notice
of the petition ever given to the owner(s) of the adjoining properties and all other interested parties. . There was, therefore,
through a faulty reading of the statute, or due to a desire to end the proceedings quickly, or because of some covert
purpose, a failure to comply with the law and a resultant failure on the part of the court to acquire jurisdiction over the
nature or subject-matter of the case.

B. Lack of Authority to Reinstate Withdrawn Case

Another serious error was the "revival" or reinstatement by His Honor of the case, some four months after it had been
dismissed pursuant to Rule 17 of the Rules of Court, upon an ex parte motion of Dolores V. Molina.
As above stated, on November 14, 1991 Molina filed with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City her application for the
reconstitution of her Transfer Certificate of Title No. 124088, which was docketed as LRC Case No. Q-5404. Fifteen days
later, she moved for permission to withdraw the petition, stating that she had to go to the United States on business for
some ten (10) months. The case was dismissed, or deemed withdrawn, by order of the Court. 36

Four months later, however, or on or about April 2, 1992, Molina filed an ex parte motion to "revive" LRC Case No. Q-
5404 and for admission of an amended petition for reconstitution of her title. The motion was granted in one or two days
and the petition set for hearing. This is manifest error.

The dismissal of the case, and the lapse of the reglementary period to reconsider or set aside the dismissal, effectively
operated to remove the case from the Court's docket. Even assuming the dismissal to be without prejudice, the case
could no longer be reinstated or "revived" by mere motion in the original docketed action, but only by the filing of another
complaint accompanied, of course, by the payment of the corresponding filing fees prescribed by law. The situation is not
at all altered by the circumstance that the dismissal of the action was effected by the plaintiff as a matter of right, without
order of the court, in accordance with Rule 17 of the Rules of Court. There having been a dismissal or withdrawal of the
action, albeit without prejudice, and the order considering the action withdrawn having become final, revival of the case
could not be done except through the commencement of a new action, i.e., by the filing of another complaint and the
payment of the concomitant docketing fees.

Section 1 of Rule 17 provides that an action "may be dismissed by the plaintiff without order of court by filing a notice of
dismissal at any time before service of the answer or of a motion for summary judgment." Such a dismissal (or withdrawal)
"is without prejudice" (i.e., without prejudice to its re-institution) unless "otherwise stated in the notice" (e.g., the notice
actually declares the dismissal to be with prejudice [to its re-filing] or states some fact barring subsequent re-litigation,
e.g., that the plaintiff has in truth no right of action against the defendant, or his right of action had prescribed, etc.).
However, even if not so stated expressly or impliedly, the notice of dismissal would nonetheless operate "as an
adjudication upon the merits when filed by a plaintiff who has once dismissed in a competent court an action based on or
including the same claim" (in other words, a plaintiff may not dismiss his action as a matter of right, by mere notice, more
than once).

To be sure, a plaintiff who has dismissed his action by notice under this provision may later change his mind and decide
to continue with it. In that event, since theoretically every final disposition of an action does not attain finality until after
fifteen (15) days therefrom, and consequently within that time the action still remains within the control of the Court, the
plaintiff may move to withdraw and set aside his notice of dismissal and revive his action, before that period lapses. But
after the dismissal has become final through the lapse of the fifteen-day reglementary period, the only way by which the
action may be resuscitated or "revived," is by the institution of a subsequent action through the filing of another complaint
and the payment of the fees prescribed by law. This is so because upon attainment of finality of the dismissal through the
lapse of said reglementary period, the Court loses jurisdiction and control over it and can no longer make any disposition
in respect thereof inconsistent with such dismissal.

The order of Judge Velasco reviving the reconstitution case was therefore legally inefficacious. It could not and did not
operate to reinstate the proceeding. And even assuming that the amended petition submitted by Molina together with her
motion to revive the case may be deemed a new petition, the non-payment of the requisite docketing fees precluded the
acquisition of jurisdiction by the Trial Court over the second proceeding. 37

C. Molina's Self-Contradictions

The record moreover discloses contradictions in the sworn asseverations of Dolores V. Molina relative to the manner of
her acquisition of ownership over the land in question and her possession of the documents of title over it, of so serious
and irreconcilable a character as to render it well nigh impossible to accord any credence to her claims.

1. As To Her Ownership of the Land

1. In 1978 she declared under oath 38 that she owned the property in question in virtue of "open
public, adverse . . ., continuous and uninterrupted possession for more than thirty (30) years or
since time immemorial thru herself, her tenants or predecessors-in-interest under claim of
ownership" — i.e., possession dating back, at the very least, to 1928. 39 She made no reference
whatever to purchase from Eusebia Molina (or assignment from WIDORA) as an alternative or
additional mode of acquisition.

2. In 1990 she abandoned the theory of acquisition by prescription -- or by assignment from


WIDORA -- and ascribed another foundation for her title to the disputed property. She alleged
under oath 40 that she had purchased the property from Eusebia Molina and her heirs, Avelino P.
Ramos and Felix P. Micael, sometime in 1939.

2. As Regards Possession of her Document of Title

a. In a pleading dated February 22, 1990 in Civil Case No. 90-4749 entitled "Dolores v. Molina v.
Ortigas & Company, Limited Partnership, et al.," she claimed under oath that she had been
unable to attend to the titling of the property bought by her husband sometime in 1939 from
Eusebia Molina and her heirs Avelino P. Ramos and Felix P. Micael, because "she was so
preoccupied as the sole breadwinner of the family . . .
b. At another time, however, she said that she had in fact tried to obtain title to the property and
as early as in the 1960's, had sought the help of former President Marcos for the purpose; that
unknown to her, the latter had succeeded in subsequently getting that title for her; and that the
certificate of title was actually delivered to her by Col. Balbino Diego in November, 1990 at her
house in Philam Life Homes Subdivision in Quezon City. 41

c. In November, 1991, 42 Molina stated that she had actual custody of the Torrens title to the
property: she was in possession of the owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. 124088.

d. In another pleading, however, she declared that in the middle of September, 1991, she did not
have said owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. 124088 in her possession; that it was already
missing as of that time, and could no longer be found despite diligent search, which is why she
had secured a certification from the Land Management Bureau to the effect that there is "a record
of . . . (her) property in a microfilm negative. 43

3. Implied Recognition of Ortigas' Ownership

Probably out of a desire to get the Mormons out of the picture ("off her back,"), by
inducing them to withdraw the appeal they were taking from Judge Velasco's decision in
the reconstitution case, LRC Case No. Q-5404 — Molina executed under date of
December 18, 1992 a document denominated "Quitclaim and Waiver," admitting the
Mormons' ownership ". . . over the portion covered by RT-58287 (124088) with an area of
8,860 sq. m. . . . covered by TCT No. 348048 of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City."
44 The document produced the desired result. The Mormons did withdraw their appeal.
What Molina did not realize, however, was that by recognizing the Mormons' ownership,
she thereby inferentially acknowledged ownership of Ortigas from whom the former had
acquired their property.

D Inconsistency Between Trial Court's Conclusions and Supreme Court's Prior


Final Dispositions Anent Ortigas' Titles

Perhaps the most decisive factors in the resolution of this controversy are the final dispositions already made by this Court
relative to the titles of Ortigas, which Molina would invalidate and overthrow, and to which the attention of the respondent
Judge had been insistently drawn. These dispositions are matters of public record, are indeed facts of judicial notice
which it is not possible for the Court to ignore.

There is no debate about the fact that the land being claimed by Molina lies within that titled in the name of Ortigas and its
predecessor-in-interest. Now, the latter's documents of ownership have been passed upon, and sanctioned and sustained
by this Court more than once. These dispositions and adjudgments now operate to put its title to the lands thereby
covered and embraced beyond the pale of further judicial inquiry. No court in the country now has competence to take
cognizance of applications for the registration anew of said lands in the name of persons other than Ortigas or its
predecessor-in-interest, or successors and assigns, or entertain further challenges to the validity and efficacy of the
latter's titles. These matters have long since been laid to rest by this Court's decisions, already described earlier, 45 and
hereunder again cited: 46

1. The Court's judgment in Cia. Agricola de Ultramar v. Domingo, 6 Phil. 146 (1906) affirmed on appeal the validity of
Original Decree of Registration No. 1425, duly issued in G.L.R.O. Record No. 917 on April 26, 1905 by the Land
Registration Court of Manila, in relation to the Hacienda de Mandaloyon, a large tract of land situated in what is now the
cities of Manila and Quezon City, and the Municipality of Pasig, in favor of the Compañia Agricola de Ultramar,
predecessor-in-interest of Ortigas. Ortigas' titles, TCT's No. 77652 and 77653 are genuine derivatives thereof of the title of
the Cia. Agricola de Ultramar.

2. Ortigas v. Hon. Ruiz, 148 SCRA 326, 331 (1987) is additional affirmation of the confirmation by Decree No. 1425 of the
ownership of the Compañia Agricola de Ultramar of the Hacienda de Mandaloyon.

3. The Court's Minute Resolution dated 16 February 1985 in Del Rosario v. Ortigas, G. R. No. 66110, refusing to review
on certiorari the judgment of the Court of Appeals therein challenged, in effect sustained the latter. Said judgment of the
Court of Appeals pertinently ruled that the extant documentary sources of the boundaries of the Hacienda de Mandalayon
are the technical descriptions thereof appearing in the initial notice of hearing in G.L.R.O. Record No. 917, which was
published in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in 1904: the "Manila American" and "La Democracia" and that
copies of the pertinent issues of these newspapers were found in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. and certified
copies thereof were presented in the trial court proceedings. The technical descriptions of the land covered by the two
titles above mentioned, No. 77652 and 77653, demonstrate that the land lies within the boundaries of the Hacienda, as
defined in those extant sources.

4. These fact were also upheld by this Court through a minute resolution in Navarro v. Ortigas, G. R. No. 50156, May 7,
1979 (affirming the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. No. 53125-R 66110, 16 February 16, 1985 (sustaining
the judgment of the Court of Appeals in AC-G. R. CV No. 61456 dated December 29, 1983). 47 The judgments were
rendered in proceedings in rem.

5. Both Navarro and del Rosario sustained the judicial pronouncement that Transfer Certificates of Title Numbered 77652
and 77653 of Ortigas had become indefeasible and incontrovertible — a circumstance that precluded cognizance by the
Trial Court of WIDORA's subsequent application for registration in its name of the same land, docketed as LRC No. Q-
336, considering that "the land covered by Widora's application forms part of that vast tract of land adjudicated to Ortigas'
predecessor-in-interest in the 1906 decision."

6. This Court's Resolution of August 7, 1992, which affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G. R. SP No.
18085 (rendered on November 27, 1989), is binding not only on WIDORA but also on Dolores V. Molina who did not
appeal from said decision of the Court of Appeals. In that decision of November 27, 1989, it will be recalled, the Court of
Appeals declared that the decree recognizing Ortigas' titles to the lands embraced in its titles (TCT's No. 77652 and
77653) was binding against the whole world and constituted res judicata. It categorically ruled that "Widora and Molina
had no more right to apply for the same lands which had already been titled in the name of Ortigas."

7. Judge Velasco's awareness of the existence of decades-old Torrens titles covering the land subject of the reconstitution
case commenced by Dolores Molina, should have deterred him from proceeding therewith; or impelled to him to proceed
with the utmost caution, in line with this Court's pronouncements in Alabang Development Corporation, et al. v.
Valenzuela, 48 and other precedents. 49 In said rulings, this Court has cautioned "courts . . . (to) exercise the greatest
caution in entertaining . . . petitions for reconstitution of allegedly lost certificates of title, particularly where the petitions
are filed . . . after an inexplicable delay . . . after the alleged loss. . . . . We can take judicial notice of innumerable
litigations and controversies that have been spawned by the reckless and hasty grant of such reconstitution of alleged lost
or destroyed titles as well as of the numerous purchasers who have been victimized by forged or fake titles or their areas
simply "expanded" through "table surveys" with the cooperation of unscrupulous officials." 50 So, too, this Court has
stressed "that lands already covered by duly issued existing Torrens titles (which become incontrovertible upon the
expiration of one year from their issuance under section 38 of the Land Registration Act) cannot be the subject of petitions
for reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles filed by third parties without first securing by final judgment the
cancellation of such existing titles. (And as the Court reiterated in the recent case of Silvestre vs. Court of Appeals [G. R.
Nos. L-32694 and L-33119, July 16, 1982], "in cases of annulment and/or reconveyance of title, a party seeking it should
establish not merely by a preponderance of evidence but by clear and convincing evidence that the land sought to be
reconveyed is his") . . . . ("considering the ease and facility with which documents are made to appear as official and
authentic" e.g., "from mere xerox copies and certifications of officials supposedly signed with the seals of their office
affixed therein. "51)

E. Trial Court's Lack of Authority to Dismiss Appeals of Ortigas and Solicitor


General

Yet another serious error was the disallowance by His Honor of Ortigas' appeal from the judgment in the reconstitution
case, declaring its notice of appeal to be nothing but "a mere scrap of paper." 52 His Honor opined that "Ortigas is . . not
vested with any justiciable interest to be a party in (the) case" because it had admittedly "already sold all the subdivision
lots which it claims to overlap the disputed two lots (of Molina)," and Ortigas' pleadings "failed to disclose . . . any
allegation about its ownership of road lots that may overlap the land covered by the certificate of title of petitioner sought
to be reconstituted;" and that therefore Ortigas was not a real party in interest since it would neither derive benefit nor
suffer injury from the decision; hence, its opposition could not be entertained and, "by force of law," it could not also
appeal the decision.

His Honor was apparently incognizant of the principle that dismissals of appeals from the judgment of a Regional Trial
Court by the latter are authorized only in the instances specifically set forth in Section 13, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.
The succeeding provision, Section 14 of said Rule 41, provides that "(a) motion to dismiss an appeal may be filed in the
(Regional Trial) Court . . . prior to the transmittal of the record to the appellate court;" and the grounds are limited to those
"mentioned in the preceding section," i.e., Section 13, to wit: where "the notice of appeal, appeal bond, or record on
appeal is not filed within the period of time herein provided . . . "

These two (2) sections clearly establish "that unless the appeal is abandoned, the only ground for dismissing an appeal in
the trial court is the failure of the appellant to file on time the notice of appeal, appeal bond, or record on appeal. . . . (A)
trial court may not dismiss an appeal as frivolous, or on the ground that the case has become moot and academic, such
step devolving upon the appellate courts. Otherwise, the way would be opened for (regional trial) courts . . . to forestall
review or reversal of their decisions by higher courts, no matter how erroneous or improper such decisions should be." 53

Note, however, that since the requirement of an appeal bond or a record on appeal has been eliminated, dismissal of the
appeal on the ground of a failure to file said bond or record within the prescribed period is no longer possible.
Exceptionally, a record on appeal is still required in special proceedings and cases where multiple appeals are allowed;
hence, a failure in these instances to file a record on appeal within the reglementary period is still a ground for dismissal of
an appeal.

Dismissals of appeal may also be had upon the grounds specified by Rule 50 of the Rules of Court; but it is the Court of
Appeals, not the trial court, which is explicitly authorized to dismiss appeals on said grounds. Generally, these grounds do
not include matters which go into the merits of the cause or to the right of the plaintiff or defendant to recover. 54 Case
law has come to recognize other grounds for dismissal, by way of exception, e.g., that the cause has become moot, 55 or
the appeal is frivolous or manifestly dilatory. 56 But, to repeat, authority to dismiss an appeal on the ground that it is
frivolous or taken manifestly for delay "is not certainly with the court a quo whose decision is in issue, but with the
appellate court." 57

Moreover, the trial Judge's conclusion that Ortigas had no material interest in the litigation and therefore no standing to
appeal from the decision therein is incorrect.
There is in the first place, the conceded fact that Ortigas still retained title to a considerable number of street lots within
the land in question, which it would lose if the entire area were declared to belong to Molina. Again, the respondent
Judge's acknowledgment of Ortigas' status of vendor of all the subdivision lots covered by Molina's adverse claim, was
implicit recognition of its right and obligation to defend its vendees' titles being impugned by Molina precisely on the theory
that Ortigas' titles were void, a right and obligation arising from the warranty against eviction imposed on it by law. 58 The
avoidance of liability for eviction is certainly an interest of sufficient substance to concede to Ortigas capacity to litigate as
party in interest in the reconstitution proceeding, prescinding from its stated intention of preventing the perpetration of
fraud by Molina upon Ortigas' vendees and successors-in-interest and upon the public at large.

The doctrines and legal considerations just set out also demonstrate the error of the Trial Judge's striking out of the
appeal sought to be taken by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) from the adverse Orders in LRC Case No. Q-5404
on the theory that its appeal was "sham" because it had "not filed any formal opposition to the petition and neither has it
introduced and/or formally offered any evidence to warrant its dismissal, etc. 59

Prescinding from the patent fact that the records do contain (1) the formal objection of the OSG to Molina's petition for
reconstitution on the ground inter alia that no actual notice had been given to the adjacent owners, an omission that the
Trial Judge had precisely acknowledged; 60 (2) the report of the Land Registration Authority drawing the Court's attention
to irregularities in the petition, e.g., that the plan relied upon by Molina, Psd-16740 "appears to be derived from two
different surveys, numbered Psu-1148 & Psu-20191, neither of which appear(s) to have been the subject of original
registration; thus it is presumed that no original title had been issued from which TCT-124088 could have emanated;" that
said plan "is a portion of (LRC) SWO-15352 which is being applied for registration of title in Land Reg. Case No. Q-336,
LRC Rec. No. N-50589," etc.; 61 (3) the notice of appeal of the OSG from the judgment of September 23, 1992; 62 (4) the
motion of the OSG for reconsideration of the Order of October 14, 1992 63 — unmistakably indicating the active
opposition of the OSG to the Molina petition for reconstitution — the rule, as already explained, is that Trial Courts have
no competence to dismiss appeals on the stated ground or any other going to the merits thereof. While it may be
assumed that Trial Courts are morally convinced of the correctness of the judgments and orders that they may
promulgate, and hence, in most cases, they honestly believe that appeals from their judgments or final orders are inutile,
frivolous, dilatory, this gives them no warrant to reject appeals on these grounds; otherwise, the right of appeal would be
rendered largely illusory.

Now, as regards the other ground cited by the Trial Judge for dismissal of the Solicitor General's appeal: tardiness. The
record shows that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) received notice of the judgment of September 23, 1992 on
September 24, 1992. The OSG posted its notice of appeal at the Ermita Post Office on October 9, 1992, i.e., on the
fifteenth day after its receipt of notice of the judgment. 64 The timeliness of the appeal is thus beyond dispute.

F. Trial Court's Lack of Authority to Order Immediate Execution

The grant of Molina's motion for immediate execution of the judgment for reconstitution of her title, pursuant to Section 2
of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, constitutes yet another serious error. Insofar as it is premised on the theory that Ortigas'
appeal was "frivolous and interposed only for purposes of delay," such grant is indefensible for the reasons already stated
relative to the Judge's disallowance of the Ortigas appeal.

It is also attempted to justify immediate execution as necessary in order "to prevent wastage of income," or "avoid the
possibility of . . . judgment becoming illusory or to minimize damage unduly suffered by the prevailing party or to prevent
further damage," as well as by Molina's "advanced age." In the context of the circumstances obtaining in the case at bar,
these grounds are meaningless. The Trial Judge could not be unaware that Ortigas' titles had existed for many, many
years. Granting that His Honor had been made to believe by Molina's evidence that those titles should be invalidated, and
decreed this in his judgment, he may not, ascribing such infallibility to his judgment as to preclude the possibility of its
being overturned on appeal, condemn any appeal sought to be taken therefrom as idle and merely generative of needless
injury to the prevailing party. Otherwise, the exception would become the general rule; judgments such as that rendered in
this case could be routinely executed on the assertion that the prevailing party would suffer injury because his income
would be wasted, or he would be caused further damage, or, that he is of advanced age, absent any competent and
persuasive showing that precisely because of his age, he would not survive an appeal.

G. Forum-Shopping by Molina

Finally, the relevant records expose Molina's forum-shopping, warranting imposition of the sanctions prescribed by
established rule.

1. As earlier narrated, in CA G. R. SP No. 18085 — treating of an attack against Ortigas' titles by Widows and Orphans
Association, Inc. (WIDORA) and Dolores Molina — the Court of Appeals granted the writ of certiorari prayed for, annulling
and setting aside the Orders of the Trial Court which had sustained WIDORA's and Molina's assaults against said titles. In
its decision promulgated on November 27, 1989, the Court of Appeals declared that the decades-old decree recognizing
Ortigas' ownership of the lands embraced in its titles (TCT's No. 77652 and 77653) was binding against the whole world
and constituted res judicata., and categorically ruled that "Widora and Molina had no more right to apply for the same
lands which had already been titled in the name of Ortigas." This judgment became final and executory as to Molina, for
while WIDORA appealed to the Supreme Court, Molina did not.

2. This notwithstanding, on February 22, 1990 — about two (2) months after said judgment in CA G. R. SP No. 18085
became final and executory as to Molina, said judgment, to repeat, having held inter alia that "Widora and Molina had no
more right to apply for the same lands which had already been titled in the name of Ortigas" — Molina initiated another
attempt to litigate the same cause. She instituted in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court an action for reconveyance
against Ortigas, Interpublic Development Corporation, Breeders Feeds, Inc., 65 Atty. Renan V. Santos (Receiver of
Manilabank and Interpublic and Breeders), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Manila Philippines Temple), City
Treasurer of Quezon City, City Assessor of Quezon City and Register of Deeds of Quezon City. This time she imputed her
claim to the same land at Ugong Norte (with an area of 126,278 sq. m.) to an alleged transfer — not by assignment from
WIDORA but by purchase from Eusebia Molina and her heirs Avelino P. Ramos and Felix P. Micael sometime in 1939.

Again this action ultimately resulted in a judgment adverse to Molina. In another certiorari action (CA G. R. SP NO.
23588), the Court of Appeals, by decision dated July 23, 1991, set aside the Trial Court's judgment and directed the
dismissal of Molina's action. 66

3. Then on November 11, 1991 — a year or so after the above-mentioned decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G. R.
SP No. 18085 became final and executory (holding inter alia that "Widora and Molina had no more right to apply for the
same lands which had already been titled in the name of Ortigas,") and some two (2) months after the Court of Appeals
had directed the dismissal of Molina's second action (No. Q-90-4749, Branch 88 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court)
— Molina again launched yet another attempt, a third, to litigate exactly the same claim. She filed the petition for
reconstitution (LRC Case No. Q-5405) which has given rise to one of the present proceedings, G. R. No. 109645.

4. In Case No. Q-93-15920 of Branch 105 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, instituted in 1993 by the Manila
Banking Corporation (Manilabank) for annulment of the titles of Dolores Molina and her vendee, Gateway Enterprises
Company, Inc., Molina asserted substantially the same claims made in the actions above mentioned. This she did by way
of a motion to dismiss which was however denied. On December 1, 1993, she filed through her counsel, Atty. Eufracio T.
Layag, a petition for certiorari with this Court (docketed as G. R. No. 112564) — to annul the Regional Trial Court's Order
dated September 17, 1993 denying her motion to dismiss, and that dated November 25, 1993, denying reconsideration.
Eight (8) days later, on December 9, 1993, through the same lawyer, Atty. Eufracio T. Layag, Molina filed another petition
for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, also dated November 29, 1993 (docketed as CA-G. R. No. 32778) which, as
heretofore stated, is identical to that filed in this Court on December 1, 1993, the only difference being that instead of the
Supreme Court as the tribunal where the same was filed, it is the Court of Appeals that is indicated. 67 Except for this, to
repeat, each page, from page 1 to page 11 of the Molina petition in this Court, is exactly the same as each page, from
page 1 to page 11, of her petition in the Court of Appeals.

These facts plainly and amply demonstrate Molina's guilt of forum-shopping, i.e., the act of a party against whom an
adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum, of seeking another (and possibly favorable) opinion in another forum
other than by appeal or the special civil action of certiorari, 68 or the institution of two (2) or more actions or proceedings
grounded on the same cause on the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition. Forum-
shopping is contumacious, as well as an act of malpractice that is proscribed and condemned as trifling with the courts
and abusive of their processes. A violation of the rule against forum-shopping warrants prosecution for contempt of court
and constitutes ground for summary dismissal of the actions involved, without prejudice to appropriate administrative
action against the counsel. 69

H. No Need for Remand of Case to Court A Quo

Ordinarily, the relief indicated by the material facts would be the remand of the reconstitution case (LRC No. Q-5405) to
the Court of origin with instructions that Ortigas' and the Solicitor General's appeals from the judgment rendered therein,
which were wrongly disallowed, be given due course and the records forthwith transmitted to the appellate tribunal. This,
in fact, is a relief alternatively prayed for by petitioner Ortigas. Considering however the fatal infirmities afflicting Molina's
theory or cause of action, evident from the records before this Court, such a remand and subsequent appeal proceedings
would be pointless and unduly circuitous. Upon the facts, it is not possible for Molina's cause to prosper. To defer
adjudication thereon would be unwarranted and unjust.

VI Final Disposition

WHEREFORE, the petition in G. R. No. 109645 is GRANTED; and that in G. R. No. 112564, DENIED for lack of merit.

In G. R. No. 109645, the Decision dated September 23, 1992 of Respondent Judge Tirso Velasco, Presiding Judge of
Branch 88 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, in LRC Case No. Q-5404, as well as his Orders dated April 3, 1992,
October 14, 1992, and February 10, 1993, are NULLIFIED AND SET ASIDE; the titles of Dolores Molina upheld and
reconstituted by said decision and orders — namely, Transfer Certificates of Title Numbered 124088 and RT-58287 —
and those derived therefrom and subsequently issued — namely, Transfer Certificates of Title Numbered 83163, 83164,
83165, 83166 and 83167 — are all Declared NULL AND VOID and are hereby CANCELLED; said LRC Case No. Q-5404
of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City is DISMISSED; and the temporary restraining order of this Court of May 12,
1993 is MADE PERMANENT.

In G. R. No. 112564, the Orders of respondent Presiding Judge of Branch 105 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City
in Case No. Q-93-15920 dated September 17, 1993 and November 25, 1993 are AFFIRMED; and said Judge is
DIRECTED to proceed to dispose of said Case No. Q-93-15920 with all deliberate dispatch conformably with this
decision.

Dolores Molina and her counsel, Atty. Eufracio T. Layag, and Dr. Jose Teodorico V. Molina, are ORDERED to SHOW
CAUSE, within ten (10) days from notice of this judgment, why they should not be pronounced liable, and correspondingly
dealt with, for violation of the rule against forum-shopping.

SO ORDERED.