Legally Yours

Mindanao Development Authority v. CA

Statutory Construction.  Nullum tempus occurrit regi.
Mindanao Development Authority v. CA
G.R. No. L-49087 April 5, 1982

Respondent Francisco Ang Bansing was the owner of a big tract of land situated in Barrio Panacan Davao City. Ang Bansing sold a portion thereof, with an area of about 5 hectares to Juan Cruz Yap Chuy. A cadastral survey was made and Lot 664-B-3 was designated as Lot 1846-C of the Davao Cadastre. Juan Cruz sold Lot 1846-C to the Commonwealth of the Philippines for the amount of P6,347.50. On February 25, 1965, the President of the Philippines issued Proclamation No. 459, transferring ownership of certain parcels of land situated in Sasa Davao City, to the Mindanao Development Authority, now the Southern Philippines Development Administration, subject to private rights, if any. Lot 1846-C, the disputed parcel of land, was among the parcels of land transferred to the Mindanao Development Authority in said proclamation.

Whether or not there was an express trust between Ang Bansing and Juan Cruz over Lot 1846-C of Davao Cadastre

No express trust had been created between Ang Bansing and Juan Cruz over Lot 1846-C of the Davao Cadastre. Herein petitioner relies mainly upon the following stipulation in the deed of sale executed by Ang Bansing in favor of Juan Cruz to prove that an express trust had been established with Ang Bansing as the settlor and trustee and Juan Cruz as the cestui que trust or beneficiary. The stipulation, however, is nothing but a condition that Ang Bansing shall pay the expenses for the registration of his land and for Juan Cruz to shoulder the expenses for the registration of the land sold to him. The stipulation does not categorically create an obligation on the part of Ang Bansing to hold the property in trust for Juan Cruz. Hence, there is no express trust. Thus, the petition is denied.
In a separate opinion of Justice Aquino, however, it is said that the disputed land should be adjudicated to the government agency known as the Southern Philippines Development Administration, the successor of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. It is argued that Ang Bansing did not touch at all Lot No. 1846-C because he knew that it was not his property and that it belonged to the State. It is claimed that Ang Bansing was the true owner of Lot No. 1846-C, there being an express trust in this case. In any event, the real plaintiff, in this case, is the Republic of the Philippines and prescription does not run against the State. The maxim is nullum tempus occurrit regi or nullum tempus occurrit reipublicae (lapse of time does not bar the right of the crown or lapse of time does not bar the Commonwealth). The best reason for its existence is the great public policy of preserving public rights and property from damage and loss through the negligence of public officers. The government officials concerned were negligent in not intervening in the land registration proceeding or in not promptly asking Ang Bansing to reconvey the disputed lot to the Commonwealth or to the Republic of the Philippines. Such negligence does not prejudice the State. The negligence or omissions of public officers as to their public duties will not work an estoppel against the State.

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