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Rights of a titled land owner

Fely and Gel sued their first cousin, Numer. They claim that they are the registered owners of that parcel of unirrigated riceland; that they had allowed Numer the free use of the land out of benevolence; and that they now immediately needed the parcel of land for their own use and had accordingly demanded that Numer should vacate and return it to them but he had refused.

Numer countered that he did not vacate because he was the owner of the land in question. He asserted that the land in question is covered by tax declaration in the name of his deceased father, Paeng, and, upon the death of his father, he inherited the same; and that he and his predecessors-in-interest had also continuously, publicly and adversely and in the concept of owner possessed the parcel of land for more than 59 years.

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Q: What is the legal significance of a certificate of title?

A: A certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible and incontrovertible title to the property in favor of the person whose name appears therein. The certificate of title thus becomes the best proof of ownership of a parcel of land. Hence, anyone who deals with property registered under the Torrens system may rely on the title and need not go beyond the title. It is only when the acquisition of the title is attended with fraud or bad faith that the doctrine of indefeasibility finds no application.

Q: Who is entitled to the preferential right to the possession of the land in question?

A: Fely and Gel, having preferential right, conformed to the age-old rule that whoever held a Torrens title in his name is entitled to the possession of the land covered by the title. Indeed, possession, which is the holding of a thing or the enjoyment of a right, was but an attribute of their registered ownership.

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Q: Aside from possession, what are the other rights of a titled owner?

A: The owner has not only the right to enjoy and dispose of a thing without other limitations than those established by law, but also the right of action against the holder and possessor of the thing in order to recover it. He may exclude any person from the enjoyment and disposal of the thing, and, for this purpose, he may use such force as may be reasonably necessary to repel or prevent an actual or threatened unlawful physical invasion or usurpation of his property. (Source: Abobon vs. Abobon, G.R. No. 155830, Aug. 15, 2012)

Ma. Soledad Deriquito-Mawis is Dean, Lyceum of the Philippines University; Chairperson, Philippine Association of Law Schools; founder, Mawis Law Office

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TAGS: Business, column, property, Property Rules, rights, titled land owner
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