TUBA, Benguet – Claimants of a vast tract of land in sitio Topinao, barangay Poblacion here petitioned the 5th Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) to render a decision ordering spouses Hazel Dominique Tan and William Tan and the Registry of Deeds of Benguet to reconvey to them the portions of land in the area which are covered by the new certificates of titles issued in the spouses’ names since the registration was erroneous and wrongful, and that they are the rightful and legal owners.
The questioned property allegedly forms part of the lot that was purchased by the Baguio City government from the Tans in the amount of P95 million which was already paid in full by the city government amidst resistance from certain officials because of the brewing controversy.
In their 17-page petition, the heirs of several families who are claimants of the said property also prayed that the court order the defendants to pay moral damages of P50,000 for each plaintiff, exemplary damages of P100,000, attorneys fees of P50,000, appearances fees of P3,000 per hearing and cost of litigation.
The plaintiffs are said to be land owners or possessors of certain parcels of land located at Topinao, Poblacion here which they and their predecessors-in-interest have been in possession since time in memorial or for more than 40 years.
The disputed parcel of land was previously owned by the late Florendo Lamsie/Lamsis, the father of Elly Willy, Virginia Lamsie, Anthony Lamsie, and Macwid Lamsie.
On February 3, 1964, Florendo Lamsie acquired the said parcel of land from Benjamin Suello as shown by Added of Sale of Portion of Unregistered Land. The subject land is a portion of TD No. 3027.
After the purchase by Florendo Lamsie of the subject land in 1964, he owned and possessed the same located in sitio Topinao, barangay Poblacion in an open, continuous, exclusive and notorious manner and that the land is where he lived with his family, where he established a family house where some of his children were born and raised.
Further, the said Deed of Sale provides a notation which states that substantially, the area of the land sold may increase or decrease but that the corners must not be changed or moved, hence, the area covered thereby is not limited to 25,000 square meters as mentioned in the said document.
Tracing the history of TD 3027, the same was canceled by tax declarations issued in the name of the heirs of Wacat Suello. TD 7676 in the name of Benjamin Suello was derived from the same.
After the sale made in favor of Florendo Lamsie, TD 7676 was subdivided into 2 lots and that TD 2095 in the name of Benjamin Suello was issued and another, TD 2096. was issued to Florendo Lamsie for the land he bought from Benjamin Suello.
Thereafter TD 2096 was revised by TD 1018 and TD 1290. These were issued in the name of Florendo Lamsis for the same land he bought from Benjamin Suello.
The plaintiffs claimed that the said parcel of land originally owned by Florendo Lamsie and the lot he bought from Benjamin Suello, would later be passed to his successors upon his death.
Moreover, the late Elly Willy, one of the children of Florendo Lamsie, allegedly caused the transfer of the tax declaration in the name of Florendo Lamsie to her name, hence, TD 14973 and ARP No. 95-001-02402 were issued in her name.
Again, Ms. Willy caused the transfer of the said tax declaration from her to Florendo Agri-Indl. Ventures Corporation which was then issued TD 99-001-00077 and ARP No. 99-001-094344.
In 2001, the land was covered by TD 99-001-00077 and ARP No. 99-001-094344 in the name of Florendo Agri-Indl. Ventures Corporation was subjected to a survey which was later approved by the DENR as SGS-CAR-000078. Upon relocation, it was established that it has an area of 35,437 square meters more or less.
Plaintiffs Virginia Lamsie-Benito, Macwid Lamsie, Anthony Lamsie and the late Walter Lamsie, filed a case against their sister, the late Elly Willy, and as an offshoot of the said case, Ms. Willy, again caused the transfer of the tax declarations in the name of Florendo Agri-Indl. Ventures Corporation, back to her so that she may eventually transfer portions of the same to her siblings, thus, TD 99-001-09470 was issued in the name of Elly Willy and was later revised by TD 2010-04-01-05000 also in her name and which is now the existing tax declaration covering the area or the land subject of the case.
Despite the foregoing transfer of tax declarations and the controversies among the plaintiffs themselves, nonetheless, they never left the area. They remained in occupation of the subject land in a manner which is adverse to the whole world with each asserting rights in the land as derived from their common predecessor-in-interest Florendo Lamsie.
On February 21, 2017, some of the plaintiffs filed a complaint for forcible entry against the Tans because they and several men acting under them, through the use of force, strategy, stealth and even violence, then proceeded in occupying and/or possessing portions of the land owned by the plaintiffs. The Tuba-Sablan MCTC and the RTC Branch 8 of La Trinidad ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
However, at the time when some of the plaintiffs filed their forcible entry case, they learned that a petition for the correction of technical description of the Tans of their land holdings was filed with the RTC of Benguet which was raffled to Branch 63 where the same was filed on June 14, 2016. The defendants acquired the land holdings from Angeline Suello Aquipao and her husband the late Engr. Aquipao.
On February 23, 2017, some of the plaintiffs then filed their opposition to the said petition.
The petition stated that a cursory reading of the petition then filed by the Tans showed that they allegedly attached a verification survey identified as VS-CAR-000163 which they claimed should be the basis for the correction of the technical description of their titles TCT No. 67494 and TCT No. 67495.
Apparently, the petition added that their verification survey which was then submitted was the basis for the fencing activities of the Tans in the landholdings of some of the plaintiffs. In other words, the Tans were using the said verification survey to practically grab the land holdings of the plaintiffs.
On June 23, 2022, the Tans submitted a manifestation and motion stating that they are withdrawing their petition for the correction of the technical description of their titles as it was mentioned in their manifestation and motion that they are offering to sell the said properties to the Baguio City government.
The city government reportedly requested the Tans to delineate the portions of their titled properties that are occupied by other persons, including the plaintiffs in the said case.
For reasons only known to the Tans and apparently in alleged connivance with unscrupulous employees of the DENR-CAR, the plaintiffs disclosed that 2 new subdivision surveys were executed based on the assailed verification survey. These plans were identified as PCS-CAR-002392 and PSD-CAR-031148.
Based on the said plans, without any court order approving the change in the technical description of the titles of the Tans, TCT No. 67494 and TCT No. 67495, new titles were reportedly issued which were identified as TCT No. 016-2022000726, TCT No. 016-2022000727, TCT No. 016-2021003777, TCT No. 016-2021003778 and TCT No. 016-2021003779.
According to the petition for quitting of titles and reconveyance, the subdivision by the Tans based on the new surveys will prejudice their rights as owners of the subject lots. The issuance of the new titles of the land added cloud upon the titles or rights of ownership of the plaintiffs over the lands.
As what had been argued by the plaintiffs in their opposition to the correction of the technical descriptions of the Tans, the verification survey of the defendants delineated as their basis was inappropriate. It allegedly encroached upon the lands depicted in SGS-CAR000078. It was originally executed with certain reference point. However, in the questioned survey, the reference used by the Tans was different.
It was found out that the alleged encroachment of the Tans to the lot owned by the plaintiffs is more or less 11,000 square meters more or less.
Despite the fact that the plaintiff’s predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of their land holdings, they alleged that the Tans have never been in possession of the land that is covered by their supposed new titles.
The plaintiffs asserted that the foregoing cloud must therefore be removed and that the proper reference points should be declared as the true and correct reference point to show the real intent of the late Benjamin Suello when he sold a portion of his land to /Florendo Lamsis and to avoid confusion. (Contributed article)