Unsatisfied, the Salazars appealed to the CA, which ruled in their favor. According to the CA, it was erroneous for Branch 64 of the RTC of Tarlac to reverse and declare as null and void the decision of Branch 63, which is a court of
equal rank. Such issue should have been properly ventilated in an action for annulment of final judgment. Consequently, the orders issued by RTC Branch 63, had become final and executory, hence, covered by res judicata. The CA also struck down the arguments raised by the appellees that the orders of RTC Branch 63 are null and void for lack of proper notice. It ratiocinated that the proceeding is a land registration proceeding, which is an action in rem. This being so, personal notice to the owners or claimants of the land sought to be registered is not necessary in order to vest the court with jurisdiction over the res and over the parties. A motion for reconsideration was filed, but the same was denied. Hence, this petition. Pivotal to the resolution of this case is the determination of the validity of the action taken by the Salazars in Branch 63 of the RTC of Tarlac. We rule for petitioners. It is true that the registration of land under the Torrens system is a proceeding in rem and not in personam. Such a proceeding in rem , dealing with a tangible res , may be instituted and carried to judgment without personal service upon the claimants within the state or notice by mail to those outside of it. Jurisdiction is acquired by virtue of the power of the court over the res. Such a proceeding would be impossible were this not so, for it would hardly do to make a distinction between constitutional rights of claimants who were known and those who were not known to the plaintiff, when the proceeding is to bar all. Interestingly, however, the proceedings instituted by the Salazars—both in Branch 63 of the RTC of Tarlac for the cancellation of entries in OCT No. 40287 and later in Branch 64 of the RTC of Tarlac for quieting of title—can hardly be classified as actions in rem. The petition for cancellation of entries annotated at the back of OCT No. 40287 ought to have been directed against specific persons: namely, the heirs of Juan Soriano as appearing in Entry No. 20102 and, indubitably, against their successors-in-interest who have acquired different portions of the property over the years because it is in the nature of an action quasi in rem. Accordingly, the Salazars should have impleaded as party defendants the heirs of Juan Soriano and/or Vicenta Macaraeg as well as those claiming ownership over the property under their names because they are indispensable parties. This was not done in this case. Since no indispensable party was ever impleaded by the Salazars in their petition for cancellation of entry filed before Branch 63 of the RTC of Tarlac, herein petitioners are not bound by the dispositions of the said court. Consequently, the judgment or order of the said court never even acquired finality.
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- Fall '19
- Torrens Title, land registration, Deeds registration