No. 1073. There is nothing in Section 48(b) that would suggest that it provides for two (2) modes of acquisition. It is not the case that there is an option between possession and occupation for thirty (30) years and possession and occupation since June 12, 1945 or earlier. It is neither contemplated under Section 48(b) that if possession and occupation of an alienable and disposable public land started after June 12, 1945, it is still possible to acquire an imperfect title if such possession and occupation spanned for thirty (30) years at the time of the filing of the application. In this case, the lower courts concluded that Espinosa complied with the requirements of Section 48(b) of the PLA in relation to Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 based on supposed evidence that he and his predecessor- ininterest had been in possession of the property for at least thirty (30) years prior to the time he filed his application. However, there is nothing on record showing that as of January 25, 1977 or prior to the effectivity of P.D. No. 1073, he or Isabel had already acquired title by means of possession and occupation of the property for thirty (30) years. On the contrary, the earliest tax declaration in Isabel’s name was for the year 1965 indicating that as of January 25, 1977, only twelve (12) years had lapsed from the time she first came supposedly into possession. _______________ 22 Id. , at p. 570; pp. 62-63. 105 VOL. 677, JULY 18, 2012 105 Republic vs. Espinosa The CA’s reliance on Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court 23 is misplaced considering that the application therein was filed on October 20, 1975 or before the effectivity of P.D. No. 1073. The same can be said with respect to National Power Corporation v. Court of Appeals . 24 The petition for registration therein was filed on August 21, 1968 and at that time, the prevailing rule was that provided under Section 48(b) as amended by R.A. No. 1942. In Republic v. Court of Appeals , 25 the applicants therein entered into possession of the property on June 17, 1978 and filed their application on February 5, 1987. Nonetheless, there is evidence that the individuals from whom the applicant purchased the property, or their predecessors-in-interest, had been in possession since 1937. Thus, during the effectivity of Section 48(b) as amended by R.A. No. 1942, or while the prevailing rule was possession and occupation for thirty (30) years, or prior to the issuance of P.D. No. 1073, the thirty (30)- year prescriptive period was already completed. Thus, assuming that it is Section 48(b) of the PLA in relation to Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 that should apply in this case, as the lower courts held, it was incumbent upon Espinosa to prove, among other things, that Isabel’s possession of the property dated back at least to June 12, 1945. That in view of the established fact that Isabel’s alleged possession and occupation started much later, the lower courts should have dismissed Espinosa’s application outright.
In sum, the CA, as well as the MTC, erred in not applying the present text of Section 48(b) of the PLA.
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