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Augusto and Archival v. Judge Risos and Omolon, G.R. No. 131794, 10 December 2003.

29 Mar

[CALLEJO, JR., J.]

 

FACTS: Cleofe Omolon filed a petition alleging that as lawful co-owner and possessor of Lot No. 4429, she had every right to have and hold the owner’s duplicate of the said OCT No. 3560. She prayed that after due proceedings, the respondents Ruben Augusto and Atty. Noel Archival be ordered to surrender the owner’s copy of the said title. In their Comment on the petition, Ruben Augusto and Atty. Noel Archival alleged, inter alia, that the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by the Augusto siblings, was falsified and fictitious, and, thus, null and void. In the interim, Cleofe had her adverse claim annotated at the dorsal portion of the title in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City. The RTC issued an order directing Atty. Noel Archival to produce the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 to allow the annotation of Cleofes interest, upon which the owners duplicate copy of the title may thereafter be returned. Petitioners filed a Notice of Appeal from the said order to the Court of Appeals. The RTC issued an order denying due course therefor, on its perception that the orders subject thereof were interlocutory; hence, not appealable.

ISSUE: Is the Order of the trial court requiring the petitioners to present/surrender the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 a Final or Interlocutory Order

HELD: It is an Interlocutory Order.

Section 1, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides that an appeal may be taken only from a final order, and not from an interlocutory one. A final order is one which disposes of the whole subject matter or terminates a particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined. An order or judgment is deemed final if it finally disposes of, adjudicates, or determines the rights, or some right or rights of the parties, either on the entire controversy or on some definite and separate branch thereof, and concludes them until it is reversed or set aside. Where no issue is left for future consideration, except the fact of compliance with the terms of the order, such order is final and appealable. In contrast, an order is interlocutory if it does not finally dispose of the case.

In this case, the order of the public respondent directing the petitioners to produce the owners copy of OCT No. 3560 in the Office of the Register of Deeds for the annotation of the private respondents interest over the property is merely interlocutory and not final; hence, not appealable by means of a writ of error. The public respondent had not fully disposed of the case as it had not yet ruled on whether to grant the private respondents prayer for the surrender of the owners copy of OCT No. 3560. As gleaned from the order of the respondent judge, he believed that he had no jurisdiction to delve into and resolve the issue of ownership over the property and was disposed to dismiss the petition. Before so doing, he believed it was necessary that the petitioners claim over the property be annotated at the dorsal portion of the title before the institution of an ordinary motion for the resolution of the conflicting claims of ownership over the property. In fine, the assailed order of the respondent judge partook of the nature of an ad cautelam order. This is not to say that the respondent court sitting as a cadastral court had no jurisdiction to delve into and resolve the issue of ownership over the property.

[NB: According to the ruling in Vda. De Arceo v. CA, et al., the limited jurisdiction-rule governing land registration courts is subject to recognized exceptions, to wit, (1) where the parties mutually agreed or have acquiesced in submitting controversial issues for determination; (2) where they have been given full opportunity to present their evidence; and (3) where the court has considered the evidence already of record and is convinced that the same is sufficient for rendering a decision upon such controversial issues; In Averia, Jr. v. Caguioa, with reference to Section 112 of the Land Registration Act (now Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529), the court is no longer fettered by its former limited jurisdiction which enabled it to grant relief only in cases where there was unanimity among the parties or none of them raised any adverse claim or serious objection. Under the amended law, the court is now authorized to hear and decide not only such non-controversial cases but even the contentious and substantial issues, such as the question at bar, which were beyond its competence before.]

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