Philippine National Police

PNP loses Zambales land claim case vs OSG

LAND CLAIM. File photo of PNP officials.

Rappler

The Supreme Court sides with the Office of the Solicitor General's argument that the land is unregistrable

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has lost its land claim case in Zambales after the Supreme Court (SC) ruled in favor of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). 

In a 13-page decision issued on Thursday, September 2, and penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, the SC’s Third Division granted the OSG’s petition to reverse the Court of Appeals’ (CA) decision issued on August 6, 2011. 

The said CA ruling affirmed the decision of the Iba, Zambales Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 69, which granted the PNP’s request to register a 9.7-hectare land under its name. According to the PNP, the lot has been under their possession for over 30 years. 

The SC sided with the OSG’s argument that the land being claimed is incapable of registration. The court added that the PNP’s possession of the land for many decades is irrelevant because the said land had been reserved for military purposes. The land under dispute was used by the Philippine Constabulary. 

“In the instant case, the PNP did not submit a DENR certification to the effect that the subject lots are alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, which was the prevailing requirement when its application for land registration was pending with the RTC. The PNP merely submitted a subdivision plan of Lot No. 713, Cad 191, Iba Cadastre, which indicated that the subject lots are alienable and disposable,” the SC said. 

The SC added that the evidence provided by the police was insufficient. 

“In fine, we find that the respondent’s evidence does not suffice to entitle it to register the subject lots. The PNP failed to present any evidence showing that the DENR secretary had indeed released the subject lots as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain,” the SC added. 

PNP loses Zambales land claim case vs OSG

After the RTC approved the PNP’s request to register the land under its name, the OSG appealed the decision before the CA. The OSG argued that the PNP failed to prove that the land is alienable and disposable lands of public domain based on the report of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office. 

The OSG added that the land is unregistrable because the government did not support the withdrawal of the land from being used for military purposes. The CA had dismissed the OSG’s petition, which prompted the agency to bring the case to the highest court. – Rappler.com