[ G.R. No. 136088. February 24, 1999]




Quoted hereunder, for you information, is a resolution of this Court dated FEB 24, 1999.

G.R. No. 136088 (Claudio Gonzales vs. Sagrario Olaveja.)

Petitioner assails the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing the decision of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB), thus reinstating the decision of the Provincial Adjudicator of Tagum, Davao del Norte and consequently ordering the cancellation of the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) No. 0031344 and OCT No. C-104 issued in favor of petitioner; and the reinstatement and processing of private respondent's application for agricultural settlement with the Department of Agrarian Reform.

The present controversy involves a parcel of land which is part of the Davao Resettlement Project No. 1 Estate belonging to the Republic of the Philippines for disposal to landless tenants and farmworkers pursuant to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

On October 17, 1973, private respondent applied for agricultural settlement with the Agrarian Reform District Office of Tagum, Davao del Norte, which petitioner opposed, claiming in his protest filed on November 24, 1975, that he has a preferential right over the subject lot.

On April 29, 1980, the then Minister of Agrarian Reform ruled in favor of private respondent and dismissed petitioner's protest.

Thereafter, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was resolved only on January 9, 1992 when the Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary denied petitioner's motion and considered the case closed.

Accordingly, on November 25, 1992 the Director of the Bureau of Land Acquisition and Distribution was directed to process the application of private respondent. Pursuant to the ruling of the DAR Secretary, private respondent demanded from petitioner the reconveyance of the subject property but the latter refused.

Meanwhile, on February 18, 1987 during the pendency of the above mentioned proceedings, petitioner filed an application for agricultural settlement and he was subsequently assigned a Homestead Entry Number and a Certificate of Allocation. Petitioner then applied for CLOA with the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office which was granted, leading to the issuance of an original certificate of title in his favor.

Upon learning of such developments, private respondent filed a complaint with the DAR Provincial Adjudication Board, praying for the declaration of nullity of the CLOA issued to petitioner, which complaint said board later decided in favor of private respondent. Upon appeal, however, the DARAB reversed. Hence, private respondent went to the Court of Appeals which rendered the now assailed reversal decision.

The petition is without merit.

As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, petitioner was disqualified from becoming a beneficiary of the government grant for failure to abide by the rules in the application for agricultural settlement which pertinently provide:

14. That any misrepresentation, falsity or omission of material facts in my declaration or failure on my part to comply with any obligation I have voluntarily assumed pursuant to paragraph 11 hereof shall, without the necessity of filing any administrative or judicial action in any office or court of justice, automatically;

a) cancel this application and nullify any and all allocations made in my favor;

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d) disqualify me to become a settler of the Ministry.

(pp. 36-37, Rollo.)

when by means of fraud and misrepresentation he deliberately declared that he did not have any pending homestead application with the Bureau of Lands or any government office and that the subject lot was not involved in any conflicting claims inspite of the fact that his motion for reconsideration in DAR Case No. 03 was still pending.

Thus, petitioner's application should have been automatically cancelled and the lot allocation nullified. Corollarily, petitioner's defense of indefeasibility of a Torrens Title must fail, since the OCT was issued pursuant to the CLOA which was obtained through fraud and misrepresentation. Petitioner cannot use his title as a shield to perpetuate fraud. It is a well-settled ruled that no amount of legal technicality may serve as a foundation for the enjoyment of the fruits of fraud (Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 183 SCRA 620 [1990]).

WHEREFORE, petition is dismissed.

Very truly yours,


Clerk of Court

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