Republic vs. Feliciano

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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner-appellee,

G.R. NO. 70853
MARCH 12, 1987


Petitioner seeks the review of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court dated April 30, 1985, which dismissed the complaint of respondent Pablo Feliciano for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land on the ground of non-suability of the State. On January 22, 1970, Feliciano filed a complaint with the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur against the RP, represented by the Land Authority, for the recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land, consisting of four(4) lots with an aggregate area of 1,364.4177 hectares, situated in the Barrio of Salvacion, Municipality of Tinambac, Camarines Sur. Feliciano alleged that he bought the property in question from Victor Gardiola by virtue of a Contract of Sale dated May 31, 1952, followed by a Deed of Absolute Sale on October 30, 1954; that Gardiola had acquired the property by purchase from the heirs of Francisco Abrazado whose title to the said property was evidenced by an informacion posesoria that upon his purchase of the property, he took actual possession of the same, introduced various improvements therein and caused it to be surveyed in July 1952, which survey was approved by the Director of Lands on October 24,1954.

On November 1,1954, President Ramon Magsaysay issued Proclamation No. 90 reserving for settlement purposes, under the administration of the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA), a tract of land situated in the Municipalities of Tinambac and Siruma, Camarines Sur, after which the NARRA and its successor agency, the Land Authority, started sub-dividing and distributing the land to the settlers; that the property in question, while located within the reservation established under Proclamation No. 90, was the private property of Feliciano and should therefore be excluded therefrom. Feliciano prayed that he be declared the rightful and true owner of the property in question consisting of 1,364.4177 hectares; that his title of ownership based on informacion posesoria of his predecessor-in interest be declared legally valid and subsisting and that defendant be ordered to cancel and nullify all awards to the settlers.


WON the State can be sued for recovery and possession of a parcel of land.


A suit against the State, under settled jurisprudence is not permitted, except upon a showing that the State has consented to be sued, either expressly or by implication through the use of statutory language too plain to be misinterpreted. It may be invoked by the courts sua sponte at any stage of the proceedings. Waiver of immunity, being a derogation of sovereignty, will not be inferred lightly, but must be construed instrictissimi juris (of strictest right).

Moreover, the Proclamation is not a legislative act. The consent of the State to be sued must emanate from statutory authority. Waiver of State immunity can only be made by an act of the legislative body. Also, it is noteworthy, that as pointed out by the Solicitor General, that the informacion posesoria registered in the Office of the Register of Deed of Camarines Sur on September 23, 1952 was a “reconstituted” possessory information; it was “reconstituted from the duplicate presented to this office (Register of Deeds) by Dr. Pablo Feliciano,” without the submission of proof that the alleged duplicate was authentic or that the original thereof was lost. Reconstitution can be validly made only in case of loss of the original. These circumstances raise grave doubts as to the authenticity and validity of the “informacion posesoria” relied upon by respondent Feliciano. Adding to the dubiousness of said document is the fact that “possessory information calls for an area of only 100 hectares,” whereas the land claimed by respondent Feliciano comprises 1,364.4177 hectares, later reduced to 701-9064 hectares.

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