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433 Phil. 219


[ G.R. No. 136911, July 03, 2002 ]




Respondents were the registered owners of a 25,000 square meter parcel of land situated in Pamplona, Las Piñas City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. S-74375. Adjoining their property on the northern side was petitioners’ land, covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 5975.

Sometime in 1979, during a relocation survey conducted by Geodetic Engineer Emilio Paz at the instance of respondents, it was discovered that the Casimiro Village Subdivision, owned by petitioners, encroached by 3,110 square meter into respondents’ land. Respondents notified petitioners and demanded that they desist from making further development in the area.[1] Subsequently, on March 13, 1980, respondents demanded that petitioners remove all constructions in the area.[2]

Failing in their efforts to regain possession of the disputed premises, respondents filed with the Court of First Instance of Pasay City an action for recovery of possession with damages against petitioners and the latter’s lot buyers, docketed as Civil Case No. LP-8840-P.[3] Respondents alleged that 3,110 square meters of their property, which has a market value of P640,000.00, computed at then prevailing price of P200.00 per square meter, have been encroached upon and fenced in by petitioners as part of the Casimiro Village Subdivision, and subdivided and sold to lot buyers. In support of their contention, respondents presented the geodetic engineer who conducted the actual ground relocation survey.

In their defense, petitioners denied that there was an encroachment in respondents’ land.[4] They presented Geodetic Engineers Lino Reyes[5] and Felipe Venezuela[6] from the Bureau of Lands. Meanwhile, defendant-lot buyers interposed a cross-claim against petitioners spouses Casimiro, averring that they were innocent purchasers in good faith and for value of their respective lots.

On December 29, 1982, the Court of First Instance, Branch XXVIII, Pasay City, rendered a decision in favor of respondents, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants Casimiros sentencing the latter to pay the former the sum of P640,000.00 with interest thereon at the legal rate from March 13, 1980 until the same is fully paid and to pay attorney’s fees equivalent to 25% of the total amount due and the costs. On the cross-claim, cross defendants Casimiros are ordered to pay cross plaintiffs the sum of P5,000.00 as attorney’s fees.

Ruling on petitioners motion for reconsideration, the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch CXI, set aside its earlier decision, and held that the report of the engineers from the Bureau of Lands were more credible and accurate, and enjoy the presumption of regularity and accuracy.[8]

On July 15, 1987, respondents moved for reconsideration of the above Order, but the same was denied on January 19, 1988.[9]

Upon appeal to the Court of Appeals on the sole question of the proper location of the common boundary separating the adjoining lots of petitioners and respondents. The Court of Appeals ordered that a relocation survey be conducted by a team of surveyors composed of a surveyor designated by the respondents, a surveyor designated by the petitioners, and a third member-surveyor chosen by the said two surveyors.[10] Petitioners designated Engr. Nicolas Bernardo, while respondents designated Engr. Manuel P. Lopez.[11] Upon agreement of the parties that the third member shall be from the Land Registration Commission, Engr. Felino Cortez, Chief, Ordinary and Cadastral Division, Land Registration Commission, was designated third member and chairman of the relocation survey.[12]

Petitioners complained of irregularities in the conduct of the relocation survey, namely, (a) the actual field work was conducted by a separate survey team composed of employees of the LRC without the knowledge and presence of Engr. Bernardo; (b) the relocation plan and computations were done without consultation and coordination among the members of the survey team; and (c) the relocation plan that was prepared by Engr. Cortez did not conform to the verification plan earlier approved by the Bureau of Lands in January 1982.[13]

However, the Court of Appeals found nothing irregular in the conduct of the relocation survey. Petitioners’ representative, Engr. Bernardo, admitted that he was furnished copies of the field notes and data gathered by the LRA team, but did not enter any objection thereto. If at all, Engr. Bernardo’s exclusion from the actual field work was rectify by the opportunity given him to comment on the final report prepared by Engr. Cortez, which Engr. Bernardo did not do.

After the survey, the Court of Appeals found that the final relocation survey report yielded the “indisputable and inevitable conclusion” that petitioners encroached on a portion of the respondents’ property comprising an area of 3,235 square meters. On November 11, 1996, a judgment was rendered as follows:
The foregoing considered, We hereby REVERSE and SET ASIDE the order of the trial court dated June 25 1987 and REINSTATE the decision dated December 29, 1982 as prayed for by the Appellants [spouses Paulin].

Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was denied for lack of merit.[15] Hence, the instant petition for review.

In petitions such as the one at bar, we may not review the factual findings of the Court of Appeals.[16] We are not a trier of facts; the resolution of factual issues being the function of lower courts.[17] When supported by substantial evidence, the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are conclusive and binding on the parties and are not reviewable by this Court,[18] unless the case falls under any of the recognized exceptions to the rule.[19]
There are instances when the findings of fact of the trial court and/or Court of Appeals may be reviewed by the Supreme Court, such as (1) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) where there is a grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (8) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners’ main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents; and (10) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.
Petitioner failed to show that this case falls within any of the above exceptions. The only basic factual issue involved is simply --- where is the common boundary separating petitioners’ property from that of respondents’ located? We find nothing irregular in the conduct of the relocation survey conducted by the respective nominees of the parties together with a representative of the LRA. Moreover, as aptly observed by the Court of Appeals, there was nothing objectionable in the constitution of the LRA team as deputies of the chairman of the relocation survey team, the same being in the interest of the LRA service. Thus, we find no reason to deviate from the factual findings of the appellate court.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED, and the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 16165, which reinstated the decision of the Court First Instance of Rizal, Branch XXVIII, Pasay City in Civil Case No. LP-8840-P, is AFFIRMED.


Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Kapunan, and Austria-Martinez, JJ., concur.

[1] Records, pp. 9-10.

[2] Ibid., p. 11.

[3] lbid., pp. 1-8.

[4] lbid., pp. 190-198.

[5] Ibid., p.273.

[6] Ibid., p.297.

[7] Rollo, pp. 110-114, at p. 114; penned by District Judge Enrique A. Agana, Sr.

[8] Rollo, p. 186.

[9] Ibid., p. 213.

[10] Ibid., pp. 290-292.

[11] Ibid., pp.293-294.

[12] Ibid., p.304.

[13] Ibid., p.376.

[14] Ibid., pp. 50-62, at p. 61; Associate Justice Portia Aliño-Hormachuelos, ponente, Associate Justices Artemon D. Luna and Ramon A. Barcelona, concurring.

[15] Ibid., pp.64-68.

[16] Concepcion v. Court of Appeals, 324 SCRA 85  [2000].

[17] Spouses Uy v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 109197, June 21, 2001, citing Valmonte v. Court of Appeals, 303 SCRA 278 [1999].

[18] Atillo v. Court of Appeals, 334 Phil. 546 [1997].

[19] Cebu Shipyard and Engineering Works, Inc. v. William Lines, Inc., 366 Phil. 439, 452 [1999].

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