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Jun 8, 2008

G.R. No. L-30389, Dec. 27, 1972

  • Distinction between IMPERIUM and DOMINIUM
  • Only the government can question a void certificate of title issued pursuant to a government grant.


This is regarding a piece of land which Aniano David acquired lawful title thereto, pursuant to his miscellaneous sales application. After approval of his application, the Director of Lands issued an order of award and issuance of sales patent, covering said lot by virtue of which the Undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued a Miscellaneous Sales Patent. The Register of Deeds then issued an original certificate of title to David.

During all this time, Lee Hong Kok did not oppose nor file any adverse claim.


  • Whether or not Lee Hong Kok may question the government grant


Only the Government, represented by the Director of Lands or the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, can bring an action to cancel a void certificate of title issued pursuant to a void patent. This was not done by said officers but by private parties like the plaintiffs, who cannot claim that the patent and title issued for the land involved are void since they are not the registered owners thereof nor had they been declared as owners in the cadastral proceedings after claiming it as their private property.

The fact that the grant was made by the government is undisputed. Whether the grant was in conformity with the law or not is a question which the government may raise, but until it is raised by the government and set aside, the defendant cannot question it. The legality of the grant is a question between the grantee and the government.


The government authority possessed by the State which is appropriately embraced int eh concept of sovereignty comes under the heading of imperium; its capacity to own or acquire property under dominium. The use of this term is appropriate with reference to lands held by the State in its proprietary character. In such capacity, it may provide for the exploitation and use of lands and other natural resources, including their disposition, except as limited by the Constitution.


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