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Fictitious Joyzi
Director of Lands vs Court of Appeals

No. 1

Case Digests: Statutory Construction

Director of Lands vs. CA
276 SCRA 276
G. R. No. 102858 
July 28 1997

Private Respondent Teodoro Abistado filed a petition for original registration of his title under P. D. No. 1529. However, during the pendency of his petition, applicant died. Hence his heirs represented by their aunt Josefa Abistado, who was appointed their guardian ad litem, were substituted as applicants.

The Land Registration Court in its decision dismissed the petition “for want of jurisdiction.” However, it found that the applicants through their predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous, exclusive and peaceful possession of the subject land since 1938. The trial court dismissed the petition for the reason that the applicants failed to publish the notice of Initial Hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.

Private Respondents appealed to CA, which set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered the registration of the title in the name of Teodoro Abistado.

The Director of Lands represented by the Solicitor General, brought the case to the Supreme Court.

W/N newspaper publication of the notice of Initial Hearing in an original land registration case mandatory or directory.

It is mandatory. The word “shall” denotes an imperative and thus indicates the mandatory character of a statute. The law used the term “shall” in prescribing the work to be done by the Commissioner of Land Registration upon the latter’s receipt of the court order setting the time for Initial Hearing. While concededly such literal mandate is not an absolute rule in statutory construction, as its import ultimately depends upon its context in the entire provision, we hold that in the present case the term must be understood in its normal mandatory meaning.

Stat Con Principle: When the law is clear, it is not susceptible of interpretation. It must be applied regardless of who may be affected, even if the law may be harsh or erroneous.

Legal Maxims: Verba Legis and Dura Lex Sed Lex

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