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Case Digest - Ownership

Case Digest - Ownership

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Published by: bea_villo on Nov 15, 2012
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November 26, 1997 – Respondents Enrique Altavas II and Maria de Jesus, in their capacity as heirs of Enrique Altavas filed an complaint for ejectment against Dr.Lorna Villa (petitioner) together with Virginia Bernejo and Rolita Roxas
Respondents alleged that Enrique was the registered owner of two parcel of fishponds and that they have been in actual possession through their administrator,overseer and representative, the late councilor Mussolini Bernejo (husband of Virginia)
 After the death of Mussolini, Virginia took over the possession of the premises in question without the consent of respondents and that she leased a portion of about 5hectares, without any right to do so , to the petitioner 
October 21, 1998 – respondents’ counsel sent demand letters to Virginia and petitioners to vacate the portion occupied by them, however the latter continued toremain on the premises
Petitioner argues that she is a possessor in good faith and that the lot was leased to her by a person who was in possession and represented herself as the owner 
The MTCC ruled in favor of the respondents; RTC dismissed petitioner’s appeal; CA affirmed RTCs decision
Whether or not respondents who did not have actual, physical possession of the lot in question for years recover possession thereof throughthe summary remedy of ejectment? Will an action for ejectment lie against petitioner?
Petitioner’s argument:
Petitioner avers that respondents failed to establish that they are in actual possession of the lots in question; that, in fact, they have not proven that they are theowners of the said properties; and that petitioner has a valid contract of lease with Virginia which entitles her to the possession of Lot No. 2817.
The petition is unmeritorious
Respondents' predecessor, Enrique Altavas, was not divested of his ownership of the subject lots; that the titles over the subject properties remain in his name; that,not being the owner or administrator of the said lots, Virginia has no right to enter into any contract for the lease of the said properties; and that petitioner's possessionof portions of the disputed properties is merely upon tolerance of respondents.
Respondents attached, as annexes to their Complaint, the Original Certificates of Title Nos. RO-4326 and RO-4327 in the name of Enrique, coveringLot Nos. 2816 and 2817, respectively, as evidence of their ownership and right to possess the disputed properties.
March 10, 1998 – Soledad Manantan filed a complaint for ejectment and damages against respondent Somera andcertain Presentacion Tavera
Manantan alleged in her Complaint that she was the owner of a 214- square meter parcel of land located in FairviewSubdivision, Baguio City as evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 54672, issued in her name by the Registry of Deeds of Baguio City
 After causing a relocation survey, Manantan learned that respondent and Tavera are occupying certain portions of theland. Manantan advised the two to vacate the land as soon as she would decide to sell the property
 A buyer came but refused to continue with the purchase until Manantan would cause respondent and Tavera to vacatethe premises
Respondent however, despite several demands, refused to vacate the land thus a civil case was filed
Respondent’s argue that:
MTCC had no jurisdiction over Civil Case No. 10467, because it was neither an action for forcible entry nor for unlawfuldetainer. The Complaint did not allege that Manantan was deprived of possession of the disputed portions by force, intimidation,threat, strategy, or stealth, which would make a case for forcible entry. It also did not state that respondent and Tavera withheldpossession of the disputed portions from Manantan after expiration or termination of the right to hold possession of the same byvirtue of an express or implied contract, which would build a case for unlawful detainer .
Moreover they state that it would be unjust to prohibit them from using the disputed portions which serve as their onlymeans of ingress or egress to or from their respective residences from or to the main road.
Further they assert that in case Manantan would be declared as the lawful owner of the subject property, the MTCCshould not disregard the fact that they were "builders in good faith." As builders in good faith, they should be allowed to pay areasonable price for the portions of the subject property on which their driveway/access road, and other improvements weresituated.
The MTC ruled in favor of Manantan and ruled further that the respondents were not builders in good faith. RTC affirmedMTCs decision in toto.
CA however set aside both the decision of the lower courts: The allegations in the Civil Complaint of petitioner merelypresented a controversy arising from a boundary dispute, in which case, the appropriate remedy available to Manantan should havebeen the plenary action for recovery of possession within the jurisdiction of the RTC. Consequently, the Court of Appeals concludedthat the MTCC had no jurisdiction over the Complaint in Civil Case No. 10467.
WON the Complaint is in the nature of an action for unlawful detainer over which the MTCC had jurisdiction.
Unlawful detainer is a summary action for the recovery of possession of real property.
 This action may be filed by a lessor, vendor, vendee,or other person against whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of the right tohold possession by virtue of any contract, express or implied.
 A case for unlawful detainer must be instituted before the proper municipal trial court or metropolitan trial court within one year from unlawfulwithholding of possession. Such one year period should be counted from the date of plaintiff’s last demand on defendant to vacate the realproperty, because only upon the lapse of that period does the possession become unlawful.
However, the Complaint of petitioner does not allege facts showing compliance with the prescribed one year period to file an action for unlawful detainer. It does not state the material dates that would have established that it was filed within one year from the date of Manantan’slast demand upon respondent to vacate the disputed portion of land. Such allegations are jurisdictional and crucial, because if the complaintwas filed beyond the prescribed one year period, then it cannot properly qualify as an action for unlawful detainer over which the MTCC canexercise jurisdiction
Further, since respondent was already in possession of the disputed portion at the time Manantan bought the subject property from the Bayotfamily Clearly, respondent’s possession of the disputed portion was not pursuant to any contract, express or implied, with Manantan, and,resultantly, respondent’s right of possession over the disputed portion is not subject to expiration or termination. At no point can it be said thatrespondent’s possession of the disputed portion ceased to be legal and became an unlawful withholding of the property from Manantan.
1av vphi1
Since the Complaint in Civil Case No. 10467 failed to satisfy on its face the jurisdictional requirements for an action for unlawful detainer, theCourt of Appeals was correct in holding that the MTCC had no jurisdiction over the said Complaint and should have dismissed the same.
Respondent filed a complaint for Quieting of Title and/or 
 Accion Reinvindicatoria
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City against the
Iglesia Ni Cristo
Heirs of Santos alleged therein that, during his lifetime, Enrique Santos was the owner of a 936-square-meter parcel of land located in Tandang Sora, Quezon City covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 57272.He had been in possession of the owner’s duplicate of said title and had been in continuous, open, adverse and peaceful possession of the property. He died onFebruary 9, 1970 and was survived by his wife, Alicia Santos, and other plaintiffs, who were their children. Thereafter, plaintiffs tookpeaceful and adverse possession of the property, and of the owner’s duplicate of said title.
Sometime in February 1996, heirs of santos learned that iglesia ni cristo was claiming ownership over the property. They alleged that EnriqueSantos, during his lifetime, and his heirs, after his death, never encumbered or disposed the property. In 1996, Santos had the property fencedbut Iglesia ni Cristo deprived them of the final use and enjoyment of their property. Thus, Santos filed for the quieting the title of plaintiffs over and/or recover possession of their said property in the name of deceased Enrique Santos.
Petitioner argues that the action (either Quieting of Title or 
 Accion Reinvindicatoria
) had prescribed, the same having beenfiled only on October 24, 2001 beyond the statutory ten-year period therefor 
Trial court and CA later ruled in favor of Private Respondents. CA stated that as to the issue of prescription, the appellate court held that theprescriptive period should be reckoned from 1996, when petitioner claimed ownership and barred respondents from fencing the property.
Hence this petition.
Whether or not respondent judge gravely erred and abused her discretion when she held that the action for quieting of titleand/or accion reinvindicatoria (civil case no. Q-01-45415) has not yet prescribed
Petitioner’s argument:
That the action of respondents, whether it be one for quieting of title or an accion reinvindicatoria, had prescribed whenthe complaint was filed on October 24, 2001. Petitioner asserts that this is because when respondents filed their complaint, theywere not in actual or physical possession of the property, as it (petitioner) has been in actual possession of the property since 1984when TCT No. 321744 was issued to it by the Register of Deeds
 As gleaned from the averments of the complaint, the action of respondents was one for quieting of title under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court, inrelation to Article 476 of the New Civil Code. The latter provision reads:
 Art. 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest therein, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or effective but is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicialto said title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title. An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon title to real property or any interest therein.
 A cloud is said to be a semblance of a title, either legal or equitable, or a cloud of an interest in land appearing in some legal form butwhich is, in fact, unfounded, or which it would be inequitable to enforce.
  An action for quieting of title is
until the claimant isousted of his possession.
Petitioner’s claim that it had been in actual or material possession of the property since 1984 when TCT No. 321744 was issued in its favor isbelied by the allegations in the complaint that respondents had been in actual and material possession of the property since 1961 up to thetime they filed their complaint on October 24, 2001.
 Admittedly, respondents interposed the alternative reinvindicatory action against petitioner. It bears stressing that an
is a remedy seeking the recovery of ownership and includes
 jus possidendi, jus utendi 
, and
 jus fruendi 
as well. It is an actionwhereby a party claims ownership over a parcel of land and seeks recovery of its full possession.
 Thus, the owner of real property in actualand material possession thereof may file an
accion reinvindicatoria
against another seeking ownership over a parcel of land including
, or the right to exclude defendants from the possession thereof.
Since respondents were in actual or physical possession of the property when they filed their complaint against petitioner on October 24, 2001, the prescriptive period for the reinvindicatory action had not even commenced to run, even if petitioner was able to secure TCT No.321744 over the property in 1984.
Thus, petition is denied. CAs decision is affirmed
On February 26, 1982, the spouses Jose, owners of a parcel of land situated in Sitio Inarawan, San Isidro, Antipolo, Rizal, executeda special power of attorney authorizing petitioner German Management Services to develop their property covered by TCT No. 50023 into aresidential subdivision
Finding that part of the property was occupied by private respondents and twenty other persons, petitioner advised the occupants tovacate the premises but the latter refused. Nevertheless, petitioner proceeded with the development of the subject property which included theportions occupied and cultivated by private respondents
Private respondents then filed an action for forcible entry against petitioner, alleging that they have occupied and tilled their farmholdings some twelve to fifteen years prior to the promulgation of P.D. No. 27.They further alleged that that on August 15, 1983 andthereafter, petitioner deprived private respondents of their property without due process of law by: (1) forcibly removing and destroying thebarbed wire fence enclosing their farmholdings without notice; (2) bulldozing the rice, corn fruit bearing trees and other crops of privaterespondents by means of force, violence and intimidation, in violation of P.D. 1038 and (3) trespassing, coercing and threatening to harass,remove and eject private respondents from their respective farmholdings in violation of P.D. Nos. 316, 583, 815, and 1028.
MTC and RTC dismissed the complaint of private respondents
CA on the other hand ruled in favor of private respondents, stating that, since private respondents were in actual possession of theproperty at the time they were forcibly ejected by petitioner, private respondents have a right to commence an action for forcible entryregardless of the legality or illegality of possession.
Hence, this petition
1 -
Whether or not the Court of Appeals denied due process to petitioner when it reversed the decision of the court
a quo
withoutgiving petitioner the opportunity to file its answer 
2 -
Whether or not private respondents are entitled to file a forcible entry case against petitioner 
1 -
The Court of Appeals need not require petitioner to file an answer for due process to exist. The comment filed by petitioner onFebruary 26, 1986 has sufficiently addressed the issues presented in the petition for review filed by private respondents before the Court of  Appeals. Having heard both parties, the Appellate Court need not await or require any other additional pleading. Moreover, the fact thatpetitioner was heard by the Court of Appeals on its motion for reconsideration negates any violation of due process.
2 -
Notwithstanding petitioner's claim that it was duly authorized by the owners to develop the subject property, private respondents, as actualpossessors, can commence a forcible entry case against petitioner because
ownership is not in issue
. Forcible entry is merely a quietingprocess and never determines the actual title to an estate. Title is not involved.
 Although admittedly petitioner may validly claim ownership based on the muniments of title it presented, such evidence does not responsivelyaddress the issue of prior actual possession raised in a forcible entry case. It must be stated that regardless of the actual condition of the titleto the property, the party in peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by a strong hand, violence or terror.
Thus, a party who canprove prior possession can recover such possession even against the owner himself. Whatever may be the character of his prior possession,if he has in his favor priority in time, he has the security that entitles him to remain on the property until he is lawfully ejected by a personhaving a better right by
accion publiciana or accion reivindicatoria
MTC and RTC’s justification of self-help is not tenable:
Such justification is unavailing because the doctrine of self-help can only beexercised at the time of actual or threatened dispossession which is absent in the case at bar. When possession has already been lost, theowner must resort to judicial process for the recovery of property
Petition denied
On November 29, 1984, private respondents as plaintiffs, filed a complaint for nullification of deed of donation, rescission of contractand reconveyance of real property with damages against petitioners before the RTC, Imus, Cavite
In their complaint, private respondents alleged that on August 23, 1930, the spouses Eusebio de Castro and Martina Rieta, now bothdeceased, executed a deed of donation in favor of therein defendant Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila covering a parcel of land located atKawit, Cavite. The deed of donation allegedly provides that the donee shall not dispose or sell the property within a period of one hundred (100)years from the execution of the deed of donation, otherwise a violation of such condition would render 
ipso facto
null and void the deed of donation and the property would revert to the estate of the donors.
Respondent alleged that petitioner, RC bishop of Imus, on or about June 30 and while still within the prohibitive period to dispose of the property, executed a deed of absolute sale of the property subject of the donation in favor of petitioners Florencio and Soledad C. Ignao inconsideration of the sum of P114,000. 00.
Petitioners filed their response on the complaint alleging that (1) herein private respondents, as plaintiffs therein, have no legalcapacity to sue; and (2) the complaint states no cause of action and (3) that the cause of action has prescribed
RTC ruled in favor of petitioners dismissing the complaint on the ground that the cause of action has prescribed
However CA ruled otherwise, holding that the action has not yet prescribed. Hence this petition
1 -
WON the action to reconvey the property due to the donee’s failure to meet the condition has prescribed.
2 -
WON the case should be dismissed due to the fact that private respondent has no legal standing
3 –
WON the resolutory condition of the donation is valid
Petitioner’s argument:
It is the contention of petitioners that the cause of action of herein private respondents has already prescribed, invoking Article 764 of the Civil Code which provides that "(t)he donation shall be revoked at the instance of the donor, when the donee fails to comply with any of theconditions which the former imposed upon the latter," and that "(t)his action shall prescribe after four years from the non-compliance with thecondition, may be transmitted to the heirs of the donor, and may be exercised against the donee's heirs
1 -
 Although it is true that under Article 764 of the Civil Code an action for the revocation of a donation must be brought within four (4)years from the non-compliance of the conditions of the donation, the same is not applicable in the case at bar. The deed of donation involvedherein expressly provides for automatic reversion of the property donated in case of violation of the condition therein, hence a judicialdeclaration revoking the same is not necessary.
 Article 732 of the Civil Code provides that donations
inter vivos
shall be governed by the general provisions on contracts andobligations in all that is not determined in Title III, Book III on donations. Now, said Title III does not have an explicit provision on the matter of adonation with a resolutory condition and which is subject to an express provision that the same shall be considered
ipso facto
revoked upon thebreach of said resolutory condition imposed in the deed therefor, as is the case of the deed presently in question
On the foregoing ratiocinations, the Court of Appeals committed no error in holding that the cause of action of herein privaterespondents has not yet prescribed since an action to enforce a written contract prescribes in ten (10) years
2 - Nonetheless
, we find that although the action filed by private respondents may not be dismissed by reason of prescription, the sameshould be dismissed on the ground that private respondents have no cause of action against petitioners.
3 - Further,
Said condition (prohibition to sell within 100 years), in our opinion, constitutes an undue restriction on the rights arisingfrom ownership of petitioners and is, therefore, contrary to public policy
Once a donation is accepted, the donee becomes the absolute owner of the property donated. Although the donor may imposecertain conditions in the deed of donation, the same must not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order and public policy. Thecondition imposed in the deed of donation in the case before us constitutes a patently unreasonable and undue restriction on the right of thedonee to dispose of the property donated, which right is an indispensable attribute of ownership. Such a prohibition against alienation, in order to be valid, must not be perpetual or for an unreasonable period of time
Consequently, since the condition is impossible and is contrary to public policy, such condition shall be considered as not imposed. Noreliance may accordingly be placed on said prohibitory paragraph in the deed of donation. The net result is that, absent said proscription, thedeed of sale supposedly constitutive of the cause of action for the nullification of the deed of donation is not in truth violative of the latter hence, for lack of cause of action, the case for private respondents must fail.
Respondent Apolonio Gopuco, Jr. was the owner of Cadastral Lot No. 72 consisting of 995 square meters located in the vicinity of the Lahug Airport in Cebu City
Sometime in 1949, the National Airport Corporation informed the owners of the various lots surrounding the Lahug Airport, including the hereinrespondent, that the government was acquiring their lands for purposes of expansion. Some landowners were convinced to sell their properties on the assurance that they would be able to repurchase the same when these would no longer be used by the airport. Others,including Gopuco, refused to do so.
Thus, on 16 April 1952, the CAA filed a complaint with the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Cebu for the expropriation of Lot No. 72 and itsneighboring realties
CFI ruled in favor of the expropriation proceeding and such became final and executor.

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