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SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 132197. August 16, 2005.]


ROSS RICA SALES CENTER, INC. and JUANITO KING & SONS,
INC., petitioners, vs. SPOUSES GERRY ONG and ELIZABETH ONG,
respondents.

Ernesto L. Abijay and Zosa & Quijano Law Offices for petitioners.
Edgar F. Gica for respondents.
SYLLABUS
1.
REMEDIAL LAW; APPEALS; DISMISSAL OF APPEAL; FILING OF MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION DEEMED AN EFFECTIVE WITHDRAWAL OF THE DEFECTIVE
NOTICE OF APPEAL. Since the unlawful detainer case was led with the MTC and
armed by the RTC, petitioners should have led a Petition for Review with the
Court of Appeals and not a Notice of Appeal with the RTC. However, we consider this
to have been remedied by the timely ling of the Motion for Reconsideration on the
following day. Section 3, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court allows the withdrawal of
appeal at any time, as a matter of right, before the ling of the appellee's brief.
Applying this rule contextually, the ling of the Motion for Reconsideration may be
deemed as an eective withdrawal of the defective Notice of Appeal. Perforce, the
period of appeal was tolled by the Motion for Reconsideration and started to run
again from the receipt of the order denying the Motion for Reconsideration. A
Motion for Additional Time to File the Petition was likewise led with the Court of
Appeals. Counting fteen (15) days from receipt of the denial of the Motion for
Reconsideration and the ten (10)-day request for additional period, it is clear that
respondents filed their Petition for Review on time.
2.
ID.; ID.; ID.; PETITION FOR REVIEW BEFORE THE COURT OF APPEALS;
PROPER MODE OF APPEAL FROM A DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT.
Petitioners invoke to the ruling in People v. De la Cruz that once a notice of appeal is
led, it cannot be validly withdrawn to give way to a motion for reconsideration.
The factual circumstances in the two cases are dierent. De la Cruz is a criminal
case, governed by criminal procedure. Section 3, Rule 122 of the Rules of Court
provides that the proper mode of appeal from a decision of the RTC is a notice of
appeal and an appeal is deemed perfected upon ling of the notice of appeal. In the
case at bar, a petition for review before the Court of Appeals is the proper mode of
appeal from a decision of the RTC. Since the ling of the notice of appeal is
erroneous, it is considered as if no appeal was interposed.
3.
ID.; SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS; UNLAWFUL DETAINER; AN ALLEGATION THAT
THE DEFENDANT IS UNLAWFULLY WITHHOLDING POSSESSION FROM THE
PLAINTIFF IS DEEMED SUFFICIENT WITHOUT NECESSARILY EMPLOYING THE

TERMINOLOGY OF THE LAW. Well-settled is the rule that what determines the
nature of an action as well as which court has jurisdiction over it are the allegations
of the complaint and the character of the relief sought. Respondents contend that
the complaint did not allege that petitioners' possession was originally lawful but
had ceased to be so due to the expiration of the right to possess by virtue of any
express or implied contract. The emphasis placed by the Court of Appeals on the
presence of a contract as a requisite to qualify the case as one of unlawful detainer
contradicts the various jurisprudence dealing on the matter. In Javelosa v. Court of
the Appeals, it was held that the allegation in the complaint that there was
unlawful withholding of possession is sucient to make out a case for unlawful
detainer. It is equally settled that in an action for unlawful detainer, an allegation
that the defendant is unlawfully withholding possession from the plaintiff is deemed
sucient, without necessarily employing the terminology of the law. Hence, the
phrase "unlawful withholding" has been held to imply possession on the part of
defendant, which was legal in the beginning, having no other source than a
contract, express or implied, and which later expired as a right and is being withheld
by defendant. In Rosanna B. Barba v. Court of Appeals, we held that a simple
allegation that the defendant is unlawfully withholding possession from plainti is
sucient. Based on this premise, the allegation in the Complaint that: . . . . despite
demand to vacate, the defendants have refused and still refuse to vacate said lots,
thus, unlawfully withholding possession of said lots from plaintis and depriving
plaintis of the use of their lots; is already sucient to constitute an unlawful
detainer case.
4.
ID.; ID.; ID.; SUMMARY IN NATURE; TECHNICALITIES OR DETAILS OF
PROCEDURE SHOULD BE CAREFULLY AVOIDED. In the subject complaint,
petitioners alleged that they are the registered owners of the lots covered by TCT
Nos. 36466, 36467 and 36468. By their implied tolerance, they have allowed
respondents, the former owners of the properties, to remain therein. Nonetheless,
they eventually sent a letter to respondents asking that the latter vacate the said
lots. Respondents refused, thereby depriving petitioners of possession of the lots.
Clearly, the complaint establishes the basic elements of an unlawful detainer case,
certainly sucient for the purpose of vesting jurisdiction over it in the MTC.
Respondents would like to capitalize on the requisites as cited in the case of
Raymundo dela Paz v. Panis. But the citation is a mere reiteration of Sec. 1, Rule 70
of the Rules of Court. The case does not provide for rigid standards in the drafting of
the ejectment complaint. The case of Co Tiamco v. Diaz justies a more liberal
approach, thus: . . . The principle underlying the brevity and simplicity of pleadings
in forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases rests upon considerations of public
policy. Cases of forcible entry and detainer are summary in nature, for they involve
perturbation of social order which must be restored as promptly as possible and,
accordingly, technicalities or details of procedure should be carefully avoided.
5.
ID.; ID.; ID.; QUESTION OF POSSESSION IS PRIMORDIAL WHILE THE ISSUE OF
OWNERSHIP IS GENERALLY UNESSENTIAL. The issue involved in accion
reivindicatoria is the recovery of ownership of real property. This diers from accion
publiciana where the issue is the better right of possession or possession de jure,
and accion interdictal where the issue is material possession or possession de facto.

In an action for unlawful detainer, the question of possession is primordial while the
issue of ownership is generally unessential.
6.
ID.; ID.; ID.; PARTY ONLY SEEKS TO RECOVER PHYSICAL POSSESSION OF THE
PROPERTY; CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP OVER THE SUBJECT PROPERTY WILL NOT
DEPRIVE THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT OF JURISDICTION. Neither the allegation
in petitioners' complaint for ejectment nor the defenses thereto raised by
respondents suciently convert this case into an accion reivindicatoria which is
beyond the province of the MTC to decide. Petitioners did not institute the complaint
for ejectment as a means of claiming or obtaining ownership of the properties. The
acknowledgment in their pleadings of the fact of prior ownership by respondents
does not constitute a recognition of respondents' present ownership. This is meant
only to establish one of the necessary elements for a case of unlawful detainer,
specifically the unlawful withholding of possession. Petitioners, in all their pleadings,
only sought to recover physical possession of the subject property. The mere fact
that they claim ownership over the parcels of land as well did not deprive the MTC
of jurisdiction to try the ejectment case.
7.
ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PENDING ACTIONS FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF
DEED OF SALE AND TRANSFER CERTIFICATE OF TITLE AND QUIETING OF TITLE ON
THE SAME PROPERTY WILL NOT ABATE THE EJECTMENT CASE; RATIONALE. Even
if respondents claim ownership as a defense to the complaint for ejectment, the
conclusion would be the same for mere assertion of ownership by the defendant in
an ejectment case will not therefore oust the municipal court of its summary
jurisdiction. This Court in Ganadin v. Ramos stated that if what is prayed for is
ejectment or recovery of possession, it does not matter if ownership is claimed by
either party. Therefore, the pending actions for declaration of nullity of deed of sale
and Transfer Certicates of Title and quieting of title in Civil Case No. MAN-2356
will not abate the ejectment case. In Drilon v. Gaurana, this Court ruled that the
ling of an action for reconveyance of title over the same property or for annulment
of the deed of sale over the land does not divest the MTC of its jurisdiction to try the
forcible entry or unlawful detainer case before it, the rationale being that, while
there may be identity of parties and subject matter in the forcible entry case and
the suit for annulment of title and/or reconveyance, the rights asserted and the
relief prayed for are not the same.
8.
ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; LOWER COURT'S ADJUDICATION OF OWNERSHIP IS
MERELY PROVISIONAL. In Oronce v. Court of Appeals, this Court held that the fact
that respondents had previously led a separate action for the reformation of a deed
of absolute sale into one of pacto de retro sale or equitable mortgage in the same
Court of First Instance is not a valid reason to frustrate the summary remedy of
ejectment afforded by law to the plaintiff. Consequently, an adjudication made in an
ejectment proceeding regarding the issue of ownership should be regarded as
merely provisional and, therefore, would not bar or prejudice an action between the
same parties involving title to the land. The foregoing doctrine is a necessary
consequence of the nature of forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases where the
only issue to be settled is the physical or material possession over the real property,
that is, possession de facto and not possession de jure. The Court reiterated this in

the case of Tecson v. Gutierrez when it ruled: We must stress, however, that before
us is only the initial determination of ownership over the lot in dispute, for the
purpose of settling the issue of possession, although the issue of ownership is
inseparably linked thereto. As such, the lower court's adjudication of ownership in
the ejectment case is merely provisional, and our armance of the trial courts'
decisions as well, would not bar or prejudice an action between the same parties
involving title to the property, if and when such action is brought seasonably before
the proper forum. The long settled rule is that the issue of ownership cannot be
subject of a collateral attack. In Apostol v. Court of Appeals, this Court had the
occasion to clarify this: . . . Under Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, a
certicate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered,
modied or cancelled, except in a direct proceeding for that purpose in accordance
with law. The issue of the validity of the title of the respondents can only be
assailed in an action expressly instituted for that purpose. Whether or not the
petitioners have the right to claim ownership over the property is beyond the power
of the court a quo to determine in an action for unlawful detainer.
DECISION
TINGA, J :
p

In a Decision 1 dated 6 January 1998, the Former First Division of the Court of
Appeals overturned the decisions of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) and the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaue City, ruling instead that the MTC had no
jurisdiction over the subject complaint for unlawful detainer. This petition for review
prays for the reversal of the aforesaid Court of Appeals' Decision.
The case originated from a complaint for ejectment led by petitioners against
respondents, docketed as Civil Case No. 2376, before the MTC of Mandaue City,
Branch I. In the complaint, petitioners alleged the fact of their ownership of three
(3) parcels of land covered by Transfer Certicates of Title (TCT) Nos. 36466, 36467
and 36468. Petitioners likewise acknowledged respondent Elizabeth Ong's
ownership of the lots previous to theirs. On 26 January 1995, Atty. Joseph M.
Baduel, representing Mandaue Prime Estate Realty, wrote respondents informing
them of its intent to use the lots and asking them to vacate within thirty (30) days
from receipt of the letter. But respondents refused to vacate, thereby unlawfully
withholding possession of said lots, so petitioners alleged.
Ross Rica Sales Center, Inc. and Juanito King and Sons, Inc. (petitioners) had
acquired the lands from Mandaue Prime Estate Realty through a sale made on 23
March 1995. In turn, it appears that Mandaue Prime Estate Realty had acquired the
properties from the respondents through a Deed of Absolute Sale dated 14 July
1994. However, this latter deed of sale and the transfers of title consequential
thereto were subsequently sought to be annulled by respondents in a complaint
led on 13 February 1995 before the Mandaue RTC against Mandaue Prime Estate
Realty. 2 Per record, this case is still pending resolution.

Meanwhile, the MYC resolved the ejectment case on 24 April 1996, with the
decision ordering respondents to vacate the premises in question and to peacefully
turn over possession thereof to petitioners.
On appeal, the RTC rendered on 1 March 1997 a judgment arming the MTC's
decision in its entirety.
On 8 May 1997, respondents led a notice of appeal. However, on the following day,
they filed a motion for reconsideration.
On 23 June 1997, the RTC issued an Order which concurrently gave due course to
respondents' notice of appeal led on 8 May 1997; denied their motion for
reconsideration dated 9 May 1997, 3 and granted petitioners' motion for immediate
execution pending appeal.
In a Petition for Certiorari with Injunction led with the Court of Appeals and
treated as a Petition for Review , the appellate court ruled that the MTC had no
jurisdiction over said case as there was no contract between the parties, express or
implied, as would qualify the same as one for unlawful detainer. Thus, the assailed
Orders of the MTC and RTC were set aside.
Petitioners then took this recourse via Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court. The principal issues raised before this Court are: (i) whether the RTC
decision has already become nal and executory at the time the petition for review
was led; (ii) whether the allegations in the complaint constitute a case for
unlawful detainer properly cognizable by the MTC; and, (iii) whether petitioners, as
registered owners, are entitled to the possession of the subject premises.
We resolve the first argument to be without merit.
The following sequence of events is undisputed:
(1)

On 1 March 1997, the RTC rendered the questioned decision


affirming the judgment of the MTC.

(2)

On 28 April 1997, respondents received a copy of the


aforementioned decision.

(3)

On 8 May 1997, respondents led a Notice of Appeal with the


RTC.
SAcaDE

(4)

On 9 May 1997, respondents led likewise with the RTC a


Motion for Reconsideration of the aforementioned 1 March 1997
decision.

(5)

On 23 June 1997, the RTC of Mandaue issued an Order denying


respondents' Motion for Reconsideration.

(6)

On 9 July 1997, respondents received


aforementioned 23 June 1997 Order.

copy

of

the

(7)

On 24 July 1997, respondents led with the Court of Appeals


their motion for an additional period of ten (10) days within
which to file their Petition for Review.

(8)

On 30 July 1997, respondents led with the Court of Appeals


their Petition for Review .

Petitioners assert that the Petition for Review was led beyond the fteen (15)-day
period for appeal. They theorize that the period started running on 28 April 1995,
the date of receipt of the RTC decision, and ended on 13 May 1997. According to
them, this reglementary period could not have been interrupted by the ling on 9
May 1997 of the Motion for Reconsideration because of the ling one day earlier of
t h e Notice of Appeal. This Notice of Appeal dated 8 May 1997, albeit the wrong
mode of appeal, expressly manifested their intention to le a petition for review to
either the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. 4
Petitioners further argue that respondents, after having led the Notice of Appeal
which was given due course by the RTC, cannot take an inconsistent stand such as
ling a Motion for Reconsideration . Such ling, therefore, did not toll the fteen
(15)-day period which started running from the date of receipt of the RTC decision
on 28 April 1997 and ended on 13 May 1997.
Respondents, in their Comment, 5 submit that the ling of the Notice of Appeal
dated 8 May 1997 was improper, and as such did not produce any legal eect.
Therefore, the ling of the Motion for Reconsideration immediately on the following
day cured this defect. The RTC refused to subscribe respondents' position. It justied
the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration on the ground that the respondents
had already filed a Notice of Appeal. The Order dated 23 June 1997 stated:
On record is a Notice of Appeal by Certiorari led by Defendants on May 8,
1997.
Likewise filed by Defendants on May 9, 1997 is a Motion for Reconsideration.
Considering the Notice of Appeal led earlier which the court hereby
approves, the Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED.
The Motion for Immediate Execution Pending Appeal being meritorious, is
GRANTED. 6 (Emphasis in the original.)

Strangely enough, the Court of Appeals passed no comment on this point when it
took cognizance of respondents' position and reversed the RTC. But does this
necessarily mean that the RTC was correct when it declared that the Motion for
Reconsideration was barred by the ling of the Notice of Appeal, no matter how
erroneous the latter mode was?
Rule 42 governs the mode of appeal applicable in this case. Sec. 1 provides:
Section 1.
How appeal taken; time for filing. A party desiring to appeal
from a decision of the RTC rendered in the exercise of its appellate

jurisdiction may le a veried petition for review with the Court of Appeals,
paying at the same time to the clerk of said court the corresponding docket
and other lawful fees, depositing the amount of P500.00 for costs, and
furnishing the Regional Trial Court and the adverse party with a copy of the
petition. The petition shall be led and served within fteen (15) days from
notice of the decision sought to be reviewed or of the denial of petitioner's
motion for new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after judgment. Upon
proper motion and the payment of the full amount of the docket and other
lawful fees and the deposit for costs before the expiration of the
reglementary period, the Court of Appeals may grant an additional period of
fteen (15) days only within which to le the petition for review. No further
extension shall be granted except for the most compelling reason and in no
case to exceed fifteen (15) days.

Since the unlawful detainer case was led with the MTC and armed by the RTC,
petitioners should have filed a Petition for Review with the Court of Appeals and not
a Notice of Appeal with the RTC. However, we consider this to have been remedied
by the timely ling of the Motion for Reconsideration on the following day. Section
3, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court allows the withdrawal of appeal at any time, as a
matter of right, before the ling of the appellee's brief. Applying this rule
contextually, the ling of the Motion for Reconsideration may be deemed as an
effective withdrawal of the defective Notice of Appeal.
Perforce, the period of appeal was tolled by the Motion for Reconsideration and
started to run again from the receipt of the order denying the Motion for
Reconsideration. A Motion for Additional Time to File the Petition was likewise led
with the Court of Appeals. Counting fteen (15) days from receipt of the denial of
the Motion for Reconsideration and the ten (10)-day request for additional period, it
is clear that respondents filed their Petition for Review on time.
Petitioners invoke to the ruling in People v. De la Cruz 7 that once a notice of appeal
is led, it cannot be validly withdrawn to give way to a motion for reconsideration.
The factual circumstances in the two cases are different.

De la Cruz is a criminal case, governed by criminal procedure. Section 3, Rule 122 of


the Rules of Court provides that the proper mode of appeal from a decision of the
RTC is a notice of appeal and an appeal is deemed perfected upon ling of the notice
of appeal.
In the case at bar, a petition for review before the Court of Appeals is the proper
mode of appeal from a decision of the RTC. Since the ling of the notice of appeal is
erroneous, it is considered as if no appeal was interposed.
Now on the second and more important issue raised by petitioners: whether the
Complaint satises the jurisdictional requirements for a case of unlawful detainer
properly cognizable by the MTC.
The MTC considered itself as having jurisdiction over the ejectment complaint and
disposed of the same in favor of petitioners. Said ruling was armed by the RTC.

The Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts and found the complaint to be one
not for unlawful detainer based on two (2) grounds, namely: that the allegations
fail to show that petitioners were deprived of possession by force, intimidation,
threat, strategy or stealth; and that there is no contract, express or implied,
between the parties as would qualify the case as one of unlawful detainer.

We disagree with the Court of Appeals.


The complaint for unlawful detainer contained the following material allegations:
xxx xxx xxx
3.
That plaintis are the owners of Lot No. 2, which is covered by T.C.T.
No. 36466 of the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City, Lot No. 1-A which is
covered by T.C.T. No. 36467 of the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City and
Lot No. 86-A which is covered by T.C.T. No. 36468 of the Register of Deeds
of Mandaue City, all situated in the City of Mandaue. Copies of said Transfer
Certicate of Titles are hereto attached as Annexes "A", "B", and "C"
respectively and made an integral part hereof;
4.
That defendant Elizabeth Ong is the previous registered owner of said
lots;
5.
That as the previous registered owner of said lots, defendant Elizabeth
Ong and her husband and co-defendant Jerry Ong have been living in the
house constructed on said lots;
6.
That on May 6, 1995, plaintis, through the undersigned counsel,
wrote defendants a letter informing them or their intent to use said lots and
demanded of them to vacate said lots within 30 days from receipt of said
letter. Copy of said letter is hereto attached as Annex "D" and made an
integral part thereof;
7.
That despite demand to vacate, the defendants have refused and still
refuse to vacate said lots, thus, unlawfully withholding possession of said
lots from plaintiffs and depriving plaintiffs of the use of their lots;
8.
That in unlawfully withholding the possession of said lots from the
plaintis, plaintis have suered damages in the form of unearned rentals in
the amount of P10,000.00 a month
xxx xxx xxx

Well-settled is the rule that what determines the nature of an action as well as
which court has jurisdiction over it are the allegations of the complaint and the
character of the relief sought. 9
Respondents contend that the complaint did not allege that petitioners' possession
was originally lawful but had ceased to be so due to the expiration of the right to

possess by virtue of any express or implied contract.

IASEca

The emphasis placed by the Court of Appeals on the presence of a contract as a


requisite to qualify the case as one of unlawful detainer contradicts the various
jurisprudence dealing on the matter.
I n Javelosa v. Court of the Appeals, 10 it was held that the allegation in the
complaint that there was unlawful withholding of possession is sucient to make
out a case for unlawful detainer. It is equally settled that in an action for unlawful
detainer, an allegation that the defendant is unlawfully withholding possession
from the plainti is deemed sucient, without necessarily employing the
terminology of the law. 11
Hence, the phrase "unlawful withholding" has been held to imply possession on the
part of defendant, which was legal in the beginning, having no other source than a
contract, express or implied, and which later expired as a right and is being withheld
by defendant. 12 I n Rosanna B. Barba v. Court of Appeals , 13 we held that a simple
allegation that the defendant is unlawfully withholding possession from plainti is
sufficient.
Based on this premise, the allegation in the Complaint that:
. . . . despite demand to vacate, the defendants have refused and still refuse
to vacate said lots, thus, unlawfully withholding possession of said lots from
plaintiffs and depriving plaintiffs of the use of their lots; 14

is already sufficient to constitute an unlawful detainer case.


In the subject complaint, petitioners alleged that they are the registered owners of
the lots covered by TCT Nos. 36466, 36467 and 36468. By their implied tolerance,
they have allowed respondents, the former owners of the properties, to remain
therein. Nonetheless, they eventually sent a letter to respondents asking that the
latter vacate the said lots. Respondents refused, thereby depriving petitioners of
possession of the lots. Clearly, the complaint establishes the basic elements of an
unlawful detainer case, certainly sucient for the purpose of vesting jurisdiction
over it in the MTC.
Respondents would like to capitalize on the requisites as cited in the case of
Raymundo dela Paz v. Panis . 15 But the citation is a mere reiteration of Sec. 1, Rule
7 0 16 of the Rules of Court. The case does not provide for rigid standards in the
drafting of the ejectment complaint. The case of Co Tiamco v. Diaz 17 justies a
more liberal approach, thus:
. . . The principle underlying the brevity and simplicity of pleadings in forcible
entry and unlawful detainer cases rests upon considerations of public policy.
Cases of forcible entry and detainer are summary in nature, for they involve
perturbation of social order which must be restored as promptly as possible
and, accordingly, technicalities or details of procedure should be carefully
avoided. 18

Moreover, petitioners fail to mention any of the incidents of the pending case
involving the annulment of deed of sale and title over said property. Petitioners
know better than to question this in an ejectment proceeding, which brings us to
the nature of the action in this case.
Respondents insist that the RTC, and not the MTC, had jurisdiction over the action,
it being an accion reivindicatoria according to them, on the ground that petitioners
were constantly claiming ownership over the lands in the guise of ling an action
for ejectment. In their Comment, 19 respondents maintain that they occupy the
subject lots as the legal owners. Petitioners, on the other hand, are seeking recovery
of possession under a claim of ownership which is tantamount to recovery of
possession based on alleged title to the lands, and therefore is within the original
jurisdiction of the RTC, so respondents conclude.
This contention is not tenable.
The issue involved in accion reivindicatoria is the recovery of ownership of real
property. This diers from accion publiciana where the issue is the better right of
possession or possession de jure, and accion interdictal where the issue is material
possession or possession de facto. In an action for unlawful detainer, the question of
possession is primordial while the issue of ownership is generally unessential. 20
Neither the allegation in petitioners' complaint for ejectment nor the defenses
thereto raised by respondents suciently convert this case into an accion
reivindicatoria which is beyond the province of the MTC to decide. Petitioners did
not institute the complaint for ejectment as a means of claiming or obtaining
ownership of the properties. The acknowledgment in their pleadings of the fact of
prior ownership by respondents does not constitute a recognition of respondents'
present ownership. This is meant only to establish one of the necessary elements
for a case of unlawful detainer, specically the unlawful withholding of possession.
Petitioners, in all their pleadings, only sought to recover physical possession of the
subject property. The mere fact that they claim ownership over the parcels of land
as well did not deprive the MTC of jurisdiction to try the ejectment case.
Even if respondents claim ownership as a defense to the complaint for ejectment,
the conclusion would be the same for mere assertion of ownership by the defendant
in an ejectment case will not therefore oust the municipal court of its summary
jurisdiction. 21 This Court in Ganadin v. Ramos 22 stated that if what is prayed for is
ejectment or recovery of possession, it does not matter if ownership is claimed by
either party. Therefore, the pending actions for declaration of nullity of deed of sale
and Transfer Certicates of Title and quieting of title in Civil Case No. MAN-2356
will not abate the ejectment case.
In Drilon v. Gaurana, 23 this Court ruled that the ling of an action for reconveyance
of title over the same property or for annulment of the deed of sale over the land
does not divest the MTC of its jurisdiction to try the forcible entry or unlawful
detainer case before it, the rationale being that, while there may be identity of
parties and subject matter in the forcible entry case and the suit for annulment of
title and/or reconveyance, the rights asserted and the relief prayed for are not the

same. 24
I n Oronce v. Court of Appeals, 25 this Court held that the fact that respondents had
previously led a separate action for the reformation of a deed of absolute sale into
one of pacto de retro sale or equitable mortgage in the same Court of First Instance
is not a valid reason to frustrate the summary remedy of ejectment aorded by law
to the plainti. Consequently, an adjudication made in an ejectment proceeding
regarding the issue of ownership should be regarded as merely provisional and,
therefore, would not bar or prejudice an action between the same parties involving
title to the land. The foregoing doctrine is a necessary consequence of the nature of
forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases where the only issue to be settled is the
physical or material possession over the real property, that is, possession de facto
and not possession de jure.
The Court reiterated this in the case of Tecson v. Gutierrez 26 when it ruled:
We must stress, however, that before us is only the initial determination of
ownership over the lot in dispute, for the purpose of settling the issue of
possession, although the issue of ownership is inseparably linked thereto.
As such, the lower court's adjudication of ownership in the ejectment case is
merely provisional, and our armance of the trial courts' decisions as well,
would not bar or prejudice an action between the same parties involving title
to the property, if and when such action is brought seasonably before the
proper forum.
IECcaA

The long settled rule is that the issue of ownership cannot be subject of a collateral
attack.

In Apostol v. Court of Appeals, 27 this Court had the occasion to clarify this:
. . . Under Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, a certicate of title
shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modied or
cancelled, except in a direct proceeding for that purpose in accordance with
law. The issue of the validity of the title of the respondents can only be
assailed in an action expressly instituted for that purpose. Whether or not
the petitioners have the right to claim ownership over the property is
beyond the power of the court a quo to determine in an action for unlawful
detainer. 28

With the conclusion of the second issue in favor of petitioners, there is no need to
discuss the third assignment of error which is related to the second issue.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 6
January 1998 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the Decision dated 24 April 1996 of
the Municipal Trial Court of Mandaue City REINSTATED and AFFIRMED. Costs
against respondents.
SO ORDERED.

Puno, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr. and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.


Footnotes
1.

Rollo, pp. 24-32; Penned by Acting Presiding Justice Fidel P. Purisima, (later named
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court), concurred in by Associate Justices
Ricardo P. Galvez and B.A. Adefuin-De la Cruz.

2.

Docketed as Civil Case No. MAN-2356 for Declaration of Deed of Sale and Transfer
Certicates of Titles as Null and Void ab initio and Quieting of Title, Damages and
Attorney's Fees.

3.

A motion for execution pending appeal was also granted in the same Order. Rollo,
p. 13.

4.

Id. at 12.

5.

Id. at 61-84.

6.

Id. at 12-13.

7.

312 Phil. 158 (1995).

8.

Id. at 86-88.

9.

Caniza v. Court of Appeals , 335 Phil. 1107 (1997); Ten Forty Realty and
Development Corp. v. Cruz , G.R. No. 151212, 410 SCRA 484, 10 September 2003.

10.
11.

333 Phil. 331 (1996).

Sumulong v. Court of Appeals , G.R. No. 108817, 10 May 1994, 232 SCRA 372;
Pangilinan v. Aguilar, 150 Phil. 166 (1972); Virgilio v. Jimenez , 394 Phil. 877 (2000).

12.

Javelosa v. Court of Appeals, supra note 9 at 339.

13.

426 Phil. 598 (2002).

14.

Rollo, p. 87.

15.

315 Phil. 238 (1995).

16.

SECTION 1. Who may institute proceedings, and when. Subject to the


provisions of the next succeeding section, a person deprived of the possession of
any land or building by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth, or 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 to hold
possession, by virtue of any contract, express or implied, or the legal
representatives or assigns of any such lessor, vendor, vendee or other person,
may, at any time within one (1) year after such unlawful deprivation or withholding
of possession, bring an action in the proper Municipal Trial Court against the
person or persons unlawfully withholding or depriving of possession, or any
person or persons claiming under them, for the restitution of such possession,
together with damages and costs.

17.

75 Phil. 672 (1946).

18.

Id. at 686.

19.

Rollo, p. 73.

20.

Fige v. Court of Appeals , G.R. No. 107951, 30 June 1994, 233 SCRA 586.

21.

Ching v. Malaya, G.R. No. L-56449, 31 August 1987, 153 SCRA 412.

22.

L-23547, 11 September 1980, 99 SCRA 613.

23.

G.R. No. L-35482 30 April 1987, 149 SCRA 342.

24.

Feliciano v. Court of Appeals , 336 Phil. 499 (1998).

25.

331 Phil. 616 (1998).

26.

G.R. No. 152978, 4 March 2005, citing Balanon-Anicete v. Balanon , G.R. Nos.
150820-21, 30 April 2003, 402 SCRA 514; Co v. Militar , G.R. No. 149912, 29
January 2004, 421 SCRA 455.

27.

G.R. No. 125375, 17 June 2004, 432 SCRA 351.

28.

Id. at 359.