NO 108558 (2001)

FACTS: This case involves declaration of ownership filed before RTC of an
unregistered parcel of land. Petitioner and private respondents have conflicting claims
1. Petitioner Tabuso alleged that she is the owner of the subject parcel of land.
Tabuso claimed to be the successor in interest of one Andrea Elaba, daughter of
Maria Montes and Borja Elaba. Maria Montest was the sister of Ignacio Montes
whose name appeared in the Tax declaration for the property in question issued
in 1912
a. As evidence, she presented Tax declaration no 3805 in the name of
Ignacio Montes for the year 1912. However, the taxes thereon for the
years 1944-1947 paid only in 1981
b. The subject property has been in the possession of the defendants
although a house standing thereon was constructed by petitioner’s father
2. On the other hand, private respondents Abad alleged that:
a. The original tax declaration in the name of Ignacio Montes was
superseded by Tax Declaration Nos. 6422 and 1450 both in the name of
Isabel Elaba. Declaration No. 1450 for the year 1948 was superseded by
Tax Declaration No. 6959 for 1960 in the name of Esteban Abad; and the
latter was superseded in 1969 by Tax Declaration No. 1661 in the name of
Esteban Abad. In 1974 a new tax declaration No. 19 was issued in the
name of Esteban Abad with Nemesio Abad and his co-heirs as
administrators. The last tax declaration No. 22 for 1982 was in the name
of Esteban Abad. The land taxes due thereon for the years 1947 to 1982
were paid by Isabel Elaba, Esteban Abad and Nemesio Abad
b. The land in question is tenanted by one Valentin Poblete in accordance
with a lease contract executed by defendant Nemesio
3. The court dismissed the complaint and declared the defendant the lawful owners
of the land in question. The court gave credit to the testimony of Atty. Jose
Gonzales, private respondents' counsel who had been presented by petitioners
as their own witness. He testified that the land in question, which was adjacent to
the land he himself possessed, had been in the possession of Esteban Abad's
heirs, herein private respondents.

ISSUE: Who is the rightful owner in the case at bar?

HELD: Private respondents Abad are the rightful owners of the subject property.

For a period of more than 60 years, private respondents have been able to
establish that they are the owners of the lot; and that for said period, they have
been in open, continuous and uninterrupted possession of the same.

Both the trial and the appellate courts were likewise correct in giving weight to the
testimony of Atty. Jose Gonzales. He testified that being, the owner of the adjacent
land, he had personal knowledge of the simple fact that the land in question was owned
by private respondents, who were in actual, open and continuous possession thereof.
Possession and ownership are distinct legal concepts. Ownership exists when a
thing pertaining to one person is completely subjected to his will in a manner not
prohibited by law and consistent with the rights of others. Ownership confers
certain rights to the owner, one of which is the right to dispose of the thing by
way of sale. On the other hand, possession is defined as the holding of a thing or
the enjoyment of a right. Literally, to possess means to actually and physically
occupy a thing with or without right. Possession may be had in one of two ways:
possession in the concept of an owner and possession of a holder. Possessors
in the concept of owners may be the owners themselves or those who claim to be
so. On the other hand, those who possess as mere holders acknowledge in
another a superior right which he believes to be ownership, whether his belief be
right or wrong."

In this case, the evidence shows that the occupation of the property by petitioners is not
in the concept of owners, because their stay is merely tolerated. This finding is
bolstered by the fact that Petitioner Andrea Tabuso is the daughter of Marcelo Tabuso,
who was merely allowed by the previous owner, Esteban Abad, to construct a small
house on the lot.

It is not necessary that the latter actually stay on the property in order to prove
ownership of the same. Since the acquisition of the subject property by private
respondents, they had religiously paid the taxes due thereon. Further, one of the co-
owners executed a lease contract over it in favor of a tenant. These acts are clearly
consistent with ownership.

GACOS VS. CA G.R. NO 85962-63 (1992)

FACTS: Eladio Gacos owned a 6.584 sqm. unregistered land which he verbally
adjudicated to his 3 daughters (Petrona, Fortuna, and Lucia). Petrona immediately took
possession and occupied her 1/3 share of the land. The land in dispute is the inherited
shares of Petrona Gacos from Eladio Gacos which 1/3 share of land.
1. In 1948, before the land was formally partitioned, Petrona offered to sell to her
nephew-in-law, Marcial Olaybal, a part of her share. The transaction was
consummated in a document written in Spanish “Escritura de Venta Absoluta,”
(Deed of Absolute Sale) describing the inherited land containing an area of 2,270
2. Before the death of Petrona Gacos, she instructed her sister Lucia, who
administered the remaining portion of her property, to sell the small area on the
east for her funeral expenses and novena. Thus, after her death Lucia Gacos,
sold to Teodolfo Mendones the said portion of land on the east containing an
area of 84 sqm.
3. Lucia Gacos and Jose Cambal executed and “Agreement of Partition of Real
Property,” formally confirming what was apportioned to them by their father as
their respective shares. Petrona’s share was 2,242 sqm.
4. On December 1950, Marcial Olaybal offered to sell to Encarnacion Gacos the
parcel of land he bought from Petrona but when the sale was consummated in a
“Deed of Absolute Sale,” the name Rosario Gacos, sister of Encarnacion,
appeared as the vendee. The property sold was described as containing an area
of 2,025 sqm. (1159 sqm. Difference in area from what he declared in the Tax
5. 6 years after the 4 parcels of land were consolidated into one tax declaration,
Rosario Gacos sold the continguous land to her nephew Arnulfo Prieto. Arnulfo
Prieto took possession of the said land and declared the same in his name.
Arnulfo Prieto entered into a 15-yr lease contract with his sister Vivencia Prieto. A
rice mill was constructed thereon by Vivencia Prieto.
6. The children of Petrona (Brioneses) executed a “Deed of Extrajudicial
Settlement,” adjudicating onto themselves the 1/3 undivided portion of the 2,242
sqm of their mother’s share of inheritance after Leonora Briones was informed by
her Aunt Lucia, that a portion of the land had been sold to Encarnacion Gacos
(although Rosario Gacos appeared as vendee) and that a ricemill had been
constructed on the land.
7. Legitimate heirs of the late Petrona Gacos filed a complaint before the CFI
seeking to recover the 1,352 sqm land from the defendants Rosario Gacos and
Arnulfo Prieto which they alleged to be the remnant of the 2,242 sqm land after
Petrona sold a portion therefrom consisting of 866sqm to Marcial Olaybal. They
also alleged that the remnant land which they inherited from Petrona were
administered by their aunt Lucia in the concept of negotiorum gestio, as they
were then minors; that when Lucia Gacos died, Rosario Gacos came into
possession of the land in question and then excuted a document “Ratification of
Ownership”; that without lawful authority Rosario Gacos sold the land to Arnulfo
Prieto, who despite demands made, refused to return the same to the Brioneses.
8. Defendant Rosario and Arnulfo contended that what Petrona sold to Marcial
Olaybal was not a portion of the land but the whole share of Petrona, thus there
is not remnant to speak of. In addition to their contention, they claim that since
plaintiff are no longer the owners of the land since 1948, they have no legal right
to intervene in the execution of the Ratification of Ownership by Rosario Gacos;
that because of the continued and undisturbed possession for 27 yrs of the land
by Arnulfo Prieto, whatever rights plaintiffs may have over the land have already
been long barred by acquisitive prescription
9. Spouses Arnulfo and Renita Prieto file a complaint with CFI seeking to recover
from Teodolfo Mendones and Visitacion Borrega and spouses Jesus and Merced
Gabitos the 84 sqm portion, alleging that the share was entirely sold by Petrona
to Marcial Olaybal. They claim that the said portion was fraudulently and without
authority sold by Lucia Gacos to Teodolfo Mendones who thereafter sold it to
Sps. Gabitos; that spouses Gabitos constructed a residential house thereon.
10. Mendones and Gabitos denied that Petrona Gacos sold the entire area to Marcial
Olaybal because what was sold was only 866sqm. Mendones acquired the
84sqm portion in GF and for value as evidenced by a document of sale executed
by Lucia Gacos, pursuant to the instruction of late Petrona Gacos. Gabitos
acquired it in GF for value from Mendones and as rightful owners, exercised their
right of dominion in building a residential house thereon.
11. CFI rendered its decision in favor of Brioneses, Mendones and Gabitos. CA
affirmed the decision of the CFI. Hence, the petition.

ISSUE: WON the CA erred in affirming the decision of the CFI in declaring the
Brioneses as the owners and entitled to the possession of the 1,292 sqm portion of land
and the Gabitos as the owner and entitled to the 84sqm portion.


Petitioners contended that in delineating the boundaries of the property sold, the
boundaries indicated in the deed of sale as enclosing the land and indicating its limit
puts it identification beyond doubt and not the area mentioned in its description must
fail. The boundaries described in the "Escritura de Venta Absoluta" are not only general
but vague. Neither the statement concerning the area (2,750 square meters) in the
"Escritura de Venta Absoluta" identifies with absolute certainty the land sold by
Petrona Gacos to Marcial Olaybal as it does not coincide with the area (2,025
square meters) stated in the "Deed of Absolute Sale" between Marcial Olaybal
and Rosario Gacos. The variance in the boundaries and the statement of the area thus
put to doubt the identity of the land sold by Petrona Gacos to Marcial Olaybal which was
eventually transferred by the latter to Rosario Gacos.

The CA correctly relied on the Tax Declaration of Marcial declaring in his name
the disputed land with an area of 866sqm , sketch plan and field sheet specifying the
area of 866 sqm in both documents submitted by Marcial Olaybal to the assessors
office during the general revision. The CA correctly relied on his testimony during
the trial that he bought only 866 square meters of the land of Petrona Gacos
which said Court correctly categorized as an admission of a party to a relevant

Petitioners also claimed that the sale of the disputed land in the instant case is a sale
for a "lump sum" not at the rate per unit under Art. 1542 of the Civil Code where the
vendor "shall be bound to deliver all that is included within said boundaries, even when
it exceeds the area or number specified in the contract"

The Court applied Article 1378 (formerly Art. 1289) of the New Civil Code, thus: Art.
1378. When it is absolutely impossible to settle doubts by the rules established in
the preceding articles, and the doubts refer to incidental circumstances of a
gratuitous contract, the least transmission of rights and interests shall prevail. If
the contract is onerous, the doubt shall be settled in favor of the greatest
reciprocity of interest.
It must be observed that the "Escritura de Venta Absoluta" was consummated in
favor of a close relative, a nephew-in-law (Marcial Olaybal) of Petrona Gacos.
Thus, in accordance with Article 1378 of the Civil Code, said contract should be
interpreted as "to effect the least possible transmission of rights or interests."
Besides, Petrona Gacos could not have sold her entire hereditary share as she
and her four (4) minor children were then staying in the disputed land with her
sister Lucia.
Possession, under the Civil Code, to constitute the foundation of a prescriptive right,
must be possession under claim of title (en concepto de dueno) or it must be adverse.
Acts of possessory character performed by one who holds by mere tolerance of
the owner are clearly not "en concepto de dueno," and such possessory acts, no
matter how long so continued, do not start the running of the period of
prescription. Even under ordinary acquisitive prescription of immovables and other real
rights through adverse possession of 10 years, the possession of petitioners'
predecessors-in-interest of the unsold portion of 1,159 square meters cannot be
characterized as adverse possession in good faith. As early as April 26, 1949,
petitioners' predecessors-in-interest, Rosario Gacos, knew and recognized the sale on
February 22, 1949 by Lucia Gacos to Teodolfo Mendones of the eastern portion of the
hereditary estate of Petrona Gacos reportedly containing an area of 84 square meters.
In the "Escritura de Venta con Pacto de Retro" between Lucia Gacos and Rosario
Gacos involving the share of Lucia Gacos, Teodolfo Mendones is mentioned as the
boundary owner on the south. Encarnacion Prieto, mother of petitioners, signed as a
witness in the said pacto de retro sale, thus impliedly recognizing the ownership of the
lot. If the entire hereditary share of Petrona was sold asserted by petitioners, the
eastern portion of her hereditary estate could not have been sold to Teodolfo
Mendones. Petitioners never raised any objection on the exercise of Teodolfo
Mendones of his dominical rights over the said eastern portion when the latter
mortgaged the land as a collateral for a loan with the Rural Bank. There was even a
fence constructed by Marcial Olaybal separating the property he bought from that of
Petrona Gacosa
WONG V. CARPIO G.R. NO 50264 (1991)

FACTS: Private respondent Manuel Mercado purchased a parcel of land from William
Giger for the price of P3,500 under the terms of a pacto de retro sale.
1. In 1972, Mercado began harvesting only the coconut fruits and he paid the taxes
on the land for Giger but he failed to erect any signs of occupancy, nor did he
establish a hut. Neither did he occupy the subject property as he was a
businessman and storekeeper by occupation. Mercado only visited the land
occasionally to make copra. Other than this, the subject property appeared
2. Before 1976, petitioner Wong went to the subject property and discovered that
there were no claimants over the property. Wong, then, purchased the subject
property from Giger and subsequently obtained a TCT under his name. Wong,
then, placed laborers on the subject property, built a small farm house and
fenced the boundaries. He also placed signboards.
3. When Mercado returned, he found out that the placed had been occupied by
Wong. He had the incident blottered and filed a complaint for forcible entry
against Wong
4. MTC held in favor of Wong, citing that Wong had prior, actual and continuous
physical possession of the subject property
5. On appeal, CFI reversed the MTC decision and held that Mercado had taken
possession of the property earlier than Wong and the latter was an intruder. As
such, Wong as ordered to return the possession of the land in question to
Mercado and play a monthly rental of P400 from August 1976 until the return of
6. Petitioner argued that Mercado did not established prior possession; his periodic
visits to gather copra had been consented to and allowed or tolerated by him.
Wong alleged that Mercado was a mere laborer who was allowed to gather fruits

ISSUE: WON Mercado is the owner of the subject property

HELD: Yes.

Art 531 provides that possession is acquired by the material occupation of a
thing or the exercise of a right, or by the fact that it is subject to the action of our
will, or by the proper acts and legal formalities for acquiring such right. The
execution of a sale thru a public instrument shall be equivalent to the delivery of
the thing, unless there is stipulation to the contrary. If, however, notwithstanding
the execution of the instrument, the purchaser cannot have the enjoyment and material
tenancy of the thing and make use of it herself, because such tenancy and enjoyment
are opposed by another, then delivery has not been effected.

In the case at bar, it is clear that possession passed from vendor William Giger to
private respondent Manuel Mercado by virtue of the first sale. The later sale a
retro in favor of petitioner failed to pass the possession of the property because
there is an impediment—the possession exercised by private respondent.
Possession as a fact cannot be recognized at the same time in two different
personalities except in the cases of co-possession. Should a question arise
regarding the fact of possession, the present possessor shall be preferred; if
there are two possessions, the one longer in possession, if the dates of
possession are the same, the one who presents a title; and if these conditions are
equal, the thing shall be placed in judicial deposit pending determination of its
possession or ownership through proper proceedings.

Furthermore, Wong cannot claim good faith to deny Mercado due rentals. The moment
he received the complaint of forcible entry and summons, he should have been aware
of defects in his title. He owes rentals from that point onwards.

The act of entering the property and excluding the lawful possessor therefrom
necessarily implies the exertion of force over the property, and this is all that is
necessary. Under the rule, entering upon the premises by strategy or stealth is
equally as obnoxious as entering by force. The foundation of the action is really
the forcible exclusion of the original possessor by a person who has entered
without right. The words "by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth" include
every situation or condition under which one person can wrongfully enter upon real
property and exclude another who has had prior possession therefrom. If a trespasser
enters upon land in open daylight, under the very eyes of person already clothed with
lawful possession, but without the consent of the latter, and there plants himself and
excludes such prior possessor from the property, the action of forcible entry and
detainer can unquestionably be maintained, even though no force is used by the
trespasser other than such as is necessarily implied from the mere acts of planting
himself on the ground and excluding the other party.

ELANE VS. CA G.R. NO 80638 (1989)

FACTS: Private respondent Inocencio V. Chua filed an action for forcible entry for the
eviction of petitioner Gabriel Elane from a portion of land which was subject of a permit
to occupy issued to private respondent by the Bureau of Forestry on Aug. 16, 1961.
1. Chua alleges he discovered that Elane was constructing a semi-concrete building
on a portion thereof, without his knowledge and consent. Chua demanded Elane
to stop said construction but was ignored by the latter.
2. Elane claims that he was granted a permit by the Bureau of Forest Dev’t
allegedly evidenced by a certification from the said bureau; that he has been in
possession and occupation of that parcel of land continuously and
uninterruptedly since 1970, having originally erected a hut thereon which was
later replaced by a bungalow and that land has been declared in his name and
real property taxes was paid by him since 1970-1979.
3. MTC dismissed the complaint and was affirmed by RTC. CA reversed the
decision and ordered Elane to remove or demolish the residential house or
building that he constructed.
4. The CA found that on Aug. 16, 1961, the Bureau of Forestry authorized Chua to
occupy 4 hectares of public forest land on which he constructed a warehouse
and a gasoline station. On Jan. 19, 1977, the parcel of land was declared
alienable and disposable, Chua filed an application with the Bureau of Lands to
purchase it under Miscellaneous Sales Application.

ISSUE: WON the CA erred in adjudicating the case on the basis of priority of physical
possession instead of legal possession

The Court held that private respondent has priority of possession over petitioner whose
entry into the subject lot may be reckoned only as of 1979. There is no merit in the
suggestion that petitioner was authorized by the Bureau of Forest Development
to occupy the land by virtue of an alleged permit issued by said bureau. A cursory
examination of said document readily shows that it is a mere certification that the
lot claimed by petitioner is part of the alienable and disposable land of the public
domain. Nowhere is it stated therein that petitioner is allowed to take possession
of the subject lot. Furthermore, it is uncontroverted that private respondent was
issued a residence permit way back in 1961 which entitled him to possession of
the disputed land starting in the same year.
Petitioner, submits that the expiration of private respondent's permit in 1969, and its
non-renewal, deprived the latter of his possessory right over and the corresponding right
to eject petitioner from the subject lot by reason of the expiration of said permit, the right
of possession over the land reverted to the Bureau of Lands thereby vesting in said
entity the sole right to institute any forcible entry case over the land in question.

The respondent court expressly observed that while private respondent's permit
to occupy the land may have expired in 1969, he remained in physical possession
thereof. Since the decisive issue is priority of possession and private respondent
had been in actual and continuous possession of the land since August 16, 1961,
his material possession must be protected in this ejectment case until a
competent court in an appropriate case determines which of the contending
parties has the better right of possession.

It is of no moment that petitioner's right to occupy said parcel of land by reason of
the permit issued to him by the Bureau of Forestry has already expired. For, it is
not whether he has a legal right to possess it that is in issue; it is whether he is in
actual physical possession of it that is decisive in the instant case for forcible
Private respondent was in earlier possession of the contested lot; his sales application
preceded that of petitioner; his warehouse and gasoline station already existed long
before petitioner took possession of the parcel of land in question; and he has been
paying taxes and rental fees thereon since 1968. As provided by the Civil Code -
Art. 538. Possession as a fact cannot be recognized at the same time in
two different personalities except in the case of co-possession. Should a
question arise regarding the fact of possession, the present possessor
shall be preferred; if there are two possessors, the one longer in
Having been in prior continuous possession, private respondent is preferentially
entitled to occupy the land.
Petitioner's intrusion upon the disputed premises can properly be categorized as one
effected through stealth. Where forcible entry was thus made clandestinely, the
one-year prescriptive period should be counted from the time private respondent
demanded that the deforciant desist from such dispossession when the former
learned thereof.

MANOTOK REALTY INC V. CA G.R. L-39044 (1985)

FACTS: Petitioner Manotok Realty Inc is the registered owner of a parcel of land
covered by Tax declaration nos. 2455 and 2456 issued by the city of Manila. Said
properties were acquired from the testate estate of Clara Tambunting de Legarda by
virtue of a sale conducted by the probate court.
1. After acquiring the said property, Manotok had the same subdivided but could not
take possession thereof because the whole area was occupied by several
houses, among which is the one belong to private respondent Carillo.
2. Despite demands to vacate and to surrender possession of the property (made
verbally and by publication), Carillo continued to occupy the disputed lot and
refused to surrender possession thereof to Manotok
3. As such, Manotok file an action reinvindicatoria against Carillo
4. Carillo argued that he acquired the lot in dispute from a certain Delfin Dayrit
pursuant to a deed of assignment; Dayrit in turn had acquired the property from
Carla Tambunting by virtue of a contract of sale on installment basis
5. The trial court held in favor of Manotok and order Carillo to vacate and/or
surrender possession of the subject lot to Manotok
6. CA affirmed the same but held that Carillo, being a builder in god faith, was
entitled to the right of retention of the lot and is not liable to pay rentals for the
occupation thereof pending payment of the indemnity for such improvements
7. Petitioner Manotok argued that CA erred in considering Carillo as possessor and
builder in good faith since at the time of the deed of assignment in favor of
Carillo, the property was already registered to Manotok. Carillo should have
verified with RD who was the registered owner of the land in question

ISSUE: WON Carillo is a possessor in good faith


Art 526 defines a possessor in good faith as one who is not aware that there exists in
his title or mode of acquisition any flaw which invalidates it. One who acquires real
estate with knowledge of a defect or lack of title in his vendor cannot claim that he has
acquired title thereto in good faith as against the true owner of the land or of an interest
therein; and the same rule must be applied to one who has knowledge of facts which
should put a reasonable man upon his guard, and then claims that he acted in good
faith under the belief that there was no defect in the title of the vendor.

In the case at bar, the records show that Dayrit executed the deed of assignment in
favor of the respondent, the disputed lot was already registered and titled in the name of
the petitioner. Such an act of registration served as a constructive notice to the whole
world and the title issued in favor of petitioner made his ownership conclusive upon and
against all persons including Dayrit and. herein respondent, although no personal notice
was served on either of the latter. Therefore, the presumption of good faith in favor of
the respondent cannot apply because as far as the law is concerned, he had notice of
the ownership by the petitioner over said lot. His failure to exercise that measure of
precaution which was reasonably required of a prudent man in order to acquaint him
with the defects in the title of his vendor precludes him from claiming possession in
good faith.

A purchaser cannot close his eyes to facts which should put a reasonable man upon his
guard and then claim that he acted in good faith under the belief that there was no
defect in the title of the vendor.