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[G.R. No. 120864.

October 8, 2003]

MANUEL T. DE GUIA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS (Former Sixth Division) and JOSE B. ABEJO,
represented by his Attorney-in-Fact, Hermenegilda Abejo-Rivera, respondents.

Property>Co-ownership

Facts (Long version):

 Case is a petition for certiorari on the decision of the trial court ordering DE GUIA to turn over to private
respondent ABEJO possession of ½ undivided portion of a fishpond and to pay actual damages and
attorney’s fees
 On May 12, 1986, ABEJO instituted an action for recovery of possession with damages against DE GUIA.
ABEJO alleged that he is the owner of ½ the undivided portion of a property used as a fishpond in
Meycauayan, Bulacan, claiming ownership over 39,611 sq. m out of the total area of 79,220 sq. m.
 ABEJO further averred that DE GUIA continues to possess and use the fishpond without any contract and
without paying rent to ABEJO’s damage and prejudice.
 ABEJO also complained that DE GUIA refuses to surrender ownership and possession of the FISHPOND
despite repeated demands to do so after DE GUIA’s sublease contract over the FISHPOND had expired.
 ABEJO asked the trial court to order DE GUIA to vacate an approximate area of 39,611 square meters as
well as pay damages
 DE GUIA, a lawyer by profession, appeared on his own behalf. He filed his Answer on 12 January 1990
after the Court of Appeals resolved several issues concerning the validity of the service of summons on him.
 In his Answer, DE GUIA alleged that the complaint does not state a cause of action and has prescribed.
 He claimed that the FISHPOND was originally owned by Maxima Termulo who died intestate with Primitiva
Lejano as her only heir. According to him, ABEJO is not the owner of the entire FISHPOND but the heirs of
Primitiva Lejano who authorized him to possess the entire FISHPOND.
 He assailed ABEJO’s ownership of the ½ undivided portion of the FISHPOND as void and claimed
ownership over an undivided half portion of the FISHPOND for himself. DE GUIA sought payment of
damages and reimbursement for the improvements he introduced as a builder in good faith.
 The trial court set the pre-trial and required the parties to file their pre-trial briefs. ABEJO filed his pre-trial
brief on 05 April 1990. DE GUIA filed his pre-trial brief[6] on 31 July 1990. DE GUIA’s pre-trial brief raised
as the only issue in the case the amount of damages in the form of rent that DE GUIA should pay ABEJO.
DE GUIA also submitted an Offer to Compromise, offering to settle ABEJO’s claim for P300,000 and to lease
the entire FISHPOND to any party of ABEJO’s choice.
 The trial court rendered a decision in favor of ABEJO, ordering DE GUIA to turn over possession of ½ of the
undivided portion of the fishpond, as well as payment of actual damages and attorney’s fees
 DE GUIA went to the Court of Appeals ascribing to the trial court an error in ordering him to vacate and
surrender possession of ½ the fishpond
 The factual findings of the trial court, adopted in toto by the CA, as follows:
o 1. The subject of the dispute are two undivided parcels of land used as a fishpond situated in
Barrio Ubihan, Meycauayan, Bulacan, originally co-owned by Primitiva Lejano and Lorenza
Araniego married to Juan Abejo.
o
o 2. The FISHPOND is registered under the names of Primitiva Lejano and Lorenza Araniego under
TCT No. 6358 of the Bulacan Register of Deeds as follows:
o
o PRIMITIVA LEJANO, Filipina, of legal age, single - ½ share; and LORENZA ARANIEGO, Filipina, of
legal age, married to Juan Abejo, ½ share, ---
o
o 3. The FISHPOND has a total land area of approximately 79,220 square meters. ABEJO is
seeking to recover possession of the ½ undivided portion of the FISHPOND containing 39,611
square meters.
o
o 4. DE GUIA (along with a certain Aniano Victa) acquired possession of the entire FISHPOND by
virtue of a document captioned Salin ng Pamumusisyong ng Palaisdaan (“Lease Contract”)

on 22 November 1983. there is no co-ownership when the different portions owned by different people are already concretely determined and separately identifiable. recovery of possession (accion publiciana). The last demand letter was dated 27 November 1983. ABEJO. o o 7.” A co-owner of an undivided parcel of land is an “owner of the whole. However.[19] .  The CA affirmed the trial court’s decision.[18] In the latter case. sole heir of Lorenza Araniego Abejo. DE GUIA continues to possess the entire FISHPOND and to derive income from the property despite the expiration of the Lease Contract and several demands to vacate made by Teofilo Abejo and by his successor-in-interest. executed between him and the heirs of Primitiva Lejano. The Lease Contract was executed with the knowledge and consent of Teofilo Abejo. Teofilo Abejo acquired Lorenza Araniego Abejo’s ½ undivided share in the FISHPOND by intestate succession. partition would constitute a mechanical aspect of the decision just like accounting when necessary. o o 5. even if not yet technically described.”[15] On the other hand. According to the Court of Appeals. Under Article 484 of the Civil Code. and over the whole he exercises the right of dominion. Accion de reivindicacion. Article 487 includes forcible entry and unlawful detainer (accion interdictal). the only purpose of the action is to obtain recognition of the co-ownership. Teofilo Abejo (now deceased) sold his ½ undivided share in the FISHPOND to his son. however. but also against another co-owner who takes exclusive possession and asserts exclusive ownership of the property.  Hence this appeal Issue: WON the CA erred in sustaining the trial court’s decision ordering De Guia to vacate the fishpond. o o 8. also falls under the jurisdiction of the proper regional trial court. o o 6. on the ground that the proper action should have been partition rather than recovery of possession Ruling: YES.[16] Article 487 of the Civil Code provides. “there is co-ownership whenever the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons. These actions are brought before municipal trial courts within one year from dispossession.000. The summary actions of forcible entry and unlawful detainer seek the recovery of physical possession only.” This article covers all kinds of actions for the recovery of possession. “[a]ny one of the co-owners may bring an action in ejectment. o o 9. which seeks the recovery of ownership.[17] Any co-owner may file an action under Article 487 not only against a third person. but he is at the same time the owner of a portion which is truly abstract. falls under the jurisdiction of the proper regional trial court when the dispossession has lasted for more than one year. The plaintiff cannot recover any material or determinate part of the property. ABEJO filed his complaint for recovery of possession with damages against DE GUIA on 12 May 1986. The Court of Appeals pointed out that DE GUIA’s failure to respect ABEJO’s right over his ½ undivided share in the FISHPOND justifies the action for recovery of possession. ABEJO. The trial court’s decision effectively enforces ABEJO’s right over the property which DE GUIA violated by possession and use without paying compensation. and recovery of ownership (accion de reivindicacion). accion publiciana. DE GUIA’s claim of ownership over the other ½ undivided portion of the FISHPOND has not been finally adjudicated for or against him. The Lease Contract was effective from 30 July 1974 up to 30 November 1979 for a consideration of P100. debunking DE GUIA’s claim that partition and not recovery of possession was the proper remedy under the circumstances. which is a plenary action for recovery of the right to possess. The plaintiff cannot seek exclusion of the defendant from the property because as co-owner he has a right of possession.

2. de Guia exclusively possesses the entire FISHPOND.R. 6358 of the Bulacan Register of Deeds is recognized without prejudice to the outcome of CA–G.000 from June 1992 until finality of this decision. 38031 pending before the Court of Appeals and other cases involving the same property. the courts a quo erred when they ordered the delivery of one-half (½) of the building in favor of private respondent. . Abejo shall equally enjoy possession and use of the entire FISHPOND prior to partition. Abejo compensatory damages of P212. De Guia and Jose B. and thereafter at 12% interest per annum until full payment. Abejo a yearly rental of P25. 5. The co-ownership between Manuel T. A co-owner has no right to demand a concrete. with interest at 6% per annum during the same period. WHEREFORE. Since a co-ownership subsists between ABEJO and DE GUIA. Abejo over the entire FISHPOND covered by TCT No. 3. the defendant cannot be excluded from a specific portion of the property because as a co-owner he has a right to possess and the plaintiff cannot recover any material or determinate part of the property. De Guia and Jose B. all that the co-owner has is an ideal or abstract quota or proportionate share in the entire property.000 for the latter’s ½ undivided share in the FISHPOND.[23] Neither ABEJO nor DE GUIA has repudiated the co-ownership under the conditions set by law. As such. the Decision dated 22 August 1994 and Resolution dated 27 June 1995 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. The compensatory damages of P25. An action to demand partition is imprescriptible and not subject to laches. 39875 is AFFIRMED with respect to that portion ordering Manuel T. 4.000. the only effect of an action brought by a co-owner against a co-owner will be to obtain recognition of the co-ownership. De Guia to pay Jose B. Abejo a yearly rent of P25. After finality of this decision and for as long as Manuel T. Manuel T. and thereafter at 12% per annum until full payment. CV No. Abejo secures from the proper court an order fixing a different rental rate in view of possible changed circumstances.R.[22] Each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the common property unless a co-owner has repudiated the co- ownership under certain conditions. unless Jose B. judicial or extra-judicial partition is the proper recourse. CV No.000 per annum representing rent from 27 November 1983 until May 1992 shall earn interest at 6% per annum from 27 November 1983 until finality of this decision.It is a basic principle in civil law that before a property owned in common is actually partitioned. Thus. he shall pay Jose B. Manuel T.500 and attorney’s fees of P20. specific or determinate part of the thing owned in common because until division is effected his right over the thing is represented only by an ideal portion. de Guia shall pay Jose B. and MODIFIED as follows: 1. SO ORDERED.