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Republic of the Philippines

REGIONAL TRIAL COURT


8th Judicial Region
Branch 41
Gandara, Samar

MIRACLE HAVEN
COMMUNITY MINISTRY, INC.
represented by MR. DIOSDADO
Y. ISANAN JR.,
Plaintiff,
CIVIL CASE No. 15-056
-versus- For: OWNERSHIP AND
RECOVERY OF POSSESSION

MANUEL GUANTIC,
JENNIFER GUANTIC,
Defendants.
x---------------------------------------/

ANSWER

Defendants, through Public Attorney’s Office, unto this


Honorable Court, respectfully file its Answer and aver that:

ADMISSIONS/DENIALS

1. Paragraph 1 is denied for lack of knowledge or


information to form a belief as to the veracity or truthfulness thereof.

2. Paragraph 2 is specifically denied in so far as the marital


status of defendants not being married to each other.

3. Paragraphs 3 to 11 are denied for lack of knowledge or


information to form a belief as to the veracity or truthfulness thereof,
the same being mere conclusions of law subject to defendant’s
Affirmative/Special Defenses.

Defendants likewise deny the genuineness, authenticity, and


relevance of Annexes “D-G” of the plaintiff’s complaint.

4.) Paragraph 11 is denied for lack of knowledge or information


to form a belief as to the veracity or truthfulness thereof, the same
being mere conclusions of law subject to defendant’s
Affirmative/Special Defenses.
5. Paragraph 12 is admitted only as to the existence of the
Certificate to File Action issued on January 13, 2015 but denies the
rest of the allegations therein and subject further to defendant’s
Affirmative/Special Defenses.

6. Paragraph 13 is denied for lack of knowledge or


information to form a belief as to the truthfulness or falsity thereof,
the same being mere conclusions of law subject to defendant’s
Affirmative/Special Defenses.

SPECAL/AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES

Defendants replead by reference all the foregoing material


allegations and further state:

I. THE COURT HAS NO


JURISDICTION FOR
FAILURE OF PLAINTIFFS
TO PAY DOCKET FEES

7. Consistent with Section 1, Rule 141 of the Revised Rules of


Court which provides that the prescribed fees shall be paid in full
“upon the filing of the pleading or other application which initiates an
action or proceeding”, the well-entrenched rule is to the effect that
a court acquires jurisdiction over a case only upon the payment of the
prescribed filing and docket fees1.

Pertinent provisions on Rule 141 are as follows:

SECTION 1. Payment of fees. – Upon the filing of the pleading or


other application which initiates an action or proceeding, the fees
prescribed therefor shall be paid in full.

A cursory reading of the plaintiffs’ complaint shows that no docket


fees in the filing of the case.

In the case of Manchester Development Corporation Et Al vs. Court of


Appeals2 the Supreme Court stressed:

As reiterated in the Magaspi case the rule is well-settled


that a case is deemed filed only upon payment of the
docket fee regardless of the actual date of filing in court.

1 Home Guaranty Corporation vs/ R-II Buildders Inc., and National Housing Authority [G.R No. 192649 March 9, 2011]
2 G.R. No. 75919 May 7, 1987

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xxx xxx xxx

Any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement


shall not be accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be
expunged from the record.

xxx xxx xxx

The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon


the payment of the prescribed docket fee. (emphasis
ours)

2.) On the face of the complaint, no docket fees has been


paid hence this Honorable Court has not acquired jurisdiction
over the case.

II. COMPLAINT FAILS TO


STATE A CAUSE OF
ACTION

8. The action is barred for failure to state a cause of action.


A cause of action is the act or omission by which party violates a right
of another.3 It exists if the following elements are present (1) a right
in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and whatever law it states
or is created; (2) an obligation on the part of the defendant to
respect or not to violate such right; (3) an act or omission on the part
of such defendant violative of the right of the plaintiff.4

On the first element: a right in


favor of the plaintiff by
whatever means and whatever
law it states or is created

A. In an action to
recover, the property
must be identified, and
the plaintiff must rely
on the strength of his
title and not on the

3 Section 2, Rule 2 of the Revised Rules of Court


4 Vinzons-Chato vs. Fortune Tobacco Corporation G.R 141309, December 23, 2008.

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weakness of the
defendant's claim.5

9. It is an incontrovertible principle of law that in order that


an action to recover may be successfully prosecuted, it is necessary
to identify the thing claimed as the object of the claimant’s right of
dominion.6 The description should be so definite that an officer of the
court might go to the locality where the land is situated and definitely
locate it.7

10. Plaintiff’s cause of action for recovery of


ownership is dependent on its tax declaration that does not
form part of the defendants’ property; its location cannot be
ascertained in the Office of the City Assessor, failing to comply with
the requisites for recovery of ownership therefore, the plaintiff lacks
cause of action.

11. The case of Spouses Ronald Hutchison and Valentine


Nablle-Hutchison vs. Enrique M. Bucas8 provides for Requisites for
Recovery Ownership as follows:

“In civil cases, the law requires that the party who alleges a fact
and substantially asserts the affirmative of the issue has the
burden of proving it. This evidentiary rule is based on the
principle that the suitor who relies upon the existence of a fact
should be called upon to prove it.

Article 434 of the New Civil Code provides that to successfully


maintain an action to recover the ownership of a real
property, the person who claims a better right to it must
prove two (2) things: first, the identity of the land
claimed, and; second, his title thereto. In the case at bar,
we find that respondent failed to establish these two (2)
legal requirements.”

12. The first requisite: the identity of the land.

13. In an accion reinvindicatoria, the person who claims


that he has a better right to the property must first fix the
identity of the land he is claiming by describing the location, area
and boundaries thereof.

5 Article 434 Civil Code of the Philippines (emphasis ours)


6 Santiago vs. Santos 48 Phil 567; Lubrico vs. Arbado 12 Phil 391; Misamis Limber Co. vs. Director of Lands 57 Phil
881
7 Sambrano vs. Arzaga and Longboy 22 Phil 130, Book II, page 147, Civil Code of the Philippines by Edgardo Paras
8 G.R. No. 158554, May 26, 2005

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Anent the second requisite, i.e., the claimant’s title over the
disputed area, the rule is that a party can claim a right of
ownership only over the parcel of land that was the object of the
deed.

Plaintiff fails to comply with


the first requisite which is
fixing the identity of the land
claimed.

The boundaries of the land sought must be proved so that if a


person fails to specify which portion of a parcel of land is the portion
he is supposed to have inherited, his action to recover the property
will necessary fail.9

Defendants vehemently deny that the tax declaration presented


by the plaintiff (Annex “D”) covers their property.

Plaintiff’s tax declaration is not sufficient evidence that the


subject lot of the defendants’ property falls within the metes
and boundaries as indicated in plaintiff’s tax declaration.

There is no sketch plan in support and to prove that the


Tax Declaration covers also the defendants’ property hence
the identity of the land as indicated in the plaintiff’s tax
declaration being claimed cannot be ascertained.

Plaintiff fails to comply with


the second requisite which is
title over the disputed area.

It is an invariable rule laid down in numerous decisions, that a


person who claims ownership of property is duty bound to clearly
identify the land claimed in accordance with the titles on which he
founds his right to ownership, and he shall not be permitted to rely
upon defects in the defendants title.10

Failure to prove his right of ownership will bar an action to


recover the property; his right to recover must be founded on positive
title or right not merely on negative one such as lack or insufficiency
of title on the part of the defendant. The possessor has a
presumption of title and unless the plaintiff proves he has

9 Santiago vs. Santos 48 Phil 567


10 De Guzman vs. Rivera, 4 Phil 620

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better right, he cannot recover the property from the
defendant.11

Plaintiff must rely, consistent with Article 434 of the New Civil
Code, on the strength of his own title and not on the weakness of the
defendant’s claim. In this case, plaintiff provides not a title to
prove ownership but rather a mere tax declaration which is
not even in their name.

Tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of


ownership. 12 At most, they constitute mere prima facie proof of
ownership or possession of the property for which taxes have been
paid. 13 In the absence of actual public and adverse possession, the
declaration of the land for tax purposes does not prove ownership. 14

Plaintiff does not have possession of the subject land in


question and their tax declaration, which in itself is not
sufficient evidence of ownership, is not even in their name.

These requisites are based on the proposition that the burden


of proof lies on the party who substantially asserts the affirmative of
an issue. For he who relies upon the existence of a fact should be
called upon to prove that fact. 15 If the claims of both plaintiff and
defendant are weak, judgment must be for the defendant, for the
latter being in possession is presumed to be the owner and cannot be
obliged to show or prove better title.16

It is clear that plaintiff failed to comply with the two (2)


requisites above-mentioned for an action for recovery of
ownership.

Failure to prove his right of ownership will bar an action


to recover the property; his right to recover must be founded on
positive title or right not merely on negative one such as lack or
insufficiency of title on the part of the defendant. The possessor
has a presumption of title and unless the plaintiff proves he
has better right, he cannot recover the property from the
defendant.17

If the claims of both plaintiff and defendant are weak,


judgment must be for the defendant, for the latter being in
11 Ibid
12 Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 195 SCRA 38, 44, March 11, 1991.
13 Heirs of Vencilao Sr. v. Court of Appeals, 288 SCRA 574, 581-582, April 1, 1998; Deiparine v. Court of Appeals, 299

SCRA 668, 675, December 4, 1998; Titong v. Court of Appeals, 287 SCRA 102, 115, March 6, 1998.
14 De Luna v. Court of Appeals, 212 SCRA 276, 280, August 6, 1992.
15 Ramcar Inc. vs. Garcia L-16997 April 25, 1962
16 Santos vs. Espinosa 26 Phil 398
17 Ibid

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possession is presumed to be the owner and cannot be obliged to
show or prove better title.18

Plaintiffs, at present, have no proof of ownership, no proof


of possession, and presents a tax declaration not under their
name. To wit, having no right to recover ownership and possession
over the Lot.

On the second and third


element: an obligation on the
part of the defendant to
respect or not to violate such
right and an act or omission
on the part of such defendant
violative of the right of the
plaintiff.

As already established, the plaintiffs’ right has not been


established therefore defendants have no obligation to respect an
inexistent right and there can be no violation to speak of.

As exhaustively discussed above, the absence of all three (3)


elements for a valid cause of action is a clear indication that
plaintiffs’ complaint should be dismissed and expunged from
the records for failure to state a cause of action.

III. PLAINTIFFS HAVE NO LEGAL


CAPACITY TO SUE

Granting without conceding that the subject lot in question falls


within that Tax Declaration that the plaintiff presented, Plaintiff
have also no legal capacity to sue because there is no concrete
evidence that the plaintiffs have been authorized to represent
Philippine Independent Fellowship Inc (“PIFI”).

Plaintiffs rely only on the Deed of Donation issued by PIFI


which has scant evidentiary value because the Deed of
Donation itself is not even annotated in the Tax Declaration
present by the plaintiff.

Plaintiffs’ bare allegations and deed of Donation without


annotation in the tax declaration is a clear indication that the plaintiffs
18 Santos vs. Espinosa 26 Phil 398

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cannot come to court representing PIFI. In short, Plaintiffs come
to court as strangers, hence no legal capacity to sue.

Bare and unsubstantiated allegations do not constitute


substantial evidence and have no probative value.19

IV. THE COMPLAINT IS BARRED


BY LACHES AND ESTOPPEL

The claim has already been waived, abandoned and/or


extinguished by laches and estoppel.

As alleged in the plaintiffs’ complaint, it acquires the alleged


subject lot on June 23, 2011 through the deed of donation between
plaintiff and PIFI.

Both PIFI and the Plaintiff then slept on their right since 2011
when allegedly their possession was disturbed by the defendants,
their failure to pursue their claim for several years over the Lot in
question is indicative of being guilty of laches and thus, estopped
from filing a case against defendant.

Defendants has been living peacefully in their own lots since


time in memorial and the plaintiff has only come to court, only after
four (4) years, clearly the same is now barred by laches.

With the several legal infirmities above-mentioned, it is clear


that the plaintiffs’ complaint consist of bare allegations and is
predicated on a harassment expedition in an attempt to include
and subject the defendants’ lot in their commercial operations.

PRAYER
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, it is respectfully
prayed of the Honorable Court that the extant case filed by the
plaintiffs be DISMISSED.

Other reliefs just and equitable under the premises are likewise
prayed for.

Calbayog City, Samar for Gandara, Samar, __ October 2015.

19 LNS International Manpower Services vs. Armando C. Padua Jr G.R No. 179792 March 5, 2010

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PUBLIC ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
Calbayog City District Office
(Counsel for the Defendants)

By:

ELIGENE B. PATALINGHUG
Public Attorney I
IBP No. 961556/December 3, 2014/Cebu
PTR No. 5847680/January 20, 2015/Mandaue City
Supreme Court Roll No. 62833
MCLE Compliance: N/A (Admitted to the Bar 2014)

Copy furnished:

Atty. _________
Address:
Registry Receipt No. __________

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