Somodio v. Court of Appeals Vitug, J.

/ 1994 In 1974, Ortigas executed an instrument designated as Transfer of Rights conveying to Mabugat the possession of a residential lot in Rajah Muda, Bula, General Santos City. Somodio contributed one-half of the purchase price. Mabugat then executed an Affidavit of Trust expressly recognizing Somodio’s right over onehalf undivided portion of the lot. Later on, the two partitioned the property. Somodio took possession of the western part, and planted thereon fruit bearing trees. He also began construction of a structure on his lot which he had left unfinished and to the care of his uncle when he had to go to Kidapawan for his employment. In 1977, Somodio allowed Ayco, a respondent, to transfer his hut to petitioner’s lot. 6 years later, petitioner demanded Ayco to vacate the premises but the latter refused. This prompted petitioner to file an action for unlawful detainer against Ayco. In 1983, respondent Purisima entered the land and constructed a house thereon. Four days later, Somodio filed an action for forcible entry. This case was consolidated with the unlawful detainer case. Respondent Purisima claimed that his father, a geodetic engineer, had surveyed the lot for the Small Farmers Fishpond Association and that this survey plan was approved. Issue: Who has the right to possess the lot in question? Held: Somodio is the rightful possessor of the lot. Ratio: In ejectment cases, the only issue for resolution is who is entitled to the physical or material possession of the property involved, independent of any claim of ownership. Proof of prior possession de facto can be the basis for recovery of possession even from the owner himself. This rule is regardless of the character of a party’s possession, provided that he has in his favor priority of time, which entitles him to stay on the property until he is lawfully ejected by a person having a better right by either accion publiciana or accion reinvindicatoria. Petitioner took possession of the property sometime in 1974. He planted trees and started a construction of a building on the property. It is immaterial that the building was unfinished and that he left for Kidapawan and merely visited the property intermittently. Possession in the eyes of

the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession. Petitioner was able to subject the property to the action of his will.Petitioner had priority of possession because Purisima entered the lot only in 1983. The survey by Purisima’s father was not for himself but for another, specifically, for Small Farmers Fishpond Assoc. Although he may claim that the lot was in payment of his father’s fee and he had caused the construction of a perimeter wall, these do not mean that he had prior possession. He was not able to present proof that his father took possession of the land and that he was its successor in interest