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LEONOR B. CRUZ, Petitioner, v. TEOFILA M. CATAPANG, Respondent G.R. No. 164110, 2008 February 12, Quisumbing, L.A.J.

, (Second Division) Co-owners cannot devote common property to his or her exclusive use to the prejudice of the coownership. Petitioners Leonor Cruz, Luz Cruz and Norma Maligaya are the co-owners of a parcel of land covering an area of 1,435 square meters located at Barangay Mahabang Ludlod, Taal, Batangas. Sometime in 1992, Teofila Catapang, with the consent of Norma Maligaya as one of the aforementioned co-owners, built a house on a lot adjacent to the subject parcel of land. The house built by Catapang intruded on a portion of the coowned property. In September 1995, Cruz learned about the intrusion and made several demands for Catapang to demolish and vacate the part of the structure encroaching upon their property. However, Catapang refused and disregarded the demands of Cruz. Cruz then filed a complaint for forcible entry against Catapang before the MCTC of Taal, Batangas. The MCTC decided in favor of Cruz, ruling that consent of only one of the co-owners is not sufficient to justify defendants construction of the house and possession of the portion of the lot in question. On appeal, the RTC affirmed the decision of the MCTC. Catapang filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals, which reversed the RTCs decision and ruled in favor of her. The Court of Appeals held that there is no cause of action for forcible entry in this case because respondents entry into the property, considering the consent given by co-owner Norma Maligaya, cannot be characterized as one made through strategy or stealth which gives rise to a cause of action for forcible entry. Thus, the case went to the Supreme Court. ISSUE: 1. Whether the consent given by one of the co-owners is sufficient to warrant the dismissal of a complaint for forcible entry.

DECISION: No, Co-owners cannot devote common property to his or her exclusive use to the prejudice of the co-ownership. In this case, the act of Norma Maligaya is tantamount to devoting the property to her exclusive use. Under Article 491 of the Civil Code, none of the co-owners shall, without the consent of the others, make alterations in the thing owned in common. The Court ruled that it would necessarily follow that none of the coowners can, without the consent of the other co-owners, validly give consent to the making of an alteration by another person, such as Catapang in this case, in the thing owned in common. In addition, Article 486 of the same Code states each co-owner may use the thing owned in common provided he does so in accordance with the purpose for which it is intended and in such a way as not to injure the interest of the co-ownership or prevent the other co-owners from using it according to their rights. The Court ruled that, to give consent to a third person to construct a house on the co-owned property would be to injure the interest of the co-ownership and would prevent other co-owners from using the property in accordance with their rights. In this case, the consent of only one co-owner will not warrant the dismissal of the complaint for forcible entry filed against the respondent Catapang. The consent given by Norma Maligaya in the absence of the consent of her other co-owners did not grant Catapang any right to enter and even build upon the co-owned property. According to the Supreme Court, the respondent Catapangs act of getting only the consent of one co-owner, her sister Norma Maligaya, and allowing the latter to stay in the constructed house, can in fact be considered as a strategy which she utilized in order to enter into the co-owned property. As such, respondents acts constitute forcible entry. The petition was GRANTED.

GFP2012