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SECOND DIVISION

HUBERT NUEZ,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 180542


Present:

- versus -

SLTEAS
PHOENIX
SOLUTIONS, INC., through its
representative,
CESAR SYLIANTENG
Respondent,

CARPIO, J.,
Chairperson,
BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA,* JJ.

Promulgated:
April 12, 2010

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DECISION
PEREZ, J.:

The determination of the jurisdiction of first level courts over ejectment cases is at the
heart of this Petition for Review on Certiorari filed pursuant to Rule 45 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, which seeks the nullification and setting aside of the 31 July
2007 Decision rendered by the Special Twelfth Division of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 91771.[1]

The Facts

The subject matter of the instant suit is a 635.50 square meter parcel of land situated
at Calle Solana, Intramuros, Manila and registered in the name of respondent SLTEAS

Phoenix Solutions, Inc. under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 87556 of the
Manila City Registry of Deeds. Despite having acquired the same thru the 4 June 1999
Deed of Assignment executed in its favor by the Spouses Ong Tiko and Emerenciana
Sylianteng,[2] it appears that respondent was constrained to leave the subject parcel idle
and unguarded for some time due to important business concerns. In October 2003, an
ocular inspection conducted by respondents representatives revealed that the property
was already occupied by petitioner Hubert Nuez and 21 other individuals. [3] Initially
faulting one Vivencia Fidel with unjustified refusal to heed its verbal demands to vacate
the subject parcel, respondent filed its 5 December 2003complaint for forcible entry
which was docketed as Civil Case No. 177060 before Branch 4 of the Metropolitan Trial
Court (MeTC) of Manila.[4]

Additionally impleading petitioner and the rest of the occupants of the property,
respondent filed its 9 January 2004 amended complaint, alleging, among other matters,
that thru its representatives and predecessors-in-interest, it had continuously possessed
the subject realty, over which it exercised all attributes of ownership, including payment
of real property taxes and other sundry expenses; that without the benefit of any lease
agreement or possessory right, however, petitioners and his co-defendants have
succeeded in occupying the property by means of strategy and stealth; and, that
according to reliable sources, the latter had been in occupancy of the same parcel since
1999. Together with the ejectment of the occupants of the subject premises, respondent
prayed for the grant of its claims for reasonable rentals, attorneys fees, litigation
expenses and the costs.[5]

Specifically denying the material allegations of the foregoing amended complaint


in his 14 February 2004 Answer, petitioner averred that the property occupied by him is
owned by one Maria Ysabel Potenciano Padilla Sylianteng, with whom he had
concluded a subsisting lease agreement over the same, and that, in addition to
respondents lack of cause of action against him, the MeTC had no jurisdiction over the
case for lack of prior demand to vacate and referral of the controversy to
the barangay authorities for a possible amicable settlement. [6]Likewise questioning the
MeTCs jurisdiction over the case, the rest of the defendants filed a Motion to
Dismiss[7] which they adopted as their answer subsequent to its 27 February 2004denial
upon the finding that a sufficient cause of action can be gleaned from the allegations of
the complaint.[8]

After an ocular inspection conducted on 9 June 2004, it appears that the MeTC
concluded that the crowding of the residential units on the subject parcel rendered the
determination of its exact metes and bounds impossible. [9] Unable to present his lessors
title, petitioner also appears to have agreed to the use of TCT No. 87556 as basis for

determining the exact measurement of respondents property.[10] With the parties further
failure to abide by their agreement to cause a survey of the property thru an impartial
surveyor from the Office of the City Assessor or City Engineer, the record shows that
respondent submitted a survey plan prepared by Geodetic Engineer Joseph Padilla who
determined that petitioner was, indeed, occupying a portion of the subject parcel.
[11]
Relying on said report, the MeTC went on to render a Decision dated 23 November
2004,[12] resolving the complaint in the following wise:
Wherefore, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and
against all the defendants and ordering the latter to:
1.

vacate the subject premises located at Lot 11, Block 45, Solana St.,
Intramuros, Manila;

2. for each [defendant], to pay Php5,000.00 a month counted from October 2003 until
defendants vacate the subject property;
3. to pay Php15,000.00 as and for attorneys fees; and
4. to pay the costs of suit.[13]

On appeal, the foregoing decision was affirmed in toto in the 14 July 2005 Order issued
by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila in Civil Case No. 05-112490.
[14]
Dissatisfied with said Order, petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals by
way of a petition for review filed pursuant to Section 1, Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure.[15] Finding that the allegations in respondents amended complaint
sufficiently made out a cause of action for forcible entry against petitioner, the Court of
Appeals rendered the herein assailed decision, dismissing said petition for review upon
the following findings and conclusions:

Parenthetically, although the dispossession took place more than one year from the illegal entry of
petitioner and his co-defendants, knowledge of the same was only acquired by petitioner in 2003 when
the ocular inspection was made. While ordinarily, the one-year prescriptive period should be reckoned
from the date of the actual entry on the land, the same however, does not hold true when entry was made
through stealth, in which case, the one year period is counted from the time the plaintiff learned thereof.
Neither may petitioner seek refuge in the alleged demand letter dated 31 July 1996 sent by respondents
counsel which sought his ouster from the subject premises. Not only was the existence of this letter
immaterial to the issue of illegal entry into the subject premises but the same cannot bind respondent who
has no participation therein. Moreover, it also bears stressing that not once did petitioner refute the lack of
knowledge on the part of respondent of the alleged lease contract and their usurpation of the disputed
property. Verily, granting that a lease contract truly existed, respondents lack of knowledge of the lease
contract and the failure to register the same in the Register of Deeds cannot bind third parties like
respondent and therefore, withhold respondents right to institute the action for ejectment.
As to the identity of the premises occupied by petitioner Nuez, We find that the RTC committed no
reversible error in admitting the evidence of respondent which consists of the plan prepared by Geodetic
Engineer Padilla. Suffice it to state that petitioner, during the proceedings below, agreed to secure an
impartial survey from the Assessors Office or the Office of the City Engineer. However, when he took no
action after failing to obtain the survey from said offices, his consequent failure to secure, on his own, the
services of an impartial surveyor to determine and rebut respondents allegation, he did so on his own
accord and had no other person but himself to blame.[16]

The Issues

Upon receipt of the Court of Appeals 4 November 2007 Resolution denying his
motion for reconsideration of the aforequoted decision, [17] petitioner filed the petition at
bench on the following grounds:
I
THE COURTS HAVE NO JURISDICTION TO TRY THE INSTANT CASE CONSIDERING THAT
THE ELEMENTS OF FORCIBLE ENTRY ARE NOT PRESENT AND ADDITIONALLY THERE IS A
QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP.
II
THE PETITIONER SHOULD NOT VACATE THE LEASED PREMISES CONSIDERING THAT
THERE IS AN EXISTING LEASE CONTRACT WITH THE OWNER WHICH IS IN VIOLATION OF
THE PROVISION OF ARTICLE 1671 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE.[18]

The Courts Ruling

We find the petition bereft of merit.


Designed to provide an expeditious means of protecting actual possession or the
right to possession of the property involved,[19] there can be no gainsaying the fact that
ejectment cases fall within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of first level
courts[20] by express provision of Section 33 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, in relation to
Sec. 1, Rule 70 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.[21] In addition to being conferred
by law,[22] however, a courts jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the
allegations of the complaint[23] and the character of the relief sought,[24] irrespective of
whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover all or some of the claims asserted
therein.[25] In much the same way that it cannot be made to depend on the exclusive
characterization of the case by one of the parties,[26] jurisdiction cannot be made to
depend upon the defenses set up in the answer, in a motion to dismiss or in a motion for
reconsideration.[27]
The rule is no different in actions for forcible entry where the following requisites
are essential for the MeTCs acquisition of jurisdiction over the case, viz.: (a) the
plaintiffs must allege their prior physical possession of the property; (b) they must assert
that they were deprived of possession either by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or
stealth; and, (c) the action must be filed within one (1) year from the time the owners or
legal possessors learned of their deprivation of the physical possession of the property.
[28]
As it is not essential that the complaint should expressly employ the language of the

law, it is considered a sufficient compliance of the requirement where the facts are set
up showing that dispossession took place under said conditions. [29] The one-year period
within which to bring an action for forcible entry is generally counted from the date of
actual entry on the land, except that when the entry is through stealth, the one-year
period is counted from the time the plaintiff learned thereof.[30]

Even prescinding from the fact that the parties had admitted the MeTCs
jurisdiction,[31] our perusal of the record shows that respondents 9 January
2004 amended complaint was able to make out a cause of action for forcible entry
against petitioner. As the registered owner of the subject parcel, respondent distinctly
alleged that, by its representatives and thru its predecessors-in-interest, it had been in
possession of the subject parcel and had exercised over the same all attributes of
ownership, including the payment of realty taxes and other expenses; that an ocular
inspection conducted in October 2003 revealed that petitioner and his co-defendants
have succeeded in occupying the property by means of stealth and strategy; and, that its
subsequent demands to vacate had been unheeded by said interlopers. [32] Considering
that the test for determining the sufficiency of the allegations in the complaint is
whether, admitting the facts alleged, the court can render a valid judgment in accordance
with the prayer of the plaintiff,[33] we find that the Court of Appeals correctly ruled that
the MeTC had jurisdiction over the case.
Then as now, petitioner argues that, aside from the admission in the complaint
that the subject parcel was left idle and unguarded, respondents claim of prior
possession is clearly negated by the fact that he had been in occupancy thereof since
1999. While prior physical possession is, admittedly, an indispensable requirement in
forcible entry cases, the dearth of merit in petitioners position is, however, evident from
the principle that possession can be acquired not only by material occupation, but also
by the fact that a thing is subject to the action of one's will or by the proper acts and
legal formalities established for acquiring such right.[34] Because possession can also be
acquired by juridical acts to which the law gives the force of acts of possession, e.g.,
donations, succession, execution and registration of public instruments, inscription of
possessory information titles and the like, it has been held that one need not have actual
or physical occupation of every square inch of the property at all times to be considered
in possession.[35]
In this case, the subject parcel was acquired by respondent by virtue of the 4 June
1999 Deed of Assignment executed in its favor by the Spouses Ong Tiko and
Emerenciana Sylianteng. Although it did not immediately put the same to active use,
respondent appears to have additionally caused the property to be registered in its name
as of 27 February 2002[36]and to have paid the real property taxes due
thereon[37] alongside the sundry expenses incidental thereto. Viewed in the light of the
foregoing juridical acts, it consequently did not matter that, by the time respondent
conducted its ocular inspection in October 2003, petitioner had already been occupying
the land since 1999. Ordinarily reckoned from the date of actual entry on the land, the

one year period is counted from the time the plaintiff acquired knowledge of the
dispossession when, as here, the same had been effected by means of stealth.[38]
Petitioner had, of course, endeavored to establish that respondents predecessorsin-interest had served him a demand to vacate the subject parcel as early as 31 July
1996.[39]Correctly brushed aside by the Court of Appeals on the ground, among others,
that respondent had no participation in its preparation, we find said demand letter of
little or no use to petitioners cause in view of its non-presentation before the
MeTC. However, much as it may now be expedient for petitioner to anchor his cause
thereon, said demand letter was first introduced in the record only as an attachment to
his reply to respondents comment to the motion for reconsideration of the 14 July
2005 order issued by the RTC.[40] The rule is settled, however, that points of law,
theories, issues and arguments not brought to the attention of the trial court will not be
and ought not to be considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the
first time on appeal.[41] Basic consideration of due process impels this rule.[42]
A similar dearth of merit may be said of the exceptions petitioner continues to
take against the MeTCs reliance on the survey plan prepared by Geodetic Engineer
Joseph Padilla to the effect that that the premises occupied by petitioner lies within the
metes and bounds of respondents property. As mere allegation is not evidence, [43] the
rule is settled that plaintiff has the burden of proving the material allegations of the
complaint which are denied by the defendant, and the defendant has the burden of
proving the material allegations in his case where he sets up a new matter.[44] Given the
parties failure to make good on their agreement to cause a survey of the property thru an
impartial surveyor from the Office of the City Assessor or City Engineer, respondents
submission of said report was evidently for the purpose discharging the onus of proving
petitioners encroachment on the subject parcel, as alleged in the complaint.As the party
asserting the contrary proposition, petitioner cannot expediently disparage the
admissibility and probative value of said survey plan to compensate for his failure to
prove his own assertions.
Petitioner is, finally, out on a limb in faulting the Court of Appeals with failure to
apply the first paragraph of Article 1676 of the Civil Code of the Philippines[45] in
relation to the lease he claims to have concluded with one Maria Ysabel Potenciano
Padilla Sylianteng. In the absence of proof of his lessors title or respondents prior
knowledge of said contract of lease, petitioners harping over the same provision simply
amounts to an implied admission that the premises occupied by him lie within the metes
and bounds of the subject parcel. Even then, the resolution of said issue is clearly
inappropriate since ejectment cases are summary actions intended to provide an
expeditious manner for protecting possession or right to possession without involvement
of title.[46] Moreover, if a defendants mere assertion of ownership in an ejectment case
will not oust the MeTC of its summary jurisdiction, [47] we fail to see why it should be
any different in this case where petitioner merely alleged his lessors supposed title over
the subject parcel.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.


SO ORDERED.

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons
Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were

reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

* Per Special Order No. 832, Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza is hereby designated as Additional Member of the
Second Division in place of Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad, who is on Official Leave from April 6-8, 2010.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 61-73.
[2]
Records, p. 10a.
[3]
Vivencia Fidel, Maximo Mahipus, Jr., Hermigildo Mangubat, Epifanio Casolita II, Erlinda Inciong, Edgar Amador,
Joseph Duerme, Rolando Jamang, Romeo Granada, Romeo Figueroa, Brando Galciso, Eunice Banaag, Cecilia
Agonos, Beth De Guzman, Mario P. Tampol, Elizabeth Francisco, Edmundo R. Barela, Reynaldo Granada, Zedric
Bananag, Estanislao J. La Fuente and Danilo P. Jerusalem.
[4]
Records, pp. 15-20.
[5]
Rollo, pp. 24-30.
[6]
Id. at 31-34.
[7]
Records, pp. 59-64.
[8]
Id. at 58.
[9]
Id. at 76-77.
[10]
Id. at 145.
[11]
Id. at 128.
[12]
Rollo, pp. 37-43.
[13]
Id. at 43.
[14]
Id. at 44-50.
[15]
Id. at 15-21.
[16]
Id. at 70-71.
[17]
Id. at 79-80.
[18]
Id. at 9.
[19]
Tubiano v. Razo, 390 Phil. 863, 868 (2000).
[20]
Corpuz v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 117005, 19 June 1997, 274 SCRA 275, 279.
[21]
Section 1. Who may institute proceedings, and when. Subject to the provisions of the next succeeding section, a person
deprived of the possession of any land or building by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth, or a lessor,
vendor, vendee, or other person against whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully withheld after
the expiration or termination of the right to hold possession, by virtue of a contract, express or implied, or the legal
representatives or assigns of any such lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person may at anytime within one (1) year
after such unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession, bring an action in the proper Municipal Trial Court
against the person or persons unlawfully withholding or depriving of possession, or any person or persons
claiming under them, for the restitution of such possession, together with damages and costs.
[22]
Deltaventures Resources, Inc. v. Cabato, 384 Phil. 252, 259-260 (2000).
[23]
Gochan v. Young, 406 Phil. 663, 673-674 (2001).
[24]
Sunny Motor Sales, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 415 Phil. 517, 520 (2001).
[25]
Ty v. Court of Appeals, 408 Phil. 793, 798 (2001).
[26]
Pilipinas Bank v. Court of Appeals, 383 Phil. 18, 28 (2000).
[27]
Tamano v. Ortiz, 353 Phil. 775, 780 (1998).
[28]
De La Cruz v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 139442, 6 December 2006, 510 SCRA 103, 115.
[29]
Cajayon v. Sps. Batuyong, G.R. No. 149118, 16 February 2006, 482 SCRA 461, 471-472.
[30]
Ong v. Parel, 407 Phil. 1045, 1053 (2001).
[31]
Records, pp. 94 and 145.
[32]
Rollo, pp. 25-28.
[33]
Heirs of Demetrio Melchor v. Melchor, 461 Phil. 437, 443-444 (2003).
[34]
Habagat Grill v. DMC-Urban Property Developer, Inc., 494 Phil. 603, 619 (2005).
[35]
Quizon v. Juan, G.R. No. 171442, 17 June 2008, 554 SCRA 601, 612.
[36]
Records, p. 21.
[37]
Id. at 86.
[38]
Ong v. Parel, supra note 30.
[39]
Rollo, pp. 18 and 59.
[40]
Records, pp. 310-314.
[41]
Almocera v. Ong, G.R. No. 170479, 18 February 2008, 546 SCRA 164, 178.
[42]
Magaling v. Ong, G.R. No. 173333, 13 August 2008, 562 SCRA 152, 170-171.
[43]
Gateway Electronics Corporation v. Asianbank Corporation, G.R. No. 172041, 18 December 2008, 574 SCRA 698,
718-719.
[44]
Republic v. Vda. De Neri, 468 Phil. 842, 862 (2004).

[45]

Art. 1676. The purchaser of a piece of land which is under a lease that is not recorded in the Registry of Property may
terminate the lease, save when there is a stipulation to the contrary in the contract of sale, or when the purchaser
knows of the existence of the lease.
[46]
Cayabyab v. Gomez de Aquino, G.R. No.159974, 5 September 2007, 532 SCRA 353, 361.
[47]
Tecson v. Gutierrez, 493 Phil. 132, 138 (2005).

Recovery of possession; forcible entry G.R. No. 142676


G.R. No. 142676
"x x x.

There is forcible entry or desahucio when one is deprived of physical possession


of land or building by means of force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth. In such
cases, the possession is illegal from the beginning and the basic inquiry centers on
who has the prior possession de facto. In filing forcible entry cases, the law tells us
that two allegations are mandatory for the municipal court to acquire jurisdiction: first,
the plaintiff must allege prior physical possession of the property, and second, he must
also allege that he was deprived of his possession by any of the means provided for in
Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, i.e., by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or
stealth. It is also settled that in the resolution thereof, what is important is determining
who is entitled to the physical possession of the property. Indeed, any of the parties
who can prove prior possession de facto may recover such possession even from the
owner himself since such cases proceed independently of any claim of
ownership and the plaintiff needs merely to prove prior possession de facto and undue
deprivation thereof.[55]
Title is never in issue in a forcible entry case, the court should base its decision on
who had prior physical possession. The main thing to be proven in an action for forcible
entry is prior possession and that same was lost through force, intimidation, threat,
strategy, and stealth, so that it behooves the court to restore possession regardless of title
or ownership.[56]
We more extensively discussed in Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals[57] that:
Ownership or the right to possess arising from ownership is not at issue in an action for
recovery of possession. The parties cannot present evidence to prove ownership or right to legal
possession except to prove the nature of the possession when necessary to resolve the issue of physical
possession. The same is true when the defendant asserts the absence of title over the property. The
absence of title over the contested lot is not a ground for the courts to withhold relief from the
parties in an ejectment case.
The only question that the courts must resolve in ejectment proceedings is - who is entitled to the
physical possession of the premises, that is, to the possession de facto and not to the possession de jure. It
does not even matter if a partys title to the property is questionable, or when both parties intruded into
public land and their applications to own the land have yet to be approved by the proper government
agency. Regardless of the actual condition of the title to the property, the party in peaceable quiet
possession shall not be thrown out by a strong hand, violence or terror. Neither is the unlawful
withholding of property allowed. Courts will always uphold respect for prior possession.
Thus, a party who can prove prior possession can recover such possession even against the
owner himself. Whatever may be the character of his possession, if he has in his favor prior
possession in time, he has the security that entitles him to remain on the property until a person
with a better right lawfully ejects him. To repeat, the only issue that the court has to settle in an
ejectment suit is the right to physical possession.[58] (Emphases ours.)

Based on the foregoing, we find that the RTC-Branch 88 erred in ordering the
dismissal of Civil Case No. 8286 even before completion of the proceedings before the
MeTC. At the time said case was ordered dismissed by RTC-Branch 88, the MeTC had
only gone so far as holding a hearing on and eventually granting Muozs prayer for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction.

Muoz alleges in her complaint in Civil Case No. 8286 that she had been in prior
possession of the subject property since it was turned-over to her by the sheriff on
January 10, 1994, pursuant to the Alias Writ of Execution issued by the RTC-Branch 95
to implement the final judgment in Civil Case No. Q-28580. The factual issue of who
was in prior possession of the subject property should be litigated between the parties
regardless of whether or not the final judgment in Civil Case No. Q-28580 extended to
the spouses Chan. Hence, the pendency of the latter issue in Civil Case No. Q-28580
before the RTC-Branch 95 did not warrant the dismissal of Civil Case No. 8286 before
the MeTC on the ground of litis pendentia. The two cases could proceed independently
of one another.
Samuel Go Chan and Atty. Yabut aver that the spouses Chan have never lost
possession of the subject property since acquiring the same from BPI Family in
1990. This is a worthy defense to Muozs complaint for forcible entry, which Samuel
Go Chan and Atty. Yabut should substantiate with evidence in the continuation of the
proceedings in Civil Case No. 8286 before the MeTC.
In addition, Civil Case No. 8286, a forcible entry case, is governed by the
Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, Section 19 whereof provides:
SEC. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. The following pleadings, motions, or petitions shall not be allowed in the
cases covered by this Rule:
xxxx
(g) Petition for certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition against any interlocutory order issued by the court.

The purpose of the Rule on Summary Procedure is to achieve an expeditious and


inexpensive determination of cases without regard to technical rules. Pursuant to this
objective, the Rule prohibits petitions for certiorari, like a number of other pleadings, in
order to prevent unnecessary delays and to expedite the disposition of cases.[59]
x x x."

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 174191

January 30, 2013

NENITA QUALITY FOODS CORPORATION, Petitioner,


vs.
CRISOSTOMO GALABO, ADELAIDA GALABO, and ZENAIDA GALABOALMACBAR, Respondents.
DECISION
BRION, J.:
We resolve the petition for review on certiorari 1 of petitioner Nenita Quality Foods Corporation
(NQFC) to nullity the February 22, 2006 Decision2 and the July 13, 2006 resolution3 of the Court
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 77006. The CA reversed the decision 4 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Davao City, Branch 17, which affirmed in toto the decision 5 of the Municipal Trial
Court in Cities (MTCC), Davao City, Branch 5, in Civil Case No. 10,958-E-01. The MTCC
dismissed the complaint for forcible entry and damages, which respondents Crisostomo Galabo,
Adelaida Galabo, and Zenaida Galabo-Almachar filed against NQFC.
The Factual Antecedents
The dispute in the case relates to the possession of a parcel of land described as Lot No. 102,
PSD-40060, the former Arakaki Plantation in Marapangi, Toril, Davao City with an area of six
thousand seventy-four square meters (6,074 sq. m.).
As the CA summarized in the assailed decision, the respondents are the heirs of Donato Galabo.
In 1948, Donato obtained Lot No. 722, Cad-102, a portion of the Arakaki Plantation in Marapangi,
Toril, Davao City, owned by National Abaca and Other Fibers Corporation. Donato and the
respondents assumed that Lot No. 722 included Lot No. 102, per the original survey of 1916 to
1920.
When the Board of Liquidators (BOL) took over the administration of the Arakaki Plantation in the
1950s, it had Lot No. 722 resurveyed. Allegedly, the resurvey did not include Lot No. 102; thus,
when Donato acquired Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-21496 6 for Lot No. 722 on April 26, 1953,
Lot No. 102 was not included. The respondents, however, continue to posses, occupy and
cultivate Lot No. 102.
When NQFC opened its business in Marapangi, Toril, Davao City in the late 1950s, it allegedly
offered to buy Lot No. 102. Donato declined and to ward off further offers, put up "Not For Sale"
and "No Trespassing" signs on the property. In the 1970s, Crisostomo fenced off the entire
perimeter of Lot No. 102 and built his house on it.
On August 19, 1994, the respondents received a letter from Santos Nantin demanding that they
vacate Lot No. 102. Santos claimed ownership of this lot per the Deed of Transfer of Rights
(Deed of Transfer)7 dated July 10, 1972, which the respondents and their mother allegedly
executed in Santos favor. The respondents denied this claim and maintained that they had been
occupying Lot No. 102, which the BOL itself recognized per its letters 8and the Certification9 dated
April 12, 2000 confirming Donato as the long-time occupant and awardee of the property. To
perfect their title, the respondents applied for free patent over Lot No. 102 on September 6, 2000.
On January 3, 2001 and again on a later date, NQFCs workers, with armed policemen of Toril,
Davao City, entered by force Lot No. 102 to fence it. The respondents reported the entry to the
authorities. On April 16, 2001, Crisostomo received a letter from NQFCs counsel demanding that
he remove his house from Lot No. 102. NQFC subsequently removed the existing fence and cut
down various trees that the respondents had planted on the property.

NQFC, for its part, claimed that Santos immediately occupied and possessed Lot No. 102 after he
purchased it from the respondents in 1972 and declared it under his name for taxation purposes.
Santos was also granted Free Patent over the property by the Bureau of Lands, and obtained
Original Certificate of Title No. (OCT) P-403510 on June 18, 1974. On December 29, 2000, the
heirs of Santos conveyed Lot No. 102 to NQFC via the Deed of Absolute Sale 11 of even date.
NQFC then filed a petition for cancellation of the respondents patent application over Lot No.
102, which the BOL-Manila granted on April 19, 2001, on the ground that Donato failed to perfect
his title over Lot No. 102 which has long been titled in Santos name.
When conciliation failed, the respondents filed on September 17, 2001 a complaint 12 for forcible
entry with damages before the MTCC against NQFC, alleging that: (1) they had been in prior
physical possession of Lot No. 102; and (2) NQFC deprived them of possession through force,
intimidation, strategy, threats and stealth.
The Ruling of the MTCC
Relying on the ruling of the BOL-Manila, the MTCC dismissed the respondents
complaint,13 explaining that the questions raised before it required technical determination by the
administrative agency with the expertise to determine such matters, which the BOL-Manila did in
this case.14
The MTCC held that the pieces of evidence NQFC presented the Deed of Transfer the
respondents executed in Santos favor, Santos OCT P-4035 over Lot No. 102, the Deed of
Absolute Sale in NQFCs favor, and the findings of the BOL-Manila established NQFCs rightful
possession over the property. It further held that: (1) the respondents relinquished their rights
over Lot No. 102 when they executed the Deed of Transfer in Santos favor; (2) the certificate of
title over Lot No. 102 in Santos name shows that he was in actual physical possession since
actual occupation is required before an application for free patent can be approved; and (3)
NQFC validly acquired ownership over Lot No. 102 when it purchased it from Santos, entitling it
to the right, among others, to possess the property as ancillary to such ownership.
The Ruling of the RTC
The respondents appealed the MTCC decision to the RTC but the latter court denied the
appeal.15 As the MTCC did, the RTC relied on the findings of the BOL-Manila. It held that: (1) the
respondents failed to perfect whatever right they might have had over Lot No. 102; and (2) they
are estopped from asserting any right over Lot No. 102 since they have long transferred the
property and their right thereto, to Santos in 1972.
In resolving the issue of possession of Lot No. 102, the RTC also resolved the question of
ownership, as justified under the Rules, explaining that the NQFCs possession of Lot No. 102
was anchored on a Deed of Absolute Sale, while that of the respondents was based merely on
the allegation of possession and occupation by Donato, and not on any title. 16
Thus, the question of concurrent possession of Lot No. 102 between NQFC and the respondents
should tilt in NQFCs favor.
When the RTC denied the respondents motion for reconsideration in an order 17 dated March 5,
2003, the respondents elevated their case to the CA via a petition for review. 18
The Ruling of the CA
The respondents claimed before the CA that the RTC erred when it held that NQFC had prior
possession of Lot No. 102, based solely on its Deed of Absolute Sale. They argued, among
others, that: (1) Santos should have taken the necessary steps to oust the respondents had he
been in possession of Lot No. 102 beginning 1972; (2) Santos could not have validly obtained title
over Lot No. 102 since it was still in the name of the Republic of the Philippines (Republic) as of
1980;19 and (3) NQFC no longer had to forcibly evict the respondents in January 2001 if it had
been in possession of Lot No. 102 after it bought this land from Santos in 2000.

The CA found reversible error in the RTCs decision; thus, it granted the respondents petition and
ordered NQFC to vacate Lot No. 102. The CA explained that a plaintiff, in a forcible entry case,
only has to prove prior material and physical possession of the property in litigation and undue
deprivation of it by means of force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth. These, the
respondents averred in the complaint and sufficiently proved, thus entitling them to recover
possession of Lot No. 102. Relying on the doctrine of presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duty, the CA especially took note of the letters and the Certification which
the BOL sent to the respondents acknowledging Donato as the awardee of Lot No. 102 and the
respondents as the actual occupants and possessors.
In brushing aside the RTCs findings, the CA ruled that: (1) Donatos failure to perfect his title over
Lot No. 102 should not weigh against the respondents as the issue in a forcible entry case is one
of possession de facto and not of possession de jure; and (2) NQFCs ownership of Lot No. 102
is beside the point as ownership is beyond the purview of an ejectment case. The title or right of
possession, it stressed, is never an issue in a forcible entry suit. The CA, however, denied the
respondents prayer for moral damages and attorneys fees, and rejected the other issues raised
for being irrelevant.
In its July 13, 2006 resolution,20 the CA denied NQFCs motion for reconsideration, prompting the
NQFCs present recourse.
The Petition
NQFC argues that the CA erred in holding that the respondents had prior physical possession of
Lot No. 102.21 It claims that, first, in reversing the RTC findings, the CA relied solely on the letters
and the Certification of the BOL,22 which has been controverted by the following pieces of
evidence, among others: (1) the Deed of Transfer that the respondents executed in favor of
Santos; (2) the order of the Bureau of Lands approving Santos patent application; (3) Santos
OCT P-4035; and (4) the Deed of Absolute Sale that Santos executed in favor of NQFC.
NQFC maintains that the Bureau of Lands would not have granted Santos free patent application
had he not been in possession of Lot No. 102 because continued occupation and cultivation,
either by himself or by his predecessor-in-interest, of the property is a requirement for such grant
under the Public Land Act. By the very definition of "occupy," Santos is therefore deemed to have
possessed Lot No. 102 prior to 1974, the year his free patent application was granted, 23 and
under the principle of tacking of possession, he is deemed to have had possession of Lot No. 102
not only from 1972, when the respondents transferred it to him, but also from the time Donato
acquired the lot in 1948. Thus, Santos had no reason to oust the respondents since he had been
in possession of Lot No. 102 beginning 1972, by virtue of the transfer.24
Second, the respondents had no documents to prove that they were in actual occupation and
cultivation of Lot No. 102 the reason they did not heed the BOLs request to perfect their title
over it. Finally, citing jurisprudence,25 NQFC argues that the RTC rightly ruled on the issue of its
ownership over Lot No. 102 in deciding the issue of prior physical possession as the Rules allow
this, by way of exception.26
The Case for Respondents
The respondents arguments closely adhere to the CAs ruling. They argue that NQFC, rather
than meeting the issues, focused on its alleged ownership of Lot No. 102 and the possession
flowing out of its ownership. They deny ever meeting Santos and they maintain that their
continued possession and occupation of Lot No. 102 belie this supposed sale. Even granting that
this sale occurred, Santos could still not have acquired any right over Lot No. 102 for as of 1980,
it was still in the name of the Republic.27 Thus, they could not have transferred ownership of Lot
No. 102 to Santos, and he cannot claim ownership of Lot No. 102 by reason of this sale. 28
On the other hand, the respondents open, continuous, exclusive, notorious and adverse
possession of Lot No. 102 for three decades, coupled by a claim of ownership, gave them vested
right or interest over the property.29This vested right is equivalent to an actually issued certificate
of title so that the execution and delivery of the title is a mere formality. To say the least, NQFC

did not have to send them a formal demand to vacate 30 and violently oust them from the premises
had it been in actual possession of the property as claimed. 31
Lastly, the respondents invoked the settled rule that the Courts jurisdiction in a Rule 45 petition is
limited only to reviewing errors of law. NQFC failed to show misapprehension of facts in the CAs
findings to justify a departure from this rule. 32
The Courts Ruling
We first address the procedural issue raised. Resolving the contentions raised necessarily
requires us to delve into factual issues, a course not proper in a petition for review on certiorari,
for a Rule 45 petition resolves only questions of law, not questions of fact. 33 This rule is read with
the equally settled dictum that factual findings of the CA are generally conclusive on the parties
and are therefore not reviewable by this Court. 34 By way of exception, we resolve factual issues
when, as here, conflict attended the findings of the MTCC and of the RTC, on one hand, and of
the CA, on the other. Of minor note, but which we deem important to point, the petition needlessly
impleaded the CA, in breach of Section 4, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. 35
Substantively, the key issue this case presents is prior physical possession whether NQFC had
been in prior physical possession of Lot No. 102.
We rule in the negative.
First, on the reliance on the BOL letters and Certification and the CAs alleged disregard of
NQFCs evidence. To prove prior physical possession of Lot No. 102, NQFC presented the Deed
of Transfer, Santos OCT P-4035, the Deed of Absolute Sale, and the Order of the Bureau of
Lands approving Santos free patent application. In presenting these pieces of evidence, NQFC is
apparently mistaken as it may have equated possession that is at issue as an attribute of
ownership to actual possession. The latter type of possession is, however, different from and has
different legal implications than the former. While these documents may bear weight and are
material in contests over ownership of Lot No. 102, they do not per se show NQFCs actual
possession of this property.
We agree that ownership carries the right of possession, but the possession contemplated by the
concept of ownership is not exactly the same as the possession in issue in a forcible entry case.
Possession in forcible entry suits refers only to possession de facto, or actual or material
possession, and not possession flowing out of ownership; these are different legal concepts 36 for
which the law provides different remedies for recovery of possession. 37 As we explained in Pajuyo
v. Court of Appeals,38 and again in the more recent cases of Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals, 39 De
Grano v. Lacaba,40 and Lagazo v. Soriano,41 the word "possession" in forcible entry suits refers to
nothing more than prior physical possession or possession de facto, not possession de jure 42 or
legal possession in the sense contemplated in civil law.43 Title is not the issue,44 and the absence
of it "is not a ground for the courts to withhold relief from the parties in an ejectment case." 45
Thus, in a forcible entry case, "a party who can prove prior possession can recover such
possession even against the owner himself. Whatever may be the character of his possession, if
he has in his favor prior possession in time, he has the security that entitles him to remain on the
property until a person with a better right lawfully ejects him." 46 He cannot be ejected by force,
violence or terror -- not even by its owners. 47 For these reasons, an action for forcible entry is
summary in nature aimed only at providing an expeditious means of protecting actual
possession.48 Ejectment suits are intended to "prevent breach of x x x peace and criminal disorder
and to compel the party out of possession to respect and resort to the law alone to obtain what he
claims is his."49 Thus, lest the purpose of these summary proceedings be defeated, any
discussion or issue of ownership is avoided unless it is necessary to resolve the issue of de facto
possession.
We agree with the respondents that instead of squarely addressing the issue of possession and
presenting evidence showing that NQFC or Santos had been in actual possession of Lot No. 102,
the former merely narrated how it acquired ownership of Lot No. 102 and presented documents to
this effect. Its allegation that Santos occupied Lot No. 102 in 1972 is uncorroborated. Even the
tax declarations under Santos name are hardly of weight; "tax declarations and realty tax

payments are not conclusive proof of possession. They are merely good indicia of possession in
the concept of owner"50 but not necessarily of the actual possession required in forcible entry
cases.
Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court provides when an action for forcible entry, and unlawful
detainer, is proper:
SECTION 1. Who may institute proceedings, and when. Subject to the provisions of the next
succeeding section, a person deprived of the possession of any land or building by force,
intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth, or a lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person against
whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully withheld after the expiration or
termination of the right to hold possession, by virtue of any contract, express or implied, or the
legal representatives or assigns of any such lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person may at any
time within one (1) year after such unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession, bring an
action in the proper Municipal Trial Court against the person or persons unlawfully withholding or
depriving of possession, or any person or persons claiming under them, for the restitution of such
possession, together with damages and costs. [emphasis ours; italics supplied]
Under this provision, for a forcible entry suit to prosper, the plaintiff must allege and prove: (1)
prior physical possession of the property; and (2) unlawful deprivation of it by the defendant
through force, intimidation, strategy, threat or stealth. 51 As in any civil case, the burden of proof
lies with the complainants (the respondents in this case) who must establish their case by
preponderance of evidence. In the present case, the respondents sufficiently alleged and proved
the required elements.
To support its position, NQFC invokes the principle of tacking of possession, that is, when it
bought Lot No. 102 from Santos on December 29, 2000, its possession is, by operation of law,
tacked to that of Santos and even earlier, or at the time Donato acquired Lot No. 102 in 1948.
NQFCs reliance on this principle is misplaced. True, the law 52 allows a present possessor to tack
his possession to that of his predecessor-in-interest to be deemed in possession of the property
for the period required by law. Possession in this regard, however, pertains to possession de jure
and the tacking is made for the purpose of completing the time required for acquiring or losing
ownership through prescription. We reiterate possession in forcible entry suits refers to nothing
more than physical possession, not legal possession.
The CA brushed aside NQFCs argument on the respondents failure to perfect their title over Lot
No. 102. It held that the issue in this case is not of possession de jure, let alone ownership or title,
but of possession de facto. We agree with the CA; the discussions above are clear on this point.
1wphi1

We agree, too, as we have indicated in passing above, that the issue of ownership can be
material and relevant in resolving the issue of possession. The Rules in fact expressly allow this:
Section 16, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court 53 provides that the issue of ownership shall be resolved
in deciding the issue of possession if the question of possession is intertwined with the issue of
ownership. But this provision is only an exception and is allowed only in this limited instance-- to
determine the issue of possession and only if the question of possession cannot be resolved
without deciding the issue of ownership.54 Save for this instance, evidence of ownership is not at
all material, as in the present case.55
As a final reiterative note, this Decision deals only with de facto possession and is without
prejudice to an appropriate action for recovery of possession based on ownership.
WHEREFORE, in light of these considerations, we hereby DENY the petition; the decision dated
February 22, 2006 and the resolution dated July 13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 77006 are hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice
AT T E S TAT I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
C E R T I F I C AT I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VII I of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson's Attestation,
I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
Dated September 7. 2006 and filed on September 11, 2006 under Rule 45 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, rollo. pp. 17-32.
1

Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo F. Lim. Jr., and concurred in by Associate Justices
Teresita Dy-Liacco Flores. Romulo V. Borja, Ramon R. Garcia, and Ricardo R. Rosario; id.
at 276-292.
2

Id. at 39-42.

Dated November 29, 2002. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 29, 139-2002; id.
at 143-151. Penned by Judge Renato A. Fuentes.
4

Dated February 20, 2002; id. at 112-122. Penned by Presiding Judge Daydews D.
Villamor.
5

Id. at 167.

Id. at 68-69.

Id. at 65-66.

Id. at 67.

10

Id. at 71-73.

11

Id. at 74-76.

12

Id. at 43-52.

13

Supra note 5.

14

Id. at 118-119.

15

Supra note 4.

16

Id. at 147-148.

17

Id. at 159.

18

Under Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; id. at 123-140.

19

Id. at 77. See also the MTCCs findings; id. at 118-119.

20

Supra note 3.

21

Rollo, p. 23.

22

Id. at 28-30.

23

Id. at 27-28; cf. page 335.

24

Id. at 334.

Quoted portions of the Supreme Court ruling in Refugia v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
118284, July 5, 1996, 258 SCRA 347; id. at 30-31.
25

26

Supra; cf. pp. 343-345.

27

Supra note 19.

28

Id. at 317-319.

29

Id. at 319.

30

Copy of the Notice to Vacate; id. at 188.

31

Id. at 319-320.

32

Id. at 320-321.

See Dr. Seria v. Caballero, 480 Phil. 277, 284 (2004); Go Ke Chong, Jr. v. Chan, G.R.
No. 153791, August 24, 2007, 531 SCRA 72, 80-81, citing Barcenas v. Tomas, G.R. No.
150321, March 31, 2005, 454 SCRA 593, 606; and Lagazo v. Soriano, G.R. No. 170864,
February 16, 2010, 612 SCRA 616, 620.
33

34

Dr. Seria v. Caballero, supra, at 284.

SEC. 4. Contents of petition. The petition shall be filed in eighteen (18) copies, with
the original copy intended for the court being indicated as such by the petitioner, and shall
(a) state the full name of the appealing party as the petitioner and the adverse party as
respondent, without impleading the lower courts or judges thereof either as petitioners or
respondents. [italics supplied; emphasis ours] cf. Dela Cruz v. CA and Te, 539 Phil. 158,
169 (2006).
35

36

Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 130841, February 26, 2008, 546 SCRA 532, 542.

37

Ibid.

38

G.R. No. 146364, June 3, 2004, 430 SCRA 492, 509-510.

39

Supra note 36, at 540.

G.R. No. 158877, June 16, 2009, 589 SCRA 148, 158-159, citing Gonzaga v. Court of
Appeals, supra.
40

41

Supra note 33, at 621, citing De Grano v. Lacaba, supra.

See also Barrientos v. Rapal, G.R. No. 169594, July 20, 2011, 654 SCRA 165, 170-171,
citing Carbonilla v. Abiera, G.R. No. 177637, July 26, 2010, 625 SCRA 461, 469.
42

See De Grano v. Lacaba, supra note 40, at 159, citing Sps. Tirona v. Hon. Alejo, 419
Phil. 285, 298 (2001); cf. Lagazo v. Soriano, supra note 33, at 621.
43

Heirs of Pedro Laurora v. Sterling Technopark III, G.R. No. 146815, April 9, 2003, 401
SCRA 181, 184; and Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals, supra note 36, at 541, citing Heirs of
Pedro Laurora v. Sterling Technopark III, at 184.
44

Muoz v. Yabut, Jr., G.R. Nos. 142676 and 146718, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 344, 376,
citing Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, supra note 38.
45

Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, supra note 38, at 510-511, citing Rubio v. The Hon.
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, 322 Phil. 179 (1996); and Antazo v. Doblada, G.R. No.
178908, February 4, 2010, 611 SCRA 586, 593, citing Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, supra
note 38.
46

Heirs of Pedro Laurora v. Sterling Technopark III, supra note 44, at 185, citing Muoz v.
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 102693, September 23, 1992, 214 SCRA 216; Joven v. Court
of Appeals, G.R. No. 80739, August 20, 1992, 212 SCRA 700; German Management and
Services, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 76216 and 76217, September 14, 1989, 177
SCRA 495; and Supia and Batioco v. Quintero and Ayala, 59 Phil. 312 (1933).
47

See Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, supra note 38, at 511-512; David v. Cordova, 502 Phil
626, 645-646 (2005), citing Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, at 511-512; and Pagadora v. Ilao,
G.R. No. 165769, December 12, 2011, 662 SCRA 14, 29-30.
48

49

Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, supra, at 512.

De Grano v. Lacaba, supra note 40, citing Estrella v. Robles, Jr., G.R. No. 171029,
November 22, 2007, 538 SCRA 60, 74; and Ganila v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 150755,
June 28, 2005, 461 SCRA 435.
50

See Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals, supra note 36, at 540, citing Bejar v. Caluag, G.R. No.
171277, February 15, 2007, 516 SCRA 84, 91.
51

52

Article 1138 of the Civil Code provides:


Art. 1138. In the computation of time necessary for prescription, the following rules
shall be observed:
(1) The present possessor may complete the period necessary for prescription by
tacking his possession to that of his grantor or predecessor in interest.

SEC. 16. Resolving defense of ownership. When the defendant raises the defense of
ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without
deciding the issue of ownership, the issue of ownership shall be resolved only to
determine the issue of possession. (emphasis ours)
53

54

Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, supra note 38, at 510.

See De Grano v. Lacuba, supra note 40, at 159, citing Habagat Grill v. DMC-Urban
Property Developer, Inc., G.R. No. 155110, March 31, 2005, 454 SCRA 653, 670; and
Pajuyo v. CA, supra note 38.
55