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[G.R. No. 146815.

April 9, 2003] the issue of possession, ]to such an extent that the
question of who had prior possession cannot be
HEIRS OF PEDRO LAURORA and LEONORA determined without ruling on the question of who the
LAURORA, petitioners, vs. STERLING owner of the land is. Notwithstanding the actual
TECHNOPARK III and S.P. PROPERTIES, condition of the title to the property, a person in
INC., respondents. possession cannot be ejected by force, violence or terror
-- not even by the owners.[18] If such illegal manner of
DECISION ejectment is employed, as it was in the present case, the
party who proves prior possession -- in this case,
petitioners -- can recover possession even from the
PANGANIBAN, J.: owners themselves. Even if petitioners were mere
usurpers of the land owned by respondents, still they are
FACTS: entitled to remain on it until they are lawfully ejected
therefrom. Under appropriate circumstances,
Petitioners, Pedro Laurora and Leonora Laurora alleged that respondents may file, other than an ejectment suit,
they were the owners of Lot 1315-G, SWD-40763 of the an accion publiciana -- a plenary action intended to
Yaptinchay Estate with an area of 39,771 sq. meters and recover the better right to possess;[20] or an accion
located in Carmona, Cavite. Pedro Laurora planted trees and reivindicatoria -- an action to recover ownership of real
has possessed the land up to the present. On 15 September property. The rule of law does not allow the mighty and
1997, respondents Sterling Technopark III and S.P. Properties, the privileged to take the law into their own hands to
Inc. bulldozed and uprooted the trees and plants, and with the enforce their alleged rights. They should go to court and
use of armed men and by means of threats and intimidation, seek judicial vindication.
succeeded in forcibly ejecting petitioners. Consequently,
Petitioners file a complaint for Forcible Entry with Damages
on 27 September 1997 before the Fifth Municipal Circuit Trial
Court of Carmona. In their answer, respondents averred that [G.R. NO. 130841 : February 26, 2008]
petitioners were not the owners of the land because they
disposed of it sometime in 1976 as shown by legal documents SPOUSES VIRGINIA G. GONZAGA and ALFREDO
which can be summarized as follows: On 02 April 1969, the GONZAGA, Petitioners, v.COURT OF APPEALS, BIENVENIDO
Land Authority approved the application of Pedro Laurora to AGAN, and ROWENA AGAN, Respondents.
buy the subject land from the government. On 01 March
1974, DAR favorably issued a permit to transfer dated 03 June DECISION
1975, upon request of Pedro Laurora to transfer the ownership
of the subject land to Juan Manaig. On 03 July 1975, Juan VELASCO, JR., J.:
Manaig, as transferee and buyer, paid the required amount of
P10,643.65 under Official Receipt No. 8304707 to the
government as full payment for the transfer of said lot to him.
The execution of Kasulatan ng Paglilipatan ng Lupa
transferring the land to Juan Manaig as buyer was witnessed FACTS:
by their sons, Efren Laurora and Dominador Laurora as well
as the execution of Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan or Deed of Petitioners are the registered owners of a residential lot
Sale wherein they sold Lot 1315-G including all covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-240379, with an
improvements therein. The Deed of Absolute Sale was area of 247 square meters, more or less, and located in
approved by the Department of Agrarian Reform on 14 June Ecoland Subdivision, Phase IV, Matina, Davao City. Petitioners
1976.Thereupon, the heirs of the late JUAN MANAIG sold
admitted that they do not reside at this property. In May
the land to Golden Mile Resources Development Corporation
which likewise sold it to respondent S. P. Properties, Inc. 1995, petitioners decided to construct a house on the said
parcel of land. Sometime in June 1995, petitioners went to
After summary proceedings in the MCTC, x x x, a judgment inspect the above lot and discovered that a shanty belonging
was rendered dismissing the complaint. The case was elevated to private respondents Bienvenido and Rowena Agan had
to the Regional Trial Court. In due course, the said court been built on the land in question. Petitioners filed a
rendered a decision reversing the MCTC judgment. x x x
Complaint against private respondents for Forcible Entry
ISSUE: Whether the respondents have a valid and legal Damages, and Attorney’s Fees with Prayer for TRO and
right to forcibly eject the petitioners? Preliminary Injunction with the MTCC in Davao City.
Petitionersalleged that private respondents put up the
HELD: The only issue in forcible entry cases is the
physical or material possession of real property -- structure by stealth and strategy. In their Answer, private,
possession de facto, not possession de jure.[10] Only respondents alleged that they are the occupants of a portion
prior physical possession, not title, is the issue. We of what is known as the “SabrosoVillage” and that their
stress that the issue of ownership in ejectment cases is shanty is within the land covered by Free Patent Application
to be resolved only when it is intimately intertwined with
in the name of Sabroso. The MTCC ruled in favor of the land, althought the ownership issue is yet
petitioners. RTC reversed. Petitioners filed with the CA a to be determined, while in the case of
petition for review,which was denied. Petitioners appealed Sps. Gonzaga, the petitioners did not
aquire possession of the subject property
through MR, which was also denied. Hence, we have this
although, as alleged, by them, and as
Petition for Certiorari.
impliedly held by the supreme court, they
have abosolute ownership of the property.
Whether the CA erred in holding that action should not be for
2. In the case of Pedro Laurora, the claim of
forcible entry but for accion publiciana. ownership of the repondent was not being
made or was not raised in order to prove
To make out a suit for illegal detainer or forcible prior possession, thus the supreme court
entry, the complaint must contain two mandatory pass upon that question and determine
allegations: (1) prior physical possession of only the question of possession, while in
the property by the plaintiff; and (2) the case of Sps. Gonzaga, the petitioner
deprivation of said possession by another by claimed that they have actual possession
means of force, intimidation, threat, strategy or of the subject property by virtue of their
stealth. This latter requirement implies that the absolute ownership of the subject
possession of the disputed property by the property, however, the Supreme Court
intruder has been unlawful from the very start. noted that they were wrong, because the
Then, the action must be brought within one year possession de facto and possession
from the date of actual entry to the property or, flowing from ownership are different legal
in cases where stealth was employed, from the concepts.
date the plaintiff learned about it. Clearly then, 3. In the case of Pedro Laurora, the case was
complainants in forcible entry cases must allege decided in favor of the petitioners, because
and eventually prove prior physical possession. they were forcibly ejected by means of
Else, their cases fail, as here. Petitioners' claim force, threaths and intimidation, Supreme
that they have prior physical possession by virtue Court holding that, even if petitioners
of their absolute ownership of the subject land is were mere usurpers of the land owned by
untenable. Obviously, they equate possession as respondents, still they are entitled to
an attribute of ownership to the fact of actual remain on it until they are lawfully ejected
possession. They are of course wrong, therefrom, nothwithstanding the
possession de facto and possession flowing from detremination of the issue of the case of
ownership are different legal concepts. We agree the remedy that they properly filed. On
with the CA and RTC that the proper remedy in the other hand, the case of Sps. Gonzaga,
the instant case is to file an accion was decided in favor of the respondent for
publiciana case, a plenary action for recovery of failing to prove prior physical possession,
possession in ordinary civil proceedings in order and for appealing with improper remedy,
to determine the better and legal right to there was never forcible entry happened
possess, independently of title.19 It differs from a by use of force, threat and/or
forcible entry action in that it does not require intimidation, and although granting
prior physical possession in order to prosper. arguendo that they were able to prove
Additionally, considering that more than one (1) physical possession, their appeal would
year has already elapsed from the time that still not prosper because of improper
possession of the subject land was allegedly remedy filed.
taken from petitioners, and that an action for
forcible entry may only be filed within one (1)
year from the plaintiff's deprivation of possession
of the land, an accion publiciana is the only
remedy available to petitioners now to determine
who has the better right to possession of the


1. In Heirs of Pedro Laurora, the petitioners

were actually in physical possession of the