G.R. No. 187944, March 12, 2014
CARMENCITA SUAREZ, Petitioner, v. MR. AND MRS. FELIX E. EMBOY, JR. AND MARILOU P. EMBOY–DELANTAR, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
Spouses Rogelio and Praxedes Padilla
Heirs of Vicente Padilla (Vicente), namely: (1) Azucena Padilla, married to Felly Carrera; (2) Remedios Padilla (Remedios), married to Oscar Dimay; (3) Veronica Padilla (Veronica);10 and (4) Moreno Padilla (Moreno), married to Teresita Curso (Teresita)
Claudia Padilla–Emboy (Claudia)
Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court provides: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.The distinction between forcible entry and unlawful detainer was lucidly explained in Sarmiento vs. Court of Appeals,:Forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases are two distinct actions defined in Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court. [In] forcible entry, one is deprived of physical possession of land or building by means of force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth. In unlawful detainer, one unlawfully withholds possession thereof after the expiration or termination of his right to hold possession under any contract, express or implied. In forcible entry, the possession is illegal from the beginning and the basic inquiry centers on who has the prior possession de facto. In unlawful detainer, the possession was originally lawful but became unlawful by the expiration or termination of the right to possess, hence the issue of rightful possession is decisive for, in such action, the defendant is in actual possession and the plaintiffs cause of action is the termination of the defendant’s right to continue in possession.A close perusal of [Carmencita’s] complaint a quo reveals that the action was neither one of forcible entry nor unlawful detainer but essentially involved an issue of ownership which must be resolved in an accion reivindicatoria. It did not characterize [the respondents’] alleged entry into the land: whether the same was legal or illegal. It did not state how [the respondents] entered the land and constructed a house thereon. It was also silent on whether [the respondents’] possession became legal before [Carmencita] demanded from them to vacate the land. The complaint merely averred that their relatives previously owned the lot [the respondents] were occupying and that after [Carmencita] purchased it[,] she, as its new owner, demanded [for the respondents] to vacate the land. Moreover, it is undisputed that [the respondents] and their ancestors have been occupying the land for several decades already. There was no averment as to how or when [Carmencita’s] predecessors tolerated [the respondents’] possession of the land. Consequently, there was no contract to speak of, whether express or implied, between [the respondents], on one hand, and [Carmencita] or her predecessors, on the other, as would qualify [the respondents’] possession of the land as a case of unlawful detainer. Neither was it alleged that [the respondents] took possession of the land through force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth to make out a case of forcible entry. In any event, [Carmencita] cannot legally assert that [the respondents’] possession of the land was by mere tolerance. This is because [Carmencita’s] predecessors–in–interest did not yet own the property when [Claudia] took possession thereof. Take note that [Carmencita’s] predecessors–in–interest merely stepped into the shoes of their parents who were also co–heirs of [Claudia]. Finally, to categorize a cause of action as one constitutive of unlawful detainer, plaintiff’s supposed acts of tolerance must have been present from the start of the possession which he later seek[s] to recover. This is clearly wanting in the case at bar.
What determines the cause of action is the nature of defendant’s entry into the land. If the entry is illegal, then the action which may be filed against the intruder within one (1) year therefrom is forcible entry. If, on the other hand, the entry is legal but the possession thereafter became illegal, the case is one of unlawful detainer which must be filed within one (1) year from the date of the last demand.
Indeed, when the complaint fails to aver facts constitutive of forcible entry or unlawful detainer, as where it does not state how entry was effected or how and when dispossession started, as in the case at bar, the remedy should either be an accion publiciana or an accion reivindicatoria in the proper RTC. If [Carmencita] is truly the owner of the subject property and she was unlawfully deprived of the real right of possession or ownership thereof, she should present her claim before the RTC in an accion publiciana or an accion reivindicatoria, and not before the municipal trial court in a summary proceeding of unlawful detainer or forcible entry.
Munoz vs. Court of Appeals enunciated:For even if he is the owner, possession of the property cannot be wrested from another who had been in possession thereof for more than twelve (12) years through a summary action for ejectment. Although admittedly[,] petitioner may validly claim ownership based on the muniments of title it presented, such evidence does not responsibly address the issue of prior actual possession raised in a forcible entry case. It must be stated that regardless of actual condition of the title to the property, the party in peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by a strong hand, violence or terror. Thus, a party who can prove prior possession can recover such possession even against the owner himself. Whatever may be the character of his prior possession, if he has in his favor priority in time, he has the security that entitles him to remain on the property until he is lawfully ejected by a person having a better right by accion publiciana or accion reivindicatoria.24 (Citations omitted and underscoring supplied)
Whether or not Carmencita’s complaint against the respondents had sufficiently alleged and proven a cause of action for unlawful detainer.
Whether or not the pendency of the respondents’ petition for nullification of partition of Lot No. 1907–A and for the issuance of new certificates of title can abate Carmencita’s ejectment suit.
(a) accion interdictal; (b) accion publiciana; and (c) accion reivindicatoria.
Accion interdictal comprises two distinct causes of action, namely, forcible entry (detentacion) and unlawful detainer (desahuico) [sic]. In forcible entry, one is deprived of physical possession of real property by means of force, intimidation, strategy, threats, or stealth whereas in unlawful detainer, one illegally withholds possession after the expiration or termination of his right to hold possession under any contract, express or implied. The two are distinguished from each other in that in forcible entry, the possession of the defendant is illegal from the beginning, and that the issue is which party has prior de facto possession while in unlawful detainer, possession of the defendant is originally legal but became illegal due to the expiration or termination of the right to possess.
The jurisdiction of these two actions, which are summary in nature, lies in the proper municipal trial court or metropolitan trial court. Both actions must be brought within one year from the date of actual entry on the land, in case of forcible entry, and from the date of last demand, in case of unlawful detainer. The issue in said cases is the right to physical possession.
Accion publiciana is the plenary action to recover the right of possession which should be brought in the proper regional trial court when dispossession has lasted for more than one year. It is an ordinary civil proceeding to determine the better right of possession of realty independently of title. In other words, if at the time of the filing of the complaint more than one year had elapsed since defendant had turned plaintiff out of possession or defendant’s possession had become illegal, the action will be, not one of the forcible entry or illegal detainer, but an accion publiciana. On the other hand, accion reivindicatoria is an action to recover ownership also brought in the proper regional trial court in an ordinary civil proceeding.39 (Citations omitted)
(1) initially, possession of property by the defendant was by contract with or by tolerance of the plaintiff; (2) eventually, such possession became illegal upon notice by plaintiff to defendant of the termination of the latter’s right of possession; (3) thereafter, the defendant remained in possession of the property and deprived the plaintiff of the enjoyment thereof; and (4) within one year from the last demand on defendant to vacate the property, the plaintiff instituted the complaint for ejectment.40
As a general rule, therefore, a pending civil action involving ownership of the same property does not justify the suspension of ejectment proceedings. “The underlying reasons for the above ruling were that the actions in the Regional Trial Court did not involve physical or de facto possession, and, on not a few occasions, that the case in the Regional Trial Court was merely a ploy to delay disposition of the ejectment proceeding, or that the issues presented in the former could quite as easily be set up as defenses in the ejectment action and there resolved.”
Only in rare instances is suspension allowed to await the outcome of the pending civil action. One such exception is Vda. de Legaspi v. Avendaño, wherein the Court declared:“x x x. Where the action, therefore, is one of illegal detainer, as distinguished from one of forcible entry, and the right of the plaintiff to recover the premises is seriously placed in issue in a proper judicial proceeding, it is more equitable and just and less productive of confusion and disturbance of physical possession, with all its concomitant inconvenience and expenses. For the Court in which the issue of legal possession, whether involving ownership or not, is brought to restrain, should a petition for preliminary injunction be filed with it, the effects of any order or decision in the unlawful detainer case in order to await the final judgment in the more substantive case involving legal possession or ownership. It is only where there has been forcible entry that as a matter of public policy the right to physical possession should be immediately set at rest in favor of the prior possession regardless of the fact that the other party might ultimately be found to have superior claim to the premises involved, thereby to discourage any attempt to recover possession thru force, strategy or stealth and without resorting to the courts.”
x x x x
Indisputably, the execution of the MCTC Decision would have resulted in the demolition of the house subject of the ejectment suit; thus, by parity of reasoning, considerations of equity require the suspension of the ejectment proceedings. We note that, like Vda. de Legaspi, the respondent’s suit is one of unlawful detainer and not of forcible entry. And most certainly, the ejectment of petitioners would mean a demolition of their house, a matter that is likely to create the “confusion, disturbance, inconveniences and expenses” mentioned in the said exceptional case.
Necessarily, the affirmance of the MCTC Decision would cause the respondent to go through the whole gamut of enforcing it by physically removing the petitioners from the premises they claim to have been occupying since 1937. (Respondent is claiming ownership only of the land, not of the house.) Needlessly, the litigants as well as the courts will be wasting much time and effort by proceeding at a stage wherein the outcome is at best temporary, but the result of enforcement is permanent, unjust and probably irreparable.
We should stress that respondent’s claim to physical possession is based not on an expired or a violated contract of lease, but allegedly on “mere tolerance.” Without in any way prejudging the proceedings for the quieting of title, we deem it judicious under the present exceptional circumstances to suspend the ejectment case.45 (Citations omitted)
“ONE. Private respondent Teodorico T. Marayag anchors his action for unlawful detainer on the theory that petitioners’ possession of the property in question was by mere tolerance. However, in answer to his demand letter dated April 13, 1996 x x x, petitioners categorically denied having any agreement with him, verbal or written, asserting that they are ‘owners of the premises we are occupying at 108 J.P. Rizal Street, San Vicente, Silang, Cavite.’ In other words, it is not merely physical possession but ownership as well that is involved in this case.[”]
“TWO. In fact, to protect their rights to the premises in question, petitioners filed an action for reconveyance, quieting of title and damages against private respondents, docketed as Civil Case No. TG–1682 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Tagaytay City. The issue of ownership is squarely raised in this action. Undoubtedly, the resolution of this issue will be determinative of who is entitled to the possession of the premises in question.[”]
“THREE. The immediate execution of the judgment in the unlawful detainer case will include the removal of the petitioners’ house [from] the lot in question.[”]
“To the mind of the Court it is injudicious, nay inequitable, to allow demolition of petitioners’ house prior to the determination of the question of ownership [of] the lot on which it stands.”46 (Citation omitted)
1Rollo, pp. 10–19.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro–Javier, with Associate Justices Francisco P. Acosta and Rodil V. Zalameda, concurring; id. at 21–28.
3 Id. at 40.
4 Id. at 65–95.
5 With Presiding Judge Estela Alma A. Singco.
6 With Presiding Judge Gil R. Acosta.
7 Entitled “Carmencita Suarez v. Mr. and Mrs. Felix Emboy, Marilou Emboy–Delantare and Veronica P. Garcia”.
8 A 957–square meter parcel of land covered by TCT No. T–5922.
9Rollo, pp. 30–31.
10 Sometimes referred to in the records as “Veronida”.
11Rollo, p. 22.
13 Docketed as Civil Case No. CEB–30548.
14Rollo, p. 22.
15 Vicente’s spouse.
16 Rollo, p. 23.
19 Id. at 65–95.
20 320 Phil. 146 (1995).
21 Id. at 156; rollo, p. 76.
22 383 Phil. 486 (2000).
23Rollo, p. 121.
24 Id. at 24–27.
25 Id. at 29–38.
26 453 Phil. 404 (2003).
27 Id. at 410.
28 Citing Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 or The Property Registration Decree.
29 Citing Punio v. Judge Go, 357 Phil. 1, 6 (1998), and Silverio v. CA, 454 Phil. 750, 758 (2003).
30 424 Phil. 544 (2002).
31 348 Phil. 813 (1998).
32 Id. at 825; rollo, p. 140.
33Rollo, pp. 55–64.
34 Id. at 59.
35 523 Phil. 39 (2006).
36Rollo, pp. 144–151.
37Corpuz v. Agustin, G.R. No. 183822, January 18, 2012, 663 SCRA 350, 361, citing Carbonilla v. Abiera, G.R. No. 177637, July 26, 2010, 625 SCRA 461.
38 Supra note 35.
39 Id. at 45–46.
40 Supra note 37, at 363; see also Delos Reyes v. Odones, G.R. No. 178096, March 23, 2011, 646 SCRA 328, 334–335.
41Rollo, pp. 25–26.
43 Please see Petition, id. at 12–13; Reply, id. at 138–139.
44 Jose v. Alfuerto, G.R. No. 169380, November 26, 2012, 686 SCRA 323, 341, citing Serdoncillo v. Spouses Benolirao, 358 Phil. 83, 95 (1998).
45 Supra note 22, at 495–499.
46 Id. at 498–499