Sunday, December 04, 2011

Corazon D. Sarmienta, et al. vs. Manalite Homeowners Association, Inc., G.R. No. 182953. October 11, 2010

Ejectment; forcible entry and unlawful detainer distinguished. Well settled is the rule that what determines the nature of the action as well as the court which has jurisdiction over the case are the allegations in the complaint. In ejectment cases, the complaint should embody such statement of facts as to bring the party clearly within the class of cases under Section 1, Rule 70 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. Section 1 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. 

There are two entirely distinct and different causes of action under the aforequoted rule, to wit: (1) a case for forcible entry, which is an action to recover possession of a property from the defendant whose occupation thereof is illegal from the beginning as he acquired possession by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth; and (2) a case for unlawful detainer, which is an action for recovery of possession from the defendant whose possession of the property was inceptively lawful by virtue of a contract (express or implied) with the plaintiff, but became illegal when he continued his possession despite the termination of his right thereunder. 

In forcible entry, the plaintiff must allege in the complaint, and prove, that he was in prior physical possession of the property in dispute until he was deprived thereof by the defendant by any of the means provided in Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules either by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth. In unlawful detainer, there must be an allegation in the complaint of how the possession of defendant started or continued, that is, by virtue of lease or any contract, and that defendant holds possession of the land or building “after the expiration or termination of the right to hold possession by virtue of any contract, express or implied.” 

Ejectment; unlawful detainer; allegations constitute case of unlawful detainer. In the present case, a thorough perusal of the complaint would reveal that the allegations clearly constitute a case of unlawful detainer: 

x x x x 

3. Plaintiff is the registered owner of that certain parcel of land involved in the instant case covered by TCT No. 222603 containing an area of 9,936 sq.m. situated in Sitio Manalite, Phase I, Baranggay Sta. Cruz, Antipolo City, which property was place under community mortgage program (CMP); 

4. Other defendants in the instant case are all member and officers of defendant AMARA who, through force, intimidation, threat, strategy and stealth entered into the premises herein and constructed their temporary houses and office building respectively, pre-empting plaintiff from using the premises thus, depriving the same of its prior possession thereof; 
5. On September 2, 1992 as an strategy of the cheapest sort defendants, in conspiracy and collusion with each other, defendants as representative of Heirs of Antonio and Hermogenes Rodriquez, the alleged owner of the property at bar, filed civil case no. 92-2454 against plaintiff, lodge before Branch 73 of the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, seeking to annul plaintiff title; 

6. Immediately upon final dismissal of such groundless, baseless and malicious suit, plaintiff demanded defendants to vacate the premises, but the latter pleaded with the former to be given a one (1) year period within which to look for a place to transfer, which period, upon pleas of defendants, coupled with plaintiff’s benevolence was repeatedly extended by said plaintiffs tolerance of occupancy thereof, but under such terms and conditions. Due to failure to comply with their undertaking despite repeated demands therefor plaintiffs sent a formal demand letter upon defendants; 

7. Upon receipt of the above-stated demand, defendants propose to become members of plaintiff, as qualification to acquire portions of the property by sale pursuant to the CMP, to which plaintiff agreed and tolerated defendants possession by giving the same a period until the month of December 1999, to comply with all the requirements pre-requisite to the availing of the CMP benefits but failed and despite repeated demands therefor, thus, the filing of a complaint with the Baranggay and the issuance of the certificate to file action dated February 8, 2000; 

8. As time is of the essence, and the fact that the defendants are mere intruders or usurpers who have no possessory right whatsoever over the land illegally occupied by them, trifling technicalities that would tend to defeat the speedy administration of justice formal demand is not necessary thereto, (Republic vs. Cruz C.A. G.R. No. 24910 R Feb. 7, 1964) however, to afford a sufficient period of time within which to vacate the premises peacefully another oral and formal demands were made upon the same to that effect, and demolish the temporary office and houses they constructed on plaintiff’s property and instead defendants again, as representative to alleged “Estate of Julian Tallano” filed a complaint for ejectment against plaintiffs former President, Hon. Marcelino Aben which case, is docketed as civil case no. 4119, lodged, before branch 11 of this Honorable court, defendants obstinately refused to peacefully turn over the property they intruded upon in fact they even dared plaintiff to file a case against them boasting that nobody can order them to vacate the premises; 

9. Defendants’ letter dated August 9, 2000, acknowledged actual receipt of plaintiffs two (2) formal demands letters. Thus, “the issuance of Katibayan Upang Makadulog sa Hukuman” dated September 25, 2000; 

10. As a result thereof, plaintiff was compelled to engage the services of the undersigned counsel in order to immediately institute the instant suit for which services plaintiff agreed to pay the amount of P35,000.00 plus P3,500.00 per court appearance; 
x x x x 

A complaint sufficiently alleges a cause of action for unlawful detainer if it recites the following: (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. 

Likewise, the evidence proves that after MAHA acquired the property, MAHA tolerated petitioners’ stay and gave them the option to acquire portions of the property by becoming members of MAHA. Petitioners’ continued stay on the premises was subject to the condition that they shall comply with the requirements of the CMP. Thus, when they failed to fulfill their obligations, MAHA had the right to demand for them to vacate the property as their right of possession had already expired or had been terminated. The moment MAHA required petitioners to leave, petitioners became deforciants illegally occupying the land. Well settled is the rule that a person who occupies the land of another at the latter’s tolerance or permission, without any contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate upon demand, failing which, a summary action for ejectment is the proper remedy against him. Thus, the RTC and the CA correctly ruled in favor of MAHA. 

Ejectment; unlawful detainer; sole issue is physical or material possession of property, independent of claim of ownership. As to petitioners’ argument that MAHA’s title is void for having been secured fraudulently, we find that such issue was improperly raised. In an unlawful detainer case, the sole issue for resolution is physical or material possession of the property involved, independent of any claim of ownership by any of the parties. Since the only issue involved is the physical or material possession of the premises, that is possession de facto and not possession de jure, the question of ownership must be threshed out in a separate action. Corazon D. Sarmienta, et al. vs. Manalite Homeowners Association, Inc., G.R. No. 182953. October 11, 2010

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