Monday, February 20, 2012

Rasdas vs. Estenor, GR No. 157605, December 13, 2005

Facts: Respondents filed a complaint for recovery of ownership and possession with damages against petitioners for a parcel of land with an area of 703 square meters in Isabela. The petitioners had built a house on the disputed lot.

The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the respondents. The petitioners were late in appealing the decision. The CA decision had already become final and executory and a writ of execution and demolition had already been issued against them.

The petitioners conceded that they did not own the lot but alleged that they were entitled to reimbursement for the value of the house they constructed. Furthermore, they alleged that even if they were builders in bad faith, the respondent was an owner in bad faith and that the case should be treated as if both parties were in good faith.

The respondent, on the other hand, argued res judicata in that the issue had already been ruled upon by the CA finding them builders in bad faith and thereby builders in bad faith.

Issue:  Is the petition barred by res judicata such that petitioners are no longer entitled to reimbursement for their house on respondent’s lot?

Held:  Although there was some error in the process followed by the lower courts, the petition is barred by res judicata. The CA found that the occupancy by the petitioners was merely tolerated by the respondent, who was verbally begged by the father of the petitioners to allow them to remain on the disputed lot as the petitioners were still studying. As for the respondent being an owner in bad faith, the matter was raised only in its petition to the Supreme Court and could not be entertained as a matter of procedure. Furthermore, nothing in the rulings of the lower courts even supports such a proposition.

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