Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 26

FIRST DIVISION

VICTORIANO M. ENCARNACION, G.R. No. 169793


Petitioner,
Present:
Panganiban, C.J. (Chairperson),
- versus - Ynares-Santiago,
Austria-Martinez,
Callejo, Sr., and
Chico-Nazario, JJ.
NIEVES AMIGO,
Respondent. Promulgated:

September 15, 2006


x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This petition for review assails the June 30, 2005 Decision[1] of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 73857, ordering the remand of Civil Case No. Br. 20-
1194 to the Regional Trial Court of Cauayan, Isabela, Branch 20, for further
proceedings.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

Petitioner Victoriano M. Encarnacion is the registered owner of Lot No. 2121-B-1,


consisting of 100 square meters and covered by TCT No. T-256650; and Lot No.
2121-B-2 consisting of 607 square meters with TCT No. T-256651, located at
District 1, National Hi-way, Cauayan, Isabela. Said two lots originally form part of
Lot No. 2121, a single 707 square meter track of land owned by Rogelio Valiente
who sold the same to Nicasio Mallapitan on January 18, 1982. On March 21, 1985,
Mallapitan sold the land to Victoriano Magpantay. After the death of the latter in
1992, his widow, Anita N. Magpantay executed an Affidavit of Waiver [2] on April
11, 1995 waving her right over the property in favor of her son-in-law, herein
petitioner, Victoriano Encarnacion. Thereafter, the latter caused the subdivision of
the land into two lots[3] and the issuance of titles in his name on July 18, 1996.[4]

Respondent Nieves Amigo allegedly entered the premises and took possession of a
portion of the property sometime in 1985 without the permission of the then owner,
Victoriano Magpantay. Said occupation by respondent continued even after TCT
Nos. T-256650 and T-256651 were issue to petitioner.

Consequently, petitioner, through his lawyer sent a letter [5] dated Febuary 1, 2001
demanding that the respondent vacate the subject property. As evidenced by the
registry return receipt, the demand letter was delivered by registered mail to the
respondent on February 12, 2001. Notwithstanding receipt of the demand letter,
respondent still refused to vacate the subject property. Thereafter, on March 2,
2001, petitioner filed a complaint[6] for ejectment, damages with injunction and
prayer for restraining order with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities of Isabela
which was docketed as CV-01-030. In his Answer, respondent alleged that he has
been in actual possession and occupation of a portion of the subject land since
1968 and that the issuance of Free Patent and titles in the name of petitioner was
tainted with irregularities.[7]

On October 24, 2001, the Municipal Trial Court in Cities rendered judgment,
which reads:

WHERE[FO]RE, there being a preponderance of evidence, a


JUDGMENT is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff VICTORIANO M.
ENCARNACION and against the defendant NIEVES AMIGOE (sic) as follows:

a) ORDERING the defendant to vacate the portion of the parcels of land


described in Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-256650 and T-256651 he is now
occupying and surrender it to the plaintiff;

b) ORDERING the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of FIVE


THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000) as attorneys fees, and

c) ORDERING the defendant to pay rentals equivalent [to] P500.00 per


month from February, 2001 until the portion of the land occupied by him is
surrendered to the plaintiff.
COSTS against the defendant.

SO ORDERED.[8]

On appeal, the Regional Trial Court of Cauayan, Isabela, Branch 20, ruled as
follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the case on the


ground that as the Municipal Court had no jurisdiction over the case, this Court
acquired no appellate jurisdiction thereof. Costs against plaintiff-appellee.

SO ORDERED.[9]

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a petition for review [10] under Rule 42 of the Rules of
Court before the Court of Appeals which promulgated the assailed Decision
remanding the case to the Regional Trial Court. The dispositive portion thereof
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this case is hereby REMANDED to


Branch 20, Regional Trial Court of Cauayan, Isabela for further proceedings.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.[11]

Hence the present petition raising the sole issue:

[WHETHER] THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE


PROPER ACTION IN THIS CASE IS ACCION PUBLICIANA AND NOT
UNLAWFUL DETAINER AS DETERMINED BY THE ALLEGATIONS IN
THE COMPLAINT FILED BY PETITIONER.[12]

The petition lacks merit.

In this jurisdiction, the three kinds of actions for the recovery of possession of real
property are:
1. Accion interdictal, or an ejectment proceeding which may be either
that for forcible entry (detentacion) or unlawful
detainer (desahucio), which is a summary action for recovery of
physical possession where the dispossession has not lasted for more
than one year, and should be brought in the proper inferior court;

2. Accion publiciana or the plenary action for the recovery of the real
right of possession, which should be brought in the proper Regional
Trial Court when the dispossession has lasted for more than one year;
and

3. Accion reinvindicatoria or accion de reivindicacion, which is an


action for the recovery of ownership which must be brought in the
proper Regional Trial Court.[13]

Based on the foregoing distinctions, the material element that determines the
proper action to be filed for the recovery of the possession of the property in this
case is the length of time of dispossession. Under the Rules of Court, the remedies
of forcible entry and unlawful detainer are granted to 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. These remedies afford the person deprived of the possession to file at any
time within one year after such unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession,
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.[14] Thus, if the dispossession has not lasted for more than one year, an
ejectment proceeding is proper and the inferior court acquires jurisdiction. On the
other hand, if the dispossession lasted for more than one year, the proper action to
be filed is an accion publiciana which should be brought to the proper Regional
Trial Court.
After a careful evaluation of the evidence on record of this case, we find that
the Court of Appeals committed no reversible error in holding that the proper
action in this case is accion publiciana; and in ordering the remand of the case to
the Regional Trial Court of Cauayan, Isabela, Branch 20, for further proceedings.

Well settled is the rule that jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter of
the action is determined by the allegations of the complaint at the time of its filing,
irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of
the claims asserted therein. What determines the jurisdiction of the court is the
nature of the action pleaded as appearing from the allegations in the
complaint. The averments therein and the character of the relief sought are the ones
to be consulted.[15] On its face, the complaint must show enough ground for the
court to assume jurisdiction without resort to parol testimony.[16]

From the allegations in the complaint, it appears that the petitioner became
the owner of the property on April 11, 1995 by virtue of the waiver of rights
executed by his mother-in-law. He filed the complaint for ejectment on March 2,
2001 after his February 1, 2001 letter to the respondent demanding that the latter
vacate the premises remained unheeded. While it is true that the demand letter was
received by the respondent on February 12, 2001, thereby making the filing of the
complaint for ejectment fall within the requisite one year from last demand for
complaints for unlawful detainer, it is also equally true that petitioner became the
owner of the subject lot in 1995 and has been since that time deprived possession
of a portion thereof. From the date of the petitioners dispossession in 1995 up to
his filing of his complaint for ejectment in 2001, almost 6 years have elapsed. The
length of time that the petitioner was dispossessed of his property made his cause
of action beyond the ambit of an accion interdictal and effectively made it one
for accion publiciana. After the lapse of the one-year period, the suit must be
commenced in the Regional Trial Court via an accion publiciana which is a suit for
recovery of the right to possess. It is an ordinary civil proceeding to determine the
better right of possession of realty independently of title. It also refers to an
ejectment suit filed after the expiration of one year from the accrual of the cause of
action or from the unlawful withholding of possession of the realty.[17]
Previously, we have held that if the owner of the land knew that another person
was occupying his property way back in 1977 but the said owner only filed the
complaint for ejectment in 1995, the proper action would be one for accion
publiciana and not one under the summary procedure on ejectment. As explained
by the Court:

We agree with the Court of Appeals that if petitioners are indeed the
owners of the subject lot and were unlawfully deprived of their right of
possession, they should present their claim before the regional trial court in
an accion publiciana or an accion reivindicatoria, and not before the metropolitan
trial court in a summary proceeding for unlawful detainer or forcible entry. For
even if one is the owner of the property, the possession thereof cannot be wrested
from another who had been in physical or material possession of the same for
more than one year by resorting to a summary action for ejectment.[18]

Hence, we agree with the Court of Appeals when it declared that:

The respondents actual entry on the land of the petitioner was in 1985 but
it was only on March 2, 2001 or sixteen years after, when petitioner filed his
ejectment case. The respondent should have filed an accion publiciana case which
is under the jurisdiction of the RTC.

However, the RTC should have not dismissed the case.

Section 8, Rule 40 of the Rules of Court provides:

SECTION 8. Appeal from orders dismissing case without


trial; lack of jurisdiction. If an appeal is taken from an order of the
lower court dismissing the case without a trial on the merits, the
Regional Trial Court may affirm or reverse it, as the case may be.
In case of affirmance and the ground of dismissal is lack of
jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial Court, if it
has jurisdiction thereover, shall try the case on the merits as if the
case was originally filed with it. In case of reversal, the case shall
be remanded for further proceedings.

If the case was tried on the merits by the lower court


without jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial
Court on appeal shall not dismiss the case if it has original
jurisdiction thereof, but shall decide the case in accordance with
the preceding section, without prejudice to the admission of
amended pleadings and additional evidence in the interest of
justice.

The RTC should have taken cognizance of the case. If the case is tried
on the merits by the Municipal Court without jurisdiction over the subject
matter, the RTC on appeal may no longer dismiss the case if it has original
jurisdiction thereof. Moreover, the RTC shall no longer try the case on the
merits, but shall decide the case on the basis of the evidence presented in the
lower court, without prejudice to the admission of the amended pleadings
and additional evidence in the interest of justice.[19]

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of


Appeals dated June 30, 2005 in CA-G.R. SP No. 73857 ordering the remand of
Civil Case No. Br. 20-1194 to the Regional Trial Court of Cauayan, Isabela,
Branch 20, for further proceedings, is AFFIRMED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice
Chairperson

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, 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.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice

[1]
Rollo, pp. 32-42. Penned by Associate Justice Romeo A. Brawner and concurred in by Associate Justices Edgardo
P. Cruz and Jose C. Mendoza.
[2]
Exhibit C, records, p. 206.
[3]
Lot No. 2121-B-1 covered by TCT No. T-256650 (Exhibit F, records, p. 213) and Lot No. 2121-B-2 covered by
TCT No. T-256651 (Exhibit G, records, p. 214).
[4]
MTCC Decision, CA rollo, pp. 65-66.
[5]
Annex K of the Complaint, records, p. 26.
[6]
Records, pp. 1-5.
[7]
Id. at 32-33.
[8]
CA rollo, pp. 70. Penned by Judge Bernabe B. Mendoza.
[9]
Id. at 31. Penned by Judge Henedino P. Eduarte.
[10]
Id. at 6-15.
[11]
Rollo, p. 41.
[12]
Id. at 17.
[13]
REGALADO, Remedial Law Compendium, Volume 1, Sixth Revised Edition, pp. 767-768.
[14]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 70, Sec. 1.
[15]
Herrera v. Bollos, 424 Phil. 851, 856 (2002).
[16]
Lopez v. David, Jr., G.R. No. 152145, March 30, 2004, 426 SCRA 535, 540.
[17]
Id. at 543.
[18]
Go, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 142276, August 14, 2001, 362 SCRA 755, 769.
[19]
Rollo, pp. 38-40; emphasis supplied.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

RUBEN C. CORPUZ, G.R. No. 183822


represented by Attorney-
in-Fact Wenifreda C.
Agullana,

Petitioner,

Present:
-versus-

CARPIO, J.,

Chairperson,

PEREZ,
Sps. HILARION AGUSTIN
and SERENO,

JUSTA AGUSTIN, REYES, and

Respondents. PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

Promulgated:

January 18, 2012

x------------------------------------------------------
-----x
DECISION

SERENO, J.:

This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of


Court assails the Decision[1] dated 08 January 2008 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 90645, which affirmed the
Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Laoag City and its
Resolution[2] dated 15 July 2008 denying the Motion for
Reconsideration. The RTC, in the exercise of its appellate
jurisdiction, affirmed the Decision of the Municipal Trial Court
(MTC) of Laoag City, which had dismissed the unlawful detainer
case filed by herein petitioner.

The Factual Antecedents

The Court adopts the findings of fact of the CA as follows:


Ruben C. Corpuz (Ruben) filed a complaint for ejectment against
Spouses Hilarion and Justa Agustin on the allegation that he is the
registered owner of two parcels of land located in Santa
Joaquina, Laoag City covered by TCT No. 12980 issued on October
29, 1976 by the Laoag City Register of Deeds and with technical
descriptions as follows:

1) A parcel of land (Lot No. 20 of the Cadastral Survey of


Laoag), with improvements thereon, situated in the barrio
of Santa Joaquina, Municipality of Laoag. Bounded x x x
containing an area of five thousand seven hundred and
fifty nine (5,759) square meters more or less x x x.
2) A parcel of land (Lot No. 11711 of the Cadastral Survey of
Laoag), with the improvements thereon, situated in the
barrio of Santa Joaquina, Municipality of Laoag. Bounded x
x x, containing an area of twenty thousand seven hundred
and forty five (20,745) square meters, more or less x x x.

Aforesaid parcels of land were formerly owned by Elias Duldulao in


whose name Original Certificate of Title No. O-1717 was issued.
Duldulao sold said properties on August 27, 1951 to Francisco D.
Corpuz, father of Ruben C. Corpuz. The elder Corpuz allowed
spouses Agustin to occupy subject properties, the latter being
relatives.

Despite demand to vacate, the Agustins refused to leave the


premises.

Ruben alleged further that he has the better right to possess subject
property having acquired the same from his father, Francisco, who
executed a Deed of Quitclaim in his favor on March 15, 1971.

Spouses Agustin, in their Answer, interposed the defense that on


June 5, 1971 Francisco Corpuz, Ruben's father, disposed of subject
property by executing a Deed of Absolute Sale in their favor for a
consideration of Eleven Thousand One Hundred Fifty Pesos
(P11,150.00).

The Municipal Trial Court found for the spouses Agustin and
dismissed the complaint.

In sum, considering the evidence of the defendants which


shows that they entered into and occupied Lot No. 20 and
the 9,657 sq. m. portion of Lot No. 11711 as buyers or
owners, disproving the allegation of the plaintiff that
defendants were merely allowed by Francisco Corpuz to
occupy the subject properties, being his relatives, and
considering further the length of time that the defendants
have been in possession, as owners, of Lot No. 20 and the
9,657 sq. m. portion of Lot No. 11711, and have been
continuously exercising their rights of ownership thereon,
this court is of the view and holds, in so far as this case is
concerned, that the defendants are the ones entitled to
the possession of Lot No. 20 and the 9,657 sq. m. portion
of Lot No. 11711.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this case, is


hereby dismissed.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal, Branch XVI, Regional Trial Court of Laoag City affirmed


said dismissal, the dispositive portion of said decision states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Appeal is hereby


DISMISSED for lack of merit and the JUDGMENT of the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 01, Laoag City is
hereby AFFIRMED, with costs against the plaintiff-
appellant.

SO ORDERED.[3]

Petitioner assailed the Decision of the RTC, affirming the earlier


dismissal of the case by the MTC, by instituting an appeal with
the CA. On 08 January 2008, the appellate court through its
Fourteenth Division dismissed his appeal. [4] It noted that his
father engaged in a double sale when he conveyed the disputed
properties to petitioner and respondents. The Quitclaim executed
by the elder Corpuz in favor of petitioner was dated 15 March
1971, while the Deed of Sale with respondents was later, on 15
June 1971; both documents were notarized shortly after their
execution.[5] The Quitclaim, which was subsequently inscribed at
the back of Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. O-1717 on 29
October 1976,[6] resulted in the issuance of Transfer Certificate of
Title (TCT) No. T-12980 in the name of petitioner. The Deed of
Sale executed with respondents was, however, not annotated at
the back of OCT No. O-1717 and remained unregistered. [7]

Based on the above findings, the CA ruled that petitioner


had knowledge of the sale of the disputed real property executed
between Francisco Corpuz, petitioner's father, and respondents.
Due to this conveyance by the elder Corpuz to respondents, the
latter's possession thereof was in the nature of ownership. Thus,
in the context of an unlawful detainer case instituted by
petitioner against respondents, the appellate court concluded
that respondents possession of the property was not by mere
tolerance of its former owner petitioner's father but was in the
exercise of ownership.[8]

The CA noted that petitioner had knowledge of his fathers sale of


the properties to respondents as early as 1973. However, despite
knowledge of the sale, petitioner failed to initiate any action to
annul it and oust respondents from the subject properties. [9] The
appellate court rejected his contention that, as registered owner
of the disputed properties, he had a better right to possession
thereof, compared to the unregistered Deed of Sale relied upon
by respondents in their defense of the same properties. The CA
ruled that the inaction on his part despite knowledge of the sale
in 1973 was equivalent to registration of respondents
unregistered deed.[10] In dismissing his appeal, the CA concluded
that respondents possession was not ... anchored on mere
tolerance nor on any of the grounds for forcible entry or unlawful
detainer; hence the complaint for ejectment must fail. [11] The
dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby
DISMISSED. The decision of Branch
XVI, Regional Trial Court ofLaoag City in Civil Case No. 13293-16 is
hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.[12]

The Issues

Petitioner assigns the following errors in this Petition for Review


on Certiorari:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
FAILING TO CONSIDER THE LEGAL OWNERSHIP OF PETITIONER ON
THE DISPUTED PROPERTY TO CLAIM BETTER RIGHT TO POSSESSION.

II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN


THE APPRECIATION OF THE ALLEGED SALE IN FAVOR OF
RESPONDENTS TO RULE THAT THEY HAVE BETTER RIGHT TO
POSSESSION.

III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN


FAILING TO CONSIDER THE CASE OF JACINTO CO VS. MILITAR, ET AL.
(421 SCRA 455) WHICH IS SIMILAR TO THE INSTANT CASE.

IV. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN


DENYING THE PETITION FOR REVIEW RAISED BEFORE IT.[13]

Petitioner presents to this Court for resolution the core issue of his
Petition: who between the parties has the right to possession of
the disputed properties -- petitioner, who is the registered owner
under TCT No. T-12980; or respondents, who have a notarized yet
unregistered Deed of Absolute Sale over the same properties?

The Court's Ruling

We DENY the Petition.


Although this case does not present a novel question of law, there
is a need to discuss the nature of an ejectment case for the
recovery of physical possession in relation to the Torrens system.
A resolution of the issue would be relevant to the determination of
who has the better right to possession in this unlawful detainer
case.

One of the three kinds of action for the recovery of possession of


real property is accion interdictal, or an ejectment proceeding ...
which may be either that for forcible entry (detentacion) or
unlawful detainer (desahucio), which is a summary action for the
recovery of physical possession where the dispossession has not
lasted for more than one year, and should be brought in the
proper inferior court.[14] In ejectment proceedings, the courts
resolve the basic question of who is entitled to physical
possession of the premises, possession referring to possession de
facto, and not possession de jure.[15]

Where the parties to an ejectment case raise the issue of


ownership, the courts may pass upon that issue to determine who
between the parties has the better right to possess the property.
However, where the issue of ownership is inseparably linked to
that of possession, adjudication of the ownership issue is not final
and binding, but only for the purpose of resolving the issue of
possession. The adjudication of the issue of ownership is only
provisional, and not a bar to an action between the same parties
involving title to the property.[16]

In the instant case, the position of respondents is that they are


occupying the disputed properties as owners, having acquired
these from petitioner's father through a Deed of Absolute Sale
executed in 1971. Respondents believe that they cannot be
dispossessed of the disputed properties, since they are the
owners and are in actual possession thereof up to this date.
Petitioner, however, rebuts this claim of ownership, contending
that he has registered the disputed properties in his name and
has been issued a land title under the Torrens system. He asserts
that, having registered the properties in his name, he is the
recognized owner and consequently has the better right to
possession.

Indeed, a title issued under the Torrens system is entitled to all


the attributes of property ownership, which necessarily includes
possession.[17] Petitioner is correct that as a Torrens title holder
over the subject properties, he is the rightful owner and is entitled
to possession thereof. However, the lower courts and the
appellate court consistently found that possession of the disputed
properties by respondents was in the nature of ownership, and
not by mere tolerance of the elder Corpuz. In fact, they have been
in continuous, open and notorious possession of the property for
more than 30 years up to this day.

Petitioner cites Jacinto Co v. Rizal Militar, et al., [18] which has


facts and legal issues identical to those of the instant case. The
petitioner therein filed an unlawful detainer case against the
respondents over a disputed property. He had a Torrens title
thereto, while the respondents as actual occupants of the
property claimed ownership thereof based on their unregistered
Deeds of Sale. The principal issue was who between the two
parties had the better right to possess the subject property.

This Court resolved the issue by upholding the title holder as


the one who had the better right to possession of the disputed
property based on the following justification:
We have, time and again, held that the only issue for resolution in an
unlawful detainer case is physical or material possession of the
property involved, independent of any claim of ownership by any of
the party litigants. Moreover, an ejectment suit is summary in nature
and is not susceptible to circumvention by the simple expedient of
asserting ownership over the property.

In forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, even if the


defendant raises the question of ownership in his pleadings and the
question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue
of ownership, the lower courts and the Court of Appeals, nonetheless,
have the undoubted competence to provisionally resolve the issue of
ownership for the sole purpose of determining the issue of Possession.

Such decision, however, does not bind the title or affect the
ownership of the land nor is conclusive of the facts therein found in a
case between the same parties upon a different cause of action
involving possession.

In the instant case, the evidence showed that as between the


parties, it is the petitioner who has a Torrens Title to the property.
Respondents merely showed their unregistered deeds of sale in
support of their claims. The Metropolitan Trial Court correctly relied on
the transfer certificate of title in the name of petitioner.

In Tenio-Obsequio v. Court of Appeals, it was held that the


Torrens System was adopted in this country because it was believed to
be the most effective measure to guarantee the integrity of land titles
and to protect their indefeasibility once the claim of ownership is
established and recognized.

It is settled that a Torrens Certificate of title is indefeasible and


binding upon the whole world unless and until it has been nullified by
a court of competent jurisdiction. Under existing statutory and
decisional law, the power to pass upon the validity of such certificate
of title at the first instance properly belongs to the Regional Trial
Courts in a direct proceeding for cancellation of title.

As the registered owner, petitioner had a right to the possession


of the property, which is one of the attributes of his ownership.
Respondents' argument that petitioner is not an innocent purchaser
for value and was guilty of bad faith in having the subject land
registered in his name is a collateral attack on the title of petitioner,
which is not allowed. A certificate of title cannot be subject to a
collateral attack and can be altered, modified or cancelled only in a
direct proceeding in accordance with law. [19]
The pronouncement in Co v. Militar was later reiterated
in Spouses Pascual v. Spouses Coronel [20] and in Spouses Barias v.
Heirs of Bartolome Boneo, et al.,[21] wherein we consistently held
the age-old rule that the person who has a Torrens Title over a
land is entitled to possession thereof. [22]

However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the present


petitioner has instituted an unlawful detainer case against
respondents. It is an established fact that for more than three
decades, the latter have been in continuous possession of the
subject property, which, as such, is in the concept of ownership
and not by mere tolerance of petitioners father. Under these
circumstances, petitioner cannot simply oust respondents from
possession through the summary procedure of an ejectment
proceeding.

Instructive on this matter is Carbonilla v. Abiera,[23] which


reads thus:

Without a doubt, the registered owner of real property is entitled to its


possession. However, the owner cannot simply wrest possession thereof from
whoever is in actual occupation of the property. To recover possession, he must
resort to the proper judicial remedy and, once he chooses what action to file, he is
required to satisfy the conditions necessary for such action to prosper.

In the present case, petitioner opted to file an ejectment case against


respondents. Ejectment casesforcible entry and unlawful detainerare summary
proceedings designed to provide expeditious means to protect actual possession
or the right to possession of the property involved. The only question that the
courts 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. For this reason, an ejectment case will not necessarily be
decided in favor of one who has presented proof of ownership of the subject
property. Key jurisdictional facts constitutive of the particular ejectment case
filed must be averred in the complaint and sufficiently proven.

The statements in the complaint that respondents possession of the


building was by mere tolerance of petitioner clearly make out a case for unlawful
detainer. Unlawful detainer involves the persons withholding from another of the
possession of the real property to which the latter is entitled, after the expiration
or termination of the formers right to hold possession under the contract, either
expressed or implied.

A requisite for a valid cause of action in an unlawful detainer case is that


possession must be originally lawful, and such possession must have turned
unlawful only upon the expiration of the right to possess. It must be shown that
the possession was initially lawful; hence, the basis of such lawful possession
must be established. If, as in this case, the claim is that such possession is by
mere tolerance of the plaintiff, the acts of tolerance must be proved. (Emphasis
supplied.)

In this case, petitioner has not proven that respondents


continued possession of the subject properties was by mere
tolerance of his father, except by a mere allegation thereof. In
fact, petitioner has not established when respondents possession
of the properties became unlawful a requisite for a valid cause of
action in an unlawful detainer case.

In Canlas v. Tubil,[24] we enumerated the elements that


constitute the sufficiency of a complaint for unlawful detainer, as
follows:
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 for which the statutes provide a remedy, as these
proceedings are summary in nature. The complaint must show enough
on its face to give the court jurisdiction without resort to parol
evidence.

Unlawful detainer is an action to recover possession of real


property from one who illegally withholds possession after the
expiration or termination of his right to hold possession under any
contract, express or implied. The possession of the defendant in
unlawful detainer is originally legal but became illegal due to the
expiration or termination of the right to possess.
An unlawful detainer proceeding is summary in nature,
jurisdiction of which lies in the proper municipal trial court or
metropolitan trial court. The action must be brought within one year
from the date of last demand and the issue in said case is the right to
physical possession.

... ... ...


In Cabrera v. Getaruela, the Court held that 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 latters 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.

Based on the above, it is obvious that petitioner has not


complied with the requirements sufficient to warrant the success
of his unlawful detainer Complaint against respondents. The
lower courts and the CA have consistently upheld the entitlement
of respondents to continued possession of the subject properties,
since their possession has been established as one in the concept
of ownership. Thus, the courts correctly dismissed the unlawful
detainer case of petitioner.
We concur in the appellate courts findings that petitioners
father engaged in a double sale of the disputed properties. The
records of the case show that it took petitioner more or less five
years from 1971 when he acquired the property from his father to
1976 when petitioner registered the conveyance and caused the
issuance of the land title registered in his name under the Torrens
system. Respondents, on the other hand, continued their
possession of the properties, but without bothering to register
them or to initiate any action to fortify their ownership.

We cannot, however, sustain the appellate courts conclusion


that petitioner's failure to initiate any action to annul the sale to
respondents and oust them from the disputed properties had the
effect of registration of respondents unregistered Deed of
Absolute Sale. We held thus in Ruiz, Sr. v. Court of Appeals [25]:

(But) where a party has knowledge of a prior existing interest


which is unregistered at that time he acquired a right to the same
land, his knowledge of that prior unregistered interest has the
effect of registration as to him. Knowledge of an unregistered sale
is equivalent to registration. As held in Fernandez v. Court of
Appeals [189 SCRA 780 (1990)],

Section 50 of Act No. 496 (now Sec. 51 of P.D.


1529), provides that the registration of the deed is the
operative act to bind or affect the land insofar as third
persons are concerned. But where the party has
knowledge of a prior existing interest which is
unregistered at the time he acquired a right to the same
land, his knowledge of that prior unregistered interest has
the effect of registration as to him. The Torrens system
cannot be used as a shield for the commission of fraud
(Gustillo v. Maravilla, 48 Phil. 442). [Emphasis supplied.]

In this case, the Quitclaim executed by the elder Corpuz in


favor of petitioner was executed ahead of the Deed of Sale of
respondents. Thus, the sale of the subject properties by
petitioners father to respondents cannot be considered as a prior
interest at the time that petitioner came to know of the
transaction.

We also note that, based on the records, respondents do not


dispute the existence of TCT No. T-12980 registered in the name
of petitioner. They allege, though, that the land title issued to him
was an act of fraud [26] on his part. We find this argument to be
equivalent to a collateral attack against the Torrens title of
petitioner an attack we cannot allow in the instant unlawful
detainer case.

It is settled in jurisprudence that a Torrens certificate of title


cannot be the subject of collateral attack. [27] Such attack must be
direct and not by a collateral proceeding. [28] It is a well-established
doctrine that the title represented by the certificate cannot be
changed, altered, modified, enlarged, or diminished in a collateral
proceeding.[29] Considering that this is an unlawful detainer case
wherein the sole issue to be decided is possession de facto rather
than possession de jure, a collateral attack by herein respondents
on petitioner's title is proscribed.

Our ruling in the present case is only to resolve the issue of


who has the better right to possession in relation to the issue of
disputed ownership of the subject properties. Questions as to the
validity of petitioner's Torrens title can be ventilated in a proper
suit instituted to directly attack its validity, an issue that we
cannot resolve definitively in this unlawful detainer case.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we deny the instant


Petition for lack of merit. The Decisions of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 90645 (dated January 08, 2008), of the Regional
Trial Court of Laoag City in Civil Case No. 3111-13293-65, as well
as of the Municipal Trial Court of Laoag City in Civil Case No. 3111
-- all dismissing the unlawful detainer case of petitioner
are AFFIRMED.
We make no pronouncements as to attorney's fees for lack
of evidence.

SO ORDERED.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ BIENVENIDO L. REYES

Associate Justice Associate Justice

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE

Associate Justice
ATTESTATION

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 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, 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 Courts
Division.
RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

Designated as acting Member of the Second Division vice Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion per Special Order No.
1174 dated January 9, 2012.

[1]
Penned by Associate Justice Arcangelita M. Romilla-Lontok and concurred in by then Associate Justice Mariano
C. del Castillo and Associate Justice Romeo F. Barza.

[2]
Rollo, p. 43.

[3]
Rollo, pp. 36-38.

[4]
Rollo, p. 36.

[5]
CA rollo, p. 40.

[6]
Id.

[7]
Rollo, p. 88.

[8]
Rollo, p. 40.

[9]
Id.

[10]
Id.

[11]
Id. at 41.

[12]
Id.

[13]
Rollo, pp. 15-16.

[14]
FLORENZ D. REGALADO, REMEDIAL LAW COMPENDIUM I (7th rev. ed. 2007).

[15]
David v. Cordova, 502 Phil. 626 (2005).

[16]
Rivera v. Rivera, 453 Phil. 404, 412 (2003) as cited in Urieta vda. de Aguilar v. Alfaro, G.R. No. 164402, 05 July
2010, 623 SCRA 130.
[17]
Vicente v. Avera, G.R. No. 169970, 20 January 2009, 576 SCRA 634.

[18]
G..R. No. 149912, 29 January 2004, 421 SCRA 455.

[19]
Supra, citing Estrellita S.J. vda. de Villanueva v. Court of Appeals and Lina F. vda. de Santiago, G.R. No.
117971, 1 February 2001, 351 SCRA 12; citing NOBLEJAS AND NOBLEJAS, LAND TITLES AND DEEDS, 210
(1992); citing Ching v. Court of Appeals, 181 SCRA 9 (1990). (Ching v. Court of Appeals was erroneously cited as
G.R. Nos. 59568-76 in the original Decision in Co v. Militar).

[20]
G.R. No. 159292, 12 July 2007, 527 SCRA 474.

[21]
G.R. No. 166941, 14 December 2009, 608 SCRA 169.

[22]
Id.

[23]
G.R. No. 177637, 26 July 2010, 625 SCRA 461.

[24]
G.R. No. 184285, 25 September 2009, 601 SCRA 147.

[25]
414 Phil. 311, 323 (2001).

[26]
Rollo, p. 291.

[27]
Spouses Marcos R. Esmaquel and Victoria Sordevilla v. Maria Coprada, G.R. No. 152423, 15 December 2010.

[28]
Borbajo v. Hidden View Homeowners, Inc., G.R. No. 152440, 31 January 2005, 450 SCRA 315.

[29]
Legarda and Prieto v. Saleeby, 31 Phil. 590 (1915); Magay v. Estiandan, G.R. No. L-28975, 27 February 1976; 69
SCRA 456 as cited in PENA, PENA, JR. & PENA, REGISTRATION OF LAND TITLES AND DEEDS (2008).