Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 22

Article 1308 of the Civil Code expresses what is known in law as the principle of

mutuality of contracts. It provides that "the contract must bind both the contracting
parties; its validity or compliance cannot be left to the will of one of them." This binding
effect of a contract on both parties is based on the principle that the obligations arising
from contracts have the force of law between the contracting parties, and there must be
mutuality between them based essentially on their equality under which it is repugnant to
have one party bound by the contract while leaving the other free therefrom. The ultimate
purpose is to render void a contract containing a condition which makes its fulfillment
dependent solely upon the uncontrolled will of one of the contracting parties.

Republic of the Philippines



G.R. No. 164277 October 8, 2014

FE U. QUIJANO, Petitioner,



Where the plaintiff does not prove her alleged tolerance of the defendant's occupation, the
possession is deemed illegal from the beginning. Hence, the action for unlawful detainer is
an improper remedy. But the action cannot be considered as one for forcible entry without
any allegation in the complaint that the entry of the defendant was by means of force,
intimidation, threats, strategy or stealth.


The petitioner and her siblings, namely: Eliseo, Jose and Gloria, inherited from their father,
the late Bibiano Quijano, the parcel of land registered in the latter's name under Original
Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 0-188 of the Registry of Deeds in Cebu City with an area of
15,790 square meters, more or less. On April 23, 1990, prior to any partition among the

heirs, Eliseo sold a portion of his share, measuring 600 square meters, to respondent Atty.
Daryll A. Amante (respondent), with the affected portion being described in the deed of
absolute sale Eliseo executed in the following manner:

A portion of a parcel of land located at the back of the Pleasant Homes Subdivision and also
at the back of Don Bosco Seminary, Punta Princesa, Cebu City, to be taken from my share of
the whole lot; the portion sold to Atty. Amante is only 600 square meters which is the area
near the boundary facing the Pleasant Homes Subdivision, Cebu City. 2
On July 25, 1991, Eliseo, sickly and in need of money, sold an additional 1/3 portion of his
share inthe property to the respondent, with their deed of absolute sale stating that the sale
was with the approval of Eliseo’s siblings, and describing the portion subject of the sale as:

That the portion covered under this transaction is Specifically located right at the back of the
seminary facing Japer Memorial School and where the fence and house of Atty. Amante is

On September 30, 1992, Fe, Eliseo, Jose and Gloria executed a deed of extrajudicial
partition to divide their father’s estate (consisting of the aforementioned parcel of land)
among themselves. Pursuant to the deed extrajudicial partition, OCT No. O-188 was

cancelled, and on July 12, 1994 the Register of Deeds issued TransferCertificate of Title
(TCT) No. 6555, TCT No. 6556, TCT No. 6557 and TCT No. 6558 to the petitioner, Gloria,

Jose, and Eliseo, respectively. The partition resulted in the portions earlier sold by Eliseo to
the respondent being adjudicated to the petitioner instead of to Eliseo. 6

Due to the petitioner’s needing her portion that was then occupied by the respondent, she
demanded that the latter vacate it. Despite several demands, the last of which was by the
letter dated November 4, 1994, the respondent refused to vacate, prompting her to file

against him on February 14, 1995 a complaint for ejectment and damages in the Municipal
Trial Court in Cities of Cebu City (MTCC), docketed as Civil Case No. R-34426. She alleged

therein that she was the registered owner of the parcel of land covered by TCT No. 6555, a
portion of which was being occupied by the respondent, who had constructed a residential
building thereon by the mere tolerance of Eliseo when the property she and her siblings had
inherited from their father had not yet been subdivided, and was thus still co-owned by them;
and that the respondent’s occupation had become illegal following his refusal to vacate
despite repeated demands.

The respondent denied that his possession of the disputed portion had been by mere
tolerance of Eliseo. He even asserted that he was in fact the owner and lawful possessor of
the property, having bought it from Eliseo; that the petitioner and her siblings could not deny
knowing about the sale in his favor because they could plainly see his house from the road;
and that the deed of absolute sale itself stated that the sale to him was with their approval,
and that they had already known that his house and fence were existing; that before he
purchased the property, Eliseo informed him that he and his co-heirs had already orally
partitioned the estate of their father, and that the portion being sold to him was Eliseo’s
share; and that with his having already purchased the property before the petitioner acquired
it under the deed of extrajudicial partition, she should respect his ownership and possession
of it.

Judgment of the MTCC

On February 5, 1996, the MTCC rendered its decision in favor of the petitioner, ruling that

the deeds of sale executed by Eliseo in favor of the respondent did not have the effect of
conveying the disputed property to him inasmuch as at the time of the sale, the parcel of land
left by their father, which included the disputed property, had not yet been partitioned,
rendering Eliseo a mere co-owner of the undivided estate who had no right to dispose of a
definite portion thereof; that as a co-owner, Eliseo effectively conveyed to the respondent
only the portion that would ultimately be allotted to him once the property would be
subdivided; that because the disputed property was adjudicated to the petitioner under the
deed of extrajudicial settlement and partition, she was its owner with the consequent right of
possession; and that, as such, she had the right to demand that the respondent vacate the

The MTCC disposed as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing premises, and on the basis thereof, judgment is
hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant, ordering the defendant;

1) vacate from the portion, presently occupied by him and whereon his building
stands, of that parcel of land locatedin Cebu City covered by TCT No. 6555 and
registered in the nameof the plaintiff; and to remove and/or demolish the building and
all the structures that may have been built on said portion;

2) pay the plaintiff the rentalof ₱1,000.00 a month for the portion in litigation from
November 21, 1994 until such time that the defendant shall have vacated, and have
removed all structures from said portion, and have completely restored possession
thereof to the plaintiff; and

3) pay unto the plaintiff the sum of ₱10,000.00 as attorney’s fees; and the sum of
₱5,000.00 for litigation expenses; and

4) to pay the costs of suit.


Decision of the RTC

On appeal, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) reversed the judgment of the MTCC, and
dismissed the complaint, holding that the summary proceeding for ejectment was not proper

because the serious question of ownership of the disputed property was involved, viz:

In the case at bar, by virtue of the deed of absolute sale executed by Eliseo Quijano, one of
the co-heirs of Fe Quijano, in 1990 and 1991, the defendant Atty. Amante took possession of
the portion in question and built his residential house thereat. Itwas only in 1992 that the
heirs of Bibiano Quijano executed the deed of extrajudicial partition, and instead of giving to
Eliseo Quijano the portion that he already sold to the defendant, the same was adjudicated
toplaintiff, Fe Quijano to the great prejudice of the defendant herein who had been in
possession of the portion in question since 1990 and which possession is notpossession de
facto but possession de jure because it is based on 2 deeds of conveyances executed by
Eliseo Quijano. There is, therefore, a serious question of ownership involved which cannot
be determined in a summary proceeding for ejectment. Since the defendantis in possession
of the portion in question where his residential house is built for several years, and before the
extrajudicial partition, the possession of the defendant, to repeat, is one of possession de
jure and the plaintiff cannot eject the defendant in a summary proceeding for ejectment
involving only possession de facto. What the plaintiff should have done was to file an action
publiciana or action reinvindicatoria before the appropriate court for recovery of possession
and ownership. However, since there is a pending complaint for quieting of title filed by the
defendant against the plaintiff herein before the Regional Trial Court, the matter of ownership
should be finally resolved in said proceedings. Undaunted, the petitioner moved for

reconsideration, but the RTC denied her motion on November 13, 1996. 14
Decision of the CA

The petitioner appealed to the CA by petition for review.

On May 26, 2004, the CA promulgated its decision, affirming the decision of the RTC, and

dismissing the case for ejectment, but on the ground that the respondent was either a co-
owner or an assignee holding the right of possession over the disputed property.

The CA observed that the RTC correctly dismissed the ejectment case because a question
of ownership over the disputed property was raised; that the rule that inferior courts could
pass upon the issue of ownership to determine the question of possession was well settled;
that the institution of a separate action for quieting of title by the respondent did not divest
the MTCC of its authority to decide the ejectment case; that Eliseo, as a coowner, had no
right to sell a definite portion of the undivided estate; that the deeds of sale Eliseo executed
in favor of the respondent were valid only with respect to the alienation of Eliseo’s undivided
share; that after the execution of the deeds of sale, the respondent became a co-owner
along with Eliseo and his co-heirs, giving him the right toparticipate in the partition of the
estate owned in common by them; that because the respondent was not given any notice of
the project of partition or of the intention to effect the partition, the partition made by the
petitioner and her co-heirs did not bind him; and that, as to him, the entire estate was still co-
owned by the heirs, giving him the right to the co-possession of the estate, including the
disputed portion.


The petitioner has come to the Court on appeal by certiorari, contending that the CA grossly

erred in holding that the respondent was either a co-owner or an assignee with the right of
possession over the disputed property. 17

The petitioner explains that the respondent, being a lawyer, knew that Eliseo could not validly
transfer the ownership of the disputed property to him because the disputed property was
then still a part of the undivided estate co-owned by all the heirs of the late Bibiano Quijano;
that the respondent’s knowledge of the defect in Eliseo’s title and his failure to get the co-
heirs’ consent to the sale in a registrable document tainted his acquisition with bad faith; that
being a buyer in bad faith, the respondent necessarily became a possessor and builder in
bad faith; that she was not aware of the sale to the respondent, and it was her ignorance of
the sale that led her to believe that the respondent was occupying the disputed property by
the mere tolerance of Eliseo; thatthe partition was clearly done in good faith; and that she
was entitled to the possession of the disputed property as its owner, consequently giving her
the right to recover it from the respondent. 18

To be resolved is the issue ofwho between the petitioner and the respondent had the better
right to the possession of the disputed property.


The petition for review on certiorarilacks merit.

An ejectment case can be eitherfor forcible entry or unlawful detainer. It is a summary

proceeding designed to provide expeditious means to protect the actual possession or the
right to possession of the property involved. The sole question for resolution in the case is
the physical or material possession (possession de facto)of the property in question, and
neither a claim of juridical possession (possession de jure)nor an averment of ownership by
the defendant can outrightly deprive the trial court from taking due cognizance of the case.
Hence,even if the question of ownership is raised in the pleadings, like here, the court may
pass upon the issue but only to determine the question of possession especially if the
question of ownership is inseparably linked with the question of possession. The20

adjudication of ownership in that instance is merely provisional, and will not bar or prejudice
an action between the same parties involving the title to the property. 21

Considering that the parties are both claiming ownership of the disputed property, the CA
properly ruled on the issue of ownership for the sole purpose of determining who between
them had the better right to possess the disputed property.

The disputed property originally formed part of the estate of the late Bibiano Quijano, and
passed on to his heirs by operation of law upon his death. Prior to the partition, the estate

was owned in common by the heirs, subject to the payment of the debts of the deceased. In 23

a co-ownership, the undivided thing or right belong to different persons, with each of them
holding the property pro indivisoand exercising her rights over the whole property. Each co-
owner may use and enjoy the property with no other limitation than that he shall not injure
the interests of his co-owners. The underlying rationale is that until a division is actually
made, the respective share of each cannot be determined, and every co-owner exercises,
together with his co-participants, joint ownership of the pro indiviso property, in addition to his
use and enjoyment of it. 24

Even if an heir’s right in the estate of the decedent has not yet been fully settled and
partitioned and is thus merely inchoate, Article 493 of the Civil Codegives the heir the right

to exercise acts of ownership. Accordingly, when Eliseo sold the disputed property to the
respondent in 1990 and 1991, he was only a co-owner along with his siblings, and could sell
only that portion that would beallotted to him upon the termination of the co-ownership. The
sale did not vest ownership of the disputed property in the respondent but transferred only
the seller’s pro indiviso share to him, consequently making him, as the buyer, a co-owner of
the disputed property until it is partitioned. 26

As Eliseo’s successor-in-interest or assignee, the respondent was vested with the right under
Article 497 of the Civil Codeto take part in the partition of the estate and to challenge the
partition undertaken without his consent. Article 497 states:

Article 497. The creditors or assignees of the co-owners may take part in the division of the
thing owned in common and object to its being effected without their concurrence. But they
cannot impugn any partition already executed, unless there has been fraud, or in case it was
made notwithstanding a formal opposition presented to prevent it, without prejudice to the
right of the debtor or assignor to maintain its validity.

The respondent could not deny that at the time of the sale he knew that the property he was
buying was notexclusively owned by Eliseo. He knew, too, that the co-heirs had entered into

an oral agreement of partition vis-à-vis the estate, such knowledge being explicitly stated in
his answer to the complaint, to wit:

12. That defendant, before he acquired the land from Eliseo Quijano was informed by the
latter that the portion sold to him was his share already; that they have orally partitioned the
whole lot before defendant acquired the portion from him. 28
His knowledge of Eliseo’s co-ownership with his co-heirs, and of their oral agreement of
partition notwithstanding, the respondent still did not exercise his right under Article 497.
Although Eliseo made it appear to the respondent that the partition had already been
completed and finalized, the co-heirs had not taken possession yet oftheir respective shares
to signify that they had ratified their agreement, if any. For sure, the respondent was no
stranger to the Quijanos, because he himself had served as the lawyer of Eliseo and the
petitioner herself. In that sense, it would have been easy for him to ascertain whether the

representation of Eliseo to him was true. As it turned out, there had been no prior oral
agreement among the heirs to partition the estate; otherwise, Eliseo would have questioned
the deed of extrajudicial partition because it did not conform to what they had supposedly
agreed upon. Had the respondent been vigilant in protecting his interest, he could have
availed himself of the rights reserved to him by law, particularly the right to take an active
part in the partition and to object to the partition if he wanted to. It was only on September
30, 1992, or two years and five months from the time of the first sale transaction, and a year
and two months from the time of the second sale transaction, that the co-heirs executed the
deed of extrajudicial partition. Having been silent despite his ample opportunity to participate
in or toobject to the partition of the estate, the respondent was bound by whatever was
ultimately agreed upon by the Quijanos.

There is no question that the holder of a Torrens title is the rightful owner of the property
thereby covered and is entitled to its possession. However, the Court cannot ignore thatthe

statements in the petitioner’s complaint about the respondent’s possession of the disputed
property being by the mere tolerance of Eliseo could be the basis for unlawful detainer.
Unlawful detainer involves the defendant’s withholding of the possession of the property to
which the plaintiff is entitled, after the expiration or termination of the former’s right tohold
possession under the contract, whether express or implied. A requisite for a valid cause of
action of unlawful detainer is that the possession was originally lawful, but turned unlawful
only upon the expiration of the right to possess.

To show that the possession was initially lawful, the basis of such lawful possession must
then be established. With the averment here that the respondent’s possession was by mere
tolerance of the petitioner, the acts of tolerance must be proved, for bare allegation of
tolerance did not suffice. At least, the petitioner should show the overt acts indicative of her
or her predecessor’s tolerance, or her co-heirs’ permission for him to occupy the disputed
property. But she did not adduce such evidence. Instead, she appeared to be herself not

clear and definite as to his possession of the disputed property being merely tolerated by
Eliseo, as the following averment of her petition for review indicates:

6.9. Their ignorance of the said transaction of sale, particularly the petitioner, as they were
not duly informed by the vendor-co[-]owner Eliseo Quijano, [led] them to believe that the
respondent’s occupancy of the subject premises was by mere tolerance of Eliseo, so that
upon partition of the whole property,said occupancy continued to be under tolerance of the
petitioner when the subject premises became a part of the land adjudicated to the
latter; (emphasis supplied) In contrast, the respondent consistently stood firm on his

assertion that his possession of the disputed property was in the concept of an owner, not by
the mere tolerance of Eliseo, and actually presented the deeds of sale transferring ownership
of the property to him.33

Considering that the allegation ofthe petitioner’s tolerance of the respondent’s possession of
the disputed property was not established, the possession could very well be deemed illegal
from the beginning. In that case, her action for unlawful detainer has to fail. Even so, the

Court would not be justified to treat this ejectment suit as one for forcible entry because the
complaint contained no allegation thathis entry in the property had been by force,
intimidation, threats, strategy or stealth.

Regardless, the issue of possession between the parties will still remain. To finally resolve
such issue,they should review their options and decide on their proper recourses. In the
meantime, it is wise for the Court to leave the door open to them in that respect. For now,
therefore, this recourse of the petitioner has to be dismissed.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on May 26, 2004 subject to
the MODIFICATION that the unlawful detainer action is dismissed for being an improper
remedy; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.


Associate Justice



Chief Justice


Associate Justice Associate Justice

Associate Justice


Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, 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 Court's Division.


Chief Justice


Rollo, p. 73.

Id. at 61, 64.

Id. at 61, 65.

Id.at 51-52.
Id. at 54-57.

Id. at 26.

Id. at 59.

Id. at 46-50.

Id. at 61-63.

Id. at 80-87; penned by Presiding Judge Amado B. Bajarias, Sr.

Id. at 87.

Id. at 92-94; penned by Judge Rodolfo B. Gandionco.

Id. at 93-94.

Id. at 102-103.

Id. at 8-18; penned by Associate Justice Mercedes Gozo-Dadole (retired) and


concurred in by Associate Justice Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa (retired) and Associate

Justice Sesinando E. Villon.

Id. at 22-32.

Id.at 28.

Id.at 29-30.

Barrientos v. Rapal, G.R. No. 169594, July 20, 2011, 654 SCRA 165, 170.

Pengson v. Ocampo, Jr., G.R. No. 131968, June 29, 2001, 360 SCRA 420, 425.

Supra note 19, at 171.

Article 774, Civil Code.

Article 1078, Civil Code.

Alejandrino v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 114151, September 17, 1998, 295 SCRA

536, 548.

Article 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits
and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it,
and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are
involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co-
owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division
upon the termination of the co-ownership.
Paulmitan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 61584, November 25, 1992, 215 SCRA

866, 872.

See: Panganiban v. Oamil, G.R. No. 149313, January 22, 2008, 542 SCRA 166,

176; Vda. de Figuracion v. Figuracion-Gerilla, G.R. No. 151334, February 13, 2013,
690 SCRA 495, 510.

Rollo, p. 62.

Id.at 77, 89.

Beltran v. Nieves, G.R. No. 175561, October 20, 2010, 634 SCRA 242, 248;

Pascual v. Coronel, G.R. No. 159292, July 12, 2007, 527 SCRA 474, 484; Manila
Electric Company v. Heirs of spouses Dionisio Deloy and Praxedes Martonito. G.R.
No. 192893, June 5, 2013, 697 SCRA 486, 504.

Carbonilla v. Abiera, G.R. No. 177637, July 26, 2010, 625 SCRA 461, 469-470.

Rollo, p. 30.

Id. at 61-62; 64-65; 75-76; 88-89.

Ten Forty Realty and Development Corp. v. Cruz, G.R. No. 151212, September 10,

2003, 410 SCRA 484, 491.


February 29, 2016

G.R. No. 215014


GINO GRILLI, Respondent.


This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside the May 31, 2013
Decision and the September 24, 2014 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
1 2

CEB-SP No. 06946, which affirmed the April 26, 2012 Decision of the Regional Trial Court,

Branch 47, Tagbilaran City (RTC) in Civil Case No. 7895, reversing the March 31, 2011
Decision of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Dauis, Bohol (MCTC) in Civil Case No. 244, a

case for unlawful detainer filed by Gino Grilli (Grilli) against Rebecca Fullido (Fullido).

The Facts

Sometime in 1994, Grilli, an Italian national, met Fullido in Bohol and courted her. In 1995,
Grilli decided to build a residential house where he and Fullido would to stay whenever he
would be vacationing in the country. Grilli financially assisted Fullido in procuring a lot located
in Biking I, Dauis, Bohol, from her parents which was registered in her name under Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 30626. On the said property, they constructed a house, which

was funded by Grilli. Upon completion, they maintained a common-law relationship and lived
there whenever Grilli was on vacation in the Philippines twice a year.

In 1998, Grilli and Fullido executed a contract of lease, a memorandum of


agreement (MOA) and a special power of attorney (SPA), to define their respective rights
7 8

over the house and lot.

The lease contract stipulated, among others, that Grilli as the lessee, would rent the lot,
registered in the name of Fullido, for a period of fifty (50) years, to be automatically renewed
for another fifty (50) years upon its expiration in the amount of P10,000.00 for the whole
term of the lease contract; and that Fullido as the lessor, was prohibited from selling,
donating, or encumbering the said lot without the written consent of Grilli. The pertinent
provisions of the lease contract over the house and lot are as follows:

That for and in consideration of the total amount of rental in the amount of TEN THOUSAND
(P10,000.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency, paid by the LESSEE to the LESSOR, receipt of
which is hereby acknowledged, the latter hereby leases to the LESSEE a house and lot, and
all the furnishings found therein, land situated at Biking I, Dauis, Bohol, Philippines,
absolutely owned and belonging to the LESSOR and particularly described as follows, to wit:


That the LESSOR and the LESSEE hereby agree as they have agreed to be bound by the
following terms and conditions, to wit:

1. That the term of the lease shall be FIFTY (50) YEARS from August 16, 1998 to August 15,
2048, automatically renewed for the same term upon the expiration thereof;


7. That the LESSOR is strictly prohibited to sell, donate, encumber, or in any manner convey
the property subject of this lease to any third person, without the written consent of the

The said lease contract was duly registered in the Register of Deeds of Bohol.
The MOA, on the other hand, stated, among others, that Grilli paid for the purchase price of
the house and lot; that ownership of the house and lot was to reside with him; and that
should the common-law relationship be terminated, Fullido could only sell the house and lot
to whomever Grilli so desired. Specifically, the pertinent terms of the MOA read:

NOW WHEREFORE, FOR AND IN CONSIDERATION of the foregoing premises, the parties
hereto agree as they hereby covenant to agree that the FIRST PARTY (Grilli) shall
permanently reside on the property as above-mentioned, subject to the following terms and

1. That ownership over the above-mentioned properties shall reside absolutely with
herein FIRST PARTY, and the SECOND PARTY (Fullido) hereby acknowledges the

2. That the SECOND PARTY is expressly prohibited to sell the above-stated

property, except if said sale is with the conformity of the FIRST PARTY;

3. That the SECOND PARTY hereby grants the FIRST PARTY, the absolute and
irrevocable right, to reside in the residential building so constructed during his
lifetime, or any time said FIRST PARTY may so desire;

4. That in the event the common-law relationship terminates, or when the SECOND
PARTY marries another, or enters into another common-law relationship with
another, said SECOND PARTY shall be obliged to execute a DEED OF ABSOLUTE
SALE over the above-stated parcel of land and residential building, in favor of
whomsoever the FIRST PARTY may so desire, and be further obliged to turn over
the entire consideration of the said sale to the FIRST PARTY , or if the law shall
allow, the FIRST PARTY shall retain ownership of the said land, as provided for in
paragraph 7 below;


7. That if the cases referred to in paragraph 4 shall occur and in the event that a
future law shall be passed allowing foreigners to own real properties in the
Philippines, the ownership of the above-described real properties shall pertain to the
FIRST PARTY, and the herein undersigned SECOND PARTY undertakes to execute
all the necessary deeds, documents, and contracts to effect the transfer of title in
favor of the FIRST PARTY;

xxx. 10

Lastly, the SPA allowed Grilli to administer, manage, and transfer the house and lot on behalf
of Fullido. Initially, their relationship was harmonious, but it turned sour after 16 years of
living together. Both charged each other with infidelity. They could not agree who should
leave the common property, and Grilli sent formal letters to Fullido demanding that she
vacate the property, but these were unheeded. On September 8, 2010, Grilli filed a complaint
for unlawful detainer with prayer for issuance of preliminary injunction against Fullido before
the MCTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 244.

Grilli’s Position
The complaint stated that the common-law relationship between Grilli and Fullido began
smoothly, until Grilli discovered that Fullido was pregnant when he arrived in the Philippines
in 2002. At first, she told him that the child she was carrying was his. After the delivery of the
child, however, it became apparent that the child was not his because of the discrepancy
between the child’s date of birth and his physical presence in the Philippines and the
difference between the baby’s physical features and those of Grilli. Later on, she admitted
that the child was indeed sired by another man.

Grilli further claimed that he was so devastated that he decided to end their common-law
relationship. Nevertheless, he allowed Fullido to live in his house out of liberality and
generosity, but this time, using another room. He did not demand any rent from Fullido over
the use of his property.

After a year, Fullido became more hostile and difficult to handle. Grilli had to make repairs
with his house every time he arrived in the Philippines because she was not maintaining it in
good condition. Fullido also let her two children, siblings and parents stay in his house, which
caused damage to the property. He even lost his personal belongings inside his house on
several occasions. Grilli verbally asked Fullido to move out of his house because they were
not getting along anymore, but she refused. He could no longer tolerate the hostile attitude
shown to him by Fullido and her family, thus, he filed the instant complaint.

Fullido’s Position

Fullido countered that she met Grilli sometime in 1993 when she was still 17 years old
working as a cashier in Alturas Supermarket. Grilli was then a tourist in Bohol who
persistently courted her.

At first, Fullido was hesitant to the advances of Grilli because she could not yet enter into a
valid marriage. When he assured her and her parents that they would eventually be married
in three years, she eventually agreed to have a relationship with him and to live as common-
law spouses. Sometime in 1995, Grilli offered to build a house for her on a parcel of land she
exclusively owned which would become their conjugal abode. Fullido claimed that their
relationship as common-law spouses lasted for more than 18 years until she discovered that
Grilli had found a new and younger woman in his life. Grilli began to threaten and physically
hurt her by knocking her head and choking her.

When Fullido refused to leave their house even after the unlawful detainer case was filed,
Grilli again harassed, intimidated and threatened to hurt her and her children. Thus, she filed
a petition for Temporary Protection Order (TPO) and Permanent Protection Order (PPO)
against Grilli under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262 before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 3,
Bohol (RTC-Branch 3). In an Order, dated February 23, 2011, the RTC-Branch 3 granted

the TPO in favor of Fullido and directed that Grilli must be excluded from their home.

Fullido finally asserted that, although it was Grilli who funded the construction of the house,
she exclusively owned the lot and she contributed to the value of the house by supervising
its construction and maintaining their household.

The MCTC Ruling

In its decision, dated March 31, 2011, the MCTC dismissed the case after finding that Fullido
could not be ejected from their house and lot. The MCTC opined that she was a co-owner of
the house as she contributed to it by supervising its construction. Moreover, the MCTC
respected the TPO issued by RTC-Branch 3 which directed that Grilli be removed from
Fullido’s residence. The dispositive portion of the MCTC decision reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Dismissing the instant case;

2. Ordering the Plaintiff to pay to Defendant the amount of Fifty Thousand

Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages, and Twenty Thousand Pesos
(P20,000.00) as exemplary damages, and Twenty Thousand Pesos
(P20,000.00) as Attorney’s Fees; and

3. Denying the prayer for the issuance of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction.


Not in conformity, Grilli elevated the matter before the RTC.

The RTC Ruling

In its decision, dated April 26, 2012, the RTC reversed and set aside the MCTC decision.
The RTC was of the view that Grilli had the exclusive right to use and possess the house and
lot by virtue of the contract of lease executed by the parties. Since the period of lease had
not yet expired, Fullido, as lessor, had the obligation to respect the peaceful and adequate
enjoyment of the leased premises by Grilli as lessee. The RTC opined that absent a judicial
declaration of nullity of the contract of lease, its terms and conditions were valid and binding.
As to the TPO, the RTC held that the same had no bearing in the present case which merely
involved the possession of the leased property.

Aggrieved, Fullido instituted an appeal before the CA alleging that her land was unlawfully
transferred by Grilli to a certain Jacqueline Guibone (Guibone), his new girlfriend, by virtue of
the SPA earlier executed by Fullido.

The CA Ruling

In its assailed decision, dated May 31, 2013, the CA upheld the decision of the RTC
emphasizing that in an ejectment case, the only issue to be resolved would be the physical
possession of the property. The CA was also of the view that as Fullido executed both the
MOA and the contract of lease, which gave Grilli the possession and use of the house and
lot, the same constituted as a judicial admission that it was Grilli who had the better right of
physical possession. The CA stressed that, if Fullido would insist that the said documents
were voidable as her consent was vitiated, then she must institute a separate action for
annulment of contracts. Lastly, the CA stated that the TPO issued by the RTC-Branch 3
under Section 21 of R.A. No. 9262 was without prejudice to any other action that might be
filed by the parties.

Fullido filed a motion for reconsideration, but she failed to attach the proofs of service of her

motion. For said reason, it was denied by the CA in its assailed resolution, dated September
24, 2014.

Hence, this present petition raising the following:










Fullido argues that she could not be ejected from her own lot based on the contract of lease
and the MOA because those documents were null and void for being contrary to the
Constitution, the law, public policy, morals and customs; that the MOA prevented her from
disposing or selling her own land, while the contract of lease favoring Grilli, a foreigner, was
contrary to the Constitution as it was a for a period of fifty (50) years, and, upon termination,
was automatically renewable for another fifty (50) years; that the TPO, which became a PPO
by virtue of the July 5, 2011 Decision of RTC-Branch 3, should not be defeated by the

ejectment suit; and that the CA should have liberally applied its procedural rules and allowed
her motion for reconsideration.

In his Comment, Grilli countered that he was the rightful owner of the house because a

foreigner was not prohibited from owning residential buildings; that the lot was no longer
registered in the name of Fullido as it was transferred to Guibone, covered by TCT No. 101-
2011000335; that if Fullido wanted to assail the lease contract, she should have first filed a
separate action for annulment of the said contract, which she did in Civil Case No. 8094,
pending before the Regional Trial Court of Bohol; and that by signing the contracts, Fullido
fully agreed with their terms and must abide by the same.

In her Reply, Fullido insisted that the contract of lease and the MOA were null and void,

thus, these could not be the source of Grilli’s de facto possession.

The Court’s Ruling

The Court finds the petition meritorious.

Unlawful detainer is an action to recover possession of real property from one who unlawfully
withholds possession thereof 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. The only issue to be resolved in an unlawful detainer case is the
physical or material possession of the property involved, independent of any claim of
ownership by any of the parties. 18

In this case, Fullido chiefly asserts that Grilli had no right to institute the action for unlawful
detainer because the lease contract and the MOA, which allegedly gave him the right of
possession over the lot, were null and void for violating the Constitution. Contrary to the
findings of the CA, Fullido was not only asserting that the said contracts were merely
voidable, but she was consistently invoking that the same were completely void. Grilli, 19

on the other hand, contends that Fullido could not question the validity of the said contracts
in the present ejectment suit unless she instituted a separate action for annulment of
contracts. Thus, the Court is confronted with the issue of whether a contract could be
declared void in a summary action of unlawful detainer.

Under the circumstances of the case, the Court answers in the affirmative.

A void contract cannot be the

source of any right; it cannot
be utilized in an ejectment suit

A void or inexistent contract may be defined as one which lacks, absolutely either in fact or in
law, one or some of the elements which are essential for its validity. It is one which has no

force and effect from the very beginning, as if it had never been entered into; it produces no
effect whatsoever either against or in favor of anyone. Quod nullum est nullum producit

effectum. Article 1409 of the New Civil Code explicitly states that void contracts also cannot
be ratified; neither can the right to set up the defense of illegality be waived. Accordingly,

there is no need for an action to set aside a void or inexistent contract. 23

A review of the relevant jurisprudence reveals that the Court did not hesitate to set aside a
void contract even in an action for unlawful detainer. In Spouses Alcantara v. Nido, which

involves an action for unlawful detainer, the petitioners therein raised a defense that the
subject land was already sold to them by the agent of the owner. The Court rejected their
defense and held that the contract of sale was void because the agent did not have the
written authority of the owner to sell the subject land.

Similarly, in Roberts v. Papio, a case of unlawful detainer, the Court declared that the

defense of ownership by the respondent therein was untenable. The contract of sale invoked
by the latter was void because the agent did not have the written authority of the owner. A
void contract produces no effect either against or in favor of anyone.

In Ballesteros v. Abion, which also involves an action for unlawful detainer, the Court

disallowed the defense of ownership of the respondent therein because the seller in their
contract of sale was not the owner of the subject property. For lacking an object, the said
contract of sale was void ab initio.

Clearly, contracts may be declared void even in a summary action for unlawful detainer
because, precisely, void contracts do not produce legal effect and cannot be the source of
any rights. To emphasize, void contracts may not be invoked as a valid action or defense in
any court proceeding, including an ejectment suit. The next issue that must be resolved by
the Court is whether the assailed lease contract and MOA are null and void.

<>The lease contract and the

MOA circumvent the
constitutional restraint against
foreign ownership of lands.

Under Section 1 of Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution, natural resources shall not be
alienated, except with respect to public agricultural lands and in such cases, the alienation
is limited to Filipino citizens. Concomitantly, Section 5 thereof states that, save in cases of
hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to
individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public
domain in the Philippines. The prohibition on the transfer of lands to aliens was adopted in
the present 1987 Constitution, under Sections 2, 3 and 7 of Article XII thereof. Agricultural
lands, whether public or private, include residential, commercial and industrial lands. The
purpose of prohibiting the transfer of lands to foreigners is to uphold the conservation of our
national patrimony and ensure that agricultural resources remain in the hands of Filipino

The prohibition, however, is not limited to the sale of lands to foreigners. It also covers leases
of lands amounting to the transfer of all or substantially all the rights of dominion. In the
landmark case of Philippine Banking Corporation v. Lui She, the Court struck down a lease

contract of a parcel of land in favor of a foreigner for a period of ninety-nine (99) years with
an option to buy the land for fifty (50) years. Where a scheme to circumvent the
Constitutional prohibition against the transfer of lands to aliens is readily revealed as the
purpose for the contracts, then the illicit purpose becomes the illegal cause rendering the
contracts void. Thus, if an alien is given not only a lease of, but also an option to buy, a
piece of land by virtue of which the Filipino owner cannot sell or otherwise dispose of
his property, this to last for 50 years, then it becomes clear that the arrangement is a
virtual transfer of ownership whereby the owner divests himself in stages not only of the
right to enjoy the land but also of the right to dispose of it — rights which constitute
ownership. If this can be done, then the Constitutional ban against alien landholding in the
Philippines, is indeed in grave peril. 29

In Llantino v. Co Liong Chong, however, the Court clarified that a lease contract in favor of

aliens for a reasonable period was valid as long as it did not have any scheme to circumvent
the constitutional prohibition, such as depriving the lessors of their right to dispose of the
land. The Court explained that "[a]liens are not completely excluded by the Constitution from
use of lands for residential purposes. Since their residence in the Philippines is temporary,
they may be granted temporary rights such as a lease contract which is not forbidden by the
Constitution. Should they desire to remain here forever and share our fortune and
misfortune, Filipino citizenship is not impossible to acquire." The lessee-foreigner therein

eventually acquired Filipino citizenship.

Consequently, Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 471 was enacted to regulate the lease of lands
to aliens. It provides that the maximum period allowable for the duration of leases of private

lands to aliens or alien-owned corporations, associations, or entities not qualified to acquire

private lands in the Philippines shall be twenty-five (25) years, renewable for another period
of twenty-five (25) years upon mutual agreement of both lessor and lessee. It also provides

that any contract or agreement made or executed in violation thereof shall be null and
void ab initio. 33
Based on the above-cited constitutional, legal and jurisprudential limitations, the Court finds
that the lease contract and the MOA in the present case are null and void for virtually
transferring the reigns of the land to a foreigner.

As can be gleaned from the contract, the lease in favor of Grilli was for a period of fifty (50)
years, automatically extended for another fifty (50) years upon the expiration of the original
period. Moreover, it strictly prohibited Fullido from selling, donating, or encumbering her land
to anyone without the written consent of Grilli. For a measly consideration of P10,000.00,
Grilli would be able to absolutely occupy the land of Fullido for 100 years, and she is
powerless to dispose the same. The terms of lease practically deprived Fullido of her
property rights and effectively transferred the same to Grilli.

Worse, the dominion of Grilli over the land had been firmly cemented by the terms of the
MOA as it reinforced Grilli’s property rights over the land because, first, it brazenly dictated
that ownership of the land and the residential building resided with him. Second, Fullido was
expressly prohibited from transferring the same without Grilli’s conformity. Third, Grilli would
permanently reside in the residential building. Fourth, Grilli may capriciously dispose Fullido’s
property once their common-law relationship is terminated. This right was recently exercised
when the land was transferred to Guibone. Lastly, Fullido shall be compelled to transfer the
land to Grilli if a law would be passed allowing foreigners to own real properties in the

Evidently, the lease contract and the MOA operated hand-in-hand to strip Fullido of any
dignified right over her own property. The term of lease for 100 years was obviously in
excess of the allowable periods under P.D. No. 471. Even Grilli admitted that "this is a case
of an otherwise valid contract of lease that went beyond the period of what is legally
permissible."34 Grilli had been empowered to deprive Fullido of her land’s possession,
control, disposition and even its ownership. The jus possidendi, jus utendi, jus fruendi, jus
abutendi and, more importantly, the jus disponendi – the sum of rights which composes
ownership – of the property were effectively transferred to Grilli who would safely enjoy the
same for over a century. The title of Fullido over the land became an empty and useless
vessel, visible only in paper, and was only meant as a dummy to fulfill a foreigner’s desire to
own land within our soils. It is disturbing how these documents were methodically formulated
to circumvent the constitutional prohibition against land ownership by foreigners. The said
contracts attempted to guise themselves as a lease, but a closer scrutiny of the same
revealed that they were intended to transfer the dominion of a land to a foreigner in violation
of Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Even if Fullido voluntary executed the same,
no amount of consent from the parties could legalize an unconstitutional agreement. The
lease contract and the MOA do not deserve an iota of validity and must be rightfully struck
down as null and void for being repugnant to the fundamental law. These void documents
cannot be the source of rights and must be treated as mere scraps of paper.

Grilli does not have a

cause of action for
unlawful detainer

Ultimately, the complaint filed by Grilli was an action for unlawful detainer. Section 1 of Rule
70 of the Rules of Court lays down the requirements for filing a complaint for unlawful
detainer, to wit:

Who may institute proceedings, and when. – Subject to the provision 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 withheldafter 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.

[Emphasis Supplied]

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. 35

The Court rules that Grilli has no cause of action for unlawful detainer against Fullido. As can
be gleaned from the discussion above, the complainant must either be a lessor, vendor,
vendee, or other person against whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully
withheld. In other words, the complainant in an unlawful detainer case must have some right
of possession over the property.

In the case at bench, the lease contract and the MOA, from which Grilli purportedly drew his
right of possession, were found to be null and void for being unconstitutional. A contract that
violates the Constitution and the law is null and void ab initio and vests no rights and creates
no obligations. It produces no legal effect at all. Hence, as void contracts could not be the

source of rights, Grilli had no possessory right over the subject land. A person who does not
have any right over a property from the beginning cannot eject another person possessing
the same. Consequently, Grilli’s complaint for unlawful detainer must be dismissed for failure
to prove his cause of action.

In Pari Delicto Doctrine

is not applicable

On a final note, the Court deems it proper to discuss the doctrine of in pari delicto. Latin for
"in equal fault," in pari delicto connotes that two or more people are at fault or are guilty of a
crime. Neither courts of law nor equity will interpose to grant relief to the parties, when an
illegal agreement has been made, and both parties stand in pari delicto. 37

The application of the doctrine of in pari delicto is not always rigid. An accepted exception
arises when its application contravenes well-established public policy. In this jurisdiction,
public policy has been defined as that principle of the law which holds that no subject or
citizen can lawfully do that which has a tendency to be injurious to the public or against the
public good. Thus, whenever public policy is advanced by either party, they may be allowed

to sue for relief against the transaction.


In the present case, both Grilli and Fullido were undoubtedly parties to a void contract.
Fullido, however, was not barred from filing the present petition before the Court because the
matters at hand involved an issue of public policy, specifically the Constitutional prohibition
against land ownership by aliens. As pronounced in Philippine Banking Corporation v. Lui
She, the said constitutional provision would be defeated and its continued violation
sanctioned if the lands continue to remain in the hands of a foreigner. Thus, the doctrine

of in pari delicto shall not be applicable in this case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The May 31, 2013 Decision of the Court of
Appeals and its September 24, 2014 Resolution in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 06946 are
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint filed by Gino Grilli before the Municipal
Circuit Trial Court, Dauis-Panglao, Dauis, Bohol, docketed as Civil Case No. 244,
is DISMISSED for lack of cause of action.



Associate Justice


Associate Justice

(On Leave)

Associate Justice
Associate Justice


Associate Justice


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 Court's Division.

Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division


Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's
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 Court's Division.


Chief Justice

On Leave

Penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando with Associate Justice
Pampio A. Abarintos and Associate Justice Edgardo L. Delos Santos,
concurring; ro/lo, pp. 31-49.

Id. at 51-54.

Penned by Presiding Judge Suceso A. Arcamo; id. at 112-116.

Penned by Acting Presiding Judge Jorge D. Cabalit; id. at 106-111.

Id. at 55-56.

Id. at 59-60.

Id. at 57-58.

Id. at 61-62.

Id. at 59-60.

Id. at 57-58.

Id. at 90-91.

Rollo, p. 111

Id. at 146-162.

Id. at 11-12.

Penned by Presiding Judge Leo Moises Lison; id. at 92-105.

Id. at 246-461.

Id. at 296-310.

Piedad v. Spouses Gurieza, G.R. No. 207525, June 18, 2014RA 71, 76.

Rollo, p. 138 and 207

Jurado, Comments and Jurisprudence on Obligations and Contracts, 2010 ed., p.


574, citing Manresa, 5thEd., Bk. 2, p. 608.

The Manila Banking Corp. v. Silverio, 504 Phil. 17, 30 (2005).
Article 1409, New Civil Code.

Spouses Rongavilla v. Court of Appeals, 355 Phil. 721, 739 (1998).

632 Phil. 343 (2010).

544 Phil. 280 (2007).

517 Phil 253 (2006).

Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds, 79 Phil. 461, 473 (1947).

128 Phil. 53 (1967).

Id. at 67-68.

266 Phil. 645 (1990).

Id. at 651.

Section 1, P.D. No. 471.

Section 2, P.D. No. 471; See also R.A. No 7652 or the Investors’ Lease Act which
provides that a lease contract in favor of a foreign investor may be granted for a
period of for a period exceeding fifty (50) years, renewable once for a period of not
more than twenty-five (25) years. To be considered as a foreign investor, an alien
must make an equity investment in the Philippines through actual remittance of
foreign exchange or transfer of assets, whether in the form of capital goods, patents,
formulae, or other technological rights or processes, upon registration with the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Pursuant to such definition, Grilli
cannot be considered as a foreign investor because it was neither shown that he
made an equity investment in the country nor that he had registered the same with
the SEC. Hence, R.A. No. 7652 cannot apply in his favor.

Rollo, p. 254.

Zacarias v. Anacay, G.R. No. 202354, September 24, 2014, 736 SCRA 508, 516.

Chavez v. PCGG, 366 Phil. 863, 869 (1999).

Constantino v. Heirs of Constantino, Jr., G.R. No. 181508, October 2, 2013, 706

SCRA 580, 589.

Maltos v. Heirs of Borromeo, G.R. No. 172720, September 14, 2015.

De Los Santos v. Roman Catholic Church of Midsayap, 94 Phil. 405 (1954).

Supra note 26, at 69.