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Bishop of Cebu vs Mangaron 6 Phil 286

Facts :

Mariano Mangaron’s parents and brothers had been in possession

of a tract of land in the district of Ermita until about the year
1877 (possession of at least 20 years). In 1878, they vacated the
land by virtue of an order from the municipality which declared
that the land was included within the zone of materiales Fuertes
(fire zone) and the houses in which they lived upon were of light
materials. They vacated said land without objection. After the
land was vacated, Parish Priests of Ermita Church fenced the land
and cleaned the same without any objection on the part of
anyone. In 1898, Mangarons entered upon the land in question
and built thereon a nipa house and continued to live thereon
without the consent of the parish priests of Ermita Church or the
Bishop of Cebu. Roman Catholic Church, represented by the
bishop of Cebu filed an action to recover possession of said land;
amended complaint for said land to be declared property of the
Catholic Church and that it be restored to the latter. Property had
belonged to the Catholic Church from time immemorial.
Mangarons occupied apart thereof by the mere tolerance of the
Catholic Church. Mangaron claims to be the owner of the land by
inheritance. He was the legal owner when he was unlawfully
ejected by the bishop of Cebu in 1879. He had a right re-enter;
time for prescription has not yet expired since he was ejected.
The trial court ruled in favor of Bishop of Cebu and ordered
Mangarons to vacate the land. Occupation of the land by
Mangaron in the year 1898 was illegal. If he thought he had a
right to the land, he should have filed an action with the court to
recover possession and not proceed to occupy the property. If the
Church acceded and voluntarily returned possession and
acknowledge that the property belonged to him, there would be
no necessity to file an action; but in this case, Church has
objected to the occupation which necessitates a filing of a proper
action. The possession held by Mangaron in 1898 cannot be
added to the former possession which was interrupted in 1877 by
the order of the municipality. Article 466 civil code: “a person
who recovers possession according to law, which is improperly
lost, is considered as having enjoyed it without interruption for all
the purposes which may redound to his benefit”. It cannot be
ascertained that the possession enjoyed by Mangaron was
improperly lost. It has been lost by virtue of an order from the
municipality and no proof to the contrary was presented.
Impossible to say what was the nature prior to the year 1877 –
whether it was held by right or by the mere tolerance of the
Church. Mangaron filed petition. SC resolved a relevant question
of law in deciding whether to affirm the decision of the trial court
-> availability of accion publiciana.


Whether after the promulgation of the civil code, accion

publiciana, which had for its object the recovery of possession in
a plenary action before an action for the recovery of title could be
instituted, still existed . ( YES )


 Available actions:
o Accion interdictal – recovery of physical possession
within one year from the time of dispossession.
o Accion publiciana – better right to such possession
brought after lapse of one year.
o Recovery of ownership – action for title
 If Mangaron instituted the action interdictal within one year
from dispossession, he would have been restored to the
o One year period has already elapsed so such summary
action for possession could not be maintained.
 But even after the lapse of one year, he still could have
brought an accion publiciana  involve the right to possess;
based upon the fact that he, having been in possession for
20 years, could not lose the same until he had been given
opportunity to be heard and had been defeated in an action
in court by another with a better right.
 Doubt arises whether accion publiciana is still available from
Article 460 of Civil Code
o Possessor may lose possession:
1. Abandonment
2. Transfer to another for a good or valuable
3. Destruction or total loss of the thing or by the
thing becoming unmarketable
4. By the possession of another, even against the will
of the former possessor, if the new possession has
lasted more than one year.
o Questions: Which is lost, possession de facto or also
possession de jure? In the first three, both may be lost,
so it would strange if the fourth merely referred to
possession de jure. However, ownership cannot be lost
under the fourth; owner may recover ownership, and is
only barred by statute of limitations.
 Evidence that accion publiciana still exists:
o Possession constitutes a right, a right in rem, whenever
it is exercised over real property or property rights
o Where there is a right, there is cause of action
o It is sufficient that the right existing, there should be
an action to protect it. No necessity of any special
declaration in civil code
o It is impossible to conceive that a person has a right
which need not be respected by others, and such
respect cannot be exacted unless the law provides a
remedy for its enforcement
o If a person has a right over any kind of property, such
right would not be complete unless it could be enforced
as against the whole world.
o The action is a recognition of the right; it is a weapon
for its protection
o The right does not arise from the action; but vice versa
o Accion publiciana exists, nor for the sake of equity, but
because it must necessarily exist or can exist as
provided in Article 445.
 Action brought by Catholic Church to recover the possession
which was unlawfully deprived by the defendant can be
properly maintained.