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CIVIL PROCEDURE | B2015

CASES

 The Manahans filed their answer, averring that the lots belonged to
Heirs of Albina Ampil v. Sps. them, their predecessor-in-interest having been in peaceful and
continuous possession thereof since time immemorial, and that
Manahan Albina was never the owner of the property.
October 11, 2012  The MTC rendered judgment in favor of the Heirs, on the basis of the
Mendoza tax declarations.
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 The RTC affirmed.
 The CA reversed, ruling that tax declarations and receipts are not
SUMMARY: Exequiel, as representative of the heirs of Albina Ampil filed a
conclusive proof of ownership or right of possession, and only
complaint for ejectment against the Manahans. In the complaint, it was
becomes strong evidence of ownership when accompanied by proof
alleged that Albina was the owner of two lots, as evidenced by tax
of actual possession. The CA denied the Heirs’ motion for
declarations, and that Albina had allowed Perfecto and his family to occupy
reconsideration.
a portion of the properties, on the condition that they would vacate the
same, should the need arise. The Manahans filed their answer, averring
SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE + RATIO: Who has the better right to the physical
that the lots belonged to them, their predecessor-in-interest having been in
possession of the disputed property? THE HEIRS.
peaceful and continuous possession thereof since time immemorial. The
MTC ruled in favor of the Heirs. The RTC affirmed. The CA reversed. The SC
As a rule, petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules Court
upheld the MTC/ RTC.
are limited only to questions of law and not of fact. The rule, however, admits
of several exceptions. Here, the factual findings of the CA are contrary to
DOCTRINE: In an action for forcible entry and unlawful detainer, any one
those of the MTC and the RTC. Hence, a review of the case is imperative.
of the Art. 487, CC provides that any one of the co-owners may bring an
action for ejectment, without joining the others. The action is not limited to
In an unlawful detainer case, the physical or material possession of the
ejectment cases but includes all kinds of suits for recovery of possession,
property involved, independent of any claim of ownership by any of the
because the suit is presumed to have been instituted for the benefit of all.
parties, is the sole issue for resolution. But where the issue of ownership is
raised, the courts may pass upon said issue in order to determine who has
FACTS:
the right to possess the property. This adjudication, however, is only an
 Exequiel Ampil, as representative of the heirs of Albina Ampil filed a
initial determination of ownership for the purpose of settling the issue of
complaint for ejectment against the Manahans (Perfecto, Virginia,
possession, the issue of ownership being inseparably linked thereto. As such,
Teresita, Almario, and Irene). In the complaint, it was alleged that
the lower court’s adjudication of ownership in the ejectment case is merely
Albina was the owner of two adjoining residential lots in Bulacan, as
provisional and would not bar or prejudice an action between the same
evidenced by tax declarations, and that Albina had allowed Perfecto
parties involving title to the property.
and his family to occupy a portion of the properties, on the
condition that they would vacate the same, should the need arise.
In the case at bar, the Court sustains the findings of both the MTC and the
 After the death of Albina, Exequiel and the rest of the heirs RTC. The bare allegation of the Manahans, that they had been in peaceful and
requested Perfecto and family to vacate the property, but the latter continuous possession of the lot in question because their predecessor-in-
refused. interest had been in possession thereof in the concept of an owner from time
 The matter was brought to the Lupong Tagapamayapa, who issued a immemorial, cannot prevail over the tax declarations and other
Certification to File an Action for failure of the parties to amicably documentary evidence presented by petitioners. In the absence of any
settle their dispute. supporting evidence, that of the Heirs deserves more probative value.
 The Heirs sent a demand letter to the Manahans to surrender
possession of the lands, but to no avail. So, the Heirs filed a A perusal of the records shows that Manahans’ occupation of the lot in
complaint for ejectment before the MTC. question was by mere tolerance. To prove ownership over the property, the
CIVIL PROCEDURE | B2015
CASES

Heirs presented the tax declarations covering the properties and a


certification issued by the Municipality, showing that their mother, Albina, Art. 487, CC provides that any one of the co-owners may bring an action
had been paying the corresponding real property taxes thereon. The Heirs for ejectment, without joining the others. The action is not limited to
also submitted a survey plan, in support of Albina’s application for land ejectment cases but includes all kinds of suits for recovery of possession,
registration over the disputed lots. In fact, the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan because the suit is presumed to have been instituted for the benefit of all.
issued Katibayan ng Orihinal na Titulo conferring title over the lot in the Celino v. Heirs of Alejo and Teresa Santiago – As co-owner of the
names of the heirs of Albina. properties, each of the heirs may properly bring an action for
ejectment, forcible entry, or any kind of action for the recovery of
Also, one of the Heirs verbally demanded that the Manahans vacate the possession of the subject properties. Thus, a co-owner may bring
property and when the latter refused, they filed a complaint before the such an action, even without joining all the other co-owners as co-
Barangay Lupon. From the minutes of the meeting in the Barangay plaintiffs, because the suit is deemed to be instituted for the benefit
Lupon, Perfecto admitted Albina allowed them temporary use of the lots and of all.
that they could not leave the premises because they had nowhere else to go. Carandang v. Heirs of De Guzman – Only one of the co-owners,
When the parties failed to reach a settlement, the Heirs, in order to protect namely the co-owner who filed the suit for the recovery of the co-
their rights to the lot in question, filed a case for violation of P.D. No. 772, an owned property, is an indispensable party thereto. The other co-
Act Penalizing Squatting and other Similar Acts against Perfecto, before the owners are not indispensable parties. They are not even necessary
Regional Trial Court. In the said case, Perfecto executed a Sinumpaang parties, for a complete relief can be afforded in the suit even without
Salaysay, wherein he admitted that Albina was the owner of the lots in their participation, since the suit is presumed to have been filed for
question and that he was merely allowed by her to use the property on the benefit of all co-owners.
condition that they would vacate it on demand. As a result, the court
dismissed the complaint because it found out that Perfecto and his family’s In the case at bench, the complaint clearly stated that the disputed property
stay in the questioned lots was lawful because Albina permitted them to use was held in common by the Heirs; and that the action was brought to recover
the lots on the condition that they would vacate the same should Albina need possession of the lots from respondents for the benefit of all the heirs of
it. Albina. Hence, Exequiel, a co-owner, may bring the action for unlawful
detainer even without the special power of attorney of his co-heirs, for
On the other hand, the Manahans could not present proof that they and their complete relief can be accorded in the suit even without their participation
predecessors-in-interest had openly and continuously possessed the subject because the suit is deemed to be instituted for the benefit of all the co-
land since time immemorial. Granting that the Manahans or their owners.
predecessors-in-interests had been in possession in the concept of an owner
since time immemorial, none of them declared the disputed lots for taxation RULING: CA reversed; MTC/ RTC reinstated. (Judgment in favor of the Heirs)
purposes and, thus, never paid taxes thereon. The Manahans' allegation that
they were in peaceful, continuous and adverse possession of the lots in
question, unsupported by any evidence, is not substantial to establish their
interest over the property.

Well established is the rule that ownership over the land cannot be acquired
by mere occupation. While it is true that tax declarations are not conclusive
evidence of ownership, they, nevertheless, constitute at least proof that the
holder has a claim of title over the property. It strengthens one's bona fide
claim of acquisition of ownership.

PROCEDURAL ISSUE + RATIO: Does Exequiel have authority to file the


complaint on behalf of his co-heirs? YES.