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Ganila v CA

28 June 2005 | Quisumbing Overview: Herrera filed ejectment complaints against Ganila et al with the MCTC. On appeal, Ganila et al questioned the jurisdiction of the MCTC. The SC ruled that being a case for unlawful detainer, it was within the jurisdiction of the MCTC and that Ganila et al are barred from raising their opposition for the first time on appeal. Statement of the Case Petition for review on certiorari Statement of Facts Violeta Herrera filed 21 ejectment complaints alleging that she owns Lot 1227 of Jordan, Guimaras and that she tolerated Ganila et al (18 persons and the Baptist Christian Learning Center) to construct residential houses or other improvements on certain portions of the lot without rental. When she asked Ganila et al to vacate, they refused. Barangay conciliation failed; hence, she filed the complaints. 8 claimed that Lot 1227 was formerly a shoreline. 8 maintained that their houses stood on Lot 1229. 3 assrted that Lot 1227 is a social forest area. Geodetic engineers surveyed the area and reported that all the houses were inside Lot 1227. MCTC rendered decision in favor of Herrera and ordered Ganila et al to vacate. RTC dismissed the appeal and the CA affirmed the denial. Applicable Laws: Issues: WON MCTC erred in taking jurisdiction over and deciding the case and WON RTC and CA erred in sustaining the MCTCs judgment? No. Rationale Ganila et al insist that Herrera should have filed an action to recover possession de jure, not a mere complaint for ejectment because (1) they possessed Lot 1227 in good faith for more than 30 years and (2) there was no withholding of possession since Herrera was not in prior possession of the lot. The SC agrees with Herrera that there was no error in her choice of remedy. The complaint itself is defined by the allegations therein, not the allegations of Ganila et al. Besides, Ganila et al have admitted in their preliminary statement that the complaints filed are indeed for unlawful detainer, and that the only issue to be determined is mere physical possession and not juridical possession. While petitioners assert that this case involves only deprivation of possession, they confuse the remedy of an action for forcible entry with that of unlawful detainer. In unlawful detainer, prior physical possession by the plaintiff is not necessary. It is enough that plaintiff has a better right of possession. Actual, prior physical possession of a property by a party is indispensable only in forcible entry cases. Also, the defendant is necessarily in prior lawful possession of the property but his possession eventually becomes unlawful upon termination or expiration of his right to possess. Thus, the fact that petitioners are in possession of the lot does not automatically entitle them to remain in possession. And the issue of prior lawful possession by the defendants does not arise at all in a suit for unlawful detainer, simply because prior lawful possession by virtue of contract or other reasons is given or admitted. Unlike in forcible entry where defendants, by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth, deprive the plaintiff or the prior physical possessor of possession. Here there is no evidence to show that petitioners entered the lot by any of these acts. An unlawful detainer is different from a possessory action and from a reinvidicatory action in that the first is limited to the question of possession de facto. Aside from the summary action of ejectment, accion publiciana or the plenary action to recover the right of possession and accion reinvidicatoria or the action to recover ownership which includes recovery of possession, make up three kinds of actions to judicially recover possession. Herreras allegations sufficiently present a case of unlawful detainer: (1) she owns Lot 1227, (2) she tolerated Ganila et al to construct houses, (3) she withdrew her tolerance, and (4) Ganila et refused to heed her demand. The suit was well-within the jurisdiction of MCTC. Besides, Ganila et al raised their opposition only for the first time in their appeal, they are now stopped from doing so. Judgment: petition is denied.