Diaz vs Spouses Punzalan
G.R. No. 203075, March 16, 2016
Facts: Petitioners alleged that their mother, Rufina Vda. de Catacutan, who died on November 17, 2005, had acquired a parcel of land in Mapanique, Candaba, Pampanga, consisting of 3,272 square meters, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3169. They contend that respondents spouses Gaudencio and Teresita Punzalan (Spouses Punzalan) constructed their house on a portion of said lot without their consent and knowledge. But petitioners allowed them to stay, thinking that they would vacate once their need for the property arises. However, when they made a demand, the Spouses Punzalan refused to vacate. Thus; on April 9, 2008, petitioners wrote the spouses a formal demand letter to vacate. Still, they refused to leave the property. On August 22, 2008, petitioners filed a Complaint for unlawful detainer with the MCTC of Sta. Ana-Candaba, Pampanga.
MCTC rendered a decision in favor of the plaintiffs.
RTC affirmed the MCTC decision.
CA reversed the decision of the RTC and held that MCTC lacks jurisdiction.
Issues: Whether or not the remedy of petitioners for an unlawful detainer is proper.
Whether or not the judgement rendered by the lower courts entitled the petitioners any right.
Held: No. Well settled is the rule that jurisdiction of the court in ejectment cases is determined by the allegations of the complaint and the character of the relief sought. The complaint should embody such statement of facts as to bring the party clearly within the class of cases under Section 1, Rule 70 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.
SECTION 1. Who may institute proceedings, and when. – Subject to the provisions 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 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, 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.
Under the aforequoted rule, there are two (2) entirely distinct and different causes of action, to wit: (1) a case for forcible entry, which is an action to recover possession of a property from the defendant whose occupation thereof is illegal from the beginning as he acquired possession by fierce, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth; and (2) a case for unlawful detainer, which is an action for recovery of possession from the defendant whose possession of the property was lawful at the inception by virtue of a contract with the plaintiff, be it express or implied, but subsequently became illegal when he continued his possession despite the termination of his right or authority.
A complaint sufficiently alleges a cause of action for unlawful detainer if it recites the following:
(1) the defendant’s initial possession of the property was lawful, either by contract with or by tolerance of the plaintiff;
(2) eventually, such possession became illegal upon the plaintiffs notice to the defendant of the termination of the latter’s right of possession;
(3) thereafter, the defendant remained in possession and deprived the plaintiff of the enjoyment of the property; and
(4) the plaintiff instituted the complaint for ejectment within one (1) year from the last demand to vacate the property.
On the other hand, in an action for forcible entry, the following requisites are essential for the MTC to acquire jurisdiction over the case.:
(1) the plaintiff must allege prior physical possession of the property;
(2) the plaintiff was deprived of possession by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth; and
(3) the action must be filed within one (1) year from the date of actual entry on the land, except that when the entry is through stealth, the one (1)-year period is counted from the time the plaintiff-owner or legal possessor learned of the deprivation of the physical possession of the property.
It is not necessary, however, for the complaint to expressly use the exact language of the law. For as long as it is shown that^the dispossession took place under said conditions, it is considered as sufficient compliance with the requirements.
Contrary to petitioners’ contention that none of the means to effectuate forcible entry was alleged in the complaint, the Court finds that the allegations actually make up a case of forcible entry. They claimed in their Complaint that the Spouses Punzalan constructed their dwelling house on a portion of petitioners’ lot, without the latter’s prior consent and knowledge. This clearly falls under stealth, which is defined as any secret, sly or clandestine act to avoid discovery and to gain entrance into, or to remain within residence of another without permission. Here, the evidence clearly reveal that the spouses’ possession was illegal at the inception and not merely tolerated, considering that they started to occupy the subject lot and thereafter built a house on the same without the permission and consent of petitioners. The spouses’ entry into the land was, therefore, effected clandestinely, without the knowledge of the owners. Consequently, it is categorized as possession by stealth which is forcible entry.
The allegation that the Spouses Punzalan entered the subject property and constructed their house on a portion of the same without petitioners’ knowledge and consent is more consistent with an action for forcible entry, which should have been filed within a year from the discovery of said illegal entry. Instead, petitioners allowed them to stay, thinking that they would simply accede if asked to vacate the premises. Certainly, petitioners’ kind tolerance came, not from the inception, as required to constitute unlawful detainer, but only upon learning of the unlawful entry.
No. Indeed, a void judgment for lack of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right neither can it be the creator of any obligation. All acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. The same can never become final and any writ of execution based on it will be void.
Verily, to vest the court jurisdiction to effect the ejectment of an occupant, it is necessary that the complaint should embody such a statement of facts as brings 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 having to resort to parol testimony.
In the instant case, the allegations in the complaint do not contain any averment of fact that would substantiate petitioners’ claim that they permitted or tolerated the occupation of the property by the Spouses Punzalan right from the start. This failure of petitioners to allege the key jurisdictional facts constitutive of unlawful detainer is fatal. Since the complaint did not satisfy the jurisdictional requirement of a valid cause for unlawful detainer, the MCTC corollarily failed to acquire jurisdiction over the case.