Special Civil Actions Initiated by Complaint: Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer (Rule 70)

Del Rosario vs. Gerry Roxas Foundation (GR 170575)

In forcible entry, one is deprived of physical possession of any land or building by means of force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth.  Where the defendants possession of the property is illegal ab initio, the summary action for forcible entry (detentacion) is the remedy to recover possession.

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Petitioners likewise alleged in their Complaint that respondent took possession and occupancy of subject property in 1991. Considering that the action for forcible entry must be filed within one year from the time of dispossession, the action for forcible entry has already prescribed when petitioners filed their Complaint in 2003. As a consequence, the Complaint failed to state a valid cause of action against the respondent.

Corpuz vs Sps. Agustin (GR 183822)

One of the three kinds of action for the recovery of possession of real property is accion interdictal, or an ejectment proceeding … which may be either that for forcible entry (detentacion) or unlawful detainer (desahucio), which is a summary action for the recovery of physical possession where the dispossession has not lasted for more than one year, and should be brought in the proper inferior court. In ejectment proceedings, the courts resolve the basic question of who is entitled to physical possession of the premises, possession referring to possession de facto, and not possession de jure.

Dela Cruz vs. CA (GR 139442)

Thus exclusive, original jurisdiction over ejectment proceedings (accion interdictal) is lodged with the first level courts. This is clarified in Section 1, Rule 70 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure that embraces an action for forcible entry (detentacion), where one is deprived of physical possession of any land or building by means of force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth. In actions for forcible entry, three (3) requisites have to be met for the municipal trial court to acquire jurisdiction. First, the plaintiffs must allege their prior physical possession of the property. Second, they must also assert that they were deprived of possession either by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth. Third, the action must be filed within one (1) year from the time the owners or legal possessors learned of their deprivation of physical possession of the land or building.

The other kind of ejectment proceeding is unlawful detainer (desahucio), where one unlawfully withholds possession of the subject property after the expiration or termination of the right to possess. Here, the issue of rightful possession is the one decisive; for in such action, the defendant is the party in actual possession and the plaintiffs cause of action is the termination of the defendants right to continue in possession. The essential requisites of unlawful detainer are: (1) the fact of lease by virtue of a contract express or implied; (2) the expiration or termination of the possessors right to hold possession; (3) withholding by the lessee of the possession of the land or building after expiration or termination of the right to possession; (4) letter of demand upon lessee to pay the rental or comply with the terms of the lease and vacate the premises; and (5) the action must be filed within one (1) year from date of last demand received by the defendant.

Sps. Valdez vs. CA (GR 132424)

Under existing law and jurisprudence, there are three kinds of actions available to recover possession of real property: (a) accion interdictal; (b) accion publiciana; and (c) accion reivindicatoria.

Accion interdictal comprises two distinct causes of action, namely, forcible entry (detentacion) and unlawful detainer (desahuico).  In forcible entry, one is deprived of physical possession of real property by means of force, intimidation, strategy, threats, or stealth whereas in unlawful detainer, one illegally withholds possession after the expiration or termination of his right to hold possession under any contract, express or implied.  The two are distinguished from each other in that in forcible entry, the possession of the defendant is illegal from the beginning, and that the issue is which party has prior de facto possession while in unlawful detainer, possession of the defendant is originally legal but became illegal due to the expiration or termination of the right to possess.

The jurisdiction of these two actions, which are summary in nature, lies in the proper municipal trial court or metropolitan trial court. Both actions must be brought within one year from the date of actual entry on the land, in case of forcible entry, and from the date of last demand, in case of unlawful detainer. The issue in said cases is the right to physical possession.

Accion publiciana is the plenary action to recover the right of possession which should be brought in the proper regional trial court when dispossession has lasted for more than one year.  It is an ordinary civil proceeding to determine the better right of possession of realty independently of title.  In other words, if at the time of the filing of the complaint more than one year had elapsed since defendant had turned plaintiff out of possession or defendants possession had become illegal, the action will be, not one of the forcible entry or illegal detainer, but an accion publiciana. On the other hand, accion reivindicatoria is an action to recover ownership also brought in the proper regional trial court in an ordinary civil proceeding.

To justify an action for unlawful detainer, it is essential that the plaintiffs supposed acts of tolerance must have been present right from the start of the possession which is later sought to be recovered. Otherwise, if the possession was unlawful from the start, an action for unlawful detainer would be an improper remedy.

David vs. Cordova (GR 152992)

Alleged public character of land does not deprive court of jurisdiction over forcible entry case. 

Next, the point that the property in dispute is public land. The matter is of no moment and does not operate to divest the lower court of its jurisdiction over actions for forcible entry involving such property. Indeed, the public character of the land does not preclude inferior courts from exercising jurisdiction over forcible entry cases. We have ruled in the case of Robles v. Zambales Chromite Mining Co., et al., that the land spoken of in Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court includes all kinds of land, whether agricultural or mineral. It is a well known maxim in statutory construction that where the law does not distinguish, we should not distinguish.

Bejar vs. Caluag (GR 171277)

In unlawful detainer and forcible entry cases, the only issue to be determined is who between the contending parties has better possession of the contested property.  Pursuant to Section 33 (2) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Section 3 of Republic Act No. 7691, it is the Municipal Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts in Cities, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts that exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over these cases. The proceedings are governed by the Rule on Summary Procedure, as amended.

By contrast, an accion publiciana, also known as accion plenaria de posesion, is a plenary action for recovery of possession in an ordinary civil proceeding in order to determine the better and legal right to possess, independently of title.

There are two distinctions between the summary ejectment suits (unlawful detainer and forcible entry) and accion publiciana. The first lies in the period within which each one can be instituted. Actions for unlawful detainer and forcible entry must be filed within one year from the date possession is lost, while an accion publiciana may be filed only after the expiration of that period but within the period prescribed in the statute of limitations. The second distinction involves jurisdiction. An accion publiciana may only be filed with the RTC, while a complaint for unlawful detainer or forcible entry may only be filed with the first level courts earlier mentioned.

 

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