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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Cases about Court Jurisdiction part 1

Victorino Quinagoran vs. CA (GR 155179)

The question posed in the present petition is not complicated, i.e., does the RTC have jurisdiction over all cases of recovery of possession regardless of the value of the property involved?

The answer is no. The doctrine on which the RTC anchored its denial of petitioner’s Motion to Dismiss, as affirmed by the CA — that all cases of recovery of possession or accion publiciana lies with the regional trial courts regardless of the value of the property — no longer holds true. As things now stand, a distinction must be made between those properties the assessed value of which is below P20,000.00, if outside Metro Manila; and P50,000.00, if within.

Republic Act No. 7691 which amended Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 and which was already in effect when respondents filed their complaint with the RTC on October 27, 1994, expressly provides:

SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:

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(2) In all civil actions which involve the title to or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) except for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.

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SEC. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Civil Cases. — Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:

x x x x

(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of , real property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages or whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs:Provided That in cases of land not declared for taxation purposes, the value of such property shall be determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots.

Jurisdiction of the court does not depend upon the answer of the defendant or even upon agreement, waiver or acquiescence of the parties.Indeed, the jurisdiction of the court over the nature of the action and the subject matter thereof cannot be made to depend upon the defenses set up in the court or upon a motion to dismiss for, otherwise, the question of jurisdiction would depend almost entirely on the defendant.

Considering that the respondents failed to allege in their complaint the assessed value of the subject property, the RTC seriously erred in denying the motion to dismiss. Consequently, all proceedings in the RTC are null and void, and the CA erred in affirming the RTC.

Cervantes vs. PP (GR 147406)

The general rule should, however, be, as it has always been, that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.Estoppel by laches, to bar a litigant from asserting the courts absence or lack of jurisdiction, only supervenes in exceptional cases similar to the factual milieu of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy. Indeed, the fact that a person attempts to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of a court does not estop him from thereafter challenging its jurisdiction over the subject matter, since such jurisdiction must arise by law and not by mere consent of the parties. This is especially true where the person seeking to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of the court does not thereby secure any advantage or the adverse party does not suffer any harm.

Applying the said doctrine to the instant case, the petitioner is in no way estopped by laches in assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC, considering that he raised the lack thereof in his appeal before the appellate court. At that time, no considerable period had yet elapsed for laches to attach. True, delay alone, though unreasonable, will not sustain the defense of estoppel by laches unless it further appears that the party, knowing his rights, has not sought to enforce them until the condition of the party pleading laches has in good faith become so changed that he cannot be restored to his former state, if the rights be then enforced, due to loss of evidence, change of title, intervention of equities, and other causes.

Sps. Flores-Cruz vs. Sps Goli-Cruz (GR 172217)

It is axiomatic that the nature of the action on which depends the question of whether a suit is within the jurisdiction of the court is determined solely by the allegations in the complaint and the law at the time the action was commenced. Only facts alleged in the complaint can be the basis for determining the nature of the action and the courts competence to take cognizance of it.  One cannot advert to anything not set forth in the complaint, such as evidence adduced at the trial, to determine the nature of the action thereby initiated.

Manotoc vs. CA (GR 130974)

The courts jurisdiction over a defendant is founded on a valid service of summons. Without a valid service, the court cannot acquire jurisdiction over the defendant, unless the defendant voluntarily submits to it. The defendant must be properly apprised of a pending action against him and assured of the opportunity to present his defenses to the suit. Proper service of summons is used to protect ones right to due process.

PP vs. CA (GR 154557)

Where a court acquired jurisdiction over an action, its jurisdiction continues to the final conclusion of the case. Such jurisdiction is not affected by new legislation placing jurisdiction over such dispute in another court or tribunal unless the statute provides for retroactivity.

It is quite glaring from Sec. 7 of RA 7691 that said law has limited retroactivity only to civil cases. As such, the CA indeed committed grave abuse of discretion as it acted in an arbitrary and patently erroneous exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Hence, the use of Rule 65 is proper.

RP vs Bantigue Point Development Corp (GR 162322)

At the outset, we rule that petitioner Republic is not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the lower court, even if the former raised the jurisdictional question only on appeal. The rule is settled that lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter may be raised at any stage of the proceedings. Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred only by the Constitution or the law. It cannot be acquired through a waiver or enlarged by the omission of the parties or conferred by the acquiescence of the court. Consequently, questions of jurisdiction may be cognizable even if raised for the first time on appeal.

The ruling of the Court of Appeals that a party may be estopped from raising such [jurisdictional] question if he has actively taken part in the very proceeding which he questions, belatedly objecting to the courts jurisdiction in the event that the judgment or order subsequently rendered is adverse to him is based on the doctrine of estoppel by laches. We are aware of that doctrine first enunciated by this Court inTijam v. Sibonghanoy. In Tijam, the party-litigant actively participated in the proceedings before the lower court and filed pleadings therein. Only 15 years thereafter, and after receiving an adverse Decision on the merits from the appellate court, did the party-litigant question the lower courts jurisdiction. Considering the unique facts in that case, we held that estoppel by laches had already precluded the party-litigant from raising the question of lack of jurisdiction on appeal. In Figueroa v. People, we cautioned that Tijam must be construed as an exception to the general rule and applied only in the most exceptional cases whose factual milieu is similar to that in the latter case.

The facts are starkly different in this case, making the exceptional rule in Tijam inapplicable. Here, petitioner Republic filed its Opposition to the application for registration when the records were still with the RTC. At that point, petitioner could not have questioned the delegated jurisdiction of the MTC, simply because the case was not yet with that court. When the records were transferred to the MTC, petitioner neither filed pleadings nor requested affirmative relief from that court. On appeal, petitioner immediately raised the jurisdictional question in its Brief. Clearly, the exceptional doctrine of estoppel by laches is inapplicable to the instant appeal.

Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting the presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned or declined to assert it. In this case, petitioner Republic has not displayed such unreasonable failure or neglect that would lead us to conclude that it has abandoned or declined to assert its right to question the lower court’s jurisdiction.

Katon vs. Palanca (GR 151149)

Where prescription, lack of jurisdiction or failure to state a cause of action clearly appear from the complaint filed with the trial court, the action may be dismissed motu proprio by the Court of Appeals, even if the case has been elevated for review on different grounds. Verily, the dismissal of such cases appropriately ends useless litigations.

Ortigas and Co. vs. CA (GR 129822)

The sole issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in affirming the lower courts ruling that jurisdiction over the City’s action lies with the RTC, not with the HLURB.

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Ortigas maintains that the HLURB has jurisdiction over the complaint since a land developer’s failure to comply with its statutory obligation to provide open spaces constitutes unsound real estate business practice that Presidential Decree (P.D.) 1344 prohibits. Executive Order 648 empowers the HLURB to hear and decide claims of unsound real estate business practices against land developers.

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Obviously, the City had not bought a lot in the subject area from Ortigas which would give it a right to seek HLURB intervention in enforcing a local ordinance that regulates the use of private land within its jurisdiction in the interest of the general welfare. It has the right to bring such kind of action but only before a court of general jurisdiction such as the RTC.