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PROPERTY

PRESCRIPTION # 2

SPS RAMON AND ESTRELLA RAGUDO vs. FABELLA ESTATE TENANTS ASSOCIATION
GR NO 146823 09August2005
J Garcia
FACTS
Subject property: 105sqm lot within the Fabella Estate, Mandaluyong
Parties:
Ramon and Estrella Ragudo occupant of subject lot; refused to become member of FETA
Fabella Estate Tenants Association (FETA) successor owner of Fabella Estate; complainant
Don Dionisio Fabella original owner
Miriam de Guzman awardee of subject lot; member of FETA
FETA was formed by the tenants of the Fabella Estate to acquire the subject estate and distribute to the members. As a condition
to a loan from National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, all tenants were required to become members of the association.
Spouses Ragudo refused to become members. As such, the subject lot was awarded to another qualified member, Miriam de
Guzman, while Sps Ragudo continued to occupy the same.
Later on, FETA became the registered owner of the Fabella Estate, with TCT issued in its name by RD Mandaluyong. To effect
ejectment of Sps. Ragudo, FETA filed a complaint for unlawful detainer with MeTC-Mandaluyong. The MeTC dismissed the
complaint ruling that unlawful detainer was an improper remedy considering that the Sps Ragudo had been occupying the subject
lot for more than one year.
FETA filed a complaint for recovery of possession with RTC-Pasig.
Defense of Sps Ragudo:
1. they have already acquired ownership of the lot because they have been in occupation in the concept of an owner for
more than 40 years
2. the title of FETA is fake because the OCT it came from has been previously adjudged null and void by RTC-Pasig
3. FETAs right to recover is barred by laches by virtue of their occupancy of more than 40 years
RTC: ruled in favor of FETA
CA: affirmed RTC decision; ordered Sps Ragudo to pay rent until they vacate; MR was denied
ISSUE before the Supreme Court:
Whether acquisitive prescription and equitable laches had set in, i.e. whether the Sps Ragudo have already acquired ownership
over, and consequently the continuous possession of the subject lot, considering that they have been occupying the same for more
than 40 years rendering the right of FETA to recover such barred by laches
HELD/RATIO
NO, Sps Ragudo did not acquire ownership and warranted continuous possession of the subject lot, because title cannot be
acquired by prescription over parcels of land registered under the Torrens System and FETAs right to recover is not barred by
laches because the possession of Sps Ragudo was merely tolerated by FETA.
A claim of acquisitive prescription is baseless when the land involved is a registered land pursuant to Article 1126 of the CC in
relation to Sec 47 of PD 1529.
1126 of CC: prescription of ownership of lands registered under the Land Registration Act shall be
governed by Special laws
Act No 496, now PD 1529: No title to registered land in derogation of that of the registered owner shall be
acquired by adverse possession.
Accordingly, proof of possession is both immaterial and inconsequential.
With respect to laches:
If claimants possession of the land is merely tolerated by its lawful owner, the right of the lawful owner to recover possession is
never barred by laches.
The lawful owner has a right to eject any person illegally occupying his property and this right is imprescriptible. Even if it be
supposed that the lawful owner was aware of the occupation of the property, and regardless of the length of that possession, the
lawful owner has a right to demand the return of his property at any time as long as the possession was unauthorized or merely
tolerated, if at all. This right is never barred by laches.