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02 Co vs.

Militar AUTHOR: ANDRE KIRK AGASSI


G.R. No. 149912. January 29, 2004. NOTES:
TOPIC: Unlawful Detainer 1.
PONENTE: Ynares-Santiago, J.
CASE LAW/ DOCTRINE:

In forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, even if the defendant raises the question of ownership in his
pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the
lower courts and the Court of Appeals, nonetheless, have the undoubted competence to provisionally
resolve the issue of ownership for the sole purpose of determining the issue of possession.

ER:

FACTS:
 Jacinto Co claims to be the owner of a land consisting of 396 sq. m., formerly owned by Rolando
Dalida. Dalida mortgaged the property to Co to secure payment for a loan; he defaulted. Co
foreclosed the property and acquired it in an auction sale in 1982.
 On June 19, 1997, Co filed a complaint for UD before the MTC against Rizal Militar and Lilia Sones,
who were in possession of the land. Co alleged that their occupancy in the land was by his mere
tolerance but their continued stay became unlawful after he demanded that they vacate the
property but they refused to do so.
 Militar claims that he owns 198 sq. m. of the property, having bought the same from the Pangilinans
in 1966; constructed his home on the same year; and paid in full the property in 1973, or 10 years
before Co allegedly became the owner of the land. He further avers that MTC has no jurisdiction
over the case since the action should have been accion reivindicatoria.
 Sones, on the other hand, claims that she bought the other half of the property also from the
Pangilinans in 1966 and paid the same in full in 1973. She further alleges bad faith on Co because
Co knew that she was in actual, peaceful, exclusive, adverse and continuous possession of the same
and was exercising dominion over the land when Co had it registered.
 MTC – in favor of Co based on the Torrens Title of Co.
 RTC – REVERSED; CA – AFFIRMED.
ISSUE(S):

WON the defense of ownership in the resolution of UD cases is proper – NO

RATIO:

We have, time and again, held that the only issue for resolution in an unlawful detainer case is physical or
material possession of the property involved, independent of any claim of ownership by any of the party
litigants. Moreover, an ejectment suit is summary in nature and is not susceptible to circumvention by the
simple expedient of asserting ownership over the property.

In forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, even if the defendant raises the question of ownership in his
pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the
lower courts and the Court of Appeals, nonetheless, have the undoubted competence to provisionally
resolve the issue of ownership for the sole purpose of determining the issue of possession.
Such decision, however, does not bind the title or affect the ownership of the land nor is conclusive of the
facts therein found in a case between the same parties upon a different cause of action involving possession.

In this case, Co presented a Torrens Title, with the property in his name. It should be remembered that the
Torrens System was adopted in this country because it was believed to be the most effective measure to
guarantee the integrity of land titles and to protect their indefeasibility once the claim of ownership is
established and recognized. It is indefeasible and binding upon the whole world. If it is to be assailed, it
should be in the court with jurisdiction (RTC) and it should be directly attacked. The defense of bad faith of
Co is a collateral attack to the title, thus, is not allowed.

As registered owner, and possession being one of the attributes of ownership, Co has the better right to the
possession of the property.