Case Digest: Eugenio, Gregorio, Pajarillo, Villamor v. Sta. Monica Riverside Homeowners Association

G.R. No. 187751: November 22, 2010




The residents of a parcel of land owned by Hi-Marketing Corporation situated in Quezon City, organized themselves into a community association, the Sta. Monica Riverside Homeowners Association (respondent). It registered with the HLURB for the purpose of acquiring land under the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC).

When respondent commenced negotiations with Hi-Marketing Corporation for purchase of the land, it invited Edna Eugenio,Mary Jean Gregorio, Renato Pajarillo and Rogelio Villamor (petitioners) who are occupying a portion of the land to become its members (respondents) but that they refused, having formed another organization which was not accredited, however, by the HLURB for lack of a Memorandum of Agreement with Hi-Marketing Corporation.

Since only members of an association are allowed to avail of the benefits under the CMP, respondent invited petitioners anew to join but petitioners declined, prompting respondent to issue a formal demand for petitioners to leave their respective premises.

Petitioners ignored respondents demand to leave, hence, respondent filed a complaint for ejectment/eviction against them before the HLURB. Petitioners denied refusing to join the association. They questioned respondents membership as composed of non-residents which is contrary to the CMP guidelines. They also questioned the leadership, and alleged illegal activities of respondents president Erlinda Manalo, as well as the propriety of HLURB's cognizance of the complaint and prayed for its dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.

Housing and Land Use Arbiter Joselito F. Melchor ordered petitioners exclusion from the benefits of the CMP and consequently to surrender them and vacate the premises.On appeal, the Board of Commissioners affirmed the Arbiters Decision. Petitioners elevated the case to the Office of the President which also affirmed the decision.

Petitioners appealed to the CA but the same was denied for lack of merit. Upon denial of their motion for reconsideration, the present petition is filed.

Petitioners argue that the HLURB does not have jurisdiction over the case as it does not fall under the category of an intra-corporate controversy, their being non-members having been established and acknowledged by respondent. Likewise, they argue that the case cannot be deemed a controversy between the association and the general public since the main issue does not pertain to respondents juridical personality.

Petitioners add that Batas Pambansa Blg. 129,as amended, vests exclusive jurisdiction over cases of forcible entry and unlawful detainer on first level courts.

ISSUE: Whether or not HLURB has jurisdiction

HELD: Yes. CA Decision Affirmed.

POLITICAL LAW- Upon conferment of quasi-judicial functions to an administrative agency, all controversies relating to the subject matter which pertain to its specialization are deemed included within its jurisdiction

Since the HLURB is vested by law with jurisdiction to regulate and supervise homeowner associations, respondent correctly lodged their complaint with the HLURB. Republic Act No. 8763 provides:

Section 26. Powers over Homeowners Associations. The powers authorities and responsibilities vested in the Corporation (formerly Home Insurance Guaranty Corporation) with respect to homeowners association under Republic Act No. 580, as amended by executive Order No. 535 is hereby transferred to the Housing and Land use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

Petitioners in fact, in their reply to the complaint, acknowledged the HLURB's jurisdiction when they challenged respondent's right to exist as a corporate entity,viz:

(5) That complainants statements from number 6-12 in reference to that of the respondents are already terminated and non members and non program beneficiaries of the CMP would not hold water. At this point, respondent in this instance, would like to emphasize that they are not opposing the implementation of the Community Mortgage Program. They are only questioning the legitimacy and the illegal activities of Erlinda Manalo.

If petitioners refuse to recognize respondents legitimacy, respondent will not be able to fulfill its obligation to collect and account for the monthly amortizations with SHFC. Individual titling would not thus be completed and the laudable objectives of the CMP would not be fully attained.

Undoubtedly, the case is within the competence of HLURB to decide. While the SHFC is the main government agency tasked to administer the CMP, its authority pertains only to the administrative and financing aspects of the States social housing program schemes,i.e.,evaluation of the community association and originator based on the submitted documents, site inspection, releasing of funds for land acquisition, site development and housing assistance, collection of monthly amortizations from community associations and foreclosure of mortgages.

While a complaint for ejectment, which raises the issue of who has a better right of possession, falls within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of first level courts, the right of possession in the present case is, however, necessarily intertwined with a determination of rights and privileges under a distinctive social housing concept such as CMP, which falls within the expertise of the HLURB.