Case Digest: Reyes vs. Spouses Odones

G.R. No. 178096:March 23, 2011.




This case emanated from a complaint for Unlawful Detainer with Preliminary Injunction filed by petitionerRosadelos Reyes (petitioner) against respondents spouses Arwenia and Francisco Odones, Noemi Otales, and Gregorio Ramirez (respondents) before the MTC of Camiling, Tarlac, on July 12, 2005. Petitioner alleges that she is the owner of a parcel of land covered by TCT No. 392430, of the Land Records for the Province of Tarlac; that respondents are staying on the said property with a house/improvements therein, with the mere tolerance of petitioner only without any contract whatsoever and for which there is an implied understanding to vacate upon the demand; that she previously verbally demanded respondents to vacate which they refused and for which a written notice was sent advising them to vacate the said property within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the letter to vacate; and that the said letter was sent by registered mail on June 17, 2005, which was duly received.

Respondents claimed that they are the owners of the lot, having purchased the same by virtue of an Extrajudicial Succession of Estate andSale dated January 29, 2004, executed by the heirs of Donata Lardizabal, the lands original owner.

The MTC ruled in favor of petitioner. The RTC set aside the MTCs judgment and dismissed the complaint, stating that it failed to aver acts constitutive of forcible entry or unlawful detainer since it did not state how entry was effected or how and when the dispossession started. Hence, the remedy should either beaccion publicianaoraccion reivindicatoriain the proper RTC. The CA affirmed the judgment of the RTC, adding that, as pronounced inGo, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, iin order to justify an action for unlawful detainer, the owners permission or tolerance must be present at the beginning of the possession.


1. Whether or not the complaint averred acts of unlawful detainer, vesting/divesting the MTC with jurisdiction over the case

2. Whether or not the decision in Go v. CA is applicable in this case


The petition is granted.

CIVIL LAW: Action for unlawful detainer.

First issue: A complaint sufficiently alleges a cause of action forunlawful detainer if it recites the following: (1)initially, possession of property by the defendant was by contract withor by tolerance of the plaintiff; (2)eventually, such possession became illegal upon notice by plaintiff to defendant of the termination of the latter's right of possession; (3) thereafter, the defendant remained in possession of the property and deprived the plaintiff of the enjoyment thereof; and (4) within one year from the last demand on defendant to vacate the property, the plaintiff instituted the complaint for ejectment.

Contrary to the findings of the RTC and the CA, petitioners allegations in the complaint clearly makes out a case forunlawful detainer, essential to confer jurisdiction over the subject matter on the MTC. Petitioner alleges that she is the owner of the lot, as shown by TCT No. 392430, issued by the Registry of Deeds of Tarlac; that respondents are occupying the lot by virtue of petitioners tolerance; and that petitioner sent a letter to respondents on June 17, 2005, demanding that they vacate the property, but they failed and refused to do so. The complaintwas filed on July 12, 2005, or within one year from the time the last demand to vacate was made.

Second issue: The CA misapplied the ruling inGothat tolerance must be present right from the start of possession, which possession is sought to be recovered. The CA, in affirming the RTC, likewise erroneously applied the rule that jurisdictional facts must appear on the face of the complaint for ejectment, such that when the complaint fails to faithfully aver facts constitutive of unlawful detainer, as where it does not state when and how entry was effected, or how and when dispossession started, the remedy should either beaccion publicianaoraccion reivindicatoriain the proper RTC. The requirement that the complaint should aver, as jurisdictional facts, when and how entry into the property was made by the defendants applies only when the issue is the timeliness of the filing of the complaint before the MTC, and not when the jurisdiction of the MTC is assailed because the case is one foraccionpubliciana cognizable by the RTC. This is because, in forcible entry cases, the prescriptive period is counted from the date of defendants actual entry into the property; whereas, in unlawful detainer cases, it is counted from the date of the last demand to vacate. InGo, there was evidence that the possession by the defendant was illegal at the inception and not merely tolerated as alleged in the complaint. No such similar finding is extant in this case.

The decision of the CA is REVERSED and the MTC decision is REINSTATED.