499 Phil. 64
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
In their Answer, the defendants-herein petitioners denied, among other things, having any knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief regarding the authority of Lucio Cabaddu to represent the plaintiff and concluded that “he has no right and/or personality to represent the alleged [H]eirs”-plaintiff. On the merits, petitioners asserted that petitioner Crispina Unida has possessed Lots 298 and 616, and that petitioner Nancy Unida has possessed Lot 299, both in the concept of owner, personally and through their predecessors-in-interest, since time immemorial, and that the title to the property subject of the complaint, OCT No. P-48306, was fraudulently obtained by respondents.x x x
- About ten (10) years ago, more or less, without the knowledge or consent of the owners, the defendants[-herein petitioners], without any legal right whatsoever, entered the premises of the land which is the subject of this suit and cultivated the same as their own, not giving any share to the owners;
- Because the location of the land was then infested by the New People’s Army at the time of the instrusion of the defendants, the owners did nothing but to tolerate their (defendants) stay and cultivation over the land in question;x x x (Underscoring supplied)
By Decision dated October 26, 1999, Branch 10 of the RTC of Cagayan reversed the MTC decision, it holding that although Lucio Cabaddu was given a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) subsequent to the filing of the complaint, the SPA did not contain a specific authorization for him to institute the complaint.
- THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DISMISSING THE CASE FOR THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE ON RECORD SHOWING THE AUTHORITY OF ALLEGED PLAINTIFF LUCIO CABADDU TO INSTITUTE THE PRESENT SUIT;
- THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE EJECTMENT OF THE DEFENDANTS ALTHOUGH THEY ARE IN ACTUAL, OPEN, PUBLIC AND NOTORIOUS POSSESSION OF THE LOTS IN DISPUTE UNDER BONAFIDE CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP EVEN BEFORE THE SECOND WORLD WAR HAVING INHERITED SAID LAND FROM THEIR FATHER LUIS UNIDA. (Underscoring supplied)
thus clearly showing that he “instituted it as plaintiff in behalf of the heirs,” hence, “not allowed” as he is not the real party in interest.
- Plaintiff[,] of legal age, married to Leticia Urban and a resident of Dugo, Camalaniugan, Cagayan, is the Authorized representative of the heirs of Ambrocio Urban,
By Decision promulgated on September 19, 2001, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the RTC and reinstated that of the MTC.
- THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT PETITIONERS’ REPRESENTATIVE LUCIO CABADDU LACKS THE PERSONALITY TO SUE DESPITE HIS CONSTITUTION AS AN ATTORNEY-IN-FACT BY PETITIONERS THROUGH A VALIDLY EXECUTED SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY.
- THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT ON THE GROUND THAT THE MODE OF ACTION (UNLAWFUL DETAINER) TAKEN BY THE PETITIONER IS INAPPROPRIATE DESPITE THE ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT THAT RESPONDENTS POSSESSION OVER THE LAND IN DISPUTE WAS ONLY UPON THE MERE TOLERANCE OF THE PETITIONERS.  (Underscoring supplied)
a) THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE SUBSEQUENT SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY CURES THE DEFECT IN THE COMPLAINT BECAUSE SUCH CONCLUSION WAS GROUNDED ENTIRELY ON SPECULATION, THE INFERENCE MADE IS MANIFESTLY MISTAKEN, AND THE JUDGMENT WAS BASED ON MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS.As stated early on, the main issue, that reflected in herein petitioners’ second assigned error, is one of jurisdiction over the complaint of herein respondent.
b) THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE TRIAL COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE UNLAWFUL DETAINER CASE BECAUSE THE DEFENDANTS CRISPINA UNIDA AND HUSBAND ANTONIO MABALOT AND EUGENIO UNIDA MARRIED TO NANCY UNIDA ARE THE OWNERS OF THE LAND IN DISPUTE HAVING POSSESSED THE SAME SINCE PRE-WAR TIME AND INHERITED SAID LAND FROM THEIR FATHER LUIS UNIDA WHO OWNS SEVENTY TWO (72) HECTARES BEFORE THE SECOND WORLD WAR. (Underscoring supplied)
the permission or tolerance must have been present at the beginning of the possession. Otherwise, if the possession was unlawful from the start, an action for unlawful detainer would be an improper remedy. Sarona v. Villegas elucidates thus:As correctly held then by the RTC, the case cannot be considered as an unlawful detainer case, the “tolerance” claimed by respondents not being that contemplated by law in unlawful detainer cases; neither can the case be considered as one for forcible entry because the entry of petitioners was not alleged to have been by means of force, intimidation, threats, stealth or strategy."A close assessment of the law and the concept of the word 'tolerance' confirms our view heretofore expressed that such tolerance must be present right from the start of possession sought to be recovered, to categorize a cause of action as one of unlawful detainer not of forcible entry…” (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
SEC. 3. Representative as parties. – Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative may be a trustee of an express trust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party authorized by law or these Rules. An agent acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without joining the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the principal. (Underscoring supplied)The foregoing discussion renders it unnecessary to still rule on the first issue of whether the Special Power of Attorney presented by Lucio Cabaddu, the representative of respondent, may be validly considered, it not having been formally offered in evidence before the MTC. Suffice it to state that, as a rule, documents presented as proof of a fact in issue must be offered in evidence before a trial court.
Sec. 8. Appeal from orders dismissing case without trial; lack of jurisdiction. – If an appeal is taken from an order of the lower court dismissing the case without a trial on the merits, the Regional Trial Court may affirm or reverse it, as the case may be. In case of affirmance and the ground of dismissal is lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial Court, if it has jurisdiction thereover, shall try the case on the merits as if the case was originally filed with it. In case of reversal, the case shall be remanded for further proceedings.WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
If the case was tried on the merits by the lower court without jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Regional Trial Court on appeal shall not dismiss the case if it has original jurisdiction thereof, but shall decide the case in accordance with the preceding section, without prejudice to the admission of amended pleadings and additional evidence in the interest of justice. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)