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452 Phil. 1006


[ G.R. No. 140967, June 26, 2003 ]




This is a petition for review of the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated November 29, 1999 affirming the July 28, 1995 decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Zamboanga City, Branch 16, in Civil Case No. 309(85).

It appears that a complaint for accion publiciana was filed by respondent Emilio Enriquez against petitioner, Emerita Acosta, operating under the business name and style of New Ham's Trading. In his complaint, respondent averred that he is the owner of a parcel of land located at Rajah Soliman St., Zamboanga City with an area of 98 square meters covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-66,680.  Constructed on said land is a three-storey building owned likewise by him.

Petitioner occupied door nos. 30-32, consisting of the ground, mezzanine, and second floors of respondent's building.  Albeit no written lease contract was executed, petitioner, together with her late husband Francisco, who was respondent's brother, paid rent in 1984 in the amount of P3,000 a month.  However, she eventually stopped paying rent after her husband died.

On March 16, 1987, respondent gave notice to petitioner to vacate.  She was given only until the end of June 1987 to use the property because respondent needed the space for his business.  Again, on June 25, 1987, respondent demanded that petitioner vacate the premises. Petitioner failed to do so and in fact refused to vacate the property.  Thus, on January 22, 1988, respondent, through counsel, sent petitioner a letter demanding payment of rentals for the whole year of 1987 at P8,000 a month and informed petitioner that the rent effective January 1, 1988 was to be P10,000 a month.

Petitioner, however, continued to disregard respondent's demands.  She also failed to pay her rent of P8,000 a month for the whole year of 1987 and P10,000 a month from January 1, 1988 to April 1989. Hence, an action for recovery of possession (accion publiciana) was filed by respondent against petitioner.

In her answer, petitioner admitted respondent's allegations in his complaint that, in 1984, she paid rentals for the property but later on refused to pay the same.  She denied, however, that respondent owned the property covered by TCT No. 66680 and the portion of the building in which her store was located.  She claimed that her late husband, Francisco, owned several parcels of land but owed several creditors.  In order to pay his debts, Francisco obtained a loan from Monte de Piedad Savings Bank, through his brother, Emilio, who had better credit with banks. For that purpose, Francisco temporarily transferred the titles of his landholdings to respondent, in trust for the former, to be used as collateral for the loans which respondent obtained for Francisco.  Respondent successfully obtained the loan, and thus, her husband was able to pay his debts.

Petitioner also claimed that part of the proceeds of the loan was used to purchase the property occupied by her New Ham's Trading store.  Thus, said property belonged to and was in fact owned by her husband.  But since her husband's demise, petitioner claimed that she and her children with Francisco were the lawful owners of the property in question, and the parcels of land he transferred to respondent.

After trial, the RTC of Zamboanga City rendered a decision[2] in favor of respondent, the dispositive portion of which read:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff EMILIO ENRIQUEZ and against defendant EMERITA ACOSTA ENRIQUEZ, operating under the business name and style of New Ham's Trading, as follows:
  1. Ordering said defendant and all persons claiming rights under her, members of her family, agents, representatives, or privies, to immediately vacate plaintiff's premises at Door No. 32, first floor, mezzanine and second floor of plaintiff's building located at Lot 5, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-66,680, along Rajah Soliman Street, Zamboanga City, and peacefully surrender possession thereof to the plaintiff;

  2. Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff rentals at P8,000.00 a month for the whole year of 1987, and P10,000.00 a month starting January 1, 1988 to December 1989 and P15,000.00 a month from January 1990 up to the date the defendant shall have vacated the above-mentioned premises.

  3. Ordering defendant to pay the costs of the suit.
Aggrieved, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of the trial court. Hence, the instant petition on grounds that:  (1) the Court of Appeals erred in holding that a landlord-tenant relationship existed between the parties; (2) the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that because of the nature of the action, neither the appellate court nor the trial court could decide the issue of ownership that petitioner raised; and (3) the Court of Appeals erred in not rendering judgment on the counterclaim of petitioner for the reconveyance  of  several  parcels of  land  under TCT  Nos. T-63,733, T-63,734, T-68,755, and T-66,680.

The petition is bereft of merit.

Petitioner questions the findings of the Court of Appeals that a landlord-tenant relationship existed between the parties, alleging, inter alia, that the amount of P100 being paid to respondent per day constitutes mere contributions of Francisco to augment respondent's monthly amortizations on the loan respondent obtained for Francisco's benefit.  Clearly, this is a factual issue.

The trial court declared that respondent had established the landlord-tenant relationship between him and petitioner on the basis of the judicial admissions of petitioner in her Amended Answer.  The Court of Appeals affirmed this finding stating that said relationship was likewise established on the basis of the evidence of the parties, including petitioner's testimony.  Petitioner in fact admitted the remittances of her late husband Francisco and those made by her after his death.

We agree with the conclusions of the trial court and the Court of Appeals that indeed a landlord-tenant relationship existed between the parties.  The petitioner failed to explain why the titles to the properties in dispute were transferred to respondent.  Except for her bare allegation that the money used to purchase the property came from the loan respondent allegedly obtained for her husband, petitioner failed to explain why said titles were transferred to respondent's name without any objection or opposition from her.

Findings of fact by the Court of Appeals, especially if they affirm factual findings of the trial court, will not be disturbed by the Court, unless these findings are not supported by evidence.[4]

The Court cannot be tasked to go over the proofs presented by the parties and analyze, assess and weigh them to ascertain if the trial court and appellate court were correct in according them superior credit.[5] The fact that the Court of Appeals adopted the findings of fact of the trial court makes the same binding upon this Court. The findings of the Court of Appeals are conclusive upon the parties and carry even more weight considering that these coincide with the factual findings of the trial court.

Petitioner desperately attempts to justify her possessory rights over the property and raises the issue of ownership of the subject property, denying in effect respondent's title thereto. Again, this matter has been passed upon and comprehensively discussed both by the trial court and the Court of Appeals. It bears stressing that a person who occupies the land of another at the latter's forbearance or permission without any contract between them is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate upon demand, failing which a recovery for possession thereof may be filed against him.  As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, if petitioner believed that the deeds of absolute sale executed by her and her late husband, Francisco, in favor of respondent over their parcels of land (including the property now in dispute) were null and void, she should have instituted an action precisely to nullify said deeds.  

It should be emphasized that the only issue to be resolved in this action to recover possession of the subject property is the question on who is entitled to the physical or material possession of the premises.  Accordingly, whatever right of possession petitioner may have over the subject property cannot prevail over that of respondent for the simple reason that respondent is the registered owner of the property in dispute. Hence, reconveyance thereof, as prayed for by petitioner in the instant case, cannot be granted.

At any rate, judgment rendered in the instant case shall not bar an action between the same parties respecting title to the land or building, nor shall it be conclusive as to the facts therein found in a case between the same parties upon a different cause of action involving possession.[6] Whatever pronouncements are made on questions of ownership in this case can only be provisional in nature.[7]

In fine, after a careful consideration of the instant petition, we rule that petitioner failed to show why the actions of the trial court and the Court of Appeals should be reversed. There is no showing that these courts' factual findings are not based on substantial evidence, or that their decisions are contrary to applicable law and jurisprudence.

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby resolves to DENY the petition.  The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52554 is AFFIRMED in toto.


Puno, (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

[1] Penned by Associate Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. (now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court) and concurred in by Associate Justices Quirino D. Abad Santos, Jr. and Mariano M. Umali, Rollo, pp. 24-41.

[2] Penned by Judge Jesus C. Carbon, Jr.

[3] Rollo, p. 81.

[4] BaÙŒas, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, 325 SCRA 259 [2000]; Mari vs. Court of Appeals, 332 SCRA 475 [2000]; Food Terminal Incorporated vs. Court of Appeals, 334 SCRA 156 [2000].

[5] Chan Sui Bi vs. Court of Appeals, 341 SCRA 364 [2000].

[6] Olam vs. Court of Appeals, 314 SCRA 731 [1999].

[7] Amayan vs. Marayag, 326 SCRA 581 [2000].

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