358 Phil. 83
"It is clear, therefore, that plaintiff, not having been authorized in writing for the purpose, may not validly bring an action to enforce a perceived easement of right of way pertaining to the owners of Lots 666-H and 666-I or the Benolirao and Carisima families. while Benjamin Ongsiako possessed the authority to institute the case (Exhibit "G"), plaintiff is not the real party in interest. Furthermore, the situation obtaining does not call for the enforcement of an easement of right of way. Defendant Serdoncillo is not the owner of and has never claimed ownership over the portion of Lot 666-H on which her house is erected. A servitude is an encumbrance imposed upon an immovable for the benefit of another immovable belonging to a different owner (Article 613, New Civil Code). In the present case, the ejectment of defendant Serdoncillo from the portion of Lot 666-H occupied by the house at the instance of the proper party (Renato Bolinarao’s family ) would remove the obstruction."UCRTC did not appeal the aforesaid decision of the Regional Trial Court, hence, the same became final.
x x x x x x x x x
"WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the complaint against the defendant Marciana Serdoncillo, as well as defendant’s counterclaim, is dismissed for lack of merit. Without pronouncement as to costs.
"5. That plaintiffs, being then registered owners of the properties designated as lot 666-H and 666-I, are likewise the owners/grantees of the right of way granted by United Complex Realty and Trading Corporation which was correspondingly annotated in its title (Annex "B-3") under Entry No. 205154/T-172291 of the Register of Deeds of Pasay City;Petitioner, in her Answer, put up the defense that she is the legitimate tenant of said lots in question since 1956, pertinent portions of which are quoted hereunder, thus:
6. That since 1982 the defendant has built and constructed a residence and pig pen on the plaintiffs’ right of way as well as on the front portions of the latter’s properties leaving them virtually obstructed with no ingress or egress from the main road;
"7. That verbal and written demands made upon the defendant by the plaintiffs to remove and demolish her structures had been ignored, the last of which was on November 20, 1990, xerox copy of which is hereto attached as Annex "C" and taken as an integral part hereof, but despite such demands, the defendant failed and refused and still fails and refuses to remove and vacate her illegal structures on the portion of the properties as well as on the right of way of plaintiffs;
"8. That plaintiffs in compliance with the Katarungang Pambarangay Law lodged a complaint before the Barangay Captain, Barangay 84, Zone 10 of Pasay City, which certified filing of the same in court, xerox copy of said certification is hereto attached as Annex "D" and taken as integral part hereof;
"9. That due to the unjustified refusal of the defendant, the plaintiffs are suffering the unnecessary inconvenience of the absence of decent and sufficient ingress and egress on their properties, and will continue to suffer the same unless the illegal structures are finally demolished and/or removed by the defendants;"
"13. That Lot 666-H and Lot 666-I mentioned in the complaint are formerly portions of a big track(sic) of land consisting of 1,806 square meters then owned by H.V. Ongsiako;The issues having been joined, trial on the merits ensued. On June 30, 1992, the trial court rendered its decision in favor of private respondents, the dispositive portion of which reads:
"14. That since 1956 and before the 1,806 square meters of lot owned by H.V. Ongsiako was subdivided into fourteen (14) lots in 1982, defendant is (sic) already a legitimate tenant and occupant family of around 400 square meters of the 1,806 square meters of the said land then owned by H.V. Ongsiako by erecting her residential house thereon at the agreed monthly rental of P15.00 and increased to P100.00;
"15. That upon the death of H. V. Ongsiako his heirs continued collecting the monthly rental of the premises from the defendants;
"16. That the heirs of H. V. Ongsiako formed a corporation known as UNITED COMPLEX REALTY AND TRADING CORPORATION and the big parcel of land consisting of 1,806 square meters was transferred to the said corporation and subdivided in 1982 into fourteen (14) lots, two (2) of which lots are the very same lots leased by the defendant from H.V. Ongsiako and later from his heirs and then from United Complex Realty and Trading Corporation as alleged in the preceding pars. 13, 14, and 15;
"WHEREFORE, IN VIEW of the foregoing, and finding preponderance of evidence in plaintiffs’ favor, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:Aggrieved by the trial court’s decision, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals alleging that: 1) the lower court should have dismissed the complaint of private respondents considering that based on the letter of demand dated November 20, 1990, the action filed should have been unlawful detainer and not an action for recovery of possession; 2) the action filed by private respondents is barred by res judicata considering that the present action is identical with that of Civil Case No. 6652; 3) the lower court erred in not dismissing the complaint for lack of cause of action with respect to enforcement of right of way vis a vis defendant; and 4) the lower court erred in ordering that defendants vacate the properties in question since the lease of defendants thereon was still in existence and had not yet been terminated.
"1) Ordering the defendant to demolish and remove all illegal structures she constructed on the front portions of the subject lots and on the right of way of the plaintiffs;
"2) Ordering the defendant to vacate the property and right of way and return possession thereof to the plaintiffs;
"3) Ordering the defendant to pay the cost of suit.
"As to the damages (actual and moral) no award is given. In the absence of proof of fraud and bad faith by defendants, the latter are(sic) not liable for damages (Escritor Jr. vs. IAC, 155 SCRA 577).
"Actual and compensatory damages require substantial proof. In the absence of malice and bad faith, moral damages cannot be awarded (Capco vs. Macasaet, 189 SCRA 561).
"As to the attorney’s fees, each party should shoulder his/her expenses.
"The issue as to the proper action has been resolved by the respondent court, to wit:A motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid decision filed by petitioner on August 8, 1994 was denied by the respondent on September 23, 1994.
`The defense that what should have been filed is an ejectment case and not recovery of possession, is not also correct. The filing of this case for recovery of possession, instead of an ejectment case, is not altogether unjustified. The Benoliraos and Carisima became the owners as early as May, 1989. Verbal and written demands had been ignored. There is an immediate need for plaintiffs to use the right of way, which up to the present time is obstructed,. At most, what surfaced is a technicality which should be abandoned.'
"A plain reading of the complaint shows that plaintiff-appellees cause of action is for recovery of possession of their property which was encroached upon by defendant-appellant."
THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT AND THE COURT OF APPEALS (Sp. Fifteenth Division) COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF JURISDICTION IN DECIDING AS AN ACCION PUBLICIANA AN EJECTMENT OR UNLAWFUL DETAINER CASE (THE JURISDICTION OF WHICH CLEARLY PERTAINS TO THE INFERIOR COURT), A CASE BASICALLY INVOLVING AN EASEMENT OF RIGHT OF WAY.Petitioner asserts that the respondent court erred in sustaining the trial court’s finding that the complaint filed by private respondents for recovery of possession of the subject premises is an accion publiciana notwithstanding the fact that the action was filed within one (1) year from demand. Petitioner contends that private respondents should have filed an action for unlawful detainer and not an action for recovery of possession against petitioner. Consequently, the trial court is without jurisdiction to hear and determine Civil Case No. 7785. In support of her contention, petitioner cited the cases of Bernabe vs. Luna and Medina vs. Court of Appeals, which she states is strikingly similar to the facts of this case. Consequently, the rulings of this Court in these two cases are squarely applicable and controlling in the case at bar.
"We have consistently held that a complaint for forcible entry, as distinguished from that of unlawful detainer, in order to vest jurisdiction upon the inferior court, must allege plaintiff’s prior physical possession of the property, as well as the fact that he was deprived of such possession by any of the means provided in Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, namely: force, intimidation, threats, strategy and stealth, "for if the dispossession did not take place by any of these means, the courts of first instance, not the municipal courts, have jurisdiction."A reading of the averments of the complaint in Civil Case No. 7785 undisputably show that plaintiffs (private respondents herein) clearly set up title to themselves as being the absolute owner of the disputed premises by virtue of their transfer certificates of title and pray that petitioner Serdoncillo be ejected therefrom. There is nothing in the complaint in Civil Case No. 7785 alleging any of the means of dispossession that would constitute forcible entry under Section (1) Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, nor is there any assertion of defendant’s possession which was originally lawful but ceased to be so upon the expiration of the right to possess. It does not characterize petitioner’s alleged entry into the land, that is, whether the same was legal or illegal nor the manner in which petitioner was able to construct the house and the pig pens thereon. The complaint merely avers that a portion of the lot owned by private respondents and its right of way have been occupied by petitioner and that she should vacate. The action therefore is neither one of forcible entry nor of unlawful detainer but essentially involves a dispute relative to the ownership of 4.1 square meters of land allegedly encroached upon by petitioner and its adjoining right of way. Indeed, the Ocular Inspection Report of the Branch Clerk of Court, states that:
x x x x x x x x x
"The aforesaid Rule 70 does not, however, cover all of the cases of dispossession of lands. Thus, "whenever the owner is dispossessed by any other means than those mentioned he may maintain his action in the Court of First Instance, and it is not necessary for him to wait until the expiration of twelve months before commencing an action to be repossessed or declared to be owner of the land." Courts of First Instance have jurisdiction over actions to recover possession of real property illegally detained, together with rents due and damages, even though one (1) year has not expired from the beginning of such illegal detention, provided the question of ownership of such property is also involved. In other words, if the party illegally dispossessed desires to raise the question of illegal dispossession as well as that of the ownership over the property, he may commence such action in the Court of First Instance immediately or at any time after such illegal dispossession. If he decides to raise the question of illegal dispossession only, and the action is filed more than one (1) year after such deprivation or withholding of possession, then the Court of First Instance will have original jurisdiction over the case. The former is an accion de reivindicacion which seeks the recovery of ownership as well as possession, while the latter refers to an accion publiciana, which is the recovery of the right to possess and is a plenary action in an ordinary proceeding in the Court of First Instance."
"xxx (T)he right of way hit directly the defendant Serdoncillo’s property consisting of a two-storey residential house made of wood and GI sheets and occupying the entire width of the rear portion of the right of way. A coconut tree stands on the middle of the road, at the back of which is a shanty made of rotten G.I. sheets around it which is used as pigpens and place of washing clothes extended from defendant’s house. To gain access to plaintiff’s property, the group turned right and passed between an "aratiris" tree and cemented firewall owned by Mr. Belarmino making only one person at a time to pass. This passageway has only a width of 0.5 meter which is being used by the defendant and her members of the family aside from the plaintiffs.It is noted that at the time of the filing of said complaint, Civil Case No. 7749, an action for annulment of the sale between UCRTC and private respondents Benolirao of Lot 666-H initiated by petitioner was likewise pending in another court. This case puts in issue the validity of private respondents’ acquisition of the subject lots and ultimately their ownership of Lot 666-H.
"xxx Two (2) monuments of the lot boundary of the plaintiff’s property are existing, but the rest are nowhere to be found. According to Mrs. Benolirao, they are located within the premises of the defendant’s house. At the back of Benolirao is a private property gutted by fire."
"xxx Upon request, the group was granted permission by the relatives of the defendant to inspect the place. The group further noticed that defendant’s improvements were even encroaching on the plaintiff’s lot by approximately 4.1 meters, more or less. The house of the defendant is facing the plaintiff’s property; there is a small chicken house and there is also a dog house standing near it."
"In their complaint, plaintiffs (petitioners herein) allege that they are the owners of a parcel of land with an area of 199.4 square meters more or less, located in Tondo, Manila, that defendant (private respondent herein) constructed a house on said lot without plaintiff’s permission; that on November 14, 1980, plaintiffs thru counsel made a written demand for the removal of said house as well as for the recovery of damages for the reasonable use and occupation thereof; and that defendant refused and failed to comply despite repeated demands.The allegations in the complaint clearly show that plaintiffs were already the owners of the property when defendant constructed a house on the disputed lot without their permission. That despite formal demand defendant failed to vacate and surrender possession of the property to them. Indeed, the averments in plaintiffs’ complaint present jurisdictional facts which do not illustrate plaintiffs’ action as either an action publiciana or accion reivindicatoria but that of forcible entry or unlawful detainer. Thus, the trial court correctly dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint, pertinent portion of which is quoted hereunder:
x x x x x x x x x
"We have noted that while petitioners allege in their complaint that they are the owners of the lot on which the house of the private respondent is constructed, their attached TCT shows that the lot is still in the name of Fejosera Investment Incorporated. Private respondent and said company entered into a contract of lease in l950 for the use and occupation of said lot. Petitioners allegedly bought the lot in question in 1973, and they must have been fully aware of the occupancy of the private respondent of the premises in question. Yet, they did not take any action to remove the house of the private respondent or to inform the respondent that they had become the new owners of the lot in question. It is clear therefore that the lease was allowed to continue.
x x x x x x x x x
"Consequently, the possession of private respondent over the lot in question became illegal only on November 14, 1980, when the formal demand to pay and vacate the premises was sent to him."
"It is clear on the face of the complaint that at the time of the filing of this case on February 19, 1981, the defendant was in possession, as tenant, of the premises. When plaintiff’s counsel, therefore sent a written notice on November 4, 1980 requiring defendant to vacate the premises when this action was brought, the one (1) year period after the unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession has not yet set in. It is clear that this is an ejectment case within the exclusive jurisdiction of the City Court of Manila."We likewise find the Medina case, relied upon by petitioner, to be inappropriate. The facts distinctly show that the complaint filed by the owners of the property before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 47, was for unlawful detainer. It was the action resorted to by the plaintiffs after advising the defendant (the lessee of the premises in question) that a member of the family, Dr. Igama, urgently needed the house and after repeated demands to vacate made on the lessee proved to be unsuccessful. All these incidents, from notification to the filing of the complaint dated May 16, 1985, transpired within a period of six (6) months. Indeed, the factual background of this case is a classic illustration of an action for unlawful detainer. Verily, the facts are therefore diametrically opposite to the facts of the case at bar.
Petitioner’s contention is devoid of merit.The fundamental principle upon which the doctrine of res judicata rests is that parties ought not be permitted to litigate the same issue more than once, that when the right or fact has been judicially determined, the judgment of the court, so long as it remains unreversed, should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privity with them in law or estate.
Section 49 (now Section 47), provides that:
Section 49. Effects of Judgments.- the effect of a judgment or final order rendered by a court or judge of the Philippines having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or order, may be as follows:
(a) xxx xxx xxx
"(b) In other cases the judgment or order is, with respect to the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the parties and their successors-in-interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity;"
"It is true that it is the purpose and intention of the law that courts should decide all questions submitted to them ‘as truth and justice require’, and that it is greatly to be desired that all judgments should be so decided; but controlling and irresistible reasons of public policy and of sound practice in the courts demand that at the risk of occasional errors, judgment of the courts determining controversies submitted to them should become final at some definite time fixed by law."In passing, We reiterate the time-honored doctrine that findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are binding and conclusive upon the Supreme Court, and the Court will not normally disturb such factual findings unless the findings of the court are palpably unsupported by the evidence or unless the judgment itself is based on misapprehension of facts. In this case, We find the said decision to be totally supported by the evidence on record.