G.R. No. 205832. March 07, 2022 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
**Gorgonio P. Palajos vs. Jose Manolo E. Abad: A Philippine Supreme Court Decision on Forcible Entry and Possession Rights**

### Facts:
The case initiated when Jose Manolo E. Abad and his siblings filed a complaint for forcible entry against Gorgonio P. Palajos and several others on February 25, 2006, in the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Quezon City. Abad claimed ownership and prior possession of a property in North Fairview, Quezon City, from which they were allegedly dispossessed by the defendants. Palajos countered by presenting a deed of absolute sale from 1988, real property tax receipts, and other evidence suggesting his possession of the property before the plaintiffs.

The MeTC ruled in favor of the Abads based on their construction of a perimeter fence in 2001, indicating their prior physical possession. Palajos appealed to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), which reversed the MeTC’s decision, citing insufficient proof of the Abads’ prior actual physical possession. Undeterred, Abad proceeded to the Court of Appeals (CA), which reinstated the MeTC’s decision, emphasizing the Abads’ legal ownership and prior possession of the property.

Dissatisfied, Palajos brought the matter to the Supreme Court of the Philippines through a petition for review on certiorari.

### Issues:
1. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in its assessment of prior possession.
2. If Palajos’ entry into the premises was clandestine, despite a lack of solid evidence to support this claim.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court denied Palajos’ petition, affirming the CA’s reinstatement of the MeTC’s decision. The Court emphasized the distinction between forcible entry and unlawful detainer, underscoring the primacy of physical possession, or possession de facto, over possession de jure in forcible entry cases.

The Court confirmed that the Abads had established prior physical possession through juridical acts, owning the property since 1999, and their perimeter fence construction in 2001 solidified this possession. Palajos’ evidence—focused primarily on tax payments and utility bills—occurred after the Abads’ demonstrated possession.

Finally, the Court addressed the timing of the forcible entry suit, noting it was filed within the one-year prescriptive period after the Abads became aware of the defendants’ intrusion.

### Doctrine:
– In forcible entry cases, “possession” refers to prior physical possession, and legal title to the property is not the primary concern unless possession cannot be resolved without resolving the issue of ownership.

### Class Notes:
– Forcible entry involves deprivation of physical possession of property by means that include force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth.
– The possessory action must be filed within one year from the unlawful deprivation of possession or knowledge thereof.
– Juridical acts can establish possession for the purposes of forcible entry claims.
– The determination of prior possession may include provisional decisions on ownership where possession and ownership are intertwined.
– Real property tax payments and utility bills may not suffice to prove prior possession against established physical control and juridical acts indicating possession.

### Historical Background:
The case emphasizes the Philippine legal system’s approach to disputes involving property possession, where factual possession and legal titles may intersect. It showcases the procedural journey from local courts (MeTC and RTC) through appellate review (CA), up to the highest court (Supreme Court), reflecting the layered scrutiny in the Philippine judiciary on matters of possession and ownership.


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