Rolando S. Abadilla, Jr. v. Sps. Bonifacio P. Obrero
A title issued under the Torrens system is entitled to all the attributes of property ownership, which necessarily includes possession.
G.R. No. 199448, 12 November 2014
Complainant Sps. Bonifacio P. Obrero and Bernabela N. Obrero initiated a case for forcible entry against defendant Rolando S. Abadilla, Jr. Complainants claimed that they are the registered owners of the land in question based on a TCT registered under the name. They claimed they were in possession thereof based on improvements erected therein utilized for residential and business purposes prior to the alleged acts of Respondent who forcible fenced the perimeter of the land with barbed wire.
By way of defense, defendant claimed that the land was sold by complainants to his late father as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale. Being one of the heirs, he is one of the owners thereof. In fact, they left a caretaker to oversee the land. Despite the sale, complainants supposedly attempted to remove the fence and even built concrete structures on the land using it for dwelling purposes.
HELD: The defendant was held liable. In an ejectment case, title is not involved as the sole issue is the determination of who is entitled to the physical or material possession of the premises or possession de facto. “Thus, where the parties to an ejectment case raise the issue of ownership, the courts may pass upon that issue but only to determine who between the parties has the better right to possess the property. As such, any adjudication of the ownership issue is not final and binding; it is only provisional, and not a bar to an action between the same parties involving title to the property.”
Here, both parties anchor their right of possession on ownership. Between a Deed of Absolute Sale and a TCT, it is the TCT which must prevail. “A certificate of title is evidence of indefeasible and incontrovertible title to the property in favor of the person whose name appears therein. ‘[A] title issued under the Torrens system is entitled to all the attributes of property ownership, which necessarily includes possession.’ Hence, as holders of the Torrens title over the subject land, the respondents are entitled to its possession.
Further, in the Deed of Absolute Sale, no sale was perfected as the parties failed to agree on the purchase price. Thus, defendants claim of possession “had no sufficient basis and it cannot overthrow the attribute of possession attached to the respondents’ certificate of title.”
Regarding the criminal case involving the Quitclaim, it is immaterial to this ejectment case. “Questions on the validity of a Torrens title are outside the jurisdiction and competence of the trial court in ejectment proceedings which are limited only to the determination of physical possession. This is in consonance with the settled doctrine that questions relating to the validity of a certificate of title during ejectment proceedings are deemed and proscribed as collateral attack to such title. A Torrens certificate of title cannot be the subject of collateral attack. The title represented by the certificate cannot be changed, altered, modified, enlarged, or diminished except in a direct proceeding. Thus, issues as to the validity of the respondents’ title can only be definitively resolved in a direct proceeding for cancellation of title before the RTCs.”