CA allows Legazpi bishop to evict Albay town health center
The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the lower courts’ decision allowing Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon to evict the municipal government of Malilipot, Albay, which erected a rural health center and a senior citizen’s building on Church property without an agreement.
In a recent 10-page decision, the CA Special 11th Division denied the municipality’s appeal on the January 2015 decision of the Bacacay-Malilipot Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) that was affirmed in a July 2015 ruling by the Tabaco City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 17.
The CA rejected the Malilipot government’s claim that the Bishop lacked a cause of action in the unlawful detainer case, because it was shown that the former possessed the land initially by mere tolerance.
For one, when the Church wrote the municipality in 2008 to draw up a formal agreement, then-Mayor Herminio Bitara asked for a computation of rent to be presented to the Sangguniang Bayan.
For the CA, this showed that the government initially recognized the Church to be the owner of the property, contrary to its later claim that the land was covered by a tax declaration under the name of the Department of Health (DoH).
The court added that a tax declaration would not be as adequate as the transfer certificate of title presented by the Church to prove ownership over the property
“The Court thus finds no reason not to uphold respondent’s superior possessory right as against that of the petitioner’s. Corollarily, as a registered owner, respondent has a right to eject any person illegally occupying its property,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob.