Thursday 21 June, 2018
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SC: Land case can still be pursued even if gov’t did not expropriate road

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The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that landowners could still evict those who encroach on their property even if a public road was built on it, for they did not lose cause of action as long as the road was not expropriated by the government.

In a recent 6-page decision, the SC 1st Division granted the petition of Esmeraldo Gatchalian, represented by Samuel Gatchalian, to reinstate a December 9, 2011 eviction order issued by Parañaque City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Branch 77.

The MeTC ordered Cesar Flores, Jose Luis Araneta, Corazon Quing, and Cynthia Flores to vacate a 140.5-square meter portion of Road Lot 23 and pay the corresponding rent on the encroached land belonging to the Gatchalians.

The SC reversed the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 196’s June 8, 2012 decision and the Court of Appeals’ (CA) October 23, 2015 amended decision, which granted the evictees’ appeal and dismissed the Gatchalians’ complaint for lack of cause of action.

Although the evictees did not claim ownership of the Gatchalians’ road lot, they argued it had become public property after it was turned into a street in 1988. They said it was the city government that had the legal right to seek their eviction.

However, the SC noted the city government did not expropriate the land and the Gatchalians neither donated nor sold it.

“Therefore, absent any expropriation proceedings and without any evidence that the petitioner donated or sold the subject property to the municipal government, the same is still private property,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam.

“The person who has a torrens title over a land is entitled to possession thereof. As such, petitioner· can file an ejectrnent case against herein respondents who encroached upon·a portion of petitioner’s property,” it added.

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