“Landowner Bulldozed the Farmers’ Crops”
G.R. No. 76217, Sept. 14, 1989
Parties: GERMAN MANAGEMENT & SERVICES, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ORLANDO GERNALE, ERNESTO VILLEZA, respondents.
Petitioner spouses are the owners of a parcel of land situated in Sitio Inarawan, San Isidro, Antipolo, Rizal. On February 26, 1982, the spouses Jose executed a special power of attorney authorizing petitioner German Management Services to develop their property into a residential subdivision. GMS obtained permit from Human Settlements Regulatory Commission. German found part of the property to be occupied by private respondents and 20 other persons. It advised them to vacate but proceeded with the development and bulldozed the crops of the defendants.
Who filed at MTC? Respondent Farmers
They filed an action for forcible entry against German Management.
Reason: Among others, that they have occupied and tilled their farmholdings some twelve to fifteen years prior to the promulgation of P. D. No. 27; that German Management deprived private respondents of their property without due process of law by:
- (1) Forcibly removing and destroying the barbed wire fence enclosing their farmholdings without notice;
- (2) Bulldozing the rice, corn, fruit bearing trees etc., in violation of P.D. 1038 and
- (3) Trespassing, coercing and threatening to harass, remove and eject private respondents from their respective farmholdings in violation of P.D. Nos. 316, 583, 815, and 1028.
MTC: Dismissed complaint of respondents. Favored German.
RTC: Sustained dismissal. Favored German.
CA Reversed. Favored private farmers.
Reason: Since private farmers were in actual possession of the property at the time they were forcibly ejected by petitioner, private respondents have a right to commence an action for forcible entry regardless of the legality or illegality of possession.
Who filed to SC: German Management.
Even if German Management is authorized by owners to develop the subject property, can private farmers commence forcible entry case? YES.
- Forcible entry does not determine who has the title to an estate. Title is never involved. It is merely a quieting process.
- Farmers were already in possession before German Management entered the property.
- Their possession were peacable as evidenced by them planting of crops and trees up to 15 years prior to the destruction made by German.
- There is no evidence that the spouses Jose were ever in possession.
Can a valid holder of title turn out peaceable possessor with strong hand? NO.
- Whatever may be the character of his prior possession, if he has in his favor priority in time, he has the security that entitles him to remain on the property until he is lawfully ejected by a person having a better right by accion publiciana or accion reivindicatoria.
- Regardless of the actual condition of the title to the property, the party in peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by a strong hand, violence or terror.
- The lower courts have rationalized German’s drastic action of bulldozing and destroying crops on the basis of SELF-HELP enunciated in Article 429 of the Civil Code: “In no case may possession be acquired through force or intimidation as long as there is a possessor who objects thereto. He who believes that he has a right to deprive another of the holding of a thing must invoke the aid of the competent court, if the holder should refuse to deliver the thing.”
German Management’s Petition denied.