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ACCION PUBLICIANA

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The present action, although termed as one for "reconveyance of real property" is actually one for recovery of the right to possess or accion publiciana. This is an action for recovery of the right to possess and is a plenary action in an ordinary civil proceeding in a regional trial court to determine the better right of possession of realty independently of the title. Accion publiciana or plenaria de posesion is also used to refer to an ejectment suit filed after the expiration of one year from the accrual of the cause of action or from the unlawful withholding of possession of the realty. In such case, the regional trial court has jurisdiction.

The "jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter of the action is determined by the allegations of the complaint, irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. The jurisdiction of the court can not be made to depend upon the defenses set up in the answer or upon the motion to dismiss, for otherwise, the question of jurisdiction would almost entirely depend upon the defendant." 9 [Serdoncillo vs. Benolirao, G.R. No. 118328, October 8, 1998; San Miguel Corporation vs. NLRC, 255 SCRA 133 [1996]; Boleyley vs. Villanueva, G. R. No. 128734, September 14, 1999.]

The present action, although termed as one for "reconveyance of real property" is actually one for recovery of the right to possess or accion publiciana. This is an action for recovery of the right to possess and is a plenary action in an ordinary civil proceeding in a regional trial court to determine the better right of possession of realty independently of the title.10 [Aguilon vs. Bohol, 79 SCRA 482 [1977]; Desbarats vs. de Laureano, 18 SCRA 116 [1966].] Accion publiciana or plenaria de posesion is also used to refer to an ejectment suit filed after the expiration of one year from the accrual of the cause of action or from the unlawful withholding of possession of the realty.11 [Bernabe vs. Dayrit, 125 SCRA 423, 425 [1983].] In such case, the regional trial court has jurisdiction.12 [Bernabe vs. Dayrit, supra.] Here, the parties admit that the subject real property is registered in the name of respondent Alfredo Torres. In the regional trial court what respondent sought was to recover possession of the subject real property alleging that he owned the lot on which he had allowed his father (now deceased) and sisters, petitioners herein, to erect their houses. Since the complaint alleged that respondent Alfredo Torres was the owner of the subject lot and that he merely allowed his father Simplicio Torres and his sisters Amelia and Primitiva to construct their houses thereon, and that since 1972 respondent pleaded to petitioners to remove their houses and such additional constructions thereon as respondent needed the lot for his own use, the action is plainly one for recovery of possession of real property, or accion publiciana, filed on October 7, 1987, more than one year after dispossession or when possession became unlawful, which is within the jurisdiction of a regional trial court.13 [Javier vs. Veridiano, 237 SCRA 565, 573 [1994]; Medina vs. Court of Appeals, 181 SCRA 837 [1990]; Bernabe vs. Dayrit, supra; del Castillo vs. Aquino, 212 SCRA 553 [1992].] As heretofore stated, the jurisdiction of the court is determined by the allegations of the complaint, not by the answer nor by the evidence adduced at the trial. Thus, the jurisdiction of the lower court is not affected by the fact that petitioners asserted in their answer to the complaint that the subject lot was truly owned by the estate of their father, also the father of respondent, or that the last written demand to vacate was given on September 2, 1987, just more than a month prior to the filing of the action. Since initial demand to vacate was made in 1972, petitioners’ occupancy became unlawful. Subsequent demands were merely in the nature of reminders or reiterations of the original demand, the one-year period to commence suit is counted from the first demand.14 [Pacis vs. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 102676, February 3, 1992, min. res., cited in Summary of 1992 Supreme Court Rulings, Part III, by Atty. Daniel T. Martinez, p. 1847; Desbarats vs. de Laureano, supra.] When the dispossession lasted beyond one year, the proper action is accion publiciana for recovery of possession of the subject property filed in the regional trial court.15 [Desbarats vs. de Laureano, supra.]

Justice Pardo, First Division, SPOUSES ROMAN & AMELITA T. CRUZ and SPOUSES SEVERINO& PRIMITIAVA T. BAUTISTA, petitioners, vs. SPOUSES ALFREDO & MELBA TORRES and THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents [G.R. No. 121939. October 4, 1999]

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