Case Brief: Drilon vs. Gaurana

G.R. No. L-35482 April 30, 1987

MANUEL DRILON, petitioner,

vs.

LUIS GAURANA and Honorable VALERIO ROVIRA, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, Branch IV, respondents.

 

Facts:

A parcel of agricultural land in Iloilo is covered by Free Patent No. 455943 in the name of Manuel Drilon, who was then issued Original Certificate of Title by the Register of Deeds.

In 1970, respondent Gaurana filed a case for annulment of free patent involving the same land, alleging that he purchased the land from Evangeline Gaurana, wife of the respondent. Gaurana filed another case for “Forcible Entry” in the same land, alleging that Drilon “by means of stealth, force, and strategy,” took possession of the south-east portion of the same land.

Drilon’s motion focused on two grounds: lack of jurisdiction, since the cause of action of respondent Luis Gaumna was one for recovery of ownership and possession of real property and not merely one of “forcible entry;” and (b) pendency of another action for the same cause. Both motions were dismissed, as “plaintiff did not split his cause of action and the alleged act of dispossession occurred subsequent to the filing of the complaint, and therefore, the only issue before him was the question of de facto possession.” Drilon was then declared in default by the court, and was ejected from the property.

Drilon then filed a motion, praying that the court had no jurisdiction to try the case of forcible entry), which was denied as well. Hence, the appeal.

 

Issues:

Whether or not the lower court erred in holding that there was no splitting of a single cause of action.

Whether or not the lower court was correct in dismissing the motions due to the pendency of another action between the same parties.

 

Held:

It is true that a party may not institute more than one suit for a single cause of action (Rule 2, Sec. 3, Revised Rules of Court) and if two or more complaints are brought for different parts of a single cause of action, the firing of the first may be pleaded in abatement of the other (Rule 2, Sec. 4. Revised Rules of Court). However, a forcible entry or unlawful detainer action has an entirely different subject from that of an action for reconveyance of title. What is involved in a forcible entry case is merely the issue of material possession or possession de facto; whereas in an action for reconveyance, ownership is the issue. So much so that the pendency of an action for reconveyance of title over the same property does not divest the city or municipal court of its jurisdiction to try the forcible entry or unlawful detainer case, nor preclude or bar execution of judgment in the ejectment case where the only issue involved is material possession or possession de facto.

It must be stated that the purpose of an action of forcible entry and detainer is that, regardless of the actual condition of the title to the property, the party in peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by strong hand, violence or terror. In affording this remedy of restitution the object of the statute is to prevent breaches of the peace and criminal disorder which would ensue from the withdrawal of the remedy, and the reasonable hope such withdrawal would create that some advantage must accrue to those persons who, believing themselves entitled to the possession of property, resort to force to gain possession rather than to some appropriate action in the courts to assert their claims. This is the philosophy at the foundation of all these actions of forcible entry and detainer which are designed to compel the party out of possession to respect and resort to the law alone to obtain what he claims is his.

With respect to the second assignment of error, while there may be Identity of parties and subject matter in the forcible entry case and Civil Case No. 8323, for annulment of free patent and/or reconveyance, the rights asserted and the relief prayed for in the said cases are not the same. In the former case, the legal right claimed is possession, while in the latter case, the legal right asserted is ownership. SC cannot assent to the proposition that the motion to dismiss the forcible entry case in view of the pendency of an action for quieting of title and recovery of possession of the same parcel of land since the causes of action in the two cases are distinct from each other.

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