Ejectment case cannot be filed if based on void contract of sale

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I met Aski, a foreigner, sometime in 2010 in Pagadian City (Zamboanga del Sur). We eventually became lovers and decided to live together in Pasay City (Metro Manila). We acquired a townhouse in the same city where we stayed until such time when our relationship turned sour. The house and lot in Pasay City was titled in my name but Aski convinced me to sign a draft Deed of Sale purportedly selling the property to him. He kept the Certificate of Title and the Deed of Sale was not registered.

He now wants me out from the property. Aski even complained before barangay authorities but nothing happened. Hhe told me that he will just file a case for ejectment against me. I must admit that the money used to buy the property came from him. Do I have any right over the property?
Venus

Dear Venus,
Basic is the rule that “the contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy (Article 1306, New Civil Code of the Philippines).” In relation to this, Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states, “[S]ave in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.”

It is clear that the purported Contract of Sale between you and Aski is void considering that the same is in contravention of the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Aski, a foreigner, is prohibited from owning land in the Philippines.

In a similar situation decided by the Supreme Court in Fullido vs. Grilli (G. R. No. 215014, February 29, 2016), the Associate Justice Jose Mendoza said :

“A complaint sufficiently alleges a cause of action for unlawful detainer if it recites the following: (1) initially, possession of property by the defendant was by contract with or by tolerance of the plaintiff; (2) eventually, such possession became illegal upon notice by plaintiff to defendant of the termination of the latter’s right of possession; (3) thereafter, the defendant remained in possession of the property and deprived the plaintiff of the enjoyment thereof; and (4) within one year from the last demand on defendant to vacate the property, the plaintiff instituted the complaint for ejectment.

“The court rules that Grilli has no cause of action for unlawful detainer against Fullido. As can be gleaned from the discussion above, the complainant must either be a lessor, vendor, vendee or other person against whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully withheld. In other words, the complainant in an unlawful detainer case must have some right of possession over the property.

“In the case at bench, the lease contract and the MOA [Memorandum of Areement], from which Grilli purportedly drew his right of possession, were found to be null and void for being unconstitutional. A contract that violates the Constitution and the law is null and void ab initio and vests no rights and creates no obligations.

It produces no legal effect at all. Hence, as void contracts could not be the source of rights, Grilli had no possessory right over the subject land. A person who does not have any right over a property from the beginning cannot eject another person possessing the same. Consequently, Grilli’s complaint for unlawful detainer must be dismissed for failure to prove his cause of action.”

Hence, Aski cannot file an ejectment case against you based on a void contract of sale.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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