• Occupants not real parties in interest in annulment of land title

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    We have been occupying a certain portion of 6,000 square meters of land owned by Mr. X who is now residing in the United States. Mr. X allowed us, including almost 50 families, to occupy his titled land since 1970. Last month, Creston informed all the families occupying the property to vacate it because he is the real owner and he presented a Transfer Certificate of Title to prove his ownership.

    This matter was brought before the barangay conciliation proceedings, and we found out that Creston’s title includes the property owned by Mr. X. We do not want to surrender our possession of the land, hence the proceedings before the barangay failed. We are contemplating filing a case against Creston in order to annul his title considering that he encroached on the property of Mr. X. Please guide us on this matter.
    Brando

    Dear Brando,
    Civil actions for annulment of title should be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest. A real party in interest has been defined under Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court as “the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgement in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.”

    Please be guided also by the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Goco et. al., vs. CA (G.R. No. 157449, April 6, 2010; ponente, former Associate Justice Arturo Brion), where it is stated:

    This provision has two requirements: 1) to institute an action, the plaintiff must be the real party in interest; and 2) the action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest. Interest within the meaning of the Rules of Court means material interest or an interest in issue to be affected by the decree or judgment of the case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about the question involved. One having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as the plaintiff in an action. When the plaintiff is not the real party in interest, the case is dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of action.

    An action for annulment of certificates of title to property into the issue of ownership of the land covered by a Torrens title and the relief generally prayed for by the plaintiff is to be declared as the land’s true owner. The real party in interest in such action therefore is the person claiming title or ownership adverse to that of the registered owner.

    Applying the decision and provision of law in your case, the action you intended to file will be dismissed because you and the families occupying the lot of Mr. X are not the real parties in interest to file a civil action to annul the title of Creston. Such action must be initiated by Mr. X or any person that he may authorize by means of a Special Power of Attorney.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    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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