What course of action shall the lawful owner of a land, who was dispossessed thereof, take to recover the land? My friend who owns a land somewhere in Quezon province took a vacation. When he returned a month thereafter, he found out that almost 50 square meters of his land was occupied by his neighbor, when the latter moved the wooden fence bordering their respective lands. Inoy
Under the law, a person who was unlawfully dispossessed of or interrupted in the possession and enjoyment of his property may seek redress from the court. This is specifically provided by Article 539 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, which states:
“Art. 539. Every possessor has a right to be respected in his possession; and should he be disturbed therein he shall be protected in or restored to said possession by the means established by the laws and the Rules of Court.
A possessor deprived of his possession through forcible entry may within ten days from the filing of the complaint present a motion to secure from the competent court, in the action for forcible entry, a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction to restore him in his possession. The court shall decide the motion within thirty (30) days from the filing thereof.”
In connection with the abovementioned provision, the Rules of Court is explicit in stating that when a person is deprived of the possession of his land or building by force, intimidation, stealth or strategy, a summary action for forcible entry may be filed to recover the possession thereof. This is according to Section 1, Rule 70 of the said law:
“Section 1. Who may institute proceedings, and when. — Subject to the provisions of the next succeeding section, a person deprived of the possession of any land or building by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth, or a lessor, vendor, vendee or other person against whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of the right to hold possession, by virtue of any contract, express or implied, or the legal representatives or assigns by of any such lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person, may, at any time within one (1) year after such unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession, bring an action in the proper Municipal Trial Court against the person or persons unlawfully withholding or depriving of possession, or any person or persons claiming under them, for the restitution of such possession, together with damages and costs.”
As can be gleaned from the foregoing provisions, your friend may file a Civil Action for Forcible Entry to recover the piece of land that was surreptitiously occupied by his neighbor. However, since they both live in the same locality, the matter shall first be threshed out before the Katarungang Pambarangay. Should the mediation proceeding therein fail, the matter may be brought before the court.
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 email@example.com