• Possession, not ownership

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    In 1975, my father allowed Mr. C and his family to stay in a 10,000 square meter-agricultural land in Kalinga. In my recollection, my father allowed the family to stay on that land subject to the condition that they will vacate the land whenever asked to do so by my father. Such land is not yet registered in my parents’ name, but they have been paying the tax declaration religiously.

    In 2010, my father and Mr. C had an altercation, which had already undergone barangay (village) conciliation proceedings. My father demanded that Mr. C vacate the land, but the latter contended that the land is now owned by his family because they have been in possession of the property since 1975. Is Mr. C correct?

    Dear Lani,
    Mr. C is not correct. His possession is by means of tolerance which cannot ripen into ownership. This is in consonance with Article 537 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which states that: “Acts merely tolerated, and those executed clandestinely and without the knowledge of the possessor of a thing, or by violence, do not affect possession”.

    The Supreme Court also said in Lamsis vs. Dong-e (G. R. No. 173021, October 20, 2010), that: “Assuming that the subject land may be acquired by prescription, we cannot accept petitioner’s claim of acquisition by prescription. Petitioners admitted that they had occupied the property by tolerance of the owner thereof. Having made this admission, they cannot claim that they have acquired the property by prescription unless they can prove acts of repudiation. It is settled that possession, in order to ripen into ownership, must be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful and uninterrupted. Possession not in the concept of owner, such as the one claimed by petitioners, cannot ripen into ownership by acquisitive prescription, unless the juridical relation is first expressly repudiated and such repudiation has been communicated to the other party. Acts of possessory character executed due to license or by mere tolerance of the owner are inadequate for purposes of acquisitive prescription. Possession by tolerance is not adverse and such possessory acts, no matter how long performed, do not start the running of the period of prescription”.

    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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