I planted mango trees in the nearby vacant area more than a decade ago. My family is the one harvesting its fruits from time to time. Now the vacant land is already surrounded by barbwire and we are being prohibited from entering the land to harvest the fruits from my mango trees. What are my rights to those trees which I have planted?
The mango trees which you have planted belong to the owner of the vacant land pursuant to the provision of Article 445 of the Civil Code which states that “whatever is built, planted or sown on the land of another and the improvements or repairs made thereon, belong to the owner of the land, xxx.”
Your right as planter of the mango trees depends on whether you were in good faith when you planted those trees. A builder in good faith is one who builds with the belief that the land he is building on is his, or that by some title one has the right to build thereon, and is ignorant of any defect or flaw in his title (Rosales v. Castellfort, G.R. No. 157044, October 5, 2005). In the same manner, a planter in good faith is one who plants in the land of another believing that the said land is his or he has a right thereon by some other title and is ignorant of any defect or flaw in his title. Accordingly, a planter in good faith shall have the right, at the option of the landowner, to be paid of the cost of the planting including payment of necessary expenses or the right to appropriate or buy the land (Article 448, Civil Code). On the other hand, a planter in bad faith loses what is planted in the land of another without any right of indemnity (Article 449, Civil Code).
Based from the foregoing, you will only be entitled to reimbursement or the right to buy the land, if chosen by the landowner, if you have planted the mango tress believing that the land is yours or you have some other title granting you the right to plant those trees. Then again, you will have no right for any reimbursement or even cut or remove those trees that you have planted if you knew from the start that the said land belongs to another.
We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are added or elaborated.
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