Civil Law

Heirs of Alfonso Yusingco vs Amelita Busilak et al.

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G.R. No. 210504 – 824 Phil. 454 – 852 SCRA 631 – Civil Law – Law on Property – Recovery of Possession – Accion Reivindicatoria is a real action but in personam; Exceptions

The Heirs of Alfonso Yusingco won several cases (accion reivindicatoria cases) and their ownership over certain parcels of land were judicially recognized. Thereafter, they demanded certain individuals (Amelita Busilak et al.) to vacate the subject properties. The Heirs of Alfonso then filed recovery of possession cases against Busilak et al. The Heirs won in the lower court. The lower court ruled that the accion reivindicatoria cases earlier won by the Heirs bound Busilak et al.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals ruled against the Heirs on the ground that an accion reivindicatoria is an in personam case which only binds the parties therein.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals is correct.

HELD: No.

As a rule, an accion reivindicatoria is an action in personam. A judgment directing a party to deliver possession of a property to another is in personam. It is conclusive, not against the whole world, but only “between the parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action.”  An action to recover a parcel of land is a real action but it is an action in personam, for it binds a particular individual only although it concerns the right to a tangible thing. Any judgment therein is binding only upon the parties properly impleaded and duly heard or given an opportunity to be heard.

However, this rule admits of the exception that even a non-party may be bound by the judgment in an ejectment suit where he is any of the following:

(a) trespasser, squatter or agent of the defendant fraudulently occupying the property to frustrate the judgment;

(b) guest or occupant of the premises with the permission of the defendant;

(c) transferee pendente lite;

(d) sublessee;

(e) co-lessee; or

(f) member of the family, relative or privy of the defendant.

Here, Busilak et al. were intruders in the properties of the Heirs. They merely entered the properties hoping that they are public land and were hoping to acquire ownership via acquisitive prescription.

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