2014 Case Digest: Heirs of Julao v. Alejandro




G.R. No. 176020               September 29, 2014

Ponente: Del Castillo


                In 1960, Telesforo Julao filed before DENR two Townsite Sales Applications. Upon his death on June 1, 1971, his applications were transferred to his heirs. On April 30, 1979, Solito Julao (Solito) executed a Deed of Transfer of Rights, transferring his hereditary share in the property covered by TSA No. V-6667 to respondent spouses Alejandro and Morenita De Jesus. In 1983, respondent spouses constructed a house on the property they acquired from Solito. In 1986, Solito went missing.

                On December 21, 1998, Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-2446, covering a 641-square meter property, was issued in favor of the heirs of Telesforo.

                On March 2, 1999, petitioners representing themselves to be the heirs of Telesforo, filed before the RTC of Baguio City, a Complaint or Recovery of Possession of Real Property against respondent spouses. Petitioners alleged that they are the true and lawful owners of a 641-square meter parcel of land located at Naguilian Road, Baguio City, covered by OCT No. P-2446; that the subject property originated from TSA No. V-2132; that respondent spouses’ house encroached on 70 square meters of the subject property, among others.

                RTC ruled in favor of petitioners. CA reversed the decision on two grounds: (1) failure on the part of petitioners to identify the property sought to be recovered; and (2) lack of jurisdiction.


                Whether or not the RTC acquired jurisdiction over the complaint.


                NO. The Court held that in an action for recovery of possession, the assessed value of the property sought to be recovered determines the court’s jurisdiction.

                In this case, for the RTC to exercise jurisdiction, the assessed value of the subject property must exceed P20,000.00. Since petitioners failed to allege in their Complaint the assessed value of the subject property, the CA correctly dismissed the Complaint as petitioners failed to establish that the RTC had jurisdiction over it. In fact, since the assessed value of the property was not alleged, it cannot be determined which trial court had original and exclusive jurisdiction over the case.

                In an action to recover, the property must be identified.

                Moreover, Article 434 of the Civil Code states that “in an action to recover, the property must be identified, and the plaintiff must rely on the strength of his title and not on the weakness of the defendant’s claim.” The plaintiff, therefore, is duty-bound to clearly identify the land sought to be recovered, in accordance with the title on which he anchors his right of ownership.66 It bears stressing that the failure of the plaintiff to establish the identity of the property claimed is fatal to his case.

                In this case, petitioners failed to identify the property they seek to recover as they failed to describe the location, the area, as well as the boundaries thereof. In fact, as aptly pointed out by the CA, no survey plan was presented by petitioners to prove that respondent spouses actually encroached upon the 70-square meter portion of petitioners’ property. Failing to prove their allegation, petitioners are not entitled to the relief prayed for in their Complaint.


                WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated December 4, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 72845 is hereby AFFIRMED.

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