Pasco vs. Pison GR 165501, Mar. 28, 2006 485 SCRA 514

Facts: Respondent, Pison-Arceo Agricultural and Development Corporation, is the registered owner of a parcel of land containing more than 100 hectares. Constructed on respondent’s parcel of land are houses which are occupied by its workers. Petitioners, among other workers, used to work for respondent until 1987. They having ceased to be employed by respondent, petitioners were asked to vacate the house they were occupying but they refused, hence, respondent filed a complaint for unlawful detainer against them before the MTCC. The MTCC of Talisay rendered judgment in favor of respondent. After the promulgation on June 30, 2000 of the MTCC decision, the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office (MARO) of Talisay City sent a Notice of Coverage and Field Investigation advising respondent that its parcel of land is now covered under Republic Act 6657 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), and inviting the presence of a representative to a field investigation. In the meantime, as petitioners appealed the MTCC decision in the Unlawful Detainer Case to the RTC which was denied and affirmed the decision of the lower court. Petitioners moved to reconsider the RTC decision, they contending that the MTCC had no jurisdiction over the complaint for unlawful detainer in view of the agrarian dispute between them and respondent; Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, they elevated the case to the Court of Appeals14 before which they raised, in the main, the issues of whether or not there is an agrarian dispute between the parties in civil case so as to nullify the proceedings in the municipal trial court in cities for lack of jurisdiction. The appellate court denied petitioners’ petition, Hence this appeal.

Issue:  Whether the DAR has no jurisdiction in Hearing the land dispute on the said case?

Held: Yes, although that the subject land is covered by CARP;  that there is an agrarian dispute; and  that the case is not brought by a real party-in-interest; these are mere afterthoughts to muddle the case and win at all costs. These issues were not raised before the trial court. The fact is that the petitioners had admitted from the very start that the respondent is the owner of the lot in question. They are therefore in estoppel if they deny the fact the complaint was brought by the real party-in-interest. In the same manner, the defense that the court has no jurisdiction over the ejectment case because of an agrarian dispute or the land is covered by CARP is likewise untenable. Basic is the rule that the material averments in the complaint, which in this case is for ejectment, determine the jurisdiction of the court. And, jurisprudence dictates that the court does not lose its jurisdiction over an ejectment case by the simple expedient of a party raising as a defense therein the alleged existence of a tenancy relationship between the parties. Moreover, it is a settled rule that no question will be raised on appeal unless it has been raised in the court below.

Anent the allegation that the respondent is not the real party in interest, the same deserves scant consideration. Even granting that there is indeed a co-ownership over a portion of the subject land, the law says that anyone of the co-owners may bring an action in ejectment. Thus, the respondent (plaintiff) is unquestionable a real party in interest.18 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

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