SANTOS V MANALILI

FACTS:

At the core of the controversy is a 4,608 square-meter parcel of land in the District of Toril, Davao City. On August 6, 1970, Reynaldo Manalili, predecessor-in-interest of respondent Ronald C. Manalili, filed with the BOL an application to purchase the subject property, attaching therewith his Occupants Affidavit. The application was favorably acted upon and on March 27, 1972, the BOL required Manalili to pay the downpayment of 10% of the purchase price or P1,865.28. Thereafter, Manalili declared the land for taxation purposes.

On March 25, 1981, after the lapse of nine (9) years and even as the BOL had already issued a Certification of Full Payment endorsing the approval of the sale of the land in question to applicant Reynaldo Manalili, herein petitioner Rodolfo Santos wrote an undated letter to the BOL protesting Manalilis application.

On December 16, 1981, following Manalilis compliance with other requirements, the BOL issued to him the corresponding Deed of Absolute Sale which was duly approved by the Office of the President on December 21, 1981.

On April 26, 1982, petitioner filed the aforementioned complaint for Reconveyance, Damages, Attorneys Fees and/or Annulment of Title against the BOL and the Manalilis.

The trial court rendered its September 20, 1993 decision in favor of the Manalilis. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

ISSUE:

W/N Manalili has the better right of possession over the lot in question.

RULING:

The two (2) courts below, in unanimously upholding the validity of the sale of the land in question to the Manalilis, likewise affirmed the BOLs finding that the Manalilis had a better right of possession thereto. Preponderant evidence of respondent have sufficiently established that as early as 1970, Reynaldo Manalili, respondents predecessor-in-interest, had already filed an Affidavit of Occupancy with the BOL, the government agency tasked to administer it; that the Manalilis administered the land before they left for Manila in 1972; that after they moved to Manila they appointed an administrator to oversee the land and the improvements and crops they have planted thereon, such as bananas and coconut trees; and that the Manalilis have been paying the real estate taxes for the subject land even before the sale thereof to them.

The circumstance that after the sale, the Manalilis resided in Manila and Pangasinan is of no moment. As it is, possession may be exercised in ones own name or in that of another.[5] It is not necessary that the owner or holder of the thing exercise personally the rights of possession. Rights of possession may be exercised through agents.[6]

Digest Credit: Abby Parwani

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