SC Affirms Dismissal of Complaint for Forcible Entry and Damages against BCDA

November 8, 2021

The Supreme Court has affirmed the dismissal of a complaint for forcible entry and damages filed against the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) over a lot property in Makati City, which is a portion of the Joint U.S. Military Group (JUSMAG) property.

In a Resolution penned by Justice Henri Paul J. Inting, the Court’s Third Division affirmed the October 11, 2017 Decision and the March 27, 2018 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA). The  CA sustained the October 10, 2014 Decision of the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 57 which in turn affirmed the June 17, 2013 Decision of the Makati City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 64. The MeTC dismissed petitioners’ complaint for forcible entry and damages.

Petitioners Severino Balmaceda, et al. claimed that they were legitimate occupants of subject property with an aggregate total area of 139,981 sqm. situated in Makati, which they had occupied for more or less 30 years with the consent of its registered owner, Agustina Alfabeto (Agustina), the grandmother of Jacobina Alcantara (Jacobina). Jacobina is also one of the petitioners in the case before the SC.

The BCDA, for its part, contended that Jacobina’s claim of ownership was fraudulent because the subject property is a military reservation since the 1950s, as decreed by then President Carlos P. Garcia under Proclamation No. 423. It stressed that it is the lawful owner of the disputed property under Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 004. The subject property covered by OCT No. 004 is only a portion of the JUSMAG property, which, as a whole, constitutes roughly 39.99 hectares.

The Court, holding that “petition is bereft of merit,” stressed that it is not a trier of facts and that the issue of who between the parties are entitled to the material possession of the disputed property involves factual matters which are beyond the ambit of a petition for review on certiorari.

The Court agreed with the findings of the lower courts that the purported sale of the property in question from Ricardo to Agustina was void as it involved a government property that could not be placed under private appropriation. Consequently, the dismissal of the case is warranted because petitioners anchor their supposed right to possess the property from the title of Agustina which, as discussed, is void.”

Being its owner, the BCDA is entitled to possess and can evict petitioners from the subject property.

The Court further held that pursuant to Section 28(b) or RA 7279, the BCDA is permitted to extrajudicially cause the eviction of petitioners and the demotion of the structures they built on the property. Such is the case since eviction and demolition are necessary for the implementation of government infrastructure projects. The Court also quotes with approval the observation of the CA that the BCDA still gave prior notice and assistance to petitioners despite not being required to do so.

“All told, the CA properly affirmed the ruling of the RTC, which sustained the MeTC Decision dismissing the case for lack of merit,” the Court held.

(G. R. No. 238712, Balmaceda, et al. v. BCDA, et al., May 12, 2021)

FULL TEXT: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/21989/