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B. Ownership

1. Bundle of rights


Ownership may be exercised over things or rights. (Article 427, Civil Code)

The owner has the right to enjoy and dispose of a thing, without other limitations than those established by law. (Article 428, Ibid.)

The owner has also a right of action against the holder and possessor of the thing in order to recover it. (Paragraph 2, Article 428, Ibid.)

Ownership may be exercised over things or rights. It primarily includes the right of the owner to enjoy and dispose of the thing owned. And the right to enjoy and dispose of the thing includes the right to receive from the thing what it produces, [jus utendi; jus fruendi] the right to consume the thing by its use, [jus abutendi] the right to alienate, encumber, transform or even destroy the thing owned, [jus disponendi] and the right to exclude from the possession of the thing owned by any other person to whom the owner has not transmitted such thing [jus vindicandi]. (Baring v. Elena Loan and Credit Company, Inc., G.R. No. 224225, 14 August 2017)

1) Right to possidendi (right to possess)

2) Jus utendi (right to use and enjoy)

3) Jus fruendi (right to fruits)

4) Jus abutendi (right to use and abuse)

5) Jus dispodendi (right to dispose)

6) Jus vindicandi (right to exclude)

The owner or lawful possessor of a thing has the right to exclude any person from the enjoyment and disposal thereof. For this purpose, he may use such force as may be reasonably necessary to repel or prevent an actual or threatened unlawful physical invasion or usurpation of his property.(Article 429, Ibid.)

Every owner may enclose or fence his land or tenements by means of walls, ditches, live or dead hedges, or by any other means without detriment to servitudes constituted thereon. (Article 430, Ibid.)

a. Actions to recover ownership and possession of real property and its distinctions

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. (Article 434, Ibid.)

Actual possession under claim of ownership raises disputable presumption of ownership. The true owner must resort to judicial process for the recovery of the property. (Article 433, Ibid.)

There are three kinds of real actions affecting title to or possession of real property, or interest therein, namely: accion de reivindicacion, accion publiciana and accion interdictal. The first seeks the recovery of ownership as well as possession of realty. The second proposes to recover the right to possess and is a plenary action in an ordinary civil proceeding. The third refers to the recovery of physical or actual possession only (through a special civil action either for forcible entry or unlawful detainer). (Penta Pacific Realty Corporation v. Ley Construction and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 161589, 24 November 2014)

1) Accion interdictal

Accion interdictal comprises two distinct causes of action, namely, forcible entry (detentacion) and unlawful detainer (desahuico). (Heirs of Alfonso Yusingco v. Busilak, G.R. No. 210504, 24 January 2018)

In forcible entry, one is deprived of physical possession of real property by means of force, intimidation, strategy, threats, or stealth. (Ibid.)

In unlawful detainer, one illegally withholds possession after the expiration or termination of his right to hold possession under any contract, express or implied. (Ibid.)

The two are distinguished from each other in that in forcible entry, the possession of the defendant is illegal from the beginning, and that the issue is which party has prior de facto possession while in unlawful detainer, possession of the defendant is originally legal but became illegal due to the expiration or termination of the right to possess. (Ibid.)

a) Recovery of possession

b) The 1-year prescription, MTC/MeTC

The jurisdiction of these two actions, which are summary in nature, lies in the proper municipal trial court or metropolitan trial court. Both actions must be brought within one year from the date of actual entry on the land, in case of forcible entry, and from the date of last demand, in case of unlawful detainer. The issue in said cases is the right to physical possession. (Ibid.)

2) Accion publiciana

a) Recovery of possession

b) More than 1-year of dispossession, RTC

Accion publiciana is the plenary action to recover the right of possession which should be brought in the proper regional trial court when dispossession has lasted for more than one year. It is an ordinary civil proceeding to determine the better right of possession of realty independently of title. In other words, if at the time of the filing of the complaint more than one year had elapsed since defendant had turned plaintiff out of possession or defendant’s possession had become illegal, the action will be, not one of the forcible entry or illegal detainer, but an accion publiciana. (Ibid.)

3) Accion reivindicatoria

a) Recovery of ownership, RTC

Accion reivindicatoria is an action to recover ownership also brought in the proper regional trial court in an ordinary civil proceeding. It is an action whereby the plaintiff alleges ownership over a parcel of land and seeks recovery of its full possession. It is a suit to recover possession of a parcel of land as an element of ownership. The judgment in such a case determines the ownership of the property and awards the possession of the property to the lawful owner. (Ibid.)

Accion reivindicatoria is different from accion interdictal or accion publiciana where plaintiff merely alleges proof of a better right to possess without claim of title. (Ibid.)

b. Actions for recovery of possession of movable property

1) Replevin as principal remedy

2) Replevin as provisional relief

Replevin, broadly understood, is both a form of principal remedy and of a provisional relief. It may refer either to the action itself, i.e., to regain the possession of personal chattels being wrongfully detained from the plaintiff by another, or to the provisional remedy that would allow the plaintiff to retain the thing during the pendency of the action and hold it pendente lite. The action is primarily possessory in nature and generally determines nothing more than the right of possession. (BA Finance Corporation v. CA, G.R. No. 102998, 06 July 1996)

Replevin is so usually described as a mixed action, being partly in rem and partly in personamin rem insofar as the recovery of specific property is concerned, and in personam as regards to damages involved. (Ibid.)

As an “action in rem,” the gist of the replevin action is the right of the plaintiff to obtain possession of specific personal property by reason of his being the owner or of his having a special interest therein. Consequently, the person in possession of the property sought to be replevied is ordinary the proper and only necessary party defendant, and the plaintiff is not required to so join as defendants other persons claiming a right on the property but not in possession thereof. Rule 60 of the Rules of Court allows an application for the immediate possession of the property but the plaintiff must show that he has a good legal basis, i.e., a clear title thereto, for seeking such interim possession. (Ibid.)

Where the right of the plaintiff to the possession of the specific property is so conceded or evident, the action need only be maintained against him who so possesses the property. In rem actio est per quam rem nostram quae ab alio possidetur petimus, et semper adversus eum est qui rem possidet. (Ibid.)

a) The 8-year prescription

Actions to recover movables shall prescribe eight years from the time the possession thereof is lost, unless the possessor has acquired the ownership by prescription for a less period, according to Articles 1132, and without prejudice to the provisions of Articles 559, 1505, and 1133. (Article 1140, Ibid.)

2. Distinction between real and personal rights


Real rights (jus in re, jus in rem) are those which attach to a property and are enforceable against the world.

Example: Contract of sale over a property transfers real rights.


Personal (jus in personam) rights are those which pertain to a person and are enforceable against specific persons.

Example: Contract to sell a property creates a person right only, and does not result in a transfer.

By a contract to sell [a property] only a jus in personam is created; while, by a sale a jus in rem is transferred. (Barretto v. Santa Marina, G.R. No. L-8238, 02 December 1913)

3. Modes of acquiring ownership


1) Occupation

2) Intellectual Property Creation

3) By law

4) Donation

5) Succession

6) Tradition in consequence of certain contracts

7) Prescription (Heirs of Sps. Seraspi v. CA, G.R. No. 135602, 28 April 2000)

NB: For more discussion, See Civil Law > II. Property > J. Modes of Acquiring Ownership

4. Limitations of ownership


The owner of a thing cannot make use thereof in such manner as to injure the rights of a third person. (Article 431, Ibid.)

The owner of a thing has no right to prohibit the interference of another with the same, if the interference is necessary to avert an imminent danger and the threatened damage, compared to the damage arising to the owner from the interference, is much greater. The owner may demand from the person benefited indemnity for the damage to him. (Article 432, Ibid.)

When any property is condemned or seized by competent authority in the interest of health, safety or security, the owner thereof shall not be entitled to compensation, unless he can show that such condemnation or seizure is unjustified. (Article 436, Ibid.)


The owner of a parcel of land is the owner of its surface and of everything under it, and he can construct thereon any works or make any plantations and excavations which he may deem proper, without detriment to servitudes and subject to special laws and ordinances. He cannot complain of the reasonable requirements of aerial navigation. (Article 437, Ibid.)

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