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[ GR No. 6044, Mar 30, 1911 ]



19 Phil. 254

[ G. R. No. 6044, March 30, 1911 ]




This is an action of ejectment brought by  the  plaintiff against the defendants for the recovery of a mineral  claim  called "The Lookout Claim," located in the barrio of Bolo, municipality of Torrijos, Island of Marinduque, Province of Tayabas, a technical description of which is presented in the complaint.  The plaintiff alleges ownership by virtue of having located a mining claim  under the provisions of the Act of Congress of July l, 1902.  The  defendants, on the other hand, assert that the land upon which said mineral claim  is alleged to have been located is land belonging to them and occupied by them at the time the  claim referred to was staked.  They found their ownership and right to possession upon a purchase of said land from certain Filipinos who had owned said lands and been occupying the same for more  than thirty years prior to said  purchase.   They further assert that being in quiet, peaceable,  open, and visible possession of said lands at  the time of  the staking of said mineral claim on the  part of the  plaintiff,  and they and their antecessors having been so in possession for more than thirty years, the  entry of the plaintiff upon  said land and the staking of said mineral claim was a trespass and an unlawful invasion of their rights as owners and possessors.

In order to determine the first question in the case, namely, whether or not the defendants are the owners of the land described in their Exhibit No. 1 in this case, which includes at least a  portion of the mining claim which the plaintiff alleges he owns, we have carefully read the testimony given upon the trial and the exhibits offered in connection therewith.  A  detailed consideration of the testimony leads us to the conclusion that the finding of the learned trial court upon that subject can not be said to be against the weight of the evidence.

This question being decided in favor of the defendants, it necessarily follows that the entrance upon said premises by the plaintiff and the  staking of the mineral claim in pursuance  thereof was a trespass against the right of possession of the defendants and was in violation of law.  The present action on the part of the plaintiff can be maintained only upon  the theory, that the plaintiff is either the owner of the lands: or is entitled to the possession  thereof.  Our finding that the defendants are the owners disposes of his claim to ownership.  Our  finding of the defendants' right to possession of said land disposes of his right to possession. It is argued, however, on his behalf, that the land is public land owned by the Government, and that he acquired rights therein by his  proceeding under the Act of July 1, 1902, and  that the possession of the defendants  is subordinated to such rights.  Even if we concede that the land in question is public land,  nevertheless the defendants' possession for more than thirty years has given them frights which  even the Government itself is bound in a measure to respect.  In order to claim  rights under the Act of July 1, 1902, the plaintiff must show that he has properly staked the land; but in making that showing he necessarily discloses also that  in staking that land  he violated certain rights of the defendants.  The latter, having acquired actual possession of the land and .having maintained that possession for  a long  series of years, can not be forcibly dispossessed thereof, or from any portion thereof, even by the Government itself.

Article 441 of the  Civil Code provides:
"In no case can possession be forcibly acquired while there is a possessor opposing it.  A person believing that  he has an action  or right to deprive another of the holding  of a thing must request the assistance of competent  authority whenever the holder refuses the delivery."
Article 446 of the same code  provides:
"Every possessor has a right to he respected in his  possession; and  should he be disturbed  therein,  he must be protected or possession must be restored to  him by the means established in the laws of procedure."
Article 448 provides:
"The possessor by virtue of ownership  has in his favor the legal presumption that he ftolds possession by reason of a sufficient title  and he can not be forced to show it."
Article 459 provides:
"The actual possessor  who shows  his  possession at  a prior period is presumed to have had possession also during the intermediate period until the contrary is proved."
Article 460 provides:
"The  possessor may lose his posseesion:

"1. By the abandonment of the thing:.

"2. By transfer to another for a good or valuable consideration.

"3. By the destruction or total loss of t he thing or by the thing becoming: unmarketable.

"4. By the possession of another, even against the will of the former possessor, if the new possession has lasted more than one year."
It is, therefore, evident that even, if we  concede the land in controversy to be Government l&nd; the defendant^ having acquired the rights of a possessor, can not be deprived; of those rights except by due process of law, even though the Government itself be the complaining party.

All of the rights which the plaintiff alleges in this action are rights which are based upon a trespass against the personal rights of the deferadants.   Upon the provisions of the code above referred to, and upon the general principle that a party may not take advantage of his  own wrong,  we are of the opinion that the plaintiff can not maintain this, action. Every right which the plaintiff asserts  in this case springs from the performance of an act which the law prohibited; at the time of its, performance.

It is to be observed that the rights of the Government in the lands in question are not in this case adjudicated.  The Government is not a party and whatever is said and decided in this case applies only to the parties  to this  action.

Moreover,  this decision refers to and  affects  only that land of defendants described in the conveyance in evidence.

The judgment of the  trial court is affirmed, with costs of this instance.  So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., and Torres, J., concur.

Carson, J., concurs in the result.

Trent, J., dissents.