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[G.R. No. 149678. October 17, 2001]

MAGDALES, JR. et al. vs. JOYCE ANNE FARMS INC.

SECOND DIVISION

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated OCT 17 2001.

G.R. No. 149678(Eufracio Magdales, Jr. and Artemio Linaac, Jr. vs. Joyce Anne Farms Incorporated.)

Petitioners are occupants of a parcel of land located in Salimbalan, Baungon, Bukidnon. The land, consisting of 10,394 square meters, was registered under TCT No. 34953. in the name of Jocelyn Magdales-Cadiz, who is the cousin and cousin-in-law, respectively, of petitioners Eufracio Magdales, Jr. and Artemio Linaac, Jr. It appears that on July 2, 1992, the land was sold to respondent Joyce Anne Farms, Inc., which subsequently asked petitioners to vacate the premises. As petitioners refused to leave, respondent brought suit for ejectment. The First Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), Talakag-Baungon-Malitbog, gave judgment for respondent and ordered petitioners to vacate the premises in question, remove the houses/structures occupied by them, and to pay the amounts of (a) P200.00 as monthly rental to be computed from July 1992 until the property is vacated; (b) P10,000.00 as attorney's fees; and (c) the costs. The MCTC found that petitioners had been merely allowed by the original owner to stay on the land. On appeal, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Manolo-Fortich, Bukidnon, affirmed the MCTC decision as did the Court of Appeals on February 27, 2001. Hence, this petition.

The petition has no merit. As petitioners occupied the land in question by mere tolerance of its prior owner, they should of course vacate the same upon the demand of the owner (See Banco de Oro Savings & Mortgage Bank v. Court of Appeals, 182 SCRA 464 (1990)). Petitioners claim, however, that they are agricultural tenants and that it is the Department of Agrarian Reform and Adjudication Board (DARAB), not the MCTC, which has jurisdiction over this case. This is a factual issue resolved against petitioners by the MCTC whose finding was subsequently affirmed, first by the RTC and later by the Court of Appeals. As held by these courts, not only did petitioners fail to timely raise the question of tenancy, the document relied upon by them, consisting of their own affidavit of tenancy, a memorandum by a certain Victorio Abecia of the DAR-PARO/Farmers Affairs Offices addressed to the DAR Regional Director, Region X, a certification by one Edesio Wabe of the BARC, in Salimbalan, Baungon, Bukidnon, and an affidavit of Cadiz's stepmother, are self-serving, hearsay, and inconclusive. The findings of fact of the MCTC, based on its evaluation of the evidence, are conclusive on this Court particularly because they were affirmed by the RTC and the appeals court. Indeed, the tax declarations filed by respondent and its predecessor-in-interest, which indicate that the lot in question is part residential and part agricultural, and its relatively small size (just slightly more than one hectare) make it doubtful whether it could be subject of agricultural tenancy.

Nor is there merit in petitioners' contention that respondent failed to allege prior possession of the land and that its failure to do so constitutes a jurisdictional defect. Such allegation is not necessary considering that the ejectment suit filed by respondent is not for forcible entry but for unlawful detainer (Pharma Industries, Inc. v. Pajarillaga, 100 SCRA 339 (1980)).

Finally, as to petitioners' claim that the complaint was defective because its president and general manager, Susan Linaac, who signed the verification clause, had not shown her authority to bring the suit, suffice it to say that the uncontradicted statement of respondent is that Linaac is authorized by its articles of incorporation and by-laws to sue for and on behalf of the corporation (See BA Savings Bank v Sia, 336 SCRA 484 (2000)). In any case, the lack or defectiveness of a verification is only a formal and not a jurisdictional defect which does not affect the validity of the trial court's ruling (Robern Development Corporation v. Quitain, 315 SCRA 150 (1999)).

For the foregoing reasons, the Court RESOLVED to DENY the petition for lack of showing that the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) TOMASITA M. DRIS
Clerk of Court


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