Disturbance And Preliminary Mandatory Injunction

Possession must not be disturbed; preliminary mandatory injunction to issue in case of disturbance.

In Semira Coal Corp. (now Semira Mining Corp.) v. HGL Dev. Corp., et al., G.R. No. 166854, December 6, 2006, HGL has been in possession of a pasture land for 25 years. The petitioner took possession of the said parcel of land hence, HGL filed an action for the recovery of possession with paper for the issuance of preliminary mandatory injunction which the RTC granted. Prior thereto, the DENR unilaterally cancelled the permit to possess on the alleged ground of non-payment of dues. The issue raised was whether the lower court erred in issuing the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction. In upholding the lower court, the SC

Held: The lower court was correct.

Under Article 539 of the New Civil Code, a lawful possessor is entitled to be respected in his possession and any disturbance of possession is a ground for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction to restore the possession. (Torre v. Querubin, et al., 101 Phil. 53 (1957)). The petitioner’s claim that the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction is improper because the instant case is allegedly one for accion publiciana deserves no consideration. It has been ruled in Torre, et al. v. Hon. J. Querubin, et al., that prior to the promulgation of the New Civil Code, it was deemed improper to issue a writ of preliminary injunction where the party to be enjoined had already taken complete material possession of the property involved. However, with the enactment of Article 539, the plaintiff is now allowed to avail of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction to restore him in his possession during the pendency of his action to recover possession. (Mara, Inc. v. Estrella, L-40511, July 25, 1975, 65 SCRA 471).

A writ of mandatory injunction is granted upon showing that (a) the invasion of the right is material and substantial; (b) the right of complainant is clear and unmistakable; and (c) there is an urgent and permanent necessity for the writ to prevent serious damage. (Pelejo v. CA, L-60800, October 18, 1982, 117 SCRA 665).

In this case, HGL had an unmistakable right over the parcel of land by virtue of the pasture lease contract as it has been in possession for 25 years until 2009. Thus, it is entitled to protection of its possession and any disturbance of its possession is a valid ground for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction. Petitioner’s possession of the land was only by tolerance of HGL as it was merely allowed to use a portion of the property so that it could gain easier access to its mining area.

The urgency and necessity for the issuance of a writ of mandatory injunction also cannot be denied, considering that HGL stands to suffer material and substantial injury as a result of petitioner’s continuous intrusion into the subject property. Petitioner’s continued occupation of the property not only results in the deprivation of HGL of the use and possession of the subject property but likewise affects HGL’s business operations. It must be noted that petitioner occupied the property and prevented HGL from conducting its business way back in 1999 when HGL still had the right to the use and possession of the property for another 10 years or until 2009. At the very least, the failure of HGL to operate its cattle-grazing business is perceived as an inability by HGL to comply with the demands of its customers and sows doubts in HGL’s capacity to continue doing business. This damage to HGL’s business standing is irreparable injury because no fair and reasonable redress can be had by HGL insofar as the damage to its goodwill and business reputation is concerned.

Petitioner contended that the pasture lease agreement had already cancelled by the DENR. The cancellation or unilateral act of the DENR did not automatically render the FLGLA invalid since the unilateral cancellation is subject of a separate case which is still pending before the Regional Trial Court.