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Arroyo vs Rosal Homeworkers Association
G.R. No. 175155, 22 October 2012
Petitioners Jasmin Alipato, Primitivo Belandres, Nestor Leduna, Anita de los Reyes, and Gina Caballero were among the actual occupants of the subject land. They occupied the land by mere tolerance long before the said land was acquired by PCIB in 1989. To evade eviction and in order to avail of the benefits of acquiring land under the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), the said occupants formally organized themselves into an association, the Rosal Homeowners Association, Incorporated (RHAI), a non-stock, non-profit organization.
With the aid and representation of the Bacolod Housing Authority, RHAI was able to obtain a loan from the NHMFC and acquired the subject land from PCIB. As a consequence, the Registry of Deeds issued a Transfer Certificate of Title covering the 19,897sq.m. land, in the name of RHAI. By virtue of the land acquisition by RHAI, all the occupants of the land became automatic members of RHAI.
To fully avail of the benefits of the CMP, the NHMFC required the RHAI members to sign the Lease Purchase Agreement (LPA) and to maintain their membership in good standing in accordance with the provisions of the By-Laws of RHAI. Petitioners, however, refused to sign the LPA as a precondition under the CMP. They likewise failed to attend the regular meetings and pay their membership dues as required by the RHAI By-Laws. As a result, RHAI through its BOD, approved a resolution to enforce the eviction of petitioners and recover possession of the portions of land which they were occupying. Pursuant to the said resolution, RHAI, through written letters of demand, called for petitioners to vacate the premises and deliver possession thereof to RHAI. Petitioners, however, ignored the demand. This prompted RHAI to file an action for recovery of possession of the subject property. Both the RTC and CA ruled in favor of RHAI. Hence, this instant petition of the petitioners insisting that they cannot be ejected from the property since they are the actual occupants thereof even before the landowner acquired the same. They also averred that they were denied due process when they were expelled from RHAI without notice.
Whether or not petitioners were denied due process.
No. The record shows that petitioners were accorded a fair trial in the RTC. In fact, they were properly represented by a counsel who was able to confront and cross-examine the witnesses presented by RHAI. They had ample opportunity to substantiate their claim that they were not expelled as members and to present witnesses. Unfortunately, petitioners did not present their own evidence to bolster their defense. Thus, they cannot feign denial of due process where they had been afforded the opportunity to present their side. Petitioners, having chosen not to avail of the opportunity to present evidence to rebut the charges against them, cannot complain about the denial of due process. As long as the parties are given the opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered, the demands of due process are sufficiently met. What is offensive to due process is the denial of this opportunity to be heard.