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Forcible entry vs. unlawful detainer

Distinguished forcible entry from unlawful detainer.

The summary actions for unlawful detainer and forcible entry may be distinguished from each other, as follows:

1. In forcible entry, the possession of the defendant is unlawful from the very beginning as he acquires possession thereof by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth; while in unlawful detainer, the possession of the defendant is inceptively lawful but it becomes illegal by reason of the termination of his right to the possession of the property under his contract with the plaintiff. 

● It is the nature of defendant's entry into the land which determines the cause of action, whether it is forcible entry or unlawful detainer. If the entry is illegal, then the action which may be filed against the intruder is forcible entry. If, however, the entry is legal but the possession thereafter becomes illegal, the case is unlawful detainer.

2. In forcible entry, the law does not require a previous demand for the defendant to vacate the premises; but in unlawful detainer, the plaintiff must first make such demand, which is jurisdictional in nature;

3. In forcible entry, the plaintiff must prove that he was in prior physical possession of the premises until he was deprived thereof by the defendant; in unlawful detainer, the plaintiff need not have been in prior physical possession; 

4. In forcible entry, the one-year period is generally counted from the date of actual entry on the land. However, when the entry is by stealth, the period must be counted from the demand to vacate upon learning of the stealth. In unlawful detainer, it is counted from the date of last demand. (Sps. Munoz vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 102693. September 23, 1992)

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