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RAFAELA PAVIA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees, vs. BIBIANA DE LA ROSA, ET AL., defendants-appellants. R. Salinas for appellants. Thos. D.

Aitken for appellees. TORRES, J.: By an amended complaint filed on the 23rd of November, 1904, in the Court of First Instance of Manila, the plaintiffs prayed that a judgment be rendered in their favor and against the defendants for the sum of 15,000 pesos, Philippine Currency, as damages, together with costs of action, alleging in effect that by reason of the death of the testator, Pablo Linart e Iturralde, Francisco Granda e Iturralde was appointed executor under the will of the said deceased, in which will the minor Carmen Linart y Pavia was made the only universal heir, and that owing to the death of the executor Francisco Granda toward the end of December, 1893, there was substituted as executor Jose de la Rosa, who took possession of the personal property of the state, amounting to 10,673 pesos, Mexican Currency, as well as the property situated at No. 27 Calle Solana, Walled City, likewise the property of the testator; that during the month of April, 1904, the plaintiff, Rafaela Pavia, in her own behalf, and as guardian of Carmen Linart y Pavia, executed a power of attorney in behalf of the aforesaid Jose de la Rosa with the powers therein expressed, and the attorney having accepted such power proceeded to administer the aforesaid estate in a careless manner until the 20th of August, 1903, neglecting the interests of the plaintiffs and wasting the capital, and causing damages amounting to over 15,000 pesos, Philippine currency, owing to the fact of having retired or disposed of without any necessity the sum of 7,207 pesos Mexican currency, together with interest thereon amounting to 360.25 pesos, which amounts would have produced 12,321.90 pesos, Mexican currency, for the plaintiffs; that the executor and attorney De la Rosa neglected to appraise, count, and divide the estate of Linart, deceased, notwithstanding it was his duty to do so, and leased the aforesaid house No. 27 Calle Solana to his relatives from December, 1893, to August, 1903, at a much lower rental than could have been obtained, thereby causing the plaintiffs losses amounting to 6,570 pesos,

Mexican Currency; that the aforesaid Jose de la Rosa died on the 14th of September, 1903, leaving the defendants Bibiana and Salud de la Rosa as his only heirs and representatives, Eusebio Canals being the husband of the said Bibiana. The demurrer filed by the defendants was overruled and through their attorney, Ramon Salinas, they answered the former amended complaint praying judgment in their behalf, as against the plaintiffs for the payment of the sum of 1,794.42 5/8 pesos, Mexican currency, as a counterclaim, and for the costs, and denying specifically facts 1, 2, and 9 of the amended complaint; admitting facts 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, and 11 of the same; that they admit the facts stated in paragraph 5 and 8, respectively, in that the said De la Rosa at the death of said Granda substituted him, the said Granda, as executor, and the fact regarding the omission of the making of the partition of the properties pertaining to the estate deceased, and denying all others referring to the properties taken charge of by the said De la Rosa and the rendering of accounts; that in their special defense they allege that they, the defendants, are not responsible for the personal actions of the person from whom they deprived their possession and title, against whom the plaintiffs neglected to bring action during his lifetime, and even then being without any justifiable reason as they now actually pretented; that the deceased De la Rosa upon his taking charge of the properties of the said estate only received from the window of the former execution the draft of payment on the Caja de Depositos (Savings Bank) for the said sum of 7,207 pesos together with interest at the rate of 5 per cent, and not the amount referred to by the plaintiffs, as well as taking over the charge of the said property at No. 27. They further admitted that in 1894, De al Rosa, duly authorized by the plaintiff Rafaela Pavia and with the formalities of law and in order to attend to the maintenance or subsistence of same (the plaintiffs) who were them in Spain, withdrew from the Caja de Depositos (Saving Bank) the said capital, together with interest thereon, which two sums together with the rentals of the aforesaid house have been paid out in full by De la Rosa in the maintenance and support of the plaintiffs and in the care of the building and property and other expenses well known to the same plaintiffs; that, during the time of his administration, De la Rosa rendered accounts on two different

occasions, which said accounts showed all transactions had during the entire period of his administration; that Seora Pavia did not object to the first account rendered although she had the same in her possession for three years; that the rents mentioned were adequate with respect to the value of the building erected on land belonging to some other person; that having paid out in expenses all of the money belonging to the estate, of which estate the daughter of the testator is the only heir and the owner of the said house, the partition of same was therefore impracticable, and that the plaintiffs were then indebted to De la Rosa in the amount claimed in the counterclaim and which amount is the balance due to De la Rosa and mentioned in the last account rendered. After hearing the oral testimony presented by both parties, including the documentary evidence attached to the record herein, the court below, on October 13, 1905, rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants for 3,488.27 pesos, Mexican currency, equivalent to P3,171.09, Philippine currency, together with interest thereon at rate of 6 per cent per annum from the 27th day of June, 1904, and the costs of the action, from which judgment the defendants filed an exceptions and moved for a new trial, which motion was also denied. The action brought by the plaintiffs, as has been seen, has for its object that of making effective, or of collecting by means of a judgment of the court, the amount of damages alleged to have been caused by De la Rosa, now deceased, to the plaintiffs in the performance of his duties during his lifetime, as attorney for Rafaela Pavia, guardian of the minor Carmen Linart. The defendants, Bibiana and Salud de la Rosa and her husband, in answering the complaints filed by the plaintiffs allege, among other reasons, that they are not responsible for the personal acts of De la Rosa, now deceased, and from whom they derived their right and title; and perhaps owing to this allegation the plaintiffs, with the consent of the court, filed in writing the additional pleading on March 10, 1905, in the Court of First Instance, amending their amended complaint in the following terms:

That the aforesaid Jose de la Rosa on September 14, 1903, leaving as his only heirs and representatives the defendants Bibiana and Salud de la Rosa and that said defendants Bibiana and Salud de la Rosa received and accepted from the estate of the said Jose de la Rosa the aforesaid inheritance without benefit of inventory and received and divided among and between themselves, as such heirs, all of the estate, property, and effects left by the aforesaid deceased Jose de la Rosa. It has not been shown, as appears by the record in this cause, that the estate or the intestate succession of the deceased, Jose de la Rosa, was ever opened or that an such inventory ever been presented in evidence in this cause, notwithstanding that at the time of the death of De la Rosa, on the 14th day of September, 1903, the Code of Civil Procedure that is, Act No. 190 was already in force, and that in accordance with its provisions the estate of the deceased should have been administered and liquidated. The provisions of this law of procedure have abrogated, among others, the provisions of article 1003 of the Civil Code and other in relation to the same article with regard to the simple acceptance of the estate of a deceased person, or to that made with benefit of inventory and the consequences thereof. In accordance with the provisions of the aforesaid Act No. 190 it is understood that a estate or intestate succession of a deceased person is always accepted and received with benefit of inventory, and his heirs, even after having taken possession of the estate of the deceased, do not make themselves responsible for the debts of said deceased with their own property, but solely with that property coming from the estate or intestate succession of said deceased. The Code of Civil Procedure now in force makes necessary the opening of a testate or intestate succession immediately after the death of the person whose estate is to be administered, the appointment of an executor or administrator, the taking of an inventory of the estate of the deceased, and the appointment of two or more commissioners for the purpose of appraising the property of

the estate and deciding as to the claims against said estate (Secs. 641, 642, 656, 660, 668, 669, Code of Civil Procedure.) Section 596 of the aforesaid code provides, nevertheless, for the extrajudicial division of an intestate estate among the heirs of legal age, whether the succession is free from debts or whenever such debts have been paid by the heirs, without proceedings in court, and without prejudice to the right of any creditor therein within the period of two years commencing from the date of the partition of the property belonging to the estate, a right recognized in section 597 of the said code. The powers and duties of the commissioners are established in section 686, and those following, of the Code of Civil Procedure, which sections determine the proceedings which must be followed to admit, hear, and examine all claims filed against the estate of the deceased. With regard to the executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased, section 702 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides: An executor or administrator may commence, prosecute, or defend, in the right of the deceased, actions which survive to such executor or administrator and are necessary for the recovery and protection of the property or rights of the deceased, and may prosecute or defend such actions or suits commenced in the lifetime of the deceased. From the above-quoted, as well as from the following sections and others included in Part II of the aforesaid Code of Civil Procedure, it is deduced that after the death of a person the only entity which may lawfully represent a testate or intestate succession is the executor or administrator appointed by the court charged to care for, maintain, and administer the estate of the deceased in such of lands, or for damages done to such lands, shall be instituted or maintained against him by an heir or devisee, until such time as there is entered s decree of the court assigning such lands to the heir or devisee, or until the time or period allowed for paying the debts of the estate has expired, unless the executor or administrator surrenders the

possession of the lands to the heir or devisee. (Sec. 704, Code of Civil Procedure.) And lastly for the partition of the properties belonging to the estate, section 753 of said code provides: After payment of the debts, funeral charges, and expenses of administration, and the allowances, if any, made for the expense of maintenance of the family of the deceased, the court shall assign the residue of the estate to the person entitled to the same, and the court in its decree shall name the persons and proportions or parts to which each is entitled, and such persons may demand and recover their respective shares from the executor or administrator, or from any other person having the same in his possession. From the legal provisions contained in the aforesaid code with regard to estate or intestate succession, it is deduced that the heir lawfully succeeds the deceased from whom he derives his inheritance only after the liquidation of the estate, the payment of the debts of same and the adjudication of the residue of the estate of said deceased, and in the meantime the only person in charge by law to consider all claims against the estate of the deceased and to attend to or consider the same is the executor or administrator appointed by a competent judge or court. From the above it appears evident that whatever may be the rights of action on the part of Rafaela Pavia and the minor, Carmen Linart, the latter represented by the former as guardian, as to the obligations assumed by Jose de la Rosa, now deceased, it must be prosecuted against the executor or administrator of the estate of said deceased Jose de la Rosa, whose executor or administrator is at this time the only representative of the estate or intestate succession of said deceased; and that in view of this fact and considering the law before us, they should not have brought action against Bibiana and Salud de la Rosa for the mere fact that they were the sisters of said deceased Jose de la Rosa, inasmuch as it is actually shown that the defendant De la Rosa died intestate or left during his lifetime any will, or that the two defendants are the heirs of the deceased by virtue of

an executed will or by reason of existing law, or whether or not the deceased has left properties, or who is the executor or administrator of the said properties, or whether the properties belonging to the estate of the deceased brother of the defendants were ever adjudicated or partitioned by virtue of an order of court in favor of the defendants. Wherefore, taking into consideration the reasons and facts hereinbefore given, we reverse the judgment appealed from, and find for the defendants Bibiana and Salud de la Rosa, and Eusebio Canals, without special finding as to the costs herein, reserving to the plaintiffs to right to institute proper action against the executor or administrator of the properties of the estate of the deceased, Jose de la Rosa, in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure now in force covering the subject-matter herein. After the expiration of twenty days from the date of the notification of this decision, let judgment be entered in accordance herewith, and ten days thereafter let the case be remanded to the court from whence it came for proper action. So ordered. Arellano, C.J., Mapa, Johnson, Willard, and Tracey, JJ., concur. G.R. No. L-3751 February 21, 1908

August 20, 1906, that the administrator or executor, Julio Javellana, be directed to pay him the sum of P985 which he held in lieu of the land donated to petitioner. To this end he alleged that according to the said will, one-half of the hacienda "Lantad", situated in the pueblo of Silay, Occidental Negros, had been bequeathed to him, which gift was subject to the payment of certain debts and expenses of the estate, with respect to the products of the years 1903 and 1904 only, and which had already been applied to that object by the administrator, Javellana; that one-half of said hacienda was sold with the consent of the administrator, the sum P985 remaining in the possession of the latter, from the entire proceeds of the sale, to meet any just or lawful claim which might arise against the gift made to him, or until such time as the court should confirm the legacy; that, as the administrator had already received the products of the hacienda, he is no longer entitled to retain any portion of the legacy, nor demand that he should respond for other debts or expenses of the estate, because with the value of the portion inherited by the heirs Francisco Jalandoni and Sofia Jalandoni, there was more than would be required to pay the other debts of the estate, and the expenses. Owing to the death of the plaintiff, Eduarda Benedicto, the administratrix of his estate, represented him. The administrator of the estate, Julio Javellana, in answer to the above motion, alleged that it was not proper to ask, by means of a motion, for the relief that Maximino Jalandoni claimed, but that a complaint should have been filed and action brought against the other legatees, or rather against all the parties concerned in the estate, and not against the administrator alone; that Francisco Jalandoni and Sofia Jalandoni should not be considered as heirs but simply as the legatees of the testator, and that they are in the same position as the petitioner, Maximino Jalandoni, with respect to the charges against the estate; that the obligation to pay all the debts of the same was imposed on the entire inheritance, and not any particular property, nor on any determined party in interest named in the will; and that the amount in deposit with the administrator was not P985 but P949.29, voluntarily deposited not only to pay certain debts but also to meet all the charges against the estate and proportionately by the share allotted to Maximino Jalandoni, as had

EDUARDA BENEDICTO, administratrix of the estate of Maximino Jalandoni, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JULIO JAVELLANA, defendant-appellant. C. Ledesma for appellant. Rothrock and Foss for appellee. TORRES, J.: For the purpose of enforcing the terms of the will made on the 26th of June, 1903, by Maximo Jalandoni, resident of Jaro, the brother of the testator, Maximino Jalandoni, petitioned by a writing dated

been done by applying the said sum toward the payment of debts, and for other reasons appearing therein. The pertinent clauses or paragraphs of the will above referred to are as follows: The hacienda "Malogo," owned by me and situated in the pueblo of Eustaquio Lopez, Province of Occidental Negros, P.I., and one parcel of land situated in the pueblo of Mandurriao, Province of Iloilo, P.I., I bequeath to Jose Jalbuena, the son of Benito Jalbuena, to whom I profess particular affection, having taken care of him in my own house from his most tender age. I institute Francisco Jalandoni and Sofia Jalandoni, the children of my late brother Nicolas Jalandoni, whose memory is so dear to me for the favors I have received of him, as heirs to all the property real and personal, which I own in the Province of Iloilo, P.I., with the exception of the parcel of land previously assigned to Jose Jalbuena, which property shall be divided between the above-mentioned heirs in equal parts. It is my will that my hacienda denominated "Lantad" shall be divided one half to my brother, Maximino Jalandoni, and the other half to the sisters Maria, Felisa, and Felicidad Jalandoni, daughters of Nazaria Hojilla. On my entire estate I impose the obligation that out of the products thereof, all my debts shall be paid, the same being about 2,300 pesos which I owe Francisco Villanueva, without interest, and 2,550 pesos which I received on loan from Julio Javellana, with interest thereon at the rate of 10 percent per annum, provided, however, that one-half of the products which each parcel of land pertaining to the estate may yield this year shall be devoted to the payment of said debts, and should the said one-half not prove sufficient to meet the liabilities, two-thirds of the said products, or the total amount thereof, shall be applied; and provided, further, that in any

case, the balance of such products shall remain in charge of the administrator for the settlement of such other charges as the estate may be subjected to. And further on Francisco and Sofia Jalandoni I particularly impose the obligation to pay Teodora Berola, for a period of ten years, an annuity of 300 pesos, Mexican currency, or the equivalent thereof in Philippine currency; said obligation becoming extinguished by the death of the said Teodora, in case of her demise before the expiration of the said period of ten years. The judge in view of the result of the proceedings issued an order on the 27th of October, 1906, granting the motion filed by the legatee Maximino Jalandoni, as stated therein, from which order the opponent appealed to this court. From the printed and certified copy of the proceedings, and from the will inserted therein, it appears that the testator, Maximo Jalandoni, on his death, left no lawful ascendants or descendants having any direct claim as hereditary successors. It also appears, by the will in question, that the testator has distributed all his property in legacies, and that, notwithstanding the manner in which he designates his nephews Francisco and Sofia Jalandoni in paragraph 3 of the same, in order to leave in their favor all the real and personal property that he owned in Iloilo, with the exception of the parcel of land situated in Mandurriao, bequeathed to Jose Jalbuena, the truth is that such nephews of the testator are likewise legatees the same as the last beneficiary under paragraph two of the said will. Respect for the will of a testator as expressed in his last testamentary disposition, constitutes the principal basis of the rules which the law prescribes for the correct interpretation of all of the clauses of the will; the words and provisions therein written must be plainly construed in order to avoid a violation of his intentions and real purpose.

The will of the testator clearly and explicitly stated must be respected and complied with as an inviolable law among the parties in interest. such is the doctrine established by the Supreme Court of Spain, constantly maintained in a great number of decisions, among which are those of March 24, 1863, April 28, 1882, and December 16, 1903. The testator, under clause 5 of his will, has imposed on his entire estate the obligation to pay his debts with the products of the same, and has prescribed the manner in which the same shall be done until all obligations are extinguished. Such a testamentary disposition is not contrary to law, and as a matter of fact article 1027 of the Civil Code provides that The administrator can not pay the legacies until he has paid all the creditors. Section 728 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides as follows: If the testator makes provision by his will, or designates the estate to be appropriated for the payment of his debts and the expenses of administration or family expenses, they shall be paid according to the provisions of the will. But if the provision made by the will or the estate appropriated is not sufficient for that purpose, such part of the estate of the testator, real or personal, as is not disposed of by will, if any shall be appropriated for that purpose. Therefore, in accordance with the above legal provisions and with the doctrine established by the courts, the aforesaid will of the late Maximo Jalandoni must be complied with and carried into execution; and, considering that all those who are benefited thereby have not received from the testator a universal succession to his estate, but certain property expressly stated in his will, they should, under the law be considered merely as legatees, without the right to received their share of the property of the deceased until after his debts have been paid. (Secs. 729, 731 and 754, Code of Civil Procedure).

None of the parties interested in the will of Maximo Jalandoni is invested with the character of heir designated by law, and consequently, the provisions he has incorporated in his last will do not injure any of the rights covered by the law which protects the legitimate portions of such heirs. Article 858 of the Civil Code reads: A testator may charge with legacies and bequests not only his heir, but also the legatees. The latter shall not be liable for the charge except to the extent of the value of the legacy. Article 859, following provides: When the testator charges one of the heirs with a legacy the latter only shall be obliged to fulfill the same. Should he not charge any one in particular, all shall be liable in the same proportion in which they may be heirs. It is to be noticed that in the present case, where the whole of the inheritance was distributed by legacies, the parties in interest are indiscriminately designated as heirs or legatees. As to specific devices, section 729 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides exemption from the payment of debts and expenses if there is sufficient other property and if it appears to the court necessary to carry into effect the intention of the testator; and, as the legacies stated in the aforesaid will consist of specific property, less the annuity provided for by clause 6, which is made a special lien upon the property for by clause 6, which is made a special lien upon the property bequeathed to Francisco and Sofia Jalandoni, it is unquestionable that in this case the debts and expenses of the estate must be paid pro rata by the legatees in the manner provided in the will, or in accordance with the provisions of sections 753 and 754 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

On the other hand, and for such effects as may be proper, it should be stated herein that any challenge to the validity of a will, any objection to the authentication thereof, and every demand or claim which any heir, legatee, or party in interest in a testate or intestate succession may make, must be acted upon and decided within the same special proceedings not in a separate action and the same judge having jurisdiction in the administration of the estate shall take cognizance of the question raised, inasmuch as when the day comes he will be called upon to make distribution and adjudication of the property to the interested parties, as may be seen in part II of the Code of Civil Procedure, from section 551 forward. By the foregoing it has been shown that the judgment appealed from is not in accordance with the law, therefore it is our opinion that the same should be reversed, and that the request of the representative of Maximino Jalandoni, now sustained by Eduarda Benedicto, the administratrix of his estate, should be dismissed without any special ruling as to costs. So ordered. Arellano, C.J., Mapa, Johnson, Carson, Willard, and Tracey, JJ., concur. G.R. No. L-16584 November 17, 1921

On January 13, 1919, in consideration of the amount of P1,000 received by the appellant, Felisa Pagilinan, a document was executed by her giving the appellee, Eusebio A. Godoy, an option to buy a dredge for the sum of P10,000. It appears from that document that the dredge is the common property of the vendor and of the brothers Demetrio, Jose, Guillermo, Alfredo, and Paz, all surnamed Orellano; that the condition was that Godoy was to pay the whole price of the dredge within twenty days; and that said option was granted in accordance with the power of attorney executed by her coowners who reserved the right to ratify whatever sale might be made, or option granted by Pagilinan, their attorney-in-fact. The latter's coowners did not ratify the option contract. Before the expiration of twenty days, the appelle was ready to make complete payment of the price, but the appellant failed to deliver the dredge. Then the appellee brought suit in the Court of First Instance against Feliza Pagilinan, Paz Orellano, Jose Orellano, Demetrio Orellano, Guillermo Orellano, and Alfredo Orellano, praying that they be ordered to deliver the dredge, upon payment by him of the sum of P9,000; to pay him the sum of P10,000 as damages, and to return to the plaintiff the sum of P1,000 should the carrying out of the sale become impossible. The defendants Orellano set up in their answer a general denial of the facts alleged in the complaint and, as a special defense, alleged that the dredge in question was the property of the intestate estate of Julio Orellano, pending in the Court of First Instance of Manila, and under the administration of Felisa Pangilinan; that the plaintiff perfectly knows that said dredge is under judicial control and could not be disposed of without judicial authority, and that the court has never authorized the sale mentioned in the complaint filed herein; and that the defendants Jose, Guillermo, and Alfredo surnamed Orellano are at present under age, and the defendant Paz Orellano is a married woman who had not obtained the consent of her husband before executing the power of attorney in favor of the administratrix. The defendant Felisa Pagilinan filed a separate answer, and a defense alleges: (a) That the dredge which was the subject-matter of the option is property of the intestate estate of Julio Orellano, of which she is the administratrix; (b) that the plaintiff, as well as the

EUSEBIO A. GODOY, plaintiff-appellee, vs. GUILLERMO ORELLANO, ET AL., defendants. FELISA PAGILINAN, PAZ ORELLANO assisted by her husband FRANCISCO MARTINEZ, JOSE ORELLANO, and DEMETRIO ORELLANO, defendants-appellants. Francisco Sevilla for appellant Pagilinan. No appearance for the other appellants. Teofilo Mendoza for appellee.

VILLAMOR, J.:

defendants, and the notary who prepared the aforesaid option sale, were all aware of these facts, and they led her to believe that she had the authority to dispose of the dredge in her name and by themselves; (c) that believing herself to be under obligation to comply with the aforesaid option deed, she applied to the court of probate for permission to sell the dredge in the sum of P10,000; (d) that on the day of the hearing of the motion, her codefendants who had themselves authorized her by means of a power of attorney, opposed the motion through their attorneys, Francisco and Lualhati, on the ground that there were higher bidders and the best thing to do was to sell it at public auction; (e) that in view of this opposition, the administratrix asked the court that it be sold at public auction, and the court authorized said defendant to sell it at public auction, advertising the sale in newspapers of general circulation, and the aforesaid dredge was sold for P10,000, accordingly; ( f ) that the defendant did not at any time refuse to make delivery of the dredge to the plaintiff, but that it was the court that would not give her the authority to do so; and (g) that she is all times ready to return the P1,000 received from the plaintiff and that she has tendered it several times, but that the plaintiff refused to accept it. The judge a quo rendered judgment, ordering the defendants to pay Eusebio A. Godoy the sum of P2,000 with legal interest thereon from February 13, 1919, and the cost and dismissing the complaint as against the defendants Guillermo Orellano and Alfredo Orellano. From this judgment the defendants have appealed to this court by bill of exceptions. By a resolution of this court of September 14, 1920, the appeal of the defendants Paz Orellano, Jose Orellano and Demetrio Orellano was declared abandoned for failure to file their brief within the period prescribed by the rules of the court. Wherefore, this decision concerns only the appeal taken by Felisa Pagilinan.lawphil.net It appears from the evidence that the dredge in question belongs to the intestate estate of Julio Orellano, father of the

defendants, which was pending in the Court of First Instance of Manila, of which the judicial administratrix is the defendant herein, Felisa Pagilinan; that when this defendant contracted with the plaintiff Godoy the sale of the aforesaid dredge, she had no authority of the court; and that the plaintiff knew that the dredge, which was the subject-matter of that contract, belonged to the intestate estate of Julio Orellano, under the control of the court. In the sale of the property of an intestate estate for the benefit of the heirs, it is necessary to comply with the provisions of sections 717, 718, and 722 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The said sections prescribed the proceedings to be had before an administrator of an intestate or testate estate may sell personal or real property and also the conditions under which the personal or real property pertaining to an estate may be sold or disposed of by the administrator. Unless compliance is had with the provisions of these sections, the sale of the aforesaid dredge by the administratrix, or her promise to sell it is null and void. A sale and conveyance by executors without an order of the probate court, under a will devising property to them in trust, but not authorizing any sale of the realty, otherwise than by a direction to pay the debts of the testator, is void, and passes no title to the purchase. (Huse vs. Den, 85 Cal., 390.) A sale by an administrator of the personal property of the estate, without the authority of an order of court, or of a will, or under an order of court which is void for want of jurisdiction, does not confer on the purchaser a title which is available against a succeeding administrator. (Wyatt's Adm'r vs. Rambo, 29 Ala., 510.) Under the law, the court has exclusive jurisdiction to authorize the sale of properties like the one under consideration and the power of attorney executed by the heirs of Orellano in favor of the administratrix, without authority of court, has no legal effect, and this is the more so, since two of the said heirs are under age, and the

others did not ratify the option contract, as provided in the aforesaid power of attorney. It is not necessary to dwell longer upon this point, as the appellee himself admits in his brief "that the dredge in question being a part of the intestate estate of Julio Orellano, it cannot be disposed of by any person without the proper authority of the court, in accordance with the existing laws."lawphil.net In view of the foregoing, we are of the opinion, and so hold, that the appellant was not, in her capacity as judicial administratrix of the intestate estate of Julio Orellano, legally authorized to sell, or contract to sell, any property belonging to said estate without the authority of the court, and the contract entered into by her with the plaintiff, without this authority, is null and void. The judgment appealed from is reversed and the complaint against the appellant Felisa Pagilinan is hereby dismissed, without special finding as to costs. So ordered. Johnson, Araullo, Street and Avancea, JJ., concur. G.R. No. L-349 September 30, 1948

parcels of land by the administrator to the present appellant and her husband, since deceased. It appears that under date of September 5, 1941, the administrator, one of the children and heirs of the decedent, executed "an absolute deed of sale" over two parcels of land for P18,000 in favor of Severo Cruz and his wife. On September 18, the administrator submitted the deed to the court with a corresponding motion bearing the same date as the deed of conveyance for approval. All the other children and heirs of the decedent, four in number and all of lawful age, gave their approval and conformity to the sale and to the administrator's motion by signing with appropriate expressions both papers. The motion with the deed attached was set for hearing for September 22, 1941, but for reasons not appearing on the record, it seems that this motion was not acted upon. On December 18, 1943, the heirs of the deceased, except Santos Ilagan, the administrator, filed a written opposition to the sale. On June 30, 1944, Judge Quintin Paredes, Jr., sustained the opposition holding that the sale was "improper." Judge Paredes said "that the sale was, in effect, primarily, intended to pay the mortgage debt, and to sell the aforesaid property preferentially to the mortgagee. The grounds of the opposition were that "the price fixed in the motion is not reasonable under the present condition, because now the two parcels of land command a better and higher price than P18,000 as fixed in the executory contract of sale in favor of the mortgagees, Severo Cruz and Estefania Rodriguez de Cruz, which will be beneficial to the estate." In this instance, the appellees maintain that the properties, which were the subject matter of the sale, being in custodia legis, the sale "could only be validly affected under and by virtue of an express authority of the Court having cognizance of the proceedings and only upon strict compliance with the formalities prescribed by law. A case in point is Teves de Jakosalem vs. Rafols,1 No. 28372, July 24, 1942, 2 Off. Gaz., 31, 32. We will quote at length from the decision as we think it is decisive of the main issue in the present case.

Intestate estate of the late Eulalio Ilagan Bisig; Santos Ilagan, administrator. ESTEFANIA R. VDA. DE CRUZ, petitionerappellant, vs. JESUS ILAGAN, ET AL., oppositors-appellees. Lauro S. Esteban for appellant. Arturo A. Alafriz for appellees. TUASON, J.: This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija in an intestate proceeding disapproving the sale of two

The lower court absolved Nicolas Rafols upon the theory that Susana Melgar could not have sold anything to Pedro Cui because the land was then in custodia legis, that is, under judicial administration. This is error. That the land could not ordinarily be levied upon while in custodia legis, does not mean that one of the heirs may not sell the right, interest or participation which he has or might have in the lands under administration. The ordinary execution of property in custodia legis is prohibited in order to avoid interference with the possession by the court. But the sale made by an heir of his share in an inheritance, subject to the result of the pending administration, in no wise, stands in the way of such administration. Article 440 of the Civil Code provides that "the possession of hereditary property is deemed to be transmitted to the heir without interruption from the instant of the death of the decedent, in case the inheritance be accepted." And Manresa with reason states that upon the death of a person, each of his heirs "becomes the undivided owner of the whole states left with respect to the part of portion which might be adjudicated to him, a community of ownership being thus formed among the co-owners of the estate which it remains undivided.' (3 Manresa, 357; Alcala, 35 Phil., 679.) And according to article 399 of the Civil Code, every part owner may assign or mortgage his part in the common property, and the effect of such assignment or mortgage shall be limited to the portion which may be alloted him in the portion upon dissolution of the community. Hence in the case of Ramirez vs. Bautista, 14 Phil., 528, where some of the heirs, without the concurrence of the other, sold a property left by their deceased father, this Court, speaking through its then Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano, said that the sale was valid, but the effect thereof was limited to the share which may be allotted to the vendors upon the partition of the estate. It results therefore that the sale made by Susana Melgar in favor of Pedro Cui was valid, but it would be effective only as to the property left by her deceased father, Juan Melgar. And

as on December 12, 1920, upon the partition of said property the land in question was adjudicated to Susana Melgar, the sale of the whole land which the latter made in favor of Pedro Cui was entirely confirmed. The appellee distinguish the above case from the case at bar in that, it is argued, in the former the heir personally made the sale while in the latter the seller was judicial administrator. But the distinction thus noted goes to mere form. In their effects and in the underlying principles, the two cases are analogous. The appellees by signing the deed of sale in token of approval bound themselves as completely and as effectively as if they had signed the document as vendors, or co-vendors with the administrator. If they had executed a separate document authorizing the sale the result could not have been any different. What else could be the meaning and effect of their approval and conformity? "A sale which the representative makes, with the written assent of all legatees or distributees of the estate, is in effect their sale as well as his, and, if made in good faith, ought to bind strongly provided that all the persons assenting are sui juris." 3 Schouler on Wills, Executors and Administrators, section 2366, p. 2187. We believe that estoppel is well pleaded. "Heir, by their conduct in remaining silent when a sale of a decedent's property is made by the executor or administrator, or by so conducting themselves as to consent or assent in the consummation of the sale, may estop themselves from subsequently questioning the validity of the sale." 21 Am. Jur., p. 756. The applicable estoppel by deed, a bar which precludes a party from denying the truth of his deed. Prejudice is not an essential element of this kind of estoppel. However, equitable estoppel or estoppel by misrepresentation fits as well into the facts of this case. Disapproval of the sale would result in material injury or detriment of the vendees. It will be noted that, although neither the administrator nor the other heirs received any part of the proceeds upon the consummation of

the sale or afterward, except a promissory note for P2,100 payable in 60 days, it is a fact that the estate owed the vendees P12,000 exclusive of interest. Of this amount P4,500 had been received by the decedent himself in his lifetime, and the remainder, P7,500, by the administrator avowedly for the benefit of the estate. The latter amount was secured by a mortgage on the land sold; and authority for the loans by the administrator and the execution of the mortgage was obtained with the express and written conformity of all the heirs. All the loans bore 12 per cent interest per annum. By reason of the sale, and relying on the good faith of these heirs, the vendees, it is inferred from the contract, agreed to the cancellation of the mortgage and stopped collecting interest. With the loans cancelled, the mortgage or mortgages were not foreclosed upon the expiration of their terms. According to the administrator, in his request for authority to sell, he had not paid interest on the entire loan since 1939. To disallow estoppel against the appellees in the face of these circumstances would be to allow them to profit by their own wrong and inconsistency at the expense of innocent parties. Under the circumstances, the probate court should have approved the sale. The subsequent increase in value of the property was not a sufficient reason for turning down the conveyance. This should be true particularly where, as in this case, the alleged inadequacy of price was based on war-time and invasion money standard, inadequacy which emerged after the sale and which could not have been availed of if the court had not unduly delayed action on the motion for approval or disapproval of a sale by an administrator is the interest of innocent heirs, legatees, devises and, above all, creditors. In the present case, it is an admitted fact that there are neither claims against the estate nor heirs other than the administrator and the appellees. Unless fraud, mistake or duress intervened in the sale and there is no charge that any of these vices intervened the heirs by their assent placed themselves outside the protection of the court. They can not be heard to say that the sale was detrimental to their interest.

The heirs being estopped from blocking the sale, and the opposition disregarded, the court had before it an agreement, not contrary to law, entered into by the only parties interested in the estate regarding the disposition of the estate's assets. Viewed in this light, the court had no discretion to disapproved the agreement. It has been held that, when there are no creditors or all the debts have been paid, "the heirs have the right to ask the probate court to turn over to them both real and personal property without division; and where such request unanimous, it is the duty of the court to comply with it, and there is nothing in section 753 of the Code of Civil Procedure (now section 1, Rule 9, of the Rules of Court) which prohibits it." (Del Val vs. Del Val, 29 Phil., 534-539.) The right to demand the delivery of property includes the right to dispose of it in the manner the heir please. The court seemed to believed that the administrator, rather than sell the mortgaged property to the creditor, as he did, should have allowed the mortgage to take its course. Disregarding the fact that it is no concern of the court to inquire into the judiciousness of a sale when all interested parties have given their assent, the evidence is against the belief that if the mortgage had been foreclosed, the property could have commanded a better price at an auction sale. The administrator said in his request for permission to sell, a request concurred in by all the other heirs, that the lands which he proposed to convey to the mortgagees "cannot command a better and higher price, there being a possibility of its being eroded by the Pampanga river." The administrator was presumed to know whereof he spoke, and so were the appellees. They were all of age and must have been familiar with the prevailing prices of lands in their municipality. Moreover, the administrator was a lawyer and signed some of his motions both as administrator was a lawyer and signed some of his motions both as administrator and as attorney for his brothers and sisters. Experience shows that public sales seldom bring better results than private sales. It is said that the sale was conditional. The alleged condition is said to be embodied in this clause of the deed of sale: "That from the approval of this sale, the said Severo Cruz and Estefania Rodriguez de Cruz, their heirs and assigns, shall have the sole and absolute dominion and ownership and actual and legal possession of the

above described properties, good and valid title thereto being hereby warranted. The question ceases to have any practical value after it is ruled that the court is bound to approved the sale. Nevertheless, we will take it up if only to show that this contention is without merit. We do not construe the aforesaid stipulation as a condition precedent to the validity and effectiveness of the sale. It is merely a covenant that, as the lands were in the custody of the court and might not be taken out of that custody without the court's permission, even though the granting of the permission be mandatory, material possession of the parcels should not be delivered till the court's approval was secured. This is the view that accords with the words of the entire instrument and the purposes of the parties as gathered from their action. The heading of the conveyance is "Deed of Absolute sale," and the vendors stated in the deed, "I do hereby sell, cede, transfer and convey by way of absolute sale, etc." The facts that, as has been seen, all the previous transactions and pending accounts between the parties were liquidated, that the balance resulting from the liquidation was charge to the sale price, and that the loans liquidated ceased to earn any interest, add to the cogency of the proposition that the sale was final and definite in the minds of the parties, leaving nothing but the pro forma sanction of the probate court. Pushing the argument further, it should be noted that the disapproval (granting that approval was a condition precedent), was caused by the heirs themselves, and that, had no objection been offered by them there would have been little likehood of the approval being withheld. The point is that a party to a contract may not be excused from performing his promise by the non-occurrence of an event which he himself prevented. The order appealed from is reversed and the court below shall enter a new order approving the sale and ordering the delivery of the lands in question to the vendees or their successors in interest, with costs against the appellees.

Paras, Pablo, Perfecto, Bengzon, and Briones, JJ., concur. JOSEPHINE PAHAMOTANG and ELEANOR PAHAMOTANGBASA, petitioners, vs. THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK (PNB) and the HEIRS OF ARTURO ARGUNA, respondents. DECISION GARCIA, J.: Assailed and sought to be set aside in this appeal by way of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are the following issuances of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 65290, to wit: 1. Decision dated March 20, 2002,[1] granting the appeal and reversing the appealed August 7, 1998 decision of the Regional Trial Court at Davao City; and 2. Resolution dated November 20, 2002, denying herein petitioners' motion for reconsideration.[2] The factual background: On July 1, 1972, Melitona Pahamotang died. She was survived by her husband Agustin Pahamotang, and their eight (8) children, namely: Ana, Genoveva, Isabelita, Corazon, Susana, Concepcion and herein petitioners Josephine and Eleonor, all surnamed Pahamotang. On September 15, 1972, Agustin filed with the then Court of First Instance of Davao City a petition for issuance of letters administration over the estate of his deceased wife. The petition, docketed as Special Case No. 1792, was raffled to Branch VI of said court, hereinafter referred to as the intestate court. In his petition, Agustin identified petitioners Josephine and Eleonor as among the heirs of his deceased spouse. It appears that Agustin

was appointed petitioners' judicial guardian in an earlier case Special Civil Case No. 1785 also of the CFI of Davao City, Branch VI. On December 7, 1972, the intestate court issued an order granting Agustins petition. On July 6, 1973, respondent Philippine National Bank (PNB) and Agustin executed an Amendment of Real and Chattel Mortgages with Assumption of Obligation. It appears that earlier, or on December 14, 1972, the intestate court approved the mortgage to PNB of certain assets of the estate to secure an obligation in the amount of P570,000.00. Agustin signed the document in behalf of (1) the estate of Melitona; (2) daughters Ana and Corazon; and (3) a logging company named Pahamotang Logging Enterprises, Inc. (PLEI) which appeared to have an interest in the properties of the estate. Offered as securities are twelve (12) parcels of registered land, ten (10) of which are covered by transfer certificates of title (TCT) No. 2431, 7443, 8035, 11465, 21132, 4038, 24327, 24326, 31226 and 37786, all of the Registry of Deeds of Davao City, while the remaining two (2) parcels by TCTs No. (3918) 1081 and (T2947) 562 of the Registry of Deeds of Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur, respectively. On July 16, 1973, Agustin filed with the intestate court a Petition for Authority To Increase Mortgage on the above mentioned properties of the estate. In an Order dated July 18, 1973, the intestate court granted said petition. On October 5, 1974, Agustin again filed with the intestate court another petition, Petition for Declaration of Heirs And For Authority To Increase Indebtedness, whereunder he alleged the necessity for an additional loan from PNB to capitalize the business of the estate, the additional loan to be secured by additional collateral in the form of a parcel of land covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-7131 registered in the name of Heirs of Melitona Pahamotang. In the same petition, Agustin prayed the

intestate court to declare him and Ana, Genoveva, Isabelita, Corazon, Susana, Concepcion and herein petitioners Josephine and Eleonor as the only heirs of Melitona. In an Order of October 19, 1974, the intestate court granted Agustin authority to seek additional loan from PNB in an amount not exceeding P5,000,000.00 to be secured by the land covered by OCT No. P-7131 of the Registry of Deeds of Davao Oriental, but denied Agustins prayer for declaration of heirs for being premature. On October 22, 1974, a real estate mortgage contract for P4,500,000.00 was executed by PNB and Agustin in his several capacities as: (1) administrator of the estate of his late wife; (2) general manager of PLEI; (3) attorney-in-fact of spouses Isabelita Pahamotang and Orlando Ruiz, and spouses Susana Pahamotang and Octavio Zamora; and (4) guardian of daughters Concepcion and Genoveva and petitioners Josephine and Eleonor. Offered as securities for the additional loan are three (3) parcels of registered land covered by TCTs No. T-21132, 37786 and 43264. On February 19, 1980, Agustin filed with the intestate court a Petition (Request for Judicial Authority To Sell Certain Properties of the Estate), therein praying for authority to sell to Arturo Arguna the properties of the estate covered by TCTs No. 7443, 8035, 11465, 24326 and 31226 of the Registry of Deeds of Davao City, and also TCT No. (T-3918) T-1081 of the Registry of Deeds of Davao del Norte. On February 27, 1980, Agustin yet filed with the intestate court another petition, this time a Petition To Sell the Properties of the Estate, more specifically referring to the property covered by OCT No. P-7131, in favor of PLEI. In separate Orders both dated February 25, 1980, the intestate court granted Agustin authority to sell estate properties, in which orders the court also required all the heirs of Melitona to give their express conformity to the disposal of the subject properties of the estate and to sign the deed of sale to be submitted to the same court. Strangely, the two (2) orders were dated two (2) days earlier

than February 27, 1980, the day Agustin supposedly filed his petition. In a motion for reconsideration, Agustin prayed the intestate court for the amendment of one of its February 25, 1980 Orders by canceling the requirement of express conformity of the heirs as a condition for the disposal of the aforesaid properties. In its Order of January 7, 1981, the intestate court granted Agustins prayer. Hence, on March 4, 1981, estate properties covered by TCTs No. 7443,11465, 24326, 31226, 8035, (T-2947) 662 and (T-3918) T1081, were sold to respondent Arturo Arguna, while the property covered by OCT No. P-7131 was sold to PLEI. Consequent to such sales, vendees Arguna and PLEI filed witt the intestate court a motion for the approval of the corresponding deeds of sale in their favor. And, in an Order dated March 9, 1981, the intestate court granted the motion. Thereafter, three (3) daughters of Agustin, namely, Ana, Isabelita and Corazon petitioned the intestate court for the payment of their respective shares from the sales of estate properties, which was granted by the intestate court. Meanwhile, the obligation secured by mortgages on the subject properties of the estate was never satisfied. Hence, on the basis of the real estate mortgage contracts dated July 6, 1973 and October 22, 1974, mortgagor PNB filed a petition for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgage. Petitioner Josephine filed a motion with the intestate court for the issuance of an order restraining PNB from extrajudicially foreclosing the mortgage. In its Order dated August 19, 1983, the intestate court denied Josephines motion. Hence, PNB was able to foreclose the mortgage in its favor. Petitioners Josephine and Eleanor, together with their sister Susana Pahamatong-Zamora, filed motions with the intestate court to set

aside its Orders of December 14, 1972 [Note: the order dated July 18, 1973 contained reference to an order dated December 14, 1972 approving the mortgage to PNB of certain properties of the estate], July 18, 1973, October 19, 1974 and February 25, 1980. In an Order dated September 5, 1983, the intestate court denied the motions, explaining: "Carefully analyzing the aforesaid motions and the grounds relied upon, as well as the opposition thereto, the Court holds that the supposed defects and/or irregularities complained of are mainly formal or procedural and not substantial, for which reason, the Court is not persuaded to still disturb all the orders, especially that interests of the parties to the various contracts already authorized or approved by the Orders sought to be set aside will be adversely affected.[3] Such was the state of things when, on March 20, 1984, in the Regional Trial Court at Davao City, petitioners Josephine and Eleanor, together with their sister Susana, filed their complaint for Nullification of Mortgage Contracts and Foreclosure Proceedings and Damages against Agustin, PNB, Arturo Arguna, PLEI, the Provincial Sheriff of Mati, Davao Oriental, the Provincial Sheriff of Tagum, Davao del Norte and the City Sheriff of Davao City. In their complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 16,802 which was raffled to Branch 12 of the court, the sisters Josephine, Eleanor and Susana prayed for the following reliefs: "1.) The real estate mortgage contracts of July 6, 1973 and that of October 2, 1974, executed by and between defendants PNB AND PLEI be declared null and void ab initio; Declaring the foreclosure proceedings conducted by defendants-sheriffs, insofar as they pertain to the assets of the estate of Melitona L. Pahamotang, including the auction sales thereto, and any and all proceedings taken thereunder, as null and void ab initio;

2.)

3.)

Declaring the Deed of Absolute Sale, Doc. No. 473; Page No.96; Book No.VIII, Series of 1981 of the Notarial Registry of Paquito G. Balasabas of Davao City evidencing the sale/transfer of the real properties described therein to defendant Arturo S. Arguna, as null and void ab initio; Declaring the Deed of Absolute Sale, Doc. No. 474; Page No. 96, Book No. VIII, series of 1981 of the Notarial Registry of Paquito G. Balasabas of Davao City, evidencing the sale/transfer of real properties to PLEI as null and void ab initio; For defendants to pay plaintiffs moral damages in such sums as may be found to be just and equitable under the premises;

"1. Whether or not the Real Estate Mortgage contracts executed on July 6, 1973 and October 2, 1974 (sic) by and between defendants Pahamotang Logging Enterprises, Inc. and the Philippine National Bank are null and void? 2. Whether or not the foreclosure proceedings conducted by defendants-Sheriffs, insofar as they affect the assets of the Estate of Melitona Pahamotang, including the public auction sales thereof, are null and void? Whether or not the Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of defendant Arturo Arguna entered as Doc. No. 473; Page No. 96; Book No. VIII, series of 1981 of the Notarial Register of Notary Public Paquito Balasabas is null and void? Whether or not the Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of defendant Pahamotang Logging Enterprises, Inc. entered as Doc. No. 474; Page No. 96; Book No. VIII, series of 1981 of the Notarial Register of Notary Public Paquito Balasabas is null and void? On defendant PNB's cross-claim, in the event the mortgage contracts and the foreclosure proceedings are declared null and void, whether or not defendant Pahamotang Logging Enterprises, Inc. is liable to the PNB? Whether or not the defendants are liable to the plaintiffs for damages? Whether or not the plaintiffs are liable to the defendants for damages?[5]

4.)

3.

5.)

4. 6.) For defendants to pay plaintiffs, jointly and severally, the expenses incurred in connection with this litigation; For defendants to pay plaintiffs, jointly and severally attorney's fees in an amount to be proven during the trial; 5. 8.) For defendants to pay the costs of the suit. [4]

7.)

PNB moved to dismiss the complaint, which the trial court granted in its Order of January 11, 1985. However, upon motion of the plaintiffs, the trial court reversed itself and ordered defendant PNB to file its answer. Defendant PNB did file its answer with counterclaim, accompanied by a cross-claim against co-defendants Agustin and PLEI. During the ensuing pre-trial conference, the parties submitted the following issues for the resolution of the trial court, to wit: 6.

7.

With defendant Arturo Argunas death on October 31, 1990, the trial court ordered his substitution by his heirs: Heirs of Arturo Alguna.

In a Decision dated August 7, 1998, the trial court in effect rendered judgment for the plaintiffs. We quote the decisions dispositive portion: "WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered as follows: 1. Declaring the Mortgage Contracts of July 6, 1973 and October 22, 1974, as well as the foreclosure proceedings, void insofar as it affects the share, interests and property rights of the plaintiffs in the assets of the estate of Melitona Pahamotang, but valid with respect to the other parties; 2. Declaring the deeds of sale in favor of defendants Pahamotang Logging Enterprises, Inc. and Arturo Arguna as void insofar as it affects the shares, interests and property rights of herein plaintiffs in the assets of the estate of Melitona Pahamotang but valid with respect to the other parties to the said deeds of sale. 3. Denying all the other claims of the parties for lack of strong, convincing and competent evidence. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.[6] From the aforementioned decision of the trial court, PNB, PLEI and the Heirs of Arturo Arguna went on appeal to the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 65290. While the appeal was pending, the CA granted the motion of Susana Pahamatong-Zamora to withdraw from the case. As stated at the threshold hereof, the Court of Appeals, in its Decision dated March 20, 2002,[7] reversed the appealed decision of the trial court and dismissed the petitioners complaint in Civil Case No. 16,802, thus:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby GRANTED. The assailed August 07, 1998 Decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 12, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is entered DISMISSING the complaint filed in Civil Case No. 16,802. SO ORDERED. The appellate court ruled that petitioners, while ostensibly questioning the validity of the contracts of mortgage and sale entered into by their father Agustin, were essentially attacking collaterally the validity of the four (4) orders of the intestate court in Special Case No. 1792, namely: 1. Order dated July 18, 1973, granting Agustins Petition for Authority to Increase Mortgage; 2. Order dated October 19, 1974, denying Agustins petition for declaration of heirs but giving him authority to seek additional loan from PNB; 3. Order dated February 25, 1980, giving Agustin permission to sell properties of the estate to Arturo Arguna and PLEI; and 4. Order dated January 7, 1981, canceling the requirement of express conformity by the heirs as a condition for the disposal of estate properties. To the appellate court, petitioners committed a fatal error of mounting a collateral attack on the foregoing orders instead of initiating a direct action to annul them. Explains the Court of Appeals: "A null and void judgment is susceptible to direct as well as collateral attack. A direct attack against a judgment is made through an action or proceeding the main object of which is to annul, set aside, or enjoin the enforcement of such judgment, if not carried into effect; or if the property has been disposed of, the aggrieved party may sue for

recovery. A collateral attack is made when, in another action to obtain a different relief, an attack on the judgment is made as an incident in said action. This is proper only when the judgment, on its fact, is null and void, as where it is patent that the court which rendered such judgment has no jurisdiction. A judgment void on its face may also be attacked directly. xxx xxx xxx

Perusing the above arguments and comparing them with the settled ruling, the plaintiffs-appellees [now petitioners], we believe had availed themselves of the wrong remedy before the trial court. It is clear that they are collaterally attacking the various orders of the intestate court in an action for the nullification of the subject mortgages, and foreclosure proceedings in favor of PNB, and the deeds of sale in favor of Arguna. Most of their arguments stemmed from their allegations that the various orders of the intestate court were issued without a notification given to them. An examination, however, of the July 18, 1973 order shows that the heirs of Melitona have knowledge of the petition to increase mortgage filed by Agustin, thus: `The petitioner testified that all his children including those who are of age have no objection to this petition and, as matter of fact, Ana Pahamotang, one of the heirs of Melitona Pahamotang, who is the vice-president of the logging corporation, is the one at present negotiating for the increase of mortgage with the Philippine National Bank.' The presumption arising from those statements of the intestate court is that the heirs were notified of the petition for the increase of mortgage. The same can be seen in the October 19, 1974 order: `The records show that all the known heirs, namely Ana, Isabelita, Corazon, Susana, including the incompetent Genoveva, and the minors Josephine, Eleanor and Concepcion all surnamed were notified of the hearing of the petition.'

On the other hand, the February 25, 1980 order required Agustin to obtain first express conformity from the heirs before the subject property be sold to Arguna. The fact that this was reconsidered by the intestate court in its January 07, 1981 is of no moment. The questioned orders are valid having been issued in accordance with law and procedure. The problem with the plaintiffs-appellees is that, in trying to nullify the subject mortgages and the foreclosure proceedings in favor of PNB and the deeds of sale in favor of Arguna, they are assailing the aforesaid orders of the intestate court and in attacking the said orders, they attached documents that they believe would warrant the conclusion that the assailed orders are null and void. This is a clear collateral attack of the orders of the intestate court which is not void on its face and which cannot be allowed in the present action. The defects alleged by the plaintiffappellees are not apparent on the face of the assailed orders. Their recourse is to ask for the declaration of nullity of the said orders, not in a collateral manner, but a direct action to annul the same. [8] The same court added that petitioners failure to assail said orders at the most opportune time constitutes laches: "In their complaint below, plaintiffs, appellees are assailing in their present action, four orders of the intestate court namely: July 18, 1973, October 19, 1974, February 25, 1980 and January 07, 1981 orders which were then issued by Judge Martinez. It should be recalled that except for the January 07, 1981 order, Judge Jacinto, upon taking over Sp. No. 1792, denied the motion of the plaintiffsappellees to set aside the aforesaid orders. Aside from their motion before Judge Jacinto, nothing on the records would show that the plaintiffs-appellees availed of other remedies to set aside the questioned orders. Further, the records would not show that the plaintiffs-appellees appealed the order of Judge Jacinto. If an interval of two years, seven months and ninety nine days were barred by laches, with more reason should the same doctrine apply to the present case, considering that the plaintiffs-appellees did not avail of the remedies provided by law in impugning the various orders of the intestate court. Thus, the questioned orders of the intestate court, by operation of law became final. It is a fundamental principle of public policy in every jural system that at the risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts should become final at some

definite time fixed by law (interest rei publicae ut finis sit litum). The very object of which the courts were constituted was to put an end to controversies. Once a judgment or an order of a court has become final, the issues raised therein should be laid to rest. To date, except as to the present action which we will later discuss as improper, the plaintiff-appellees have not availed themselves of other avenues to have the orders issued by Judge Martinez and Judge Jacinto annulled and set aside. In the present case, when Judge Jacinto denied the motion of the plaintiffs-appellees, the latter had remedies provided by the rules to assail such order. The ruling by Judge Jacinto denying plaintiffs-appellees motion to set aside the questioned orders of Judge Martinez has long acquired finality. It is well embedded in our jurisprudence, that judgment properly rendered by a court vested with jurisdiction, like the RTC, and which has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, hence, may no longer be modified in any respect except only to correct clerical errors or mistakes. Litigation must have and always has an end. If not, judicial function will lose its relevance. In time, petitioners moved for a reconsideration but their motion was denied by the appellate court in its Resolution of November 20, 2002. Hence, petitioners present recourse, basically praying for the reversal of the CA decision and the reinstatement of that of the trial court. We find merit in the petition. It is petitioners posture that the mortgage contracts dated July 6, 1973 and October 22, 1974 entered into by Agustin with respondent PNB, as well as his subsequent sale of estate properties to PLEI and Arguna on March 4, 1981, are void because they [petitioners] never consented thereto. They assert that as heirs of their mother Melitona, they are entitled to notice of Agustin's several petitions in the intestate court seeking authority to mortgage and sell estate properties. Without such notice, so they maintain, the four orders of the intestate court dated July 18, 1973, October 19, 1974, February 25, 1980 and January 7, 1981, which allowed Agustin to mortgage

and sell estate properties, are void on account of Agustins noncompliance with the mandatory requirements of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court. Prescinding from their premise that said orders are completely void and hence, could not attain finality, petitioners maintain that the same could be attacked directly or collaterally, anytime and anywhere. For its part, respondent PNB asserts that petitioners cannot raise as issue in this proceedings the validity of the subject orders in their desire to invalidate the contracts of mortgage entered into by Agustin. To PNB, the validity of the subject orders of the intestate court can only be challenged in a direct action for such purpose and not in an action to annul contracts, as the petitioners have done. This respondent adds that the mortgage on the subject properties is valid because the same was made with the approval of the intestate court and with the knowledge of the heirs of Melitona, petitioners included.[9] Upon the other hand, respondent Heirs of Arturo Arguna likewise claim that petitioners knew of the filing with the intestate court by Agustin of petitions to mortgage and sell the estate properties. They reecho the CAs ruling that petitioners are barred by laches in filing Civil Case No. 16,802.[10] As we see it, the determinative question is whether or not petitioners can obtain relief from the effects of contracts of sale and mortgage entered into by Agustin without first initiating a direct action against the orders of the intestate court authorizing the challenged contracts. We answer the question in the affirmative. It bears emphasizing that the action filed by the petitioners before the trial court in Civil Case No. 16,802 is for the annulment of several contracts entered into by Agustin for and in behalf of the estate of Melitona, namely: (a) contract of mortgage in favor of respondent PNB, (b) contract of sale in favor of Arguna involving seven (7)

parcels of land; and (c) contract of sale of a parcel of land in favor of PLEI. The trial court acquired jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case upon the allegations in the complaint that said contracts were entered into despite lack of notices to the heirs of the petition for the approval of those contracts by the intestate court. Contrary to the view of the Court of Appeals, the action which petitioners lodged with the trial court in Civil Case No. 16,802 is not an action to annul the orders of the intestate court, which, according to CA, cannot be done collaterally. It is the validity of the contracts of mortgage and sale which is directly attacked in the action. And, in the exercise of its jurisdiction, the trial court made a factual finding in its decision of August 7, 1998 that petitioners were, in fact, not notified by their father Agustin of the filing of his petitions for permission to mortgage/sell the estate properties. The trial court made the correct conclusion of law that the challenged orders of the intestate court granting Agustins petitions were null and void for lack of compliance with the mandatory requirements of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court, particularly Sections 2, 4, 7 thereof, which respectively read: Sec. 2. When court may authorize sale, mortgage, or other encumbrance of realty to pay debts and legacies through personalty not exhausted. - When the personal estate of the deceased is not sufficient to pay the debts, expenses of administration, and legacies, or where the sale of such personal estate may injure the business or other interests of those interested in the estate, and where a testator has not otherwise made sufficient provision for the payment of such debts, expenses, and legacies, the court, on the application of the executor or administrator and on written notice to the heirs, devisees, and legatees residing in the Philippines, may authorize the executor or administrator to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber so much as may be necessary of the real estate, in lieu of personal estate, for the purpose of paying such debts, expenses, and legacies, if it clearly appears that such sale, mortgage, or encumbrance would be beneficial to the persons interested; and if a

part cannot be sold, mortgaged, or otherwise encumbered without injury to those interested in the remainder, the authority may be for the sale, mortgage, or other encumbrance of the whole of such real estate, or so much thereof as is necessary or beneficial under the circumstances. Sec. 4. When court may authorize sale of estate as beneficial to interested persons. Disposal of proceeds. - When it appears that the sale of the whole or a part of the real or personal estate, will be beneficial to the heirs, devisees, legatees, and other interested persons, the court may, upon application of the executor or administrator and on written notice to the heirs, devisees and legatees who are interested in the estate to be sold, authorize the executor or administrator to sell the whole or a part of said estate, although not necessary to pay debts, legacies, or expenses of administration; but such authority shall not be granted if inconsistent with the provisions of a will. In case of such sale, the proceeds shall be assigned to the persons entitled to the estate in the proper proportions. Sec. 7. Regulations for granting authority to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber estate. - The court having jurisdiction of the estate of the deceased may authorize the executor or administrator to sell personal estate, or to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber real estate; in cases provided by these rules and when it appears necessary or beneficial, under the following regulations: (a) The executor or administrator shall file a written petition setting forth the debts due from the deceased, the expenses of administration, the legacies, the value of the personal estate, the situation of the estate to be sold, mortgaged, or otherwise encumbered, and such other facts as show that the sale, mortgage, or other encumbrance is necessary or beneficial; (b) The court shall thereupon fix a time and place for hearing such petition, and cause notice stating the nature of the petition, the reason for the same, and

the time and place of hearing, to be given personally or by mail to the persons interested, and may cause such further notice to be given, by publication or otherwise, as it shall deem proper; (Emphasis supplied). xxx xxx xxx

hearing to the heirs of the decedent. The new administrator of the estate filed with the Regional Trial Court an action for the annulment of the sales made by the previous administrator. After trial, the trial court held that the order of the intestate court granting authority to sell, as well as the deed of sale, were void. On appeal directly to this Court, We held that without compliance with Sections 2, 4 and 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court, the authority to sell, the sale itself and the order approving it would be null and void ab initio. In Liu vs. Loy, Jr.,[13] while the decedent was still living, his son and attorney-in-fact sold in behalf of the alleged decedent certain parcels of land to Frank Liu. After the decedent died, the son sold the same properties to two persons. Upon an ex parte motion filed by the 2nd set of buyers of estate properties, the probate court approved the sale to them of said properties. Consequently, certificates of title covering the estate properties were cancelled and new titles issued to the 2nd set of buyers. Frank Liu filed a complaint for reconveyance/ annulment of title with the Regional Trial Court. Th

Settled is the rule in this jurisdiction that when an order authorizing the sale or encumbrance of real property was issued by the testate or intestate court without previous notice to the heirs, devisees and legatees as required by the Rules, it is not only the contract itself which is null and void but also the order of the court authorizing the same.[11] Thus, in Maneclang vs. Baun,[12] the previous administrator of the estate filed a petition with the intestate court seeking authority to sell portion of the estate, which the court granted despite lack of notice of e trial court dismissed the complaint and the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal. When the case was appealed to us, we set aside the decision of the appellate court and declared the probate court's approval of the sale as completely void due to the failure of the 2 nd set of buyers to notify the heir-administratrix of the motion and hearing for the sale of estate property. Clearly, the requirements of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court are mandatory and failure to give notice to the heirs would invalidate the authority granted by the intestate/probate court to mortgage or sell estate assets. Here, it appears that petitioners were never notified of the several petitions filed by Agustin with the intestate court to mortgage and sell the estate properties of his wife.

According to the trial court, the [P]etition for Authority to Increase Mortgage and [P]etition for Declaration of Heirs and for Authority to Increase Indebtedness, filed by Agustin on July 16, 1973 and October 5, 1974, respectively, do not contain information that petitioners were furnished with copies of said petitions. Also, notices of hearings of those petitions were not sent to the petitioners.[14] The trial court also found in Civil Case No. 16,802 that Agustin did not notify petitioners of the filing of his petitions for judicial authority to sell estate properties to Arturo Arguna and PLEI.[15] As it were, the appellate court offered little explanation on why it did not believe the trial court in its finding that petitioners were ignorant of Agustins scheme to mortgage and sell the estate properties. Aside from merely quoting the orders of July 18, 1973 and October 19, 1974 of the intestate court, the Court of Appeals leaves us in the dark on its reason for disbelieving the trial court. The appellate court

did not publicize its appraisal of the evidence presented by the parties before the trial court in the matter regarding the knowledge, or absence thereof, by the petitioners of Agustins petitions. The appellate court cannot casually set aside the findings of the trial court without stating clearly the reasons therefor. Findings of the trial court are entitled to great weight, and absent any indication to believe otherwise, we simply cannot adopt the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals. Laches is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting the presumption that the party entitled to assert it has either abandoned or declined the right.[16] The essential elements of laches are: (1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which complaint is made and for which the complaint seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice of the defendant's conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the suit is not held barred.[17] In the present case, the appellate court erred in appreciating laches against petitioners. The element of delay in questioning the subject orders of the intestate court is sorely lacking. Petitioners were totally unaware of the plan of Agustin to mortgage and sell the estate properties. There is no indication that mortgagor PNB and vendee Arguna had notified petitioners of the contracts they had executed with Agustin. Although petitioners finally obtained knowledge of the subject petitions filed by their father, and eventually challenged the July 18, 1973, October 19, 1974, February 25, 1980 and January 7, 1981 orders of the intestate court, it is not clear from the challenged decision of the appellate court when they (petitioners) actually learned of the existence of said orders of the intestate court. Absent any indication of the point in time when petitioners acquired knowledge of those orders, their alleged delay in impugning the validity thereof certainly cannot be established. And the Court of Appeals cannot simply impute laches against them.

WHEREFORE, the assailed issuances of the Court of Appeals are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the decision dated August 7, 1998 of the trial court in its Civil Case No. 16,802 REINSTATED. SO ORDERED. Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and CarpioMorales, JJ., concur. SPOUSES ELBE LEBIN and G.R. No. 164255 ERLINDA LEBIN, Petitioners, Present: CORONA, C.J., Chairperson, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, BERSAMIN, DEL CASTILLO, and VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. Promulgated:

- versus -

VILMA S. MIRASOL, and REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ILOILO, BRANCH XXVII, Respondents.

September 7, 2011 x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

The perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period laid down by law is mandatory and jurisdictional. The Case In Special Proceedings No. 1307 involving the settlement of the estate of the late L.J. Hodges, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 27, in Iloilo City, issued an order dated May 3, 1995 (ruling that a property of the estate sold to the petitioners be divided in two

equal portions between the petitioners and the respondent).i[1] On March 2, 1998, the RTC affirmed the order dated May 3, 1995.ii[2] The petitioners filed a notice of appeal and, later on, a record on appeal, but the respondents moved to dismiss their appeal on June 15, 2000 on the ground of tardiness of the record on appeal. The RTC granted the motion to dismiss on February 1, 2002. On March 13, 2002, the petitioners moved for reconsideration of the dismissal,iii[3] but the RTC denied the motion for reconsideration on May 21, 2004.iv[4] Thus, on June 23, 2004, the petitioners directly appealed to the Court, assailing the orders of February 1, 2002 and May 21, 2004. Antecedents In January 1985, the petitioners relayed their offer to the administrator of the Estate of L.J. Hodges to purchase for P22,560.00 Lot 18, Block 7 of 971 (Lot 18), an asset of the Estate situated on D.B. Ledesma Interior, Jaro, Iloilo City. They made a deposit of P4,512.00, the equivalent of 20% of the offer.v[5] On August 1, 1985, the administrator sought judicial approval of the offer,vi[6] stating to the RTC that petitioner Erlinda Lebin was the actual occupant of Lot 18.vii[7] The RTC commissioned one Atty. Tabares to conduct an ocular inspection of Lot 18 to ascertain if Erlinda Lebin was really the occupant. In his report, Atty. Tabares confirmed that Erlinda Lebin was the only occupant of Lot 18.viii[8] Accordingly, on August 28, 1985, the RTC granted the administrators motion for approval of the offer. ix[9] In the meanwhile, respondent Vilma S. Mirasol (Mirasol) also offered to purchase the lot containing an area of 188 square meters where her house stood. The lot was initially identified as Lot No. 4, Block 7 of 971 (Lot 4), but a later survey revealed that her house was actually standing on Lot 18, not Lot 4.x[10] Learning on November 11, 1985 of the approval of the petitioners offer to purchase Lot 18, therefore, Mirasol filed on December 6, 1985 a petition for relief from the order dated August 28, 1985.xi[11] On December 17, 1987, pending resolution of the petition for relief, the petitioners paid the last installment for Lot 18, and moved

for the execution of the deed of sale.xii[12] Apparently, the motion was not acted upon by the RTC. At last, on May 3, 1995, the RTC resolved the petition for relief, viz: WHEREFORE, the Court, under the auspices of equity and justice tempered with humanitarian reasons, hereby declare each of the offerorclaimants after complying with their respective obligation with the estate, should there be any, to be the owner where their respective houses stand, and therefore, DIRECTS and ENJOINS for the following matters to be undertaken: For the Administrator of the L.J. Hodges Estate: 1) To assist both offeror-claimants in effecting a Relocation Survey Plan and cause the equal partition of the subject lot herein between the said offeror-claimant; 2) To execute the corresponding deed of sale over the aforecited subject lot in favor of the herein offeror-claimants --- Erlinda Lebin and Vilma S. Mirasol purposely to expedite the issuance of respective title; and --3) To exact payment from either or both offeror-claimants should there be any deficiency, and/or to refund payment should there be any excess payment from either or both offerorclaimants. SO ORDERED.xiii[13] On May 23, 1995, the petitioners moved for reconsideration and/or new trial.xiv[14] On March 2, 1998, the RTC denied the motion for reconsideration and/or new trial of the petitioners.xv[15]

Thus, on March 27, 1998, the petitioners filed a notice of appeal in the RTC.xvi[16] Allegedly, on May 5, 1998, they also filed a record on appeal.xvii[17] On January 25, 1999, they presented an ex parte motion to approve the record on appeal.xviii[18] On June 15, 2000, Mirasol filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, insisting that the record on appeal had been filed late.xix[19] The RTC granted the motion to dismiss the appeal on February 1, 2002.xx[20] The petitioners moved for reconsideration on March 13, 2002,xxi[21] but the RTC denied their motion for reconsideration on May 21, 2004.xxii[22] Hence, the petitioners appealed via petition for review on certiorari filed on June 23, 2004, to seek the review and reversal of the orders of the RTC dated February 1, 2002 and May 21, 2004. Issues 1. Whether or not the RTC erred in dismissing the petitioners appeal for their failure to timely file a record on appeal; and Whether or not the RTC committed reversible error in adjudging that Lot 18 be sold to both the petitioners and Mirasol in equal portions. Ruling

Section 39. Appeals. - The period for appeal from final orders, resolutions, awards, judgments, or decisions of any court in all cases shall be fifteen (15) days counted from the notice of the final order, resolution, award, judgment, or decision appealed from: Provided however, That in habeas corpus cases, the period for appeal shall be forty-eight (48) hours from the notice of the judgment appealed from. No record on appeal shall be required to take an appeal. In lieu thereof, the entire record shall be transmitted with all the pages prominently numbered consecutively, together with an index of the contents thereof. This section shall not apply in appeals in special proceedings and in other cases wherein multiple appeals are allowed under applicable provisions of the Rules of Court. (emphasis supplied) In early 1990, the Supreme Court issued its resolution in Murillo v. Consulxxiv[24] to clarify and fortify a judicial policy against misdirected or erroneous appeals, stating: At present then, except in criminal cases where the penalty imposed is life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua, there is no way by which judgments of regional trial courts may be appealed to the Supreme Court except by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, in relation to Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 as amended. The proposition is clearly stated in the Interim Rules: Appeals to the Supreme Court shall be taken by petition for certiorari which shall be governed by Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

2.

The petition for review lacks merit. I RTC did not err in dismissing the petitioners appeal for their failure to timely file a record on appeal Among the innovations introduced by Batas Pambansa Blg. 129xxiii[23] is the elimination of the record on appeal in most cases, retaining the record on appeal only for appeals in special proceedings and in other cases in which the Rules of Court allows multiple appeals. Section 39 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 has incorporated this innovation, to wit:

On the other hand, it is not possible to take an appeal by certiorari to the Court of Appeals. Appeals to that Court from the Regional Trial Courts are perfected in two (2) ways, both of which are entirely distinct from an appeal by certiorari to the Supreme Court. They are: a) by ordinary appeal, or appeal by writ of error - where judgment was rendered in a civil or criminal action by the RTC in the exercise of original jurisdiction; and b) by petition for review - where judgment was rendered by the RTC in the exercise of appellate jurisdiction. The petition for review must be filed with the Court of Appeals within 15 days from notice of the judgment, and as already stated, shall point out the error of fact or law that will warrant a reversal or modification of the decision or judgment sought to be reviewed. An ordinary appeal is taken by merely filing a notice of appeal within 15 days from notice of the judgment, except in special proceedings or cases where multiple appeals are allowed in which event the period of appeal is 30 days and a record on appeal is necessary. There is therefore no longer any common method of appeal in civil cases to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. The present procedures for appealing to either court and, it may be added, the process of ventilation of the appeal are distinct from each other. To repeat, appeals to this court cannot now be made by petition for review or by notice of appeals (and, in certain instances, by record on appeal), but only by petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. As was stressed by this Court as early as 1980, in

Buenbrazo v. Marave, 101 SCRA 848, all the members of the bench and bar are charged with knowledge, not only that since the enactment of Republic Act No. 8031 in 1969, the review of the decision of the Court of First Instance in a case exclusively cognizable by the inferior court xxx cannot be made in an ordinary appeal or by record on appeal, but also that appeal by record on appeal to the Supreme Court under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court was abolished by Republic Act No. 5440 which, as already stated, took effect on September 9, 1968. Similarly, in Santos, Jr., v. C.A., 152 SCRA 378, this Court declared that Republic Act No. 5440 had long superseded Rule 41 and Section 1, Rule 122 of the Rules of Court on direct appeals from the court of first instance to the Supreme Court in civil and criminal cases, x x and that direct appeals to this Court from the trial court on questions of law had to be through the filing of a petition for review on certiorari, wherein this Court could either give due course to the proposed appeal or deny it outright to prevent the clogging of its docket with unmeritorious and dilatory appeals. In fine, if an appeal is essayed to either court by the wrong procedure, the only course of action open is to dismiss the appeal. In other words, if an appeal is attempted from a judgment of a Regional Trial Court by notice of appeal, that appeal can and should never go to this Court, regardless of any statement in the notice that the court of choice is the Supreme Court; and more than once has this Court admonished a Trial Judge and/or his Clerk of Court, as well as the attorney taking the appeal, for causing the records to be sent up to this Court in such a case. Again, if an appeal by notice of appeal is taken from the Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals and in the latter Court, the appellant raises naught but issues of law, the appeal should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. And finally, it may be stressed

once more, it is only through petitions for review on certiorari that the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may properly be invoked. There is no longer any justification for allowing transfers of erroneous appeals from one court to the other, much less for tolerating continued ignorance of the law on appeals. It thus behooves every attorney seeking review and reversal of a judgment or order promulgated against his client, to determine clearly the errors he believes may be ascribed to the judgment or order, whether of fact or of law; then to ascertain which court properly has appellate jurisdiction; and finally, to observe scrupulously the requisites for appeal prescribed by law, with keen awareness that any error or imprecision in compliance therewith may well be fatal to his client's cause.xxv[25] (emphasis supplied) An offshoot of Murillo v. Consul is the inclusion in the 1997 revision of the rules of civil procedure, effective July 1, 1997, of a provision that forthrightly delineated the modes of appealing an adverse judgment or final order. The provision is Section 2 of Rule 41, viz: Section 2. Modes of appeal. (a) Ordinary appeal. The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required except in special proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and served in like manner.

(b) Petition for review. The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review in accordance with Rule 42. (c) Appeal by certiorari. In all cases where only questions of law are raised or involved, the appeal shall be to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45. (n) (emphasis supplied)

The changes and clarifications recognize that appeal is neither a natural nor a constitutional right, but merely statutory, and the implication of its statutory character is that the party who intends to appeal must always comply with the procedures and rules governing appeals, or else the right of appeal may be lost or squandered. As the foregoing rules further indicate, a judgment or final order in special proceedings is appealed by record on appeal. A judgment or final order determining and terminating a particular part is usually appealable, because it completely disposes of a particular matter in the proceeding, unless otherwise declared by the Rules of Court.xxvi[26] The ostensible reason for requiring a record on appeal instead of only a notice of appeal is the multi-part nature of nearly all special proceedings, with each part susceptible of being finally determined and terminated independently of the other parts. An appeal by notice of appeal is a mode that envisions the elevation of the original records to the appellate court as to thereby obstruct the trial court in its further proceedings regarding the other parts of the case. In contrast, the record on appeal enables the trial court to continue with the rest of the case because the original records remain with the trial court even as it affords to the appellate court the full opportunity to review and decide the appealed matter. Section 1, Rule 109 of the Rules of Court underscores the multi-part nature of special proceedings by enumerating the

particular judgments and final orders already subject of appeal by any interested party despite other parts of the proceedings being still untried or unresolved, to wit: Section 1. Orders or judgments from which appeals may be taken. - An interested person may appeal in special proceedings from an order or judgment rendered by a Court of First Instance or a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, where such order or judgment: (a) Allows or disallows a will; (b) Determines who are the lawful heirs of a deceased person, or the distributive share of the estate to which such person is entitled; (c) Allows or disallows, in whole or in part, any claim against the estate of a deceased person, or any claim presented on behalf of the estate in offset to a claim against it; (d) Settles the account of an executor, administrator, trustee or guardian; (e) Constitutes, in proceedings relating to the settlement of the estate of a deceased person, or the administration of a trustee or guardian, a final determination in the lower court of the rights of the party appealing, except that no appeal shall be allowed from the appointment of a special administrator; and (f) Is the final order or judgment rendered in the case, and affects the substantial rights of the person appealing, unless it be an order granting or denying a motion for a new trial or for reconsideration.

The petitioners appeal comes under item (e) of Section 1, supra, due to the final order of May 3, 1995 issued in the settlement of the estate of L.J. Hodges being a final determination in the lower court of the rights of the party appealing. In order to elevate a part of the records sufficient for appellate review without the RTC being deprived of the original records, the remedy was to file a record on appeal to be approved by the RTC. The elimination of the record on appeal under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 made feasible the shortening of the period of appeal from the original 30 days to only 15 days from notice of the judgment or final order. Section 3,xxvii[27] Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, retains the original 30 days as the period for perfecting the appeal by record on appeal to take into consideration the need for the trial court to approve the record on appeal. Within that 30-day period a party aggrieved by a judgment or final order issued in special proceedings should perfect an appeal by filing both a notice of appeal and a record on appeal in the trial court, serving a copy of the notice of appeal and a record on appeal upon the adverse party within the period;xxviii[28] in addition, the appealing party shall pay within the period for taking an appeal to the clerk of the court that rendered the appealed judgment or final order the full amount of the appellate court docket and other lawful fees.xxix[29] A violation of these requirements for the timely perfection of an appeal by record on appeal,xxx[30] or the non-payment of the full amount of the appellate court docket and other lawful fees to the clerk of the trial courtxxxi[31] may be a ground for the dismissal of the appeal. Did the petitioners comply with the requirements for perfecting their appeal? The petitioners received the assailed May 3, 1995 order of the RTC on May 15, 1995. They filed a motion for reconsideration and/or new trial on May 24, 1995. On March 23, 1998, they were served with the order dated March 2, 1998 (denying their motion for reconsideration and/or new trial). Although they filed a notice of appeal on March 27, 1998, they submitted the record on appeal only on May 5, 1998. Undoubtedly, they filed the record on appeal 43 days from March 23, 1998, the date they received the denial of their motion for reconsideration and/or new trial. They should have filed

the record on appeal within 30 days from their notice of the judgment. Their appeal was not perfected, therefore, because their filing of the record on appeal happened beyond the end of their period for the perfection of their appeal. The petitioners filing of the motion for reconsideration vis-vis the order of May 3, 1995 interrupted the running of the period of 30 days; hence, their period to appeal started to run from May 15, 1995, the date they received the order of May 3, 1995. They filed their motion for reconsideration on May 24, 1995. By then, nine days out of their 30-day period to appeal already elapsed. They received a copy of the order dated March 2, 1998 on March 23, 1998. Thus, the period to appeal resumed from March 23, 1998 and ended 21 days later, or on April 13, 1998. Yet, they filed their record on appeal only on May 5, 1998, or 22 days beyond the end of their reglementary period. Although, by that time, the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure had meanwhile taken effect (July 1, 1997), their period of appeal remained 30 days. It is stressed that under the 1997 revisions, the timely filing of the motion for reconsideration interrupted the running of the period of appeal, pursuant to Section 3, Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure, viz: Section 3. Period of ordinary appeal. The appeal shall be taken within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or final order appealed from. Where a record on appeal is required, the appellant shall file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal within thirty (30) days from notice of the judgment or final order. The period of appeal shall be interrupted by a timely motion for new trial or reconsideration. No motion for extension of time to file a motion for new trial or reconsideration shall be allowed. (n) (emphasis supplied) Section 13, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court empowers the RTC as the trial court, motu proprio or on motion, to dismiss the appeal for having been taken out of time or for non-payment of the docket and other lawful fees within the reglementary period.xxxii[32]

For that reason, the RTC rightly granted Mirasols motion to dismiss the record on appeal. Nonetheless, the petitioners propose to be excused from the requirement of filing a record on appeal, arguin g that (t)o require a (r)ecord on (a)ppeal here is to reproduce the more than eighteen (18) volumes of records here which is quite impossible to do and that most of these records, (sic) have nothing to do with the present controversy.xxxiii[33] Also, they state that their counsel was of the honest belief and impression that the same was not really necessary because the nature of the controversy xxx is civil and not an intestate one.xxxiv[34] The petitioners submissions are frail and facetious. In order to come up with the record on appeal, the petitioners were not expected to reproduce over 18 volumes of the records, for their record on appeal would have included only the records of the trial court which the appellate court would be asked to pass upon.xxxv[35] Section 6, Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which meanwhile became applicable to them, specified what the record on appeal should contain, thusly: Section 6. Record on appeal; form and contents thereof. - The full names of all the parties to the proceedings shall be stated in the caption of the record on appeal and it shall include the judgment or final order from which the appeal is taken and, in chronological order, copies of only such pleadings, petitions, motions and all interlocutory orders as are related to the appealed judgment or final order for the proper understanding of the issue involved, together with such data as will show that the appeal was perfected on time. If an issue of fact is to be raised on appeal, the record on appeal shall include by reference all the evidence, testimonial and documentary, taken upon the issue involved. The reference shall specify the documentary evidence by the exhibit numbers or letters by which it was identified when admitted or offered at the hearing,

and the testimonial evidence by the names of the corresponding witnesses. If the whole testimonial and documentary evidence in the case is to be included, a statement to that effect will be sufficient without mentioning the names of the witnesses or the numbers or letters of exhibits. Every record on appeal exceeding twenty (20) pages must contain a subject index. (6a) The right to appeal is a mere statutory privilege, and should be exercised only in the manner prescribed by law.xxxvi[36] The statutory nature of the right to appeal requires the one who avails himself of it to strictly comply with the statutes or rules that are considered indispensable interdictions against needless delays and for an orderly discharge of judicial business. In the absence of highly exceptional circumstances warranting their relaxation, like when the loftier demands of substantial justice and equity require the relaxation,xxxvii[37] or when there are other special and meritorious circumstances and issues,xxxviii[38] such statutes or rules should remain inviolable.xxxix[39] In like manner, the perfection of an appeal within the period laid down by law is mandatory and jurisdictional, because the failure to perfect the appeal within the time prescribed by the Rules of Court causes the judgment or final order to become final as to preclude the appellate court from acquiring the jurisdiction to review the judgment or final order.xl[40] The failure of the petitioners and their counsel to file their record on appeal on time rendered the orders of the RTC final and unappealable. Thereby, the appellate court lost the jurisdiction to review the challenged orders, and the petitioners were precluded from assailing the orders. II RTC committed no reversible error in allocating Lot 18 in equal portions to both petitioners and respondent The non-perfection of the appeal by the petitioners notwithstanding, the Court declares that the RTC did not err in allocating the parcel of land equally to the parties if only to serve and enforce a standing policy in the settlement of the large estate of the

late L.J. Hodges to prefer actual occupants in the disposition of estate assets. The policy was entirely within the power of the RTC to adopt and enforce as the probate court. As stated in the administrators motion for approval of the offer, the approval of the offer to purchase would be conditioned upon whether the petitioners were the only actual occupants. The condition was designed to avoid the dislocation of actual occupants, and was the reason why the RTC dispatched Atty. Tabares to determine who actually occupied the property before approving the motion. It turned out that the report of Atty. Tabares about the petitioners being the only occupants was mistaken, because the house of Mirasol, who had meanwhile also offered to purchase the portion where her house stood, happened to be within the same lot subject of the petitioners offer to purchase. The confusion arose from the misdescription of Mirasols portion as Lot 4, instead of Lot 18.xli[41] Under Rule 89 of the Rules of Court, the RTC may authorize the sale, mortgage, or encumbrance of assets of the estate. The approval of the sale in question, and the modification of the disposition of property of the Estate of L.J. Hodges were made pursuant to Section 4 of Rule 89, to wit: Section 4. When court may authorize sale of estate as beneficial to interested persons; Disposal of proceeds. - When it appears that the sale of the whole or a part of the real or personal estate will be beneficial to the heirs, devisees, legatees, and other interested persons, the court may, upon application of the executor or administrator and on written notice to the heirs, devisees and legatees who are interested in the estate to be sold, authorize the executor or administrator to sell the whole or a part of said estate, although not necessary to pay debts, legacies, or expenses of administration; but such authority shall not be granted if inconsistent with the provisions of a will. In case of such sale, the proceeds shall be assigned to the persons entitled to

the estate in the proper proportions. [emphasis supplied] Without doubt, the disposal of estate property required judicial approval before it could be executed.xlii[42] Implicit in the requirement for judicial approval was that the probate court could rescind or nullify the disposition of a property under administration that was effected without its authority.xliii[43] This power included the authority to nullify or modify its approval of the sale of the property of the estate to conform to the law or to the standing policies set and fixed for the purpose, where the invalidation or modification derived from the falsity of the factual basis of the disposition, or from any other factual mistake, or from the concealment of a material fact by a party. Consequently, the probate courts modification of its approval of the petitioners offer to purchase was well within the power of the RTC to nullify or modify after it was found to be contrary to the condition for the approval. Thereby, the RTCs ruling, being sound and judicious, constituted neither abuse of discretion nor excess of jurisdiction. WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for review, and AFFIRM the final orders dated May 3, 1995 and March 2, 1998. The petitioners shall pay the costs of suit. SO ORDERED.