You are on page 1of 7

Liu v. Loy: Art.

776
The Loys seek a reconsideration of the Decision dated 3 July 2003 of this Court declaring void the deeds of sale of
Lot Nos. 5 and 6 executed by Teodoro Vao in favor of Alfredo Loy, Jr. and Teresita Loy. The deeds of sale of the
Loys lacked a valid probate court approval. As a result, we ordered the Estate of Jose Vao to reimburse the Loys
the amounts they paid for Lot Nos. 5 and 6.
The Loys insist that the transaction between Teodoro Vao and Benito Liu, the predecessor-in-interest of Frank
Liu, is a contract to sell. In contrast, the transactions between Teodoro Vao and Alfredo Loy, Jr. and Teresita A. Loy
were contracts of sale. According to the Loys, the contract to sell did not transfer ownership of Lot Nos. 5 and 6 to
Benito Liu or Frank Liu because it was only a promise to sell subject to the full payment of the consideration. On the
other hand, the contracts of sale in favor of the Loys transferred ownership, as the conveyances were absolute. The
Loys seek a reconsideration of the Decision dated 3 July 2003 of this Court declaring void the deeds of sale of Lot
Nos. 5 and 6 executed by Teodoro Vao in favor of Alfredo Loy, Jr. and Teresita Loy. We held that Lot Nos. 5 and 6
belong to Frank Liu
[1]
since the probate court approved his deeds of sale in accordance with Section 8,
[2]
Rule 89 of
the Rules of Court. The deeds of sale of the Loys lacked a valid probate court approval. As a result, we ordered the
Estate of Jose Vao to reimburse the Loys the amounts they paid for Lot Nos. 5 and 6, with interest at 6% annually
from 4 June 1976, the date of filing of the complaint, until finality of the decision, and 12% annually thereafter until full
payment.
The Court heard the parties on oral arguments on 10 March 2004 and granted them time to submit their
memoranda. Frank Liu filed his memorandum on 29 March 2004 while the Loys filed their memorandum on 25 March
2004 by registered mail.
The issues that the Loys raise in their motion for reconsideration are not new. The Court already considered
and discussed extensively these issues in the assailed Decision. We find no compelling reason to reconsider the
assailed Decision.
The Loys insist that the transaction between Teodoro Vao and Benito Liu, the predecessor-in-interest of Frank
Liu, is a contract to sell. In contrast, the transactions between Teodoro Vao and Alfredo Loy, Jr. and Teresita A. Loy
were contracts of sale. According to the Loys, the contract to sell did not transfer ownership of Lot Nos. 5 and 6 to
Benito Liu or Frank Liu because it was only a promise to sell subject to the full payment of the consideration. On the
other hand, the contracts of sale in favor of the Loys transferred ownership, as the conveyances were absolute.
[3]

As we held in our Decision, a prior contract to sell made by the decedent during his lifetime prevails over a
subsequent contract of sale made by the administrator without probate court approval. It is immaterial if the prior
contract is a mere contract to sell and does not immediately convey ownership. Frank Lius contract to sell became
valid and effective upon its execution and bound the estate to convey the property upon full payment of the
consideration.
It is apparent from Teodoro Vaos letter
[4]
dated 16 October 1954 that the reason why Frank Liu stopped
further payments on the lots, leaving a balance of P1,000, was because Teodoro Vao could not yet transfer the titles
to Benito Liu, the predecessor-in-interest of Frank Liu. It would appear that Frank Liu and Teodoro Vao lost contact
with each other thereafter and it was only on 25 January 1964 that Frank Liu wrote Teodoro Vao informing the latter
that he was ready to pay the balance of the purchase price of the lots. Teodoro Vao did not reply to Frank Lius
letter. On 22 April 1966, Benito Liu sold to Frank Liu the lots, including Lot Nos. 5 and 6, which Benito Liu purchased
from Teodoro Vao on 13 January 1950. Frank Liu sent three letters dated 21 March 1968, 7 June 1968 and 29 July
1968 to Teodoro Vao reiterating his request for the execution of the deed of sale covering the lots in his favor but to
no avail. On 19 August 1968, Teodoro Vao sold Lot No. 6 to Teresita Loy and on 16 December 1969, he sold Lot
No. 5 to Alfredo Loy, Jr. The sales to the Loys were made after Frank Liu offered to pay the balance of the purchase
price of the lots and after he repeatedly requested for the execution of the deeds of sale in his favor.
The sale of the lots by Teodoro Vao to Benito Liu was valid. The sale was made by Teodoro Vao on 13
January 1950 in his capacity as attorney-in-fact of Jose Vao. The sale to Benito Liu was made during the lifetime of
Jose Vao, not after the death of Jose Vao who died on 28 January 1950.
[5]
The power of attorney executed by Jose
Vao in favor of Teodoro Vao remained valid during the lifetime of Jose Vao. In his letter dated 16 October 1954,
Teodoro Vao stated that on 30 June 1954, the Supreme Court allowed the probate of the will of Jose Vao. Teodoro
Vao likewise mentioned in the letter that in July 1954, the Supreme Court held that all the sales made by Teodoro
Vao of the properties of his father were legal.
[6]
Thus, Benito Lius deed of sale in favor of Frank Liu covering the lots
sold to him by Teodoro Vao constitutes a valid charge or claim against the estate of Jose Vao.
The Loys reiterate their contention that Teodoro Vao, as administrator and sole heir to the properties, can sell
the lots to them since the rights of an heir are transmitted from the moment of death of the testator. Although a
property under estate proceedings cannot be sold without judicial approval, the Loys allege that in their case, the
probate court later approved the sales to them, thereby ratifying the sales.
[7]

Well-settled is the rule that an administrator needs court approval to sell estate property, otherwise the sale is
void.
[8]
Court approval of the sale of estate property is clearly required under Rule 89 of the Rules of Court, which
enumerates the instances when the court may allow the sale or encumbrance of estate property. Section 7 of Rule 89
of the Rules of Court even provides for the regulations for granting authority to sell, mortgage or otherwise encumber
estate property.
[9]

More importantly, Section 91
[10]
of Act No. 496 (Land Registration Act) and Section 88
[11]
of Presidential Decree
No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree) specifically require court approval for any sale of registered land by an
executor or administrator.
The laws, Rules of Court, jurisprudence and regulations explicitly require court approval before any sale of
estate property by an executor or administrator can take effect. The purpose of requiring court approval is to protect
creditors. In this case, Frank Liu is a creditor, and he is the person the law seeks to protect.
The orders of the probate court dated 19 and 23 March 1976 approving the contracts of the Loys are void. The
orders did not ratify the sales because there was already a prior order of the probate court dated 24 February 1976
approving the sale of Lot Nos. 5 and 6 to Frank Liu. Hence, the probate court had already lost jurisdiction over Lot
Nos. 5 and 6 since the lots no longer formed part of the Estate of Jose Vao. In fact, the administratrix of the estate
filed a motion for reconsideration of the orders of the probate court approving the contracts of the Loys because she
already executed a deed of sale covering Lot Nos. 5 and 6 in favor of Frank Liu.
The Loys impliedly admitted that their contracts of sale dated 19 August 1968 and 16 December 1969 were
ineffective when they belatedly asked in 1976 for court approval of the sales. If the Loys believed that their deeds of
sale in 1968 and 1969 were valid, they would not have asked for court approval in 1976. By asking for court approval,
they necessarily admitted that without court approval, the sale to them was ineffectual.
The Loys are not buyers and registrants in good faith considering that they bought from a seller who was not a
registered owner. Teodoro Vao signed both contracts of sale but the titles to the lots sold were in the name of
Estate of Jose Vao. And since the titles to Lot Nos. 5 and 6 were in name of Estate of Jose Vao, the Loys were
on notice that court approval was needed for the sale of estate property. The ex-parte motion for the court approval
of the sales filed by the Loys some seven or eight years after the sales transaction reveals a less than honest
actuation, prompting the administratrix to object to the courts approval.

JUNIO v. COLLECTOR: Art. 776
Consolacion Junio, a young woman 22 years of age, and Beatriz Soloria, another young woman of 18 years,
represented by her father, Fausto Soloria, who was appointed her guardian ad litem, brought these actions in the
Court of First Instance of Pangasinan to recover from the defendant, Manila Railroad Company, damages suffered by
them in an accident that occurred at the railroad crossing situated at the outskirts of the town of Calasiao,
Pangasinan, when the automobile in which they were passengers collided with a locomotive belonging to the
aforementioned defendant. This is an appeal taken by them from the judgment rendered by the trial court absolving
the defendant without costs.

The two cases were tried jointly and only one decision was rendered for both cases.

The trial court summarizes the facts established by the evidence as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"At about 11.40 oclock on the night of April 13, 1930, the plaintiffs herein with some other persons were traveling in a
PU-Car on the road between Calasiao and Santa Barbara. When they arrived at the intersection of the road and the
defendants railway, the car tried to cross the track and collided with the engine of the night express which left
Dagupan for Manila at 11 oclock that same night and which was then passing over the crossing in question at great
speed. As a result of the collision, the car was thrown some distance, plaintiff Junios right leg was amputated and her
right arm fractured, and Soloria received various injuries on her head.

"The aforementioned crossing is situated in the town of Calasiao and the same is presumed to be dangerous due to
the fact that gates were required at that crossing. (Section 83, Act No. 1459, as amended by Act No. 2100.) On the
night of the accident, the gates were not lowered and there was no notice to the effect that they were not operated at
night or that they were temporarily out of order. However, a notice to the effect that that was a railroad crossing was
there.

"As a general rule, the rights and obligations between the public and a railroad company at a public crossing are
mutual and reciprocal. Both are under mutual obligation to exercise due care to avoid causing or receiving injury.
Each is in duty bound to exercise reasonable or ordinary care commensurate with the risk and danger involved.

"In the case under consideration, the driver alleges that he slowed down from 19 miles an hour, at which rate he was
then going, to 16 miles, and that he was on the lookout for any approaching train, while the engineer insists that he
rang the bell and sounded the whistle before reaching the crossing. Both parties claim to be free from guilt, and if the
defendant company were completely so, the plaintiffs would have no cause of action against it."cralaw virtua1aw
library

In addition to the facts mentioned above, it has also been proved that the gate in question was about three hundred
(300) meters from the railroad station at Calasiao; that on each side of the crossing there was a wooden bar operated
only during the daytime by a woman employee of the defendant, and that just before the crossing on one side of the
road leading from the town of Calasiao there was a signpost bearing the notice, "RAILROAD CROSSING", written
crosswise.

The evidence also shows that the car driven by the chauffeur, Pedro Talbo, was an old Ford bearing number plates
PU-3636, which meant that it was a hired car. The plate, Exhibit 2, was found by the engineer on the side of the
engine upon arrival at Paniqui, the next station, which indicates that it was torn from the front of the radiator when the
auto collided with the right side of the engine of the night express.

The appellants were passengers who took the car in Bayambang and were bound for Asingan, via Dagupan.

The plaintiffs attorney assigns in his brief the following alleged errors:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"First. The trial court erred in finding that the defendant company was not negligent in leaving its gates open at the
moment of the accident when a special night express train was passing.

"Second. The trial court erred in holding that the driver of the car occupied by the plaintiffs was negligent.

"Third. The trial court erred in holding that the plaintiffs were negligent or in making them responsible for the drivers
alleged negligence.

"Fourth. The trial court erred in holding that the main question in the accident was the drivers alleged negligence.

"Fifth. The trial court erred in absolving the defendant instead of ordering it to pay the damages proven which are the
subject of these actions."cralaw virtua1aw library

From the evidence, it is obvious that the defendant as well as the driver of the car in which the plaintiffs were
passengers were negligent, the former because, by installing the gates at the place or crossing where the accident
occurred, it had voluntarily imposed upon itself the obligation to operate them even at night and to close them every
time a train passed in order to avoid causing injury to the public. It has been said that the gates constitute an
invitation to the public to pass without fear of danger, and failure to operate them conveniently constitutes negligence
on the part of the company.

The driver was, likewise, negligent because he did not comply with his duty to slacken the speed of the car and to
"look and listen" before crossing the intersection and, above all, because he did not maintain a reasonable speed so
as to permit him to stop any moment if it were necessary in order to avoid an accident. If, in the present case, the car
had been running at a reasonable speed, there is no doubt that he could have stopped it instantly upon seeing the
train from a distance of five meters.

If the action for damages were brought by the driver, it is certain that it would not prosper in view of that fact that he
had incurred in a notorious contributory negligence. But the persons who instituted the action are the appellants who
were mere passengers of the car. Therefore, the question raised is whether the drivers negligence is imputable to
them so as to bar them from the right to recover damages suffered by them by reason of the accident.

Although this question is, perhaps, raised in this jurisdiction for the first time, it is, nevertheless, a well recognized
principle of law that the negligence of a driver, who, in turn, is guilty of contributory negligence, cannot be imputed to
a passenger who has no control over him in the management of the vehicle and with whom he sustains no relation of
master and servant. This rule is applied more strictly when, as in the present case, hired cars or those engaged in
public service, are involved.

"The doctrine prevails in a few states that the contributory negligence of the driver of a private conveyance is
imputable to a person voluntarily riding with him. But the general rule is that the negligence of the driver of a vehicle is
not to be imputed to an occupant thereof who is injured at a crossing through the combined negligence of the driver
and the railroad company when such occupant is without fault and has no control over the driver. And the law almost
universally now recognized is that when one accepts an invitation to ride in the vehicle of another, without any
authority or purpose to direct or control the driver or the movements of the team, and without any reason to doubt the
competency of the driver, the contributory negligence of the owner or driver of the conveyance will not be imputed to
the guest or passenger, so as to bar him of the right to recover damages from a railroad company whose negligence
occasions injury to him at a crossing while he is so riding. This rule has been applied in a number of cases involving
the corresponding relation between the driver of an automobile and an occupant having no control over him. The rule
is not confined to cases of gratuitous transportation, but has been applied where a conveyance is hired, and the
passenger exercises no further control over the driver than to direct him to the place to which he wishes to be taken.
Nor is any distinction made between private and public vehicles, such as street cars and stages." (22 R. C. L., pp.
1047, 1048.)

"As a general rule the negligence of a driver of a vehicle approaching a railroad crossing, in failing to look and listen
for approaching trains, cannot be imputed to an occupant of the vehicle who is without personal fault, unless such
driver is the servant or agent of the occupant, unless they are engaged in a joint enterprise whereby responsibility for
each others acts exists, or unless the occupant is under the drivers care or control or has the right to direct and
control the drivers actions, or where the driver is of obvious or known imprudence or incompetency. This rule that
negligence of the driver is not imputable to an occupant only applies to cases in which the relation of master and
servant or principal and agent does not exist between the parties, or where the occupant has no right to direct or
control the drivers actions, as where the occupant is a passenger for hire or is the guest of the owner or driver and
has no reason to believe the driver careless or imprudent, or where the occupant is seated away from the driver or is
separated from him by an inclosure so that he is without opportunity to discover danger and inform the driver thereof.
. . ." (52 C. J., pp. 315, 316 and 317.)

"A passenger in the automobile of another having no control over the owner driving the car or the operation of the car
which he occupied merely as passenger was not chargeable with contributory negligence of the owner and driver at a
railroad crossing." (Carpenter v. Atchison, 195 Pac., 1073.)

"In railroad crossing accident, negligence of truck driver was not imputable to truck passenger not himself guilty of
contributory negligence." (Lucchese v. Spingola, 289 Pac., 189.)

In the case of Little v. Hackett (116 U.S., 366; 29 Law. ed., 652, 654, 657), the United States Supreme Court
said:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"That one cannot recover damages for an injury to the commission of which he has directly contributed is a rule of
established law and a principle of common justice. And it matters not whether that contribution consists in his
participation in the direct cause of the injury, or in his omission of duties which, if performed, would have prevented it.
If his fault, whether of omission or commission, has been the proximate cause of the injury, he is without remedy
against one also in the wrong. It would seem that the converse of this doctrine should be accepted as sound; that
when one has been injured by the wrongful act of another, to which he has in no respect contributed, he should be
entitled to compensation in damages from the wrongdoer. And such is the generally received doctrine, unless a
contributory cause of the injury has been the negligence or fault of some person towards whom he sustains the
relation of superior or master, in which case the negligence is imputed to him, though he may not have personally
participated in or had knowledge of it; and he must bear the consequences. The doctrine may also be subject to other
exceptions growing out of the relation of parent and child, or guardian and ward, and the like. Such a relation involves
considerations which have no bearing upon the question before us.

"There is no distinction in principle whether the passengers be on a public conveyance like a railroad train or an
omnibus or be on a hack hired from a public stand in the street for a drive. Those on a hack do not become
responsible for the negligence of the driver, if they exercise no control over him further than to indicate the route they
wish to travel or the places to which they wish to go. If he is their agent so that his negligence can be imputed to them
to prevent their recovery against a third party, he must be their agent in all other respects, so far as the management
of the carriage is concerned; and responsibility to third parties would attach to them for injuries caused by his
negligence in the course of his employment. But as we have already stated, responsibility cannot, within any
recognized rules of law, be fastened upon one who has in no way interfered with and controlled in the matter causing
the injury. From the simple fact of hiring the carriage or riding in it no such liability can arise. The party hiring or riding
must in some way have coperated in producing the injury complained of before he incurs any liability for it.If the law
were otherwise, as said by Mr. Justice Depue in his elaborate opinion in the latest case in New Jersey, not only the
hirer of the coach but also all the passengers in it would be under a constraint to mount the box and superintend the
conduct of the driver in the management and control of his team, or be put for remedy exclusively to an action against
the irresponsible driver or equally irresponsible owner of a coach taken, it may be, from a coach stand, for the
consequences of an injury which was the product of the coperating wrongful acts of the driver and of a third person;
and that too, although the passengers were ignorant of the character of the driver, and of the responsibility of the
owner of the team, and strangers to the route over which they were to be carried. (18 Vroom, 171.)"

There is nothing of record to show that the appellants herein have incurred in any negligence imputable to them and
we do not see any reason whatsoever why they should be made responsible for the drivers negligence. The doctrine
established in the cases cited above should be applied to the case at bar and it should be held that the appellants
herein are entitled to recover from the appellee damages occasioned by the accident of which they were victims.

We shall now proceed to determine the amount of the damages. With respect to Soloria, we do not find any difficulty
because the evidence shows that she spent only three hundred pesos (P300) for her treatment and stay in the
hospital. Her injuries are not of such a nature as to entitle her to a further indemnity. The damages to which she is
entitled may, therefore, be assessed at the amount stated above.

Such is not the case with respect to Consolacion Junio. According to the evidence presented, she was a dancer
earning from six pesos (P6) to eight pesos (P8) a day for two or three days every week that she danced. She lost her
right leg which was amputated, suffered a fracture of her right arm and was wounded on her occipital region. With
these details in view, the members of this court are of the opinion that she may justly be awarded the sum of two
thousand five hundred pesos (P2,500) as damages and five hundred pesos (P500) as indemnity for expenses
incurred by her in her treatment, medical attendance and stay in the hospital, making the total amount she is entitled
to recover aggregating three thousand pesos (P3,000).

Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and it is ordered that the appellee pay to Consolacion
Junio the sum of three thousand pesos (P3,000) and to Beatriz Soloria three hundred pesos (P300), with costs of
both instances. So ordered

RIOFERIO v. COURT OF APPEALS: Art. 777
Whether the heirs may bring suit to recover property of the estate pending the appointment of an administrator
is the issue in this case.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeks to set aside the Decision
[1]
of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42053 dated January 31, 1997, as well as its Resolution
[2]
dated March 26,
1997, denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
On May 13, 1995, Alfonso P. Orfinada, Jr. died without a will in Angeles City leaving several personal and real
properties located in Angeles City, Dagupan City and Kalookan City.
[3]
He also left a widow, respondent Esperanza P.
Orfinada, whom he married on July 11, 1960 and with whom he had seven children who are the herein respondents,
namely: Lourdes P. Orfinada, Alfonso Clyde P. Orfinada, Nancy P. Orfinada-Happenden, Alfonso James P.
Orfinada, Christopher P. Orfinada, Alfonso Mike P. Orfinada (deceased) and Angelo P. Orfinada.
[4]

Apart from the respondents, the demise of the decedent left in mourning his paramour and their children. They
are petitioner Teodora Riofero, who became a part of his life when he entered into an extra-marital relationship with
her during the subsistence of his marriage to Esperanza sometime in 1965, and co-petitioners Veronica
[5]
, Alberto
and Rowena.
[6]

On November 14, 1995, respondents Alfonso James and Lourdes Orfinada discovered that on June 29, 1995,
petitioner Teodora Rioferio and her children executed an Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate of a Deceased Person
with Quitclaim involving the properties of the estate of the decedent located in Dagupan City and that accordingly, the
Registry of Deeds in Dagupan issued Certificates of Titles Nos. 63983, 63984 and 63985 in favor of petitioners
Teodora Rioferio, Veronica Orfinada-Evangelista, Alberto Orfinada and Rowena Orfinada-Ungos. Respondents also
found out that petitioners were able to obtain a loan of P700,000.00 from the Rural Bank of Mangaldan Inc. by
executing a Real Estate Mortgage over the properties subject of the extra-judicial settlement.
[7]

On December 1, 1995, respondent Alfonso Clyde P. Orfinada III filed a Petition for Letters of
Administration docketed as S.P. Case No. 5118 before the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City, praying that letters of
administration encompassing the estate of Alfonso P. Orfinada, Jr. be issued to him.
[8]

On December 4, 1995, respondents filed a Complaint for the Annulment/Rescission of Extra Judicial Settlement
of Estate of a Deceased Person with Quitclaim, Real Estate Mortgage and Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of
Titles with Nos. 63983, 63985 and 63984 and Other Related Documents with Damages against petitioners, the Rural
Bank of Mangaldan, Inc. and the Register of Deeds of Dagupan City before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 42,
Dagupan City.
[9]

On February 5, 1996, petitioners filed their Answer to the aforesaid complaint interposing the defense that the
property subject of the contested deed of extra-judicial settlement pertained to the properties originally belonging to
the parents of Teodora Riofero
[10]
and that the titles thereof were delivered to her as an advance inheritance but the
decedent had managed to register them in his name.
[11]
Petitioners also raised the affirmative defense that
respondents are not the real parties-in-interest but rather the Estate of Alfonso O. Orfinada, Jr. in view of the
pendency of the administration proceedings.
[12]
On April 29, 1996, petitioners filed a Motion to Set Affirmative
Defenses for Hearing
[13]
on the aforesaid ground.
The lower court denied the motion in its Order
[14]
dated June 27, 1996, on the ground that respondents, as heirs,
are the real parties-in-interest especially in the absence of an administrator who is yet to be appointed in S.P. Case
No. 5118. Petitioners moved for its reconsideration
[15]
but the motion was likewise denied.
[16]

This prompted petitioners to file before the Court of Appeals their Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court docketed as CA G.R. S.P. No. 42053.
[17]
Petitioners averred that the RTC committed grave abuse of
discretion in issuing the assailed order which denied the dismissal of the case on the ground that the proper party to
file the complaint for the annulment of the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of the deceased is the estate of the
decedent and not the respondents.
[18]

The Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision
[19]
dated January 31, 1997, stating that it discerned no
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction by the public respondent judge when he denied
petitioners motion to set affirmative defenses for hearing in view of its discretionary nature.
A Motion for Reconsideration was filed by petitioners but it was denied.
[20]
Hence, the petition before this Court.
The issue presented by the petitioners before this Court is whether the heirs have legal standing to prosecute
the rights belonging to the deceased subsequent to the commencement of the administration proceedings.
[21]

Petitioners vehemently fault the lower court for denying their motion to set the case for preliminary hearing on
their affirmative defense that the proper party to bring the action is the estate of the decedent and not the
respondents. It must be stressed that the holding of a preliminary hearing on an affirmative defense lies in the
discretion of the court. This is clear from the Rules of Court, thus:
SEC. 5. Pleadings grounds as affirmative defenses.- Any of the grounds for dismissal provided for in this rule, except
improper venue, may be pleaded as an affirmative defense, and a preliminary hearing may be had thereon as if a
motion to dismiss had been filed.
[22]
(Emphasis supplied.)
Certainly, the incorporation of the word may in the provision is clearly indicative of the optional character of the
preliminary hearing. The word denotes discretion and cannot be construed as having a mandatory
effect.
[23]
Subsequently, the electivity of the proceeding was firmed up beyond cavil by the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure with the inclusion of the phrase in the discretion of the Court, apart from the retention of the word may
in Section 6,
[24]
in Rule 16 thereof.
Just as no blame of abuse of discretion can be laid on the lower courts doorstep for not hearing petitioners
affirmative defense, it cannot likewise be faulted for recognizing the legal standing of the respondents as heirs to
bring the suit.
Pending the filing of administration proceedings, the heirs without doubt have legal personality to bring suit in
behalf of the estate of the decedent in accordance with the provision of Article 777 of the New Civil Code that (t)he
rights to succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent. The provision in turn is the
foundation of the principle that the property, rights and obligations to the extent and value of the inheritance of a
person are transmitted through his death to another or others by his will or by operation of law.
[25]

Even if administration proceedings have already been commenced, the heirs may still bring the suit if an
administrator has not yet been appointed. This is the proper modality despite the total lack of advertence to the heirs
in the rules on party representation, namely Section 3, Rule 3
[26]
and Section 2, Rule 87
[27]
of the Rules of Court. In
fact, in the case of Gochan v. Young,
[28]
this Court recognized the legal standing of the heirs to represent the rights
and properties of the decedent under administration pending the appointment of an administrator. Thus:
The above-quoted rules,
[29]
while permitting an executor or administrator to represent or to bring suits on behalf of the
deceased, do not prohibit the heirs from representing the deceased. These rules are easily applicable to cases in
which an administrator has already been appointed. But no rule categorically addresses the situation in
which special proceedings for the settlement of an estate have already been instituted, yet no administrator
has been appointed. In such instances, the heirs cannot be expected to wait for the appointment of an
administrator; then wait further to see if the administrator appointed would care enough to file a suit to protect the
rights and the interests of the deceased; and in the meantime do nothing while the rights and the properties of the
decedent are violated or dissipated.
Even if there is an appointed administrator, jurisprudence recognizes two exceptions, viz: (1) if the executor or
administrator is unwilling or refuses to bring suit;
[30]
and (2) when the administrator is alleged to have participated in
the act complained of
[31]
and he is made a party defendant.
[32]
Evidently, the necessity for the heirs to seek judicial
relief to recover property of the estate is as compelling when there is no appointed administrator, if not more, as
where there is an appointed administrator but he is either disinclined to bring suit or is one of the guilty parties
himself.
All told, therefore, the rule that the heirs have no legal standing to sue for the recovery of property of the estate
during the pendency of administration proceedings has three exceptions, the third being when there is no appointed
administrator such as in this case.
As the appellate court did not commit an error of law in upholding the order of the lower court, recourse to this
Court is not warranted.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED. The assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals
are hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.