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University of Cebu

College of Law
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS

ATTENTION EVERYONE:
ASSIGNMENT for TUESDAY
(January 6, 2015)

A. Cases for Rule 76


1.

Leviste v. CA, G.R. No. L-29184, January


30, 1989 (169 SCRA 580)

G.R. No. L-29184 January 30, 1989


BENEDICTO LEVISTE, petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, HON. JUDGE LUIS B.
REYES, COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA,
ROSA DEL ROSARIO, RITA BANU, CARMEN DE
GUZMAN-MARQUEZ, JESUS R. DE GUZMAN, RAMON
R. DE GUZMAN, JACINTO R. DE GUZMAN and
ANTONIO R. DE GUZMAN, respondents.
Benedicto Leviste for and in his own behalf.
Gatchalian, Ignacio & Associates for respondents de
Guzman.
GRIO-AQUINO, J.:
The issue in this case is whether or not an attorney who
was engaged on a contingent fee basis may, in order to
collect his fees, prosecute an appeal despite his client's
refusal to appeal the decision of the trial court.
On September 7, 1963, the petitioner, a practicing
attorney, entered into a written agreement with the
private respondent Rosa del Rosario to appear as her
counsel in a petition for probate of the holographic will of
the late Maxima C. Reselva. Under the will, a piece of
real property at Sales Street, Quiapo, Manila, was
bequeathed to Del Rosario. It was agreed that
petitioner's contigent fee would be thirty-five per cent
(35%) of the property that Rosa may receive upon the
probate of the will (Annex "A", p. 59, Rollo).
In accordance with their agreement, Leviste performed
the following services as Del Rosario's counsel:
(1) Thoroughly researched and studied
the law on probate and succession;
(2) Looked for and interviewed
witnesses, and took their affidavits;
(3) Filed the petition for. probate is
Special Proceeding No. 58325;
(4) Made the proper publications;
(5) Presented at the trial the following
witnesses:
a) Eleuterio de Jesus
b) Lucita de Jesus
c) Purita L. Llanes
d) Rita Banu
e) Jesus Lulod.
On August 20, 1965, Leviste received a letter from Ms.
Del Rosario, informing him that she was terminating his
services as her counsel due to "conflicting interest." This
consisted, according to the letter, in petitioner's moral
obligation to protect the interest of his brother-in-law,
Gaudencio M. Llanes, whom Del Rosario and the other
parties in the probate proceeding intended to eject as

lessee of the property which was bequeathed to Del


Rosario under the will (Annex "B", p. 60, Rollo).
On September 20, 1965, petitioner filed a "Motion to
Intervene to Protect His Rights to Fees for Professional
Services." (Annex "B", p. 60, Rollo.)
In an order dated November 12, 1965 the trial court
denied his motion on the ground that he had "not filed a
claim for attorney's fees nor recorded his attorney's lien."
(p. 3, Rollo.)
On November 23, 1965, petitioner filed a "Formal
Statement of Claim for Attorney's Fees and Recording of
Attorney's Lien,' which was noted in the court's order of
December 20, 1965 (Annexes "D" and "E", pp. 63 & 64,
Rollo).
Although the order denying his motion to intervene had
become final, petitioner continued to receive copies of
the court's orders, as well the pleadings of the other
parties in the case. He also continued to file pleadings.
The case was submitted for decision without the
respondents' evidence.
On November 23, 1966, Del Rosario and Rita Banu, the
special administratrix-legatee, filed a "Motion To
Withdraw Petition for Probate" alleging that Del Rosario
waived her rights to the devise in her favor and agreed
that the De Guzman brothers and sisters who opposed
her petition for probate, shall inherit all the properties
left by the decedent. (Annex "F", p. 65, Rollo.)
In an order of April 13, 1967 the trial court denied the
motion to withdraw the petition for being contrary to
public policy (Annex "G", pp. 66-67, Rollo).
Nonetheless, on August 28, 1967, the court disallowed
the will, holding that the legal requirements for its
validity were not satisfied as only two witnesses testified
that the will and the testatrix's signature were in the
handwriting of Maxima Reselva.
The petitioner filed an appeal bond, notice of appeal, and
record on appeal. The private respondents filed a motion
to dismiss the appeal on the ground that petitioner was
not a party in interest.
The petitioner opposed the motion to dismiss his appeal,
claiming that he has a direct and material interest in the
decision sought to be reviewed. He also asked that he be
substituted as party-petitioner, in lieu of his former
client, Ms. Del Rosario.
On March 28, 1968, the trial judge dismissed the appeal
and denied petitioner's motion for substitution.
The petitioner filed in the Court of Appeals a petition
for mandamus (CA-G.R. No. 41248) praying that the trial
court be ordered to give due course to his appeal and to
grant his motion for substitution.
On May 22, 1968, the Court of Appeals dismissed the
petition for being insufficient in form and substance as
the petitioner did not appear to be the proper party to
appeal the decision in Special Proceeding No. 58325
(Annex 1, p. 77, Rollo).
Upon the denial of his motion for reconsideration,
petitioner appealed by certiorari to this Court, assigning
the following errors against the Court of Appeals'
resolution:
1. The Court of Appeals erred in finding
that the petitioner appears not to be the
proper party to appeal the decision in
Sp. Proc. No. 58325 of the Court of First
Instance of Manila.
2. Assuming the petitioner's right of
appeal is doubtful, the Court of Appeals
erred in dismissing his petition for
mandamus; and
3. The Court of Appeals erred in not
reversing the decision in Sp. Proc. No.
58325 denying the probate of the

holographic will of the late Maxima C.


Reselva, said decision being patently
erroneous.
Under his first assignment of error, petitioner argues
that by virtue of his contract of services with Del
Rosario, he is a creditor of the latter, and that under
Article 1052 of the Civil Code which provides:
ART. 1052. If the heir repudiates the
inheritance to the prejudice of his own
creditors, the latter may petition the
court to authorize them to accept it in
the name of the heir.
The acceptance shall benefit the
creditors only to an extent sufficient to
cover the amount of their credits. The
excess, should there be any, shall in no
case pertain to the renouncer, but shall
be adjudicated to the persons to whom,
in accordance with the rules established
in this Code, it may belong.
he has a right to accept for his client Del Rosario to the
extent of 35% thereof the devise in her favor (which she
in effect repudiated) to protect his contigent attorney's
fees.
The argument is devoid of merit. Article 1052 of the Civil
Code does not apply to this case. That legal provision
protects the creditor of a repudiating heir. Petitioner is
not a creditor of Rosa del Rosario. The payment of his
fees is contingent and dependent upon the successful
probate of the holographic will. Since the petition for
probate was dismissed by the lower court, the
contingency did not occur. Attorney Leviste is not
entitled to his fee.
Furthermore, Article 1052 presupposes that the obligor
is an heir. Rosa del Rosario is not a legal heir of the late
Maxima C. Reselva. Upon the dismissal of her petition
for probate of the decedent's will, she lost her right to
inherit any part of the latter's estate. There is nothing for
the petitioner to accept in her name.
This Court had ruled in the case of Recto vs.
Harden, 100 Phil. 1427, that "the contract (for
contingent attorney's fees) neither gives, nor purports to
give, to the appellee (lawyer) any right whatsoever,
personal or real, in and to her (Mrs. Harden's) aforesaid
share in the conjugal partnership. The amount thereof is
simply a basis for thecomputation of said fees."
The Court of Appeals did not err in dismissing the
petition for mandamus, for while it is true that, as
contended by the petitioner, public policy favors the
probate of a will, it does not necessarily follow that every
will that is presented for probate, should be allowed. The
law lays down procedures which should be observed and
requisites that should be satisfied before a will may be
probated. Those procedures and requirements were not
followed in this case resulting in the disallowance of the
will. There being no valid will, the motion to withdraw
the probate petition was inconsequential.
Petitioner was not a party to the probate proceeding in
the lower court. He had no direct interest in the probate
of the will. His only interest in the estate is an indirect
interest as former counsel for a prospective heir.
In Paras vs. Narciso, 35 Phil. 244, We had occassion to
rule that one who is only indirectly interested in a will
may not interfere in its probate. Thus:
... the reason for the rule excluding
strangers from contesting the will, is not
that thereby the court maybe prevented
from learning facts which would justify
or necessitate a denial of probate, but
rather that the courts and the litigants
should not be molested by the

intervention in the proceedings of


persons with no interest in the estate
which would entitle them to be heard
with relation thereto. (Paras vs. Narciso,
35 Phil. 244, 246.)
Similary, in Morente vs. Firmalino, 40 O.G. 21st Supp. 1,
We held:
We are of the opinion that the lower
court did not err in holding that notice
of an attorney's lien did not entitle the
attorney-appellant to subrogate himself
in lieu of his client. It only gives him the
right to collect a certain amount for his
services in case his client is awarded a
certain sum by the court.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied for lack
of merit. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, Cruz, Gancayco and Medialdea, JJ, concur.

2.

Rodriguez v. Borja, G.R. No. L-21993, June


21, 1966 (17 SCRA 418)

G.R. No. L-21993


June 21, 1966
ANGELA RODRIGUEZ, MARIA RODRIGUEZ, ET
AL., petitioners,
vs.
HON. JUAN DE BORJA, as Judge of the Court of First
Instance of Bulacan, Branch III,
ANATOLIA PANGILINAN and ADELAIDA
JACALAN, respondents.
Lorenzo Somulong for petitioners.
Torres and Torres for respondents.
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
Petitioners Angela, Maria, Abelardo and Antonio,
surnamed Rodriguez, petition this Court for a writ
of certiorariand prohibition to the Court of First Instance
of Bulacan, for its refusal to grant their motion to
dismiss its Special Proceeding No. 1331, which said
Court is alleged to have taken cognizance of without
jurisdiction.
The facts and issues are succinctly narrated in the order
of the respondent court, dated June 13, 1963 (Petition,
Annex 0), in this wise:
It is alleged in the motion to dismiss filed by
Angela, Maria, Abelardo and Antonio Rodriguez,
through counsel, that this Court "has no
jurisdiction to try the above-entitled case in view
of the pendency of another action for the
settlement of the estate of the deceased Rev. Fr.
Celestino Rodriguez in the Court of First
Instance of Rizal, namely, Sp. Proceedings No.
3907 entitled 'In the matter of the Intestate
Estate of the deceased Rev. Fr. Celestino
Rodriguez which was filed ahead of the instant
case".
The records show that Fr. Celestino Rodriguez
died on February 12, 1963 in the City of Manila;
that on March 4, 1963, Apolonia Pangilinan and
Adelaida Jacalan delivered to the Clerk of Court
of Bulacan a purported last will and testament
of Fr. Rodriguez; that on March 8, 1963, Maria
Rodriguez and Angela Rodriguez, through
counsel filed a petition for leave of court to allow
them to examine the alleged will; that on March
11, 1963 before the Court could act on the
petition, the same was withdrawn; that on

March 12, 1963, aforementioned petitioners filed


before the Court of First Instance of Rizal a
petition for the settlement of the intestate estate
of Fr. Rodriguez alleging, among other things,
that Fr. Rodriguez was a resident of Paraaque,
Rizal, and died without leaving a will and
praying that Maria Rodriguez be appointed as
Special Administratrix of the estate; and that on
March 12, 1963 Apolonia Pangilinan and
Adelaida Jacalan filed a petition in this Court for
the probation of the will delivered by them on
March 4, 1963. It was stipulated by the parties
that Fr. Rodriguez was born in Paraaque, Rizal;
that he was Parish priest of the Catholic Church
of Hagonoy, Bulacan, from the year 1930 up to
the time of his death in 1963; that he was
buried in Paraaque, and that he left real
properties in Rizal, Cavite, Quezon City and
Bulacan.
The movants contend that since the intestate
proceedings in the Court of First Instance of
Rizal was filed at 8:00 A.M. on March 12, 1963
while the petition for probate was filed in the
Court of First Instance of Bulacan at 11:00 A.M.
on the same date, the latter Court has no
jurisdiction to entertain the petition for probate,
citing as authority in support thereof the case
of Ongsingco Vda. de Borja vs. Tan and De Borja,
G.R. No. 7792, July 27, 1955.
The petitioners Pangilinan and Jacalan, on the
other hand, take the stand that the Court of
First Instance of Bulacan acquired jurisdiction
over the case upon delivery by them of the will to
the Clerk of Court on March 4, 1963, and that
the case in this Court therefore has precedence
over the case filed in Rizal on March 12, 1963.
The Court of First Instance, as previously stated denied
the motion to dismiss on the ground that a difference of
a few hours did not entitle one proceeding to preference
over the other; that, as early as March 7, movants were
aware of the existence of the purported will of Father
Rodriguez, deposited in the Court of Bulacan, since they
filed a petition to examine the same, and that movants
clearly filed the intestate proceedings in Rizal "for no
other purpose than to prevent this Court (of Bulacan)
from exercising jurisdiction over the probate
proceedings". Reconsideration having been denied,
movants, now petitioners, came to this Court, relying
principally on Rule 73, section 1 of the Rules of Court,
and invoking our ruling in Ongsingco vs. Tan and De
Borja, L-7792, July 27, 1955.
SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons
settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of the
Philippines at the time of his death, whether a
citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or
letters of administration granted, and his estate
settled, in the Court of First Instance in the
province in which he resides at the time of his
death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign
country, the Court of First Instance of any
province which he had estate. The court first
taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate
of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the
exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction
assumed by a court, as far as it depends on the
place of residence of the decedent, or of the
location of his estate, shall not be contested in a
suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that
court, in the original case, or when the want of
jurisdiction appears on the record.

We find this recourse to be untenable. The jurisdiction of


the Court of First Instance of Bulacan became vested
upon the delivery thereto of the will of the late Father
Rodriguez on March 4, 1963, even if no petition for its
allowance was filed until later, because upon the will
being deposited the court could, motu proprio, have
taken steps to fix the time and place for proving the will,
and issued the corresponding notices conformably to
what is prescribed by section 3, Rule 76, of the Revised
Rules of Court (Section 3, Rule 77, of the old Rules):
SEC. 3. Court to appoint time for proving
will. Notice thereof to be published. When a
will is delivered to, or a petition for the allowance
of a will is filed in, the Court having jurisdiction,
such Court shall fix a time and place for proving
the will when all concerned may appear to
contest the allowance thereof, and shall cause
notice of such time and place to be published
three (3) weeks successively, previous to the time
appointed, in a newspaper of general circulation
in the province.
But no newspaper publication shall be made
where the petition for probate has been filed by
the testator himself.
The use of the disjunctive in the words "when a will is
delivered to OR a petition for the allowance of a will is
filed" plainly indicates that the court may act upon the
mere deposit therein of a decedent's testament, even if
no petition for its allowance is as yet filed. Where the
petition for probate is made after the deposit of the will,
the petition is deemed to relate back to the time when
the will was delivered. Since the testament of Fr.
Rodriguez was submitted and delivered to the Court of
Bulacan on March 4, while petitioners initiated intestate
proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Rizal only
on March 12, eight days later, the precedence and
exclusive jurisdiction of the Bulacan court is
incontestable.1wph1.t
But, petitioners object, section 3 of revised Rule 76 (old
Rule 77) speaks of a will being delivered to "the Court
having jurisdiction," and in the case at bar the Bulacan
court did not have it because the decedent was domiciled
in Rizal province. We can not disregard Fr. Rodriguez's
33 years of residence as parish priest in Hagonoy,
Bulacan (1930-1963); but even if we do so, and consider
that he retained throughout some animus revertendi to
the place of his birth in Paraaque, Rizal, that detail
would not imply that the Bulacan court lacked
jurisdiction. As ruled in previous decisions, the power to
settle decedents' estates is conferred by law upon all
courts of first instance, and the domicile of the testator
only affects the venue but not the jurisdiction of the
Court (In re Kaw Singco, 74 Phil. 239; Reyes vs. Diaz, 73
Phil. 484; Bernabe vs. Vergara, 73 Phil. 676). Neither
party denies that the late Fr. Rodriguez is deceased, or
that he left personal property in Hagonoy, province of
Bulacan (t.s.n. p. 46, hearing of June 11, 1963, Annex
"H", Petition, Rec., p. 48). That is sufficient in the case
before us.
In the Kaw Singco case (ante) this Court ruled that:
"... If we consider such question of residence as
one affecting the jurisdiction of the trial court
over the subject-matter, the effect shall be that
the whole proceedings including all decisions on
the different incidents which have arisen in
court will have to be annulled and the same case
will have to be commenced anew before another
court of the same rank in another province. That
this is of mischievous effect in the prompt
administration of justice is too obvious to require
comment. (Cf. Tanunchuan vs. Dy Buncio & Co.,

G.R. No. 48206, December 31, 1942).


Furthermore, section 600 of Act No. 190,
providing that the estate of a deceased person
shall be settled in the province where he had last
resided, could not have been intended as
defining the jurisdiction of the probate court
over the subject matter, because such legal
provision is contained in a law of procedure
dealing merely with procedural matters, and, as
we have said time and again, procedure is one
thing and jurisdiction over the subject matter is
another. (Attorney General vs. Manila Railroad
Company, 20 Phil. 523.) The law of jurisdiction
Act No. 136, Section 56, No. 5 confers upon
Courts of First Instance jurisdiction over all
probate cases independently of the place of
residence of the deceased.1 Since, however, there
are many Courts of First Instance in the
Philippines, the Law of Procedure, Act No. 190,
section 600, fixes the venue or the place where
each case shall be brought. Thus, the place of
residence of the deceased is not an element of
jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely
of venue. And it is upon this ground that in the
new Rules of Court the province where the
estate of a deceased person shall be settled is
properly called "venue" (Rule 75, section 1.)
Motion for reconsideration is denied.
The estate proceedings having been initiated in the
Bulacan Court of First Instance ahead of any other, that
court is entitled to assume jurisdiction to the exclusion
of all other courts, even if it were a case of wrong venue
by express provisions of Rule 73 (old Rule 75) of the
Rules of Court, since the same enjoins that:
The Court first taking cognizance of the
settlement of the estate of a decedent shall
exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other
courts. (Sec. 1)
This disposition presupposes that two or more courts
have been asked to take cognizance of the settlement of
the estate. Of them only one could be of proper venue,
yet the rule grants precedence to that Court whose
jurisdiction is first invoked, without taking venue into
account.
There are two other reasons that militate against the
success of petitioners. One is that their commencing
intestate proceedings in Rizal, after they learned of the
delivery of the decedent's will to the Court of Bulacan,
was in bad faith, patently done with a view to divesting
the latter court of the precedence awarded it by the
Rules. Certainly the order of priority established in Rule
73 (old Rule 75) was not designed to convert the
settlement of decedent's estates into a race between
applicants, with the administration of the properties as
the price for the fleetest.
The other reason is that, in our system of civil law,
intestate succession is only subsidiary or subordinate to
the testate, since intestacy only takes place in the
absence of a valid operative will. Says Article 960 of the
Civil Code of the Philippines:
ART. 960. Legal or intestate succession takes
place:
(1) If a person dies without a will, or with a void
will, or one which has subsequently lost its
validity;
(2) When the will does not institute an heir to, or
dispose of all the property belonging to the
testator. In such case, legal succession shall
take place only with respect to the property in
which the testator has not disposed;

(3) If the suspensive condition attached to the


institution of heir does not happen or is not
fulfilled, or if the heir dies before the testator, or
repudiates the inheritance, there being no
substitution, and no right of accretion takes
place;
(4) When the heir instituted is incapable of
succeeding, except in cases provided in this
Code.
Therefore, as ruled in Castro, et al. vs. Martinez, 10 Phil.
307, "only after final decision as to the nullity of testate
succession could an intestate succession be instituted in
the form of pre-established action". The institution of
intestacy proceedings in Rizal may not thus proceed
while the probate of the purported will of Father
Rodriguez is pending.
We rule that the Bulacan Court of First Instance was
entitled to priority in the settlement of the estate in
question, and that in refusing to dismiss the probate.
proceedings, said court did not commit any abuse of
discretion. It is the proceedings in the Rizal Court that
should be discontinued.
Wherefore, the writ of certiorari applied for is denied.
Costs against petitioners Rodriguez.
Concepcion, C.J., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal,
Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar and Sanchez, JJ., concur.

3.

Maravilla v. Maravilla, G.R. No. L-23225,


February 27, 1971 (37 SCRA 672)

EN BANC
[G.R. No. L-23225. February 27, 1971.]
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO PROBATE OF
THE WILL OF DIGNA MARAVILLA, HERMINIO
MARAVILLA, petitioner-appellant, and ADELINA
SAJO, legatee-appellant, v. PEDRO MARAVILLA,
ASUNCION MARAVILLA and REGINA MARAVILLA,
oppositors-appellees, CONCEPCION KOHLHAAS and
ROSE MARY KOHLHAAS, intervenors.
Felino A. Garcia for legatee-appellant.
Salonga, Ordoez, Yap, Sicat & Associates and
Paredes, Poblador, Cruz & Nazareno forPetitionerAppellant.
Jose Gutierrez David, Placido C. Ramos, Augurio
Abeto, Alex Mirasol and Alex Umadhay, for
oppositors-appellees.
Jose M. Luison for intervenors.

DECISION

REYES, J.B.L., J.:

These are appeals (before Republic Act 5440) from the


decision of the Court of First Instance of Negros
Occidental, in its Special Proceeding No. 4977, denying
the probate of the will of the deceased, Digna Maravilla.
These appeals were brought to the Court of Appeals, but
said court certified the same to this Supreme Court on

26 May 1964, in accord with the latters prior decision in


Fernandez, etc., Et. Al. v. Maravilla, L-18799, 31 March
1964, 1 which settled the question of appellate
jurisdiction in favor of the Supreme Court over that of
the Court of Appeals, on the appeal from the
appointment of a special co-administrator in the same
Special Proceeding No. 4977 in view of the value of the
estate.
Appellant Herminio Maravilla, probate petitioner and
husband of the decedent, died on 16 July 1966, after the
case was submitted for decision. Upon motion for
intervention filed by Concepcion Maravilla Kohlhaas and
Rose Mary Kohlhaas, this Supreme Court allowed their
intervention on 24 July 1967, upon showing that their
interest as substitute heirs was vested definitely upon
the death of Herminio Maravilla, and that said movants
for intervention merely adopt the pleadings and briefs
filed in behalf of the deceased Herminio Maravilla so that
the intervention will not delay the disposition of the
case. 2
Appellees Pedro, 3 Asuncion and Regina, all surnamed
"Maravilla," who are allegedly the brother and sisters of
the deceased Digna Maravilla and oppositors to the
probate, had moved to require the P. C. Laboratory to
submit explanations of the photographs of the will and
the signatures thereon previously filed, 4 but this Court,
considering that such explanation would amount to new
evidence not heard at the trial, denied the motion on 3
August 1967. 5
Herminio Maravillas petition for probate was opposed by
the appellees in an amended opposition filed in the
course of the trial in the court below and admitted
without objection. The opposition alleged the following
grounds:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"a) That the deceased, Digna Maravilla, the alleged
testatrix and the instrumental witnesses did not sign the
alleged will, each and every page thereof, in the presence
of each other;
"b) That the deceased, Digna Maravilla, the alleged
testatrix, affixed her signature to her alleged will under
undue and improper pressure and influence and/or
duress brought to bear upon her by the petitioner, for his
own personal benefit and advantage and that of his
nieces, Adelina Sajo and Rose Marie Kohlhaas and his
half-sister Conchita Maravilla Kohlhaas;
"c) That the deceased, Digna Maravilla, at the time she
affixed her signature to her alleged will was not of sound
and disposing mind;
"d) That the alleged will, now being offered for probate
had already been revoked by the deceased, Digna
Maravilla." 6
After trial, the court below rendered judgment, holding
as unsubstantiated the last three (3) grounds aboveenumerated, but sustaining the first, that is, that the
will was not executed in accordance with Section 618 of
Act 190, and, therefore, denied the probate of the will.
The petitioner and one Adelina Sajro, who was named a
devisee under the questioned will, appealed the
judgment, as aforesaid, assigning errors of fact and law.
The oppositors-appellees did not appeal but counterassigned errors their brief.

There is no controversy that the late Digna Maravilla


died in Manapla, Negros Occidental, on 12 August 1958,
leaving an extensive estate. Prior to her death, she was a
resident of Saravia, same province. It is, likewise,
undisputed that, at the time of the probate proceedings,
only one (1) (Aquilino Mansueto) of the three (3) attesting
witnesses to the will had survived, the two (2) others
(Timoteo Hernaez and Mariano Buenaflor) having died
previously.
The will submitted for probate, Exhibit "A," which is
typewritten in the Spanish language, purports to have
been executed in Manila on the 7th day of October,
1944; it consists of five (5) pages, including the page on
which the attestation clause was completed. The
purported signatures of the testatrix appear at the
logical end of the will on page four and at the left margin
of all the other pages. The attestation clause reads as
follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"CLAUSULA DE ATESTIGUAMIENTO
"Nosotros, TIMOTEO HERNAEZ, AQUILINO MANSUETO
y MARIANO BUENAFLOR los abajo firmantes todos
mayores de edad y sin impedimento alguno para ser
testigo de este testamento, certificamos y atestiguamos:
Que en la fecha y lugar arriba mencionados Da. DIGNA
MARAVILLA ha otorgado el presente documento como su
testamento y ultima voluntad que consta de cinco
paginas utiles incluyendo esta pagina de
atestiguamiento, escrito a maquinilla en una sola cara
de cada hoja, todas paginadas correlativamente en letras
de puo y letra de la testadora, habiendo dicha
testadora, despues de leido el mismo en nuestra
presencia, firmado por triplicado al pie de este
testamento y al margen izquierdo de cada una de las
cinco paginas de que se compone en presencia de todos
y cada uno de nosotros que tambien firmamos en el
margen izquierdo de cada pagina y al pie de este
atestiguamiento los unos en presencia de los otros y
todos en presencia de lo testadora, quien en el acto del
otorgamiento y firma de este documento se halla en
plena capacidad intelectual, amenazada ni enganada par
otorgar y firmar este testamento.
"Asi lo atestiguamos y firmamos por triplicado de
nuestro puo y letra en Manila hoy a siete de Octubre de
mil novecientos cuarenta y cuatro."cralaw virtua1aw
library
At the bottom thereof appear the purported signatures of
Timoteo Hernaez, Aquilino Mansueto and Mariano
Buenaflor, attesting witnesses. Their signatures appear
also on the left margin of all the five (5) pages. The
paging of the will is by handwritten words, such as
"Pagina Primera," "Pagina Segunda," etc., written at the
top of each page. On the lower half of the third page,
before the name "CONCEPCION P. MARAVILLA," is the
typewritten word "hermana," which was crossed out, and
over it was handwritten the word "cuada," bearing, at
the left hereof, the initials "D. M."cralaw virtua1aw
library
After the legacies in favor of herein appellant Adelina
Sajo, a niece of Digna Maravilla, the latters sister-in-law,
Concepcion P. Maravilla de Kohlhaas, and Concepcions
daughter, Rose Mary Kohlhaas, the will named appellant
Herminio Maravilla as universal heir and executor. In
case of the heirs death, or if he should not become heir
for any reason, he is to be substituted by the legatee
Adelina Sajo in one-half of the properties bequeathed,

the other half to pass collectively to legatees Concepcion


P. Maravilla and the daughter of the latter, Rose Mary
Kohlhaas. All previous wills are declared revoked.
In view of the trial courts decision of 8 February 1960
(Record on Appeal, pages 25-51) refusing probate of the
will, the instituted heir, Herminio Maravilla, and the
legatee, Adelina Sajo, perfected their appeal, assigning as
errors the findings of the trial court that (a)
instrumental witness Aquilino Mansueto did not actually
see Digna Maravilla sign the will; (b) that Digna
Maravilla was not present when Mansueto signed the will
as witness; (c) that Mansueto "most probably" did not
see Mariano Buenaflor sign as witness to the will; (d) the
testimony of attorney Manuel Villanueva on the due
execution of Digna Maravillas testament was biased and
not deserving of credit; and (e) in refusing probate to the
alleged will for not having been executed with the
requisites prescribed by Section 618 of Act 190.
At the hearing before the court a quo, only one of the
three instrumental witnesses, Col. (ret.) Aquilino
Mansueto, appeared and testified, inasmuch as the other
two witnesses (Timoteo Hernaez and Mariano Buenaflor)
concededly died prior to the trial of the case. Col.
Mansueto identified his own signature and those of Dr.
Timoteo Hernaez and of Digna Maravilla, and asserted
that the latter did sign in the presence of all three
witnesses and attorney Villanueva; 7 that Hernaez
signed in his presence and in the presence of the other
witnesses and of Digna Maravilla and that present at the
signing were "Dr. Timoteo Hernaez, Mr. Mariano
Buenaflor, attorney Manuel Villanueva and both
Herminio Maravilla and Mrs. Digna Maravilla, (the
testatrix) and identified his signature and those of Digna
and Hernaez 8 although, subsequently, the witness
admitted that he could not remember very well whether
Mr. Maravilla was there at the time he signed the will.
The witness explained that he could not remember some
details because fourteen years had elapsed, and when he
signed as a witness, he did not give it any importance
and because of the time he (Col. Mansueto) was very
worried because of rumours that the Japanese
Kempeitai would arrest officers of the USAFFE who did
not want to collaborate. 9
Colonel Mansuetos testimony was supported by that of
the husband of the testatrix, Herminio Maravilla, and of
attorney Manuel Villanueva. Herminio Maravillas
evidence is that a week before 7 October 1944 his wife,
Digna Maravilla, told him of her desire to "renew" her will
because of the critical period in Manila before the
liberation; 10 he invited Buenaflor, Hernaez and
Mansueto to attest to the will; 11 sent his messenger,
Mariano Buenaflor, to ask attorney Manuel Villanueva to
come to his house at Mabini, Ermita, Manila, in order to
prepare the will; 12 at his wifes request, he gave the list
of properties to Villanueva; 13 he knew that the will was
executed in the dining room while he remained in the
sala; 14 and Villanueva, Mansueto, Hernaez and
Buenaflor were in his house in the morning of 7 October
1944 and sat with his wife around the table in the
dining room, with Villanueva at one end, Digna beside
him and the witnesses facing each other; 15 and after
the signing they had lunch, at his invitation, and when
they were eating, petitioner Maravilla saw the three (3)
copies of the will on the dining table. 16 However, he did
not see there sign. 17
Attorney Manuel Villanueva, as third witness for the
proponent asserted that he had been the lawyer of the

Maravillas; that 5 or 6 days before 7 October 1944 he


had been summoned through Mariano Buenaflor to the
house of the Maravillas at 222 Mabini, Ermita, Manila,
and there met Digna who requested him to draft a new
will, revoking her old one, to include as additional
beneficiaries Adelina Sajo, Concepcion Maravilla, and
the latters youngest daughter, Rose Mary Kohlhaas, who
lived with her (Digna) and whom she considered as her
real children, having cared for them since childhood.
Digna gave Villanueva instructions concerning the will,
and handed him her old will and a handwritten list of
the certificates of title of her properties, which list she
asked and obtained from her husband. Before leaving,
Villanueva asked Digna to look for three witnesses; their
names were furnished him two or three days later and
he sent word that the will could be executed on 7
October 1944 (as it actually was); on that day he brought
one original and 2 copies with him, and handed them to
Digna; she read the document and while doing so the
witnesses Mansueto, Hernaez and Buenaflor came.
Villanueva talked with them and satisfied himself that
they were competent, whereupon all proceeded to the
dining room table. Attorney Villanueva sat at the head
thereof, Digna at his right, and Hernaez at the right of
Digna; at his left was first Mansueto and then Buenaflor.
At the lawyers behest Digna Maravilla read the will in
the presence of the witnesses; after reading she called
his attention to a clerical error on page 3, at the second
to the last line of paragraph 9, where Concepcion
Maravilla was designated as "hermana" ; the word was
cancelled by the testatrix who wrote "cuada" above the
cancelled word, and placed her initials "D. M." beside it.
She also wrote on top of each page the words "Pagina
primera," "Pagina Segunda" and so on, upon Villanuevas
instructions, and then Digna and the witnesses signed
in the presence of one another and of attorney
Villanueva. 18 The latter did not ask the husband
(Herminio) to join the group when the will was executed,
and Herminio remained near the window in the sala. 19
Digna appeared to the witness very healthy and spoke in
Spanish intelligently. The signing ended around 12:30
p.m., and after it all ate lunch. 20
Upon the evidence, the trial judge concluded that
Mansueto did not actually see Digna Maravilla sign the
will in question, basing such conclusion upon the fact
that while Mansueto positively identified his own
signature ("I identify this as my signature") but not that
of the testatrix, his five answers to the questions of
counsel, in reference thereto, being "this must be the
signature of Mrs. Digna Maravilla."cralaw virtua1aw
library
In our opinion, the trial courts conclusion is far fetched,
fanciful and unwarranted. It was but natural that
witness Mansueto should be positive about his own
signature, since he was familiar with it. He had to be
less positive about Digna Maravillas signature since he
could not be closely acquainted with the same: for aught
the record shows, the signing of the will was the only
occasion he saw her sign; he had no opportunity to
study her signature before or after the execution of
Exhibit "A." Furthermore, he witnessed Dignas signing
not less than fourteen years previously. To demand that
in identifying Dignas signature Mansueto should display
a positiveness equal to the certainty shown by him in
recognizing his own, exceeds the bounds of the
reasonable. The variation in the expressions used by the
witness is the best evidence that he was being candid
and careful, and it is a clear badge of truthfulness rather
than the reverse.

The trial courts error gains no support from Mansuetos


statement on cross-examination that "I remember and (I)
signed the will in the presence of all the witnesses and in
the presence of attorney Villanueva" (page 29, Volume 1,
T.s.n., Amago). In the absence of an assurance that no
one else was present, this assertion does not really
contradict Mansuetos testimony in chief that "I have
read the entire document before I signed it in the
presence of the other witnesses, Digna Maravilla and
Attorney Villanueva" (t.s.n., Amago, Volume 1, pages 1819). It is well to note that the cross examiner did not ask
Mansueto if no one else besides those mentioned by him
had seen him sign. Any contradiction inferred from both
statements is purely conjectural; it did not come from
the witness and is insufficient to impeach his veracity,
the difference in the answers being due to no more than
an accidental lapse of memory. A will may be allowed
even if some witnesses not remember having attested it,
if other evidence satisfactorily show due execution (V. Act
190, Section 632), and that failure of witness to identify
his signature does not bar probate. 21
That Mansueto, Hernaez and Buenaflor, together with
the testatrix and the lawyer, sat next to one another
around one table when the will was signed is clearly
established by the uncontradicted testimony of both
attorney Villanueva and Herminio Maravilla; and that
detail proves beyond doubt that each one of the parties
concerned did sign in the presence of all the others. It
should be remembered, in this connection, that the test
is not whether a witness did see the signing of the will
but whether he was in a position to see if he chose to do
so. 22
The trial court rejected the evidence of both Herminio
Maravilla and Manuel Villanueva, giving as a reason that
they were biased and interested in having the probate
succeed. The reasoning is not warranted: for Herminio
Maravilla certainly stood to gain more under the
previous will of his wife (Exhibit "G") where he was made
the sole beneficiary, As to attorney Villanueva, while he
had been a friend of Herminio from boyhood, he also had
been the family lawyer, and his intervention in the
execution of the will of one of his clients became
inevitable, for it is not to be expected that the testatrix
should call upon a stranger for the purpose. If
Villanueva wished to perjure in favor of Herminio, all he
needed was to color his testimony against the due
execution of the will (Exhibit "A") and not in favor
thereof, since, as previously observed, Dignas first will
(Exhibit "G") was more advantageous to the widower.
We find it difficult to understand the trial courts
distrust of a lawyer who did no more than discharge his
professional duty, or its readiness to attribute improper
motives to proponents witnesses. This Court, in Sotelo v.
Luzan, 59 Phil. 908, has remarked that
"It is hardly conceivable that any attorney of any
standing would risk his professional reputation by
falsifying a will and then go before a court and give false
testimony."cralaw virtua1aw library
And in the Fernandez v. Tantoco, 49 Phil. 380, 385, We
ruled:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"In weighing the testimony of the attesting witnesses to
a will, the statements of a competent attorney, who has
been charged with the responsibility of seeing to the
proper execution of the instrument, is entitled to greater

weight than the testimony of a person casually called to


participate in the act, supposing of course that no
motive is revealed that should induce the attorney to
prevaricate. The reason is that the mind of the attorney,
being conversant with the requisites of proper execution
of the instrument, is more likely to become fixed on
details, and he is more likely than other persons to
retain those incidents in his memory." (Italics supplied)
Appellees endeavoured to sustain the courts refusal to
probate the will by referring to the evidence of their
witness Marino Tupas, a man of "no permanent job", 23
who narrated that on the last week of September, 1944
one Mariano Buenaflor had been introduced to him by
one Lt. Garaton at his guerrilla outpost in Montalban
and described as a man wanted by the Japanese. Tupas
patently exaggerated testimony is that this Buenaflor
stayed with him at his outpost camp until January,
1945, living and sleeping with him, and was never for a
single moment out of his sight. 24 Why a civilian refugee
should remain at a guerrilla outpost for four months;
without engaging in any particular helpful activity on his
part, was not explained. Shown photographs and asked
to identify Buenaflor, Tupas hedged by pleading that the
Buenaflor who stayed with him had a long beard. Thus,
oppositor-appellees reverse alibi for the instrumental
witness, Mariano Buenaflor, was not only patently
mendacious but did not establish any reliable
connection between the instrumental witness of Dignas
will and the Buenaflor who, according to Tupas, stuck to
him as a burr in 1944. No wonder the trial court gave no
credit to such evidence.
Oppositors attempts to establish that the testatrix Digna
Maravilla was mentally incompetent to validly execute
the will in question met no better fate in the court below.
They introduced one Eufrocina Berja who qualified
Digna Maravilla as insane because she saw Digna
Maravilla acting strangely one morning in 1921 (23 years
before the will was executed). In Berjas own words
"Would you not call a person insane who is waving a
bunch of flowers and singing along a road, especially
taking into consideration their reputation in the
Community?" (t.s.n., 21 May 1959, page 19)
Even if to this ridiculous appraisal were to be added the
fact that (according to this witness) Digna saw her in
1946, but would not answer her questions and "was in a
deep thought (sic) and her tongue was coming out of her
mouth" (Do., pages 14-15), her evidence would certainly
not justify a finding that Digna Maravilla was not
competent to execute the testament in 1944. By Berjas
standards, any one could be held insane.
Nor is the case for the oppositors improved by the
evidence of their witness Eleazar Lopez, who asserted
having visited his aunt, Digna Maravilla (whom he had
not seen since he was four years old), two days after the
first bombing of Manila by the American planes in
September, 1944. Lopez claimed to have seen Digna on
that occasion laughing and crying and then staring
blankly at the ceiling, without recognizing the witness;
and that he visited her again toward mid-October of the
same year and she had worsened. 25 Coming from a
nephew who expected to succeed if the will in question *
were denied probate, and who sought to become
administrator of the estate, even offering to resign from
his position in the government if appointed, 26 this
testimony of Lopez was evidently colored by his monetary
interest, thus leading to its correct discrediting by the

trial court. His recollection after 15 years of the alleged


symptoms of his aunt is very suspicious, as it does not
even appear that Lopez at the time bothered to inquire
from other persons what caused his aunts alleged
abnormal condition. Moreover, the courts duty to
reconcile conflicts of evidence should lead it to hold that
the symptoms described by Lopez were due to a
temporary disturbance of the nerves caused by the
unsettling effect of a bombardment not previously
experienced, compatible with the due execution of the
will on 7 October 1944. As between the testimony of
Lopez and that of attorney Villanueva, who repeatedly
visited and talked to the testatrix around the time her
will was executed, We have no hesitation in accepting the
latters view that Digna Maravilla was competent to make
the will when it was signed. The law itself declares that

"To be of sound mind, it is not necessary that the


testator be in full possession of all his reasoning
faculties or that his mind be wholly unbroken,
unimpaired or unshattered by disease, injury or other
cause." (Civil Code, Article 799; Bugnao v. Ubag, 14 Phil.
163.)
We are satisfied that the preponderance of evidence is to
the effect that the testament, Exhibit "A," was duly
executed by a qualified testatrix and competent
witnesses, in conformity with the statutory
requirements.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decree of the court
below denying probate of the 1944 will of Digna
Maravilla (Exhibit "A") is reversed and the said testament
is hereby ordered probated. Let the records be returned
to the Court of origin for further proceedings
conformable to law. Costs against oppositors-appellees.
Concepcion, C.J., Dizon, Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando,
Teehankee, Barredo, Villamor and Makasiar, JJ., concur.
Makalintal, J., did not take part.
4.

Labrador v. CA, G.R. Nos. 83843-44, April 5,


1990 (184 SCRA 170)

G.R. Nos. 83843-44 April 5, 1990


IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE
THE WILL OF MELECIO LABRADOR. SAGRADO
LABRADOR (Deceased), substituted by ROSITA
LABRADOR, ENRICA LABRADOR, and CRISTOBAL
LABRADOR, petitioners-appellants,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, 1 GAUDENCIO LABRADOR, and
JESUS LABRADOR, respondents-appellees.
Benjamin C. Santos Law Offices for petitioners.
Rodrigo V. Fontelera for private respondents.
PARAS, J.:
The sole issue in this case is whether or not the alleged
holographic will of one Melecio Labrador is dated, as
provided for in Article 810 2 of the New Civil Code.
The antecedent and relevant facts are as follows: On
June 10, 1972, Melecio Labrador died in the
Municipality of Iba, province of Zambales, where he was
residing, leaving behind a parcel of land designated as
Lot No. 1916 under Original Certificate of Title No. P1652, and the following heirs, namely: Sagrado, Enrica,
Cristobal, Jesus, Gaudencio, Josefina, Juliana, Hilaria

and Jovita, all surnamed Labrador, and a holographic


will.
On July 28, 1975, Sagrado Labrador (now deceased but
substituted by his heirs), Enrica Labrador and Cristobal
Labrador, filed in the court a quo a petition for the
probate docketed as Special Proceeding No. 922-I of the
alleged holographic will of the late Melecio Labrador.
Subsequently, on September 30, 1975, Jesus Labrador
(now deceased but substituted by his heirs), and
Gaudencio Labrador filed an opposition to the petition
on the ground that the will has been extinguished or
revoked by implication of law, alleging therein that on
September 30, 1971, that is, before Melecio's death, for
the consideration of Six Thousand (P6,000) Pesos,
testator Melecio executed a Deed of Absolute Sale,
selling, transferring and conveying in favor of oppositors
Jesus and Gaudencio Lot No. 1916 and that as a matter
of fact, O.C.T. No. P-1652 had been cancelled by T.C.T.
No. T-21178. Earlier however, in 1973, Jesus Labrador
sold said parcel of land to Navat for only Five Thousand
(P5,000) Pesos. (Rollo, p. 37)
Sagrado thereupon filed, on November 28, 1975, against
his brothers, Gaudencio and Jesus, for the annulment of
said purported Deed of Absolute Sale over a parcel of
land which Sagrado allegedly had already acquired by
devise from their father Melecio Labrador under a
holographic will executed on March 17, 1968, the
complaint for annulment docketed as Civil Case No. 934I, being premised on the fact that the aforesaid Deed of
Absolute Sale is fictitious.
After both parties had rested and submitted their
respective evidence, the trial court rendered a joint
decision dated February 28, 1985, allowing the probate
of the holographic will and declaring null and void the
Deed of Absolute sale. The court a quo had also directed
the respondents (the defendants in Civil Case No. 934-I)
to reimburse to the petitioners the sum of P5,000.00
representing the redemption price for the property paid
by the plaintiff-petitioner Sagrado with legal interest
thereon from December 20, 1976, when it was paid to
vendee a retro.
Respondents appealed the joint decision to the Court of
Appeals, which on March 10, 1988 modified said joint
decision of the court a quo by denying the allowance of
the probate of the will for being undated and reversing
the order of reimbursement. Petitioners' Motion for
Reconsideration of the aforesaid decision was denied by
the Court of Appeals, in the resolution of June 13, 1988.
Hence, this petition.
Petitioners now assign the following errors committed by
respondent court, to wit:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
NOT ALLOWING AND APPROVING THE
PROBATE OF THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL
OF THE TESTATOR MELECIO
LABRADOR; and
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
FINDING THAT THE ORDER OF THE
LOWER COURT DIRECTING THE
REIMBURSEMENT OF THE FIVE
THOUSAND PESOS REPRESENTING
THE REDEMPTION PRICE WAS
ERRONEOUS.
The alleged undated holographic will written in Ilocano
translated into English, is quoted as follows:
ENGLISH INTERPRETATION OF THE
WILL OF THE
LATE MELECIO LABRADOR WRITTEN
IN ILOCANO

BY ATTY. FIDENCIO L. FERNANDEZ


I First Page
This is also where it appears in writing
of the place which is assigned and
shared or the partition in favor of
SAGRADO LABRADOR which is the
fishpond located and known place as
Tagale.
And this place that is given as the share
to him, there is a measurement of more
or less one hectare, and the boundary at
the South is the property and
assignment share of ENRICA
LABRADOR, also their sister, and the
boundary in the West is the sea, known
as the SEA as it is, and the boundary on
the NORTH is assignment belonging to
CRISTOBAL LABRADOR, who likewise is
also their brother. That because it is
now the time for me being now ninety
three (93) years, then I feel it is the right
time for me to partition the fishponds
which were and had been bought or
acquired by us, meaning with their two
mothers, hence there shall be no
differences among themselves, those
among brothers and sisters, for it is I
myself their father who am making the
apportionment and delivering to each
and everyone of them the said portion
and assignment so that there shall not
be any cause of troubles or differences
among the brothers and sisters.
II Second Page
And this is the day in which we agreed
that we are making the partitioning and
assigning the respective assignment of
the said fishpond, and this being in the
month of March, 17th day, in the year
1968, and this decision and or
instruction of mine is the matter to be
followed. And the one who made this
writing is no other than MELECIO
LABRADOR, their father.
Now, this is the final disposition that I
am making in writing and it is this that
should be followed and complied with in
order that any differences or troubles
may be forestalled and nothing will
happen along these troubles among my
children, and that they will be in good
relations among themselves, brothers
and sisters;
And those improvements and fruits of
the land; mangoes, bamboos and all
coconut trees and all others like the
other kind of bamboo by name of Bayog,
it is their right to get if they so need, in
order that there shall be nothing that
anyone of them shall complain against
the other, and against anyone of the
brothers and sisters.
III THIRD PAGE
And that referring to the other places of
property, where the said property is
located, the same being the fruits of our
earnings of the two mothers of my
children, there shall be equal portion of
each share among themselves, and or to
be benefitted with all those property,

which property we have been able to


acquire.
That in order that there shall be basis of
the truth of this writing (WILL) which I
am here hereof manifesting of the truth
and of the fruits of our labor which their
two mothers, I am signing my signature
below hereof, and that this is what
should be complied with, by all the
brothers and sisters, the children of
their two mothers JULIANA
QUINTERO PILARISA and CASIANA
AQUINO VILLANUEVA Your father who
made this writing (WILL), and he is,
MELECIO LABRADOR y RALUTIN (p.
46, Rollo)
The petition, which principally alleges that the
holographic will is really dated, although the date is not
in its usual place, is impressed with merit.
The will has been dated in the hand of the testator
himself in perfect compliance with Article 810. It is
worthy of note to quote the first paragraph of the second
page of the holographic will, viz:
And this is the day in which we agreed
that we are making the partitioning and
assigning the respective assignment of
the said fishpond, and this being in the
month of March, 17th day, in the year
1968, and this decision and or
instruction of mine is the matter to be
followed. And the one who made this
writing is no other than MELECIO
LABRADOR, their father. (emphasis
supplied) (p. 46,Rollo)
The law does not specify a particular location where the
date should be placed in the will. The only requirements
are that the date be in the will itself and executed in the
hand of the testator. These requirements are present in
the subject will.
Respondents claim that the date 17 March 1968 in the
will was when the testator and his beneficiaries entered
into an agreement among themselves about "the
partitioning and assigning the respective assignments of
the said fishpond," and was not the date of execution of
the holographic will; hence, the will is more of an
"agreement" between the testator and the beneficiaries
thereof to the prejudice of other compulsory heirs like
the respondents. This was thus a failure to comply with
Article 783 which defines a will as "an act whereby a
person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by
law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his
estate, to take effect after his death."
Respondents are in error. The intention to show 17
March 1968 as the date of the execution of the will is
plain from the tenor of the succeeding words of the
paragraph. As aptly put by petitioner, the will was not an
agreement but a unilateral act of Melecio Labrador who
plainly knew that what he was executing was a will. The
act of partitioning and the declaration that such
partitioning as the testator's instruction or decision to be
followed reveal that Melecio Labrador was fully aware of
the nature of the estate property to be disposed of and of
the character of the testamentary act as a means to
control the disposition of his estate.
Anent the second issue of finding the reimbursement of
the P5,000 representing the redemption price as
erroneous, respondent court's conclusion is incorrect.
When private respondents sold the property (fishpond)
with right to repurchase to Navat for P5,000, they were
actually selling property belonging to another and which
they had no authority to sell, rendering such sale null

and void. Petitioners, thus "redeemed" the property from


Navat for P5,000, to immediately regain possession of the
property for its disposition in accordance with the will.
Petitioners therefore deserve to be reimbursed the
P5,000.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision of the Court of
Appeals dated March 10, 1988 is hereby REVERSED.
The holographic will of Melecio Labrador is APPROVED
and ALLOWED probate. The private respondents are
directed to REIMBURSE the petitioners the sum of Five
Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00).
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ.,
concur.

5.

De Jesus v. De Jesus, G.R. No. L-38338,


January 28, 1985 (134 SCRA 245)

G.R. No. L-38338 January 28, 1985


IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF
ANDRES G. DE JESUS AND BIBIANA ROXAS DE
JESUS, SIMEON R. ROXAS & PEDRO ROXAS DE
JESUS, petitioners,
vs.
ANDRES R. DE JESUS, JR., respondent.
Raul S. Sison Law Office for petitioners.
Rafael Dinglasan, Jr. for heir M. Roxas.
Ledesma, Guytingco Velasco and Associates for Ledesa
and A. R. de Jesus.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
This is a petition for certiorari to set aside the order of
respondent Hon. Jose C. Colayco, Presiding Judge Court
of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXI disallowing the
probate of the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana
Roxas de Jesus.
The antecedent facts which led to the filing of this
petition are undisputed.
After the death of spouses Andres G. de Jesus and
Bibiana Roxas de Jesus, Special Proceeding No. 81503
entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Andres
G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus" was filed by
petitioner Simeon R. Roxas, the brother of the deceased
Bibiana Roxas de Jesus.
On March 26, 1973, petitioner Simeon R. Roxas was
appointed administrator. After Letters of Administration
had been granted to the petitioner, he delivered to the
lower court a document purporting to be the holographic
Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. On May 26,
1973, respondent Judge Jose Colayco set the hearing of
the probate of the holographic Win on July 21, 1973.
Petitioner Simeon R. Roxas testified that after his
appointment as administrator, he found a notebook
belonging to the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus and that
on pages 21, 22, 23 and 24 thereof, a letter-win
addressed to her children and entirely written and
signed in the handwriting of the deceased Bibiana R. de
Jesus was found. The will is dated "FEB./61 " and
states: "This is my win which I want to be respected
although it is not written by a lawyer. ...
The testimony of Simeon R. Roxas was corroborated by
the testimonies of Pedro Roxas de Jesus and Manuel
Roxas de Jesus who likewise testified that the letter
dated "FEB./61 " is the holographic Will of their
deceased mother, Bibiana R. de Jesus. Both recognized
the handwriting of their mother and positively Identified
her signature. They further testified that their deceased
mother understood English, the language in which the

holographic Will is written, and that the date "FEB./61 "


was the date when said Will was executed by their
mother.
Respondent Luz R. Henson, another compulsory heir
filed an "opposition to probate" assailing the purported
holographic Will of Bibiana R. de Jesus because a it was
not executed in accordance with law, (b) it was executed
through force, intimidation and/or under duress, undue
influence and improper pressure, and (c) the alleged
testatrix acted by mistake and/or did not intend, nor
could have intended the said Will to be her last Will and
testament at the time of its execution.
On August 24, 1973, respondent Judge Jose C. Colayco
issued an order allowing the probate of the holographic
Will which he found to have been duly executed in
accordance with law.
Respondent Luz Roxas de Jesus filed a motion for
reconsideration alleging inter alia that the alleged
holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus
was not dated as required by Article 810 of the Civil
Code. She contends that the law requires that the Will
should contain the day, month and year of its execution
and that this should be strictly complied with.
On December 10, 1973, respondent Judge Colayco
reconsidered his earlier order and disallowed the probate
of the holographic Will on the ground that the word
"dated" has generally been held to include the month,
day, and year. The dispositive portion of the order reads:
WHEREFORE, the document purporting
to be the holographic Will of Bibiana
Roxas de Jesus, is hereby disallowed for
not having been executed as required by
the law. The order of August 24, 1973 is
hereby set aside.
The only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61 "
appearing on the holographic Will of the deceased
Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is a valid compliance with the
Article 810 of the Civil Code which reads:
ART. 810. A person may execute a
holographic will which must be entirely
written, dated, and signed by the hand
of the testator himself. It is subject to no
other form, and may be made in or out
of the Philippines, and need not be
witnessed.
The petitioners contend that while Article 685 of the
Spanish Civil Code and Article 688 of the Old Civil Code
require the testator to state in his holographic Win the
"year, month, and day of its execution," the present Civil
Code omitted the phrase Ao mes y dia and simply
requires that the holographic Will should be dated. The
petitioners submit that the liberal construction of the
holographic Will should prevail.
Respondent Luz Henson on the other hand submits that
the purported holographic Will is void for noncompliance with Article 810 of the New Civil Code in that
the date must contain the year, month, and day of its
execution. The respondent contends that Article 810 of
the Civil Code was patterned after Section 1277 of the
California Code and Section 1588 of the Louisiana Code
whose Supreme Courts had consistently ruled that the
required date includes the year, month, and day, and
that if any of these is wanting, the holographic Will is
invalid. The respondent further contends that the
petitioner cannot plead liberal construction of Article
810 of the Civil Code because statutes prescribing the
formalities to be observed in the execution of holographic
Wills are strictly construed.
We agree with the petitioner.
This will not be the first time that this Court departs
from a strict and literal application of the statutory

requirements regarding the due execution of Wills. We


should not overlook the liberal trend of the Civil Code in
the manner of execution of Wills, the purpose of which,
in case of doubt is to prevent intestacy
The underlying and fundamental
objectives permeating the provisions of
the law on wigs in this Project consists
in the liberalization of the manner of
their execution with the end in view of
giving the testator more freedom in
expressing his last wishes, but with
sufficien safeguards and restrictions to
prevent the commission of fraud and the
exercise of undue and improper
pressure and influence upon the
testator.
This objective is in accord with the
modem tendency with respect to the
formalities in the execution of wills.
(Report of the Code Commission, p. 103)
In Justice Capistrano's concurring opinion in Heirs
of Raymundo Castro v. Bustos (27 SCRA 327) he
emphasized that:
xxx xxx xxx
... The law has a tender regard for the
will of the testator expressed in his last
will and testament on the ground that
any disposition made by the testator is
better than that which the law can
make. For this reason, intestate
succession is nothing more than a
disposition based upon the presumed
will of the decedent.
Thus, the prevailing policy is to require satisfaction of
the legal requirements in order to guard against fraud
and bad faith but without undue or unnecessary
curtailment of testamentary privilege Icasiano v.
Icasiano, 11 SCRA 422). If a Will has been executed in
substantial compliance with the formalities of the law,
and the possibility of bad faith and fraud in the exercise
thereof is obviated, said Win should be admitted to
probate (Rey v. Cartagena 56 Phil. 282). Thus,
xxx xxx xxx
... More than anything else, the facts
and circumstances of record are to be
considered in the application of any
given rule. If the surrounding
circumstances point to a regular
execution of the wilt and the instrument
appears to have been executed
substantially in accordance with the
requirements of the law, the inclination
should, in the absence of any suggestion
of bad faith, forgery or fraud, lean
towards its admission to probate,
although the document may suffer from
some imperfection of language, or other
non-essential defect. ... (Leynez v.
Leynez 68 Phil. 745).
If the testator, in executing his Will, attempts to comply
with all the requisites, although compliance is not literal,
it is sufficient if the objective or purpose sought to be
accomplished by such requisite is actually attained by
the form followed by the testator.
The purpose of the solemnities surrounding the
execution of Wills has been expounded by this Court
in Abangan v. Abanga 40 Phil. 476, where we ruled that:
The object of the solemnities
surrounding the execution of wills is to
close the door against bad faith and
fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and

testaments and to guaranty their truth


and authenticity. ...
In particular, a complete date is required to provide
against such contingencies as that of two competing
Wills executed on the same day, or of a testator becoming
insane on the day on which a Will was executed (Velasco
v. Lopez, 1 Phil. 720). There is no such contingency in
this case.
We have carefully reviewed the records of this case and
found no evidence of bad faith and fraud in its execution
nor was there any substitution of Wins and Testaments.
There is no question that the holographic Will of the
deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus was entirely written,
dated, and signed by the testatrix herself and in a
language known to her. There is also no question as to
its genuineness and due execution. All the children of
the testatrix agree on the genuineness of the holographic
Will of their mother and that she had the testamentary
capacity at the time of the execution of said Will. The
objection interposed by the oppositor-respondent Luz
Henson is that the holographic Will is fatally defective
because the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the
holographic Will is not sufficient compliance with Article
810 of the Civil Code. This objection is too technical to
be entertained.
As a general rule, the "date" in a holographic Will should
include the day, month, and year of its execution.
However, when as in the case at bar, there is no
appearance of fraud, bad faith, undue influence and
pressure and the authenticity of the Will is established
and the only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61"
appearing on the holographic Will is a valid compliance
with Article 810 of the Civil Code, probate of the
holographic Will should be allowed under the principle of
substantial compliance.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The
order appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and
the order allowing the probate of the holographic Will of
the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is reinstated.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova
and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.

6.

Ajero v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 106720,


September 15, 1994 (236 SCRA 488)

G.R. No. 106720 September 15, 1994


SPOUSES ROBERTO AND THELMA
AJERO, petitioners,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS AND CLEMENTE
SAND, respondents.
Miguel D. Larida for petitioners.
Montilla Law Office for private respondent.
PUNO, J.:
This is an appeal by certiorari from the Decision of the
Court of
Appeals 1 in CA-G.R. CV No. 22840, dated March 30,
1992, the dispositive portion of which reads;
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the
questioned decision of November 19,
1988 of the trial court is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the
petition for probate is hereby
DISMISSED. No costs.
The earlier Decision was rendered by the RTC of
Quezon City, Branch 94, 2 in Sp. Proc. No. Q-

37171, and the instrument submitted for


probate is the holographic will of the late Annie
Sand, who died on November 25, 1982.
In the will, decedent named as devisees, the following:
petitioners Roberto and Thelma Ajero, private
respondent Clemente Sand, Meriam S. Arong, Leah
Sand, Lilia Sand, Edgar Sand, Fe Sand, Lisa S. Sand,
and Dr. Jose Ajero, Sr., and their children.
On January 20, 1983, petitioners instituted Sp. Proc.
No. Q-37171, for allowance of decedent's holographic
will. They alleged that at the time of its execution, she
was of sound and disposing mind, not acting under
duress, fraud or undue influence, and was in every
respect capacitated to dispose of her estate by will.
Private respondent opposed the petition on the grounds
that: neither the testament's body nor the signature
therein was in decedent's handwriting; it contained
alterations and corrections which were not duly signed
by decedent; and, the will was procured by petitioners
through improper pressure and undue influence. The
petition was likewise opposed by Dr. Jose Ajero. He
contested the disposition in the will of a house and lot
located in Cabadbaran, Agusan Del Norte. He claimed
that said property could not be conveyed by decedent in
its entirety, as she was not its sole owner.
Notwithstanding the oppositions, the trial court
admitted the decedent's holographic will to probate. It
found, inter alia:
Considering then that the probate
proceedings herein must decide only the
question of identity of the will, its due
execution and the testamentary capacity
of the testatrix, this probate court finds
no reason at all for the disallowance of
the will for its failure to comply with the
formalities prescribed by law nor for lack
of testamentary capacity of the testatrix.
For one, no evidence was presented to
show that the will in question is
different from the will actually executed
by the testatrix. The only objections
raised by the oppositors . . . are that the
will was not written in the handwriting
of the testatrix which properly refers to
the question of its due execution, and
not to the question of identity of will. No
other will was alleged to have been
executed by the testatrix other than the
will herein presented. Hence, in the light
of the evidence adduced, the identity of
the will presented for probate must be
accepted, i.e., the will submitted in
Court must be deemed to be the will
actually executed by the testatrix.
xxx xxx xxx
While the fact that it was entirely
written, dated and signed in the
handwriting of the testatrix has been
disputed, the petitioners, however, have
satisfactorily shown in Court that the
holographic will in question was indeed
written entirely, dated and signed in the
handwriting of the testatrix. Three (3)
witnesses who have convincingly shown
knowledge of the handwriting of the
testatrix have been presented and have
explicitly and categorically identified the
handwriting with which the holographic
will in question was written to be the
genuine handwriting and signature of
the testatrix. Given then the aforesaid

evidence, the requirement of the law


that the holographic will be entirely
written, dated and signed in the
handwriting of the testatrix has been
complied with.
xxx xxx xxx
As to the question of the testamentary
capacity of the testratix, (private
respondent) Clemente Sand himself has
testified in Court that the testatrix was
completely in her sound mind when he
visited her during her birthday
celebration in 1981, at or around which
time the holographic will in question
was executed by the testatrix. To be of
sound mind, it is sufficient that the
testatrix, at the time of making the will,
knew the value of the estate to be
disposed of, the proper object of her
bounty, and thecharacter of the
testamentary act . . . The will itself
shows that the testatrix even had
detailed knowledge of the nature of her
estate. She even identified the lot
number and square meters of the lots
she had conveyed by will. The objects of
her bounty were likewise identified
explicitly. And considering that she had
even written a nursing book which
contained the law and jurisprudence on
will and succession, there is more than
sufficient showing that she knows the
character of the testamentary act.
In this wise, the question of identity of
the will, its due execution and the
testamentary capacity of the testatrix
has to be resolved in favor of the
allowance of probate of the will
submitted herein.
Likewise, no evidence was presented to
show sufficient reason for the
disallowance of herein holographic will.
While it was alleged that the said will
was procured by undue and improper
pressure and influence on the part of
the beneficiary or of some other person,
the evidence adduced have not shown
any instance where improper pressure
or influence was exerted on the
testatrix. (Private respondent) Clemente
Sand has testified that the testatrix was
still alert at the time of the execution of
the will, i.e., at or around the time of her
birth anniversary celebration in 1981. It
was also established that she is a very
intelligent person and has a mind of her
own. Her independence of character and
to some extent, her sense of superiority,
which has been testified to in Court, all
show the unlikelihood of her being
unduly influenced or improperly
pressured to make the aforesaid will. It
must be noted that the undue influence
or improper pressure in question herein
only refer to the making of a will and not
as to the specific testamentary
provisions therein which is the proper
subject of another proceeding. Hence,
under the circumstances, this Court
cannot find convincing reason for the
disallowance of the will herein.

Considering then that it is a wellestablished doctrine in the law on


succession that in case of doubt, testate
succession should be preferred over
intestate succession, and the fact that
no convincing grounds were presented
and proven for the disallowance of the
holographic will of the late Annie Sand,
the aforesaid will submitted herein must
be admitted to probate. 3 (Citations
omitted.)
On appeal, said Decision was reversed, and the petition
for probate of decedent's will was dismissed. The Court
of Appeals found that, "the holographic will fails to meet
the requirements for its validity." 4 It held that the
decedent did not comply with Articles 813 and 814 of
the New Civil Code, which read, as follows:
Art. 813: When a number of dispositions
appearing in a holographic will are
signed without being dated, and the last
disposition has a signature and date,
such date validates the dispositions
preceding it, whatever be the time of
prior dispositions.
Art. 814: In case of insertion,
cancellation, erasure or alteration in a
holographic will, the testator must
authenticate the same by his full
signature.
It alluded to certain dispositions in the will which were
either unsigned and undated, or signed but not dated. It
also found that the erasures, alterations and
cancellations made thereon had not been authenticated
by decedent.
Thus, this appeal which is impressed with merit.
Section 9, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court provides that
will shall be disallowed in any of the following cases:
(a) If not executed and attested as
required by law;
(b) If the testator was insane, or
otherwise mentally incapable to make a
will, at the time of its execution;
(c) If it was executed under duress, or
the influence of fear, or threats;
(d) If it was procured by undue and
improper pressure and influence, on the
part of the beneficiary, or of some other
person for his benefit;
(e) If the signature of the testator was
procured by fraud or trick, and he did
not intend that the instrument should
be his will at the time of fixing his
signature thereto.
In the same vein, Article 839 of the New Civil
Code reads:
Art. 839: The will shall be disallowed in
any of the following cases;
(1) If the formalities
required by law have not
been complied with;
(2) If the testator was
insane, or otherwise
mentally incapable of
making a will, at the
time of its execution;
(3) If it was executed
through force or under
duress, or the influence
of fear, or threats;
(4) If it was procured by
undue and improper

pressure and influence,


on the part of the
beneficiary or of some
other person;
(5) If the signature of
the testator was
procured by fraud;
(6) If the testator acted
by mistake or did not
intend that the
instrument he signed
should be his will at the
time of affixing his
signature thereto.
These lists are exclusive; no other grounds can serve to
disallow a will. 5 Thus, in a petition to admit a
holographic will to probate, the only issues to be
resolved are: (1) whether the instrument submitted is,
indeed, the decedent's last will and testament; (2)
whether said will was executed in accordance with the
formalities prescribed by law; (3) whether the decedent
had the necessary testamentary capacity at the time the
will was executed; and, (4) whether the execution of the
will and its signing were the voluntary acts of the
decedent. 6
In the case at bench, respondent court held that the
holographic will of Anne Sand was not executed in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. It held
that Articles 813 and 814 of the New Civil Code, ante,
were not complied with, hence, it disallowed the probate
of said will. This is erroneous.
We reiterate what we held in Abangan vs. Abangan, 40
Phil. 476, 479 (1919), that:
The object of the solemnities
surrounding the execution of wills is to
close the door against bad faith and
fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and
testaments and to guaranty their truth
and authenticity. Therefore, the laws on
this subject should be interpreted in
such a way as to attain these primordial
ends. But, on the other hand, also one
must not lose sight of the fact that it is
not the object of the law to restrain and
curtail the exercise of the right to make
a will. So when an interpretation already
given assures such ends, any other
interpretation whatsoever, that adds
nothing but demands more requisites
entirely unnecessary, useless and
frustrative of the testator's last will,
must be disregarded.
For purposes of probating non-holographic wills, these
formal solemnities include the subscription, attestation,
and acknowledgment requirements under Articles 805
and 806 of the New Civil Code.
In the case of holographic wills, on the other hand, what
assures authenticity is the requirement that they be
totally autographic or handwritten by the testator
himself, 7 as provided under Article 810 of the New Civil
Code, thus:
A person may execute a holographic will
which must be entirely written, dated,
and signed by the hand of the testator
himself. It is subject to no other form, and
may be made in or out of the
Philippines, and need not be witnessed.
(Emphasis supplied.)
Failure to strictly observe other formalities will
not result in the disallowance of a holographic

will that is unquestionably handwritten by the


testator.
A reading of Article 813 of the New Civil Code shows that
its requirement affects the validity of the dispositions
contained in the holographic will, but not its probate. If
the testator fails to sign and date some of the
dispositions, the result is that these dispositions cannot
be effectuated. Such failure, however, does not render
the whole testament void.
Likewise, a holographic will can still be admitted to
probate, notwithstanding non-compliance with the
provisions of Article 814. In the case of Kalaw
vs. Relova 132 SCRA 237 242 (1984), this Court held:
Ordinarily, when a number of erasures,
corrections, and interlineations made by
the testator in a holographic Will have
not been noted under his signature, . . .
the Will is not thereby invalidated as a
whole, but at most only as respects the
particular words erased, corrected or
interlined. Manresa gave an identical
commentary when he said "la omission
de la salvedad no anula el testamento,
segun la regla de jurisprudencia
establecida en la sentencia de 4 de Abril
de 1985." 8 (Citations omitted.)
Thus, unless the unauthenticated alterations,
cancellations or insertions were made on the date of the
holographic will or on testator's signature, 9 their
presence does not invalidate the will itself. 10 The lack of
authentication will only result in disallowance of such
changes.
It is also proper to note that the requirements of
authentication of changes and signing and dating of
dispositions appear in provisions (Articles 813 and 814)
separate from that which provides for the necessary
conditions for the validity of the holographic will (Article
810). The distinction can be traced to Articles 678 and
688 of the Spanish Civil Code, from which the present
provisions covering holographic wills are taken. They
read as follows:
Art. 678: A will is called holographic
when the testator writes it himself in the
form and with the requisites required in
Article 688.
Art. 688: Holographic wills may be
executed only by persons of full age.
In order that the will be valid it must be
drawn on stamped paper corresponding
to the year of its execution, written in its
entirety by the testator and signed by
him, and must contain a statement of
the year, month and day of its execution.
If it should contain any erased,
corrected, or interlined words, the
testator must identify them over his
signature.
Foreigners may execute holographic
wills in their own language.
This separation and distinction adds support to the
interpretation that only the requirements of Article 810
of the New Civil Code and not those found in Articles
813 and 814 of the same Code are essential to the
probate of a holographic will.
The Court of Appeals further held that decedent Annie
Sand could not validly dispose of the house and lot
located in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, in its entirety.
This is correct and must be affirmed.
As a general rule, courts in probate proceedings are
limited to pass only upon the extrinsic validity of the will
sought to be probated. However, in exceptional

instances, courts are not powerless to do what the


situation constrains them to do, and pass upon certain
provisions of the will. 11 In the case at bench, decedent
herself indubitably stated in her holographic will that
the Cabadbaran property is in the name of her late
father, John H. Sand (which led oppositor Dr. Jose Ajero
to question her conveyance of the same in its entirety).
Thus, as correctly held by respondent court, she cannot
validly dispose of the whole property, which she shares
with her father's other heirs.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the instant petition is GRANTED.
The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
22840, dated March 30, 1992, is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE, except with respect to the invalidity of the
disposition of the entire house and lot in Cabadbaran,
Agusan del Norte. The Decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, Branch 94 in Sp. Proc. No. Q37171, dated November 19, 1988, admitting to probate
the holographic will of decedent Annie Sand, is hereby
REINSTATED, with the above qualification as regards
the Cabadbaran property. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado and Mendoza,
JJ., concur.

7.

Kalaw v. Relova, G.R. No. L-40207


September 28, 1984 (132 SCRA 237)

G.R. No. L-40207 September 28, 1984


ROSA K. KALAW, petitioner,
vs.
HON. JUDGE BENJAMIN RELOVA, Presiding Judge of
the CFI of Batangas, Branch VI, Lipa City, and
GREGORIO K. KALAW, respondents.
Leandro H. Fernandez for petitioner.
Antonio Quintos and Jose M. Yacat for respondents.
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
On September 1, 1971, private respondent GREGORIO
K. KALAW, claiming to be the sole heir of his deceased
sister, Natividad K. Kalaw, filed a petition before the
Court of First Instance of Batangas, Branch VI, Lipa
City, for the probate of her holographic Will executed on
December 24, 1968.
The holographic Will reads in full as follows:
My Last will and Testament
In the name of God, Amen.
I Natividad K. Kalaw Filipino 63years of age, single, and
a resident of Lipa City, being of sound and disposing
mind and memory, do hereby declare thus to be my last
will and testament.
1. It is my will that I'll be burried in the cemetery of the
catholic church of Lipa City. In accordance with the
rights of said Church, and that my executrix hereinafter
named provide and erect at the expose of my state a
suitable monument to perpetuate my memory.
xxx xxx xxx
The holographic Will, as first written, named ROSA K.
Kalaw, a sister of the testatrix as her sole heir. Hence, on
November 10, 1971, petitioner ROSA K. Kalaw opposed
probate alleging, in substance, that the holographic Will
contained alterations, corrections, and insertions
without the proper authentication by the full signature
of the testatrix as required by Article 814 of the Civil
Code reading:
Art. 814. In case of any insertion,
cancellation, erasure or alteration in a
holographic will the testator must

authenticate the same by his full


signature.
ROSA's position was that the holographic Will, as first
written, should be given effect and probated so that she
could be the sole heir thereunder.
After trial, respondent Judge denied probate in an Order,
dated September 3, 197 3, reading in part:
The document Exhibit "C" was
submitted to the National Bureau of
Investigation for examination. The NBI
reported that the handwriting, the
signature, the insertions and/or
additions and the initial were made by
one and the same person. Consequently,
Exhibit "C" was the handwriting of the
decedent, Natividad K. Kalaw. The only
question is whether the win, Exhibit 'C',
should be admitted to probate although
the alterations and/or insertions or
additions above-mentioned were not
authenticated by the full signature of
the testatrix pursuant to Art. 814 of the
Civil Code. The petitioner contends that
the oppositors are estopped to assert the
provision of Art. 814 on the ground that
they themselves agreed thru their
counsel to submit the Document to the
NBI FOR EXAMINATIONS. This is
untenable. The parties did not agree,
nor was it impliedly understood, that
the oppositors would be in estoppel.
The Court finds, therefore, that the
provision of Article 814 of the Civil Code
is applicable to Exhibit "C". Finding the
insertions, alterations and/or additions
in Exhibit "C" not to be authenticated by
the full signature of the testatrix
Natividad K. Kalaw, the Court will deny
the admission to probate of Exhibit "C".
WHEREFORE, the petition to probate
Exhibit "C" as the holographic will of
Natividad K. Kalaw is hereby denied.
SO ORDERED.
From that Order, GREGORIO moved for reconsideration
arguing that since the alterations and/or insertions were
the testatrix, the denial to probate of her holographic
Will would be contrary to her right of testamentary
disposition. Reconsideration was denied in an Order,
dated November 2, 1973, on the ground that "Article 814
of the Civil Code being , clear and explicit, (it) requires
no necessity for interpretation."
From that Order, dated September 3, 1973, denying
probate, and the Order dated November 2, 1973 denying
reconsideration, ROSA filed this Petition for Review on
certiorari on the sole legal question of whether or not
theoriginal unaltered text after subsequent alterations
and insertions were voided by the Trial Court for lack of
authentication by the full signature of the testatrix,
should be probated or not, with her as sole heir.
Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and
interlineations made by the testator in a holographic Will
litem not been noted under his signature, ... the Will is
not thereby invalidated as a whole, but at most only as
respects the particular words erased, corrected or
interlined.1 Manresa gave an Identical commentary
when he said "la omision de la salvedad no anula el
testamento, segun la regla de jurisprudencia establecida
en la sentencia de 4 de Abril de 1895." 2
However, when as in this case, the holographic Will in
dispute had only one substantial provision, which was
altered by substituting the original heir with another,

but which alteration did not carry the requisite of full


authentication by the full signature of the testator, the
effect must be that the entire Will is voided or revoked
for the simple reason that nothing remains in the Will
after that which could remain valid. To state that the
Will as first written should be given efficacy is to
disregard the seeming change of mind of the testatrix.
But that change of mind can neither be given effect
because she failed to authenticate it in the manner
required by law by affixing her full signature,
The ruling in Velasco, supra, must be held confined to
such insertions, cancellations, erasures or alterations in
a holographic Will, which affect only the efficacy of the
altered words themselves but not the essence and
validity of the Will itself. As it is, with the erasures,
cancellations and alterations made by the testatrix
herein, her real intention cannot be determined with
certitude. As Manresa had stated in his commentary on
Article 688 of the Spanish Civil Code, whence Article 814
of the new Civil Code was derived:
... No infringe lo dispuesto en este
articulo del Codigo (el 688) la sentencia
que no declara la nulidad de un
testamento olografo que contenga
palabras tachadas, enmendadas o entre
renglones no salvadas por el testador
bajo su firnia segun previene el parrafo
tercero del mismo, porque, en
realidad, tal omision solo puede afectar a
la validez o eficacia de tales palabras, y
nunca al testamento mismo, ya por estar
esa disposicion en parrafo aparte de
aquel que determine las condiciones
necesarias para la validez del
testamento olografo, ya porque, de
admitir lo contrario, se Ilegaria al
absurdo de que pequefias enmiendas no
salvadas, que en nada afectasen a la
parte esencial y respectiva del
testamento, vinieran a anular este, y ya
porque el precepto contenido en dicho
parrafo ha de entenderse en perfecta
armonia y congruencia con el art. 26 de
la ley del Notariado que declara nulas
las adiciones apostillas
entrerrenglonados, raspaduras y
tachados en las escrituras matrices,
siempre que no se salven en la forma
prevenida, paro no el documento que las
contenga, y con mayor motivo cuando
las palabras enmendadas, tachadas, o
entrerrenglonadas no tengan importancia
ni susciten duda alguna acerca del
pensamiento del testador, o constituyan
meros accidentes de ortografia o de
purez escrituraria, sin trascendencia
alguna(l).
Mas para que sea aplicable la doctrina
de excepcion contenida en este ultimo
fallo, es preciso que las tachaduras,
enmiendas o entrerrenglonados sin
salvar saan de pala bras que no afecter4
alteren ni uarien de modo substancial la
express voluntad del testador manifiesta
en el documento. Asi lo advierte la
sentencia de 29 de Noviembre de 1916,
que declara nulo un testamento olografo
por no estar salvada por el testador la
enmienda del guarismo ultimo del ao
en que fue extendido 3(Emphasis ours).

WHEREFORE, this Petition is hereby dismissed and the


Decision of respondent Judge, dated September 3, 1973,
is hereby affirmed in toto. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Plana, Gutierrez, Jr. and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.
Relova, J., took no part.

8.

Vda. de Perez v. Tolete, G.R. No. 76714, June


2, 1994

G.R. No. 76714 June 2, 1994


SALUD TEODORO VDA. DE PEREZ, petitioner,
vs.
HON. ZOTICO A. TOLETE in his capacity as Presiding
Judge, Branch 18, RTC, Bulacan, respondent.
Natividad T. Perez for petitioner.
Benedicto T. Librojo for private respondents.
QUIASON, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Revised Rules of Court to set aside the Order dated
November 19, 1986 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
18, Bulacan presided by respondent Judge Zotico A.
Tolete, in Special Proceedings No. 1793-M.
We grant the petition.
II
Dr. Jose F. Cunanan and his wife, Dr. Evelyn PerezCunanan, who became American citizens, established a
successful medical practice in New York, U.S.A. The
Cunanans lived at No. 2896 Citation Drive, Pompey,
Syracuse, New York, with their children, Jocelyn, 18;
Jacqueline, 16; and Josephine, 14.
On August 23, 1979, Dr. Cunanan executed a last will
and testament, bequeathing to his wife "all the
remainder" of his real and personal property at the time
of his death "wheresoever situated" (Rollo, p. 35). In the
event he would survive his wife, he bequeathed all his
property to his children and grandchildren with Dr.
Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. as trustee. He appointed his wife
as executrix of his last will and testament and Dr. Rafael
G. Cunanan, Jr. as substitute executor. Article VIII of his
will states:
If my wife, EVELYN PEREZ-CUNANAN,
and I shall die under such
circumstances that there is not
sufficient evidence to determine the
order of our deaths, then it shall be
presumed that I predeceased her, and
my estate shall be administered and
distributed, in all respects, in
accordance with such presumption
(Rollo, p. 41).
Four days later, on August 27, Dr. Evelyn P. Cunanan
executed her own last will and testament containing the
same provisions as that of the will of her husband.
Article VIII of her will states:
If my husband, JOSE F. CUNANAN, and
I shall die under such circumstances
that there is not sufficient evidence to
determine the order of our deaths, then
it shall be presumed that he
predeceased me, and my estate shall be
administered and distributed in all
respects, in accordance with such
presumption. (Rollo, p. 31).
On January 9, 1982, Dr. Cunanan and his entire family
perished when they were trapped by fire that gutted
their home. Thereafter, Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. as

trustee and substitute executor of the two wills, filed


separate proceedings for the probate thereof with the
Surrogate Court of the County of Onondaga, New York.
On April 7, these two wills were admitted to probate and
letters testamentary were issued in his favor.
On February 21, 1983, Salud Teodoro Perez, the mother
of Dr. Evelyn P. Cunanan, and petitioner herein, filed
with the Regional P. Cunanan, and petitioner herein,
filed with the Regional Trial Court, Malolos, Bulacan a
petition for the reprobate of the two bills ancillary to the
probate proceedings in New York. She also asked that
she be appointed the special administratrix of the estate
of the deceased couple consisting primarily of a farm
land in San Miguel, Bulacan.
On March 9, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 16,
Malolos, Bulacan, presided by Judge Gualberto J. de la
Llana, issued an order, directing the issuance of letters
of special administration in favor of petitioner upon her
filing of a P10,000.00 bond. The following day, petitioner
posted the bond and took her oath as special
administration.
As her first act of administration, petitioner filed a
motion, praying that the Philippine Life Insurance
Company be directed to deliver the proceeds in the
amount of P50,000.00 of the life insurance policy taken
by Dr. Jose F. Cunanan with Dr. Evelyn Perez-Cunanan
and their daughter Jocelyn as beneficiaries. The trial
court granted the motion.
Counsel for the Philippine American Life Insurance
Company then filed a manifestation, stating that said
company then filed a manifestation, stating that said
company had delivered to petitioner the amount of
P49,765.85, representing the proceeds of the life
insurance policy of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan.
In a motion dated May 19, 1983, petitioner asked that
Dr. Rafael Cunanan, Sr. be ordered to deliver to her a
Philippine Trust Company passbook with P25,594.00 in
savings deposit, and the Family Savings Bank time
deposit certificates in the total amount of P12,412.52.
On May 31, Atty. Federico Alday filed a notice of
appearance as counsel for the heirs of Dr. Jose F.
Cunanan, namely, Dr. Rafael Cunanan, Sr., Priscilla
Cunanan Bautista, Lydia Cunanan Ignacio, Felipe F.
Cunanan and Loreto Cunanan Concepcion (Cunanan
heirs). He also manifested that before receiving
petitioner's motion of May 19, 1983, his clients were
unaware of the filing of the testate estate case and
therefore, "in the interest of simple fair play," they should
be notified of the proceedings (Records, p. 110). He
prayed for deferment of the hearing on the motions of
May 19, 1983.
Petitioner then filed a counter manifestation dated June
13, 1983, asserting: (1) that the "Cunanan collaterals
are neither heirs nor creditors of the late Dr. Jose F.
Cunanan" and therefore, they had "no legal or
proprietary interests to protect" and "no right to
intervene"; (2) that the wills of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan and
Dr. Evelyn Perez-Cunanan, being American citizens,
were executed in accordance with the solemnities and
formalities of New York laws, and produced "effects in
this jurisdiction in accordance with Art. 16 in relation to
Art. 816 of the Civil Code"; (3) that under Article VIII of
the two wills, it was presumed that the husband
predeceased the wife; and (4) that "the Cunanan
collaterals are neither distributees, legatees or
beneficiaries, much less, heirs as heirship is only by
institution" under a will or by operation of the law of New
York (Records, pp. 112-113).
On June 23, the probate court granted petitioner's
motion of May 19, 1983. However, on July 21, the
Cunanan heirs filed a motion to nullify the proceedings

and to set aside the appointment of, or to disqualify,


petitioner as special administratrix of the estates of Dr.
Jose F. Cunanan and Dr. Evelyn Perez-Cunanan. The
motion stated: (1) that being the "brothers and sisters
and the legal and surviving heirs" of Dr. Jose F.
Cunanan, they had been "deliberately excluded" in the
petition for the probate of the separate wills of the
Cunanan spouses thereby misleading the Bulacan court
to believe that petitioner was the sole heir of the
spouses; that such "misrepresentation" deprived them of
their right to "due process in violation of Section 4, Rule
76 of the Revised Rules of Court; (2) that Dr. Rafael G.
Cunanan, Jr., the executor of the estate of the Cunanan
spouses, was likewise not notified of the hearings in the
Bulacan court; (3) that the "misrepresentation and
concealment committed by" petitioner rendered her unfit
to be a special administratrix; (4) that Dr. Rafael G.
Cunanan, Jr. had, by virtue of a verified power of
attorney, authorized his father,
Dr. Rafael Cunanan, Sr., to be his attorney-in-fact; and
(5) that Dr. Rafael Cunanan, Sr. is qualified to be a
regular administrator "as practically all of the subject
estate in the Philippines belongs to their brother, Dr.
Jose F. Cunanan" (Records, pp. 118-122). Hence, they
prayed: (1) that the proceedings in the case be declared
null and void; (2) that the appointment of petitioner as
special administratrix be set aside; and (3) that Dr.
Rafael Cunanan, Sr. be appointed the regular
administrator of the estate of the deceased spouses.
Thereafter, the Cunanan heirs filed a motion requiring
petitioner to submit an inventory or accounting of all
monies received by her in trust for the estate.
In her opposition, petitioner asserted: (1) that she was
the "sole and only heir" of her daughter, Dr. Evelyn
Perez-Cunanan to the exclusion of the "Cunanan
collaterals"; hence they were complete strangers to the
proceedings and were not entitled to notice; (2) that she
could not have "concealed" the name and address of Dr.
Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. because his name was
prominently mentioned not only in the two wills but also
in the decrees of the American surrogate court; (3) that
the rule applicable to the case is Rule 77, not Rule 76,
because it involved the allowance of wills proved outside
of the Philippines and that nowhere in Section 2 of Rule
77 is there a mention of notice being given to the
executor who, by the same provision, should himself file
the necessary ancillary proceedings in this country; (4)
that even if the Bulacan estate came from the "capital" of
Dr. Jose F. Cunanan, he had willed all his worldly goods
to his wife and nothing to his brothers and sisters; and
(5) that Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. had unlawfully
disbursed $215,000.00 to the Cunanan heirs,
misappropriated $15,000.00 for himself and irregularly
assigned assets of the estates to his American lawyer
(Records, pp. 151-160).
In their reply, the Cunanan heirs stressed that on
November 24, 1982, petitioner and the Cunanan heirs
had entered into an agreement in the United States "to
settle and divide equally the estates," and that under
Section 2 of Rule 77 the "court shall fix a time and place
for the hearing and cause notice thereof to be given as in
case of an original will presented for allowance" (Records,
pp. 184-185).
Petitioner asked that Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. be cited
for contempt of court for failure to comply with the Order
of June 23, 1983 and for appropriating money of the
estate for his own benefit. She also alleged that she had
impugned the agreement of November 24, 1982 before
the Surrogate Court of Onondaga, New York which
rendered a decision on April 13, 1983, finding that "all
assets are payable to Dr. Evelyn P. Cunanans executor to

be then distributed pursuant to EPTL4-1.1 subd [a] par


[4]" (Rollo, p. 52).
On their part, the Cunanan heirs replied that petitioner
was estopped from claiming that they were heirs by the
agreement to divide equally the estates. They asserted
that by virtue of Section 2 of Rule 77 of the Rules of
Court, the provisions of Sections 3, 4 and 5 of Rule 76
on the requirement of notice to all heirs, executors,
devisees and legatees must be complied with. They
reiterated their prayer: (1) that the proceedings in the
case be nullified; (2) that petitioner be disqualified as
special administratrix; (3) that she be ordered to submit
an inventory of all goods, chattels and monies which she
had received and to surrender the same to the court;
and (4) that Dr. Rafael Cunanan, Sr. be appointed the
regular administrator.
Petitioner filed a rejoinder, stating that in violation of the
April 13, 1983 decision of the American court Dr. Rafael
G. Cunanan, Jr. made "unauthorized disbursements
from the estates as early as July 7, 1982" (Records, p.
231). Thereafter, petitioner moved for the suspension of
the proceedings as she had "to attend to the settlement
proceedings" of the estate of the Cunanan spouses in
New York (Records, p. 242). The Cunanans heirs
opposed this motion and filed a manifestation, stating
that petitioner had received $215,000.00 "from the
Surrogates Court as part of legacy" based on the
aforesaid agreement of November 24, 1982 (Records, p.
248).
On February 21, 1984, Judge de la Llana issued an
order, disallowing the reprobate of the two wills, recalling
the appointment of petitioner as special administratrix,
requiring the submission of petitioner of an inventory of
the property received by her as special administratrix
and declaring all pending incidents moot and academic.
Judge de la Llana reasoned out that petitioner failed to
prove the law of New York on procedure and allowance of
wills and the court had no way of telling whether the
wills were executed in accordance with the law of New
York. In the absence of such evidence, the presumption
is that the law of succession of the foreign country is the
same as the law of the Philippines. However, he noted,
that there were only two witnesses to the wills of the
Cunanan spouses and the Philippine law requires three
witnesses and that the wills were not signed on each and
every page, a requirement of the Philippine law.
On August 27, 1985, petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration of the Order dated February 21, 1984,
where she had sufficiently proven the applicable laws of
New York governing the execution of last wills and
testaments.
On the same day, Judge de la Llana issued another
order, denying the motion of petitioner for the
suspension of the proceedings but gave her 15 days
upon arrival in the country within which to act on the
other order issued that same day. Contending that the
second portion of the second order left its finality to the
discretion of counsel for petitioner, the Cunanans filed a
motion for the reconsideration of the objectionable
portion of the said order so that it would conform with
the pertinent provisions of the Judiciary Reorganization
Act of 1980 and the Interim Rules of Court.
On April 30, 1985, the respondent Judge of Branch 18
of the Regional Trial Court, Malolos, to which the
reprobate case was reassigned, issued an order stating
that "(W)hen the last will and testament . . . was denied
probate," the case was terminated and therefore all
orders theretofore issued should be given finality. The
same Order amended the February 21, 1984 Order by
requiring petitioner to turn over to the estate the
inventoried property. It considered the proceedings for all

intents and purposes, closed (Records,


p. 302).
On August 12, petitioner filed a motion to resume
proceedings on account of the final settlement and
termination of the probate cases in New York. Three days
later, petitioner filed a motion praying for the
reconsideration of the Order of April 30, 1985 on the
strength of the February 21, 1984 Order granting her a
period of 15 days upon arrival in the country within
which to act on the denial of probate of the wills of the
Cunanan spouses. On August 19, respondent Judge
granted the motion and reconsidered the Order of April
30, 1985.
On August 29, counsel for petitioner, who happens to be
her daughter, Natividad, filed a motion praying that since
petitioner was ailing in Fort Lee, New Jersey, U.S.A. and
therefore incapacitated to act as special administratrix,
she (the counsel) should be named substitute special
administratrix. She also filed a motion for the
reconsideration of the Order of February 21, 1984,
denying probate to the wills of the Cunanan spouses,
alleging that respondent Judge "failed to appreciate the
significant probative value of the exhibits . . . which all
refer to the offer and admission to probate of the last
wills of the Cunanan spouses including all procedures
undertaken and decrees issued in connection with the
said probate" (Records, pp. 313-323).
Thereafter, the Cunanans heirs filed a motion for
reconsideration of the Order of August 19, 1985, alleging
lack of notice to their counsel.
On March 31, 1986, respondent Judge to which the case
was reassigned denied the motion for reconsideration
holding that the documents submitted by petitioner
proved "that the wills of the testator domiciled abroad
were properly executed, genuine and sufficient to
possess real and personal property; that letters
testamentary were issued; and that proceedings were
held on a foreign tribunal and proofs taken by a
competent judge who inquired into all the facts and
circumstances and being satisfied with his findings
issued a decree admitting to probate the wills in
question." However, respondent Judge said that the
documents did not establish the law of New York on the
procedure and allowance of wills (Records, p. 381).
On April 9, 1986, petitioner filed a motion to allow her to
present further evidence on the foreign law. After the
hearing of the motion on April 25, 1986, respondent
Judge issued an order wherein he conceded that
insufficiency of evidence to prove the foreign law was not
a fatal defect and was curable by adducing additional
evidence. He granted petitioner 45 days to submit the
evidence to that effect.
However, without waiting for petitioner to adduce the
additional evidence, respondent Judge ruled in his order
dated June 20, 1986 that he found "no compelling
reason to disturb its ruling of March 31, 1986" but
allowed petitioner to "file anew the appropriate probate
proceedings for each of the testator" (Records, p. 391).
The Order dated June 20, 1986 prompted petitioner to
file a second motion for reconsideration stating that she
was "ready to submit further evidence on the law
obtaining in the State of New York" and praying that she
be granted "the opportunity to present evidence on what
the law of the State of New York has on the probate and
allowance of wills" (Records, p. 393).
On July 18, respondent Judge denied the motion holding
that to allow the probate of two wills in a single
proceeding "would be a departure from the typical and
established mode of probate where one petition takes
care of one will." He pointed out that even in New York
"where the wills in question were first submitted for

probate, they were dealt with in separate proceedings"


(Records, p. 395).
On August 13, 1986, petitioner filed a motion for the
reconsideration of the Order of July 18, 1986, citing
Section 3, Rule 2 of the Rules of Court, which provides
that no party may institute more than one suit for a
single cause of action. She pointed out that separate
proceedings for the wills of the spouses which contain
basically the same provisions as they even named each
other as a beneficiary in their respective wills, would go
against "the grain of inexpensive, just and speedy
determination of the proceedings" (Records, pp. 405407).
On September 11, 1986, petitioner filed a supplement to
the motion for reconsideration, citing Benigno v. De La
Pea, 57 Phil. 305 (1932) (Records,
p. 411), but respondent Judge found that this pleading
had been filed out of time and that the adverse party
had not been furnished with a copy thereof. In her
compliance, petitioner stated that she had furnished a
copy of the motion to the counsel of the Cunanan heirs
and reiterated her motion for a "final ruling on her
supplemental motion" (Records, p. 421).
On November 19, respondent Judge issued an order,
denying the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner
on the grounds that "the probate of separate wills of two
or more different persons even if they are husband and
wife cannot be undertaken in a single petition" (Records,
pp. 376-378).
Hence, petitioner instituted the instant petition, arguing
that the evidence offered at the hearing of April 11, 1983
sufficiently proved the laws of the State of New York on
the allowance of wills, and that the separate wills of the
Cunanan spouses need not be probated in separate
proceedings.
II
Petitioner contends that the following pieces of evidence
she had submitted before respondent Judge are
sufficient to warrant the allowance of the wills:
(a) two certificates of authentication of
the respective wills of Evelyn and Jose
by the Consulate General of the
Philippines (Exhs. "F" and "G");
(b) two certifications from the Secretary
of State of New York and Custodian of
the Great Seal on the facts that Judge
Bernard L. Reagan is the Surrogate of
the Country of Onondaga which is a
court of record, that his signature and
seal of office are genuine, and that the
Surrogate is duly authorized to grant
copy of the respective wills of Evelyn and
Jose
(Exhs. "F-1" and "G-1");
(c) two certificates of Judge Reagan and
Chief Clerk Donald E. Moore stating that
they have in their records and files the
said wills which were recorded on April
7, 1982 (Exhs. "F-2" and "G-2");
(d) the respective wills of Evelyn and
Jose (Exhs. "F-3", "F-6" and Exh. "G-3"
"G-6");
(e) certificates of Judge Reagan and the
Chief Clerk certifying to the genuineness
and authenticity of the exemplified
copies of the two wills (Exhs. "F-7" and
"F-7");
(f) two certificates of authentication from
the Consulate General of the Philippines
in New York (Exh. "H" and "F").

(g) certifications from the Secretary of


State that Judge Reagan is duly
authorized to grant exemplified copies of
the decree of probate, letters
testamentary and all proceedings had
and proofs duly taken
(Exhs. "H-1" and "I-1");
(h) certificates of Judge Reagan and the
Chief Clerk that letters testamentary
were issued to Rafael G. Cunanan
(Exhs. "H-2" and "I-2");
(i) certification to the effect that it was
during the term of Judge Reagan that a
decree admitting the wills to probate
had been issued and appointing Rafael
G. Cunanan as alternate executor (Exhs.
"H-3" and
"I-10");
(j) the decrees on probate of the two wills
specifying that proceedings were held
and proofs duly taken (Exhs. "H-4" and
"I-5");
(k) decrees on probate of the two wills
stating that they were properly executed,
genuine and valid and that the said
instruments were admitted to probate
and established as wills valid to pass
real and personal property (Exhs. "H-5"
and "I-5"); and
(l) certificates of Judge Reagan and the
Chief Clerk on the genuineness and
authenticity of each others signatures
in the exemplified copies of the decrees
of probate, letters testamentary and
proceedings held in their court (Exhs.
"H-6" and "I-6") (Rollo, pp. 13-16).
Petitioner adds that the wills had been admitted to
probate in the Surrogate Courts Decision of April 13,
1983 and that the proceedings were terminated on
November 29, 1984.
The respective wills of the Cunanan spouses, who were
American citizens, will only be effective in this country
upon compliance with the following provision of the Civil
Code of the Philippines:
Art. 816. The will of an alien who is
abroad produces effect in the
Philippines if made with the formalities
prescribed by the law of the place in
which he resides, or according to the
formalities observed in his country, or in
conformity with those which this Code
prescribes.
Thus, proof that both wills conform with the formalities
prescribed by New York laws or by Philippine laws is
imperative.
The evidence necessary for the reprobate or allowance of
wills which have been probated outside of the
Philippines are as follows: (1) the due execution of the
will in accordance with the foreign laws; (2) the testator
has his domicile in the foreign country and not in the
Philippines; (3) the will has been admitted to probate in
such country; (4) the fact that the foreign tribunal is a
probate court, and (5) the laws of a foreign country on
procedure and allowance of wills (III Moran
Commentaries on the Rules of Court, 1970 ed., pp. 419429; Suntay v. Suntay, 95 Phil. 500 [1954]; Fluemer v.
Hix, 54 Phil. 610 [1930]). Except for the first and last
requirements, the petitioner submitted all the needed
evidence.
The necessity of presenting evidence on the foreign laws
upon which the probate in the foreign country is based

is impelled by the fact that our courts cannot take


judicial notice of them (Philippine Commercial and
Industrial Bank v. Escolin, 56 SCRA 266 [1974]).
Petitioner must have perceived this omission as in fact
she moved for more time to submit the pertinent
procedural and substantive New York laws but which
request respondent Judge just glossed over. While the
probate of a will is a special proceeding wherein courts
should relax the rules on evidence, the goal is to receive
the best evidence of which the matter is susceptible
before a purported will is probated or denied probate
(Vda. de Ramos v. Court of Appeals, 81 SCRA 393
[1978]).
There is merit in petitioners insistence that the separate
wills of the Cunanan spouses should be probated jointly.
Respondent Judges view that the Rules on allowance of
wills is couched in singular terms and therefore should
be interpreted to mean that there should be separate
probate proceedings for the wills of the Cunanan
spouses is too literal and simplistic an approach. Such
view overlooks the provisions of Section 2, Rule 1 of the
Revised Rules of Court, which advise that the rules shall
be "liberally construed in order to promote their object
and to assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy, and
inexpensive determination of every action and
proceeding."
A literal application of the Rules should be avoided if
they would only result in the delay in the administration
of justice (Acain v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 155
SCRA 100 [1987]; Roberts v. Leonidas, 129 SCRA 33
[1984]).
What the law expressly prohibits is the making of joint
wills either for the testators reciprocal benefit or for the
benefit of a third person (Civil Code of the Philippines,
Article 818). In the case at bench, the Cunanan spouses
executed separate wills. Since the two wills contain
essentially the same provisions and pertain to property
which in all probability are conjugal in nature, practical
considerations dictate their joint probate. As this Court
has held a number of times, it will always strive to settle
the entire controversy in a single proceeding leaving no
root or branch to bear the seeds of future litigation
(Motoomull v. Dela Paz, 187 SCRA 743 [1990]).
This petition cannot be completely resolved without
touching on a very glaring fact petitioner has always
considered herself the sole heir of
Dr. Evelyn Perez Cunanan and because she does not
consider herself an heir of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan, she
noticeably failed to notify his heirs of the filing of the
proceedings. Thus, even in the instant petition, she only
impleaded respondent Judge, forgetting that a judge
whose order is being assailed is merely a nominal or
formal party (Calderon v. Solicitor General, 215 SCRA
876 [1992]).
The rule that the court having jurisdiction over the
reprobate of a will shall "cause notice thereof to be given
as in case of an original will presented for allowance"
(Revised Rules of Court, Rule 27, Section 2) means that
with regard to notices, the will probated abroad should
be treated as if it were an "original will" or a will that is
presented for probate for the first time. Accordingly,
compliance with Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 76, which
require publication and notice by mail or personally to
the "known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator
resident in the Philippines" and to the executor, if he is
not the petitioner, are required.
The brothers and sisters of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan,
contrary to petitioner's claim, are entitled to notices of
the time and place for proving the wills. Under Section 4
of Rule 76 of the Revised Rules of Court, the "court shall
also cause copies of the notice of the time and place

fixed for proving the will to be addressed to the


designated or other known heirs, legatees, and devisees
of the testator, . . . "
WHEREFORE, the questioned Order is SET ASIDE.
Respondent Judge shall allow petitioner reasonable time
within which to submit evidence needed for the joint
probate of the wills of the Cunanan spouses and see to it
that the brothers and sisters of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan are
given all notices and copies of all pleadings pertinent to
the probate proceedings.
SO ORDERED.

B. Cases for Rules 77-85:


9.

Ventura v. Ventura, G.R. No. L-26306 April


27, 1988 (160 SCRA 810)

G.R. No. L-26306 April 27, 1988


TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE GREGORIO
VENTURA MARIA VENTURA, executrix- appellant,
MIGUEL VENTURA and JUANA CARDONA, heirsappellants,
vs.
GREGORIA VENTURA and HER HUSBAND, EXEQUIEL
VICTORIO, MERCEDES VENTURA and HER
HUSBAND, PEDRO D. CORPUZ, oppositors-appellees.
PARAS, J.:
This is an appeal from the order of the Court of First
Instance of Nueva Ecija, Guimba, Branch V in Special
Proceedings No. 812, Testate of the late Gregorio
Venture, dated October 5, 1965, removing the appellant
Maria Ventura as executrix and administratrix of the
estate of the late Gregorio Ventura, and in her place
appointing the appellees Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria
Ventura as joint administratrices of the estate. (Record
on Appeal, pp. 120-131.)
Appellant Maria Ventura is the illegitimate daughter of
the deceased Gregorio Ventura while Miguel Ventura and
Juana Cardona are his son and saving spouse who are
also the brother and mother of Maria Ventura. On the
other hand, appellees Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura
are the deceased's legitimate children with his former
wife, the late Paulina Simpliciano (Record on Appeal, p.
122) but the paternity of appellees was denied by the
deceased in his will (Record on Appeal, p. 4).
On December 14,1953, Gregorio Ventura filed a petition
for the probate of his will which did not include the
appellees and the petition was docketed as Special
Proceedings No. 812 (Record on Appeal, pp. 1-3). In the
said will, the appellant Maria Ventura, although an
illegitimate child, was named and appointed by the
testator to be the executrix of his will and the
administratrix of his estate (Record on Appeal, p. 7).
In due course, said will was admitted to probate on
January 14,1954 (Record on Appeal, pp. 8-10). Gregorio
Ventura died on September 26,1955. On October 10,
1955, the appellant Maria Ventura filed a motion for her
appointment as executrix and for the issuance of letters
testamentary in her favor (Record on Appeal, pp. 10-11).
On October 17, 1955, Maria Ventura was appointed
executrix and the corresponding letters testamentary
was issued in her favor (Record on Appeal, pp. 11-12).
On or about July 26, 1956, Maria Ventura submitted an
inventory of the estate of Gregorio Ventura (Record on
Appeal, pp. 12-20).

On June 17,1960, she filed her accounts of


administration for the years 1955 to 1960, inclusive.
(Record on Appeal, pp. 20-27). Said account of
administration was opposed by the spouses Mercedes
Ventura and Pedro Corpuz on July 25, 1960 (Record on
Appeal, pp. 27-33) and by Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria
Ventura on August 5,1963 (Record on Appeal, pp. 4650). Both oppositions assailed the veracity of the report
as not reflecting the true income of the estate and the
expenses which allegedly are not administration
expenses. But on January 25, 1961, Maria Ventura filed
a motion to hold in abeyance the approval of the
accounts of administration or to have their approval
without the opposition of the spouses Mercedes Ventura
and Pedro Corpuz and Gregoria Ventura and Exequiel
Victorio on the ground that the question of the paternity
of Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura is still
pending final determination before the Supreme Court
and that should they be adjudged the adulterous
children of testator, as claimed, they are not entitled to
inherit nor to oppose the approval of the counts of
administration (Record on Appeals, pp. 33-36). Spouses
Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz filed on February 2,
1961 their opposition to the motion to hold in abeyance
the approval of the accounts of administration on the
ground that Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura had already
been declared by the Court of First Instance in Civil
Cases No. 1064 and 1476, which cases are supposed to
be pending before the Supreme Court, as the legitimate
children of Gregorio Ventura, hence, they have reason to
protect their interest (Record on Appeal, pp. 36-39). On
February 9,1961, the motion to hold in abeyance the
approval of the accounts was denied (Record on Appeal,
pp. 39-40).
It appears that on July 12, 1963, the Court set the case
for pre-trial on August 7, 1963 in connection with the
accounts of the executrix Maria Ventura dated June 17,
1960 and the Motion to Annul Provision of Will dated
July 14,1962 of Mercedes Ventura (Record on Appeal, p.
45).
On October 22, 1963, four motions were filed by
Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura, namely: (1)
motion to remove the executrix Maria Ventura which was
supplemented on April 27, 1965; (2) motion to require
her to deposit the harvest of palay of the property under
administration in a bonded warehouse; (3) motion to
render an accounting of the proceeds and expenses of
Administration; and (4) motion to require her to include
in the inventory of the estate certain excluded properties
(Record on Appeal, pp. 50-53; 71). An opposition to said
motions was filed by the heirs Juana Cardona and
Miguel Ventura and by the executrix Maria Ventura
herself (Record on Appeal, pp. 56-61; 61-70 and 71).
On motion of counsel for Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria
Ventura the joint motions to require an Up-to-date
Accounting and to Require Executrix Ventura to Include
Excluded Properties in Her Inventory were ordered
withdrawn (Order dated February 2, 1965, Record on
Appeal, p. 73). The other two motions were however set
for hearing.
The grounds of aforesaid joint motions to remove the
executrix Maria Ventura are: (1) that she is grossly
incompetent; (2) that she has maliciously and purposely
concealed certain properties of the estate in the
inventory; (3) that she is merely an illegitimate daughter
who can have no harmonious relations with the
appellees; (4) that the executrix has neglected to render
her accounts and failed to comply with the Order of the
Court of December 12, 1963, requiring her to file her
accounts of administration for the years 1961 to 1963
(Record on Appeal, pp. 70 and 75-76) and the Order of

June 11, 1964, reiterating aforesaid Order of December


12, 1963 (Record on Appeal, p. 76); and (5) that she is
with permanent physical defect hindering her from
efficiently performing her duties as an executrix (Record
on Appeal, pp. 50-53 and 74-79).
On May 17, 1965, the executrix Maria Ventura finally
submitted her accounts of administration covering the
period 1961 to 1965 (Record on Appeal, pp. 79-84)
which were again opposed by the spouses Exequiel
Victorio and Gregoria Ventura on September 21, 1965
and by the spouses Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz
on September 29, 1965 (Record on Appeal, pp. 106-120).
On June 2, 1965, the executrix filed her supplemental
opposition to the aforesaid four motions, and prayed that
the joint supplemental motion to remove the executrix be
denied or held in abeyance until after the status of
Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura as heirs of the testator is
finally decided (Record on Appeal, pp. 85-1 01). On June
3, 1965, the Court, finding that the estate taxes have not
been paid, ordered the administratrix to pay the same
within thirty (30) days. On September 13, 1965, the
lower court denied the suspension of the proceedings
and deferred the resolution of the joint motion to remove
executrix Maria Ventura until after the examination of
the physical fitness of said executrix to undertake her
duties as such. Also, it ordered the deposit of all palay to
be harvested in the next agricultural year and
subsequent years to be deposited in a bonded warehouse
to be selected by the Court and the palay so deposited
shall not be withdrawn without the express permission
of the Court (Record on Appeal, pp. 103-105). On
September 21, 1965, spouses Exequiel Victorio and
Gregoria Ventura filed their opposition to the accounts of
administration of Maria Ventura dated May 17, 1965,
while that of spouses Mercedes Ventura and Pedro
Corpuz was filed on September 29, 1965, both
oppositions alleging among others that said accounts do
not reflect the true and actual income of the estate and
that the expenses reported thereunder are fake,
exhorbitant and speculative (Record on Appeal, pp. 106120).
On October 5, 1965, the court a quo, finding that the
executrix Maria Ventura has squandered the funds of
the estate, was inefficient and incompetent, has failed to
comply with the orders of the Court in the matter of
presenting up-to-date statements of accounts and
neglected to pay the real estate taxes of the estate,
rendered the questioned decision, the dispositive portion
of which reads:
WHEREFORE, Maria Ventura is hereby
removed as executrix and administratrix
of the estate and in her place Mercedes
Ventura and Gregoria Ventura are
hereby appointed joint a tratrices of the
estate upon filing by each of them of a
bond of P 7,000.00. Let letters of
administration be issued to Mercedes
Ventura and Gregoria Ventura upon
their qualification.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
(Record on Appeal pp. 120-131).
Hence, this appeal.
In their brief, appellants Maria Ventura and spouses
Juana Cardona and Miguel Ventura assign the following
errors allegedly committed by the probate court:
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS
I
The lower court erred in ordering the
removal of Maria Ventura as executrix
and administratrix of the will and estate
of the deceased Gregorio Ventura

without giving her full opportunity to be


heard and to present all her evidence.
II
The lower court erred in finding that the
executrix Maria Ventura had
squandered and dissipated the funds of
the estate under her administration.
III
The lower court erred in finding that the
executrix Maria Ventura was inefficient
and incompetent.
IV
That, considering the circumtances
surrounding the case, the lower court
erred in finding that the failure of Maria
Ventura to submit her periodical
account had justified her removal as
executrix.
V
The lower court erred in considering as
an established fact that the appellees
Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura
are the legitimate daughters of the
deceased Gregorio Ventura.
VI
The lower court erred in finding that the
devises and bequests in favor of Maria
Ventura and Miguel Ventura as specified
in paragraph 8 of the last Will and
Testament of the late Gregorio Ventura
have ipso facto been annulled.
VII
The lower court erred in allowing the
appellees Mercedes Ventura and
Gregoria Ventura to intervene in the
hearing of the accounts of
administration submitted by the
executrix Maria Ventura and/or in not
suspending the hearing of the said
accounts until the said appellees have
finally established their status as
legitimate children of the deceased
Gregorio Ventura.
VIII
The lower court erred in appointing
(even without a proper petition for
appointment and much less a hearing
on the appointment of) the appellees
Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura
who have an adverse interest as joint
administratrices of the estate of the
deceased Gregorio Ventura.
IX
The lower court erred in not appointing
the surviving widow, Juana Cardona, or
Miguel Ventura, as administratrix of the
estate of Gregorio Ventura in case the
removal of Maria Ventura as executrix
and administratrix thereof is legally
justified.
X
Considering that there are in fact two (2)
factions representing opposite interests
in the estate, the lower court erred in
not appointing Juana Cardona, or
Miguel Ventura, as one of the two (2)
administratrices.' (Joint Brief for the
Appellants, pp. 1-4)
On July 19,1967, Atty. Arturo Tolentino (representing
appellees Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz) and Atty.
Jose J. Francisco (representing Gregoria and Exequiel

Victoria), having failed to submit their respective briefs


within the period for the purpose, which expired on July
2 and May 29,1967, respectively, the Supreme Court
Resolved to consider this case submitted for decision
WITHOUT SAID APPELLEES' BRIEF (Rollo, p. 152).
The crucial issue in this case is whether or not the
removal of Maria Ventura as executrix is legally justified.
This issue has, however, become moot and academic in
view of the decision of this Court in related cases.
At the outset, it is worthy to note that aside from the
instant special proceedings, there are two other civil
cases involving the estate of the deceased Gregoria
Ventura, namely, Civil Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476. Civil
Case No. 1064 was filed on December 2, 1952 by herein
appellee Gregoria Ventura in the Court of First Instance
of Nueva Ecija, Branch I, against the other appellees
herein Mercedes Ventura and their father, Gregorio
Ventura. Later Mercedes Ventura joined cause with
Gregoria Ventura. (Record on Appeal, p. 95). Gregoria
and Mercedes Ventura claimed that they are the
legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his wife
Paulina Simpliciano, who died in 1943, and asked that
one-half of the properties described in the complaint be
declared as the share of their mother in the conjugal
partnership, with them as the only forced heirs of their
mother Paulina (Joint Brief for the Appellants, pp. 5368).
Subsequently, Civil Case No. 1476 was filed by Alipio,
Eufracia and Juliana, all surnamed Simpliciano, against
Gregorio Ventura and the two sisters, Mercedes and
Gregoria Ventura, before the Court of First Instance of
Nueva Ecija, Branch I. They alleged that as the only
children of Modesto Simpliciano, sole brother of Paulina
Simpliciano, they, instead of Mercedes and Gregoria
Ventura, whom they claimed are adulterous children of
Paulina with another man, Teodoro Ventura and as such
are not entitled to inherit from her, are the ones who
should inherit the share of Paulina Simpliciano in the
conjugal Partnership with Gregorio Ventura (Joint Brief
For The Appealant,pp.69-79)
It appears that on November 4, 1959, after a joint
hearing of Civil Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476, the lower
court rendered its judgment, the dispositive portion of
which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby
rendered declaring Mercedes Ventura
and Gregoria Ventura to be the ligitimate
daughters of Paulina Simpliciano and
Gregorio Ventura; declaring that as such
ligitimate daughters of Paulina
Simpliciano they are entitled to 1/2 of the
properties described in paragraph six of
the complaint; ordering the defendant
Maria Ventura, as administratrix of the
estate of Gregorio Ventura to pay to
Mercedes Ventura and Gregorio Ventura
the amount of P 19,074.09 which shall
be divided equally between Mercedes
and Gregoria Ventura declaring
Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz are
the exclusive owners of the property
describe in the certificate of Title Nos. T1102, 212, T-1213, T-1214, Exhibits 32,
33, 34 and 35, respectively; ordering
Mercedes Ventura and Pedro D. Corpuz
to pay to the conjugal partnership of
Gregorio Ventura and Paulina
Simpliciano the sum of P100,000.00,
one-half of which shall pertain to the
estate of Gregorio Ventura and the other
half to the estate of Paulina Simpliciano

to whom Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura


have succeeded, to be divided between
Mercedes and Gregoria in equal parts;
and dismissing Civil Case No. 1476. The
parties are urged to arrive at an
amicable partition of the properties
herein adjudicated within twenty days
from receipt of this decision. Upon their
failure to do so, the Court shall appoint
commissioners to divide the properties
in accordance with the terms of the
decision. Without pronouncements as to
costs. (Emphasis supplied). (Joint Brief
for the Appellants, pp. 3738.)
Thereafter, on July 14, 1962, Mercedes Ventura filed a
motion to annul the provisions of the will of the deceased
Gregorio Ventura in Special Proceedings No. 812, which
motion was opposed by Miguel Ventura and Juana
Cardona and later by Maria Ventura. They claimed that
the decision dated November 4,1959 in Civil Cases Nos.
1064 and 1476 was not yet final.
On February 26,1964, the court annulled the institution
of the heirs in the probated will of Gregorio Ventura. The
motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid order filed by
executrix Maria Ventura was denied on June 11, 1964.
Accordingly, Maria Ventura appealed the February 26,
1964 and June 11, 1964 orders of the probate court in
Special Proceedings No. 812 before the Supreme Court
and was docketed as G.R. No. L-23878. On May
27,1977, this Court, through then Associate Justice
Antonio P. Barredo, ruled, as follows:
And so, acting on appellees' motion to
dismiss appeal, it is Our considered
opinion that the decision in Civil Cases
Nos.1064 and 1476 declaring that
appellees Mercedes and Gregoria
Ventura are the ligimate children of the
deceased Gregorio Ventura and his wife,
Paulina Simpliciano, and as such are
entitled to the annulment of the
institution of heirs made in the probated
will of said deceased became final and
executory upon the finality of the order,
approving ther partition directed in the
decision in question. We need not indulge
in any discussion as to whether or not,
as of the time the orders here in
question were issued by the trial court
said decision had the nature of an
interlocutory order only. To be sure, in
the case of Miranda, aforementioned,
the opinion of the majority of the Court
may well be invoked against appellant's
pose. In any event, even if the Court
were minded to modify again Miranda
and go back to Fuentebella and
Zaldariaga and it is not, as of now
there can be no question that the
approval by the trial court in Civil Cases
Nos. 1064 and 1476 of the partition
report of the commissioners appointed
for the purpose, one of whom,
Emmanuel Mariano, is the husband of
appellant, put a definite end to those
cases, leaving nothing else to be done in
the trial court. That order of approval is
an appealable one, and inasmuch as no
appeal has been taken from the same, it
is beyond dispute that the decision in
controversy has already become final
and executory in all respects. Hence, the

case at bar has become moot and


academic. (Ventura vs. Ventura, 77
SCRA 159, May 27,1977)
Under Article 854 of the Civil Code, "the pretention or
omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in
the direct line, whether living at the time of the
execution of the will or born after the death of the
testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the
devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not
inofficious," and as a result, intestacy follows, thereby
rendering the previous appointment of Maria Ventura as
executrix moot and academic. This would now
necessitate the appointment of another administrator,
under the following provision:
Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court:
When and to whom letters of
administration granted.-If no executor is
named in the will, or the executor or
executors are incompetent, refuse the
trust, or fail to give bond, or a person
dies intestate, a petition shall be
granted:
(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as
the case may be or next of kin, or both,
in the discretion of the court, or to such
person as such surviving husband or
wife, or both, in the discretion of the
court, or to such person as such
surviving husband or wife, or next of
kin, requests to have appointed, if
competent and willing to serve;"
xxx xxx xxx
In the case at bar, the surviving spouse of the deceased
Gregorio Ventura is Juana Cardona while the next of kin
are: Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura and Maria and
Miguel Ventura. The "next of kin" has been defined as
those persons who are entitled under the statute of
distribution to the decedent's property (Cooper vs.
Cooper, 43 Ind. A. 620, 88 NE 341). It is generally said
that "the nearest of kin, whose interest in the estate is
more preponderant, is preferred in the choice of
administrator. 'Among members of a class the strongest
ground for preference is the amount or preponderance of
interest. As between next of kin, the nearest of kin is to
be preferred." (Cabanas, et al. vs. Enage et al., 40 Off.
Gaz. 12 Suppl. 227; citing 12 Am. Jur. Sec. 77, p. 416,
cited in Francisco Vicente J., The Revised Rules of Court
in the Philippines, Vol. V-B 1970 Ed., p. 23).
As decided by the lower court and sustained by the
Supreme Court, Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura are the
legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his wife, the
late Paulina Simpliciano. Therefore, as the nearest of kin
of Gregorio Ventura they are entitled to preference over
the illegitimate children of Gregorio Ventura, namely:
Maria and Miguel Ventura. Hence, under the aforestated
preference provided in Section 6 of Rule 78, the person
or persons to be appointed administrator are Juana
Cardona, as the surviving spouse, or Mercedes and
Gregoria Ventura as nearest of kin, or Juana Cardona
and Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura in the discretion of
the Court, in order to represent both interests.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the appeal interposed by
appellants Maria Ventura, Juana Cardona and Miguel
Ventura is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

10. Corona v. CA, G.R. No. L-59821 August 30,


1982 (116 SCRA 316)

G.R. No. L-59821 August 30, 1982


ROWENA F. CORONA, petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, ROMARICO G. VITUG,
AVELINO L. CASTILLO, NICANOR CASTILLO,
KATHLEEN D. LUCHANGCO, GUILLERMO
LUCHANGCO, JR., ANTONIO LUCHANGCO, RODOLFO
TORRES, REYNALDO TORRES and PURISIMA T.
POLINTAN, respondents.
N.J. Quisumbing for petitioner.
Jose F. Tiburcio for respondents Luchangcos, Torres and
Polintan.
Ricardo S. Inton for respondents Castillos.
Rufino V. Javier for respondent Vitug.
&
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:1wph1.t
A Petition to review on certiorari the judgment of the
Court of Appeals 1 (CA-G.R. No. 12404-SP) of August 11,
1981, upholding the appointment by the Court of First
Instance of Rizal, Pasig, Branch VI, of respondent
Romarico G. Vitug, as Special Administrator, although in
the Will of his deceased wife, she had disinherited him,
as well as the Appellate Court's Resolution of February
17, 1982 denying reconsideration.
On November 10, 1980, Dolores Luchangco Vitug died in
New York, U.S.A., leaving two Wills: one, a holographic
Will dated October 3, 1980, which excluded her
husband, respondent Romarico G. Vitug, as one of her
heirs, and the other, a formal Will sworn to on October
24, 1980, or about three weeks thereafter, which
expressly disinherited her husband Romarico "for reason
of his improper and immoral conduct amounting to
concubinage, which is a ground for legal separation
under Philippine Law"; bequeathed her properties in
equal shares to her sisters Exaltacion L. Allarde, Vicenta
L. Faustino and Gloria L. Teoxon, and her nieces Rowena
F. Corona and Jennifer F. Way; and appointed Rowena F.
Corona, herein petitioner, as her Executrix.
On November 21, 1980, Rowena filed a petition for the
probate of the Wills before the Court of First Instance of
Rizal, Branch VI (Spec.Procs. No. 9398), and for the
appointment of Nenita P. Alonte as Administrator
because she (Rowena) is presently employed in the
United Nations in New York City.
On December 2, 1980, upon Rowena's urgent Motion,
the Probate Court appointed Nenita P. Alonte as Special
Administratrix, upon a P100,000.00 bond.
On December 12, 1980, the surviving husband,
Romarico Vitug, filed an "Opposition and Motion" and
prayed that the Petition for Probate be denied and that
the two Wills be disallowed on the ground that they were
procured through undue and improper pressure and
influence, having been executed at a time when the
decedent was seriously ill and under the medical care of
Dr. Antonio P. Corona,, petitioner's husband, and that
the holographic Will impaired his legitime. Romarico
further prayed for his appointment as Special
Administrator because the Special Administratrix
appointed is not related to the heirs and has no interest
to be protected, besides, the surviving spouse is qualified
to administer.
Oppositions to probate with almost Identical arguments
and prayers were also filed by respondent (1) Avelino L.
Castillo and Nicanor Castillo, legitimate children of
Constancia Luchangco, full blood sister of the decedent;
(2) Guillermo Luchangco, full blood brother of the
decedent; (3) Rodolfo Torres, Reynaldo Torres, and
Purisima Torres Polintan, all legitimate children of the
deceased Lourdes Luchangco Torres, full blood sister of
the decedent.

On December 18, 1980, Nenita P. Alonte posted her bond


and took her oath of office before a Notary Public.
On February 6, 1981, the Probate Court set aside its
Order of December 2, 1980 appointing Nenita as Special
Administratrix, and appointed instead the surviving
husband, Romarico as Special Administrator with a
bond of P200,000.00, essentially for the reasons that
under Section 6, Rule 78, of the Rules of Court, the
surviving spouse is first in the order of preference for
appointment as Administrator as he has an interest in
the estate; that the disinheritance of the surviving
spouse is not among the grounds of disqualification for
appointment as Administrator; that the next of kin is
appointed only where the surviving spouse is not
competent or is unwilling to serve besides the fact that
the Executrix appointed, is not the next of kin but
merely a niece, and that the decedent's estate is nothing
more than half of the unliquidated conjugal partnership
property.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration with an alternate
Motion for the appointment of co-Special Administrators
to which private respondents filed their Opposition.
Reconsideration having been denied, petitioner resorted
to a Petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals to
annul, for having been issued with grave abuse of
discretion, the Order setting aside the appointment of
Nenita as Special Administratrix and appointing in her
stead the surviving spouse Romarico.
On August 11, 1981, the Court of Appeals found no
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Probate
Court and dismissed the Petition stating that the
Probate Court strictly observed the order of preference
established by the Rules; that petitioner though named
Executrix in the alleged Will, declined the trust and
instead nominated a stranger as Special Administrator;
that the surviving husband has legitimate interests to
protect which are not adverse to the decedent's estate
which is merely part of the conjugal property; and that
disinheritance is not a disqualification to appointment as
Special Administrator besides the fact that the legality of
the disinheritance would involve a determination of the
intrinsic validity of the Will which is decidedly premature
at this stage.
On March 24, 1982, petitioner elevated the case to this
Court for review on certiorari after her Motion for
Reconconsideration was turned down by the Court of
Appeals.
Petitioner stresses that the order of preference laid down
in the Rules should not be followed where the surviving
spouse is expressly disinherited, opposes probate, and
clearly possesses an adverse interest to the estate which
would disqualify him from the trust.
The three sets of Oppositors, all respondents herein, in
the Comments which they respectively filed, essentially
claimed lack of grave abuse of discretion on the part of
the Appellate Court in upholding the appointment of the
surviving husband as Special Administrator; that
certiorari is improper and unavailing as the appointment
of a Special Administrator is discretionary with the
Court and is unappealable; that co-administratorship is
impractical and unsound and as between the surviving
husband, who was responsible for the accumulation of
the estate by his acumen and who must be deemed to
have a beneficial interest in the entire estate, and a
stranger, respondent Court had made the correct choice;
and that the legality of the disinheritance made by the
decedent cannot affect the appointment of a Special
Administrator.
This Court, in resolving to give due course to the Petition
taking into account the allegations, arguments and
issues raised by the parties, is of the considered opinion

that petitioner's nominee, Nenita F. Alonte, should be


appointed as co-Special Administrator. The executrix's
choice of Special Administrator, considering her own
inability to serve and the wide latitude of discretion given
her by the testatrix in her Will (Annex "A-1"), is entitled
to the highest consideration. Objections to Nenita's
appointment on grounds of impracticality and lack of
kinship are over-shadowed by the fact that justice and
equity demand that the side of the deceased wife and the
faction of the surviving husband be represented in the
management of the decedent's estate. 2
En passant, it is apropos to remind the Special
Administrators that while they may have respective
interests to protect, they are officers of the Court subject
to the supervision and control of the Probate Court and
are expected to work for the best interests of the entire
estate, its smooth administration, and its earliest
settlement.
WHEREFORE, modifying the judgment under review, the
Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch VI, is hereby
ordered, in Special Proceedings No. 9398 pending before
it, to appoint Nenita F. Alonte as co-Special
Administrator, properly bonded, who shall act as such
jointly with the other Special Administrator on all
matters affecting the estate.
No costs.
Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Plana, Vasquez and
Relova, JJ., concur.1wph1.t
Gutierrez, J., took no part.

11. Gabriel v. CA, G.R. No. 101512 August 7,


1992 (212 SCRA 413)

G.R. No. 101512 August 7, 1992


NILDA GABRIEL, EVA GABRIEL, EDGAR GABRIEL,
GEORGE GABRIEL, ROSEMARIE GABRIEL, MARIBEL
GABRIEL, CYNTHIA GABRIEL, RENATO GABRIEL,
GERARDO GABRIEL, JOJI ZORAYDA GABRIEL,
DANIEL GABRIEL and FELICITAS JOSEGABRIEL, petitioners,
vs.
HON COURT OF APPEALS, HON. MANUEL E. YUZON,
Judge, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XI,
and ROBERTO DINDO GABRIEL, respondents.
REGALADO, J.:
In its decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 19797 promulgated on
August 23, 1991, 1 respondent Court of Appeals
dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by herein
petitioners assailing the orders of the lower court in
Special Proceeding No. 88-44589 thereof which
effectively sustained the appointment of private
respondent Roberto Dindo Gabriel as administrator of
the estate of the late Domingo Gabriel.
Petitioners' present appeal by certiorari would have this
Court set aside that decision of respondent court, hence
the need to examine the chronology of antecedent facts,
as found by respondent court and detailed hereunder,
pertinent to and which culminated in their recourse now
before us.
On May 12, 1988, or nine (9) months after Domingo
Gabriel died on August 6, 1987, private respondent filed
with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XI, a
petition for letters of administration alleging, among
others, that he is the son of the decedent, a college
graduate, engaged in business, and is fully capable of
administering the estate of the late Domingo Gabriel.
Private respondent mentioned eight (8) of herein

petitioners as the other next of kin and heirs of the


decedent. 2
On May 17, 1988, the court below issued an
order 3 setting the hearing of the petition on June 29,
1988, on which date all persons interested may show
cause, if any, why the petition should not be granted.
The court further directed the publication of the order in
"Mabuhay," a newspaper of general circulation, once a
week for three (3) consecutive weeks. No opposition
having been filed despite such publication of the notice
of hearing, private respondent was allowed to present his
evidence ex parte. Thereafter, the probate court issued
an order, dated July 8, 1988, appointing private
respondent as administrator of the intestate estate of the
late Domingo Gabriel on a bond of P30,000.00. 4
Subsequently, a notice to creditors for the filing of claims
against the estate of the decedent was published in the
"Metropolitan News." As a consequence, Aida Valencia,
mother of private respondent, filed a "Motion to File
Claim of (sic) the Intestate Estate of Domingo P. Gabriel"
alleging that the decision in a civil case between her and
the deceased remained unsatisfied and that she thereby
had an interest in said estate. 5
On December 12, 1988, private respondent filed for
approval by the probate court an "Inventory and
Appraisal" placing the value of the properties left by the
decedent at P18,960,000.00, which incident was set for
hearing on January 16, 1989. 6
On February 2, 1989, petitioners Nilda, Eva, Boy,
George, Rosemarie, and Maribel, all surnamed Gabriel,
filed their "Opposition and Motion" praying for the recall
of the letters of administration issued to private
respondent and the issuance of such letters instead to
petitioner Nilda Gabriel, as the legitimate daughter of the
deceased, or any of the other oppositors who are the
herein petitioners. 7 After some exchanges and on order
of the court, petitioners filed an "Opposition to the
Petition and Motion," dated May 20, 1989, alleging that
(1) they were not duly informed by personal notice of the
petition for administration; (2) petitioner Nilda Gabriel,
as the legitimate daughter, should be preferred over
private respondent; (3) private respondent has a
conflicting and/or adverse interest against the estate
because he might prefer the claims of his mother and (4)
most of the properties of the decedent have already been
relinquished by way of transfer of ownership to
petitioners and should not be included in the value of
the estate sought to be administered by private
respondent. 8
On September 21, 1989, the probate court issued an
order denying the opposition of petitioners on the ground
that they had not shown any circumstance sufficient to
overturn the order of July 8, 1988, in that (1) no
evidence was submitted by oppositor Nilda Gabriel to
prove that she is a legitimate daughter of the deceased;
and (2) there is no proof to show that the person who
was appointed administrator is unworthy, incapacitated
or unsuitable to perform the trust as to make his
appointment inadvisable under these
circumstances. 9 The motion for reconsideration filed by
petitioners was likewise denied in an order dated
December 22, 1989. 10
From said orders, herein petitioners filed a special civil
action for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, on the
following grounds:
1. The orders of September 21, 1989
and December 22, 1989 are null and
void, being contrary to the facts, law and
jurisprudence on the matter;

2. Respondent judge, in rendering the


aforesaid orders, gravely acted with
abuse of discretion amounting to lack
and/or excess of jurisdiction, hence said
orders are null and void ab initio; and
3. Private respondent is morally
incompetent and unsuitable to perform
the duties of an administrator as he
would give prior preference to the claims
of his mother against the estate itself. 11
As stated at the outset, the Court of Appeals rendered
judgment dismissing that petition for certiorari on the
ground that the appointment of an administrator is left
entirely to the sound discretion of the trial court which
may not be interfered with unless abused; that the fact
that there was no personal notice served on petitioners
is not a denial of due process as such service is not a
jurisdictional requisite and petitioners were heard on
their opposition; and that the alleged violation of the
order of preference, if any, is an error of fact or law which
is a mistake of judgment, correctible by appeal and not
by the special civil action of certiorari. 12
In the petition for review on certiorari at bar, petitioners
primarily aver that under Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules
of Court, it is the surviving spouse who is first in the
order of preference for the appointment of an
administrator. Petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel is the
widow and legal surviving spouse of the deceased
Domingo Gabriel and should, therefore, be preferred over
private respondent who is one of the illegitimate children
of the decedent by claimant. Aida Valencia. Secondly,
they claim that assuming that the widow is incompetent,
the next of kin must be appointed. As between a
legitimate and an illegitimate child, the former is
preferred, hence petitioner Nilda Gabriel, as the
legitimate daughter, must be preferred over private
respondent who is an illegitimate son. Thirdly, it is
contended that the non-observance or violation per se of
the order of preference already constitutes a grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
On the other hand, private respondent contends that the
court did not commit a grave abuse of discretion in not
following the order of preference because the same is not
absolute and the choice of who to appoint rests in the
sound discretion of the court. He calls attention to the
fact that petitioners Nilda Gabriel and Felicitas JoseGabriel never applied for appointment despite the lapse
of more than nine (9) months from the death of Domingo
Gabriel, hence it was not possible for the probate court
to have considered them for appointment. Besides, it is
not denied that several properties of the deceased have
already been relinquished to herein petitioners, hence
they would have no interest in applying for letters of
administration. Lastly, private respondent submits that
it has not been shown that he is incompetent nor is he
disqualified from being appointed or serving as
administrator.
Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court provides:
Sec. 6. When and to whom letters of
administration granted. If no executor
is named in the will, or the executor or
executors are incompetent, refuse the
trust, or fail to give bond, or a person
dies intestate, administration shall be
granted:
(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as
the case may be, or next of kin, or both,
in the discretion of the court, or to such
person as such surviving husband or
wife, or next of kin, requests to have

appointed, if competent and willing to


serve;
(b) If such husband or wife, as the case
may be, or the next of kin, or the person
selected by them, be incompetent or
unwilling, or if the husband or widow, or
next of kin, neglects for thirty (30) days
after the death of the person to apply for
administration or to request that
administration be granted to some other
person, it may be granted to one or more
of the principal creditors, if competent
and willing to serve;
(c) If there is no such creditor competent
and willing to serve, it may be granted to
such other person as the court may
select. (Emphases ours.)
Evidently, the foregoing provision of the Rules prescribes
the order of preference in the issuance of letters of
administration, categorically seeks out the surviving
spouse, the next of kin and the creditors, and requires
that sequence to be observed in appointing an
administrator. It would be a grave abuse of discretion for
the probate court to imperiously set aside and
insouciantly ignore that directive without any valid and
sufficient reason therefor.
In the appointment of the administrator of the estate of a
deceased person, the principal consideration reckoned
with is the interest in said estate of the one to be
appointed as administrator. This is the same
consideration which Section 6 of Rule 78 takes into
account in establishing the order of preference in the
appointment of administrators for the estate. The
underlying assumption behind this rule is that those
who will reap the benefit of a wise, speedy and
economical administration of the estate, or, on the other
hand, suffer the consequences of waste, improvidence or
mismanagement, have the highest interest and most
influential motive to administer the estate correctly. 13
This is likewise the same consideration which the law
takes into account in establishing the preference of the
widow to administer the estate of her husband upon the
latter's death, because she is supposed to have an
interest therein as a partner in the conjugal
partnership. 14 Under the law, the widow would have the
right of succession over a portion of the exclusive
property of the decedent, aside from her share in the
conjugal partnership. For such reason, she would have
as much, if not more, interest in administering the entire
estate correctly than any other next of kin. 15 On this
ground alone, petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel, the
widow of the deceased Domingo Gabriel, has every right
and is very much entitled to the administration of the
estate of her husband since one who has greater interest
in the estate is preferred to another who has less. 16
Private respondent, however, argues that Felicitas JoseGabriel may no longer be appointed administratrix by
reason of her failure to apply for letters of administration
within thirty (30) days from the death of her husband, as
required under the rules.
It is true that Section 6(b) of Rule 78 provides that the
preference given to the surviving spouse or next of kin
may be disregarded by the court where said persons
neglect to apply for letters of administration for thirty
(30) days after the decedent's death. However, it is our
considered opinion that such failure is not sufficient to
exclude the widow from the administration of the estate
of her husband. There must be a very strong case to
justify the exclusion of the widow from the
administration. 17

In the case at bar, there is no compelling reason


sufficient to disqualify Felicitas Jose-Gabriel from
appointment as administratrix of the decedent's estate.
Moreover, just as the order of preference is not absolute
and may be disregarded for valid cause 18 despite the
mandatory tenor in the opening sentence of Rule 78 for
its observance, so may the 30-day period be likewise
waived under the permissive tone in paragraph (b) of
said rule which merely provides that said letters, as an
alternative, "may be granted to one or more of the
principal creditors."
On the other hand, we feel that we should not nullify the
appointment of private respondent as administrator. The
determination of a person's suitability for the office of
judicial administrator rests, to a great extent, in the
sound judgment of the court exercising the power of
appointment and said judgment is not to be interfered
with on appeal unless the said court is clearly in
error. 19 Administrators have such a right and
corresponding interest in the execution of their trust as
would entitle them to protection from removal without
just cause. Thus, Section 2 of Rule 82 provides the legal
and specific causes authorizing the probate court to
remove an administrator.
While it is conceded that the court is invested with
ample discretion in the removal of an administrator, it
must, however, have some fact legally before it in order to
justify such removal. There must be evidence of an act or
omission on the part of the administrator not
conformable to or in disregard of the rules or the orders
of the court which it deems sufficient or substantial to
warrant the removal of the administrator. 20 In the
instant case, a mere importunity by some of the heirs of
the deceased, there being no factual and substantial
bases therefor, is not adequate ratiocination for the
removal of private respondent. Suffice it to state that the
removal of an administrator does not lie on the whims,
caprices and dictates of the heirs or beneficiaries of the
estate. In addition, the court may also exercise its
discretion in appointing an administrator where those
who are entitled to letters fail to apply therefor within a
given time. 21
On the equiponderance of the foregoing legal positions,
we see no reason why, for the benefit of the estate and
those interested therein, more than one administrator
may not be appointed since that is both legally
permissible and sanctioned in practice. 22 Section 6(a) of
Rule 78 specifically states that letters of administration
may be issued to both the surviving spouse and the next
of
kin. 23 In fact, Section 2 of Rule 82 contemplates a
contingency which may arise when there is only one
administrator but which may easily be remediable where
there is co-administration, to wit: "When an executor or
administrator dies, resigns, or is removed the remaining
executor or administrator may administer the trust
alone, . . . ." Also, co-administration herein will
constitute a recognition of both the extent of the interest
of the widow in the estate and the creditable services
rendered to and which may further be expected from
private respondent for the same estate.
Under both Philippine and American jurisprudence, the
appointment of co-administrators has been upheld for
various reasons, viz: (1) to have the benefit of their
judgment and perhaps at all times to have different
interests represented; 24 (2) where justice and equity
demand that opposing parties or factions be represented
in the management of the estate of the deceased; 25
(3) where the estate is large or, from any cause, an
intricate and perplexing one to settle; 26 (4) to have all

interested persons satisfied and the representatives to


work in harmony for the best interests of the
estate; 27 and (5) when a person entitled to the
administration of an estate desires to have another
competent person associated with him in the office. 28
Under the circumstances obtaining herein, we deem it
just, equitable and advisable that there be a coadministration of the estate of the deceased by petitioner
Felicitas Jose-Gabriel and private respondent Roberto
Dindo Gabriel. As earlier stated, the purpose of having
co-administrators is to have the benefit of their judgment
and perhaps at all times to have different interests
represented, especially considering that in this
proceeding they will respectively represent the legitimate
and illegitimate groups of heirs to the estate. Thereby, it
may reasonably be expected that all interested persons
will be satisfied, with the representatives working in
harmony under the direction and supervision of the
probate court.
WHEREFORE, the judgment of respondent Court of
Appeals is MODIFIED by AFFIRMING the validity of the
appointment of respondent Roberto Dindo Gabriel as
judicial administrator and ORDERING the appointment
of petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel as co-administratrix
in Special Proceeding No. 88-4458 of Branch XI,
Regional Trial Court of Manila.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla and Nocon, JJ., concur.

12. Reyes v. Arazanso, G.R. No. L-27657, August


30, 1992 (116 SCRA 157)

G.R. No. L-27657 August 30, 1992


IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF
THE LATE JULIANA REYES, PAULINA SANTOS DE
PARREO, special adminstratrix,
vs.
GREGORIA ARANZANSO, appellant.
&
ABAD SANTOS, J.:1wph1.t
This case is about the all-too-familiar problem as to who
shall administer the estate of the deceased. It exposes
human nature in its most naked form acquisitive.
Juliana Reyes died intestate. Her substantial estate is
still being settled in Special Proceedings No. 34354 of the
Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch IV. The
settlement has spawned a number of litigation which has
reached this Court and includes not only the instant
case but also other cases with the following docket
numbers: 23828, 26940 and 27130.
The estate had only special administrators until Gregoria
Aranzanso who claims to be a first cousin of the
decedent asked that she be appointed regular
administrator. Her motion provoked counter motions,
oppositions, replies, rebuttal and rejoinder which take
up 120 pages of the printed record on appeal and which
demonstrate the zeal of the various counsel in espousing
their clients claims to the estate which as aforesaid is
substantial.
On January 29, 1966, the Court issued an order
appointing Gregoria Aranzanso as regular administrator
and relieving Araceli A. Pilapil as special administrator.
The order reads: 1wph1.t
This incident refers to the appointment
of the regular administrator or
administratrix of this intestate of the
late Juliana Reyes de Santos.

This proceeding was instituted upon


petition of the late Simplicio Santos on
November 25, 1957, after the death of
the decedent on October 21, same year.
On August 22, 1959, Simplicio Santos
was appointed as Special Administrator
with the bond of P5,000.00, and acted
as such until his death on July 1, 1962.
A special proceeding was likewise
instituted for the settlement of his estate
(Sp. Proc. No. 50994, of this Court) by
persons claiming to be the children of
Simplicio Santos, in which Dominador
Santos and Zenaida Diaz Vda, de Santos
were appointed as administrator and
administratrix, respectively. On August
1, 1962, Araceli Pilapil was appointed
special administratrix of this intestate
upon petition of the late Aurora Santos
and Paulina Santos. It appears that
Araceli A. Pilapil has no relation to the
decedent, except as attorney-in-fact of
Paulina Santos.
On August 3, 1963, Filomena Santos de
Lagunera through counsel, filed a
motion for the appointment of a regular
administrator. On December 13, 1963,
this Court in an order issued directed
the parties to show cause why this case
should not be set for hearing for the
appointment of a regular administrator.
Because of the length of time that had
already elapsed since the filing or
institution of this proceeding on
November 25, 1957, without a regular
administrator having been appointed,
this Court issued an order on October 4,
1965, ordering the setting of the case for
hearing on October 11, 1965, for the
appointment of the regular
administrator or administratrix.
On October 9, 1965, Paulina Santos
filed a motion praying that she be
appointed as regular administratrix, but
in the interim apparently because she is
out of the country, asked that the
special administratrix Araceli A. Pilapil
be appointed in the meantime. On
October 9, 1965, the surviving spouse of
the late Simplicio Santos, Zenaida Diaz
Vda. de Santos, and her son, Simplicio
Santos, Jr., filed a motion praying the
Court that Atty. Olimpio Capalungan be
appointed as the regular administrator.
In the hearing on October 11, 1965, the
oppositors Consuelo and Pacita Pasion
proposed the appointment of the former
as the regular administratrix although
in subsequent hearings withdrew in
favor of Gregorio Aranzanso. On October
12, 1965, oppositor Gregorio Aranzanso
proposed that she or her son-in-law
Manuel Cariaga be appointed as the
regular administrator or administratrix,
as the case may be. The oppositors are
the nearest surviving relatives of the
decedent Juliana Reyes who died
without issue, being first cousin. In the
hearing of October 15, 1965, persons
claiming to be the children of Simplicio
Santos proposed the appointment of

Dominador Santos as the regular


administrator.
Hearings were held and the parties
adduced their respective evidence to
support their contentions, but only the
oppositors presented oral evidence to
show that the properties under
administration are the paraphernal or
exclusive properties of the decedent
Juliana Reyes. To further support their
contention the oppositors presented
numerous exhibits consisting of certified
true copies of torrens titles issued in the
name of the decedent Juliana Reyes.
Paulina Santos adopted most of these
exhibits presented by the oppositors and
objected to some, while the heirs of
Simplicio Santos adopted also some of
the exhibits presented by the oppositors
and adduced four (4) exhibits, to
support their contention.
It appears from the evidence presented
that the properties under administration
are the paraphernal properties of
Juliana Reyes, but there are also
evidence that the late Simplicio Santos,
through a general power of attorney,
allegedly sold some lots owned by the
decedent Juliana Reyes Santos to
Paulina Santos, Dominador Santos,
Eduvigis Santos, and a certain Jose F.
Sugay. All these lots numbering six in all
were later on reconveyed by the
aforementioned alleged vendees to
Simplicio Santos. The evidence further
shows that Paulina Santos and the late
Simplicio Santos, while this proceeding
had already been instituted and in utter
disregard of the law, executed on May
12, 1958, "Extra-Judicial Partition with
Sale" covering a property of the decedent
in Baguio City. The oppositors claim
that these sales are fictitious and would,
together with the said extra-judicial
partition, automatically disqualify
Paulina Santos, Dominador Santos and
Atty. Olimpio Kapalungan to be
appointed as regular administrator or
administratrix of this intestate as
obviously they have adverse interests
against the estate. If appointed as
regular administrator or administratrix,
naturally they will not institute
proceedings to recover those properties
which were illegally transferred or sold.
This leaves only oppositor Gregoria
Aranzanso as the person most qualified
to be appointed regular administratrix.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby
appoints Gregoria Aranzanso as the
regular administratrix of this intestate
estate with a bond of P15,000.00, and
upon submission and approval thereof,
let letters of administration issue. ....
Motions for reconsideration of the order were filed but
the presiding judge held firm "considering that most of
the movants have adverse interests against this intestate
estate." (Order of February 16,1966, pp- 140-141,
Record on Appeal.)
But the opposition was persistent; it refused to give in.
And so on June 20, 1966, the court which incidentally

was presided by a different judge issued an order which


reads as follows: 1wph1.t
On May 26, 1966, the petitioner Paulina
R. Santos de Parreo filed an omnibus
motion for an order:1wph1.t
(1) Declaring that the
oppositors Gregoria
Aranzanso, Demetria
Ventura, Consuelo
Pasion and Pacita
Pasion have no right to
intervene in this
intestate estate
proceeding;
(2) Ordering Gregoria
Aranzanso and
Demetria Ventura to
return to the estate the
sum of P14,000.00
received by them with
the authority of this
Court;
(3) Revoking the
appointment of Gregoria
Aranzanso as regular
administratrix and
ordering her to render
an accounting of her
administration;
(4) Appointing the
petitioner Paulina R.
Santos de Parreno
special administratrix of
the intestate estate of
her late mother, Juliana
Reyes de Santos; and
(5) Revoking the
previous order of May 9,
1966 allowing the
regular administratrix
to make extensive
repairs on the building
belonging to the estate
situated at the corners
of Barbosa and R.
Hidalgo Streets, Quiapo,
Manila, and ordering
her to return to the
estate the sum of
P28,040.00 which she
was authorized to
withdraw from the
funds of the estate
deposited with the
Philippine Trust
Company.
In view of the decision of the Honorable
Supreme Court rendered on February
28, 1966 in S.C. G.R. No. L-23828,
'Paulina Santos and Aurora Santos vs.
Gregoria Aranzanso, et al,' which
decision declared that the oppositors
Gregoria Aranzanso, Demetria Ventura,
Consuelo Pasion and Pacita Pasion are
without right to intervene as heirs in the
settlement of the estate in question and
that said oppositors were enjoined
permanently from withdrawing any sum
from the estate in the concept of the
heirs and from intervening in this
proceeding, and which judgment of the

Supreme Court has already become final


and executory, the oppositors
aforementioned, more specially the
administratrix Gregoria Aranzanso, have
lost their right to intervene in this case
and the latter to perform any act of
administration in the present
proceeding. As a matter of fact, if we
have to construe strictly the mandate of
the aforementioned judgment of the
appellate Court, it would seem that the
oppositors never had any right at all to
intervene in this case. Such being the
case, the Court after weighing carefully
the circumstances surrounding this
case, has arrived at the conclusion that
the aforementioned decision of the
appellate Court has stripped off the
oppositors of any semblance of
personality which they may have
acquired in this instant proceeding.
WHEREFORE, and finding the omnibus
motion filed by Paulina R. Santos de
Parreo on May 26, 1966 to be welltaken, the same is hereby granted.
The oppositors Gregorio Aranzanso,
Demetria Ventura, Consuelo Pasion and
Pacita Pasion are declared to be without
any right to intervene in this intestate
proceeding and, henceforth they should
not be allowed to take part therein.
GREGORIA ARANZANSO and Demetria
Ventura are ordered to return to the
estate the sum of P14,000.00 which
they received by virtue of the order of
this Court dated October 2, 1965.
The appointment of Gregoria Aranzanso
as regular administratrix pursuant to
the order of this Court dated January
29, 1966 is revoked and she is ordered
to render a final account of her
administration within ten (10) days from
receipt hereof.
Paulina R. Santos de Parreno is
appointed special administratrix of the
intestate estate of the late Juliana Reyes
de Santos and upon her filing a bond in
the amount of P2,000.00 and the
corresponding oath of office, letters of
special administration be issued to
her. ....
A motion for reconsideration of the order was denied
which prompted Gregoria Aranzanso to appeal the order
to this Court with a lone assignment of error, to
wit: 1wph1.t
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN
REMOVING THE APPELLANT AS
REGULAR ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE
INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE
JULIANA REYES AND THE
REVOCATION OF HER APPOINTMENT
IS CONTRARY TO LAW.
There is merit in the appeal, As indicated in the lone
assignment of error, the only issue in this appeal, is
whether or not the lower court was justified in revoking
the appointment of Gregoria Aranzanso as the
administrator of the intestate estate of Juliana Reyes.
Alien to the issue is the question of preference
whether it should be Gregoria Aranzanso who is a first
cousin of the decedent or Paulina Santos de Parreo who

is an adopted child of the decedent in receiving letters


of administration.
It stands to reason that the appellant having been
appointed regular administrator of the intestate estate of
Juliana Reyes may be removed from her office but only
for a cause or causes provided by law. What is the law on
removal? It is found in Rule 82, Section 2, of the Rules of
Court which reads as follows: 1wph1.t
Sec. 2. Court may remove or accept
resignation of executor or administrator.
Proceedings upon death, resignation, or
removal. If an executor or
administrator neglects to render his
account and settle the estate according
to law, or to perform an order or
judgment of the court, or a duty
expressly provided by these rules, or
absconds or becomes insane, or
otherwise incapable or unsuitable to
discharge the trust, the court may
remove him, or, in its discretion, may
permit him to resign. When an executor
or administrator dies, resigns, or is
removed the remaining executor or
administrator may administer the trust
alone, unless the court grants letters to
someone to act with him. If there is no
remaining executor or administrator,
administration may be granted to any
suitable person.
It is obvious that the decision of this Court, cited in the
appealed order, that Gregoria Aranzanso, among other
persons, is without right to intervene as heir in the
settlement of the estate in question is not one of the
grounds provided by the Rules of Court.
Let it be recalled that in G.R. No. L-23828, Paulina
Santos, et al. vs. Gregoria Aranzanso, et al., 123 Phil.
160 (1966), a collateral attack on the adoption of the two
girls was not allowed under the following facts:
When Juliana Reyes died intestate, Simplicio Santos filed
in the Court of First Instance of Manila a petition for the
settlement of her estate. In said petition he stated among
other things that the surviving heirs of the deceased are:
he, as surviving spouse, Paulina Santos and Aurora
Santos, 27 and 17 years of age, respectively. In the same
petition, he asked that he be appointed administrator of
the estate.
Gregoria Aranzanso, alleging that she is first cousin to
the deceased, filed an opposition to the petition for
appointment of administrator. For her grounds she
asserted that Simplicio Santos' marriage to the late
Juliana Reyes was bigamous and thus void; and that the
adoption of Paulina Santos and Aurora Santos was
likewise voidab initio for want of the written consent of
their parents who were then living and had not
abandoned them.
The Court of First Instance decided the point in dispute,
ruling that the validity of the adoption in question could
not be assailed collaterally in the intestate proceedings
(Sp. Proc. No. 34354). The order was appealed to the
Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals reversed the appealed order,
finding instead that the adoption was null and void ab
initiodue to the absence of consent thereto by the natural
parents of the minor children, which it deemed a
jurisdictional defect still open to collateral attack.
Stating that, "The principal issue on the merits in this
appeal is whether respondents-oppositors Aranzanso and
Ventura, could assail in the settlement proceedings the
adoption decree in favor of Paulina and Aurora
Santos,"this Court gave a negative answer.

Thereafter, this Court rendered judgment which insofar


as relevant reads as follows: 1wph1.t
Wherefore, the judgment of the Court of
Appeals is hereby reversed and the order
of the probate court a quo sustaining
the adoption, dated April 6, 1959, is
affirmed. Respondents Gregoria
Aranzanso and Demetria Ventura as well
as Consuelo and Pacita Pasion are
declared without right to intervene as
heirs in the settlement of the intestate
estate of Juliana Reyes. ....
The decision denied to Gregoria Aranzanso the right to
intervene in the settlement proceedings as an heir of
Juliana Reyes. But an administrator does not have to be
an heir. He can be a stranger to the deceased. In fact, in
one of her motions Paulina Santos de Parreno proposed
the appointment of the Philippine National Bank as
special administrator. (Record on Appeal, pp. 144-146.)
We hold that the intervention of Gregoria Aranzanso in
the settlement proceedings is not in the capacity of heir
although she might be one if her direct attack on the
adoption of the two girls should succeed. We have
authorized such direct attack in G.R. No. L-26940.
WHEREFORE, the order of June 20, 1966, removing
Gregoria Aranzanso as administrator is hereby set aside
and she is reinstated as administrator of the intestate
estate of Juliana Reyes. Cost against the appellee.
SO ORDERED.
Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, De Castro and Escolin,
JJ., concur.1wph1.t
Barredo (Chairman), J., is on leave.

13. Vda. de Manalo v. CA, 349 SCRA 135

[G.R. No. 129242. January 16, 2001]

PILAR S. VDA. DE MANALO, ANTONIO S. MANALO,


ORLANDO S. MANALO, and ISABELITA
MANALO, petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF
APPEALS, HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF
MANILA (BRANCH 35), PURITA S. JAYME,
MILAGROS M. TERRE, BELEN M. ORILLANO,
ROSALINA M. ACUIN, ROMEO S. MANALO,
ROBERTO S. MANALO, AMALIA MANALO and
IMELDA MANALO, respondents.
DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by
petitioners Pilar S. Vda. De Manalo, et. al., seeking to
annul
the
Resolution[1] of
the
Court
of
[2]
Appeals affirming the Orders[3] of the Regional Trial
Court and the Resolution[4]which denied petitioners
motion for reconsideration.
The antecedent facts[5] are as follows:
Troadio Manalo, a resident of 1966 Maria Clara
Street, Sampaloc, Manila died intestate on February 14,
1992. He was survived by his wife, Pilar S. Manalo, and
his eleven (11) children, namely: Purita M. Jayme,
Antonio Manalo, Milagros M. Terre, Belen M. Orillano,
Isabelita Manalo, Rosalina M. Acuin, Romeo Manalo,

Roberto Manalo, Amalia Manalo, Orlando Manalo, and


Imelda Manalo, who are all of legal age.
At the time of his death on February 14, 1992,
Troadio Manalo left several real properties located in
Manila and in the province of Tarlac including a
business under the name and style Manalos Machine
Shop with offices at No. 19 Calavite Street, La Loma,
Quezon City and at No. 45 Gen. Tinio Street, Arty
Subdivision, Valenzuela, Metro Manila.
On November 26, 1992, herein respondents, who
are eight (8) of the surviving children of the late Troadio
Manalo, namely: Purita, Milagros, Belen, Rosalina,
Romeo, Roberto, Amalia, and Imelda filed a
petition[6] with the respondent Regional Trial Court of
Manila[7] for the judicial settlement of the estate of their
late father, Troadio Manalo, and for the appointment of
their brother, Romeo Manalo, as administrator thereof.
On December 15, 1992, the trial court issued an
order setting the said petition for hearing on February
11, 1993 and directing the publication of the order for
three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general
circulation in Metro Manila, and further directing service
by registered mail of the said order upon the heirs
named in the petition at their respective addresses
mentioned therein.
On February 11, 1993, the date set for hearing of
the petition, the trial court issued an order declaring
the whole world in default, except the government, and
set the reception of evidence of the petitioners therein on
March 16, 1993. However, this order of general default
was set aside by the trial court upon motion of herein
petitioners (oppositors therein) namely: Pilar S. Vda. De
Manalo, Antonio, Isabelita and Orlando who were
granted ten (10) days within which to file their opposition
to the petition.
Several pleadings were subsequently filed by herein
petitioners, through counsel, culminating in the filing of
an Omnibus Motion[8] on July 23, 1993 seeking: (1) to set
aside and reconsider the Order of the trial court dated
July 9, 1993 which denied the motion for additional
extension of time to file opposition; (2) to set for
preliminary hearing their affirmative defenses as
grounds for dismissal of the case; (3) to declare that the
trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the persons
of the oppositors; and (4) for the immediate inhibition of
the presiding judge.
On July 30, 1993, the trial court issued an
order[9] which resolved, thus:
A. To admit the so-called Opposition filed by
counsel for the oppositors on July 20,
1993, only for the purpose of considering
the merits thereof;
B. To deny the prayer of the oppositors for a
preliminary hearing of their affirmative
defenses as ground for the dismissal of this
proceeding, said affirmative defenses being
irrelevant and immaterial to the purpose
and issue of the present proceeding;
C. To declare that this court has acquired
jurisdiction over the persons of the
oppositors;
D. To deny the motion of the oppositors for the
inhibition of this Presiding Judge;
E. To set the application of Romeo Manalo for
appointment as regular administrator in
the intestate estate of the deceased Troadio
Manalo for hearing on September 9, 1993
at 2:00 oclock in the afternoon.
Herein petitioners filed a petition for certiorari under
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with the Court of Appeals,

docketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 39851, after their motion


for reconsideration of the Order dated July 30, 1993 was
denied by the trial court in its Order [10] dated September
15, 1993. In their petition for certiorari with the
appellate court, they contend that: (1) the venue was
improperly laid in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626; (2) the trial
court did not acquire jurisdiction over their persons; (3)
the share of the surviving spouse was included in the
intestate proceedings; (4) there was absence of earnest
efforts toward compromise among members of the same
family; and (5) no certification of non-forum shopping
was attached to the petition.
Finding the contentions untenable, the Court of
Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari in its
Resolution[11] promulgated on September 30, 1996. On
May 6, 1997 the motion for reconsideration of the said
resolution was likewise dismissed.[12]
The only issue raised by herein petitioners in the
instant petition for review is whether or not the
respondent Court of Appeals erred in upholding the
questioned orders of the respondent trial court which
denied their motion for the outright dismissal of the
petition for judicial settlement of estate despite the
failure of the petitioners therein to aver that earnest
efforts toward a compromise involving members of the
same family have been made prior to the filing of the
petition but that the same have failed.
Herein petitioners claim that the petition in SP.
PROC No. 92-63626 is actually an ordinary civil action
involving members of the same family. They point out
that it contains certain averments which, according to
them, are indicative of its adversarial nature, to wit:
x

Par. 7. One of the surviving sons, ANTONIO


MANALO, since the death of his father,
TROADIO MANALO, had not made any
settlement, judicial or extra-judicial of the
properties of the deceased father, TROADIO
MANALO.
Par. 8. xxx the said surviving son continued to
manage
and
control
the
properties
aforementioned, without proper accounting,
to his own benefit and advantage xxx.
x

Par. 12. That said ANTONIO MANALO is


managing and controlling the estate of the
deceased TROADIO MANALO to his own
advantage and to the damage and prejudice
of the herein petitioners and their co-heirs
xxx.
x

Par. 14. For the protection of their rights and


interests, petitioners were compelled to
bring this suit and were forced to litigate
and incur expenses and will continue to
incur
expenses
of
not
less
than,
P250,000.00 and engaged the services of
herein
counsel
committing
to
pay
P200,000.00 as and for attorneys fees plus
honorarium of P2,500.00 per appearance in
court xxx.[13]
Consequently, according to herein petitioners, the
same should be dismissed under Rule 16, Section 1(j) of
the Revised Rules of Court which provides that a motion
to dismiss a complaint may be filed on the ground that a
condition precedent for filing the claim has not been
complied with, that is, that the petitioners therein failed

to aver in the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626, that


earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made
involving members of the same family prior to the filing
of the petition pursuant to Article 222[14] of the Civil
Code of the Philippines.
The instant petition is not impressed with merit.
It is a fundamental rule that, in the determination
of the nature of an action or proceeding, the
averments[15] and the character of the relief sought[16] in
the complaint, or petition, as in the case at bar, shall be
controlling. A careful scrutiny of the Petition for
Issuance of Letters of Administration, Settlement and
Distribution of Estate in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 belies
herein petitioners claim that the same is in the nature of
an ordinary civil action. The said petition contains
sufficient jurisdictional facts required in a petition for
the settlement of estate of a deceased person such as the
fact of death of the late Troadio Manalo on February 14,
1992, as well as his residence in the City of Manila at
the time of his said death. The fact of death of the
decedent and of his residence within the country are
foundation facts upon which all the subsequent
proceedings in the administration of the estate rest.
[17]
The petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 also contains
an enumeration of the names of his legal heirs including
a tentative list of the properties left by the deceased
which are sought to be settled in the probate
proceedings. In addition, the reliefs prayed for in the
said petition leave no room for doubt as regard the
intention of the petitioners therein (private respondents
herein) to seek judicial settlement of the estate of their
deceased father, Troadio Manalo, to wit:
PRAYER
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully
prayed for of this Honorable Court:
(a) That after due hearing,
letters of
administration be issued to petitioner
ROMEO MANALO for the administration of
the estate of the deceased TORADIO
MANALO upon the giving of a bond in such
reasonable sum that this Honorable Court
may fix.
(b) That after all the properties of the deceased
TROADIO MANALO have been inventoried
and expenses and just debts, if any, have
been paid and the legal heirs of the
deceased fully determined, that the said
estate of TROADIO MANALO be settled and
distributed among the legal heirs all in
accordance with law.
c) That the litigation expenses o these
proceedings in the amount of P250,000.00
and attorneys fees in the amount of
P300,000.00 plus honorarium of P2,500.00
per appearance in court in the hearing and
trial of this case and costs of suit be taxed
solely against ANTONIO MANALO.[18]
Concededly, the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626
contains certain averments which may be typical of an
ordinary civil action. Herein petitioners, as oppositors
therein, took advantage of the said defect in the petition
and filed their so-called Opposition thereto which, as
observed by the trial court, is actually an Answer
containing admissions and denials, special and
affirmative defenses and compulsory counterclaims for
actual, moral and exemplary damages, plus attorney's
fees and costs[19] in an apparent effort to make out a case
of an ordinary civil action an ultimately seek its

dismissal under Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Rules of


Court vis--vis, Article 222 of the Civil Code.
It is our view that herein petitioners may not be
allowed to defeat the purpose of the essentially valid
petition for the settlement of the estate of the late
Troadio Manalo by raising matters that are irrelevant
and immaterial to the said petition. It must be
emphasized that the trial court, sitting, as a probate
court, has limited and special jurisdiction [20] and cannot
hear and dispose of collateral matters and issues which
may be properly threshed out only in an ordinary civil
action. In addition, the rule has always been to the
effect that the jurisdiction of a court, as well as the
concomitant nature of an action, is determined by the
averments in the complaint and not by the defenses
contained in the answer. If it were otherwise, it would
not be too difficult to have a case either thrown out of
court or its proceedings unduly delayed by simple
strategem.[21] So it should be in the instant petition for
settlement of estate.
Herein petitioners argue that even if the petition in
SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 were to be considered as a
special proceeding for the settlement of estate of a
deceased person, Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Rules of
Court vis-a-vis Article 222 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines would nevertheless apply as a ground for the
dismissal of the same by virtue of Rule 1, Section 2 of
the Rules of Court which provides that the rules shall
be liberally construed in order to promote their object
and to assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy and
inexpensive determination of every action and
proceeding. Petitioners contend that the term
proceeding is so broad that it must necessarily include
special proceedings.
The argument is misplaced. Herein petitioners may
not validly take refuge under the provisions of Rule 1,
Section 2, of the Rules of Court to justify the invocation
of Article 222 of the Civil Code of the Philippines for the
dismissal of the petition for settlement of the estate of
the deceased Troadio Manalo inasmuch as the latter
provision is clear enough, to wit:
Art. 222. No suit shall be filed or maintained between
members of the same family unless it should appear that
earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made,
but that the same have failed, subject to the limitations
in Article 2035 (underscoring supplied).[22]
The above-quoted provision of the law is applicable
only to ordinary civil actions. This is clear from the term
suit that it refers to an action by one person or persons
against another or others in a court of justice in which
the plaintiff pursues the remedy which the law affords
him for the redress of an injury or the enforcement of a
right, whether at law or in equity. [23] A civil action is thus
an action filed in a court of justice, whereby a party sues
another for the enforcement of a right, or the prevention
or redress of a wrong.[24] Besides, an excerpt from the
Report of the Code Commission unmistakably reveals
the intention of the Code Commission to make that legal
provision applicable only to civil actions which are
essentially adversarial and involve members of the same
family, thus:
It is difficult to imagine a sadder and more tragic
spectacle than a litigation between members of the same
family. It is necessary that every effort should be made
toward a compromise before a litigation is allowed to
breed hate and passion in the family. It is known that
lawsuit between close relatives generates deeper
bitterness than strangers.[25]

It must be emphasized that the oppositors (herein


petitioners) are not being sued in SP. PROC. No. 9263626 for any cause of action as in fact no defendant
was impleaded therein. The Petition for Issuance of
Letters of Administration, Settlement and Distribution of
Estate in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 is a special
proceeding and, as such, it is a remedy whereby the
petitioners therein seek to establish a status, a right, or
a particular fact.[26] The petitioners therein (private
respondents herein) merely seek to establish the fact of
death of their father and subsequently to be duly
recognized as among the heirs of the said deceased so
that they can validly exercise their right to participate in
the settlement and liquidation of the estate of the
decedent consistent with the limited and special
jurisdiction of the probate court.
WHEREFORE, the petition in the above-entitled
case, is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against
petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo,
(Chairman),
Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur.

Mendoza,

14. Saguisin
v.
Lindayag,
G.R. No.
L17759, December 17, 1962 (6 SCRA 874)

G.R. No. L-17759


December 17, 1962
ISABEL V. SAGUINSIN, petitioner-appellant,
vs.
DIONISIO LINDAYAG, ET AL., oppositors-appellees.
Gatchalian and Sison for petitioner-appellant.
Delgado, Flores, Macapagal and Dizon for oppositorsappellees.
DIZON, J.:
On November 10, 1959 Maria V. Lindayag died intestate
in Olongapo, Zambales. On May 27, 1960 her sister,
Isabel V. Saguinsin filed with the Court of First Instance
of said province a verified petition for the issuance in her
favor of letters of administration over the estate of said
deceased, alleging, among other things, that the latter
left real and personal properties situated in the
Provinces of Zambales and Bulacan worth approximately
P100,000.00; that the names, ages and residences of her
surviving heirs were: (1) Dionisio Lindayag, 60 years of
age, surviving husband, residing at Olongapo, Zambales,
(2) Isabel V. Saguinsin 54 years of age, sister of the
deceased, residing at Hagonoy, Bulacan (3) Aurea V.
Sacdalan, 46 years of age, sister of the deceased, and (4)
Ines V. Calayag, 70 years of age, sister of the deceased,
both residing at Paombong, Bulacan; and that, as far as
petitioner knew, the decedent left no debts at the time of
her death.
On June 21, 1960 Dionisio V. Lindayag, the surviving
spouse, in his behalf and in representation of the minors
Jesus, Concepcion, and Catherine, all surnamed
Lindayag, filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the
ground lack of interest in the estate, she being neither
heir nor a creditor thereof. The motion alleged that the
late Maria V. Lindayag was survived by her husband
the movant and their legally adopted minor children
named Jesus, Concepcion, and Catherine, all surnamed
Lindayag the decedent having left no legitimate natural
or illegitimate child. A certified true copy of the decision
of the Justice of the Peace of Olongapo, Zambales, dated
July 6, 1953 decreeing the adoption of said minors the
decedent and her husband was attached to the motion.

In opposing the motion to dismiss petitioner argued that


only the facts alleged in the petition should be
considered in determining its sufficiency.lawphil.net
On July 28, 1960, after due hearing on the motion
aforesaid, the Court issued the following order of
dismissal:
It appearing that the herein petitioner is only a
sister of the deceased Maria V. Lindayag; that
the deceased is survived by her husband and
her three (3) adopted children named: Jesus,
Concepcion and Catherine, all surnamed
Lindayag were adopted by the deceased on July
6, 1953; that the herein petitioner is obviously
not an heir and has no interest in estate; and
that the surviving heirs oppose the instant
petition on the ground that they want to settle
the estate extra-judicially among them to avoid
unnecessary expenses in prosecuting this case,
the Court finds the oppositors' opposition to be
well taken.
WHEREFORE, let this case be dismissed. No
pronouncement as to costs.
Petitioner's motion for the reconsideration of the above
order having been denied, she took the present appeal.
The question to be resolved in this appeal is whether
petitioner is "an interested person" in the estate of
deceased Maria V. Lindayag.
According to Section 2, Rule 80 of the Rules of Court, a
petition for letters of administration must be filed an
"interested person". An interested party has defined in
this connection as one who would be benefited by the
estate, such as an heir, or one who has a claim against
the estate, such as a creditor (Intestate Estate of Julio
Magbanwa, 40 O.G. 1171). And it is well settled in this
jurisdiction that in civil actions as well as special
proceedings, the interest required in order that a person
may be a party thereto must be material and direct, and
not merely indirect or contingent. (Trillana vs.
Crisostomo, G.R. No. L-3378, August 22, 1951; Espinosa
vs. Barrios, 70 Phil. 311)
Petitioner's interest in the estate of the deceased Maria
V. Lindayag was disputed, through a motion to dismiss
her petition, by the surviving spouse on the ground that
said deceased was survived by him and by three legally
adopted children thus excluding petitioner as an heir.
In the course of the hearing held in connection with said
motion, evidence was introduced in support thereof
which, according to the lower court, established that
said deceased was survived not only by her husband but
by three legally adopted children named Jesus,
Concepcion, and Catherine, all surnamed Lindayag.
Upon these facts which petitioner does not dispute
it is manifest that she is not an heir of her deceased
sister and, therefore, has no material and direct interest
in her estate.
Petitioner's view that when a motion to dismiss a
complaint or a petition is filed, only the facts alleged in
the complaint or petition may be taken into account is
not entirely correct. To the contrary, the rule is that at
said hearing said motion may be proved or disproved in
accordance with the rules of evidence, and it has been
held that for that purpose, the hearing should be
conducted as an ordinary hearing; and that the parties
should be allowed to present evidence, except when the
motion is based on the failure of the complaint or of the
petition to state a cause of action (Asejo vs. Leonoso, 44
O. G. No. 10, 3832). In the present case, the motion to
dismiss the petition was grounded on petitioner's lack of
legal capacity to institute the proceedings which, as
already stated heretofore, was fully substantiated by the
evidence presented during the hearing.

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the order appealed


from is affirmed, with costs.
Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes,
J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes, Regala and Makalintal,
JJ.,concur.
Bengzon, C.J., took no part.

15. Pilipinas Shell v. Dumlao, G.R. No. L-44888


February 7, 1992

G.R. No. L-44888 February 7, 1992


PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM
CORPORATION, petitioner,
vs.
FIDEL P. DUMLAO, Judge of the Court of First
Instance of Agusan Del Norte and Butuan City,
BONIFACIO CANONOY, Judicial Administrator of the
Estate of Regino Canonoy, CARMEN VDA. DE
CANONOY, TEODULO CANONOY, REGINO CANONOY,
JR., MARIANITA CANONOY GUINTO and GLORIA
CANONOY BASA, respondents.
Dominguez & Paderna Law Offices Co. for petitioner.
Wenceslao B. Rosales for private respondents.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
Brought to focus in this petition are the following issues:
(a) whether the jurisdictional facts that need to be stated
in a petition for letters of administration under Section
2(a), Rule 79 of the Rules of Court include the specific
assertion that the petitioner therein is an "interested
person," and (b) whether the administration court may
properly and validly dismiss a petition for letters of
administration filed by one who is not an "interested
person" after having appointed an heir of the decedent as
administrator of the latter's intestate estate and set for
pre-trial a claim against the said estate
Ricardo M. Gonzalez, District Manager of Shell
Philippines, Inc. for Mindanao (hereinafter referred to as
Shell), filed on 8 January 1973 a petition entitled "In the
Matter of the Intestate Estate of the Deceased Regino
Canonoy, Petition for Letters of Administration, Ricardo
M. Gonzalez, Petitioner" with the then Court of First
Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Agusan del Norte
and Butuan City, praying therein that he be appointed
judicial administrator of the estate of the deceased
Regino Canonoy. The case was docketed as SP PROC. No.
343 and was raffled to Branch II of the trial court.
On 27 January 1973, Judge Vicente B. Echavez, Jr. of
Branch II issued an Order (1) setting the hearing on the
petition for 23 March 1973 at 8:30 a.m.; (2) directing
that the order be published, at petitioner's expense, once
a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper
with a nationwide circulation published regularly by a
government agency or entity, or in any newspaper
published and edited in any part of the country which is
in operation during the existence of the present national
emergency and of general circulation in the province of
Agusan del Norte and in Butuan City, if any there be;
and (3) ordering that copies of the order be sent by
registered mail or personal delivery, at the petitioner's
expense, to each of all the known heirs of the deceased
Regino Canonoy, within the periods prescribed by
Section 4, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court. 1
In their Opposition to the issuance of letters of
administration to Gonzalez filed on 21 March
1973, 2 private respondents, who are heirs of Regino
Canonoy, allege that: Gonzalez "is a complete stranger to
the intestate estate" of Regino Canonoy; he is "not even a

creditor" of the estate; he is a resident of Davao City and


thus if appointed as administrator of the estate, the bulk
of which is located in Butuan City, "he would not be able
to perform his duties efficiently;" and he is an employee
of Shell Philippines, Inc., an alleged creditor of the
estate, and so "he would not be able to properly and
effectively protect the interest of the estate in case of
conflicts." They, however, "propose" and pray that since
Bonifacio Canonoy, one of Regino's sons, enjoys
preference in appointment pursuant to Section 6, Rule
78 of the Rules of Court, he should "be appointed
administrator of the said intestate estate and the
corresponding letters of administration be issued in his
favor."
On 25 July 1973, after due hearing, the trial court
appointed Bonifacio Canonoy as administrator of the
intestate estate of Regino Canonoy, 3 having found him
competent to act as such. None of the parties moved to
reconsider this order or appealed therefrom. On 23
November 1973, herein petitioner Shell, then known as
Shell Philippines, Inc., filed its claim against the estate of
the deceased Regino Canonoy. The duly appointed
administrator, Bonifacio Canonoy, filed on 9 October
1974 a Motion to Dismiss the claim of Shell 4 which the
latter contested by filing an Opposition. Shell likewise
filed an amended claim against the estate. 5 On 12 May
1975, the administrator filed his Reply to the Opposition
to Motion to Dismiss. 6 On 25 May 1975, he filed an
Answer to the amended claim filed by Shell. 7 In the said
Answer, he interposes compulsory counterclaims for the
estate in the amount of P659,423.49 representing
rentals for land occupied by the Shell Service Station,
lighting allowances, allowances for salaries and wages of
service attendants, sales commission due the deceased
Regino Canonoy and reasonable attorney's fees.
Petitioner filed an answer to the Counterclaim.
Upon joinder of the issues on Shell's claim, the trial
court, this time presided over by respondent Judge Fidel
P. Dumlao, set the pre-trial for 15 August 1975. 8 This
was later re-set to 23 September 1975. 9
On 18 August 1975, petitioner filed a motion to require
the judicial administrator to file an inventory of the
properties of the deceased. 10
At the pre-trial held on 23 September 1975, counsel for
the administrator requested for time to file a Motion to
Dismiss the case. In an Order issued on that date, the
court granted him ten (10) days to file the motion;
opposing counsel was likewise given ten (10) days from
receipt of the same to file whatever pleading he may
deem proper to file, after which the motion shall be
deemed submitted for resolution. 11 The motion was filed
on 30 September 1975. It alleges that the court did not
acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter and nature
thereof because the petitioner therein, Mr. Gonzalez, is
not the "interested person" contemplated by Section 2,
Rule 79 of the Rules of Court. 12 Shell filed its
Opposition to the Motion on 16 October 1975 13 on the
ground that the trial court had acquired jurisdiction over
the case to issue letters of administration as the interest
of Gonzalez in the estate is not a jurisdictional fact that
needs to be alleged in the petition. If at all, Gonzalez'
lack of interest in the estate of the deceased only affected
his competence to be appointed administrator. In an
Order dated 8 November 1975, respondent Judge,
finding the motion to be well-taken and meritorious,
dismissed the case. 14 The motion for its reconsideration
having been denied by the trial court on 23 January
1976, 15 Shell filed the instant petition which it
denominated as a petition for review on certiorari under
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

In the Resolution dated 6 December 1976, this Court


required the respondents to comment on the
petition; 16 the latter complied with the same on 31
January 1977. 17 Thereafter, on 7 February 1977, this
Court resolved, inter alia, to treat the petition for review
as a special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court and require the parties to submit their respective
Memoranda; 18 petitioner filed its Memorandum on 4
April 1977 19 while the respondents filed theirs on 3
June 1977. 20
The petition is impressed with merit; it must perforce be
granted.
Under the peculiar circumstances of the case, the trial
court clearly acted with grave abuse of discretion when it
dismissed SP PROC. No. 343 after having set for pre-trial
petitioner's amended claim against the estate. That said
dismissal was predicated solely on the ground that
petitioner therein, Ricardo Gonzalez, is not an "interested
person," and that, since such interest is a jurisdictional
requirement, the trial court acquired no jurisdiction over
the case, serves only to compound the error.
1. Section 2, Rule 79 of the Rules of Court provides:
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 2. Contents of petition of letters of
administration. A petition for letters of
administration must be filed by an
interested person and must show, so far
as known to the petitioner:
(a) The jurisdictional
facts;
(b) The names, ages,
and residences of the
heirs, and the names
and residences of the
creditors, of the
decedent;
(c) The probable value
and character of the
property of the estate;
(d) The name of the
person for whom letters
of administration are
prayed.
But no defect in the petition shall render
void the issuance of letters of
administration.
xxx xxx xxx
The jurisdictional facts alluded to are: the death of the
testator, his residence at the time of his death in the
province where the probate court is sitting or, if he is an
inhabitant of a foreign country, his having left his estate
in such province. 21 These facts are amply enumerated in
the petition filed by Gonzalez. 22 The fact of death of the
intestate and of his residence within the country are
foundation facts upon which all the subsequent
proceedings in the administration of the estate rest, and
that if the intestate was not an inhabitant of the state at
the time of his death, and left no assets in the state, and
none came into it afterwards, no jurisdiction is conferred
on the court to grant letters of administration in any
county. 23 Clearly, the allegation that a petitioner seeking
letters of administration is an interested person, does not
fall within the enumeration of jurisdictional facts. Of
course, since the opening sentence of the section
requires that the petition must be filed by an interested
person, it goes without saying that a motion to dismiss
may lie not on the basis of lack of jurisdiction on the
part of the court, but rather on the ground of lack of
legal capacity to institute the proceedings.

This is precisely what happened in Saguinsin vs.


Lindayag, 24 where the dismissal of a petition for letters
of administration was affirmed because the petitioner "is
not an heir of her deceased sister and, therefore, has no
material and direct interest in her estate." 25 In the said
case, this Court defined an interested party as one who
would be benefited by the estate, such as an heir, or one
who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor;
this interest must be material and direct, not merely
indirect or contingent. 26
The Saguinsin doctrine is not, however, without
exception. An objection to a petition for letters of
administration on that ground may be barred by waiver
or estoppel.
Private respondents herein did not file a motion to
dismiss the petition filed by Gonzalez on the ground of
lack of capacity to sue; 27 they instead filed an
Opposition which, unfortunately, did not ask for the
dismissal of the petition but merely opposed the
issuance of letters of administration in favor of Gonzalez
because, among other reasons, he is a stranger to the
estate. The Opposition also proposed that Bonifacio
Canonoy, one of the children of the deceased Regino
Canonoy, be appointed administrator of the latter's
intestate estate. The failure to move for a dismissal
amounted to a waiver of the above-mentioned ground.
Section 8, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court provides that:
A motion attacking a pleading or a
proceeding shall include all objections
then available, and all objections not so
included shall be deemed waived.
However, if a motion to dismiss is not filed, as what
obtains in this case, any of the grounds available for
such a motion, except for improper venue, may be
pleaded as an affirmative defense, and a preliminary
hearing thereon may be had as if a motion to dismiss
had been filed. 28 Excepted from the above rules are the
following grounds: (a) failure to state a cause of action
which may be alleged in a later pleading if one is
permitted, or by a motion for judgment on the pleadings,
or at the trial on the merits; and (b) lack of jurisdiction
over the subject matter of the action, 29 subject to the
exception as hereinafter discussed.
In Insurance Company of North America vs. C.F. Sharp &
Co., Inc., 30 this Court ruled:
Finally, appellant would contend that
plaintiff has no capacity to sue and is
not the real party in interest. It is now
too late to raise these objections here.
These should have been asserted in the
motion to dismiss filed by defendant
below. Not having been included therein,
they are now barred by the rule on
omnibus motion.
By proposing that Bonifacio Canonoy be appointed as
administrator instead of Mr. Gonzalez, private
respondents have in fact approved or ratified the filing of
the petition by the latter.
In Eusebio vs. Valmores, 31 We held that:
xxx xxx xxx
The evidence submitted in the hearing
does not satisfactorily prove that the
petitioner was legally adopted; hence, he
did not have any interest in the
properties of the deceased Rosalia
Saquitan. Under ordinary
circumstances, such defect would
authorize the dismissal of the
proceedings especially in view of the fact
that the surviving spouse of Rosalia

Saquitan had filed an affidavit of


adjudication under the provisions of
Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Rules.
Counsel for Domingo Valmores, however,
had not objected to the application for
the appointment of an administrator; he
only objected to the appointment of the
said stranger Eulogio Eusebio as
administrator, claiming to have the right
as surviving spouse to be appointed as
such administrator. By this act of
Domingo Valmores, surviving spouse of
the deceased, therefore, the fatal defect
in the petition may be considered, as
cured. In other words, the filing of the
petition for the appointment of an
administrator may be considered as
having been ratified by the surviving
husband, Domingo Valmores, and for
this reason the proceedings may not be
dismissed.
2. There can be no dispute that the trial court had
acquired jurisdiction over SP PROC. No. 343.
Immediately after the filing of the case, the trial court
complied with Section 3, Rule 79 of the Rules of Court
by issuing the Order dated 27 January 1973. At the
initial hearing on 25 July 1973, petitioner Gonzalez
established the jurisdictional requirements by
submitting in evidence proof of publication and service
of notices of the petition. Thereafter, it heard the
evidence on the qualifications and competence of
Bonifacio Canonoy, then appointed him as the
administrator and finally directed that letters of
administration be issued to him, and that he takes his
oath of office after putting up a surety or property bond
in the amount of P5,000.00. 32
It is be presumed that Bonifacio Canonoy immediately
qualified as administrator because in that capacity, he
filed a motion to dismiss petitioner's claim against the
estate, 33 a Reply to the Opposition to the motion to
dismiss 34 and an Answer to the petitioner's amended
claim against the estate wherein he interposed a
counterclaim, 35 praying thus:
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully
prayed of this Honorable Court to
dismiss the above-mentioned "Amended
Claim Against the Estate" and to order
the claimant to pay into the intestate
estate of Regino Canonoy the said sum
of P659,423.49, together with the
interest thereon at the legal rate
beginning from the date hereof, the
reasonable attorney's fees for the
prosecution of this counterclaim, and
costs;
OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, in the event
that any sum is found due from and
payable by the said intestate estate of
Regino Canonoy in favor of the said
claimant, the said amount be deducted
from the above-mentioned sum and,
thereafter, to order the claimant to pay
the balance remaining unto the said
intestate estate of Regino Canonoy,
together with interest thereon at the
legal rate beginning from date hereof,
the reasonable attorney's fees for the
prosecution of this counterclaim, and
costs.
Clearly, therefore, not only had the administrator and
the rest of the private respondents voluntarily submitted

to the jurisdiction of the trial court, they even expressly


affirmed and invoked such jurisdiction in praying for
reliefs and remedies in their favor, namely: (a) denial of
Gonzalez' prayer to be appointed as administrator, (b)
appointment of Bonifacio Canonoy as administrator, (c)
denial of petitioner Shell's amended claim against the
estate, and (d) the granting of the counterclaim. Hence,
they cannot now be heard to question the jurisdiction of
the trial court. While it may be true that jurisdiction
may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, a party
who has affirmed and invoked it in a particular matter to
secure an affirmative relief cannot be allowed to
afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape
penalty.
In Tijam, et al. al. vs. Sibonghanoy, et al., 36 this Court
held:
It has been held that a party can not
invoke the jurisdiction of a court to
secure affirmative relief against his
opponent and, after obtaining or failing
to obtain such relief, repudiate or
question that same jurisdiction (Dean
vs. Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86 A.L.R. 79). In
the case just cited, by way of explaining
the rule, it was further said that the
question whether (sic) the court had
jurisdiction either of the subject-matter
of the action or of the parties was not
important in such cases because the
party is barred from such conduct not
because the judgment or order of the
court is valid and conclusive as an
adjudication, but for the reason that such
a practice can not be tolerated
obviously for reasons of public policy.
Furthermore, it has also been held that
after voluntarily submitting a cause and
encountering an adverse decision on the
merits, it is too late for the loser to
question the jurisdiction or power of the
court (Pease vs. Rathbun-Jones etc.,
243 U.S. 273, 61 L. Ed. 715, 37 S. Ct.
283; St. Louis etc. vs. McBride, 141 U.S.
127, 35 L. Ed. 659). And in Littleton vs.
Burgess, 16 Wyo. 58, the Court said
that it is not right for a party who has
affirmed and invoked the jurisdiction of
a court in a particular matter to secure
an affirmative relief, to afterwards deny
that same jurisdiction to escape a
penalty.
The respondent Judge should have lent his ears to Tijam
vs. Sibonghanoy instead of peremptorily granting the
motion to dismiss in an Order which does not even care
to expound on why the court found the said motion to be
meritorious. He exhibited undue haste in removing the
case from his docket and in abdicating judicial authority
and responsibility. Howsoever viewed, he committed
grave abuse of discretion.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED
and the Order of respondent Judge of 8 November 1975
in SP PROC. No. 343 is hereby SET ASIDE. The court
below is further ordered to hear and decide petitioner's
claim against the estate in said case, unless supervening
events had occurred making it unnecessary, and to
conduct therein further proceedings pursuant to the
Rules of Court until the case is closed and terminated.
Costs against private respondents.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Romero, JJ., concur.

16. De Guzman v. Angeles, 162 SCRA 347

G.R. No. 78590 June 20, 1988


PEDRO DE GUZMAN, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE JUDGE ZOSIMO Z. ANGELES, RTC
BRANCH 58, MAKATI, METRO, MANILA; DEPUTY
SHERIFFS JOSE B. FLORA and HONORIO SANTOS
and ELAINE G. DE GUZMAN, respondents.
Bautista, Picazo, Cruz, Buyco and Tan for private
respondent.
Ponce Enrile, Cayetano, Bautista, Picaso and Reyes,
collaborating counsel for private respondent.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
May a probate court act on and/or grant motions for the
appointment of a special administrator, for the issuance
of a writ of possession of alleged properties of the
deceased person, and for assistance to preserve the
estate in a petition for the settlement of the intestate
estate even before the court has caused notice to be
served upon all interested parties pursuant to section 3,
Rule 79 of the Revised Rules of Court?
On May 5, 1987, private respondent Elaine G. de
Guzman filed a petition for the settlement of the
intestate estate of Manolito de Guzman, before the
Regional Trial Court of Makati, Metro Manila. The case
was docketed as Special Proceedings .No. M-1436.
The petition alleges that: (1) on March 22,1987, Manolito
de Guzman died in Makati, Metro Manila; (2) at the time
of his death, the decedent was a resident of Makati,
Metro Manila; (3) decedent left personal and real
properties as part of his estate, listed in Annexes "A,"
"B," "C" and "D;" (4) the properties were acquired after
the marriage of the petitioner to the decedent and
therefore are included in their conjugal partnership; (5)
the estate of -the decedent has a probable net value
which may be provisionally assessed at P4,000,000.00
more or less; (6) the possible creditors of the estate, who
have accounts payable. and existing claims against the
firm C. SANTOS Construction are listed in Annex "E;"
(7) the compulsory heirs of the decedent are the as the
surviving spouse and their two (2) minor children
namely: Charmane Rose de Guzman 11 years and Peter
Brian de Guzman, 9 years old; (8) after diligent search
and inquiry to ascertain whether the decedent left a last
will and testament, none has been found and according
to the best knowledge information and belief of the
petitioner, Manolito de Guzman died intestate; and (9)
the petitioner as the survey surviving spouse of the
decedent, is most qualified and entitled to the grant of
letters of administration.
On May 22, 1987, the private respondent filed a motion
for writ of possession over five (5) vehicles registered
under the name of Manolito de Guzman, alleged to be
conjugal properties of the de Guzman's but which are at
present in the possession of the private respondent's
father-in- law, herein petitioner Pedro de Guzman. The
motion stated that as co-owner and heir, the private
respondent must have the possession of said vehicles in
order to preserve the assets of her late husband. On the
same day, the lower court issued an order setting for
hearing the motion on May 27, 1987 directing the
deputy sheriff to notify petitioner Pedro de Guzman at
the expense of the private respondent.
The scheduled May 27, 1987 hearing was postponed on
motion of petitioner's counsel, Atty. Ricardo Fojas. The
petitioner was also given three (3) days from May 27,

1987 to give his comment on the motion for a writ of


possession. The hearing was reset to June 5, 1987 at
3:00 p.m.
On May 29, 1987, the petitioner's counsel filed a notice
of appearance and an "Urgent Motion For Extension of
Time to File an Opposition and for Resetting of the
Hearing."
The motion was granted and the petitioner was given five
(5) days from receipt of the order within which to file his
opposition to the motion for a writ of possession. The
hearing was reset to June 15, 1987 at 2:00 in the
afternoon.
In the meantime, on May 28, 1987, the private
respondent filed her "Ex-Parte Motion to Appoint
Petitioner as Special Administratrix of the Estate of
Manolito de Guzman."
In an order dated May 28,1987, the aforesaid motion
was set for hearing on June 5, 1987. In this same order,
the lower court directed that all parties in the case be
notified. However, no notice of the order was given to the
petitioner.
In an order dated June 5, 1987, the lower court granted
the private respondent's motion to be appointed as
special administratrix, to wit:
Finding the motion for appointment of
special administratrix, on the ground
alleged therein to be well-founded, and
finding further that it is to be the best
interest of the Estate of Manolito de
Guzman that petitioner-movant Elaine
G. de Guzman, be appointed as Special
Administratrix in this case, said motion
is granted.
WHEREFORE, Elaine G. de Guzman,
petitioner-movant, is hereby appointed
as Special Administratrix of the Estate
of the deceased Manolito de Guzman,
pending appointment of a regular
administrator. The bond for the said
special administratrix is hereby fixed in
the amount of P200,000.00. (Rollo, p.
40)
On June 8, 1987, the lower court issued another order,
to wit:
Acting on the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for
Assistance" filed by Petitioner-Special
Administratrix Elaine de Guzman for
appointment of Deputy Sheriffs Honorio
Santos and Jose B. Flora together with
some military men and/or policemen to
assist her in preserving the estate of
Manolito de Guzman, the motion is
granted and the Deputy Sheriffs
Honorio Santos and Jose B. Flora are
hereby appointed for that purpose,
provided that the subject matter of the
motion for writ of possession pending
before this Court shall not be affected.
(Rollo, p. 41)
Trouble ensued when the respondents tried to enforce
the above order. The petitioner resisted when Deputy
Sheriffs Jose B. Flora and Honorio Santos tried to take
the subject vehicles on the ground that they were his
personal properties. According to the petitioner, this
resulted in a "near shoot-out between members of the
Makati Police, who were to maintain peace and order,
and the CAPCOM soldiers who were ostensibly aiding
respondent sheriffs and Elaine G. de Guzman" and that
"the timely arrival of Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati
defused the very volatile situation which resulted in an
agreement between the parties that the bulldozer, sought

to be taken, be temporarily placed in the custody of


Mayor Binay, while the parties seek clarification of the
order from respondent Judge Zosimo Angeles the next
day, June 9, 1981 at 10:30 a.m."
In the conference held before the respondent court
attended by the counsels for both parties, the June 8,
1987 order was clarified to the effect that the order
"must be merely to take and preserve assets admittedly
belonging to the estate, but not properties, the
ownership of which is claimed by third persons."
The petitioner then filed a manifestation listing
properties which he claimed to be his own.
Thereafter, the instant petition was filed to annul the
lower court's orders dated June 5, 1987 and June 8,
1987.
In a resolution dated June 10, 1987, we issued a
temporary restraining order enjoining the respondent
court from enforcing the two questioned orders. In
another resolution dated October 28, 1987, we gave due
course to the petition.
The petitioner contends that the June 5, 1987 order is a
patent nullity, the respondent court not having acquired
jurisdiction to appoint a special administratrix because
the petition for the settlement of the estate of Manolito
de Guzman was not yet set for hearing and published for
three consecutive weeks, as mandated by the Rules of
Court. The petitioner also stresses that the appointment
of a special administratrix constitutes an abuse of
discretion for having been made without giving petitioner
and other parties an opportunity to oppose said
appointment.
Anent the June 8, 1987 order, the petitioner alleges that
the immediate grant of the motion praying for the court's
assistance in the preservation of the estate of the
deceased, "without notice to the petitioner Pedro de
Guzman, and its immediate implementation on the very
same day by respondent Elaine G. de Guzman with the
assistance of respondents deputy sheriffs, at no other
place but at the home of the petitioner Pedro de
Guzman, are eloquent proofs that all the antecedent
events were intended solely to deprive petitioner de
Guzman of his property without due process of law." He
also prays that the respondent Judge be disqualified
from further continuing the case.
As stated earlier, the pivotal issue in the instant petition
hinges on whether or not a probate court may appoint a
special administratrix and issue a writ of possession of
alleged properties of a decedent for the preservation of
the estate in a petition for the settlement of the intestate
estate of the said deceased person even before the
probate court causes notice to be served upon all
interested parties pursuant to section 3, Rule 79 of the
Revised Rules of Court.
As early as March 18, 1937, in the case of Santos v.
Castillo (64 Phil. 211) we ruled that before a court may
acquire jurisdiction over the case for the probate of a will
and the administration of the properties left by a
deceased person, the application must allege the
residence of the deceased and other indispensable facts
or circumstances and that the applicant is the executor
named in the will or is the person who had custody of
the will to be probated.
In the instant case, there is no doubt that the
respondent court acquired jurisdiction over the
proceedings upon the filing of a petition for the
settlement of an intestate estate by the private
respondent since the petition had alleged all the
jurisdictional facts, the residence of the deceased
person, the possible heirs and creditors and the
probable value of the estate of the deceased Manolito de

Guzman pursuant to Section 2, Rule 79 of the Revised


Rules of Court.
We must, however, differentiate between the jurisdiction
of the probate court over the proceedings for the
administration of an estate and its jurisdiction over the
persons who are interested in the settlement of the
estate of the deceased person. The court may also have
jurisdiction over the "estate" of the deceased person but
the determination of the properties comprising that
estate must follow established rules.
Section 3, Rule 79 of the Revised Rules of Court
provides:
Court to set time for hearing. Notice
thereof. When a petition for letters of
administration is filed in the court
having jurisdiction, such court shall fix
a time and place for hearing the petition,
and shall cause notice thereof to be
given to the known heirs and creditors of
the decedent, and to any other persons
believed to have an interest in the estate,
in the manner provided in sections 3
and 4 of Rule 76.
It is very clear from this provision that the probate court
must cause notice through publication of the petition
after it receives the same. The purpose of this notice is to
bring all the interested persons within the court's
jurisdiction so that the judgment therein becomes
binding on all the world. (Manalo v. Paredes, 47 Phil.
938; Moran, Comment on the Rules of Court Volume
3,1980 Edition) Where no notice as required by Section 3,
Rule 79 of the Rules of Court has been given to persons
believed to have an interest in the estate of the deceased
person; the proceeding for the settlement of the estate is
void and should be annulled. The requirement as to notice
is essential to the validity of the proceeding in that no
person may be deprived of his right to property without
due process of law. (Eusebio v. Valmores, 96 Phil. 163).
Verily, notice through publication of the petition for the
settlement of the estate of a deceased person is
jurisdictional, the absence of which makes court orders
affecting other persons, subsequent to the petition void
and subject to annulment. (See Eusebio v.
Valmores, supra)
In the instant case, no notice as mandated by section 3,
Rule 79 of the Revised Rules of Court was caused to be
given by the probate court before it acted on the motions
of the private respondent to be appointed as special
administratrix, to issue a writ of possession of alleged
properties of the deceased person in the widow's favor,
and to grant her motion for assistance to preserve the
estate of Manolito de Guzman.
The "explanation" which we required of the respondent
Judge for his apparent haste in issuing the questioned
orders, states:
xxx xxx xxx
10. In issuing the subject Orders,
undersigned acted in the honest
conviction that it would be to the best
interest of the estate without unduly
prejudicing any interested party or third
person. Any delay in issuing the said
Orders might have prejudiced the estate
for the properties may be lost, wasted or
dissipated in the meantime. (Rollo, p.
86)
xxx xxx xxx
This explanation while seemingly plausible does not
sufficiently explain the disregard of the Rule. If indeed,
the respondent court had the welfare of both the estate
and the person who have interest in the estate, then it

could have caused notice to be given immediately as


mandated by the Revised Rules of Court. All interested
persons including herein petitioner who is the biggest
creditor of the estate listed in the Petition (P850,240.80)
could have participated in the proceedings especially so,
because the respondent immediately filed a motion to
have herself appointed as administratrix. A special
administrator has been defined as the "representative of
decedent appointed by the probate court to care for and
preserve his estate until an executor or general
administrator is appointed." (Jones v. Minnesota
Transfer R. Co. 1965 ed., at 106 cited in Fule v. Court of
Appeals, 74 SCRA 189). The petitioner as creditor of the
estate has a similar interest in the preservation of the
estate as the private respondent who happens to be the
widow of deceased Manolito de Guzman. Hence, the
necessity of notice as mandated by the Rules of Court. It
is not clear from the records exactly what emergency
would have ensued if the appointment of an
administrator was deferred at least until the most
interested parties were given notice of the proposed
action. No unavoidable delay in the appointment of a
regular administrator is apparent from the records.
As argued by the petitioner:
The position of special administrator, by
the very nature of the powers granted
thereby, is one of trust and confidence.
It is a fiduciary position and, therefore,
requires a comprehensive determination
of the suitability of the applicant to such
position. Hence, under Philippine
jurisprudence, it has been settled that
the same fundamental and legal
principles governing the choice of a
regular administrator should be taken in
choosing the special administrator
(Francisco, Vol. VB, page 46 citing the
cases of Ozaeta v. Pecson, Ibid. and
Roxas v. Pecson, Ibid.)
In order to fully and correctly ascertain
the suitability of the applicant to the
trust, a hearing is obviously necessary
wherein the applicant can prove his
qualifications and at the same time
affording oppositors, given notice of
such hearing and application, the
opportunity to oppose or contest such
application.
The requirement of a
hearing and the
notification to all the
known heirs and other
interested parties as to
the date thereof is
essential to the validity
of the proceeding for the
appointment of an
administrator "in order
that no person may be
deprived of his right or
property without due
process of law" (Eusebio
v. Valmores, 97 Phil.
163). Moreover, a
hearing is necessary in
order to fully determine
the suitability of the
applicant to the trust,
by giving him the
opportunity to prove his
qualifications and

affording oppositors, if
any, to contest the said
application. (Matute v.
Court of Appeals, 26
SCRA 770; emphasis
supplied).
Since the position of special
administrator is a very sensitive one
which requires trust and confidence, it
is essential that the suitability of the
applicant be ascertained in a hearing
with due notice to all oppositors who
may object precisely to the applicant's
suitability to the trust. (Rollo, pp. 103104)
If emergency situations threatening the dissipation of
the assets of an estate justify a court's immediately
taking some kind of temporary action even without the
required notice, no such emergency is shown in this
case. The need for the proper notice even for the
appointment of a special administrator is apparent from
the circumstances of this case.
The respondent Judge himself explains that the order for
the preservation of the estate was limited to properties
not claimed by third parties. If certain properties are
already in the possession of the applicant for special
administratrix and are not claimed by other persons, we
see no need to hurry up and take special action to
preserve those properties. As it is, the sheriffs took
advantage of the questioned order to seize by force,
properties found in the residence of the petitioner which
he vehemently claims are owned by him and not by the
estate of the deceased person.
The petitioner also asks that the respondent Judge be
disqualified from continuing with the proceedings of the
case on the ground that he is partial to the private
respondent.
In view of the fact that the respondent Judge in his
"Explanation" requests that he be inhibited from further
active on the case, this issue has now become academic.
We accept Judge Angeles" voluntary inhibition in line
with our ruling in Pimentel v. Salanga (21 SCRA 160). As
we stated in Query of Executive Judge Estrella T. Estrada,
Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan on the conflicting
views of Regional Trial CourtJudges Manalo and
Elisaga Re: Criminal Case No. 4954 M Administrative
Matter No. 87-9-3918-RTC, October 26, 1987:
xxx xxx xxx
... A judge may not be legally prohibited
from sitting in a litigation. But when
suggestion is made of record that he
might be induced to act in favor of one
party or with bias or prejudice against a
litigant arising out of circumstances
reasonably capable of inciting such a
state of mind, he should conduct a
careful self-examination. He should
exercise his discretion in a way that the
people's faith in the courts of justice is
not impaired. A salutary norm is that he
reflect on the probability that a losing
party might nurture at the back of his
mind the thought that the judge had
unmeritoriously tilted the scales of
justice against him. That passion on the
part of a judge may be generated
because of serious charges of
misconduct against him by a suitor or
his counsel, is not altogether remote. He
is a man, subject to the frailties of other
men. He should, therefore, exercise

great care and caution before making up


his mind to act or withdraw from a suit
Where that party or counsel is involved.
He could in good grace inhibit himself
where that case could be heard by
another judge and where no appreciable
prejudice would be occasioned to others
involved thereon. On the result of his
decisions to sit or not sit may depend to
a great extent that all-important
confidence in the impartiality of the
judiciary. If after reflection he should
resolve to voluntarily desist from sitting
in a case where his motives or fairness
might be seriously impugned, his action
is to be interpreted as giving meaning
and substance to the second paragraph
of Section 1, Rule 137. He serves the
cause of the law who forestalls
miscarriage of justice.
Considering the foregoing, we find no need to discuss
the other issues raised in the petition.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The
questioned orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 58
of Makati are hereby set aside. The case is ordered
remanded to the lower court for the hearing of the
petition with previous notice to all interested parties as
required by law. In view of the voluntary inhibition of the
respondent Judge, the Executive Judge of the Regional
Trial Court, Makati is directed to re-raffle the case to
another branch of the court. The Temporary Restraining
Order dated June 10, 1987 is made permanent. No
costs.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan (Chairman), Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ.,
concur.

17. Cuenco v. CA, G.R. No. L-24742, October


26, 1973 (53 SCRA 360)

G.R. No. L-24742 October 26, 1973


ROSA CAYETANO CUENCO, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THIRD
DIVISION, MANUEL CUENCO, LOURDES CUENCO,
CONCEPCION CUENCO MANGUERRA, CARMEN
CUENCO, CONSUELO CUENCO REYES, and
TERESITA CUENCO GONZALEZ, respondents.
Ambrosio Padilla Law Office for petitioner.
Jalandoni and Jamir for respondents.
TEEHANKEE, J.:
Petition for certiorari to review the decision of respondent
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 34104-R, promulgated
21 November 1964, and its subsequent Resolution
promulgated 8 July 1964 denying petitioner's Motion for
Reconsideration.
The pertinent facts which gave rise to the herein petition
follow:
On 25 February 1964 Senator Mariano Jesus Cuenco
died at the Manila Doctors' Hospital, Manila. He was
survived by his widow, the herein petitioner, and their
two (2) minor sons, Mariano Jesus, Jr. and Jesus
Salvador, both surnamed Cuenco, all residing at 69 Pi y
Margal St., Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City, and by his
children of the first marriage, respondents herein,
namely, Manuel Cuenco, Lourdes Cuenco, Concepcion
Cuenco Manguera, Carmen Cuenco, Consuelo Cuenco

Reyes and Teresita Cuenco Gonzales, all of legal age and


residing in Cebu.
On 5 March 1964, (the 9th day after the death of the late
Senator) 1 respondent Lourdes Cuenco filed a Petition for
Letters of Administration with the court of first instance
of Cebu (Sp. Proc. No. 2433-R), alleging among other
things, that the late senator died intestate in Manila on
25 February 1964; that he was a resident of Cebu at the
time of his death; and that he left real and personal
properties in Cebu and Quezon City. On the same date,
the Cebu court issued an order setting the petition for
hearing on 10 April 1964, directing that due notice be
given to all the heirs and interested persons, and
ordering the requisite publication thereof at LA PRENSA,
a newspaper of general circulation in the City and
Province of Cebu.
The aforesaid order, however, was later suspended and
cancelled and a new and modified one released on 13
March 1964, in view of the fact that the petition was to
be heard at Branch II instead of Branch I of the said
Cebu court. On the same date, a third order was further
issued stating that respondent Lourdes Cuenco's
petition for the appointment of a special administrator
dated 4 March 1964 was not yet ready for the
consideration of the said court, giving as reasons the
following:
It will be premature for this Court to act
thereon, it not having yet regularly
acquired jurisdiction to try this
proceeding, the requisite publication of
the notice of hearing not yet having been
complied with. Moreover, copies of the
petition have not been served on all of
the heirs specified in the basic petition
for the issuance of letters of
administration. 2
In the meantime, or specifically on 12 March 1964, (a
week after the filing of the Cebu petition) herein
petitioner Rosa Cayetano Cuenco filed a petition with the
court of first instance of Rizal (Quezon City) for
the probate of the deceased's last will and testament and
for the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor, as
the surviving widow and executrix in the said last will
and testament. The said proceeding was docketed as
Special Proceeding No. Q-7898.
Having learned of the intestate proceeding in the Cebu
court, petitioner Rosa Cayetano Cuenco filed in said
Cebu court an Opposition and Motion to Dismiss,
dated 30 March 1964, as well as an Opposition to
Petition for Appointment of Special Administrator, dated
8 April 1964. On 10 April 1964, the Cebu court issued
an order holding in abeyance its resolution on
petitioner's motion to dismiss "until after the Court of
First Instance of Quezon City shall have acted on the
petition for probate of that document purporting to be
the last will and testament of the deceased Don Mariano
Jesus Cuenco." 3 Such order of the Cebu court deferring
to the probateproceedings in the Quezon City court was
neither excepted to nor sought by respondents to be
reconsidered or set aside by the Cebu court nor did they
challenge the same by certiorari or prohibition
proceedings in the appellate courts.
Instead, respondents filed in the Quezon City court an
Opposition and Motion to Dismiss, dated 10 April
1964,opposing probate of the will and assailing the
jurisdiction of the said Quezon City court to entertain
petitioner's petition for probate and for appointment as
executrix in Sp. Proc. No. Q-7898 in view of the alleged
exclusive jurisdiction vested by her petition in the Cebu
court in Sp. Proc. No. 2433-R. Said respondent prayed

that Sp. Proc. No. Q-7898 be dismissed for lack of


jurisdiction and/or improper venue.
In its order of 11 April 1964, the Quezon City court
denied the motion to dismiss, giving as a principal
reason the "precedence of probate proceeding over an
intestate proceeding." 4 The said court further found in
said order that theresidence of the late senator at the
time of his death was at No. 69 Pi y Margal, Sta. Mesa
Heights, Quezon City. The pertinent portion of said order
follows:
On the question of residence of the
decedent, paragraph 5 of the opposition
and motion to dismiss reads as follows:
"that since the decedent Don Mariano
Jesus Cuenco was a resident of the City
of Cebu at the time of his death, the
aforesaid petition filed by Rosa Cayetano
Cuenco on 12 March 1964 was not filed
with the proper Court (wrong venue) in
view of the provisions of Section 1 of
Rule 73 of the New Rules of Court ...".
From the aforequoted allegation, the
Court is made to understand that the
oppositors do not mean to say that the
decedent being a resident of Cebu City
when he died, the intestate proceedings
in Cebu City should prevail over the
probate proceedings in Quezon City,
because as stated above the probate of
the will should take precedence, but
that the probate proceedings should be
filed in the Cebu City Court of First
Instance. If the last proposition is the
desire of the oppositors as understood
by this Court, that could not also be
entertained as proper because
paragraph 1 of the petition for the
probate of the will indicates that Don
Mariano Jesus Cuenco at the time of his
death was a resident of Quezon City at
69 Pi y Margal. Annex A (Last Will and
Testament of Mariano Jesus Cuenco) of
the petition for probate of the will shows
that the decedent at the time when he
executed his Last Will clearly stated that
he is a resident of 69 Pi y Margal, Sta.
Mesa Heights, Quezon City, and also of
the City of Cebu. He made the former as
his first choice and the latter as his
second choice of residence." If a party
has two residences, the one will be
deemed or presumed to his domicile
which he himself selects or considers to
be his home or which appears to be the
center of his affairs. The petitioner, in
thus filing the instant petition before
this Court, follows the first choice of
residence of the decedent and once this
court acquires jurisdiction of the
probate proceeding it is to the exclusion
of all others. 5
Respondent Lourdes Cuenco's motion for reconsideration
of the Quezon City court's said order of 11 April 1964
asserting its exclusive jurisdiction over the probate
proceeding as deferred to by the Cebu court
was denied on 27 April 1964 and a second motion for
reconsideration dated 20 May 1964 was likewise denied.
On 11 May 1964, pursuant to its earlier order of 11 April
1964, the hearing for probate of the last will of the
decedent was called three times at half-hour intervals,
but notwithstanding due notification none of the

oppositors appeared and the Quezon City court


proceeded at 9:00 a.m. with the hearing in their
absence.
As per the order issued by it subsequently on 15 May
1964, the Quezon City court noted that respondentsoppositors had opposed probate under their opposition
and motion to dismiss on the following grounds:
(a) That the will was not executed and
attested as required by law;
(b) That the will was procured by undue
and improper pressure and influence on
the part of the beneficiary or some other
persons for his benefit;
(c) That the testator's signature was
procured by fraud and/or that the
testator acted by mistake and did not
intend that the instrument he signed
should be his will at the time he affixed
his signature thereto. 6
The Quezon City court further noted that the requisite
publication of the notice of the hearing had been duly
complied with and that all the heirs had been duly
notified of the hearing, and after receiving the testimony
of the three instrumental witnesses to the decedent's
last will, namely Atty. Florencio Albino, Dr. Guillermo A.
Picache and Dr. Jose P. Ojeda, and of the notary public,
Atty. Braulio A. Arriola, Jr., who ratified the said last
will, and the documentary evidence (such as the
decedent's residence certificates, income tax return,
diplomatic passport, deed of donation) all indicating that
the decedent was a resident of 69 Pi y Margal St.,
Quezon City, as also affirmed by him in his last will, the
Quezon City court in its said order of 15 May 1964
admitted to probate the late senator's last will and
testament as having been "freely and voluntarily
executed by the testator" and "with all formalities of the
law" and appointed petitioner-widow as executrix of his
estate without bond "following the desire of the testator"
in his will as probated.
Instead of appealing from the Quezon City court's said
order admitting the will to probate and naming petitionerwidow as executrix thereof, respondents filed a special
civil action of certiorari and prohibition with preliminary
injunction with respondent Court of Appeals (docketed
as case CA-G.R. No. 34104-R) to bar the Rizal court from
proceeding with case No. Q-7898.
On 21 November 1964, the Court of Appeals rendered a
decision in favor of respondents (petitioners therein) and
against the herein petitioner, holding that:
Section 1, Rule 73, which fixes the
venue in proceedings for the settlement
of the estate of a deceased person,
covers both testate and intestate
proceedings. Sp. Proc. 2433-R of the
Cebu CFI having been filed ahead, it is
that court whose jurisdiction was first
invoked and which first attached. It is
that court which can properly and
exclusively pass upon the factual issues
of (1) whether the decedent left or did
not leave a valid will, and (2) whether or
not the decedent was a resident of Cebu
at the time of his death.
Considering therefore that the first
proceeding was instituted in the Cebu
CFI (Special Proceeding 2433-R), it
follows that the said court must exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of the Rizal
CFI, in which the petition for probate
was filed by the respondent Rosa
Cayetano Cuenco (Special Proceeding Q-

7898). The said respondent should


assert her rights within the framework
of the proceeding in the Cebu CFI,
instead of invoking the jurisdiction of
another court.
The respondents try to make capital of
the fact that on March 13, 1964, Judge
Amador Gomez of the Cebu CFI, acting
in Sp. Proc. 2433-R, stated that the
petition for appointment of special
administrator was "not yet ready for the
consideration of the Court today. It
would be premature for this Court to act
thereon, it not having yet regularly
acquired jurisdiction to try this
proceeding ... . " It is sufficient to state
in this connection that the said judge
was certainly not referring to the court's
jurisdiction over the res, not to
jurisdiction itself which is acquired from
the moment a petition is filed, but only
to theexercise of jurisdiction in relation
to the stage of the proceedings. At all
events, jurisdiction is conferred and
determined by law and does not depend
on the pronouncements of a trial judge.
The dispositive part of respondent appellate court's
judgment provided as follows:
ACCORDINGLY, the writ of prohibition
will issue, commanding and directing
the respondent Court of First Instance
of Rizal, Branch IX, Quezon City, and
the respondent Judge Damaso B. Tengco
to refrain perpetually from proceeding
and taking any action in Special
Proceeding Q-7898 pending before the
said respondent court. All orders
heretofore issued and actions heretofore
taken by said respondent court and
respondent Judge, therein and
connected therewith, are hereby
annulled. The writ of injunction
heretofore issued is hereby made
permanent. No pronouncement as to
costs.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a
resolution of respondent Court of Appeals, dated 8 July
1965; hence the herein petition for review on certiorari.
The principal and decisive issue at bar is, theretofore,
whether the appellate court erred in law in issuing the
writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court
ordering it to refrain perpetually from proceeding with
the testateproceedings and annulling and setting aside
all its orders and actions, particularly its admission to
probate of the decedent's last will and testament and
appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof without
bond in compliance with the testator's express wish in
his testament. This issue is tied up with the issue
submitted to the appellate court, to wit, whether the
Quezon City court acted without jurisdiction or with
grave abuse of discretion in taking cognizance and
assuming exclusive jurisdiction over the probate
proceedings filed with it, in pursuance of the Cebu
court's order of 10 April 1964 expressly consenting in
deference to the precedence of probate over intestate
proceedings that it (the Quezon City court)
should first act "on the petition for probate of the
document purporting to be the last will and testament of
the deceased Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco" - which order
of the Cebu court respondents never questioned nor
challenged by prohibition or certiorari proceedings and

thus enabled the Quezon City court to proceed without


any impediment or obstruction, once it denied
respondent Lourdes Cuenco's motion to dismiss the
probate proceeding for alleged lack of jurisdiction or
improper venue, toproceed with the hearing of the
petition and to admit the will to probate upon having
been satisfied as to its due execution and authenticity.
The Court finds under the above-cited facts that the
appellate court erred in law in issuing the writ of
prohibition against the Quezon City court from
proceeding with the testate proceedings and annulling
and setting aside all its orders and actions, particularly
its admission to probate of the deceased's last will and
testament and appointing petitioner-widow as executrix
thereof without bond pursuant to the deceased testator's
express wish, for the following considerations:
1. The Judiciary Act 7 concededly confers
original jurisdiction upon all Courts of First Instance over
"all matter of probate, both of testate and intestate
estates." On the other hand, Rule 73, section of the
Rules of Court lays down the rule of venue, as the very
caption of the Rule indicates, and in order to prevent
conflict among the different courts which otherwise may
properly assume jurisdiction from doing so, the Rule
specifies that "the court first taking cognizance of the
settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts." The cited
Rule provides:
Section 1. Where estate of deceased
persons settled. If the decedent is an
inhabitant of the Philippines at the time
of his death, whether a citizen or an
alien, his will shall be proved, or letters
of administration granted, and his estate
settled, in the Court of First Instance in
the Province in which he resides at the
time of his death, and if he is an
inhabitant of a foreign country, the
Court of First Instance of the province in
which he had estate. The court first
taking cognizance of the settlement of
the estate of a decedent, shall exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other
courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a
court, so far as it depends on the place
of residence, of the decedent, or of the
location of his estate, shall not be
contested in a suit or proceeding, except
in an appeal from that court, in the
original case, or when the want of
jurisdiction appears on the record. (Rule
73) 8
It is equally conceded that the residence of the deceased
or the location of his estate is not an element of
jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue.
This was lucidly stated by the late Chief Justice Moran
inSy Oa vs. Co Ho 9 as follows:
We are not unaware of existing decisions
to the effect that in probate cases the
place of residence of the deceased is
regarded as a question of jurisdiction
over the subject-matter. But we decline
to follow this view because of its
mischievous consequences. For
instance, a probate case has been
submitted in good faith to the Court of
First Instance of a province where the
deceased had not resided. All the
parties, however, including all the
creditors, have submitted themselves to
the jurisdiction of the court and the

case is therein completely finished


except for a claim of a creditor who also
voluntarily filed it with said court but on
appeal from an adverse decision raises
for the first time in this Court the
question of jurisdiction of the trial court
for lack of residence of the deceased in
the province. If we consider such
question of residence as one affecting
the jurisdiction of the trial court over
the subject-matter, the effect shall be
that the whole proceedings including all
decisions on the different incidents
which have arisen in court will have to
be annulled and the same case will have
to be commenced
anew before another court of the same
rank in another province. That this is
ofmischievous effect in the prompt
administration of justice is too obvious to
require comment. (Cf. Tanunchuan vs.
Dy Buncio & Co., G.R. No. 48206,
December 31, 1942) Furthermore,
section 600 of Act No. 190, 10 providing
that the estate of a deceased person
shall be settled in the province where he
had last resided, could not have been
intended as defining the jurisdiction of
the probate court over the subjectmatter, because such legal provision is
contained in a law of procedure dealing
merely with procedural matters, and, as
we have said time and again, procedure
is one thing and jurisdiction over the
subject matter is another. (AttorneyGeneral vs. Manila Railroad Company,
20 Phil. 523.) The law of jurisdiction
Act No. 136, 11 Section 56, No. 5
confers upon Courts of First Instance
jurisdiction over all probate cases
independently of the place of residence
of the deceased. Since, however, there
are many courts of First Instance in the
Philippines, the Law of Procedure, Act
No. 190, section 600, fixes the venue or
the place where each case shall be
brought. Thus, the place of residence of
the deceased is not an element of
jurisdiction over the subject-matter
but merely of venue. And it is upon this
ground that in the new Rules of Court
the province where the estate of a
deceased person shall be settled is
properly called "venue".
It should be noted that the Rule on venue does not state
that the court with whom the estate or intestate petition
is first filed acquires exclusive jurisdiction.
The Rule precisely and deliberately provides that "the
court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the
estateof a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the
exclusion of all other courts."
A fair reading of the Rule since it deals with venue
and comity between courts of equal and co-ordinate
jurisdiction indicates that the court with whom the
petition is first filed, must also first take cognizance of
the settlement of the estate in order to exercise
jurisdiction over it to the exclusion of all other courts.
Conversely, such court, may upon learning that a
petition for probate of the decedent's last will has been
presented in another court where the decedent obviously
had his conjugal domicile and resided with his surviving

widow and their minor children, and that the allegation


of the intestate petition before it stating that the
decedent died intestate may be actually false,
may decline to take cognizance of the petition and hold
the petition before it in abeyance, and instead defer to
the second court which has before it the petition
for probate of the decedent's alleged last will.
2. This exactly what the Cebu court did. Upon petitionerwidow's filing with it a motion to dismiss Lourdes'
intestate petition, it issued its order holding in abeyance
its action on the dismissal motion and deferred to the
Quezon City court, awaiting its action on the petition
for probate before that court. Implicit in the Cebu court's
order was that if the will was duly admitted to probate,
by the Quezon City court, then it would definitely decline
to take cognizance of Lourdes' intestate petition which
would thereby be shown to be false and improper, and
leave the exercise of jurisdiction to the Quezon City court,
to the exclusion of all other courts. Likewise by its act of
deference, the Cebu court left it to the Quezon City court
to resolve the question between the parties whether the
decedent's residence at the time of his death was in
Quezon City where he had his conjugal domicile rather
than in Cebu City as claimed by respondents. The Cebu
court thus indicated that it would decline to take
cognizance of the intestate petition before it and instead
defer to the Quezon City court, unless the latter would
make a negative finding as to the probate petition and
the residence of the decedent within its territory and
venue.
3. Under these facts, the Cebu court could not be held to
have acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
jurisdiction in declining to take cognizance of
the intestate petition and deferring to the Quezon City
court.
Necessarily, neither could the Quezon City court be
deemed to have acted without jurisdiction in taking
cognizance of and acting on the probate petition since
under Rule 73, section 1, the Cebu court must first take
cognizance over the estate of the decedent and
must exercise jurisdiction to exclude all other courts,
which the Cebu court declined to do. Furthermore, as is
undisputed, said rule only lays down a rule of venue and
the Quezon City court indisputably had at least equal
and coordinate jurisdiction over the estate.
Since the Quezon City court took cognizance over
the probate petition before it and assumed
jurisdiction over the estate, with the consent and
deference of the Cebu court, the Quezon City court
should be left now, by the same rule of venue of said
Rule 73, to exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all
other courts.
Under the facts of the case and where respondents
submitted to the Quezon City court their opposition to
probate of the will, but failed to appear at the scheduled
hearing despite due notice, the Quezon City court cannot
be declared, as the appellate court did, to have acted
without jurisdiction in admitting to probate the
decedent's will and appointing petitioner-widow as
executrix thereof in accordance with the
testator's testamentary disposition.
4. The relatively recent case of Uriarte vs. Court of First
Instance of Negros Occidental 12 with facts analogous to
the present case 13 is authority against respondent
appellate court's questioned decision.
In said case, the Court upheld the doctrine of
precedence of probate proceedings over intestate
proceedings in this wise:
It can not be denied that a special
proceeding intended to effect the
distribution of the estate of a deceased

person, whether in accordance with the


law on intestate succession or in
accordance with his will, is a "probate
matter" or a proceeding for the
settlement of his estate. It is equally
true, however, that in accordance with
settled jurisprudence in this jurisdiction,
testate proceedings for the settlement of
the estate of a deceased person take
precedence over intestate proceedings for
the same purpose. Thus it has been held
repeatedly that, if in the course of
intestate proceedings pending before a
court of first instance it is found that the
decedent had left a last will, proceedings
for the probate of the latter should
replace the intestate proceedings even if
at that state an administrator had
already been appointed, the latter being
required to render final account and
turn over the estate in his possession to
the executor subsequently
appointed. This however, is understood
to be without prejudice that should the
alleged last will be rejected or is
disapproved, the proceeding shall
continue as an intestacy. As already
adverted to, this is a clear indication that
proceedings for the probate of a will
enjoy priority over intestate
proceedings. 14
The Court likewise therein upheld the jurisdiction of
the second court, (in this case, the Quezon City court)
although opining that certain considerations therein
"would seem to support the view that [therein
respondent] should have submitted said will for probate
to the Negros Court, [in this case, the Cebu court] either
in a separate special proceeding or in an appropriate
motion for said purpose filed in the already pending
Special Proceeding No. 6344," 15 thus:
But the fact is that instead of the aforesaid will being
presented for probate to the Negros Court, Juan Uriarte
Zamacona filed the petition for the purpose with the
Manila Court. We can not accept petitioner's contention
in this regard that the latter court had no jurisdiction to
consider said petition, albeit we say that it was not
the proper venue therefor.
It is well settled in this jurisdiction
that wrong venue is merely
a waivable procedural defect, and, in
the light of the circumstances obtaining
in the instant case, we are of the
opinion, and so hold, that petitioner has
waived the right to raise such objection
or is precluded from doing so by laches.
It is enough to consider in this
connection that petitioner knew of the
existence of a will executed by Juan
Uriarte y Goite since December 19, 1961
when Higinio Uriarte filed his opposition
to the initial petition filed in Special
Proceeding No. 6344; that petitioner
likewise was served with notice of the
existence (presence) of the alleged last
will in the Philippines and of the filing of
the petition for its probate with the
Manila Court since August 28, 1962
when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed a
motion for the dismissal of Special
Proceeding No. 6344. All these
notwithstanding, it was only on April 15,

1963 that he filed with the Manila Court


in Special Proceeding No. 51396 an
Omnibus motion asking for leave to
intervene and for the dismissal and
annulment of all the proceedings had
therein up to that date; thus enabling
the Manila Court not only to appoint an
administrator with the will annexed but
also to admit said will to probate more
than five months earlier, or more
specifically, on October 31, 1962. To
allow him now to assail the exercise of
jurisdiction over the probate of the will
by the Manila Court and the validity of
all the proceedings had in Special
Proceeding No. 51396 would put a
premium on his negligence. Moreover, it
must be remembered that this Court is
not inclined to annul proceedings
regularly had in a lower court even if the
latter was not the proper venue therefor,
if the net result would be to have the
same proceedings repeated in some
other court of similar jurisdiction; more
so in a case like the present where the
objection against said proceedings is
raised too late. 16
5. Under Rule 73, section 1 itself, the Quezon City
court's assumption of jurisdiction over the decedent's
estate on the basis of the will duly presented for probate
by petitioner-widow and finding that Quezon City was
the firstchoice of residence of the decedent, who had his
conjugal home and domicile therein with the
deference in comity duly given by the Cebu court
could not be contested except by appeal from said court
in the original case. The last paragraph of said Rule
expressly provides:
... The jurisdiction assumed by a court,
so far as it depends on the place of
residence of the decedent, or of the
location of his estate, shall not be
contested in a suit or proceeding, except
in an appeal from that court, in the
original case, or when the want of
jurisdiction appears on the record. (Rule
73)
The exception therein given, viz, "when the want of
jurisdiction appears on the record" could probably be
properly invoked, had such deference in comity of the
Cebu court to the Quezon City court not appeared in the
record, or had the record otherwise shown that the Cebu
court had taken cognizance of the petition before it and
assumed jurisdiction.
6. On the question that Quezon City established to be
the residence of the late senator, the appellate court
while recognizing that "the issue is a legitimate one" held
in reliance on Borja vs. Tan 17 that.
... The issue of residence comes within
the competence of whichever court is
considered to prevail in the exercise
jurisdiction - in this case, the Court of
First Instance of Cebu as held by this
Court. Parenthetically, we note that the
question of the residence of the
deceased is a serious one, requiring
both factual and legal resolution on the
basis of ample evidence to be submitted
in the ordinary course of procedure in
the first instance, particularly in view of
the fact that the deceased was better
known as the Senator from Cebu and

the will purporting to be his also gives


Cebu, besides Quezon City, as his
residence. We reiterate that this matter
requires airing in the proper court, as so
indicated in the leading and controlling
case of Borja vs. Hon. Bienvenido Tan, et
al., G.R. L-7792, July 27, 1955.
In the case at bar, however, the Cebu court declined to
take cognizance of the intestate petition first filed with it
and deferred to the testate proceedings filed with the
Quezon City court and in effect asked the Quezon City
court to determine the residence of the decedent and
whether he did leave a last will and testament upon
which would depend the proper venue of the estate
proceedings, Cebu or Quezon City. The Quezon City
court having thus determined in effect for both courts
at the behest and with the deference and consent of
the Cebu court thatQuezon City was the actual
residence of the decedent who died testate and therefore
the proper venue, the Borja ruling would seem to have no
applicability. It would not serve the practical ends of
justice to still require the Cebu court, if the Borja ruling
is to be held applicable and as indicated in the decision
under review, to determine for itself the actual residence
of the decedent (when the Quezon City court had already
so determined Quezon City as the actual residence at
the Cebu court's behest and respondents have not
seriously questioned this factual finding based on
documentary evidence) and if the Cebu court should
likewise determine Quezon City as the actual residence,
or its contrary finding reversed on appeal, only then to
allow petitioner-widow after years of waiting and inaction
to institute the corresponding proceedings in Quezon
City.
7. With more reason should the Quezon City proceedings
be upheld when it is taken into consideration that Rule
76, section 2 requires that the petition for allowance of a
will must show: "(a) the jurisdictional facts." Such
"jurisdictional facts" in probate proceedings, as held by
the Court in Fernando vs. Crisostomo 18 " are the death of
the decedent, his residence at the time of his death in
the province where the probate court is sitting, or if he is
an inhabitant of a foreign country, his having left his
estate in such province."
This tallies with the established legal concept as restated
by Moran that "(T)he probate of a will is a proceeding in
rem. The notice by publication as a pre-requisite to the
allowance of a will, is a constructive notice to the whole
world, and when probate is granted, the judgment of the
court is binding upon everybody, even against the
State.The probate of a will by a court having jurisdiction
thereof is conclusive as to its due execution and
validity." 19 The Quezon City court acted regularly within
its jurisdiction (even if it were to be conceded that
Quezon City was not the proper venue notwithstanding
the Cebu court's giving way and deferring to it,) in
admitting the decedent's last will to probate and naming
petitioner-widow as executrix thereof. Hence, the Quezon
city court's action should not be set aside by a writ of
prohibition for supposed lack of jurisdiction as per the
appellate court's appealed decision, and should instead
be sustained in line with Uriarte, supra, where the Court,
in dismissing the certiorari petition challenging the
Manila court's action admitting the decedent's will to
probate and distributing the estate in accordance
therewith in the second proceeding, held that "it must be
remembered that this Court is not inclined to annul
proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the
latter was not the proper venue therefor, if the net result
would be to have the same proceedings repeated in some
other court of similar jurisdiction." As stressed by Chief

Justice Moran in Sy Oa, supra, "the mischievous effect


in the administration of justice" of considering the
question of residence as affecting the jurisdiction of the
trial court and annulling the whole proceedings only to
start all over again the same proceedings before another
court of the same rank in another province "is too
obvious to require comment."
8. If the question of jurisdiction were to be made to
depend only on who of the decedent's relatives
gets first to file a petition for settlement of the decedent's
estate, then the established jurisprudence of the Court
that Rule 73, section 1 provides only a rule of venue in
order to preclude different courts which may properly
assumejurisdiction from doing so and creating conflicts
between them to the detriment of the administration of
justice, and that venue is waivable, would be set at
naught. As between relatives who unfortunately do not
see eye to eye, it would be converted into a race as to
who can file the petition faster in the court of his/her
choice regardless of whether the decedent is still
in cuerpo presente and in disregard of the decedent's
actual last domicile, the fact that he left a last will and
testament and the right of his surviving widow named as
executrix thereof. Such dire consequences were certainly
not intended by the Rule nor would they be in
consonance with public policy and the orderly
administration of justice.
9. It would finally be unjust and inequitable that
petitioner-widow, who under all the applicable rules
of venue, and despite the fact that the Cebu court (where
respondent Lourdes Cuenco had filed
an intestate petition in the Cebu court earlier by a week's
time on 5 March 1964) deferred to the Quezon City court
where petitioner had within fifteen days (on March 12,
1964) after the decedent's death (on February 25, 1964)
timely filed the decedent's last will and petitioned for
letters testamentary and is admittedly entitled
to preference in the administration of her husband's
estate, 20 would be compelled under the appealed
decision to have to go all the way to Cebu and submit
anew the decedent's will there for probate either in a new
proceeding or by asking that the intestate proceedings
be converted into a testate proceeding when under the
Rules, the proper venue for the testate proceedings, as
per the facts of record and as already affirmed by the
Quezon City court is Quezon City, where the decedent
and petitioner-widow had their conjugal domicile.
It would be an unfair imposition upon petitioner as the
one named and entitled to be executrix of the decedent's
last will and settle his estate in accordance therewith,
and a disregard of her rights under the rule on venue
and the law on jurisdiction to require her to spend much
more time, money and effort to have to go from Quezon
City to the Cebu court everytime she has an important
matter of the estate to take up with the probate court.
It would doubly be an unfair imposition when it is
considered that under Rule 73, section 2, 21 since
petitioner's marriage has been dissolved with the death
of her husband, their community property and conjugal
estate have to beadministered and liquidated in the estate
proceedings of the deceased spouse. Under the appealed
decision, notwithstanding that petitioner resides in
Quezon City, and the proper venue of
the testate proceeding was in Quezon City and the
Quezon City court properly took cognizance and
exercised exclusive jurisdiction with the deference in
comity and consent of the Cebu court, such proper
exercise of jurisdiction would be nullified and petitioner
would have to continually leave her residence in Quezon
City and go to Cebu to settle and liquidate

even her own community property and conjugal


estate with the decedent.
10. The Court therefore holds under the facts of record
that the Cebu court did not act without jurisdiction nor
with grave abuse of discretion in declining to take
cognizance of the intestate petition and
instead deferring to thetestate proceedings filed just a
week later by petitioner as surviving widow and
designated executrix of the decedent's last will, since the
record before it (the petitioner's opposition and motion to
dismiss) showed the falsityof the allegation in
the intestate petition that the decedent had
died without a will. It is noteworthy that respondents
never challenged by certiorari or prohibition proceedings
the Cebu court's order of 10 April 1964 deferring to the
probate proceedings before the Quezon City court, thus
leaving the latter free (pursuant to the Cebu court's
order of deference) to exercise jurisdiction and admit the
decedent's will to probate.
For the same reasons, neither could the Quezon City
court be held to have acted without jurisdiction nor with
grave abuse of discretion in admitting the decedent's will
to probate and appointing petitioner as executrix in
accordance with its testamentary disposition, in the light
of the settled doctrine that the provisions of Rule 73,
section 1 lay down only a rule of venue, not of
jurisdiction.
Since respondents undisputedly failed to appeal from
the Quezon City court's order of May 15, 1964 admitting
the will to probate and appointing petitioner as executrix
thereof, and said court concededly has jurisdiction to
issue said order, the said order of probate has long since
become final and can not be overturned in a special civic
action of prohibition.
11. Finally, it should be noted that in the Supreme
Court's exercise of its supervisory authority over all
inferior courts, 22 it may properly determine, as it has
done in the case at bar, that venue was properly
assumed by and transferredto the Quezon City court and
that it is the interest of justice and in avoidance of
needless delay that the Quezon City court's exercise of
jurisdiction over the testate estate of the decedent (with
the due deference and consent of the Cebu court) and its
admission to probate of his last will and testament and
appointment of petitioner-widow as administratrix
without bond in pursuance of the decedent's express will
and all its orders and actions taken in the testate
proceedings before it be approved and authorized rather
than to annul all such proceedings regularly had and to
repeat and duplicate the same proceedings before the
Cebu court only to revert once more to the Quezon City
court should the Cebu court find that indeed and in fact,
as already determined by the Quezon City court on the
strength of incontrovertible documentary evidence of
record, Quezon City was the conjugal residence of the
decedent.
ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered reversing
the appealed decision and resolution of the Court of
Appeals and the petition for certiorari and prohibition
with preliminary injunction originally filed by
respondents with the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No.
34104-R) is ordered dismissed. No costs.
Makalintal, C.J., Zaldivar, Makasiar, Antonio and
Esguerra, JJ., concur.
Fernando and Castro, JJ., took no part.

18. Roberts v. Leonidas, 129 SCRA 33

ETHEL GRIMM ROBERTS, petitioner,


vs.
JUDGE TOMAS R. LEONIDAS, Branch 38, Court of
First Instance of Manila; MAXINE TATE-GRIMM,
EDWARD MILLER GRIMM II and LINDA
GRIMM, respondents.
N. J. Quisumbing and Associates for petitioners.
Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz for
respondents.
AQUINO, J.:+.wph!1
The question in this case is whether a petition for
allowance of wills and to annul a partition, approved in
anintestate proceeding by Branch 20 of the Manila Court
of First Instance, can be entertained by its Branch
38 (after a probate in the Utah district court).
Antecedents. Edward M. Grimm an American resident
of Manila, died at 78 in the Makati Medical Center on
November 27, 1977. He was survived by his second wife,
Maxine Tate Grimm and their two children, named
Edward Miller Grimm II (Pete) and Linda Grimm and by
Juanita Grimm Morris and Ethel Grimm Roberts
(McFadden), his two children by a first marriage which
ended in divorce (Sub-Annexes A and B. pp. 36-47,
Rollo).
He executed on January 23, 1959 two wills in San
Francisco, California. One will disposed of his Philippine
estate which he described as conjugal property of
himself and his second wife. The second win disposed of
his estate outside the Philippines.
In both wills, the second wife and two children were
favored. The two children of the first marriage were given
their legitimes in the will disposing of the estate situated
in this country. In the will dealing with his property
outside this country, the testator said: t.hqw
I purposely have made no provision in
this will for my daughter, Juanita
Grimm Morris, or my daughter, Elsa
Grimm McFadden (Ethel Grimm
Roberts), because I have provided for
each of them in a separate will disposing
of my Philippine property. (First clause,
pp. 43-47, Rollo).
The two wills and a codicil were presented for probate by
Maxine Tate Grimm and E. LaVar Tate on March 7, 1978
in Probate No. 3720 of the Third Judicial District Court
of Tooele County, Utah. Juanita Grimm Morris of
Cupertino, California and Mrs. Roberts of 15 C. Benitez
Street, Horseshoe Village, Quezon City were notified of
the probate proceeding (Sub-Annex C, pp. 48-55, Rollo).
Maxine admitted that she received notice of the intestate
petition filed in Manila by Ethel in January, 1978 (p. 53,
Rollo). In its order dated April 10, 1978, the Third
Judicial District Court admitted to probate the two wills
and the codicil It was issued upon consideration of
the stipulation dated April 4, 1978 "by and between the
attorneys for Maxine Tate Grimm, Linda Grimm, Edward
Miller Grimm II, E. LaVar Tate, Juanita Kegley Grimm
(first wife), Juanita Grimm Morris and Ethel Grimm
Roberts" (Annex C, pp. 48-51, Rollo).
Two weeks later, or on April 25, 1978, Maxine and her
two children Linda and Pete, as the first parties, and
Ethel, Juanita Grimm Morris and their mother Juanita
Kegley Grimm as the second parties, with knowledge of
the intestate proceeding in Manila, entered into
a compromise agreement in Utah regarding the estate. It
was signed by David E. Salisbury and Donald B.
Holbrook, as lawyers of the parties, by Pete and Linda
and the attorney-in-fact of Maxine and by the attorney-

in-fact of Ethel, Juanita Grimm Morris and Juanita


Kegley Grimm.
In that agreement, it was stipulated that Maxine, Pete
and Ethel would be designated as personal
representatives (administrators) of Grimm's Philippine
estate (par. 2). It was also stipulated that Maxine's onehalf conjugal share in the estate should be reserved for
her and that would not be less than $1,500,000 plus the
homes in Utah and Santa Mesa, Manila (par. 4). The
agreement indicated the computation of the "net
distributable estate". It recognized that the estate was
liable to pay the fees of the Angara law firm (par. 5).
It was stipulated in paragraph 6 that the decedent's four
children "shall share equally in the Net Distributable
Estate" and that Ethel and Juanita Morris should each
receive at least 12-1/2% of the total of the net
distributable estate and marital share. A supplemental
memorandum also dated April 25, 1978 was executed by
the parties (Sub-Annex F, pp. 49-61, Annex, F-1, pp. 7576, Testate case).
Intestate proceeding No. 113024.-At this juncture, it
should be stated that forty- three days after Grimm's
death, or January 9, 1978, his daughter of the first
marriage, Ethel, 49, through lawyers Deogracias T. Reyes
and. Gerardo B. Macaraeg, filed with Branch 20 of the
Manila Court of First Instance intestate proceeding No.
113024for the settlement of his estate. She was named
special administratrix.
On March 11, the second wife, Maxine, through the
Angara law office, filed an opposition and motion to
dismiss the intestate proceeding on the ground of the
pendency of Utah of a proceeding for the probate of
Grimm's will. She also moved that she be appointed
special administratrix, She submitted to the court a copy
of Grimm's will disposing of his Philippine estate. It is
found in pages 58 to 64 of the record.
The intestate court in its orders of May 23 and June 2
noted that Maxine, through a new lawyer, William C.
Limqueco (partner of Gerardo B. Macaraeg, p. 78, testate
case withdrew that opposition and motion to dismiss
and, at the behest of Maxine, Ethel and Pete, appointed
them joint administrators. Apparently, this was done
pursuant to the aforementioned Utah compromise
agreement. The court ignored the will already found in the
record.
The three administrators submitted an inventory. With
the authority and approval of the court, they sold for
P75,000 on March 21, 1979 the so-called Palawan Pearl
Project, a business owned by the deceased. Linda and
Juanita allegedly conformed with the sale (pp. 120-129,
Record). It turned out that the buyer, Makiling
Management Co., Inc., was incorporated by Ethel and
her husband, Rex Roberts, and by lawyer Limqueco
(Annex L, p. 90, testate case).
Also with the court's approval and the consent of Linda
and Juanita, they sold for P1,546,136 to Joseph Server
and others 193,267 shares of RFM Corporation (p. 135,
Record).
Acting on the declaration of heirs and project of partition
signed and filed by lawyers Limqueco and Macaraeg (not
signed by Maxine and her two children), Judge Conrado
M. Molina in his order of July 27, 1979 adjudicated to
Maxine onehalf (4/8) of the decedent's Philippine estate
and one-eighth (1/8) each to his four children or 121/2% (pp. 140-142, Record). No mention at all was made
of the will in that order.
Six days later, or on August 2, Maxine and her two
children replaced Limqueco with Octavio del Callar as
their lawyer who on August 9, moved to defer approval of
the project of partition. The court considered the motion
moot considering that it had already approved the

declaration of heirs and project of partition (p. 149,


Record).
Lawyer Limqueco in a letter to Maxine dated August 2,
1979 alleged that he was no longer connected with
Makiling Management Co., Inc. when the Palawan Pearl
Project was sold: that it was Maxine's son Pete who
negotiated the sale with Rex Roberts and that he
(Limqueco) was going to sue Maxine for the lies she
imputed to him (Annex H, p. 78, testate case).
Ethel submitted to the court a certification of the
Assistant Commissioner of Internal Revenue dated
October 2, 1979. It was stated therein that Maxine paid
P1,992,233.69 as estate tax and penalties and that he
interposed no objection to the transfer of the estate to
Grimm's heirs (p. 153, Record). The court noted the
certification as in conformity with its order of July 27,
1979.
After November, 1979 or for a period of more than five
months, there was no movement or activity in the
intestate case. On April 18, 1980 Juanita Grimm Morris,
through Ethel's lawyers, filed a motion for accounting "so
that the Estate properties can be partitioned among the
heirs and the present intestate estate be closed." Del
Callar, Maxine's lawyer was notified of that motion.
Before that motion could be heard, or on June 10, 1980,
the Angara law firm filed again its appearance in
collaboration with Del Callar as counsel for Maxine and
her two children, Linda and Pete. It should be recalled
that the firm had previously appeared in the case as
Maxine's counsel on March 11, 1978, when it filed a
motion to dismiss the intestate proceeding and furnished
the court with a copy of Grimm's will. As already noted,
the firm was then superseded by lawyer Limqueco.
Petition to annul partition and testate proceeding No.
134559. On September 8, 1980, Rogelio A. Vinluan of
the Angara law firm in behalf of Maxine, Pete and Linda,
filed in Branch 38 of the lower court a petition praying
for the probate of Grimm's two wills (already probated in
Utah), that the 1979 partition approved by the intestate
court be set aside and the letters of administration
revoked, that Maxine be appointed executrix and that
Ethel and Juanita Morris be ordered to account for the
properties received by them and to return the same to
Maxine (pp. 25-35, Rollo).
Grimm's second wife and two children alleged that they
were defraud due to the machinations of the Roberts
spouses, that the 1978 Utah compromise agreement was
illegal, that the intestate proceeding is void because
Grimm died testate and that the partition was contrary
to the decedent's wills.
Ethel filed a motion to dismiss the petition. Judge
Leonidas denied it for lack of merit in his order of
October 27, 1980. Ethel then filed a petition for
certiorari and prohibition in this Court, praying that the
testate proceeding be dismissed, or. alternatively that the
two proceedings be consolidated and heard in Branch
20 and that the matter of the annulment of the Utah
compromise agreement be heard prior to the petition for
probate (pp. 22-23, Rollo).
Ruling. We hold that respondent judge did not commit
any grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of
jurisdiction, in denying Ethel's motion to dismiss.
A testate proceeding is proper in this case because
Grimm died with two wills and "no will shall pass either
real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed"
(Art. 838, Civil Code; sec. 1, Rule 75, Rules of Court).
The probate of the will is mandatory (Guevara vs.
Guevara, 74 Phil. 479 and 98 Phil. 249; Baluyot vs.
Panio, L-42088, May 7, 1976, 71 SCRA 86). It is
anomalous that the estate of a person who
died testate should be settled in an intestate proceeding.

Therefore, the intestate case should be consolidated with


the testate proceeding and the judge assigned to the
testate proceeding should continue hearing the two
cases.
Ethel may file within twenty days from notice of the
finality of this judgment an opposition and answer to the
petition unless she considers her motion to dismiss and
other pleadings sufficient for the purpose. Juanita G.
Morris, who appeared in the intestate case, should be
served with copies of orders, notices and other papers in
the testate case.
WHEREFORE the petition is dismissed. The temporary
restraining order is dissolved. No costs.
SO ORDERED.1wph1.t
Makasiar (Chairman), Guerrero and De Castro, JJ.,
concur.
Escolin, J., concur in the result.
Concepcion, Jr. and Abad Santos, JJ., took no part.

19. Ruiz v. CA, G.R. No. 118671, January 29,


1996

[G.R. No. 118671. January 29, 1996]

THE ESTATE OF HILARIO M. RUIZ, EDMOND RUIZ,


Executor, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF
APPEALS (Former Special Sixth Division),
MARIA
PILAR
RUIZ-MONTES,
MARIA
CATHRYN RUIZ, CANDICE ALBERTINE RUIZ,
MARIA ANGELINE RUIZ and THE PRESIDING
JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF
PASIG, BRANCH 156, respondents.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to annul
and set aside the decision dated November 10, 1994 and
the resolution dated January 5, 1995 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 33045.
The facts show that on June 27, 1987, Hilario M.
Ruiz1 executed a holographic will naming as his heirs his
only son, Edmond Ruiz, his adopted daughter, private
respondent Maria Pilar Ruiz Montes, and his three
granddaughters, private respondents Maria Cathryn,
Candice Albertine and Maria Angeline, all children of
Edmond Ruiz. The testator bequeathed to his heirs
substantial cash, personal and real properties and
named Edmond Ruiz executor of his estate. 2
On April 12, 1988, Hilario Ruiz died. Immediately
thereafter, the cash component of his estate was
distributed
among
Edmond
Ruiz
and
private
respondents in accordance with the decedents will. For
unbeknown reasons, Edmond, the named executor, did
not take any action for the probate of his fathers
holographic will.
On June 29, 1992, four years after the testators
death, it was private respondent Maria Pilar Ruiz Montes
who
filed
before
the
Regional
Trial
Court,
Branch 156, Pasig, a petition for the probate and
approval of Hilario Ruizs will and for the issuance of
letters
testamentary
to
Edmond
Ruiz.3 Surprisingly, Edmond opposed the petition on the

ground that the will was executed under undue


influence.
On November 2, 1992, one of the properties of the
estate - the house and lot at No. 2 Oliva Street, Valle
Verde IV, Pasig which the testator bequeathed to Maria
Cathryn, Candice Albertine and Maria Angeline 4 - was
leased out by Edmond Ruiz to third persons.
On January 19, 1993, the
probate
court
ordered Edmond to deposit with the Branch Clerk of
Court the rental deposit and payments totalling
P540,000.00 representing the one-year lease of the Valle
Verde
property.
In
compliance,
on January 25, 1993, Edmond turned over the amount
of P348,583.56, representing the balance of the rent
after deducting P191,416.14 for repair and maintenance
expenses on the estate.5
In March 1993, Edmond moved for the release of
P50,000.00 to pay the real estate taxes on the real
properties of the estate. The probate court approved the
release of P7,722.006
On May 14, 1993, Edmond withdrew his opposition
to the probate of the will. Consequently, the probate
court, on May 18, 1993, admitted the will to probate
and ordered the issuance of letters testamentary
to Edmond conditioned upon the filing of a bond in the
amount of P50,000.00. The letters testamentary were
issued on June 23, 1993.
On July 28, 1993, petitioner Testate Estate of
Hilario Ruiz as executor, filed an Ex-Parte Motion for
Release of Funds. It prayed for the release of the rent
payments deposited with the Branch Clerk of
Court. Respondent Montes opposed the motion and
concurrently filed a Motion for Release of Funds to
Certain Heirs and Motion for Issuance of Certificate of
Allowance of Probate Will. Montes prayed for the release
of the said rent payments to Maria Cathryn, Candice
Albertine and Maria Angeline and for the distribution of
the testators properties, specifically the Valle Verde
property and the Blue Ridge apartments, in accordance
with the provisions of the holographic will.
On August 26, 1993, the probate court denied
petitioners motion for release of funds but granted
respondent Montes motion in view of petitioners lack of
opposition. It thus ordered the release of the rent
payments to the decedents three granddaughters. It
further ordered the delivery of the titleds to and
possession of the properties bequeathed to the three
granddaughters and respondent Montes upon the filing
of a bond of P50,000.00.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration alleging that he
actually filed his opposition to respondent Montes
motion for release of rent payments which opposition the
court failed to consider. Petitioner likewise reiterated his
previous motion for release of funds.
On November 23, 1993, petitioner, through counsel,
manifested that he was withdrawing his motion for
release of funds in view of the fact that the lease contract
over Valle Verde property had been renewed for another
year.7
Despite petitioners manifestation, the probate
court, on December 22, 1993, ordered the release of the
funds to Edmond but only such amount as may be
necessary to cover the espenses of administration and
allowanceas for support of the testators three
granddaughters subject to collation and deductible from
their share in the inheritance. The court, however, held
in abeyance the release of the titles to respondent
Montes and the three granddaughters until the lapse of
six months from the date of firast publication of the
notice to creditors.8 The Court stated thus:

xxx

xx

xxx

After consideration of the arguments set forth thereon by


the parties, the court resolves to allow Administrator
Edmond M. Ruiz to take possession of the rental
payments deposited with the Clerk of Court, Pasig
Regional Trial Court, but only such amount as may
be necessary to cover the expenses of administration
and allowances for support of Maria Cathryn Veronique,
Candice Albertine and Maria Angeli, which are subject to
collation and deductible from the share in the
inheritance of said heirs and insofar as they exceed the
fruits or rents pertaining to them.
As to the release of the titles bequeathed to petitioner
Maria Pilar Ruiz-Montes and the above-named heirs, the
same is hereby reconsidered and held in abeyance until
the lapse of six (6) months from the date of first
publication of Notice to Creditors.
WHEREFORE, Administrator Edmond M. Ruiz is hereby
ordered to submit an accounting of the expenses
necessary for administration including provisions for the
support Of Maria Cathryn Veronique Ruiz, Candice
Albertine Ruiz and Maria Angeli Ruiz before the amount
required can be withdrawn and cause the publication of
the notice to creditors with reasonable dispatch.9
Petitioner assailed this order before the Court of
Appeals. Finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part
of respondent judge, the appellate court dismissed the
petition and sustained the probate courts order in a
decision dated November 10, 199410 and a resolution
dated January 5, 1995.11
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner claims that:
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION
IN AFFIRMING AND CONFIRMING THE ORDER OF
RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG,
BRANCH 156, DATED DECEMBER 22, 1993, WHICH
WHEN GIVEN DUE COURSE AND IS EFFECTED
WOULD: (1) DISALLOW THE
EXECUTOR/ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF THE
LATE HILARIO M. RUIZ TO TAKE POSSESSION OF ALL
THE REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTIES OF THE
ESTATE; (2) GRANT SUPPORT, DURING THE
PENDENCY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF AN ESTATE, TO
CERTAIN PERSONS NOT ENTITLED THERETO; AND (3)
PREMATURELY PARTITION AND DISTRIBUTE THE
ESTATE PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE
HOLOGRAPHIC WILL EVEN BEFORE ITS INTRINSIC
VALIDITY HAS BEEN DETERMINED, AND DESPITE THE
EXISTENCE OF UNPAID DEBTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF
THE ESTATE.12
The issue for resolution is whether the probate
court, after admitting the will to probate but before
payment of the estates debts and obligations, has the
authority: (1) to grant an allowance from the funds of the
estate for the support of the testators grandchildren; (2)
to order the release of the titles to certain heirs; and (3)
to grant possession of all properties of the estate to the
executor of the will.
On the matter of allowance, Section 3 of Rule 83 of
the Revised Rules of Court provides:
Sec. 3. Allowance to widow and family. - The widow and
minor or incapacitated children of a deceased person,

during the settlement of the estate, shall receive


therefrom under the direction of the court, such
allowance as are provided by law.
Petitioner alleges that this provision only gives the
widow and the minor or incapacitated children of the
deceased the right to receive allowances for support
during the settlement of estate proceedings. He contends
that the testators three granddaughters do not qualify
for an allowance because they are not incapacitated and
are no longer minors but of legal age, married and
gainfully employed. In addition, the provision expressly
states children of the deceased which excludes the
latters grandchildren.
It is settled that allowances for support under
Section 3 of Rule 83 should not be limited to the minor
or incapacitated children of the deceased. Article
18813 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the substantive
law in force at the time of the testators death, provides
that during the liquidation of the conjugal partnership,
the deceaseds legitimate spouse and children, regardless
of their age, civil status or gainful employment, are
entitled to provisional support from the funds of the
estate.14 The law is rooted on the fact that the right and
duty to support, especially the right to education,
subsist even beyond the age of majority.15
Be that as it may, grandchildren are not entitled to
provisional support from the funds of the decedents
estate. The law clearly limits the allowance to widow
and children and does not extend it to the deceaseds
grandchildren,
regardless
of
their
minority
or
incapacity.16 It was error, therefore, for the appellate
court to sustain the probate courts order granting an
allowance to the grandchildren of the testator pending
settlement of his estate.
Respondent courts also erred when they ordered
the release of the titles of the bequeathed properties to
private respondents six months after the date of first
publication of notice to creditors. An order releasing
titles to properties of the estate amounts to an advance
distribution of the estate which is allowed only under the
following conditions:
Sec. 2. Advance distribution in special proceedings. Nothwithstanding a pending controversy or appeal in
proceedings to settle the estate of a decedent, the court
may, in its discretion and upon such terms as it may
deem proper and just, permit that such part of the
estate as may not be affected by the controversy or
appeal be distributed among the heirs or legatees, upon
compliance with the conditions set forth in Rule 90 of
these Rules.17
And Rule 90 provides that:
Sec. 1. When order for distribution of residue made. When the debts, funeral charges, and expenses of
administration, the allowance to the widow, and
inheritance tax, if any, chargeable to the estate in
accordance with law, have been paid, the court, on the
application of the executor or administrator, or of a
person interested in the estate, and after hearing upon
notice, shall assign the residue of the estate to the
persons entitled to the same, naming them and the
proportions, or parts, to which each is entitled, and such
persons may demand and recover their respective shares
from the executor or administrator, or any other person
having the same in his possession. If there is a
controversy before the court as to who are the lawful
heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive
shares to which each person is entitled under the law,

the controversy shall be heard and decided as in


ordinary cases.
No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of
the obligations above-mentioned has been made or
provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them,
give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court,
conditioned for the payment of said obligations
within such time as the court directs.18
In settlement of estate proceedings, the distribution of
the estate properties can only be made: (1) after all the
debts, funeral charges, expenses of administration,
allowance to the widow, and estate tax have been paid;
or (2) before payment of said obligations only if the
distributees or any of them gives a bond in a sum fixed
by the court conditioned upon the payment of said
obligations within such time as the court directs, or
when provision is made to meet those obligations. 19
In the case at bar, the probate court ordered the
release of the titles to the Valle Verde property and
the Blue Ridge apartments to the private respondents
after the lapse of six months from the date of first
publication of the notice to creditors. The questioned
order speaks of notice to creditors, not payment of
debts and obligations. Hilario Ruiz allegedly left no debts
when he died but the taxes on his estate had not
hitherto been paid, much less ascertained. The estate
tax is one of those obligations that must be paid before
distribution of the estate. If not yet paid, the rule
requires that the distributees post a bond or make such
provisions as to meet the said tax obligation in
proportion to their
respective shares in the
inheritance.20Notably, at the time the order was issued
the properties of the estate had not yet been inventoried
and appraised.
It was also too early in the day for the probate court
to order the release of the titles six months after
admitting the will to probate. The probate of a will is
conclusive as to its due execution and extrinsic
validity21 and settles only the question of whether the
testator, being of sound mind, freely executed it in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by
law.22Questions as to the intrinsic validity and efficacy of
the provisions of the will, the legality of any devise or
legacy may be raised even after the will has been
authenticated.23
The intrinsic validity of Hilarios holographic will
was controverted by petitioner before the probate court
in his Reply to Montes Opposition to his motion for
release of funds24 and his motion for reconsideration of
the August 26, 1993 order of the said court.25 Therein,
petitioner assailed the distributive shares of the devisees
and legatees inasmuch as his fathers will included the
estate of his mother and allegedly impaired his legitime
as an intestate heir of his mother. The Rules provide that
if there is a controversy as to who are the lawful heirs of
the decedent and their distributive shares in his estate,
the probate court shall proceed to hear and decide the
same as in ordinary cases.26
Still and all, petitioner cannot correctly claim that
the assailed order deprived him of his right to take
possession of all the real and personal properties of the
estate. The right of an executor or administrator to the
possession and management of the real and personal
properties of the deceased is not absolute and can only
be exercised so long as it is necessary for the payment
of the debts and expenses of administration, 27 Section 3
of Rule 84 of the Revised Rules of Court explicitly
provides:

Sec. 3. Executor or administrator to retain whole estate to


pay debts, and to administer estate not willed. - An
executor or administrator shall have the right to the
possession and management of the real as well as the
personal estate of the deceased so long as it is
necessary for the payment of the debts and expenses
for administration.28
When petitioner moved for further release of the funds
deposited with the clerk of court, he had been previously
granted by the probate court certain amounts for repair
and maintenance expenses on the properties of the
estate, and payment of the real estate taxes thereon. But
petitioner moved again for the release of additional funds
for the same reasons he previously cited. It was correct
for the probate court to require him to submit an
accounting of the necessary expenses for administration
before releasing any further money in his favor.
It was relevantly noted by the probate court that
petitioner had deposited with it only a portion of the oneyear rental income from the Valle Verde property.
Petitioner did not deposit its succeeding rents after
renewal of the lease.29 Neither did he render an
accounting of such funds.
Petitioner must be reminded that his right of
ownership over the properties of his father is merely
inchoate as long as the estate has not been fully settled
and partitioned.30 As executor, he is a mere trustee of his
fathers estate. The funds of the estate in his hands are
trust funds and he is held to the duties and
responsibilities of a trustee of the highest order. 31 He
cannot unilaterally assign to himself and possess all his
parents properties and the fruits thereof without first
submitting an inventory and appraisal of all real and
personal properties of the deceased, rendering a true
account of his administration, the expenses of
administration, the amount of the obligations and estate
tax, all of which are subject to a determination by the
court as to their veracity, propriety and justness.32
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision and resolution of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 33045 affirming
the order dated December 22, 1993 of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 156, Pasig in SP Proc. No. 10259 are
affirmed with the modification that those portions of the
order granting an allowance to the testators
grandchildren and ordering the release of the titles to
the private respondents upon notice to creditors are
annulled and set aside.
Respondent judge is ordered to proceed with
dispatch in the proceedings below.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado
JJ., concur.

(Chairman),

Romero, and Mendoza,

20. Mananquil v. Villegas, 189 SCRA 335

A.M. No. 2430 August 30, 1990


MAURO P. MANANQUIL, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. CRISOSTOMO C. VILLEGAS, respondent.
Geminiano M. Eleccion for complainant.
RESOLUTION
CORTES, J.:
In a verified complaint for disbarment dated July 5,
1982, Mauro P. Mananquil charged respondent Atty.
Crisostomo C. Villegas with gross misconduct or
malpractice committed while acting as counsel of record

of one Felix Leong in the latter's capacity as


administrator of the Testate Estate of the late Felomina
Zerna in Special Proceedings No. 460 before then Court
of First Instance of Negros Occidental. The complainant
was appointed special administrator after Felix Leong
died.
In compliance with a resolution of this Court,
respondent filed his comment to the complaint on
January 20, 1983. After complainant filed his reply, the
Court resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor General
for investigation, report and recommendation.
In a hearing conducted on May 15, 1985 by the
investigating officer assigned to the case, counsel for the
complainant proposed that the case be considered on
the basis of position papers and memoranda to be
submitted by the parties. Respondent agreed. Thus, the
investigating officer required the parties to submit their
respective position papers and memoranda, with the
understanding that with or without the memoranda, the
case will be deemed submitted for resolution after the
expiration of 30 days. In compliance, both parties
submitted their respective position papers; but no
memorandum was filed by either party. Thereafter, the
case was deemed submitted.
In the pleadings submitted before the Court and the
Office of the Solicitor General, complainant alleges that
over a period of 20 years, respondent allowed lease
contracts to be executed between his client Felix Leong
and a partnership HIJOS DE JOSE VILLEGAS, of which
respondent is one of the partners, covering several
parcels of land of the estate, i.e. Lots Nos. 1124, 1228,
2221, 2402, 3939, 3942 and 3957 of the Tanjay
Cadastre, under iniquitous terms and conditions.
Moreover, complainant charges that these contracts were
made without the approval of the probate court and in
violation of Articles 1491 and 1646 of the new Civil
Code.
On the basis of the pleadings submitted by the parties,
and other pertinent records of the investigation, the
Solicitor General submitted his report dated February
21, 1990, finding that respondent committed a breach in
the performance of his duties as counsel of
administrator Felix Leong when he allowed the renewal
of contracts of lease for properties involved in the testate
proceedings to be undertaken in favor of HIJOS DE
JOSE VILLEGAS without notifying and securing the
approval of the probate court. However, the Solicitor
General opined that there was no sufficient evidence to
warrant a finding that respondent had allowed the
properties to be leased in favor of his family partnership
at a very low rental or in violation of Articles 1491 and
1646 of the new Civil Code. Thus, the Solicitor General
recommended that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for a period of THREE (3) months with a
warning that future misconduct on respondent's part
will be more severely dealt with [Report and
Recommendation of the Solicitor General, pp. 110; Rollo, pp. 37-46. Also, Complaint of the Solicitor
General, pp. 1-3; Rollo, pp. 47-49].
As gleaned from the record of the case and the report
and recommendation of the Solicitor General, the
following facts are uncontroverted:
That as early as March 21, 1961,
respondent was retained as counsel of
record for Felix Leong, one of the heirs of
the late Felomina Zerna, who was
appointed as administrator of the
Testate Estate of the Felomina Zerna in
Special No. 460 on May 22, 1961;
That, a lease contract dated August 13,
1963 was executed between Felix Leong

and the "Heirs of Jose Villegas"


represented by respondent's brother-inlaw Marcelo Pastrano involving, among
others, sugar lands of the estate
designated as Lot Nos. 1124, 1228,
2221, 2402, 3939, 3942 and 3957 of the
Tanjay Cadastre;
That Felix Leong was designated therein
as administrator and "owner, by
testamentary disposition, of 5/6 of all
said parcels of land";
That, the lifetime of the lease contract
was FOUR (4) sugar crop years, with a
yearly rental of TEN PERCENT (10%) of
the value of the sugar produced from
the leased parcels of land;
That, on April 20, 1965, the formal
partnership of HIJOS DE JOSE
VILLEGAS was formed amongst the
heirs of Jose Villegas, of which
respondent was a member;
That, on October 18, 1965, another
lease contract was executed between
Felix Leong and the partnership HIJOS
DE JOSE VILLEGAS, containing
basically the same terms and conditions
as the first contract, with Marcelo
Pastrano signing once again as
representative of the lessee;
That, on March 14, 1968, after the
demise of Marcelo Pastrano, respondent
was appointed manager of HIJOS DE
JOSE VILLEGAS by the majority of
partners;
That, renewals of the lease contract were
executed between Felix Leong and
HIJOS DE JOSE VILLEGAS on January
13, 1975 and on December 4, 1978,
with respondent signing therein as
representative of the lessee; and,
That, in the later part of 1980,
respondent was replaced by his nephew
Geronimo H. Villegas as manager of the
family partnership.
Under the above circumstances, the Court finds
absolutely no merit to complainant's charge, and the
Solicitor General's finding, that respondent committed
acts of misconduct in failing to secure the approval of
the court in Special Proceedings No. 460 to the various
lease contracts executed between Felix Leong and
respondent's family partnership.
Pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 84 of the Revised Rules of
Court, a judicial executor or administrator has the right
to the possession and management of the real as well as
the personal estate of the deceased so long as it is
necessary for the payment of the debts and the expenses
of administration. He may, therefore, exercise acts of
administration without special authority from the court
having jurisdiction of the estate. For instance, it has long
been settled that an administrator has the power to
enter into lease contracts involving the properties of the
estate even without prior judicial authority and approval
[See Ferraris v. Rodas, 65 Phil. 732 (1938); Jocson de
Hilado v. Nava, 69 Phil. 1 (1939); San Diego, Sr. v.
Hombre, G.R No. L-19265, May 29, 1964, 11 SCRA 165].
Thus, considering that administrator Felix Leong was
not required under the law and prevailing jurisprudence
to seek prior authority from the probate court in order to
validly lease real properties of the estate, respondent, as
counsel of Felix Leong, cannot be taken to task for failing
to notify the probate court of the various lease contracts

involved herein and to secure its judicial approval


thereto.
Nevertheless, contrary to the opinion of the Solicitor
General, the Court finds sufficient evidence to hold
respondent subject to disciplinary sanction for having,
as counsel of record for the administrator in Special
Proceedings No. 460, participated in the execution in
1975 and 1978 of renewals of the lease agreement
involving properties of the estate in favor of the
partnership HIJOS DE JOSE VILLEGAS, of which
respondent is a member and in 1968 was appointed
managing partner.
By virtue of Article 1646 of the new Civil Code, the
persons referred to in Article 1491 are prohibited from
leasing, either in person or through the mediation of
another, the properties or things mentioned in that
article, to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
(1) The guardian, the property of the
person or persons who may be under his
guardianship;
(2) Agents, the property whose
administration or sale may have been
intrusted to them, unless the consent of
the principal have been given;
(3) Executors and administrators, the
property of the estate under
administration
(4) Public officers and employees, the
property of the State or of any
subdivision thereof, or of any
government owned or controlled
corporation, or institution, the
administration of which has been
intrusted to them; this provision shall
apply to judges and government experts
who, in any manner whatsoever, take
part in the sale;
(5) Justices, judges, prosecuting
attorneys, clerks of superior and inferior
courts, and other officers and employees
connected with the administration of
justice, the property or rights in
litigation or levied upon on execution
before the court within whose
jurisdiction or territory they exercise
their respective functions; this
prohibition includes the act of acquiring
by assignment and shall apply to
lawyers, with respect to the property and
rights which may be the object of any
litigation in which they may take part by
virtue of their profession.
(6) Any others specially disqualified by
law
xxx xxx xxx
[Article 1491 of the new Civil Code;
Emphasis supplied.]
The above disqualification imposed on public and
judicial officers and lawyers is grounded on public policy
considerations which disallow the transactions entered
into by them, whether directly or indirectly, in view of the
fiduciary relationship involved, or the peculiar control
exercised by these individuals over the properties or
rights covered [See Rubias v. Batiller, G.R. No. L-35702,
May 29, 1973, 51 SCRA 120; Maharlika Publishing
Corporation v. Tagle, G.R. No. 65594, July 9, 1986, 142
SCRA 553; Fornilda v. The Branch 164, RTC Fourth
Judicial Region, Pasig, G.R. No. 72306, October 5, 1988,
166 SCRA 281 and January 24, 1989, 169 SCRA 351].

Thus, even if the parties designated as lessees in the


assailed lease contracts were the "Heirs of Jose Villegas"
and the partnership HIJOS DE JOSE VILLEGAS, and
respondent signed merely as an agent of the latter, the
Court rules that the lease contracts are covered by the
prohibition against any acquisition or lease by a lawyer
of properties involved in litigation in which he takes part.
To rule otherwise would be to lend a stamp of judicial
approval on an arrangement which, in effect,
circumvents that which is directly prohibited by law. For,
piercing through the legal fiction of separate juridical
personality, the Court cannot ignore the obvious
implication that respondent as one of the heirs of Jose
Villegas and partner, later manager of, in HIJOS DE
JOSE VILLEGAS stands to benefit from the contractual
relationship created between his client Felix Leong and
his family partnership over properties involved in the
ongoing testate proceedings.
In his defense, respondent claims that he was neither
aware of, nor participated in, the execution of the
original lease contract entered into between his client
and his family partnership, which was then represented
by his brother-in-law Marcelo Pastrano. And although he
admits that he participated in the execution of
subsequent renewals of the lease contract as managing
partner of HIJOS DE JOSE VILLEGAS, he argues that
he acted in good faith considering that the heirs of
Filomena Zerna consented or acquiesced to the terms
and conditions stipulated in the original lease contract.
He further contends that pursuant to the ruling of the
Court in Tuason v.Tuason [88 Phil. 428 (1951)] the
renewal contracts do not fall within the prohibition of
Articles 1491 and 1646 since he signed the same as a
mere agent of the partnership.
Respondent's contentions do not provide sufficient basis
to escape disciplinary action from this Court.
It taxes this Courts imagination that respondent
disclaims any knowledge in the execution of the original
lease contract between his client and his family
partnership represented by his brother-in-law. Be that as
it may, it cannot be denied that respondent himself had
knowledge of and allowed the subsequent renewals of
the lease contract. In fact, he actively participated in the
lease contracts dated January 13, 1975 and December
4, 1978 by signing on behalf of the lessee HIJOS DE
JOSE VILLEGAS.
Moreover, the claim that the heirs of Filomena Zerna
have acquiesced and consented to the assailed lease
contracts does not militate against respondent's liability
under the rules of professional ethics. The prohibition
referred to in Articles 1491 and 1646 of the new Civil
Code, as far as lawyers are concerned, is intended to
curtail any undue influence of the lawyer upon his client
on account of his fiduciary and confidential association
[Sotto v. Samson, G.R. No. L-16917, July 31, 1962, 5
SCRA 733]. Thus, the law makes the prohibition
absolute and permanent [Rubias v. Batiller, supra]. And
in view of Canon 1 of the new Code of Professional
Responsibility and Sections 3 & 27 of Rule 138 of the
Revised Rules of Court, whereby lawyers are duty-bound
to obey and uphold the laws of the land, participation in
the execution of the prohibited contracts such as those
referred to in Articles 1491 and 1646 of the new Civil
Code has been held to constitute breach of professional
ethics on the part of the lawyer for which disciplinary
action may be brought against him [See Bautista v.
Gonzalez, Adm. Matter No. 1625, February 12, 1990).
Accordingly, the Court must reiterate the rule that the
claim of good faith is no defense to a lawyer who has
failed to adhere faithfully to the legal disqualifications
imposed upon him, designed to protect the interests of

his client [See In re Ruste, 70 Phil. 243


(1940); Also, Severino v. Severino, 44 Phil. 343 (1923)].
Neither is there merit in respondent's reliance on the
case of Tuason v. Tuason [supra.] It cannot be inferred
from the statements made by the Court in that case that
contracts of sale or lease where the vendee or lessee is a
partnership, of which a lawyer is a member, over a
property involved in a litigation in which he takes part by
virtue of his profession, are not covered by the
prohibition under Articles 1491 and 1646.
However, the Court sustains the Solicitor General's
holding that there is no sufficient evidence on record to
warrant a finding that respondent allowed the properties
of the estate of Filomena Zerna involved herein to be
leased to his family partnership at very low rental
payments. At any rate, it is a matter for the court
presiding over Special Proceedings No. 460 to determine
whether or not the agreed rental payments made by
respondent's family partnership is reasonable
compensation for the use and occupancy of the estate
properties.
Considering thus the nature of the acts of misconduct
committed by respondent, and the facts and
circumstances of the case, the Court finds sufficient
grounds to suspend respondent from the practice of law
for a period of three (3) months.
WHEREFORE, finding that respondent Atty. Crisostomo
C. Villegas committed acts of gross misconduct, the
Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the
practice of law for four (4) months effective from the date
of his receipt of this Resolution, with a warning that
future misconduct on respondent's part will be more
severely dealt with. Let copies of this Resolution be
circulated to all courts of the country for their
information and guidance, and spread in the personal
record of Atty. Villegas.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Bidin, JJ.,
concur.

21. Kalaw v. IAC, G.R. No. 74618, September 2,


1992
[G.R. No. 74618. September 2, 1992.]
ANA LIM KALAW, Petitioner, v. THE HONORABLE
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, THE
HONORABLE RICARDO B. DIAZ and ROSA LIM
KALAW, Respondents.
Alberto R. De Joya for Petitioner.
Cheng, Martinez & Associates for Private
Respondent.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS;


ACCOUNTABILITY OF ADMINISTRATOR, WHEN TO
RENDER ACCOUNTS; RULE AND EXCEPTION. The
rendering of an accounting by an administrator of his
administration within one year from his appointment is
mandatory, as shown by the use of the word "shall" in
said rule. The only exception is when the Court
otherwise directs because of extensions of time for
presenting claims against the estate or for paying the
debts or disposing the assets of the estate, which do not

exist in the case at bar.


2. ID.; ID.; REMOVAL OF ADMINISTRATOR; JUSTIFIED,
FOR NEGLIGENCE TO RENDER AN ACCOUNTING OF
HIS ADMINISTRATION AS REQUIRED BY LAW.
subsequent compliance in rendering an accounting
report did not purge her of her negligence in not
rendering an accounting for more than six years, which
justifies petitioners removal as administratrix and the
appointment of private respondent in her place as
mandated by Section 2 of Rule 82 of the Rules of Court.
As correctly stated by the appellate court: "The settled
rule is that the removal of an administrator under
Section 2 of Rule 82 lies within the discretion of the
Court appointing him. As aptly expressed by the
Supreme Court in the case of Degala v. Ceniza and
Umipig, 78 Phil. 791, the sufficiency of any ground for
removal should thus be determined by said court, whose
sensibilities are, in the first place, affected by any act or
omission on the part of the administrator not
comfortable to or in disregard of the rules or the orders
of the court. Consequently, appellate tribunals are
disinclined to interfere with the action taken by a
probate court in the matter of the removal of an executor
or administrator unless positive error or gross abuse of
discretion is shown. (Borromeo v. Borromeo, 97 Phil.
549; Matute v. Court of Appeals, 26 SCRA 768.) In the
case at bar, the removal of petitioner as administratrix
was on the ground of her failure for 6 years and 3
months from the time she was appointed as
administratrix to render an accounting of her
administration as required by Section 8 of Rule 85 of the
Rules of Court."

DECISION

NOCON, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari, prohibition and


mandamus with preliminary injunction to annul and set
aside the decision dated December 27, 1985 of the then
Intermediate Appellate Court 1 affirming the decision of
the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 27 in Special
Proceeding No. 84520 removing petitioner Ana Lim
Kalaw as administratrix and appointing private
respondent Rosa Lim Kalaw in her stead as the
administratrix of the estate of their late father Carlos
Lim Kalaw.
It appears on record that Carlos Lim Kalaw died intestate
on July 8, 1970.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
On June 8, 1972, Victoria Lim Kalaw filed an amended
petition for the issuance of Letters of Administration with
the then Court of First Instance of Manila in Special
Proceeding No. 84520 naming Ana Lim Kalaw (63 years
old), Victoria Lim Kalaw (57 years old), Pura Lim Kalaw
(53 years old) and Rosa Lim Kalaw (43 years old) as the
surviving heirs of the late Carlos Lim Kalaw.
On April 25, 1974, the trial court issued an order
appointing petitioner Ana Lim Kalaw as special
administratrix. Consequently, petitioner filed a
preliminary inventory of all the properties which came
into her possession as special administratrix of the
estate of her late father on June 3, 1974.
On October 6, 1977, the trial court issued another order

appointing petitioner as the judicial administratrix of


said estate and a Letter of Administration was issued to
the petitioner after the latter took her oath of office on
November 11, 1977.
Thereafter, Jose Lim filed a motion to require petitioner
to render an accounting of her administration of said
estate which was granted by respondent Judge Ricardo
Diaz in an order dated December 8, 1982.chanrobles law
library
On July 1, 1983, respondent judge issued another order
requiring petitioner to render an accounting of her
administration with the express instruction that said
order be personally served upon the petitioner since the
order dated December 8, 1982 was returned to the Court
unserved. However, said order was also not received by
the petitioner.
On January 31, 1984, private respondent Rosa Lim
Kalaw together with her sisters Victoria and Pura Lim
Kalaw filed a motion to remove petitioner as
administratrix of their fathers estate and to appoint
instead private respondent on the ground of negligence
on the part of petitioner in her duties for failing to render
an accounting of her administration since her
appointment as administratrix more than six years ago
in violation of Section 8 of Rule 85 of the Revised Rules
of Court. The motion was set for hearing on February 10,
1984.
On February 21, 1984, respondent judge issued another
order requiring petitioner to render an accounting within
30 days from receipt thereof which she did on March 22,
1984. She likewise filed on the same date, her
Opposition to the motion praying for her removal as
administratrix alleging that the delay in rendering said
accounting was due to the fact that Judge Carlos
Sundiam, who was the judge where the intestate
proceeding was assigned, had then been promoted to the
Court of Appeals causing said sala to be vacated for a
considerable length of time, while newly-appointed
Judge Joel Tiongco died of cardiac arrest soon after his
appointment to said vacancy, so much so that she did
not know to whom to render an accounting report.
In their Rejoinder and Manifestation, private respondent
and her co-movant alleged that the ground relied upon
for petitioners removal was not the delay but her failure
or neglect to render an accounting of all the properties
which came into her possession as required under
Section 1 of Rule 83 of the Revised Rules of
Court.chanrobles.com : virtual law library
On January 4, 1985, the trial court rendered a decision,
the dispositive portion of which
reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"From the foregoing, the Court finds that Administratrix
Ana Lim Kalaw violated the provisions of Section 8, Rule
85 of the Rules of Court for not rendering an account of
her administration within one (1) year from date of
receipt of the letters of administration and this
constitutes negligence on her part to perform her duty as
Administratrix and under Section 2, Rule 82 of the Rules
of Court, neglect on the part of the administratrix to
render her account is a ground for her removal as an
administratrix. Finding the instant motion to remove
Administratrix to be meritorious and well-taken, the
same is, as it is hereby, GRANTED.

WHEREFORE, Administratrix Ana Lim Kalaw is hereby


REMOVED as such Administratrix of the Estate of the
late Carlos Lim Kalaw." 2

presenting claims against the estate or for paying the


debts or disposing the assets of the estate, which do not
exist in the case at bar.

On September 2, 1985, Petitioner, without waiting for the


resolution of the motion for reconsideration with the trial
court, filed a Petition for Certiorari with Preliminary
Injunction or Restraining Order with the then
Intermediate Appellate Court to annul and set aside the
following Orders issued by respondent Judge Diaz, as
follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

Furthermore, petitioners excuse that the sala where the


intestate proceeding was pending was vacant most of the
time deserves scant consideration since petitioner never
attempted to file with said court an accounting report of
her administration despite the fact that at one time or
another, Judge Sundiam and Judge Tiongco were
presiding over said sala during their incumbency.

"a. Order dated January 4, 1985 removing the Petitioner


as Administratrix of the estate of the late Carlos Lim
Kalaw;

Likewise, her subsequent compliance in rendering an


accounting report did not purge her of her negligence in
not rendering an accounting for more than six years,
which justifies petitioners removal as administratrix and
the appointment of private respondent in her place as
mandated by Section 2 of Rule 82 of the Rules of Court.
5

b. Order dated April 30, 1985 denying Petitioners


Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of January 4,
1985;
c. Order dated May 13, 1985 appointing private
Respondent Rosa Lim Kalaw, as Administratrix of said
Estate;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
d. Order dated June 19, 1985 directing the tenants
and/or lessees of the Carlos Lim Kalaw building to
deposit the rentals in court and authorizing private
respondent to break open the premises in said building."
3
On December 27, 1985, the appellate court rendered a
decision, the dispositive portion of which
reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DENIED.
However, respondent Judge is directed to require private
respondent Rosa Lim Kalaw to post the appropriate
administrators bond within ten (10) days from notice
hereof. With costs against petitioner." 4
On January 21, 1986, petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration of said decision which was however
denied for lack of merit on May 12, 1986.
Hence, this petition alleging grave abuse of discretion on
the part of the appellate court in sustaining respondent
Judge Diaz order removing her as judicial administratrix
considering that she had already submitted an
accounting report covering the period from December,
1977 to December, 1983 in compliance with
respondents Judge order.
Section 8 of Rule 85 of the Revised Rules of Court
provides that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"SEC. 8. When executor or administrator to render
account. Every executor or administrator shall render
an account of his administration within one (1) year from
the time of receiving letters testamentary or of
administration, unless the court otherwise directs
because of extensions of time for presenting claims
against, or paying the debts of, the estate, or for
disposing of the estate; and he shall render such further
accounts as the court may require until the estate is
wholly settled." chanrobles law library
The rendering of an accounting by an administrator of
his administration within one year from his appointment
is mandatory, as shown by the use of the word "shall" in
said rule. The only exception is when the Court
otherwise directs because of extensions of time for

As correctly stated by the appellate


court:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"The settled rule is that the removal of an administrator
under Section 2 of Rule 82 lies within the discretion of
the Court appointing him. As aptly expressed by the
Supreme Court in the case of Degala v. Ceniza and
Umipig, 78 Phil. 791, the sufficiency of any ground for
removal should thus be determined by said court, whose
sensibilities are, in the first place, affected by any act or
omission on the part of the administrator not
comfortable to or in disregard of the rules or the orders
of the court. Consequently, appellate tribunals are
disinclined to interfere with the action taken by a
probate court in the matter of the removal of an executor
or administrator unless positive error or gross abuse of
discretion is shown. (Borromeo v. Borromeo, 97 Phil.
549; Matute v. Court of Appeals, 26 SCRA
768.)chanrobles lawlibrary : rednad
In the case at bar, the removal of petitioner as
administratrix was on the ground of her failure for 6
years and 3 months from the time she was appointed as
administratrix to render an accounting of her
administration as required by Section 8 of Rule 85 of the
Rules of Court." 6
As to petitioners contention that she was denied due
process when she was removed as administratrix since
no hearing was held on the motion for her removal, this
does not deserve serious consideration. The appellate
courts disposal of this issue is in accordance with the
law and evidence. Said the Court:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Petitioners contention that her removal was without
due process is certainly not borne out by the records.
There has been a hearing and, in fact, several pleadings
had been filed by the parties on the issue before the
order of removal was issued. Thus, the motion to remove
petitioner as administratrix was filed on January 3,
1984, which motion was set for hearing on February 10,
1984. Petitioner filed an opposition to the motion on
March 22, 1984. This was followed by a Rejoinder and
Manifestation filed on April 6, 1984 by
private Respondent. The order for petitioners removal
was issued on January 4, 1985, or after almost a year
from the time the motion to remove her was filed. Not
satisfied with this order, petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration on January 14, 1985, to which motion
private respondent filed an opposition on January 25,
1985. Petitioner filed a rejoinder to the opposition on

February 18, 1985. Respondent Judge issued his order


denying the motion for reconsideration on April 30,
1985. This recital of events indubitably disproves
petitioners allegation that she was not afforded due
process." 7
WHEREFORE, finding no merit in the petition
for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with
preliminary injunction, the same is hereby DENIED.
Costs against petitioner.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur.
Melo, J., took no part.
22. De Guzman v. De Guzman-Carillo, G.R. No.
L-29276 May 18, 1978

G.R. No. L-29276 May 18, 1978


Testate Estate of the Late Felix J. de Guzman.
VICTORINO G. DE GUZMAN, administrator-appellee,
vs.
CRISPINA DE GUZMAN-CARILLO, ARSENIO DE
GUZMAN and HONORATA DE GUZMANMENDIOLA,oppositors-appellants.
Emiliano Samson & R. Balderama-Samson for appellants.
Cezar Paralejo for appellee.
AQUINO, J.:
This case is about the propriety of allowing as
administration expenses certain disbursements made by
the administrator of the testate estate of the late Felix J.
de Guzman of Gapan, Nueva Ecija.
The deceased testator was survived by eight children
named Victorino, Librada, Severino, Margarita, Josefina,
Honorata, Arsenio and Crispina. His will was duly
probated. Letters of administration were issued to his
son, Doctor Victorino G. de Guzman, pursuant to the
order dated September 17, 1964 of the Court of First
Instance of Nueva Ecija in Special Proceeding No. 1431.
One of the properties left by the dent was a residential
house located in the poblacion. In conformity with his
last will, that house and the lot on which it stands were
adjudicated to his eight children, each being given a oneeighth proindiviso share in the project of partition dated
March 19, 1966, which was signed by the eight heirs
and which was approved in the lower court's order of
April 14, 1967 but without prejudice to the final
outcome of the accounting.
The administrator submitted four accounting reports for
the period from June 16, 1964 to September, 1967.
Three heirs Crispina de Guzmans-Carillo Honorata de
Guzman-Mendiola and Arsenio de Guzman interposed
objections to the administrator's disbursements in the
total sum of P13,610.48, broken down as follows:
I. Expense for the improvement and renovation of the
decedent's residential house.
1. Construction of fence P3,082.07
2. Renovation of bathroom P1,389.52
3. Repair of terrace and
interior of house P5,928.00 P10,399.59
II. Living expenses of Librada de Guzman while
occupying the family home without paying rent:
1. For house helper P1,170.00
2. Light bills 227.41
3. Water bills 150.80
4. Gas oil, floor wax

and switch nail 54.90 P 1,603.11


III. Other expenses:
1. Lawyer's subsistence P 19.30
2. Gratuity pay in lieu
of medical fee 144.00
3. For stenographic notes 100.00
4. For food served on
decedent's first
death anniversary 166.65
5. Cost of publication of
death anniversary
of decedent 102.00
6. Representation
expenses 26.25 P558.20
IV. Irrigation fee P1.049.58
TOTAL P13,610.48
It should be noted that the probate court in its order of
August 29, 1966 directed the administrator "to refrain
from spending the assets of the estate for reconstructing
and remodeling the house of the deceased and to stop
spending (sic) any asset of the estate without first during
authority of the court to do so" (pp. 26-27, Record on
Appeal).
The lower court in its order of April 29, 1968 allowed the
d items as legitimate expenses of administration. From
that order, the three oppositors appealed to this Court.
Their contention is that the probate court erred in
approving the utilization of the income of the estate
(from rice harvests) to defray those expenditures which
allegedly are not allowable under the Rules of Court.
An executor or administrator is allowed the necessary
expenses in the care, management, and settlement of the
estate. He is entitled to possess and manage the
decedent's real and personal estate as long as it is
necessary for the payment of the debts and the expenses
of administration. He is accountable for the whole
decedent's estate which has come into his possession,
with all the interest, profit, and income thereof, and with
the proceeds of so much of such estate as is sold by him,
at the price at which it was sold (Sec. 3, Rule 84; Secs. 1
and 7, Rule 85, Rules of Court).
One of the Conditions of the administrator's bond is that
he should render a true and just account of his
administration to the court. The court may examine him
upon oath With respect to every matter relating to his
accounting 't and shall so examine him as to the
correctness of his account before the same is allowed,
except when no objection is made to the allowance of the
account and its correctness is satisfactorily established
by competent proof. The heirs, legatees, distributes, and
creditors of the estate shall have the same privilege as
the executor or administrator of being examined on oath
on any matter relating to an administration account."
(Sec. 1[c] Rule 81 and secs. 8 and 9, Rule 85, Rules of
Court).
A hearing is usually held before an administrator's
account is approved, especially if an interested Party
raises objections to certain items in the accounting
report (Sec. 10, Rule 85).
At that hearing, the practice is for the administrator to
take the witness stand, testify under oath on his
accounts and Identify the receipts, vouchers and
documents evidencing his disbursements which are
offered as exhibits. He may be interrogated by the court
and crossed by the oppositors's counsel. The oppositors
may present proofs to rebut the ad. administrator's
evidence in support of his accounts.
I. Expenses for the renovation and improvement of the
family residence P10,399.59. As already shown
above, these expenses consisted of disbursements for the
repair of the terrace and interior of the family home, the

renovation of the bathroom, and the construction of a


fence. The probate court allowed those expenses because
an administrator has the duty to "maintain in tenantable
repair the houses and other structures and fences
belonging to the estate, and deliver the same in such
repair to the heirs or devises" when directed to do so by
the court (Sec. 2, Rule 84, Rules of Court).
On the other hand, the oppositors-appellants contend
that the trial court erred in allowing those expenses
because the same did not come within the category of
necessary expenses of administration which are
understood to be the reasonable and necessary expenses
of caring for the property and managing it until the
debts are paid and the estate is partitioned and
distributed among the heirs (Lizarraga Hermanos vs.
Abada, 40 Phil. 124).
As clarified in the Lizarraga case, administration
expenses should be those which are necessary for the
management of the estate, for protecting it against
destruction or deterioration, and, possibly, for the
production of fruits. They are expenses entailed for the
preservation and productivity of the estate and its
management for purposes of liquidation, payment of
debts, and distribution of the residue among the persons
entitled thereto.
It should be noted that the family residence was
partitioned proindiviso among the decedent's eight
children. Each one of them was given a one-eighth share
in conformity with the testator's will. Five of the eight coowners consented to the use of the funds of the estate
for repair and improvement of the family home. It is
obvious that the expenses in question were incurred to
preserve the family home and to maintain the family's
social standing in the community.
Obviously, those expenses redounded to the benefit of an
the co- owners. They were necessary for the preservation
and use of the family residence. As a result of those
expenses, the co-owners, including the three oppositors,
would be able to use the family home in comfort,
convenience and security.
We hold that the probate court did not err in approving
the use of the income of the estate to defray those ex
II. Expenses incurred by Librada de Guzman as occupant
of the family residence without paying rent P1
603.11 The probate court allowed the income of the
estate to be used for those expenses on the theory that
the occupancy of the house by one heir did not deprive
the other seven heirs from living in it. Those expenses
consist of the salaries of the house helper, light and
water bills, and the cost of gas, oil floor wax and switch
nail
We are of the opinion that those expenses were personal
expenses of Librada de Guzman, inuring y to her benefit.
Those expenses, not being reasonable administration
expenses incurred by the administrator, should not be
charged against the income of the estate.
Librada de Guzman, as an heir, is entitled to share in
the net income of the estate. She occupied the house
without paying rent. She should use her income for her
living expenses while occupying the family residence.
The trial court erred in approving those expenses in the
administrator's accounts. They should be, as they are
hereby, disallowed (See 33 C.J.S 1239-40).
III. Other expenses P558.20. Among these expenses
is the sum of P100 for stenographic notes which, as
admitted by the administrator on page 24 of his brief,
should be disallowed. Another item, "representation
expenses" in the sum of P26.25 (2nd accounting), was
not explained. it should likewise be disallowed.
The probate court erred in allowing as expenses of ad.
administration the sum of P268.65 which was incurred

during the celebration of the first death anniversary of


the deceased. Those expenses are disallowed because
they have no connection with the care, management and
settlement of the decedent's estate (Nicolas vs. Nicolas
63 Phil 332).
The other expenses, namely, P19.30 for the lawyer's
subsistence and P144 as the cost of the gift to the
physician who attended to the testator during his last s
are allowable expenses.
IV. Irrigation fee P1,049.58. The appellants question
the deductibility of that expense on the ground that it
seems to be a duplication of the item of P1,320 as
irrigation fee for the same 1966-67 crop-year.
The administrator in his comment filed on February 28,
1978 explained that the item of P1,320 represented the
"allotments" for irrigation fees to eight tenants who
cultivated the Intan crop, which allotments were treated
as "assumed expenses" deducted as farming expenses
from the value of the net harvests.
The explanation is not quite clear but it was not disputed
by the appellants. The fact is that the said sum of
P1,049.58 was paid by the administrator to the
Penaranda Irrigation System as shown in Official Receipt
No. 3596378 dated April 28, 1967. It was included in his
accounting as part of the farming expenses. The amount
was properly allowed as a legitimate expense of
administration.
WHEREFORE, the lower court's order of April 29, 1968
is affirmed with the modifications that the sum of (a)
P1,603.11 as the living expenses of Librada de Guzman.
(b) P100 for stenographic notes, (c) P26.25 as
representation expenses, and (d) P268.65 as expenses
for the celebration of the first anniversary of the
decedent's death are disallowed in the administrator's
accounts. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Fernando (Chairman), Barredo, Antonio, Concepcion, Jr.,
and Santos, JJ., concur.