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No facts stated. This is an original petition for a writ of Certiorary

Spouses Graciano and Graciana Esguerra were registered owners of a 9322 sqm
parcel of land located in Manila. Upon the death of Graciana, Graciano and their 6
children entered into an extrajudicial settlement of Gracianas estate where Graciano
received 8/14 share while each of the children received 1/14 share of the property.
Said heirs executed an Agreement of Consolidation-Subdivision of Real Property
with Waiver of Rights where they subdivided the property into several lots.
Graciano then donated to his children, share and share alike, a portion of his interest,
leaving to himself only 447 sqm. Such property was further subdivided into 2
separate lots (80 sqm and 396 sqm). Eventually Graciano sold the 80 sqm lot to a 3 rd
person and retained the 396 sqm.

1. W/n a judge of the CFI is authorized by law, in special proceedings, to
appoint assessors for the purpose of fixing the amount due to an
administrator/executor for his services and expenses in the management and
settlement of the estate of a deceased person?

Is a special proceeding an action?

1. NO. There is no law authorizing the appointment of an assessor in special
Sec. 154 of Act 190, invoked by the respondent Judge, provides that
either party to an action may apply in writing to the judge for assessors to
sit in the trial. Upon the filing of such application, the judge shall direct
that assessors be provided...

NO. Sec. 1 of Act 190 makes a distinction between a special proceeding

and an action.
Said provision provides that an action means an ordinary suit in a court
of justice, while while every other remedy furnished by law is a special
proceeding. Hence, when the legislature used the word action it did not
mean special proceeding.
An action is a formal demand of ones legal rights in a court of justice in a
manner prescribed by the court or by the law. It is the method of applying
legal remedies according to definite established rules.
A special proceeding is an application or proceeding to establish a status,
right, or a particular fact. Usually, no formal pleadings are required, unless
the statute expressly so provides. The remedy in special proceedings is
generally granted upon an application or motion.

Graciano married Patricia Natcher. During their marriage, Graciano sold the 396 sqm
lot to his wife Patricia. Graciano died, leaving as heirs, Patricia and his 6 children.
The 6 children filed a civil case against Patricia claiming that the title to the property
was acquired by her through fraud, misrepresentation and forgery by making it
appear that Graciano executed a Deed of Sale in her favour and that as a
consequence their legitimes have been impaired. Patricia countered that she is
likewise a compulsory heir of Graciano and that the legitimes of the children were
already advanced to them during the lifetime of their father.
RTC nullified the Deed of Sale but rationated that such can however be regarded as
advance inheritance of Patricia Natcher being a compulsory heir.

May the RTC, acting as a court of general jurisdiction in action for reconveyance and
annulment of title, adjudicate matters relating to the settlement of the estate of a
deceased person, particularly on questions as to advancements of property to the
NO. It is the probate court that has exclusive jurisdiction to make a just and legal
distribution of the estate. Trial Courts trying an ordinary action cannot perform acts
pertaining to a special proceeding because it is subject to specific prescribed rules.
Sec 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure distinguishes a civil action
(enforcement or protection of a right/prevention or redress of a wrong) from a
special proceeding (establish a right, status, or fact). In the instant case, the action
for reconveyance and annulment of title is a civil action, whereas matters relating to

the settlement of the estate such as advancement of property partake of the nature of
a special proceeding which concomitantly requires the application of specific rules as
provided in the ROC and fall within the exclusive province of the probate court as
provided by Sec 2 Rule 90 of the ROC. Thus the RTC, acting in its general
jurisdiction, is devoid of authority to render an adjudication and resolve the issue of
advancement of property to Natcher, inasmuch as an action for reconveyance and
annulment of title is not the proper vehicle to thresh out said question.
Moreover RTC Branch 55 was not properly constituted as a probate court so as to
validly pass upon the question of advancement of property.
Before a Court can partition and distribute the estate of the deceased, it must first
settle the estate in a special proceeding instituted for the purpose. In the instant case,
RTC determined the respective legitimes and assigned the subject property owned by
the estate to Natcher without observing the proper proceedings under the ROC.


Troadio Manalo died intestate and was survived by his wife, Pilar, and his 11
children. Troadio left several real properties in Manila and Tarlac and a business
(Manalos Machine Shop) with offices in QC and MM. 8 of the surviving children
filed a petition with the RTC of Manila for the judicial settlement of the estate of
their father and for the apptmt of their brother, Romeo, as administrator. Pilar,
together with the 3 other children (Antonio, Isabelita, Orlando) filed their opposition
and sought the dismissal of the proceeding.
RTC and CA denied their Motion for the dismissal of the judicial proceeding.
It is contended by Pilar and the 3 children that the petition in SP PROC No. 9263626 is actually an ordinary civil action involving members of the same family
pointing out certain averments allegedly indicative of its adversarial nature to wit:

That one of the sons, ANTONIO, had not made any settlement of the
properties of their deceased father x x
That he continued to manage and control properties w/o proper accounting,
to his own benefit and advantage
That he is managing and controlling the estate to his own advantage and to
the damage and prejudice of herein petitioners and their co-heirs x x
Petitioners were compelled to litigate and incur expenses for the protection
of their right and interest

Consequently, accdg to them, petition should be dismissed under Rule 16 of the ROC
on the ground that a condition precedent has not been complied with (failure to aver
in the petition in SP PROC. that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been
made involving members of the same family prior to the filing of the pet pursuant to
Art 222 of the Civil Code)
1. W/n the Petition for the Issuance of Letters of Admin, Settlement and
Distribution of the Estate filed in SP. PROC is in the nature of an ordinary
civil action and thus subject to Rule 16 (Mot to Dismiss) of the ROC?
1. NO. In the determination of the nature of an action or proceeding, the
averments and character of relief sought in the complaint or petition shall be
controlling. A careful scrutiny of the Petition for the Issuance of Letters of
Admin, Settlement and Distribution of the Estate filed in SP. PROC belies
the contention of the oppositors that it is an ordinary civil action as contains

sufficient jurisdictional facts required in a petition for the settlement of the

estate of a deceased person such as the fact of death of the decedent and his
residence at the time of death. The petition likewise contains an
enumeration of the names of his legal heirs, tentative list of his properties to
be settled and reliefs prayed for which leave no doubt as to the intention to
seek judicial settlement of the estate. It is noteworthy to mention that the
oppositors are not being sued in SP PROC. For any cause of action as in
fact no defendant was impleaded therein.


Loreto Gonzalez, an illegitimate daughter of Alejandro Gonzalez, was given
a legacy of 1/8 undivided portion of Hacienda Evangelista. Becuase she was
a minor when her father died, she was placed under the guardianship of her
half-brother, Aljandro jr., a legitimate son of the testator.
Manuel, another legitimate son of the testator, was for some time the
administrator of the estate. For the payment of his services, it was agreed in
a compromise agreement that he would be paid P 11,000, this was approved
by the probate court.
Alleging that he had not been paid his fee, he filed a motion for execution
with the probate court which granted the same. Eventually, Hacienda
Evangelista was sold. Loretos guardian failed to redeem her undivided
share in the property within the 1 yr redemption pd, hence a final deed of
sale was executed in favour of Manuel.
After coming of age, Loreto sough to recover her legacy by filing a motion
in the probate court to set aside the sale of the Hacienda Evangelista.
Unsuccessful, she sued her guardian in the CFI of Manila for damages for
the loss of her share.
Upon learning that Manuel had actually been paid for his services prior to
the sale of the Hacienda contrary to what he claims, Loreto filed an action
before the same probate court for the reconveyance of her 1/8 undivided
share in the Hacienda upon the ground that the same was acquired by
Manuel through fraud or misrepresentation. Probate court denied her
petition rationating that inasmuch as the question of title or ownership is
involved, Manuel may not be divested of his title within the probate
proceedings, but in an independent suit filed with a competent court. Hence
this appeal.
W/n the CFI of Manila, as a probate court, has jurisdiction to entertain
Loretos petition for reconveyance?
NO. The probate court has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition
for reconveyance in question. The CFI, acting as a probate court, has
limited jurisdiction and can take cognizance only of matters of probate x x
x and all such cases and proceedings as are not otherwise provided for. The
jurisdiction of the probate court is limited and special and this should be

understood to comprehend those cases related to those powers specified in

the law, and cannot extend to the adjudication of collateral matters.



Petition filed by Loreto before the probate court in fact calls for the
nullification of the order of execution issued by the probate court which is
already final and of the subsequent sale of the property to Manuel, upon the
alleged ground of fraud. The petition for reconveyance has given rise to a
controversy involving rights over a real property which would require the
presentation of evidence and the determination of legal questions that
should be ventilated in a court of general jurisdiction.

The nephews and nieces of Vicente Oria who died intestate, filed a petition for the
summary settlement of her estate valued at an amount not exceeding P 6000 (SP
PROC No. T-300)
Probate court issued an order adjudicating the estate to the heirs who were ordered to
submit a project of partition. Case was transferred from Tayug branch to Rosales
branch. Probate court confirmed the adjudication and ordered Eulalia Evangelista to
deliver the respective shares of her co-heirs. A writ of execution and a writ of
possession were issued by the probate court and the heirs were placed in possession
of their respective shares. However when a representative of the heirs went to
cultivate the property he was prevented by Jose Diaz and Cipriano Evangelista. In
view thereof, Jose and Cipriano were cited in contemt of court. As a consequence,
Cipriano Evangelista together with Pedro Baybayan and spouses Baybayan filed a
complaint in the CFI of Pangasinan for the quieting of title and to restrain defendants
from enforcing the writ of execution issued in SP PROC. A survey was conducted
where it was found that the lands delivered by the Deputy Sheriff to the heirs of
Vicente Oria are registered in the names of herein petitioners. Hence, contempt
charges were dropped. However, the same probate court ordered the petitioners to
amend their complaint in order to determine whether or not property in question is
part of the property under SP PROC.
W/n the findings of the probate court in the special proceeding as to the ownership of
the property justify its order to amend the complaint filed by the petitioners?
NO. The findings of the respondent judge as to the ownership of the property after
the hearing conducted in the special proceedings do not justify the order to amend
the complaint since the determination of the ownership of the lot by said judge
presiding over a court exercising probate jurisdiction is NOT final or ultimate in
nature and is without prejudice to the right of an interested party to raise the question
of ownership in a proper action. It is a well-settled rule that when questions arise as
to ownership of property alleged to be a part of the estate of a deceased person, but
claimed by some other person to be his property by title adverse to that of the
deceased and his estate, such questions cannot be determined in the courts of
administrative proceedings. The CFI, acting a s a probate court, has no jurisdiction to
adjudicate such contentions, which must be submitted to the CFI in the exercise of its
general jurisdiction.