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c.

G.R. No. 155555. August 16, 2005


ISABEL P. PORTUGAL and JOSE DOUGLAS
PORTUGAL JR., Petitioners, vs.
LEONILA PORTUGAL-BELTRAN, Respondent
Facts:
Jose Portugal (Portugal, Sr.) contracted two
marriages.
The first marriage is with Paz Lazo in 1942 whom
he had a daughter named Leonila Perpetua Aleli
Portugal (April 1950), the herein respondent, and
the second marriage is with Isabel de la Puerta in
1948, who gave birth to a boy named Jose
Douglas Portugal, Jr. (Sept. 1949), the petitioners
herein.
By virtue of a Deed of Extra-Judicial Partition and
Waiver of Rights executed by Portugal Sr. and his
4 siblings, over the estate of their father, a parcel
of land n Caloocan was issued a TCT in the name
of Jose Q. Portugal, married to Paz C. Lazo.
Paz died in 1984, while Portugal Sr. died intestate
in 1985.
In 1988, Leonila executed an Affidavit of
Adjudication by Sole Heir of Estate of
Deceased Person, adjudicating to herself the
Caloocan parcel of land, and was subsequently
registered (1988) in her name Leonila Portugal
Beltran, married to Merardo M. Beltran, Jr.
In 1996, Isabel and Portugal, Jr. (petitioners) filed
a complaint against Leonila for cancellation of
Affidavit of Adjudication and TCT issued in her
name, alleging that Leonila is not related
whatsoever to the deceased Portugal, Sr., hence,
not entitled to inherit the Caloocan parcel of land,
and accordingly prayed that said TCT be
cancelled and a new one be issued in their
(petitioners) name.
A Pre-Trial Order was issued, citing the following
issues to be resolved, to wit:

a. Which of the two (2) marriages contracted by


the deceased Jose Q. Portugal Sr., is valid?

Whether or not TCT No. 159813 was issued in


due course and can still be contested by
plaintiffs.

d. Whether or not plaintiffs are entitled to their


claims under the complaint. (Underscoring
supplied)
After trial, the trial court dismissed the case for
lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction
without resolving the issues as stated in the pretrial order, on the ground that petitioners status
and right as putative heirs had not been
established before a probate court.

Citing the case of Heirs of Guido and Isabel


Yaptinchay, the Supreme Court in this case ruled
that the establishment of a status, a right, or a
particular fact is remedied through a special
proceeding, not an ordinary civil action. Thus,
the court, not being a probate court, is without
jurisdiction to rule on plaintiffs cause to
establish their status and right herein.

On appeal to CA, the petitioners cite the case of


Carino vs. Carino. In this case, the SC
ratiocinates that the court may pass upon the
validity of marriage even after the death of the
parties thereto, and even in a suit not directly
instituted to question the validity of said marriage,
so long as it is essential to the determination of
the case.

However, the CA found Carino to be inapplicable.


The appellate court held that in Carino case, the
main issue was the validity of the two marriages,
whereas in the instant case, the main issue is the
annulment of title to property. Thus, the CA
affirmed the TCs dismissal of the case.

b. Which of the plaintiff . . . Jose Portugal Jr. and


defendant Leonila P. Beltran is the legal
heir of the deceased Jose Q. Portugal Sr.?
Hence, the present petition.

Special Proceedings

Digests Rule 72 & 73

evidence before the trial court which assumed


jurisdiction over the case upon the issues it
defined during pre-trial.

Issue:
Whether or not the petitioners have to institute a
special proceeding to determine their status as
heirs before they can pursue the case for
annulment
of
respondents
Affidavit
of
Adjudication and of the TCT issued in her name.

Ruling: NO.
In the case at bar, respondent, believing rightly or
wrongly that she was the sole heir to Portugals
estate, executed on February 15, 1988 the
questioned Affidavit of Adjudication under the
second sentence of Rule 74, Section 1 of the
Revised Rules of Court. Said rule is an
exception to the general rule that when a
person dies leaving a property, it should be
judicially administered and the competent court
should appoint a qualified administrator, in the
order established in Sec. 6, Rule 78 in case the
deceased left no will, or in case he did, he failed
to name an executor therein.

In fine, under the circumstances of the present


case, there being no compelling reason to still
subject Portugals estate to administration
proceedings
since
a
determination
of
petitioners status as heirs could be achieved
in the civil case filed by petitioners, the trial
court should proceed to evaluate the evidence
presented by the parties during the trial and
render a decision thereon upon the issues it
defined during pre-trial, which bear repeating, to
wit:

1. Which of the two (2) marriages contracted by


the deceased Jose Q. Portugal, is valid;
2. Which of the plaintiff, Jose Portugal Jr. and
defendant Leonila P. Beltran is the legal heir
of the deceased Jose Q. Portugal (Sr.);
3. Whether or not TCT No. 159813 was issued in
due course and can still be contested by
plaintiffs;

Petitioners claim, however, to be the exclusive


heirs of Portugal. A probate or intestate court, no
doubt, has jurisdiction to declare who are the heirs
of a deceased.

It appearing, however, that in the present case


the only property of the intestate estate of
Portugal is the Caloocan parcel of land, to still
subject it, under the circumstances of the
case, to a special proceeding which could be
long, hence, not expeditious, just to establish
the status of petitioners as heirs is not only
impractical; it is burdensome to the estate
with the costs and expenses of an
administration
proceeding.
And
it
is
superfluous in light of the fact that the parties
to the civil case subject of the present case,
could and had already in fact presented

Special Proceedings

4. Whether or not plaintiffs are entitled to their


claim under the complaint.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED.


The assailed September 24, 2002 Decision of the
Court of Appeals is hereby SET ASIDE.

Let the records of the case be REMANDED to the


trial court, Branch 124 of the Regional Trial Court
of Caloocan City, for it to evaluate the evidence
presented by the parties and render a decision on
the above-enumerated issues defined during the
pre-trial. No costs. SO ORDERED.

Digests Rule 72 & 73

Special Proceedings

Digests Rule 72 & 73