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MARLON M.

ECHAVEZ
2006-0371

G.R. No. 177099 & G.R. No. 177192


AGTARAP vs. AGTARAP

FACTS:

On 15 September 1994, Eduardo G. Agtarap filed a Petition for the Judicial


Settlement of the estate of his deceased father Joaquin Agatarap, who dies
intestate, with the Regional Trial Court of Pasay Branch 114. It was docketed as
Special Proceedings No. 94-4055.
The Petition alleged that during the lifetime of Joaquin he has contracted
two marriages, first with Lucia Garcia who died no April 24, 1924 with three
issues by the names of Jesus (died without issue) Milagros and Jose (survived
by three children, namely, Gloria, Joseph and Teresa). Jaoquin then married
Caridad Garcia which had three children, namely Eduardo, Sebastian and
Mercedes (survived by her daughter Cecile). At the time of his death, he left two
parcels of land with improvements in Pasay City with TCT Nos. 973-(38254) and
874-(38255). Joseph, son of Jose, grand son of Joaquin was leasing and
improving the said realties and had been appropriating P26,000.00 per month
since April 1994.
Pending the appointment of regular administrator, Eduardo alleged that
there was an imperative need for him as special administrator to take
possession and charge of the estate assets and their civil fruits. Also for the
court to issue an order stating the following (a) confirming and declaring the
compulsory heirs of Joaquin who will be entitled to participate in the
proceedings; (b) apportioning and allocating the unto the named heirs their
aliquot shares in the estate in accordance with Law; (c) entitling the distributes
the right to receive and enter in to possession those parts of the estate
individually awarded to them.
Meanwhile, Joseph, Gloria and Teresa filed their answer/opposition alleging
among others that the two subject lots belong to the conjugal partnership of
Joaquin and Lucia, thus, upon death of Lucia April 1924, they became the pro
indiviso owners of the subject properties. They say that the house was built by
the exclusive money of their late father Jose, and the expense of the extensions
to the house were shouldered by Gloria and Teresita, while the restaurant
(Manongs Restaurant) was built with the exclusive money of Joseph and his
business partner. They opposed the appointment of Eduardo as the
administrator on the following grounds: (1) he is not physically and mentally fir to
do so; (2) his interests in the lots is minimal; and (3) he does not possess the
desire to earn and claim that Joseph be appointed as special or regular
administrator.
On February 16, 1995, RTC issued a resolution appointing Eduardo as
regular administrator and later on letters of administration.
On September 16, 1995, Abelardo Dagoro, husband of Cecile, filed an
answer in intervention alleging that Mercedes is survived not only by his wife
Cecile but also by him as her husband. Also, claimed that though the estate
indeed needed an administrator, Eduardo was not fit for the designation.
Court rendered a decision dividing among the heirs per their shares the
amount of P14,177,500.00. Heirs of the first marriage received the following
amounts as their share in the estate of their late Father as stated: P531,656.23
each for Joseph, Teresa and Walter De Santos. As for heirs of the Second
Marriage: P5,522,854.06 each for Eduardo and Sebastian. The amount of
P295,364.57 was given to Priscilla Agtarap being the wife of Jose Agtarap and
the amount of P1,181,458.38 was given to Abelardo Dagoro as the surviving
husband of Mercedes Agtarap.
Eduardo, Sebastian and oppositors Joseph and Teresa filed their respective
motions for reconsideration.
On August 27, 2001, the RTC denied the motion for reconsideration for
reconsideration of Sebastian and Eduardo while granting that of Joseph and
Teresa. Also declared that the real estate properties belonged to the conjugal
partnership of Joaquin and Lucia. The court also directed the modification of the
partition issued last October 23, 2000 to reflect the correct sharing of the heirs.
Before the court could issue a modified partition, Eduardo and Sebastian
appealed the case to the CA.
CA rendered a decision declaring the instant appeals as dismissed for lack
of merit, affirming the Resolution dated August 27, 2001. The order of partition
was modified as ordered by the trial court.
Sebastian and Eduardo filed their respective motion for reconsideration and
were both denied by the CA on a Resolution dated March 27, 2007.

ISSUE:

Hence, the two petitions now pending before this court raises the following
issues:

GR No. 177192, as filed by Sebastian Agtarap.


That the CA erred in not considering the necessity of hearing the issue of
legitimacy of respondents as heirs.

GR No. 177099, as filed by Eduardo Agtarap.


1.That the CA did not acquire jurisdiction over the estate of Milagros
Agtarap and erred in distributing her inheritance from the estate of Joaquin
Agtarap notwithstanding the existence of her last will and testament in violation
of the doctrine of precedence of testate proceedings over intestate proceedings.
2.That the CA erred in dismissing the decision Appealed from for lack of
merit and in affirming the Resolution dated August 27, 2001 of the lower court
holding that the parcels of lands covered by TCT No. 38254 and TCT No. 38255
of the Registry Of Deeds of the City of Pasay belongs to the conjugal
partnership of Joaquin Agtarap married to Lucia notwithstanding their
registration under the existing certificates of title as registered in the name of
Joaquin Agtarap, Casado Con Caridad Garcia. Under existing jurisprudence, the
probate court has no power to determine the ownership of the property
described in these certificates of title which should be resolved in an appropriate
separate action for a torrens title under the law is endowed with incontestability
until it has been set aside in the manner indicated in the law itself.

HELD:

With regards to a common issue raised by both Sebastian and Eduardo,


concerning the courts jurisdiction to resolve the same. That the jurisdiction of the
trial court, either as a probate or an intestate court, relates only to matters
having to do with the probate of the will and/or settlement of the estate of the
deceased persons, but does not extend to the determination of questions of
ownership that arise during the proceedings as a general rule, as such, it is
therefore subject to exceptions as justified by expediency and convenience.
Such circumstances are when the probate court may provisionally pass
upon in an intestate or testate proceeding the question of inclusion in, or
exclusion from, the inventory of a piece of property without prejudice to the final
determination of ownership in a separate action. Another would be if the
interested parties are all heirs to the estate, or the question is one of collation or
advancement, or the parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by the
probate court and the rights of third parties are not impaired, then the probate
court is competent to resolve issues on ownership.
Jurisdiction extends to matters incidental or collateral to the settlement and
distribution of the estate, such as the determination of the status of each heir
and whether the property in the inventory is conjugal or exclusive property of the
deceased spouse.
The court holds that the case is covered in the exception since as stated in
the present case, the parties are all heirs of Joaquin and that no rights of third
persons will be impaired by the resolution of the ownership of said property.
Also, the determination of whether the subject properties are conjugal is but
collateral to the probate courts jurisdiction to settle the estate of Joaquin.
As to the validity of the distribution of the decedents property, it was found
out by the court that the title with the name of Joaquin Agtarap with Caridad as
his spouse originated from a title wherein the spouse was Lucia who eventually
died and were survived by her compulsory heirs namely Joaquin, Jesus,
Milagros and Jose.
The statement Joaquin Agtarap married to Cardad Garcia is not
conclusive evidence of ownership but is a mere description of the civil status of
Joaquin who is the registered owner and not the conjugal property of Joaquin
and Caridad. Also, pursuant to Rule 90 sec 1 of the Rules of Court, The RTC
was specifically granted jurisdiction to determine who are the lawful heirs of
Joaquin, as well as their respective shares.
With regards to the issue of legitimacy of Teresa and Joseph, both RTC and
CA found that they are both legitimate children of Jose.
Concerning the legitimacy of the claims of both Abelardo Dagoro and Walter
de Santos, the court decided to admit the two in the intestate proceedings.
However the SC agrees to Eduardos position that the CA erred in
distributing Joaquins estate pertinent to the share allotted in favor of Milagros.
Eduardo was able to show that there is a separate proceeding instituted for the
probate of the will allegedly executed by Milagros, bequeathing all of her share
from Joaquins estate in favor of Eduardo. Prudence dictates that this Court
refrain from distributing Milagros share in Joaquins estate.
Wherefore, the petition in GR No. 177192 filed by Sebastian, who died on
January 15, 2010, is denied for lack of merit while petition in GR No. 177099
filed by Eduardo is partially granted. That the Resolution dated March 27, 2007
of the CA are affirmed with modification that the share awarded to Milagros shall
not be distributed until the final determination of the probate of her will. Also, that
since Sebastian G. Agtarap died, he shall be represented by his wife Teresa B.
Agtarap and his children Joaquin Julian B. Agtarap and Ana Ma. Agtarap
Panlilio.