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Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 99856.


Republic of the Philippines dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads:

Supreme Court
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing premises,
judgment is hereby rendered by us DENYING the petition filed
in this case and AFFIRMING the assailed Orders dated
SECOND DIVISION March 15, 2007 and May 16, 2007 issued by the respondent
Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 6,
in Manila in Civil Case No. 02-105251.[4]
The assailed Resolution denied the petitioners' Motion for
- versus - CARPIO, J.,
Chairperson, Reconsideration.
HON. JANSEN R. RODRIGUEZ, in his capacity as PEREZ,
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, ARANAL-SERENO, andThe Factual Antecedents
by her son, EDUARDO S. BALAJADIA, Sometime between November 25, 2002 and December 3, 2002,[5] the
Respondents. respondents filed a Complaint[6] against the petitioners and Stronghold
Insurance Company, Global Business Bank, Inc. (formerly PhilBank), Elena
November 28, 2011
Tiu Del Pilar, Asia Atlantic Resources Ventures, Inc., Registers of Deeds
of Manila and Malabon, and all persons claiming rights or titles from Ramon
Ching (Ramon) and his successors-in-interest.

The Complaint, captioned as one for "Disinheritance, Declaration of
Nullity of Agreement and Waiver, Affidavit of Extra-Judicial Settlement, Deed
of Absolute Sale, Transfer Certificates of Title with Prayer for [the] Issuance of
[a] Temporary Restraining Order and [a] Writ of Preliminary Injunction," was
The Case
docketed as Civil Case No. 02-105251 and raffled to Branch 8 of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila (RTC).
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court assailing the December 14, 2009 Decision[2] and July 8, 2010
In the Complaint, the respondents alleged the following as causes of
of P4,000,000.00 in the name of Antonio, and the certificates of title covering
First Cause of Action. They are the heirs of Lim San, also known as two condominium units in Binondo which were purchased by Antonio using his
Antonio Ching / Tiong Cheng / Ching Cheng Suy (Antonio). Respondents own money but which were registered in Ramon's name. Ramon also
Joseph Cheng (Joseph) and Jaime Cheng (Jaime) are allegedly the children fraudulently misrepresented to Joseph, Jaime and Mercedes that they will
of Antonio with his common-law wife, respondent Mercedes Igne (Mercedes). promptly receive their complete shares, exclusive of the stocks in Po Wing
Respondent Lucina Santos (Lucina) claimed that she was also a common-law Properties, Inc. (Po Wing), from the estate of Antonio. Exerting undue
wife of Antonio. The respondents averred that Ramon misrepresented himself influence, Ramon had convinced them to execute an Agreement[8] and a
as Antonio's and Lucina's son when in truth and in fact, he was adopted and Waiver[9] on August 20, 1996. The terms and conditions stipulated in the
his birth certificate was merely simulated. On July 18, 1996, Antonio died of a Agreement and Waiver, specifically, on the payment by Ramon to Joseph,
stab wound. Police investigators identified Ramon as the prime suspect and Jaime and Mercedes of the amount of P22,000,000.00, were not complied
he now stands as the lone accused in a criminal case for murder filed against with. Further, Lucina was not informed of the execution of the said instruments
him. Warrants of arrest issued against him have remained unserved as he is and had not received any amount from Ramon. Hence, the instruments are
at large. From the foregoing circumstances and upon the authority of Article null and void.
919[7] of the New Civil Code (NCC), the respondents concluded that Ramon
can be legally disinherited, hence, prohibited from receiving any share from Fourth Cause of Action. Antonio's 40,000 shares in Po Wing, which
the estate of Antonio. constitute 60% of the latter's total capital stock, were illegally transferred by
Ramon to his own name through a forged document of sale executed after
Second Cause of Action. On August 26, 1996, prior to the conclusion Antonio died. Po Wing owns a ten-storey building in Binondo. Ramon's claim
of the police investigations tagging Ramon as the prime suspect in the murder that he bought the stocks from Antonio before the latter died is baseless.
of Antonio, the former made an inventory of the latter's estate. Ramon Further, Lucina's shares in Po Wing had also banished into thin air through
misrepresented that there were only six real estate properties left by Antonio. Ramon's machinations.
The respondents alleged that Ramon had illegally transferred to his name the
titles to the said properties. Further, there are two other parcels of land, cash Fifth Cause of Action. On October 29, 1996, Ramon executed an
and jewelries, plus properties in Hongkong, which were in Ramon's Affidavit of Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate[10] adjudicating solely to himself
possession. Antonio's entire estate to the prejudice of the respondents. By virtue of the said
instrument, new Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) covering eight real
Third Cause of Action. Mercedes, being of low educational properties owned by Antonio were issued in Ramon's name. Relative to the
attainment, was sweet-talked by Ramon into surrendering to him a Global Po Wing shares, the Register of Deeds of Manila had required Ramon to post
Business Bank, Inc. (Global Bank) Certificate of Time Deposit a Surety Bond conditioned to answer for whatever claims which may
eventually surface in connection with the said stocks. Co-defendant c.) Declaring the nullity of the AGREEMENT
Stronghold Insurance Company issued the bond in Ramon's behalf. and WAIVER executed by plaintiffs x x x in
favor of x x x RAMON CHING for being
patently immoral, invalid, illegal, simulated
Sixth Cause of Action. Ramon sold Antonio's two parcels of land in and (sic) sham;

Navotas to co-defendant Asia Atlantic Business Ventures, Inc. Another parcel d.) Declaring the nullity of the transfer of the
of land, which was part of Antonio's estate, was sold by Ramon to co- shares of stocks at (sic) PO WING from the
defendant Elena Tiu Del Pilar at an unreasonably low price. By reason of SANTOS to the defendant
ANTONIO CHING's name for having been
Ramon's lack of authority to dispose of any part of Antonio's estate, the
illegally procured through the falsification of
conveyances are null and void ab initio. their signatures in the document purporting
the transfer thereof;

Since Ramon is at large, his wife, Belen Dy Tan Ching, now manages e.) Declaring the nullity and to have no force
Antonio's estate. She has no intent to convey to the respondents their shares OF ESTATE executed by x x x RAMON
in the estate of Antonio. CHING for being contrary to law and existing

f.) Declaring the nullity of the DEED OF

The respondents thus prayed for the following in their Complaint:
SALES (sic) executed by x x x RAMON
CHING (i) over two (2) parcels of land x x x to
1. x x x a temporary restraining order be issued restraining the defendant ASIA ATLANTIC BUSINESS
defendant RAMON CHING and/or his attorney-in-fact Belen VENTURES, Inc.; and (ii) one (1) parcel of
Dy Tan Ching from disposing, selling or alienating any land x x x sold to x x x ELENA TIU DEL PILAR
property that belongs to the estate of the deceased ANTONIO for having illegally procured the ownership
CHING; and titles of the above properties;

xxx x x x.[11]

4. x x x
The petitioners filed with the RTC a Motion to Dismiss [12] alleging
a.) Declaring that the defendant RAMON
CHING who murdered his father ANTONIO forum shopping, litis pendentia, res judicata and the respondents as not being
CHING disqualified as heir and from
inheriting to (sic) the estate of his father; the real parties in interest.

b.) Declaring the nullity of the defendant

RAMON CHING transfer (sic) of the six [6] On July 30, 2004, the RTC issued an Omnibus Order [13] denying the
parcels of land from the name of his father petitioners' Motion to Dismiss.
ANTONIO CHING to his name covered by
TCT No. x x x;

The respondents filed an Amended Complaint[14] dated April 7, 2005 that since the Amended Complaint sought the release of the CPPA to the
impleading Metrobank as the successor-in-interest of co-defendant Global respondents, the latter's declaration as heirs of Antonio, and the propriety of
Bank. The Amended Complaint also added a seventh cause of Ramon's disinheritance, the suit partakes of the nature of a special proceeding
action relative to the existence of a Certificate of Premium Plus Acquisition and not an ordinary action for declaration of nullity. Hence, jurisdiction pertains
(CPPA) in the amount of P4,000,000.00 originally issued by PhilBank to to a probate or intestate court and not to the RTC acting as an ordinary court.
Antonio. The respondents prayed that they be declared as the rightful owners
of the CPPA and that it be immediately released to them. Alternatively, the On March 15, 2007, the RTC issued an Order [19] denying the petitioners'
respondents prayed for the issuance of a hold order relative to the CPPA to Motion to Dismiss on grounds:
preserve it during the pendency of the case.
In the case at bar, an examination of the Complaint
would disclose that the action delves mainly on the
On April 22, 2005, the petitioners filed their Consolidated Answer with question of ownership of the properties described in the
Complaint which can be properly settled in an ordinary
Counterclaim.[15] civil action. And as pointed out by the defendants, the action
seeks to declare the nullity of the Agreement, Waiver, Affidavit
of Extra-Judicial Settlement, Deed of Absolute Sale, Transfer
On October 28, 2005, the RTC issued an Order [16] admitting the Certificates of Title, which were all allegedly executed by
respondents' Amended Complaint. The RTC stressed that Metrobank had defendant Ramon Ching to defraud the plaintiffs. The relief of
establishing the status of the plaintiffs which could have
already filed Manifestations admitting that as successor-in-interest of Global translated this action into a special proceeding was
nowhere stated in the Amended Complaint. With regard
Bank, it now possesses custody of Antonio's deposits. Metrobank expressed
[to] the prayer to declare the plaintiffs as the rightful
willingness to abide by any court order as regards the disposition of Antonio's owner[s] of the CPPA and that the same be immediately
released to them, in itself poses an issue of ownership
deposits. The petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration filed to assail the which must be proved by plaintiffs by substantial
aforecited Order was denied by the RTC on May 3, 2006. evidence. And as emphasized by the plaintiffs, the Amended
Complaint was intended to implead Metrobank as a co-
On May 29, 2006, the petitioners filed their Consolidated Answer with
As regards the issue of disinheritance, the court notes that
Counterclaim to the respondents' Amended Complaint. during the Pre-trial of this case, one of the issues raised by
the defendants Ramon Ching and Po Wing Properties is:
Whether or not there can be disinheritance in intestate
On August 11, 2006, the RTC issued a pre-trial order.[17] succession? Whether or not defendant Ramon Ching can be
legally disinherited from the estate of his father? To the mind
of the Court, the issue of disinheritance, which is one of
On January 18, 2007, the petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss [18] the the causes of action in the Complaint, can be fully settled
after a trial on the merits. And at this stage, it has not been
respondents' Amended Complaint on the alleged ground of the RTC's lack of sufficiently established whether or not there is a
jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Complaint. The petitioners argued will.[20] (Emphasis supplied.)

court over the subject matter is determined by the
allegations of the complaint without regard to whether or
not the private respondents (plaintiffs) are entitled to
The above Order, and a subsequent Order dated May 16, 2007 recover upon all or some of the causes of action asserted
denying the petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration, became the subjects of a therein. In this regard, the jurisdiction of the court does
not depend upon the defenses pleaded in the answer or
petition for certiorari filed with the CA. The petition, docketed as CA-G.R. SP in the motion to dismiss, lest the question of jurisdiction
No. 99856, raised the issue of whether or not the RTC gravely abused its would almost entirely depend upon the petitioners
(defendants).[22] Hence, we focus our resolution on the issue
discretion when it denied the petitioners' Motion to Dismiss despite the fact of jurisdiction on the allegations in the amended complaint and
that the Amended Complaint sought to establish the status or rights of the not on the defenses pleaded in the motion to dismiss or in the
subsequent pleadings of the petitioners.
respondents which subjects are within the ambit of a special proceeding.
In fine, under the circumstances of the present case, there being no
compelling reason to still subject the action of the
On December 14, 2009, the CA rendered the now assailed petitioners in a special proceeding since the nullification
of the subject documents could be achieved in the civil
Decision[21] denying the petition for certiorari on grounds: case, the lower court should proceed to evaluate the evidence
of the parties and render a decision thereon upon the issues
Our in-depth assessment of the condensed allegations that it defined during the pre-trial in Civil Case No. 02-
supporting the causes of action of the amended complaint 105251.[23] (emphasis supplied)
induced us to infer that nothing in the said complaint
shows that the action of the private respondents should
be threshed out in a special proceeding, it appearing that The petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the CA
their allegations were substantially for the enforcement
of their rights against the alleged fraudulent acts through a Resolution[24] issued on July 8, 2010.
committed by the petitioner Ramon Ching. The private
respondents also instituted the said amended complaint
in order to protect them from the consequence of the The Issue
fraudulent acts of Ramon Ching by seeking to disqualify
Ramon Ching from inheriting from Antonio Ching as well
as to enjoin him from disposing or alienating the subject The instant Petition for Review on Certiorari[25] is anchored on the issue of:
properties, including the P4 Million deposit with
Metrobank. The intestate or probate court has no jurisdiction
to adjudicate such issues, which must be submitted to the WHETHER OR NOT THE RTC SHOULD HAVE GRANTED
court in the exercise of its general jurisdiction as a regional
trial court. Furthermore, we agree with the trial court that THE MOTION TO DISMISS FILED BY THE PETITIONERS
the probate court could not take cognizance of the prayer
to disinherit Ramon Ching, given the undisputed fact that
there was no will to be contested in a probate court. JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE

The petition at bench apparently cavils the subject amended AMENDED COMPLAINT, TO WIT, (A) FILIATIONS WITH
complaint and complicates the issue of jurisdiction by ANTONIO OF RAMON, JAIME AND JOSEPH; (B) RIGHTS
reiterating the grounds or defenses set up in the petitioners'
earlier pleadings. Notwithstanding, the jurisdiction of the OF COMMON-LAW WIVES, LUCINA AND MERCEDES, TO

DETERMINATION OF THE EXTENT OF ANTONIO'S We resolve to deny the instant petition.
BE RESOLVED IN A SPECIAL PROCEEDING AND NOT IN The petitioners failed to comply with a lawful order of this Court
AN ORDINARY CIVIL ACTION. directing them to file their reply to the respondents' Comment/Opposition to the
instant Petition. While the prescribed period to comply expired on March 15,
The petitioners argue that only a probate court has the authority to 2011, the petitioners filed their Manifestation that they will no longer file a reply
determine (a) who are the heirs of a decedent; (b) the validity of a waiver only on October 10, 2011 or after the lapse of almost seven months.
of hereditary rights; (c) the status of each heir; and (d) whether the property in
the inventory is conjugal or the exclusive property of the deceased Further, no reversible errors were committed by the RTC and the CA
spouse.[26] Further, the extent of Antonio's estate, the status of the contending when they both ruled that the denial of the petitioners' second motion to
parties and the respondents' alleged entitlement as heirs to receive the dismiss Civil Case No. 02-105251 was proper.
proceeds of Antonio's CPPA now in Metrobank's custody are matters which
are more appropriately the subjects of a special proceeding and not of an Even without delving into the procedural allegations of the
ordinary civil action. respondents that the petitioners engaged in forum shopping and are already
estopped from questioning the RTC's jurisdiction after having validly submitted
The respondents opposed[27] the instant petition claiming that the to it when the latter participated in the proceedings, the denial of the instant
petitioners are engaged in forum shopping. Specifically, G.R. Nos. Petition is still in order. Although the respondents' Complaint and Amended
175507[28] and 183840,[29] both involving the contending parties in the instant Complaint sought, among others, the disinheritance of Ramon and the release
petition were filed by the petitioners and are currently pending before this in favor of the respondents of the CPPA now under Metrobank's custody, Civil
Court. Further, in Mendoza v. Hon. Teh,[30] the SC declared that whether a Case No. 02-105251 remains to be an ordinary civil action, and not a special
particular matter should be resolved by the RTC in the exercise of its general proceeding pertaining to a settlement court.
jurisdiction or its limited probate jurisdiction, is not a jurisdictional issue but a
mere question of procedure. Besides, the petitioners, having validly submitted An action for reconveyance and annulment of title with damages is a
themselves to the jurisdiction of the RTC and having actively participated in civil action, whereas matters relating to settlement of the estate of a deceased
the trial of the case, are already estopped from challenging the RTC's person such as advancement of property made by the decedent, partake of
jurisdiction over the respondents' Complaint and Amended Complaint.[31] the nature of a special proceeding, which concomitantly requires the
application of specific rules as provided for in the Rules of Court.[32] A special
The Court's Ruling proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right,
or a particular fact.[33] It is distinguished from an ordinary civil action where a emphasized that the respondents were parties to the execution of the
party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the Agreement[35] and Waiver[36] prayed to be nullified. Hence, even without the
prevention or redress of a wrong.[34] To initiate a special proceeding, a petition necessity of being declared as heirs of Antonio, the respondents have the
and not a complaint should be filed. standing to seek for the nullification of the instruments in the light of their claims
that there was no consideration for their execution, and that Ramon exercised
Under Article 916 of the NCC, disinheritance can be effected only undue influence and committed fraud against them. Consequently, the
through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. This Court respondents then claimed that the Affidavit of Extra-Judicial Settlement of
agrees with the RTC and the CA that while the respondents in their Complaint Antonios estate executed by Ramon, and the TCTs issued upon the authority
and Amended Complaint sought the disinheritance of Ramon, no will or any of the said affidavit, are null and void as well. Ramon's averment that a
instrument supposedly effecting the disposition of Antonio's estate was ever resolution of the issues raised shall first require a declaration of the
mentioned. Hence, despite the prayer for Ramon's disinheritance, Civil Case respondents' status as heirs is a mere defense which is not determinative of
No. 02-105251 does not partake of the nature of a special proceeding and which court shall properly exercise jurisdiction.
does not call for the probate court's exercise of its limited jurisdiction.
In Marjorie Cadimas v. Marites Carrion and Gemma Hugo,[37] the
The petitioners also argue that the prayers in the Amended Complaint, Court declared:
seeking the release in favor of the respondents of the CPPA under
It is an elementary rule of procedural law that jurisdiction of
Metrobank's custody and the nullification of the instruments subject of the the court over the subject matter is determined by the
complaint, necessarily require the determination of the respondents' status as allegations of the complaint irrespective of whether or not the
plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims
Antonio's heirs. asserted therein. As a necessary consequence, the
jurisdiction of the court cannot be made to depend upon the
defenses set up in the answer or upon the motion to dismiss,
It bears stressing that what the respondents prayed for was that they for otherwise, the question of jurisdiction would almost entirely
be declared as the rightful owners of the CPPA which was in Mercedes' depend upon the defendant. What determines the jurisdiction
of the court is the nature of the action pleaded as appearing
possession prior to the execution of the Agreement and Waiver. The from the allegations in the complaint. The averments in the
complaint and the character of the relief sought are the
respondents also prayed for the alternative relief of securing the issuance by
matters to be consulted.
the RTC of a hold order relative to the CPPA to preserve Antonio's deposits
with Metrobank during the pendency of the case. It can thus be said that the
In sum, this Court agrees with the CA that the nullification of the
respondents' prayer relative to the CPPA was premised on Mercedes' prior
documents subject of Civil Case No. 02-105251 could be achieved in an
possession of and their alleged collective ownership of the same, and not on
ordinary civil action, which in this specific case was instituted to protect the
the declaration of their status as Antonio's heirs. Further, it also has to be
respondents from the supposedly fraudulent acts of Ramon. In the event that
the RTC will find grounds to grant the reliefs prayed for by the respondents,
the only consequence will be the reversion of the properties subject of the ALEJANDRO MONTAER, JR.,
dispute to the estate of Antonio. Civil Case No. 02-105251 was not instituted LILLIBETH MONTAER-
to conclusively resolve the issues relating to the administration, liquidation and ELEANOR MONTAER- Present:
distribution of Antonio's estate, hence, not the proper subject of a special DALUPAN,
Petitioners, PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person under Rules CARPIO,
73-91 of the Rules of Court.
- versus - AZCUNA, and
The respondents' resort to an ordinary civil action before the RTC may SHARIA DISTRICT COURT,
not be strategically sound, because a settlement proceeding should thereafter FOURTH SHARIA JUDICIAL
still follow, if their intent is to recover from Ramon the properties alleged to LILING DISANGCOPAN, AND Promulgated:
have been illegally transferred in his name. Be that as it may, the RTC, in the ALMAHLEEN LILING S.
exercise of its general jurisdiction, cannot be restrained from taking Respondents. JANUARY 20, 2009
cognizance of respondents' Complaint and Amended Complaint as the issues
raised and the prayers indicated therein are matters which need not be
threshed out in a special proceeding.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The petitioners' (a)

Opposition to the respondents' Motion to Admit Substitution of Party; [38] and
This Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition seeks to set aside the
(b) Manifestation[39] through counsel that they will no longer file a reply to the
Orders of the Sharia District Court, Fourth Sharia Judicial District, Marawi City,
respondents' Comment/Opposition to the instant petition are NOTED.
dated August 22, 2006[1] and September 21, 2006.[2]

On August 17, 1956, petitioner Luisa Kho Montaer, a Roman Catholic, married

Alejandro Montaer, Sr. at the Immaculate Conception Parish in

Cubao, Quezon City.[3] Petitioners Alejandro Montaer, Jr., Lillibeth Montaer-

Barrios, and Rhodora Eleanor Montaer-Dalupan are their children.[4] On May

26, 1995, Alejandro Montaer, Sr. died.[5]

On August 19, 2005, private respondents Liling Disangcopan and her On November 22, 2005, the Sharia District Court dismissed the private

daughter, Almahleen Liling S. Montaer, both Muslims, filed a Complaint for the respondents complaint. The district court held that Alejandro Montaer, Sr. was

judicial partition of properties before the Sharia District Court.[6] The said not a Muslim, and its jurisdiction extends only to the settlement and distribution

complaint was entitled Almahleen Liling S. Montaer and Liling M. Disangcopan of the estate of deceased Muslims.[11]

v. the Estates and Properties of Late Alejandro Montaer, Sr., Luisa Kho
On December 12, 2005, private respondents filed a Motion for
Montaer, Lillibeth K. Montaer, Alejandro Kho Montaer, Jr., and Rhodora
Reconsideration.[12] On December 28, 2005, petitioners filed an Opposition to
Eleanor K. Montaer, and docketed as Special Civil Action No. 7-05.[7] In the
the Motion for Reconsideration, alleging that the motion for reconsideration
said complaint, private respondents made the following allegations: (1) in May
lacked a notice of hearing.[13] On January 17, 2006, the Sharia District Court
1995, Alejandro Montaer, Sr. died; (2) the late Alejandro Montaer, Sr. is a
denied petitioners opposition.[14] Despite finding that the said motion for
Muslim; (3) petitioners are the first family of the decedent; (4) Liling
reconsideration lacked notice of hearing, the district court held that such defect
Disangcopan is the widow of the decedent; (5) Almahleen Liling S. Montaer is
was cured as petitioners were notified of the existence of the pleading, and it
the daughter of the decedent; and (6) the estimated value of and a list of the
took cognizance of the said motion.[15] The Sharia District Court also reset the
properties comprising the estate of the decedent.[8]Private respondents prayed
hearing for the motion for reconsideration.[16]
for the Sharia District Court to order, among others, the following: (1) the

partition of the estate of the decedent; and (2) the appointment of an In its first assailed order dated August 22, 2006, the Sharia District
administrator for the estate of the decedent.[9] Court reconsidered its order of dismissal dated November 22, 2005.[17] The

district court allowed private respondents to adduce further evidence. [18] In its
Petitioners filed an Answer with a Motion to Dismiss mainly on the following
second assailed order dated September 21, 2006, the Sharia District Court
grounds: (1) the Sharia District Court has no jurisdiction over the estate of the
ordered the continuation of trial, trial on the merits, adducement of further
late Alejandro Montaer, Sr., because he was a Roman Catholic; (2) private
evidence, and pre-trial conference.[19]
respondents failed to pay the correct amount of docket fees; and (3) private

respondents complaint is barred by prescription, as it seeks to establish Seeking recourse before this Court, petitioners raise the following
filiation between Almahleen Liling S. Montaer and the decedent, pursuant to issues:
Article 175 of the Family Code.[10]

COURT MARAWI CITY LACKS JURISDICTION OVER In their Comment to the Petition for Certiorari, private respondents stress that
MUSLIMS. the Sharia District Court must be given the opportunity to hear and decide the

question of whether the decedent is a Muslim in order to determine whether it

has jurisdiction.[20]
OVER THE ESTATES AND PROPERTIES OF THE LATE Jurisdiction: Settlement of the Estate of Deceased Muslims
Petitioners first argument, regarding the Sharia District Courts
jurisdiction, is dependent on a question of fact, whether the late Alejandro
ACQUIRE JURISDICTION OVER THE COMPLAINT OF Montaer, Sr. is a Muslim. Inherent in this argument is the premise that there
has already been a determination resolving such a question of fact. It bears
FEES. emphasis, however, that the assailed orders did not determine whether the
IV. decedent is a Muslim. The assailed orders did, however, set a hearing for the


DENIED THE OPPOSITION OF PETITIONERS AND THEN Article 143(b) of Presidential Decree No. 1083, otherwise known as
RESPONDENTS LILING DISANGCOPAN, ET AL. WHICH the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, provides that the Sharia
District Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over the settlement of the
estate of deceased Muslims:
ARTICLE 143. Original jurisdiction. (1) The Shari'a District
RESPONDENT SHARIA DISTRICT Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over:
IF THE COMPLAINT PLAINLY REVEALS THAT (b) All cases involving disposition, distribution and settlement
of the estate of deceased Muslims, probate of wills, issuance
of letters of administration or appointment of administrators or
executors regardless of the nature or the aggregate value of
the property.

The determination of the nature of an action or proceeding is controlled by the of a court over the nature of the action and its subject matter does not depend

averments and character of the relief sought in the complaint or petition.[21] The upon the defenses set forth in an answer[25] or a motion to

designation given by parties to their own pleadings does not necessarily bind dismiss.[26] Otherwise, jurisdiction would depend almost entirely on the

the courts to treat it according to the said designation. Rather than rely on defendant[27] or result in having a case either thrown out of court or its

a falsa descriptio or defective caption, courts are guided by the substantive proceedings unduly delayed by simple stratagem.[28] Indeed, the defense of

averments of the pleadings.[22] lack of jurisdiction which is dependent on a question of fact does not render

the court to lose or be deprived of its jurisdiction.[29]

Although private respondents designated the pleading filed before the

Sharia District Court as a Complaint for judicial partition of properties, it is The same rationale applies to an answer with a motion to dismiss.[30] In

a petition for the issuance of letters of administration, settlement, and the case at bar, the Sharia District Court is not deprived of jurisdiction simply

distribution of the estate of the decedent. It contains sufficient jurisdictional because petitioners raised as a defense the allegation that the deceased is not

facts required for the settlement of the estate of a deceased Muslim, [23] such a Muslim. The Sharia District Court has the authority to hear and receive

as the fact of Alejandro Montaer, Sr.s death as well as the allegation that he is evidence to determine whether it has jurisdiction, which requires an a

a Muslim. The said petition also contains an enumeration of the names of his priori determination that the deceased is a Muslim. If after hearing, the Sharia

legal heirs, so far as known to the private respondents, and a probable list of District Court determines that the deceased was not in fact a Muslim, the

the properties left by the decedent, which are the very properties sought to be district court should dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

settled before a probate court. Furthermore, the reliefs prayed for reveal that
Special Proceedings
it is the intention of the private respondents to seek judicial settlement of the

estate of the decedent.[24] These include the following: (1) the prayer for the The underlying assumption in petitioners second argument, that the
partition of the estate of the decedent; and (2) the prayer for the appointment proceeding before the Sharia District Court is an ordinary civil action against a
of an administrator of the said estate. deceased person, rests on an erroneous understanding of the proceeding

before the court a quo. Part of the confusion may be attributed to the
We cannot agree with the contention of the petitioners that the district
proceeding before the Sharia District Court, where the parties were designated
court does not have jurisdiction over the case because of an allegation in their
either as plaintiffs or defendants and the case was denominated as a special
answer with a motion to dismiss that Montaer, Sr. is not a Muslim. Jurisdiction
civil action. We reiterate that the proceedings before the court a quo are for

the issuance of letters of administration, settlement, and distribution of the fact,[36] has one definite party, who petitions or applies for a declaration of a

estate of the deceased, which is a special proceeding. Section 3(c) of the status, right, or particular fact, but no definite adverse party. In the case at bar,

Rules of Court (Rules) defines a special proceeding as a remedy by which a it bears emphasis that the estate of the decedent is not being sued for any

party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact. This Court has cause of action. As a special proceeding, the purpose of the settlement of the

applied the Rules, particularly the rules on special proceedings, for the estate of the decedent is to determine all the assets of the estate,[37] pay its

settlement of the estate of a deceased Muslim.[31] In a petition for the issuance liabilities,[38] and to distribute the residual to those entitled to the same.[39]

of letters of administration, settlement, and distribution of estate, the applicants

Docket Fees
seek to establish the fact of death of the decedent and later to be duly

recognized as among the decedents heirs, which would allow them to exercise Petitioners third argument, that jurisdiction was not validly acquired for
their right to participate in the settlement and liquidation of the estate of the non-payment of docket fees, is untenable. Petitioners point to private
decedent.[32] Here, the respondents seek to establish the fact of Alejandro respondents petition in the proceeding before the court a quo, which contains
Montaer, Sr.s death and, subsequently, for private respondent Almahleen an allegation estimating the decedents estate as the basis for the conclusion
Liling S. Montaer to be recognized as among his heirs, if such is the case in that what private respondents paid as docket fees was insufficient. Petitioners
fact. argument essentially involves two aspects: (1) whether the clerk of court

correctly assessed the docket fees; and (2) whether private respondents paid
Petitioners argument, that the prohibition against a decedent or his
the correct assessment of the docket fees.
estate from being a party defendant in a civil action [33] applies to a special

proceeding such as the settlement of the estate of the deceased, is misplaced. Filing the appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the
Unlike a civil action which has definite adverse parties, a special proceeding prescribed docket fees vest a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject
has no definite adverse party. The definitions of a civil action and a special matter.[40] If the party filing the case paid less than the correct amount for the
proceeding, respectively, in the Rules illustrate this difference. A civil action, in docket fees because that was the amount assessed by the clerk of court, the
which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the responsibility of making a deficiency assessment lies with the same clerk of
prevention or redress of a wrong[34] necessarily has definite adverse parties, court.[41] In such a case, the lower court concerned will not automatically lose
who are either the plaintiff or defendant.[35] On the other hand, a special jurisdiction, because of a partys reliance on the clerk of courts insufficient
proceeding, by which a party seeks to establish a status, right, or a particular assessment of the docket fees.[42] As every citizen has the right to assume and

trust that a public officer charged by law with certain duties knows his duties recitals contained therein.[48] In these exceptional cases, the Court considers

and performs them in accordance with law, the party filing the case cannot be that no party can even claim a vested right in technicalities, and for this reason,

penalized with the clerk of courts insufficient assessment. [43] However, the cases should, as much as possible, be decided on the merits rather than on

party concerned will be required to pay the deficiency. [44] technicalities.[49]

In the case at bar, petitioners did not present the clerk of courts The case at bar falls under this exception. To deny the Sharia District

assessment of the docket fees. Moreover, the records do not include this Court of an opportunity to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a petition

assessment. There can be no determination of whether private respondents for the settlement of the estate of a decedent alleged to be a Muslim would

correctly paid the docket fees without the clerk of courts assessment. also deny its inherent power as a court to control its process to ensure

conformity with the law and justice. To sanction such a situation simply
Exception to Notice of Hearing
because of a lapse in fulfilling the notice requirement will result in a miscarriage

Petitioners fourth argument, that private respondents motion for of justice.

reconsideration before the Sharia District Court is defective for lack of a notice
In addition, the present case calls for a liberal construction of the rules on
of hearing, must fail as the unique circumstances in the present case constitute
notice of hearing, because the rights of the petitioners were not affected. This
an exception to this requirement. The Rules require every written motion to be
Court has held that an exception to the rules on notice of hearing is where it
set for hearing by the applicant and to address the notice of hearing to all
appears that the rights of the adverse party were not affected.[50] The purpose
parties concerned.[45] The Rules also provide that no written motion set for
for the notice of hearing coincides with procedural due process,[51] for the court
hearing shall be acted upon by the court without proof of service
to determine whether the adverse party agrees or objects to the motion, as the
thereof.[46] However, the Rules allow a liberal construction of its provisions in
Rules do not fix any period within which to file a reply or opposition. [52] In
order to promote [the] objective of securing a just, speedy, and inexpensive
probate proceedings, what the law prohibits is not the absence
disposition of every action and proceeding.[47] Moreover, this Court has upheld
of previous notice, but the absolute absence thereof and lack of opportunity
a liberal construction specifically of the rules of notice of hearing in cases
to be heard.[53] In the case at bar, as evident from the Sharia District Courts
where a rigid application will result in a manifest failure or miscarriage of justice
order dated January 17, 2006, petitioners counsel received a copy of the
especially if a party successfully shows that the alleged defect in the
motion for reconsideration in question. Petitioners were certainly not denied
questioned final and executory judgment is not apparent on its face or from the

G.R. No. 133000 October 2, 2001
an opportunity to study the arguments in the said motion as they filed an
opposition to the same. Since the Sharia District Court reset the hearing for
the motion for reconsideration in the same order, petitioners were not denied HON. COURT OFAPPEALS AND THE HEIR OF GRACIANO DEL
the opportunity to object to the said motion in a hearing. Taken together, these MANANGAN, ROSALINDA FUENTES LLANA, RODOLFO FUENTES,
circumstances show that the purpose for the rules of notice of hearing, ROSARIO, respondent..

procedural process, was duly observed.


Prescription and Filiation May a Regional Trial Court, acting as a court of general jurisdiction in an action
for reconveyance annulment of title with damages, adjudicate matters relating
to the settlement of the estate of a deceased person particularly on questions
Petitioners fifth argument is premature. Again, the Sharia District Court has not as to advancement of property made by the decedent to any of the heirs?

yet determined whether it has jurisdiction to settle the estate of the decedent. Sought to be reversed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 is
the decision1 of public respondent Court of Appeals, the decretal portion of
In the event that a special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of a
which declares:
decedent is pending, questions regarding heirship, including prescription in
"Wherefore in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment
relation to recognition and filiation, should be raised and settled in the said appealed from is reversed and set aside and another one entered
annulling the Deed of Sale executed by Graciano Del Rosario in favor
proceeding.[54] The court, in its capacity as a probate court, has jurisdiction to of defendant-appellee Patricia Natcher, and ordering the Register of
Deeds to Cancel TCT No. 186059 and reinstate TCT No. 107443
declare who are the heirs of the decedent.[55] In the case at bar, the without prejudice to the filing of a special proceeding for the settlement
determination of the heirs of the decedent depends on an affirmative answer of the estate of Graciano Del Rosario in a proper court. No costs.

to the question of whether the Sharia District Court has jurisdiction over the "So ordered."

estate of the decedent. Spouses Graciano del Rosario and Graciana Esguerra were registered owners
of a parcel of land with an area of 9,322 square meters located in Manila and
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 11889. Upon the death of Graciana
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED. The Orders of the Sharia
in 1951, Graciano, together with his six children, namely: Bayani, Ricardo,
District Court, dated August 22, 2006 and September 21, 2006 respectively, Rafael, Leticia, Emiliana and Nieves, entered into an extrajudicial settlement
of Graciana's estate on 09 February 1954 adjudicating and dividing among
are AFFIRMED. Cost against petitioners. themselves the real property subject of TCT No. 11889. Under the agreement,
SO ORDERED. Graciano received 8/14 share while each of the six children received 1/14
share of the said property. Accordingly, TCT No. 11889 was cancelled, and in
lieu thereof, TCT No. 35980 was issued in the name of Graciano and the Six

Further, on 09 February 1954, said heirs executed and forged an "Agreement judicial separation of property between them, the spouses are
of Consolidation-Subdivision of Real Property with Waiver of Rights" where prohibited from entering (into) a contract of sale;
they subdivided among themselves the parcel of land covered by TCT No.
35980 into several lots. Graciano then donated to his children, share and share "2) The deed as sale cannot be likewise regarded as a valid donation
alike, a portion of his interest in the land amounting to 4,849.38 square meters as it was equally prohibited by law under Article 133 of the New Civil
leaving only 447.60 square meters registered under Graciano's name, as Code;
covered by TCT No. 35988. Subsequently, the land subject of TCT No. 35988
was further subdivided into two separate lots where the first lot with a land area "3) Although the deed of sale cannot be regarded as such or as a
of 80.90 square meter was registered under TCT No. 107442 and the second donation, it may however be regarded as an extension of advance
lot with a land area of 396.70 square meters was registered under TCT No.
inheritance of Patricia Natcher being a compulsory heir of the
107443. Eventually, Graciano sold the first lot2 to a third person but retained
ownership over the second lot.3
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the lower court's
On 20 March 1980, Graciano married herein petitioner Patricia Natcher. During decision ratiocinating, inter alia:
their marriage, Graciano sold the land covered by TCT No. 107443 to his wife
Patricia as a result of which TCT No. 1860594 was issued in the latter's name.
On 07 October 1985,Graciano died leaving his second wife Patricia and his six "It is the probate court that has exclusive jurisdiction to make a just
children by his first marriage, as heirs. and legal distribution of the estate. The court a quo, trying an ordinary
action for reconveyance / annulment of title, went beyond its
jurisdiction when it performed the acts proper only in a special
In a complaint5 filed in Civil Case No. 71075 before the Regional Trial Court of
proceeding for the settlement of estate of a deceased person. XXX
Manila, Branch 55, herein private respondents alleged that upon Graciano's
death, petitioner Natcher, through the employment of fraud, misrepresentation
and forgery, acquired TCT No. 107443, by making it appear that Graciano "X X X Thus the court a quo erred in regarding the subject property as
executed a Deed of Sale dated 25 June 19876 in favor herein petitioner advance inheritance. What the court should have done was merely to
resulting in the cancellation of TCT No. 107443 and the issuance of TCT no. rule on the validity of (the) sale and leave the issue on advancement
186059 in the name of Patricia Natcher. Similarly, herein private respondents to be resolved in a separate proceeding instituted for that purpose.
alleged in said complaint that as a consequence of such fraudulent sale, their XXX"
legitimes have been impaired.
Aggrieved, herein petitioner seeks refuge under our protective mantle through
In her answer7 dated 19 August 1994, herein petitioner Natcher averred that the expediency of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and assails the appellate
she was legally married to Graciano in 20 March 1980 and thus, under the law, court's decision "for being contrary to law and the facts of the case."
she was likewise considered a compulsory heir of the latter. Petitioner further
alleged that during Graciano's lifetime, Graciano already distributed, in We concur with the Court of Appeals and find no merit in the instant petition.
advance, properties to his children, hence, herein private respondents may not
anymore claim against Graciano's estate or against herein petitioner's Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines civil action and
property. special proceedings, in this wise:

After trial, the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 55, rendered a decision "XXX a) A civil action is one by which a party sues another for the
dated 26 January 1996 holding:8 enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a
"1) The deed of sale executed by the late Graciano del Rosario in favor
of Patricia Natcher is prohibited by law and thus a complete nullity. "A civil action may either be ordinary or special. Both are government
There being no evidence that a separation of property was agreed by the rules for ordinary civil actions, subject to specific rules
upon in the marriage settlements or that there has been decreed a prescribed for a special civil action.

"XXX proceedings; and the final order of the court thereon shall be binding on the
person raising the questions and on the heir.
"c) A special proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to
establish a status, a right or a particular fact." While it may be true that the Rules used the word "may", it is nevertheless
clear that the same provision11contemplates a probate court when it speaks of
As could be gleaned from the foregoing, there lies a marked distinction the "court having jurisdiction of the estate proceedings".
between an action and a special proceeding. An action is a formal demand of
one's right in a court of justice in the manner prescribed by the court or by the Corollarily, the Regional Trial Court in the instant case, acting in its general
law. It is the method of applying legal remedies according to definite jurisdiction, is devoid of authority to render an adjudication and resolve the
established rules. The term "special proceeding" may be defined as an issue of advancement of the real property in favor of herein petitioner Natcher,
application or proceeding to establish the status or right of a party, or a inasmuch as Civil Case No. 471075 for reconveyance and annulment of title
particular fact. Usually, in special proceedings, no formal pleadings are with damages is not, to our mind, the proper vehicle to thresh out said question.
required unless the statute expressly so provides. In special proceedings, the Moreover, under the present circumstances, the RTC of Manila, Branch 55
remedy is granted generally upon an application or motion." 9 was not properly constituted as a probate court so as to validly pass upon the
question of advancement made by the decedent Graciano Del Rosario to his
Citing American Jurisprudence, a noted authority in Remedial Law expounds wife, herein petitioner Natcher.
At this point, the appellate court's disquisition is elucidating:
"It may accordingly be stated generally that actions include those
proceedings which are instituted and prosecuted according to the "Before a court can make a partition and distribution of the estate of a
ordinary rules and provisions relating to actions at law or suits in deceased, it must first settle the estate in a special proceeding
equity, and that special proceedings include those proceedings which instituted for the purpose. In the case at hand, the court a quo
are not ordinary in this sense, but is instituted and prosecuted determined the respective legitimes of the plaintiffs-appellants and
according to some special mode as in the case of proceedings assigned the subject property owned by the estate of the deceased to
commenced without summons and prosecuted without regular defendant-appellee without observing the proper proceedings
pleadings, which are characteristics of ordinary actions. XXX A special provided (for) by the Rules of Court. From the aforecited discussions,
proceeding must therefore be in the nature of a distinct and it is clear that trial courts trying an ordinary action cannot resolve to
independent proceeding for particular relief, such as may be instituted perform acts pertaining to a special proceeding because it is subject
independently of a pending action, by petition or motion upon notice."10 to specific prescribed rules. Thus, the court a quo erred in regarding
the subject property as an advance inheritance."12
Applying these principles, an action for reconveyance and annulment of title
with damages is a civil action, whereas matters relating to settlement of the In resolving the case at bench, this Court is not unaware of our pronouncement
estate of a deceased person such as advancement of property made by the in Coca vs. Borromeo13 and Mendoza vs. Teh14 that whether a particular
decedent, partake of the nature of a special proceeding, which concomitantly matter should be resolved by the Regional Trial Court (then Court of First
requires the application of specific rules as provided for in the Rules of Court. Instance) in the exercise of its general jurisdiction or its limited probate
jurisdiction is not a jurisdictional issue but a mere question of procedure. In
Clearly, matters which involve settlement and distribution of the estate of the essence, it is procedural question involving a mode of practice "which may be
decedent fall within the exclusive province of the probate court in the exercise waived".15
of its limited jurisdiction.
Notwithstanding, we do not see any waiver on the part of herein private
Thus, under Section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, questions as to respondents inasmuch as the six children of the decedent even assailed the
advancement made or alleged to have been made by the deceased to any heir authority of the trail court, acting in its general jurisdiction, to rule on this
may be heard and determined by the court having jurisdiction of the estate specific issue of advancement made by the decedent to petitioner.

Analogously, in a train of decisions, this Court has consistently enunciated the G.R. No. 163108 February 23, 2005
long standing principle that although generally, a probate court may not decide
a question of title or ownership, yet if the interested parties are all heirs, or the GLENN CABALLES y CHUA, petitioner,
question is one of collation or advancement, or the parties consent to the vs.
assumption of jurisdiction by the probate court and the rights of third parties COURT OF APPEALS, HON. EMMANUEL D. LAUREA, HON. BENJAMIN
are not impaired, then the probate court is competent to decide the question T. ANTONIO, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
of ownership.16
Similarly in Mendoza vs. Teh, we had occasion to hold:
"In the present suit, no settlement of estate is involved, but merely an
allegation seeking appointment as estate administratrix which does Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court
not necessarily involve settlement of estate that would have
filed by the petitioner for the nullification of the Resolution of the Court of
invited the exercise of the limited jurisdiction of a probate
Appeals1 which dismissed his petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas
court.17 (emphasis supplied)
corpus for his release from detention despite the pendency of People of the
Philippines v. Glenn Caballes2for rape, and its resolution denying his motion
Of equal importance is that before any conclusion about the legal share due for reconsideration thereof.
to a compulsory heir may be reached, it is necessary that certain steps be
taken first.18 The net estate of the decedent must be ascertained, by deducting
The antecedents are as follows:
all payable obligations and charges from the value of the property owned by
the deceased at the time of his death; then, all donations subject to collation
would be added to it. With the partible estate thus determined, the legitime of On November 19, 2001, petitioner Glenn Chua Caballes was charged with
the compulsory heir or heirs can be established; and only thereafter can it be rape of a minor in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malabon City. The case
ascertained whether or not a donation had prejudiced the legitimes.19 was docketed as Criminal Case No. 25756-MN and raffled to Branch 169,
presided by Judge Emmanuel D. Laurea. Because the petitioner was charged
with a non-bailable offense, he was detained.
A perusal of the records, specifically the antecedents and proceedings in the
present case, reveals that the trial court failed to observe established rules of
procedure governing the settlement of the estate of Graciano Del Rosario. This The petitioner was arraigned on February 7, 2002 and pleaded not guilty to the
Court sees no cogent reason to sanction the non-observance of these well- offense charged. The prosecution presented two (2) witnesses, namely,
entrenched rules and hereby holds that under the prevailing circumstances, a Venice Vera Pio, the private complainant, and her mother. The petitioner,
probate court, in the exercise of its limited jurisdiction, is indeed the best forum through counsel, commenced his cross-examination of Pio, but failed to
to ventilate and adjudge the issue of advancement as well as other related complete the same. In January 2003, the petitioner engaged the services of a
matters involving the settlement of Graciano Del Rosario's estate.1wphi1.nt new counsel, Atty. Noel S. Sorreda, who entered his appearance as defense
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed decision of the Court of
Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED and the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack During the trial of February 26, 2003, the petitioner continued his cross-
of merit. examination of Pio but still failed to terminate the same. The trial was set on
March 6, 2003 for the petitioner to terminate his cross-examination of Pio.
However, due to the illness of the private prosecutor, the trial on the said date
did not proceed. The trial was further reset to March 17, 2003 during which the
petitioner continued with his cross-examination of the private complainant.
Thereafter, the continuation of trial was set on April 3, 21, and 30, 2003. On
April 3, 2003, the petitioner concluded his cross-examination of Pio. The
prosecution declared that its next witness would be Dr. Jose Arnel Marquez,

the Medico-Legal Officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime On June 27, 2003, the court issued a subpoena duces tecum/ad
Laboratory, who had conducted a medico-legal examination of the private testificandum to Dr. Jose Arnel Marquez requiring him to appear for the trial
complainant, but stated that he had not been subpoenad. The prosecution set on July 17, 2003.13
prayed for the cancellation of the trial scheduled on April 21, 2003 to give the
prosecution time to secure and cause the service of a subpoena duces On July 4, 2003, the petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the courts
tecum on him. The petitioner conformed to the motion of the prosecution. Order dated June 16, 2003 denying his petition for bail. His motion was set for
hearing, also on July 17, 2003. However, the petitioner preempted the
On April 28, 2003, the petitioner filed a petition for bail. 4 resolution of his motion for reconsideration and filed a Motion to Dismiss 14 the
case on July 11, 2003 on the ground that his right to speedy trial had been
The trial of April 30, 2003 did not proceed because the petitioners counsel violated. He made the following allegations:
filed a Manifestation5 that his presence was required in an execution sale in
Cavite. The said counsel manifested that he reserved his right to cross- 1. The hearings in the instant case have more often than not been
examine any witness the prosecution would present in case trial would scheduled more than one month apart;
proceed on that date; on the other hand, in the event that the trial court would
cancel the trial, he would be available in May 2003 and during the first half of 2. In the hearing on April 30, 2003, in particular, the day before
June 2003. undersigned counsel had filed a Manifestation stating inter alia that his
available dates for the next hearing may be "any Monday, Wednesday
The trial court reset the hearing of the case to 8:30 a.m. of June 19, 2003 and or Thursday for the whole of May 2003 and the first half of June 2003,
gave the prosecution ten (10) days to file its opposition6 to the petitioners except on May 14 and 21" yet Atty. Manalaysay asked for the next
petition for bail. It likewise ordered the issuance of a subpoena to Dr. Jose hearing on June 19 which is already outside or beyond the dates
Arnel Marquez to require him to attend the trial on the said date. mentioned in the manifestation, and which was more than 1-1/2
months away, but which the Honorable Court nonetheless granted;
On May 5, 2003, the petitioner filed a motion7 seeking an earlier trial date,
invoking his right to speedy trial under the Speedy Trial Act of 1998. He also 3. Atty. Manalaysay has never been able to present any "good cause"
filed a motion for the urgent resolution of his petition for bail.8 as to how come he was not able to present Dr. Marquez on April 30,
2003, and then again on June 19, 2003; and as aforesaid, his absence
On May 12, 2003, the petitioner filed another motion9 praying that the hearing on March 6, 2003 has not been supported by any medical certificate;
scheduled on June 19, 2003 be moved to an earlier date, preferably on May
26, 28 or 29, 2003. In the meantime, the prosecution filed its 4. The first hearing in the instant case was held on June 13, 2002, thus
comment/opposition10 to the petitioners petition for bail. it has now been more than one year, or close to 400 days ago since
trial started; neither has there been any authorization from the
On May 13, 2003, the court issued an Order11 declaring that the petition for bail Supreme Court that the trial period may exceed 180 days;
was submitted for its resolution and denying the petitioners motion for an
earlier trial date. On June 16, 2003, the trial court issued its Order 12 denying 5. There has been no statement by the Honorable Court in any of its
the petition for bail, on its finding that the evidence of guilt against the petitioner orders granting continuance that "the ends of justice served by taking
was strong. such action outweigh the best interest of the public and the accused
in a speedy trial;"
During the trial of June 19, 2003, Dr. Marquez failed to appear before the court
because, in the meantime, he had been assigned to the Eastern Police District 6. As above stated, it appears that the prosecution made a false
and failed to receive the subpoena issued to him by the court. The prosecution statement before the Honorable Court in claiming they had asked Dr.
prayed for continuance, but the petitioner objected and invoked his right to Marquez to testify in the June 19, 2003 hearing, when in fact they had
speedy trial. The court, nevertheless, granted the motion and reset the trial to not.15
July 17, 2003.

Dr. Jose Arnel Marquez had apparently still not received the subpoena issued grave abuse of its discretion in denying his petition for bail; and (d) Judge
by the trial court, because of which the prosecution again failed to present him Antonio had prejudged the case against him.
as a witness during the trial of July 17, 2003. The prosecution prayed for
continuance, to which the petitioner vigorously objected. The court, however, On December 9, 2003, the CA issued its assailed Resolution dismissing the
granted the motion and reset the trial to August 11, 2003.16 petition, viz:

On July 24, 2003, Judge Laurea issued an Order 17 inhibiting himself from WHEREFORE, for being the wrong or improper remedy, the PETITION
hearing the case "to avoid being misunderstood, to preserve his reputation for FOR HABEAS CORPUS is DISMISSED.
probity and objectivity and to live up to the ideal impartial administration of
justice." The case was re-raffled to Branch 170, presided by Judge Benjamin
T. Antonio, who calendared the case for trial on September 8, 2003.
Nevertheless, on August 11, 2003, the petitioner filed a Motion for
Reconsideration18 of Judge Laureas Order dated July 24, 2003, which the According to the appellate court, while the petitioner manifested his preference
latter denied, on the finding that no cogent reason was presented to reconsider that his petition be treated as a petition for habeas corpus, the same was not
the same.19 the proper remedy to review and examine the proceedings before the trial court
and as a relief from the petitioners perceived oppressive situation in the trial
court. The CA further emphasized that a writ of habeas corpus is not a writ of
During the hearing on September 8, 2003, Judge Antonio granted the private
error; that it could not exercise its certiorari jurisdiction over the acts or
prosecutors motion to be given five (5) days within which to oppose the omission of the respondent judge as a concomitant remedy; and that the
petitioners motion to dismiss. Judge Antonio also set the trial on September remedy for habeas corpus and certiorari are different in nature, scope and
18, 2003.20 On the latter date, the trial court issued an Omnibus
purpose. The appellate court declared that the petitioner failed to present any
Order21 denying the petitioners motion to dismiss. The trial court reasoned that
evidence to prove that there was any intentional or deliberate delay caused to
there was no violation of the petitioners right to speedy trial, considering that
prejudice him; nor was there any malice in the failure of the prosecution to
the apparent delays could not be attributed to the fault of the prosecution promptly serve the subpoena duces tecum/ad testificandum to its witnesses.
alone. The trial court noted that the petitioner also sought Postponements of The court also noted that the resetting of petitioners case may also be
the trials.
attributed to the voluminous work of the RTC involved.

Anent the motion for reconsideration of the courts Order dated June 16, 2003
The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the said decision contending
which denied the petition for bail, the trial court considered the same as having that (a) the congestion of the trial courts calendar is not a valid ground for
been abandoned by the petitioner upon the filing of his motion to dismiss the continuance of the trial; (b) the trial court failed to secure an extension of time
case without waiting for the resolution of his motion for reconsideration on his
of the trial period from the Supreme Court; (c) the trial court should have given
petition for bail.
a precedence to the case, the charge therein being a heinous crime; (d) his
petition for a writ of habeas corpus was proper because his continued
The petitioner then filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) a "Petition for Habeas detention had become illegal, following the prosecutor and the trial courts
Corpus and/or Certiorari and Prohibition."22 On October 2, 2003, the CA violation of his right to a speedy trial, and the trial courts denial of his motion
issued a Resolution requiring the petitioner to inform the court of his choice of to dismiss the case and his petition for bail which was tainted with grave abuse
remedy within five (5) days from notice thereof. In compliance therewith, the of discretion; and (e) a writ of habeas corpus may be issued with the writ of
petitioner filed a manifestation with the appellate court that he had chosen his certiorari for the purpose of review. However, the CA denied the petitioners
petition to be treated as a petition for habeas corpus without prejudice "to the motion for lack of merit.
concomitant application of certiorari if the court considered the same
necessary or appropriate to give effect to the writ of habeas corpus."
The petitioner filed a petition for certiorari in this Court under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court reiterating the grounds contained in his motion for
The petitioner averred that (a) he was deprived of his right to a speedy trial reconsideration of the CA decision. The petitioner averred that the appellate
and his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the case; (b) Judge court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of
Laurea erred in inhibiting himself from the case; (c) the trial court committed

jurisdiction in rendering its resolution, as well as the resolution denying his reason being that certiorari cannot co-exist with an appeal or any other
motion for reconsideration thereof. adequate remedy. The existence and availability of the right to appeal are
antithetical to the availment of the special civil action for certiorari. These two
In its comment on the petition, the Office of the Solicitor General submits that remedies are mutually exclusive.24 An appeal in this case would still have been
a petition for a writ of habeas corpus is not the proper remedy to assail the trial a speedy and adequate remedy. Consequently, when the petitioner filed his
courts order denying his petition for bail, motion to dismiss the case, and petition in this Court, the decision of the CA was already final and executory.
Judge Laureas order of inhibition. The OSG posits that the petitioner was not
deprived of his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of his case as well It bears stressing that a decision in a habeas corpus action stands in no
as under the Speedy Trial Act. different position than with any other proceeding and if the appealed decision
is to be reviewed by an appellate court, the remedy is by writ of error because
The issues for resolution are the following: (a) whether or not the decision of the error committed by the court is an error of judgment and not an error of
the CA is already final and executory; (b) whether the proper remedy from the jurisdiction.25
appellate courts denial of a petitioner for a writ if habeas corpus is a petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court; and (c) if in the affirmative, Besides, as correctly held by the CA, a writ of habeas corpus is not the proper
whether or not the petitioner is entitled to the issuance of the writ. remedy to assail the trial courts denial of the petitioners motion to dismiss the
case, the denial of the petition for bail, as well as the voluntary inhibition of
On the first issue, we find and so rule that the petitioners recourse to this Judge Laurea.
Court via a petition for certiorari from the decision of the CA dismissing his
petition for a writ of habeas corpus is inappropriate. Section 39 of Batas A petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus is a special proceeding
Pambansa Blg. 129 provides that the period for appeal from the judgment of governed by Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, as amended. In Ex Parte
any court in habeas corpus cases shall be forty-eight (48) hours from notice of Billings,26 it was held that habeas corpus is that of a civil proceeding in
the judgment appealed from. While the said provision was not incorporated in character. It seeks the enforcement of civil rights. Resorting to the writ is not
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, this Court approved Administrative Matter to inquire into the criminal act of which the complaint is made, but into the right
No. 01-1-03-SC amending Section 3, Rule 41of the said Rules, which took of liberty, notwithstanding the act and the immediate purpose to be served is
effect on July 15, 2001, thus: relief from illegal restraint. The rule applies even when instituted to arrest a
criminal prosecution and secure freedom. When a prisoner petitions for a writ
SEC. 3. Period of ordinary appeal; appeal in habeas corpus cases.The of habeas corpus, he thereby commences a suit and prosecutes a case in that
appeal shall be taken within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or court.27
final order appealed from. Where a record on appeal is required, the appellant
shall file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal within thirty (30) days from Habeas corpus is not in the nature of a writ of error; nor intended as substitute
notice of the judgment or final order. However, an appeal in habeas for the trial courts function.28 It cannot take the place of appeal, certiorari or
corpus cases shall be taken within forty-eight (48) hours from notice of the writ of error. The writ cannot be used to investigate and consider questions of
judgment or final order appealed from. error that might be raised relating to procedure or on the merits. The inquiry in
a habeas corpusproceeding is addressed to the question of whether the
The period of appeal shall be interrupted by a timely motion for new trial or proceedings and the assailed order are, for any reason, null and void. 29 The
reconsideration. No motion for extension of time to file a motion for new trial or writ is not ordinarily granted where the law provides for other remedies in the
reconsideration shall be allowed. regular course, and in the absence of exceptional circumstances.
Moreover, habeas corpus should not be granted in advance of trial.30 The
Following the rule, the petitioner should have appealed to this Court from the orderly course of trial must be pursued and the usual remedies exhausted
CA decision denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, as well as the before resorting to the writ where exceptional circumstances are extant. In
another case, it was held that habeas corpus cannot be issued as a writ of
denial of his motion for reconsideration thereof; instead, the petitioner filed a
error or as a means of reviewing errors of law and irregularities not involving
petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, as amended. The
the questions of jurisdiction occurring during the course of the trial, subject to
well-settled rule is that certiorari is not available where the aggrieved partys
the caveat that constitutional safeguards of human life and liberty must be
remedy of appeal is plain, speedy and adequate in the ordinary course, the
preserved, and not destroyed.31 It has also been held that where restraint is jurisdiction. A writ of certiorari reaches only jurisdictional errors. It has no other
under legal process, mere errors and irregularities, which do not render the use, except to bring before the court a record material to be considered in
proceedings void, are not grounds for relief by habeas corpus because in such exercising jurisdiction. A writ of certiorari reaches the record. On the other
cases, the restraint is not illegal.32 hand, a writ of habeas corpus reaches the body but not the record; it also
reaches jurisdictional matters but does not reach the record. However, when
Habeas corpus is a summary remedy. It is analogous to a proceeding in jurisdiction is obtained by the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, to bring the
rem when instituted for the sole purpose of having the person of restraint body of the person whose liberty is involved into court, and if it is necessary,
presented before the judge in order that the cause of his detention may be to provide the record upon which the detention is based, that may be
inquired into and his statements final.33 The writ of habeas corpus does not act accomplished by using a writ of certiorari as an ancillary proceeding, i.e., it is
upon the prisoner who seeks relief, but upon the person who holds him in what subordinate to or in aid of the primary action for the purpose of impeaching the
is alleged to be the unlawful authority.34 Hence, the only parties before the record. When a writ of certiorari is issued as the foundation of jurisdiction to
court are the petitioner (prisoner) and the person holding the petitioner in bring it and direct upon the validity of a judicial determination by any body or
custody, and the only question to be resolved is whether the custodian has officer, jurisdictional questions only are reached, and such questions
authority to deprive the petitioner of his liberty.35 The writ may be denied if the pertaining to the detention made by the officer or body particularly complained
petitioner fails to show facts that he is entitled thereto ex merito justicias.36 of.40

A writ of habeas corpus, which is regarded as a "palladium of liberty" is a The petitioner manifested to the appellate court that his petition should be
prerogative writ which does not issue as a matter of right but in the sound treated as a petition for habeas corpus. Even then, the CA rightly dismissed
discretion of the court or judge. It, is, however, a writ of right on proper the petition because the petitioner failed to establish his right to the writ. The
formalities being made by proof.37 Resort to the writ is to inquire into the records show that the petitioner was charged with rape punishable
criminal act of which a complaint is made but unto the right of liberty, by reclusion perpetua and was detained based on the said charge; hence, if
notwithstanding the act, and the immediate purpose to be served is relief from the evidence of his guilt is strong, he shall not be admitted to bail regardless
illegal restraint.38 The primary, if not the only object of the writ of habeas corpus of the stage of the criminal prosecution.41 There is no question that the trial
ad subjuciendum is to determine the legality of the restraint under which a court had jurisdiction over the offense charged and over the person of the
person is held.39 petitioner. The jail warden has the authority and, in fact, is mandated to detain
the petitioner until granted bail by the court, or the case against him dismissed,
or until he is acquitted after trial. The petitioner failed to establish that his
Our review of the petitioners material averments in his petition before the CA
incarceration pendente lite was illegal, and likewise failed to establish
reveals that it was a "petition for habeas corpus or, in the alternative, a petition
exceptional circumstances warranting the issuance of a writ of habeas
for a writ of certiorari" The petitioner assailed therein the orders of the trial court
corpus by the appellate court.1a\^/
denying his petition for bail and his motion to dismiss on the ground that he
was deprived of his right to a speedy disposition of the case against him, and
questioned Judge Laureas order of inhibition. We agree with the CA that a In Galvez v. Court of Appeals,42 the Court ruled that a petition for habeas
petition for a writ of habeas corpus cannot be joined with the special civil action corpus is not the proper remedy to assail the denial thereof:
for certiorari because the two remedies are governed by a different set of rules.
Rule 2, Section 5(b) of the Rules of Court mandates that the joinder of causes The original jurisdiction to grant or deny bail rested with said respondent.
of action shall not include special actions or actions governed by special rules, The correct course was for petitioner to invoke that jurisdiction by filing a
thus proscribing the joinder of a special proceeding with a special civil action. petition to be admitted to bail, claiming a right to bail per se by reason of the
weakness of the evidence against him. Only after that remedy was denied by
We also agree with the ruling of the CA that a petition for a writ of habeas the trial court should the review jurisdiction of this Court have been invoked,
corpus is a remedy different from the special civil action of certiorari under Rule and even then, not without first applying to the Court of Appeals if appropriate
65 of the Rules of Court, as amended. The writ of habeas corpus is a collateral relief was also available there.43
attack on the processes, orders, or judgment of the trial court, while certiorari
is a direct attack of said processes, orders, or judgment on the ground of lack The remedy of the petitioner from the Order of the trial court denying his
of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of petition for bail was to file a petition for certiorari in the CA if the trial court

committed a grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or lack of (2) By imposing on any appointed counsel de oficio, public
jurisdiction in issuing the said order.44 If the petitioner had done so, his petition attorney, or prosecutor a fine not exceeding five thousand
would have been granted because as gleaned from the assailed order of the pesos (5,000.00); and
trial court, it failed to summarize the testimonies of the private complainant and
that of her mother. Hence, such order is invalid.45 The trial court would have (3) By denying any defense counsel or prosecutor the right to
had to issue another order containing the summary of the testimonies of the practice before the court trying the case for a period not
private complainant and her mother, including its findings and conclusions. exceeding thirty (30) days. The punishment provided for by
However, the petitioner would still not be entitled to be released from detention this section shall be without prejudice to any appropriate
in the meantime. criminal action or other sanction authorized under these
It bears stressing that under the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 13746 of
the Rules of Court, the voluntary inhibition of a Judge is addressed to his sound If the trial court acted with grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess
discretion for just or valid reasons, the primary consideration being that the of lack of jurisdiction in granting the prosecutions motion for the resetting of
peoples faith in the courts of justice is not impaired. 47 The petitioner should the trial over the petitioners objections, the more appropriate remedy would
have thus filed a petition for certiorari and/or prohibition in the CA, instead of a have been to file a petition for certiorari and/or a petition for mandamus to
petition for habeas corpus. compel the trial court to comply with the timeline provided for by the said Rule
for trial and termination of the case.
In cases where the right of the accused to a speedy trial is violated by the
prosecution, the remedy lies in the procedure provided for under Republic Act It was inappropriate for the petitioner to file a petition for habeas
No. 8493, as implemented by Rule 119 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal corpus assailing the trial courts order denying his motion to dismiss the case
Procedure. Section 8 of the said Rule provides: for failure to comply with the timeline provided for by the said Rules. Reading
and evaluating the assailed Order of the trial court dated September 18, 2000,
SEC. 8. Sanctions. In any case in which private counsel for the accused, the it cannot be gainsaid that the court violated the right of the petitioner to speedy
public attorney, or the prosecutor: trial. Thus:

(a) Knowingly allows the case to be set for trial without disclosing that The instant motion is anchored on the alleged violation of and/or to enforce the
a necessary witness would be unavailable for trial; right of the accused to speedy trial. In invoking such right, the accused
contends that the failure of the prosecution to present the medico-legal officer
(b) Files a motion solely for delay which he knows is totally frivolous who examined the victim on two (2) occasions, and the non-appearance of the
and without merit; private prosecutor on one occasion caused undue delay in the proceedings of
this case.
(c) Makes a statement for the purpose of obtaining continuance which
he knows to be false and which is material to the granting of a The prosecution vigorously opposed the Motion to Dismiss and claimed that
continuance; or since the prosecution has not yet rested its case, the Court may not be able to
appreciate the merits of the instant motion in the light of the unfinished
presentation of evidence for the prosecution and that the grounds relied by the
(d) Willfully fails to proceed to trial without justification consistent with
defense do not touch on the sufficiency of the prosecutions evidence to prove
the provisions hereof, the court may punish such counsel, attorney, or
prosecutor, as follows: the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, but rather on the alleged
delay and failure to present Dr. Jose Arnel Marquez of the PNP Crime
(1) By imposing on a counsel privately retained in connection
with the defense of an accused, a fine not exceeding twenty
After due consideration, the Court finds the instant motion
thousand pesos (20,000.00);
untenable.l^ The alleged delay and failure to present the medico-
legal officer cannot be attributed to the fault of the prosecution and/or the
Court. The prosecution and the Court cannot encroach on the right of the susceptible by precise qualification. The concept of a speedy disposition is a
medico-legal officer to appear inasmuch as his schedule conflicted with the relative term and must necessarily be a flexible concept.
hearings set for his appearance. Moreover, delays assailed by defense
counsel that violated accused right to speedy trial are not all at the instance While justice is administered with dispatch, the essential ingredient is orderly,
of the prosecution. In fact, the defense, contributed to the delay since the expeditious and not mere speed. It cannot be definitely said how long is too
former defense counsel and even the present defense counsel sought long in a system where justice is supposed to be swift, but deliberate. It is
postponements of the hearings. consistent with delays and depends upon circumstances. It secures rights to
the accused, but it does not preclude the rights of public justice. Also, it must
Be that as it may, despite the non-presentation of the medico-legal officer, the be borne in mind that the rights given to the accused by the Constitution and
Court (Branch 169) proceeded in resolving the Petition for Bail of the accused the Rules of Court are shields, not weapons; hence, courts are to give meaning
(albeit unfavorable to the cause of the accused) on the basis of the sole to that intent.
testimony of the complainant, which is backed up by several jurisprudence to
this effect. The defense, filed a Motion for Reconsideration of said denial after The Court emphasized in the same case that:
he has filed a Motion to Dismiss. The filing of these pleadings adds to the delay
until the Presiding Judge who denied the Petition for Bail voluntarily inhibited
A balancing test of applying societal interests and the rights of the accused
himself from this case. Then when the Motion to Dismiss was set for hearing, necessarily compels the court to approach speedy trial cases on an ad
the Court, in an attempt to expedite the proceedings, suggested for the parties hoc basis.
to stipulate on the medical findings of the medico-legal officer so as to dispense
with his presentation. Defense counsel, however, would not want to enter into
such a stipulation. Hence, another delay.48 In determining whether the accused has been deprived of his right to a speedy
disposition of the case and to a speedy trial, four factors must be considered:
(a) length of delay; (b) the reason for the delay; (c) the defendants assertion
We agree with the petitioner that a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas
of his right; and (d) prejudice to the defendant. Prejudice should be assessed
corpus may be filed if one is deprived of his right to a speedy disposition of the
in the light of the interest of the defendant that the speedy trial was designed
case under Article IV, Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution and of his right to to protect, namely: to prevent oppressive pre-trial incarceration; to minimize
due process.49 However, the petitioner never invoked in the trial court his
anxiety and concerns of the accused to trial; and to limit the Possibility that his
constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the case against him. What he
defense will be impaired. Of these, the most serious is the last, because the
invoked was his right to a speedy trial under Rule 119 of the 2000 Rules of
inability of a defendant adequately to prepare his case skews the fairness of
Criminal Procedure. He invoked his constitutional right to a speedy disposition
the entire system. There is also prejudice if the defense witnesses are unable
of the case against him, for the first time, only in the Court of Appeals when he
to recall accurately the events of the distant past. Even if the accused is not
filed his petition for habeas corpus.
imprisoned prior to trial, he is still disadvantaged by restraints on his liberty and
by living under a cloud of anxiety, suspicion and often, hostility. His financial
Even then, the petitioner failed to establish his claim that he was deprived of resources may be drained, his association is curtailed, and he is subjected to
his right to a speedy disposition of the case. In Marilyn Corpuz, et al., v. public obloquy.
Sandiganbayan,50 the Court had the occasion to state
Delay is a two-edged sword. It is the government that bears the burden of
The right of the accused to a speedy trial and to a speedy disposition of the proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. The passage of time may make it
case against him was designed to prevent the oppression of the citizen by difficult or impossible for the government to carry its burden. The Constitution
holding criminal prosecution suspended over him for an indefinite time, and to and the Rules do not require impossibilities or extraordinary efforts, diligence
prevent delays in the administration of justice by mandating the courts to or exertion from courts or the prosecutor, nor contemplate that such right shall
proceed with reasonable dispatch in the trial of criminal cases. Such right to a deprive the State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly prosecuting criminals.
speedy trial and a speedy disposition of a case is violated only when the As held in Williams v. United States, for the government to sustain its right to
proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. The try the accused despite a delay, it must show two things: (a) that the accused
inquiry as to whether or not an accused has been denied such right is not suffered no serious prejudice beyond that which ensued from the ordinary and

inevitable delay; and (b) that there was no more delay than is reasonably IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.
attributable to the ordinary processes of justice. No costs.

Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or justification of the State SO ORDERED.
for such delay. Different weights should be assigned to different reasons or
justifications invoked by the State. For instance, a deliberate attempt to delay Republic of the Philippines
the trial in order to hamper or prejudice the defense should be weighted heavily Supreme Court
against the State. Also, it is improper for the prosecutor to intentionally delay Manila
to gain some tactical advantage over the defendant or to harass or prejudice
him. On the other hand, the heavy case load of the prosecution or a missing
witness should be weighted less heavily against the State. THIRD DIVISION

In this case, the petitioner was arraigned on February 7, 2002. In the

meantime, he was able to present only two witnesses. The petitioner failed to ALAN JOSEPH A. SHEKER, G.R. No. 157912
terminate the cross-examination of the private complainant by the year 2002. Petitioner,
The Court cannot determine the reason for the delay because the records of Present:
the RTC are not before it. Neither of the parties made any explanation for the
delay; nor is there any showing that the counsel of the petitioner complained YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
about the delay. Aside from the petitioners claim that the private prosecutor - versus - Chairperson,
failed to give good cause for his failure to present Dr. Jose Arnel Marquez AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
during the trial dates April 30, 2003 and June 19, 2003, as well as to CHICO-NAZARIO,
substantiate his absence during the trial of March 6, 2003 with a medical NACHURA, and
certificate, the petitioner failed to support his claim in his pleadings before the ESTATE OF ALICE O. SHEKER, REYES, JJ.
CA and in this Court. On the other hand, the counsel of the petitioner was VICTORIA S. MEDINA-
absent during the trial on April 30, 2003 because he had to attend an execution Administratrix, Promulgated:
sale in Cavite. The petitioners counsel gave priority to the execution sale and Respondent. December 13, 2007
asked for a resetting despite the fact that his client, the petitioner, was detained x------------------------------------------------x
for a quasi-heinous crime. While it is true that the trial was reset to June 19,
2003, or more than one month from April 30, 2003, the petitioners counsel
himself manifested that he was available for trial during the first half of June
2003. There was a difference of only four (4) days from the trial date set by the DECISION
court and the available dates suggested by the petitioners counsel. It bears
stressing that trial dates cannot be set solely at the convenience of the
petitioners counsel. The trial dates available in the calendar of the court and
of the prosecutor must also be taken into account.1vvphi1.nt AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Hence, it cannot be said that the petitioner was deprived of his right to a speedy
disposition of the case simply because the private prosecutor failed to submit This resolves the Petition for Review on Certiorari seeking the reversal of the
a medical certificate for his absence during the trial of March 6, 2003. The
petitioner could have asked the court to cite the private prosecutor in contempt Order[1] of the Regional Trial Courtof Iligan City, Branch 6 (RTC)
of court for his failure to submit the said certificate; he failed to do so. Moreover,
dated January 15, 2003 and its Omnibus Order dated April 9, 2003.
the petitioner failed to establish any serious prejudice by the delay of the trial,
and that the State deliberately delayed the trial to prejudice him.
The undisputed facts are as follows.
(c) must a contingent claim filed in a probate proceeding be
The RTC admitted to probate the holographic will of Alice O. Sheker and dismissed because of its failure to contain a written
explanation on the service and filing by registered mail?[2]
thereafter issued an order for all the creditors to file their respective claims
against the estate. In compliance therewith, petitioner filed on October 7, 2002
Petitioner maintains that the RTC erred in strictly applying to a
a contingent claim for agent's commission due him amounting to
probate proceeding the rules requiring a certification of non-forum shopping, a
approximately P206,250.00 in the event of the sale of certain parcels of land
written explanation for non-personal filing, and the payment of docket fees
belonging to the estate, and the amount of P275,000.00, as reimbursement for
upon filing of the claim. He insists that Section 2, Rule 72 of the Rules of Court
expenses incurred and/or to be incurred by petitioner in the course of
provides that rules in ordinary actions are applicable to special proceedings
negotiating the sale of said realties.
only in a suppletory manner.

The executrix of the Estate of Alice O. Sheker (respondent) moved for the
The Court gave due course to the petition for review
dismissal of said money claim against the estate on the grounds that (1) the
on certiorari although directly filed with this Court, pursuant to Section 2(c),
requisite docket fee, as prescribed in Section 7(a), Rule 141 of the Rules of
Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.[3]
Court, had not been paid; (2) petitioner failed to attach a certification against
non-forum shopping; and (3) petitioner failed to attach a written explanation
The petition is imbued with merit.
why the money claim was not filed and served personally.

However, it must be emphasized that petitioner's contention that rules in

On January 15, 2003, the RTC issued the assailed Order dismissing without
ordinary actions are only supplementary to rules in special proceedings is not
prejudice the money claim based on the grounds advanced by
entirely correct.
respondent. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied per Omnibus
Order dated April 9, 2003.
Section 2, Rule 72, Part II of the same Rules of Court provides:

Petitioner then filed the present petition for review on certiorari, raising the Sec. 2. Applicability of rules of Civil Actions. - In the
absence of special provisions, the rules provided for in
following questions: ordinary actions shall be, as far as practicable, applicable in
special proceedings.
(a) must a contingent claim filed in the probate proceeding
contain a certification against non-forum shopping, failing
which such claim should be dismissed? Stated differently, special provisions under Part II of the Rules of Court
(b) must a contingent claim filed against an estate in a probate govern special proceedings; but in the absence of special provisions, the rules
proceeding be dismissed for failing to pay the docket fees at
the time of its filing thereat?
provided for in Part I of the Rules governing ordinary civil actions shall be Sections 1 and 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court, after granting letters of
applicable to special proceedings, as far as practicable. testamentary or of administration, all persons having money claims against the
decedent are mandated to file or notify the court and the estate administrator
The word practicable is defined as: possible to practice or perform; of their respective money claims; otherwise, they would be barred, subject to
capable of being put into practice, done or accomplished.[4] This means that in certain exceptions.[5]
the absence of special provisions, rules in ordinary actions may be applied in
special proceedings as much as possible and where doing so would not pose Such being the case, a money claim against an estate is more akin to a motion
an obstacle to said proceedings.Nowhere in the Rules of Court does it for creditors' claims to be recognized and taken into consideration in the proper
categorically say that rules in ordinary actions are inapplicable or disposition of the properties of the estate. In Arquiza v. Court of Appeals,[6] the
merely suppletory to special proceedings. Provisions of the Rules of Court Court explained thus:
requiring a certification of non-forum shopping for complaints and initiatory x x x The office of a motion is not to initiate new litigation,
pleadings, a written explanation for non-personal service and filing, and the but to bring a material but incidental matter arising in the
progress of the case in which the motion is filed. A motion
payment of filing fees for money claims against an estate would not in any way is not an independent right or remedy, but is confined to
obstruct probate proceedings, thus, they are applicable to special proceedings incidental matters in the progress of a cause. It relates to
some question that is collateral to the main object of the
such as the settlement of the estate of a deceased person as in the present action and is connected with and dependent upon the
case. principal remedy.[7] (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, the principal question in the present case is: did the RTC err in A money claim is only an incidental matter in the main action for the settlement

dismissing petitioner's contingent money claim against respondent estate for of the decedent's estate; more so if the claim is contingent since the claimant

failure of petitioner to attach to his motion a certification against non-forum cannot even institute a separate action for a mere contingent

shopping? claim.Hence, herein petitioner's contingent money claim, not being an

initiatory pleading, does not require a certification against non-forum

The Court rules in the affirmative. shopping.

The certification of non-forum shopping is required only for On the issue of filing fees, the Court ruled in Pascual v. Court of Appeals,[8] that

complaints and other initiatory pleadings.The RTC erred in ruling that a the trial court has jurisdiction to act on a money claim (attorney's fees) against

contingent money claim against the estate of a decedent is an initiatory an estate for services rendered by a lawyer to the administratrix to assist her

pleading. In the present case, the whole probate proceeding was initiated in fulfilling her duties to the estate even without payment of separate docket

upon the filing of the petition for allowance of the decedent's will. Under fees because the filing fees shall constitute a lien on the judgment pursuant to

exercise of discretion must, necessarily consider the
Section 2, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, or the trial court may order the practicability of personal service, for Section 11 itself
payment of such filing fees within a reasonable time. [9] After all, the trial court begins with the clause whenever practicable.
had already assumed jurisdiction over the action for settlement of the We thus take this opportunity to clarify that under Section 11,
estate. Clearly, therefore, non-payment of filing fees for a money claim against Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
personal service and filing is the general rule, and resort to
the estate is not one of the grounds for dismissing a money claim against the other modes of service and filing, the
estate. exception. Henceforth, whenever personal service or filing is
practicable, in the light of the circumstances of time, place and
person, personal service or filing is mandatory. Only when
personal service or filing is not practicable may resort to other
With regard to the requirement of a written explanation, Maceda v. De
modes be had, which must then be accompanied by a written
Guzman Vda. de Macatangay[10] is squarely in point. Therein, the Court held explanation as to why personal service or filing was not
practicable to begin with. In adjudging the plausibility of an
thus: explanation, a court shall likewise consider the importance of
the subject matter of the case or the issues involved therein,
In Solar Team Entertainment, Inc. v. Ricafort, this Court, and the prima faciemerit of the pleading sought to be
passing upon Section 11 of Rule 13 of the Rules of Court, held expunged for violation of Section 11. (Emphasis and italics
that a court has the discretion to consider a pleading or paper supplied)
as not filed if said rule is not complied with.
Personal service and filing are preferred for obvious In Musa v. Amor, this Court, on noting the impracticality of
reasons. Plainly, such should expedite action or resolution on personal service, exercised its discretion and liberally applied
a pleading, motion or other paper; and conversely, minimize, Section 11 of Rule 13:
if not eliminate, delays likely to be incurred if service or filing
is done by mail, considering the inefficiency of the postal As [Section 11, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court]
service. Likewise, personal service will do away with the requires, service and filing of pleadings must
practice of some lawyers who, wanting to appear clever, be done personally whenever
resort to the following less than ethical practices: (1) serving practicable. The court notes that in the
or filing pleadings by mail to catch opposing counsel off-guard, present case, personal service would not
thus leaving the latter with little or no time to prepare, for be practicable.Considering the distance
instance, responsive pleadings or an opposition; or (2) upon between the Court of Appeals
receiving notice from the post office that the registered mail and Donsol, Sorsogon where the petition
containing the pleading of or other paper from the adverse was posted, clearly, service by registered
party may be claimed, unduly procrastinating before claiming mail [sic] would have entailed
the parcel, or, worse, not claiming it at all, thereby causing considerable time, effort and expense. A
undue delay in the disposition of such pleading or other written explanation why service was not
papers. done personally might have been
superfluous. In any case, as the rule is so
If only to underscore the mandatory nature of this innovation worded with the use of may, signifying
to our set of adjective rules requiring personal service permissiveness, a violation thereof gives
whenever practicable, Section 11 of Rule 13 then gives the the court discretion whether or not to
court the discretion to consider a pleading or paper as consider the paper as not filed. While it is
not filed if the other modes of service or filing were not true that procedural rules are necessary to
resorted to and no written explanation was made as to secure an orderly and speedy
why personal service was not done in the first place. The
administration of justice, rigid application The filing of a money claim against the decedents estate in
of Section 11, Rule 13 may be relaxed in the probate court is mandatory. As we held in the vintage case
this case in the interest of substantial of Py Eng Chong v. Herrera:
justice. (Emphasis and italics supplied)
x x x This requirement is for the purpose of protecting the
In the case at bar, the address of respondents counsel is estate of the deceased by informing the executor or
Lopez, Quezon, while petitioner administrator of the claims against it, thus enabling him to
Sonias counsels is Lucena City.Lopez, Quezon is 83 examine each claim and to determine whether it is a proper
kilometers away from Lucena City. Such distance makes one which should be allowed. The plain and obvious design
personal service impracticable. As in Musa v. Amor, a written of the rule is the speedy settlement of the affairs of the
explanation why service was not done personally might have deceased and the early delivery of the property to
been superfluous. the distributees, legatees, or heirs. The law strictly requires
the prompt presentation and disposition of the claims
As this Court held in Tan v. Court of Appeals, liberal against the decedent's estate in order to settle the affairs
construction of a rule of procedure has been allowed where, of the estate as soon as possible, pay off its debts and
among other cases, the injustice to the adverse party is not distribute the residue.[15] (Emphasis supplied)
commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not
complying with the procedure prescribed.[11] (Emphasis
supplied) The RTC should have relaxed and liberally construed the procedural rule on
the requirement of a written explanation for non-personal service, again in the
In the present case, petitioner holds office in Salcedo Village, Makati City, interest of substantial justice.
while counsel for respondent and the RTC which rendered the assailed orders
are both in Iligan City. The lower court should have taken judicial notice of the WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders of the Regional Trial
great distance between said cities and realized that it is indeed not practicable Court of Iligan City, Branch 6 dated January 15, 2003 and April 9, 2003,
to serve and file the money claim personally. Thus, following Medina v. Court respectively,
of Appeals,[12] the failure of petitioner to submit a written explanation why are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court ofIligan City,
service has not been done personally, may be considered as superfluous and Branch 6, is hereby DIRECTED to give due course and take appropriate action
the RTC should have exercised its discretion under Section 11, Rule 13, not on petitioner's money claim in accordance with Rule 82 of the Rules of Court.
to dismiss the money claim of petitioner, in the interest of substantial justice. No pronouncement as to costs.

The ruling spirit of the probate law is the speedy settlement of estates SO ORDERED.
of deceased persons for the benefit of creditors and those entitled to residue
by way of inheritance or legacy after the debts and expenses of administration
have been paid.[13] The ultimate purpose for the rule on money claims was
further explained in Union Bank of the Phil. v. Santibaez,[14] thus:

Republic of the Philippines 3. That the deceased left an estate consisting of real property in
SUPREME COURT Zamboanga City with a probable value of not less than SIX
Manila THOUSAND PESOS (P6,000.00), Philippine Currency;

EN BANC 4. That as far as petitioners know, the deceased left no debts

remaining unpaid;
G.R. No. L-21725 November 29, 1968
In the meantime, on November 23, 1962 herein petitioner filed his opposition
AURELIO ARCILLAS, petitioner, to the November 12 petition on the ground that inasmuch as Lot No. 276
vs. the subject matter thereof was included in the estate of the deceased for
HON. GREGORIO D. MONTEJO, Judge of the Court of First Instance of which a petition for administration had actually been filed and was awaiting
Zamboanga, MODESTA ALFARO, GERONIMO ARCILLAS and VICENTE resolution, that petition (the one dated November 12) should be held in
ARCILLAS, respondents. abeyance until after Special Proceeding No. 632 was closed and terminated.
Recognizing then the merit of petitioner's ground, respondent Judge issued an
Antonio J. Calvento for petitioner. order on December 1, 1963 temporarily holding in abeyance resolution of the
T. de los Santos for respondents. November 12 petition until the termination of the intestate proceedings.

MAKALINTAL, J.: Meanwhile, in his answer to the November 16 petition (Sp. Proc. No. 632)
Geronimo Arcillas, this time joined by Vicente Arcillas and the widow Modesta
Alfaro, opposed the issuance of letters of administration to herein petitioner,
Filed before the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga on November 12 and arguing that inasmuch as Lot No. 276 was the only property left by the
16, 1962, respectively, are two separate petitions having direct and special deceased and the deceased left no debts, the petition for administration was
reference to Lot No. 276. This lot, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. improper. However petitioner, in his reply on January 18, 1963, insisted that
RT-244 (2155 (0-656), forms a major part of the estate of the late Eustaquio there were still other properties of the estate of the deceased besides Lot No.
Arcillas who died intestate on March 8, 1958 in the City of Zamboanga. 276; he likewise took issue with respondents' view that administration
proceedings could be dispensed with asserting, firstly, that there was no
In the petition dated November 12 Geronimo Arcillas, one of the heirs of the unanimity among the heirs for extrajudicial partition and, secondly, that some
deceased, sought the cancellation of TCT No. RT-244 in the name of the of the heirs had been unduly deprived of their participation in the estate.
deceased and prayed for the issuance of a new certificate of title in the names
of the heirs in the enumerated proportions alleged in the petition. It was On March 8, 1963 respondent court denied the November 16 petition for the
claimed that at various dates after the death of the deceased, several issuance of letters of administration and at the same time gave due course to
transactions affecting Lot No. 276 transpired, prominent among which were the November 12 petition. Reasoned the court: "... to obviate the necessity of
the separate sales of their respective shares and participation in Lot No. 276 spending uselessly which would only deplete the funds of the estate; to avoid
executed by four (4) other children of the deceased in favor of co-heir Vicente unnecessary delay in the partition of the property involved herein, and
Arcillas. Invoking section 112 of Act No. 496 (Land Registration Act), Geronimo following the doctrines established by the Honorable Supreme Court in several
Arcillas argued that the proportion of each heir's participation in said lot should cases of the same nature, which is in consonance with the provisions of
be accurately reflected in a new certificate of title. But before any other material Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court, the court is of the opinion that the
pleading could be filed with respect to this petition, five (5) other children of the herein petition (should) be denied and (holds that) the cadastral motion of the
deceased filed the November 16 petition aforementioned. This later petition, oppositor Geronimo Arcillas covering the same property is the most expedient
docketed as Special Proceeding No. 632, prayed for the issuance of letters of and proper action."
administration in favor of herein petitioner preparatory to the final settlement
of the deceased's estate. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of this later petition, insofar as
Unable to have this order reconsidered petitioner filed the instant petition for
pertinent to this case, read:
certiorari with mandamus and preliminary injunction. On December 2, 1963,
upon filing by petitioner of the required bond, we issued a writ of preliminary

injunction enjoining respondent Judge from proceeding with the hearing of the Having decided to institute administration proceedings instead of resorting to
"cadastral motion" dated November 12, 1962. the less expensive modes of settlement of the estate, i.e. extrajudicial
settlement or ordinary action for partition, the heirs may not then be rebuffed
The issues to be determined are whether respondent Judge acted properly (1) in the exercise of their discretion granted under section 1 of Rule 74 of the
in dismissing the administration proceedings under the authority of section 1, Rules of Court merely on the ground that the expenses usually common in
rule 74 of the New Rules of Court upon averments that the estate left no debts administration proceedings may deplete the funds of the estate. The resultant
and all the heirs entitled to share in its distribution are all of age and (2) in delay and necessary expenses incurred thereafter are consequences which
maintaining that the "cadastral motion" brought under the provision of section must be deemed to have been voluntarily assumed by the heirs themselves
112 of the Land Registration Act was the more proper proceeding under the so that they may not in the future be heard to complain of these matters.
circumstances. Besides, the truth or veracity of petitioner's claim as to the alleged existence
of other properties of the deceased aside from the lot in question can be more
adequately ascertained in administration proceedings rather than in any other
Under section 1, Rule 74 of the New Rules of Court, if the decedent left no will
and no debts and the heirs and legatees are all of age, or the minors are
represented by their judicial guardians, the parties may, without securing
letters of administration, divide the estate among themselves as they see fit by Understandably the allowance of the hearing of the "cadastral" motion,
means of a public instrument filed in the office of the Register of Deeds and supposedly brought under the authority of section 112 of Act 496, cannot be
should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action of partition. And sustained. While this section authorizes, among others, a person in interest to
primarily anchored on the proposition that inasmuch as in the present case the ask the court for any erasure, alteration, or amendment of a certificate of title
minimum requirements of the aforementioned section obtain, i.e. the decedent "upon the ground that registered interests of any description, whether vested,
left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of age, respondents claim that contingent, expectant, or inchoate have terminated and ceased," and
there is no necessity for the institution of special proceedings and the apparently the November 12 petition comes within its scope, such relief can
appointment of an administrator for the settlement of the estate for the reason only be granted if there is unanimity among the parties, or there is no adverse
that it is superfluous and unnecessary. In other words, respondents apparently claim or serious objection on the part of any party in interest; otherwise the
view section 1 of Rule 74 as mandatory upon the heirs so long as the deceased case becomes controversial and should be threshed out in an ordinary case
left no will nor any pending obligations to be paid and his heirs are all of age. or in the case where the incident properly belongs (see Puguid v. Reyes, L-
21311, August 10, 1967 and the cases cited therein). In the instant case the
obvious lack of unanimity among the parties in interest, manifestly
We cannot entirely agree with the respondents. On a similar contention in the
past, we had occasion to explain in Rodriguez, et al. v. Tan, et al., 92 Phil. 273: demonstrated by petitioners' express objection to the cancellation of TCT No.
RT-244, sufficiently removes the November 12 petition from the scope of
section 112 of Act 496. Besides, the proceedings provided in the Land
... section I does not preclude the heirs from instituting administration Registration Act are summary in nature and hence inadequate for the litigation
proceedings, even if the estate has no debts or obligation, if they do of issues which properly pertain to the case where the incident belongs.
not desire to resort for good reasons to an ordinary action of partition.
While section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among themselves
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered setting aside
as they may see fit, or to resort to an ordinary action of partition, it
does not compel them to do so if they have good reasons to take a the appealed orders and directing respondent Judge or whoever is presiding
different course of action. Said section is not mandatory or compulsory the court below to reinstate Special Proceedings No. 632; the writ of
as may be gleaned from the use made therein of the word may. If the preliminary injunction previously issued enjoining respondent Judge from
proceeding with the hearing of the "cadastral" motion dated November 12,
intention were otherwise the framer of the rule would have employed
the word shall as was done in other provisions that are mandatory in 1962 is hereby made permanent. Costs against respondents, except
character. Note that the word may its used not only once but in the respondent Judge.
whole section which indicates an intention to leave the matter entirely
to the discretion of the heirs. Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro, Fernando
and Capistrano, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines Certificate of Title No. 23777 of the Registry of Deeds of Negros
2. That the said registered owners had four children namely
EN BANC Fortunata, Eugenia, Gregorio and Maxima Oyod.

G.R. No. L-23758 May 20, 1968 3. That Eugenia died sometime in 1950 after the death of Severo
Oyod; that Maxima Oyod is married to Pio V. Garces; and that
MAXIMINA OYOD DE GARCES, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, Fortunate Oyod, married Pedro Barbon and their children are Melecia,
vs. Narciso, Leopoldo, Carlos, Margarita, Leonardo, Lilia and Ildefonso
ESMERALDA BROCE, ET AL., defendants, Barbon.
ESMERALDA BROCE, defendant-appellant.
4. That in 1930 the heirs of Severo Oyod executed a Deed of Extra-
Nick V. Garces for plaintiffs-appellants. Judicial partition which is document 888, page 12, book 7, series of
Parana and Diola for defendant-appellant. 1930 of Notary Public Victorino G. Apuhin (pp. 101 to 105 of record).

REYES, J.B.L., J.: 5. That on September 5, 1951 the heirs of Severo Oyod executed a
Deed of Extra-judicial Settlement which is document 457, page 93,
book 2, series of 1951 of Notary Public Filomeno T. Enriquez (pp. 77
Appeal instituted by both parties in Civil Case No. 137 (6780) of the Court of
to 78 of the record).
First Instance of Negros Occidental, from the decision rendered therein,
dismissing the complaint in said case; declaring as valid the sale to defendant
Esmeralda Broce, by the heirs of Fortunata Oyod, of a portion of Lot No. 228 6. That Fortunata Oyod executed a lease agreement in favor of
of the San Carlos Cadastre and referred to as Lot No. 228-D; and ordering Tranquilino Broce on October 28, 1957 (Document 284, page 39, book
therein defendant Esmeralda Broce to pay to plaintiffs the sum of P780.00 with 9, series of 1957 of Notary Public Apuhin, pp. 77 to 78 of the Record).
legal interest thereon, from the date of the promulgation of the decision until
its full payment. 7. That on September 25, 1962, the heirs of Fortunata Oyod Barbon
executed an Extra-Judicial Settlement and Sale in favor of Esmeralda
The following facts are not in dispute: P. Broce which is document 188, page 92, book 1, series of 1962 of
Notary Public Roque Agravante (pp. 109 to 111 of the record).
In a complaint filed on September 19, 1962 in the Court of First Instance of
Negros Occidental (which was later amended), Maximina Oyod de Garces, 8. That the questions before this Court are as follows:
Gregorio Oyod and Pio V. Garces sought the termination of a lease and
annulment of sale, in favor of defendants Tranquilino Broce and Esmeralda (a) Which should prevail, the Extra-Judicial Settlement of
Broce, and the return by the latter, of a parcel of land described as Lot No. 1930 or that of 1951?
228-D of the subdivision of Lot No. 228 of the Cadastral Survey of San Carlos,
Negros Occidental, with an area of 354,250 square meters more or less, that (b) If the 1930 Extra-Judicial Settlement is upheld, then the
plaintiffs claimed to be their propertypro-indiviso.1vvphi1.nt buyer Esmeralda Broce bought on September 25, 1962, Lot
No. 228-D, is described in the 1930 document.
At the pre-trial hearing of the case, the parties stipulated on the following:
(c) If the 1951 Extra-Judicial Settlement is upheld, then
1. That the original owners of Lot No. 228 were Severo Oyod and Fortunata Oyod owned an undivided share in Lot No. 288; and
Bonifacia Mahinay and their ownership is evidenced by Original what Esmeralda Broce acquired in 1962 is not Lot No. 228-D
specifically, but an undivided share of in Lot 228.

After due hearing, the court rendered judgment on July 11, 1964, upholding words "utterly void" with reference to certain transactions. Under the
the due execution and validity of the 1930 extrajudicial partition by the heirs of terms of such statute transactions required to be in writing are
Severo Oyod and Bonifacia Mahinay of Lot No. 228, and of the sale in 1962 to absolutely void and not merely voidable if not made in the manner
Esmeralda Broce of Lot No. 228-D by the heirs of Fortunata Oyod. And, finding indicated. Again article 633 of the Civil Code says that donation may
that the heirs of the deceased Severo Oyod contracted an obligation with the be valid only when made in a public document. Article 146 of the
Philippine National Bank prior to the sale of Lot No. 228-D, to pay the Mortgage Law makes known its intention to have the execution of a
outstanding taxes on the entire Lot 228, the court ruled that lien was thus public instrument and its registration in the registry indispensable to
created and attached to the land. Esmeralda Broce was then ordered to pay the validity of the contract by using this phrase: "in order that voluntary
to plaintiffs the sum of P780.00 or 1/5 of the said obligation, as share of Lot mortgages may be legally created in a valid manner." Article 1765 of
228-D. the Civil Code also employs for the same purpose similar expression
with reference to the execution of a public document: "in order that
Both parties appealed; plaintiffs excepting from the ruling that sustains the mortgage may be validly constituted." And with respect to the
validity of the extrajudicial partition of 1930 and the order to Esmeralda Broce formalities of last wills and testaments, section 618 of Act No. 190
to pay only the sum of P780.00 instead of P2,392.00; whereas, defendant makes this emphatic statement: "No will shall be valid to pass upon
Esmeralda Broce prays for her total exculpation from any liability. any estate real or personal nor charge or affect the same, unless it be
written etc." Other examples might be mentioned.
It is evident from the issues formulated and litigated in the court below, which
are again being raised in this appeal by the plaintiffs-appellants, that the Section 1 of Rule 74 contains no such express or clear declaration that
controversy lies on the effect of the execution of the extrajudicial partition in the required public instrument is to be constitutive of a contract of
1951, which was duly recorded in the Registry of Deeds, upon the 1930 partition or an inherent element of its effectiveness as between the
agreement which, although embodied in a public instrument, was admittedly parties. And this Court had no apparent reason, in adopting this rule,
not registered.1 For, if there was a valid partition of Lot No. 228 (one of the to make the efficacy of a partition as between the parties dependent
properties included in the 1930 agreement) and ownership of the portions on the execution of a public instrument and its registration.... (78 Phil.
respectively assigned to the heirs thereunder had indeed passed to the latter, 204-205).
then the sale of Lot No. 228-D to Esmeralda Broce in 1962 would also be valid.
Upon the other hand, if there was proper cancellation and substitution of that Touching on the purpose of the registration-requirement in the said provision,
1930 settlement, by the extrajudicial partition of 1951, wherein the heirs agreed this Court ruled in the same case:
to form a co-ownership of the whole Lot 228, then what could be acquired by
defendant-appellee Esmeralda Broce would only be an undetermined share The requirement that a partition be put in a public document and
of the same lot. registered has, in our opinion, for its purpose the protection of creditors
and at the same time the protection of the heirs themselves against
The issue of the effect of an unregistered extrajudicial settlement2 among tardy claims. Note that the last sentence of the section speaks of debts
the heirs of the estate of a deceased person is not new. It was previously and creditors. The object of registration is to serve as constructive
resolved by this Court in favor of the validity of the partition in the case notice, and this means notice to others. It must follow that the intrinsic
of Hernandez vs. Andal, 78 Phil. 196, in this wise: validity of a partition not executed with the prescribed formalities does
not come into play when, as in this case, there are no creditors or the
Is section 1 of Rule 74 constitutive and not merely evidential of rights of the creditors are not affected. No rights of creditors being
partition? In other words, is writing the act that confers legal validity involved, it is competent for the heirs of an estate to enter into an
upon the agreement? There are no indications in the phraseology of agreement for distrubution in a manner and upon a plan different from
this rule which justify an affirmative answer to these questions. It must those provided by law. (Cas. cit., pp. 208-209).
be noted that where the law intends a writing or other formality to be
the essential requisite to the validity of the transaction, it says so in There is nothing here on record to indicate that when the first partition
clear and unequivocal terms. Thus, the statute of frauds as originally agreement was entered into, there existed any claim against the estate of the
enacted in England and as enacted in some of the states, uses the deceased or that prejudice was thereby caused to any third party. Considering

that a voluntary division of the estate of the deceased, by the heirs among Republic of the Philippines
themselves, is conclusive3 and confers upon said heirs exclusive ownership of SUPREME COURT
the respective portions assigned to them,4 the extrajudicial partition made by Manila
the heirs of Severo Oyod in 1930 could not have been cancelled or subtituted
by the execution, by some of these heirs, of another extrajudicial settlement of EN BANC
the same estate in 1951 even if the latter document be registered, particularly
since one of the co-signers of the 1930 agreement, Eugenia Oyod, had died G.R. No. L-47475 May 6, 1942
on January 8, 1950, (Exh. D) before the second extrajudicial settlement was
made. The lower court, therefore, committed no error in holding that the sale
to defendant-appellee Esmeralda Broce of Lot 228-D in 1962 did not suffer DONATO LAJOM, plaintiff-appellant,
from any infirmity. vs.
A second reason is that it is not shown that appellee Broce had notice or
knowledge of the second partition of 1951. As the 1930 partition was operative
to vest title in Fortunata Oyod to the lot allotted to her, even if the agreement Simeon P. Mangaliman for appellant.
was unrecorded, Broce had reason to rely thereon. Adolfo A. Scheerer for appellees.

However, there is no basis to the lower court's order to defendant-appellant, BOCOBO, J.:
Esmeralda Broce, to assume a proportionate share of the indebtedness
contracted by the surviving heirs of the deceased Severo Oyod with the This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija,
Philippine National Bank. The fact alone that the property in dispute originally sustaining the defendants' demurrer to the plaintiff's amended complaint and
formed part of the estate of said deceased person and that the obligation was dismissing the case. On March 17, 1939, the plaintiff-appellant, Donato Lajom,
contracted prior to its purchase by herein filed a complaint, which amended on May 16, 1939, praying, among other
defendant-appellant, to pay the taxes due on the estate of the deceased, does things, that he be declared a natural child of the late Dr. Maximo Viola and
not render the vendee answerable therefor. As pronounced by this Court in the therefore a co-heir of the defendand-appellees, Jose P. Viola, Rafael Viola,
case of Habaa vs. Imbo, supra, if there is really need to sell properties and Silvio Viola, legitimate children of said Dr. Maximo Viola; and that after
belonging to an heir to pay the debts of the estate, there should first be collation, payment of debts and accounting of fruits, a new partition be ordered,
exhaustion of other properties still owned by the said heir. In the present case, adjudicating one-seventh of the estate to the plaintiff and two-sevenths to each
there is no proof that the heirs of Fortunata Oyod received from the estate of of the defendants. Among the allegations of the complaint are the following:
Severo Oyod no property other than Lot 228-D. Furthermore, it does not even
appear that this obligation to the Philippine National Bank was duly constituted xxx xxx xxx
as an encumbrance on the whole Lot 228. As mere vendee of Lot 228-D,
defendant-appellant cannot be required to share in the payment of an 2. That the plaintiff is a natural child, impliedly recognized and tacitly
obligation contracted by the heirs of the estate, of which she is not one. acknowledged by his father, the late Dr. Maximo Viola, begotten by
the deceased Filomena Lajom and born in 1882 when both, Maximo
WHEREFORE, as above modified, the decision appealed from is hereby Viola and Filomena Lajom, were free and could have contracted
affirmed. Costs against plaintiffs-appellants. marriage;

xxx xxx xxx

4. That from early childhood until before the year 1889, and even
thereafter, the plaintiff had been living with his father, the late Dr.
Maximo Viola, and had been enjoying the status of a son, not only

within the family circle but also publicly, on account of the acts of his 18. That the plaintiff had demanded of the defendants that they give
said father; to him his lawful participation of the estate in question, as well as of
the products therefrom, in order not only to comply with their promise
xxx xxx xxx but also in order to comply with the law; but the herein defendants
have failed to give to the herein plaintiff his lawful share of the estate
in questions, nor of the products or fruits therefrom; and the said
6. That a testate proceeding was instituted in the Court of First
defendants continue to fail to give to him his legal portion of the said
Instance of Bulacan, covering the estate left by the said Dr. Maximo
Viola, registered as civil case No. 4741 of said Court; and this special estate and the fruits or products therefrom, of which the plaintiff is
proceedings was already closed on March 17, 1937, as can be seen entitled to one-seventh (1/7) while each of the three defendants is
entitled to two-sevenths (2/7) of the same.
in a copy of the order of said Court, hereto attached, marked as Annex
D, and is being made an integral part hereof;
By an order dated July 31, 1939, the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija
7. That the plaintiff did not intervene during the pendency of the special sustained the defendants' demurrer and dismissed the case. The Court held
proceeding above mentioned, as he expected that his brothers, the that the complaint did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action
because its allegation called for the exercise of the probate jurisdiction of the
herein defendants, would disclose and tell the truth to the Court that
court and consequently did not constitute a cause of action in an ordinary civil
they have a natural brother whom they knew to be living, and whose
case like the present. It was further held that the court had no jurisdiction
address was well known to them; a brother who should also participate
because there was no allegation that the late Dr. Maximo Viola was, at the
in the estate of their deceased father; and besides, the herein
defendants promised to the herein plaintiff that they would give him time of his death, a resident of Nueva Ecija; on the contrary, the complaint
his lawful share in the estate of their father; showed that the will of the deceased had already been probated in the Court
of First Instance of Bulacan and that court having first taken cognizance of the
settlement of the estate, the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija could no
8. That the herein defendants willfully, deliberately and fraudulently longer assume jurisdiction over the same case.
concealed the truth from the Court that they have a natural brother
who should also participate in the estate of their deceased father, with
The two grounds for sustaining the demurrer to the complaint will now be
the single and avowed intention to deprive deliberately and
fraudulently the herein plaintiff of his lawful participation in the estate
in question;
First, as to the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija. The
9. That the herein defendants partitioned among themselves the complaint alleges that the plaintiff and one of the defendants, Jose P. Viola,
are residents of Nueva Ecija; and from the complaint it appears that 16 of the
estate in question, as can be seen in their "Convenio de Patricion y
parcels of land belonging to the estate are situated in the Province of Nueva
Adjudicacion," dated October 25, 1935, a copy of which is hereto
Ecija, while 3 lots are in the Province of Isabela, 1 in the City of Baguio, 6 in
attached, marked as Annex E, and is made an intergral part hereof,
Manila, and the rest (46 parcels) are found in the Province of Bulacan.
and since then up to the present time, each of the herein defendants
has been occupying, possessing and enjoying his corresponding Paragraphs 7, 8, and 18 of the complaint allege a violation of contract, a breach
share, in accordance with the said "Convenio de Particion y of trust, and therefore the case may be instituted in the Province of Nueva
Ecija. Paragraph 7 alleges "the herein defendants promised to the herein
Adjudicacion"; while the properties alleged to be paraphernal
plaintiff that they would give him his lawful share in the estate of their father."
properties of the late Juana Roura in said "Convenio de Particion y
Paragraph 8 states that "the herein defendants willfully, deliberately and
Adjudicacion" are not paraphernal but conjugal properties of the late
fraudulently concealed from the Court the truth that they have a natural brother
spouses, Dr. Maximo Viola and Doa Juana Roura, acquired during
their martial life; who should participate in the estate of their deceased father, with the single
and avowed intention to deprive deliberately and fraudulently the herein
plaintiff of his lawful participation in the estate in question." And paragraph 18
xxx xxx xxx asserts that "the plaintiff herein had demanded of the defendants that they give
to him his lawful participation of the estate question, as of the products
therefrom, in order not only to comply with their promise but also in order to
comply with the law; but the herein defendants have failed to give the herein The same doctrine had also been adopted in the Philippines. In the
plaintiff his lawful share of the estate in question." These allegations clearly case of Uy Aloc vs. Cho Jan Ling (19 Phil. 202), the facts are stated
denounce a breach of trust which, if proved at the trial, the courts could not for by the court as follows:
a moment countenance. Regardless of any legal title to the plaintiff's share,
declared by the Court of First Instance of Bulacan in favor of the defendants in "From the facts proven at the trial it appears that a number of
the testate proceedings, high considerations of equity vehemently demand Chinese merchants raised a fund by voluntary subscription
that the defendants shall not take advantage of such legal title, obtained by with which they purchased a valuable tract of land and erected
them through a betrayal of confidence placed in them by the plaintiff. So far as a large building to be used as a sort of clubhouse for the
plaintiff's share in the inheritance is concerned, the defendants are trustees for mutual benefit of the subscribers to the fund. The subscribers
the plaintiff, who may bring an action in Nueva Ecija for breach of trust. (Sec. organized themselves into an irregular association, which had
337, Act No. 190, and sec. 1, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court.) If this promise no regular articles of association, and was not incorporated or
should be shown by proper evidence, its enforcement would not necessitate registered in the commercial registry or elsewhere. The
the revision or reconsideration of the order of the Court of First Instance of association not having any existence as a legal entity, it was
Bulacan approving the partition, because leaving that court order as it is the agreed to have the title to the property placed in the name of
trust can and should be carried out through conveyance to the plaintiff of his one of the members, the defendant, Cho Jan Ling, who on his
share, by the defendants out of their respective participations in virtue of the part accepted the trust, and agreed to hold the property as the
partition. agent of the members of the association. After the club
building was completed with the funds of the members of the
The case of Severino vs. Severino (44 Phil. 343 [year 1923]) has declared association, Cho Jan Ling collected some P25,000 in rents for
certain principles that may be applied in the case at bar. In that case, the which he failed and refused to account, and upon proceedings
defendant Guillermo Severino, who was agent of Melecio Severino, had being instituted to compel him to do so, he set up title in
obtained a Torrens title in his own name to four parcels of land belonging to himself to the club property as well as to the rents accruing
the principal. More than one year having elapsed since the entry of the final therefrom, falsely alleging that he had bought the real estate
decree adjudicating the lands to the defendant, the question was whether the and constructed the building with his own funds, and denying
defendant could be compelled to convey the lands to the estate of the the claims of the members of the association that it was their
deceased principal, Melecio Severino. This Court maintained the affirmative fund which had been used for that purposes."
holding in part:
The decree of the court provided, among other things, for the
In the case of Felix vs. Patrick (145 U. S. 317), the United States conveyance of the clubhouse and the land on which it stood from the
Supreme Court, after examining the authorities, said: defendant, Cho Jan Ling, in whose name it was registered, to the
members of the association. In affirming the decree this court said:
"The substance of these authorities is that, wherever a person
obtains the legal title to land by any artifice or concealment, or "In the case at bar the legal title of the holder of the registered
by making use of facilities intended for the benefit of another title is not questioned; it is admitted that the members of the
a court of equity will impress upon the land so held by him a association voluntarily obtained the inscription in the name of
trust in favor of the party who is justly entitled to them and will Cho Jan Ling, and that they had no right to have that
order the trust executed by decreeing their conveyance to the inscription cancelled; they do not seek such cancellation, and
party in whose favor the trust was created." (Citing Bank of on the contrary they allege and prove that the duly registered
Metropolis vs. Guttschlick, 14 Pet. 19, 31; legal title to the property is in Cho Jan Ling, but they maitain,
Moses vs. Murgatroyd, 1 Johns, Ch. 119; and we think that they rightly maintain, that he holds it under
Cumberland vs. Codrington, 3 Johns, Ch. 229, 261; an obligation, both express an implied, to deal with it
Neilson vs. Blight, 1 Johns. Cas. 205; Weston vs. Barker, 12 exclusively for the benefit of the members of the association,
Johns. 276.) and subject to their will."

Torrens titles being based on judicial decrees there is, of course, a Furthermore, article 1965 of the Civil Code, which has been held by this court
strong presumption in favor of their regularity or validity, and in order to be still in force, in spite of secs. 43 et seq. of the Code of Civil Procedure
to maintain an action such as the present the proof as to the fiduciary (Bargayo vs. Camumot, 40 Phil., 857 872-3) provides as follows: "No
relation of the parties and of the breach of trust must be clear and prescribe, entre coheredores, condueos o propietarios de fincas colindantes
convincing. Such proof is, as we have seen, not lacking in his case. la accion para pedir la particion de la herencia, la division de la cosa cumon o
el deslinde de las propiedades contiguas." (Among coheirs, co-owners or
But once the relation and the breach of trust on the part of the fiduciary proprietors of adjoining lands, the action to ask for the partition of the
is thus established, there is no reason, neither practical nor legal, why inheritance, the division of the thing owned in common or the fixing of
he should not be compelled to make such reparation as may lie within boundaries of adjoining lands, does not prescribe.) The defendants having,
his power for the injury caused by his wrong, and as long as the land according to the complaint, promised to give the plaintiff his share in the
stands registered in the name of the party who is guilty of the breach inheritance, his right to demand partition of the inheritance does not prescribe,
of trust and no rights of innocent third parties are adversely affected, in view of said article 1965.
there can be no reason why such reparation should not, in the proper
case, take the form of a conveyance or transfer of the title to the cestui In the case of Bargayo vs. Camumot, just cited, the defendant, Jorge
que trust. No reasons of public policy demand that a person guilty of Camumot, an uncle of the plaintiffs, had been in possession for many years,
fraud or breach of trust be permitted to use his certificate of title as a of the whole estate in question, which had belonged to the deceased
shield against the consequences of his own wrong. grandfather of the plaintiffs and father of the defendant. This court held that
the defendant had not acquired the property by prescription under section 41
In the present case, the defendants partitioned the estate among themselves of the Code of Civil Procedure because his possession had not been hostile
in the administration proceedings before the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. and adverse, and that therefore, the plaintiffs should be awarded one half of
Even granting that the partition was binding against the whole world (though it the estate This court said:
will be shown later that it was not), nevertheless it could not have a more
puissant finality than a decree of title under the Torrens system. Upon the Taking the evidence together, it does not appear that the defendant's
authority of the Severino vs. Severino, the legal title obtained by the act upon the land had been of real ouster, i e., that if among strangers
defendants to the plaintiff's share in the estate, in the partition approved by the said acts may be sufficient to characterize his possession as adverse,
Court of First Instance of Bulacan, must yield to the superior and inviolate such is not the case in the present suit wherein we are dealing with
rights equity of the plaintiff, who abstained from taking part in that partition prescription among coheirs. For it appears that when called upon by
because of the promise made to him by the defendants that they would deliver the plaintiffs to bring about the partition, the defendant did not deny
to him lawful share as an acknowledged natural child. that the plaintiffs had any right to share in the inheritance. When
Basilio Bargayo was asked why they did not institute this action before,
A posssible objection to the promise of the defendants to give the plaintiff his he replied that it was because they considered the defendant as their
share in the estate as an acknowledged natural child is that such agreement father, since he was their uncle, and they expected him to give them
may run counter to article 1814, Civil Code, which reads: "No se puede their respective shares of the inheritance, and that when they first
transigir sobre el estado civil de las personas, ni sobre las cuestiones asked him to make the partition, he (defendant) asked them a
matrimoniales, ni sobre alimentos futuros" (There can be no compromise over postponement, saying that they should leave him the in the
the civil status of persons, or over matrimonial questions, or over future possession of the land in order to compensate himself from what he
support). However, it does not appear from the complaint that the defendants has spent for their grandfather when the latter was, and died, under
ever impugned or denied the plaintiff's status as an acknowledged natural his (defendant's) care. All of these show in some way that defendant's
child; on the contrary, according to the complaint, the defendants admitted possession was not adverse, i. e., hostile or repugnant to the plaintiff's
such status by promising to give the plaintiff his lawful share in the estate of right. The same witness, who is once of the plaintiffs, only says that
the father. There having been, in accordance with the allegations in the whenever they would ask him for the partition, the defendant did not
complaint, no controversy over the condition of the plaintiff as acknowledged pay any attention to them, i. e., he limited himself in laying aside the
natural child, the agreement between the plaintiff and defendants alleged in fullfiment of the partition, a conduct which can be explained in various
par. 7 of the complaint, if shown at the trial, is not a compromise at all, and is ways. And it is probable that said conduct was simply tolerated by the
not frowned upon by the legislator in article 1814 of the Civil Code. plaintiffs on account of his being their uncle, and they never thought
that by said conduct the defendant inheritance, not that the defendant Section 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that ten years
would have so intended. In any way dealing as we do here with the actual adverse possession by "occupancy grant, descent, or
acquisition of a thing by prescription, the evidence must be so clear otherwise" shall vest title in the possessor. This would indicate that a
and conclusive as to established said prescription without any shadow decree of distribution under which one may be placed in possession
of doubt. This does not happen in the instant case, for the defendant of land acquired by descent, is not in itself conclusive, and that, as
did not even try to proven that he has expressly or impliedly refused held in Layre vs. Pasco (5 Rob [La.], 9), the action of revindication may
plaintiff's right over an aliquot part of the inheritance. be brought by the heir against the persons put in possession by decree
of the probate court at any time within a period allowed by the general
But regardless of the defendants' under taking referred to, the Court of First statute of limitations.
Instance of Nueva Ecija had jurisdiction over the case because the complaint
contains allegations which, if shown at the trial, would be sufficient to support In the case just cited, this court upheld two propositions: (1) that a judicial
and warrant an action for reivindiction of his right as a co-owner of the sixteen partition in probate proceedings does not bind the heirs who were not parties
parcels of land situated in the Province of Nueva Ecija. From the moment of thereto; and (2) that in such cases, the heir who has been deprived of his share
the death of the late Dr. Maximo Viola on September 3, 1933, succession was in the estate may bring an action for reivindication with the prescriptive period
opened (art. 657, Civil Code.) The possession of his whole estate was against the persons put in possession by the probate court.
transmitted to all his heirs (including the plaintiff) without interruption and from
the moment of his death. (Article 440, Civil Code.) The plaintiff's dominion over Upon the first point, the following quotation from Corpus Juris (vol. 47, pp. 434
his share of the estate was therefore automically and by operation of law and 435) would seem to be pertinent:
vested in him upon the death of his natural father, subject of course to the lien
of the creditors of the decedent. This being true it is difficult to ignore the right Sec. 417. Persons concluded A judgment in partition is conclusive
of the plaintiff to recover his charge in the lands in Nueva Ecija, (the debts of
upon all persons having any interest who were made parties to the
the estate having been adjusted before the partition approved by the Court of
First Instance of Bulacan) by an action of reivindication because of the
defendant's refusal to deliver said share to him.
xxx xxx xxx
In the case of Ramirez vs. Gmur (42 Phil. 855, 869), this court held:
Persons not parties The general rule is that persons not parties to
the action or suit are not bound by the decree or judgment for partition
The law in force in the Philippine Islands regarding the distribution of and their rights cannot be adjudicated; but such a decree is not invalid
estates of deceased persons is to be found in section 753 et seq., of
as between the parties thereto, although it has been considered as
the Code of Civil Procedure. In general terms the law is that after the
erroneous. Among the persons held not to have been concluded by
payment of the debts and expenses of administration the court shall
the decree or judgment, by reason of not having been made parties,
distribute the residue of the estate among the persons who are entitled
are, besides owners of an undivided in the property, persons having a
to receive it, whether by the terms of the will or by operation of law. It
contigent remainder therein, a widow with a dower right, creditors
will be noted that while the law (sec. 754) provides that the order of having a lien on the property, and a person who had attached, on
distribution may be had upon the application of the executor or mesne process, the interest of one of the tenants in common.
administrator, or of a person interested in the estate, no provision is
made for notice, by publication or otherwise, of such application. The
proceeding, therefore, is to all intents and purposes ex parte. As will In Rodriguez vs. De la Cruz (8 Phil., 665, 667), this court said:
be seen our law is every vague and incomplete; and certainly it cannot
be held that a purely ex parte proceeding, had without notice by With reference to the first assignment of error above noted, we are of
personal service or by publication, by which the court undertake to the opinion, and so hold, that for the reason that the said Matea E.
distribute the property of deceased persons, can be conclusive upon Rodriguez had not been made a party in the action for partition
minor heirs who are not represented therein. between the present defendants and the said Hilarion de la Cruz,
interest in said lands was in no way prejudiced by the decision of the
court in that cause.
But, it may be said, the plaintiff knew of the probate proceedings in the is instituted by an heir at law, against the testamentary heir or universal
Province of Bulacan, and is therefore bound thereby. However, it is alleged in legatee, who has been put in possession of the estate, and who sets
the complaint and admitted by the demurrer, that he did not appear in those up the will as his title to the property, District Courts are the proper
proceedings because of the defendant's promise to give him his share. tribunals in which such suits must be brought." (Roberts vs. Allier, 17
La. 15.)
On the second point, that is to say, that the aggrieved coheir may bring an
action for reivindication within the prescriptive period, this court in the case It would not be amiss, at this juncture, to bring into view section 196 of the
of Ramirez vs. Gmur properly applied section 41 of the Code of Civil Code of Civil Procedure (similar to sec. 12 of Rule 17 of the Rules of Court)
Procedure regarding acquisitive prescription after ten years of adverse and article 405 of the Civil Code.
possession by "occupancy, grant, descent or otherwise." In order words, that
even after a decree of distribution, an action for recovery may be brought by Section 196 of Act No. 190 provides:
the excluded heir within ten years.
Section 196. Paramount rights and amicable partition not affected.
In Layre vs. Pasco (5 Rob. [La.] 9), cited by this court in Ramirez vs. Gmur, it Nothing herein contained shall be construed so as to injure, prejudice,
was held: defeat, or destroy the estate, right or title of any person claiming a tract
of land, or any part thereof, by title under any other person, or by title
II. This action may be considered as petitory one, brought against a paramount to the title of the joint tenants, tenants in common, or co-
third possessor. The plaintiff must recover upon the strength of her parceners by whom partition may have been made. (emphasis
title to the succession of her sister; and for that purpose, she must supplied.)
show that she is the natural sister of the deceased, and that the
deceased left no lawful heir entitled to her inheritance. This has been The plaintiff has a paramount title to his share in the estate.
done satisfactorily. The evidence establishes. that the defendant was
put in possession of the estate, as testamentary heir, by a decree of Article 405 of the Civil Code reads:
the Court of Probates. It was, therefore, useless for the plaintiff to
attempt to demand the possession of the property of the succession,
since it had been delivered to the defendant, and the estate had La division de una cosa comun no prejudicara a tercero, el cual
ceased to be under the control and supervision of the Probate Court. conservara los derechos de hipoteca, servidumbre u otros derechos
Her application to the Court of Probates Court would have had no reales que la pertenecieran antes de hacer la particion. (Emphasis
object, as that court was no longer possessed of any power over the supplied.) (The division of a thing owned in common shall not
succession, and, consequently, no order could have been rendered to prejudice any third person, who shall preserve the rights of mortgage,
take it out of the defendant's hands. The action of reivindication was easement or other real rights which might belong to him before the
left to the plaintiff, and we are not prepared to say, that previous to her partition.)
instituting it, it was necessary that she should have been recognized
as heir by the Probate Court. This requisite is only to be complied with, It is to be observed that ownership is the real right par excellence. If, as alleged
as long as the succession is under the supervision of the court by in the complaint, the plaintiff is the owner of a share in the estate, then rights
which the administrator, curator, or executor has been appointed, as are shielded by article 405 of the Civil Code against any adverse or inimical
it seems to us, that after delivery to the heir who is apparently entitled effect of the partition already mentioned.
thereto, it would be requiring a vain thing. Lex neminen cogit ad vana.
These safeguards established both by the Code of Civil Procedure and the
xxx xxx xxx Civil Code are sound in principle and farsighted in the protection of property
rights. They are morally and juridically right because no partition, either by
With regard to the exception of jurisdiction: it was not insisted on by decree of court or by extrajudicial agreement, could add one iota or particle to
the defendant's counsel, and was properly overruled by the Judge, a the interest which the partitioners had during the joint possession. Partition is
quo. The rule is well established, that "when an action of reivindication of the nature of a conveyance of ownership (Manresa's comment on article

400-406, Civil Code), and certainly none of the co-owners may convey to the number of the coheirs from laying their just claims before the probate court.
others more than his own true right. Section 196 of Act No. 190 and article 405 There are also instances where an heir, cut of a sense of self-reliance, does
of the Civil Code are also an effective guarranty of ownership because not care to show keen and active interest in the partition. In some cases, as it
otherwise, it would be possible for usurpers to carry out their covetous designs might have happened in the present one, a cohier, from delicacy or fitting pride
either by deceiving the court or through the egregious mockey of a contract does not want, at the time of the settlement of the estate, to appear in court as
solemnized by the signature and seal of a notary public. a natural child, and thus make himself the object of public pity or disdain and
inconsiderately lift the veil which time has benignantly placed over the father's
Moreover, a judicial partition in probate proceedings is not final and conclusive, past social deviation. Why should it be presumed that the lawmaker did not
as shown by articles 1073, 1074, 1080 and 1081 of the Civil Code. respect this attitude of the child? It often occurs, likewise, that a child, out of
reverence for the memory of the deceased, is loath to show eagerness to
secure his share of the inheritance. Why should it be assumed that the
1073. Las particiones pueden rescindirse por las mismas causas que
legislator wanted to compel such a child to haggle and argue over sordid and
las obligaciones.
material things when the heart-wounds from the death of the beloved father or
mother still smart? To such a child, zealous alacrity to get one's share in the
1074. Pordan tambien ser rescindidas las particiones por causa de inheritance so soon after the death of the father or mother is akin to the
lesion en mas de la cuarta parte, atendido el valor de las cosas cuando sacrilegious avarice of those who, after the Crucifixion, parted and divided the
fueron adjudicadas. garments. It is reasonable to suppose that the lawmaker did not deem such
child's feelings worthy of deferential regard?
1080. La particion hecha con pretericion de alguno de los herederos
no se rescindira, a no ser que se pruebe que hubo mala fe o dolo por The second main question is, Does the complaint state facts sufficient to
parte de los otros interesados; pero estos tendran la obligacion de constitute a cause of action?
pagar al preterido la parte que proporcionalmente le corresponda.
Paragraph 2 of the complaint reads thus:
1081. La particion hecha con uno a quien se creyo heredero sin serio,
sera nula.
2. That the plaintiff is a natural child, impliedly recognized and tacitly
acknowledge by his father, the late Dr. Maximo Viola, begotten by the
The above legal provisions section 196 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and deceased Filomena Lajom, and born in 1882 when both, Maximo Viola
articles 405, 1073, 1074, 1080 and 1081 of the Civil Code are material in and Filomena Lajom, were free and could have contracted marriage;
this aspect of the present case, not because we believe the partition in the
probate proceedings in Bulacan should be annulled or rescinded but because
Law 11 of Toro, promulgated in 1505, provides:
said partition not being of such definitive character as to stop all means of
redress for a coheir who has been deprived of his lawful share, such coheir
may still, within the prescriptive period, bring an action for reivindication in the Ordenamos y mandamos que entonces se digan ser los hijos
province where any of the real property of the deceased may be situated. In naturales, cuando al tiempo que nacieren, o fueren concebidos, sus
this case, 16 of the lots belonging to the estate of the deceased Dr. Viola are padres podian casar con sus madres justamente sin dispensacion.
located in the Province of Nueva Ecija where the present action was brought. (We order and command that children shall be said to be natural when
at the time they are born, or conceived, their fathers could marry their
mothers justly without dispensation.)
Broad perspectives of which policy, which the lawmaker must have
contemplated, would seem to reveal the wisdom of allowing a coheir the
benefits of the law of prescription even after a partition, judicial or extrajudicial, The complaint does not allege that the parents were free to marry "each other"
has been had. Not infrequently, the heirs are living in different provinces, far and "without dispensation." One who is prone to search for the "nice sharp
from one another and far from the residence of the decedent. Some of them quillets of the law" would consider these omissions in the complaint fatal
may not hear of the probate proceedings, or if they do, they may not have at because Law 11 of Toro requires that the children's "fathers could marry their
the time either the means or the inclination to participate therein. Sometimes, mothers justly without dispensation" ("sus padres podian casar con sus
one of the heirs, by cajolery, bluster or truculence succeeds in preventing a madres justamente sin dispensacion"). In other words, a strict interpretation of
the complaint would hold (1) that the parents might be free to marry others but concessions to the natural child; and third, the Civil Code, which places greater
not each other; and (2) that by omitting the words "without dispensation," the limitations on the concept of natural children. (See "Hijos Naturales" by Victor
complaint contains no allegation that the parents were not so related as to Covian, Vol. XVII, Enciclopedia Juridica, p. 809; and "Comentario Historico,
require dispensation to get married to each other. For example, under Law 11 Critico y Juridico a las Leyes de Toro," by Joaquin Francisco Pacheco, pp.
of Toro, if the parents are uncle and niece, the child is not natural because 136-141.) The Laws of Toro having been promulgated in 1505, their relatively
they need dispensation to marry each other. Law 11 of Toro is on this point liberal concept of natural children was the one which prevailed in the
different from the Civil Code in that under the latter (article 119) it is sufficient Philippines during practically the entire period of the Spanish regime.
if the parents can marry each other "without dispensation," that is to say,
according to the Civil Code, even if the parents are, for instance, uncle and The complaint states that the plaintiff was born in 1882 when his parents were
niece, the child is natural if said parents have obtained dispensation to marry free to marry. This is sufficient because Law 11 of Toro requires the freedom
each other. of the parents at the time either of the conception or of the birth of the child,
although according to the Civil Code this freedom to marry must exist at the
But pleadings should be liberally construed with a view to substantial justice time of the Child's conception (article 119).
between the parties (sec. 106, Code of Civil Procedure and sec. 17, Rule 15
of the Rules of Court). Upon this principle the complaint is sufficient because The complaint alleges that "the plaintiff is a natural child, impliedly recognized
the allegation that the parents "were free and could have contracted marriage" and tacitly acknowledged by his father." Under Law 11 of Toro, voluntary
signifies that neither was married and that there was no impediment on recognition of a natural child may be tacit while under the Civil Code (article
account of relationship which would have required dispensation. In the case 131) it must be in a record of birth, in a will or in any other public document.
of Ramirez vs. Gmur (42 Phil., 855, 861-862), this court held:
Finally, it is proper and pertinent to invoke the case of Larena and Larena vs.
Relative to this presumption of the capacity of the parents to marry, Rubio (43 Phil. 1017). Asuncion Larena, Maximiana Larena and Eustaquio
the author Sanchez Roman makes the following comment: Larena appeared in the proceedings for settlement of the estate of the
deceased Demetrio Larena, alleging that they were his natural children and
"Furthermore, viewing the conception of natural child in claimed the right to participate in the inheritance. The widow, Josefina Rubio
connection with two mutually interrelated circumstances, to viuda de Larena, by whom the deceased had had four legitimate children,
wit, the freedom of the parents to inter-marry, with or without opposed the petition. The lower court dismissed the petition, and Asuncion
dispensation, at the time of the conception of the offspring Larena appealed. The appellant was Demetrio Larena's natural daughter, born
stigmatized as natural, the first of those, or freedom to marry, in 1880 when he and the mother were free and could have been married to
is a point upon which there is, according to the jurisprudence each other. From early childhood she had been living with her father and
of our former law, whose spirit is maintained in the Code, an enjoying the status of a daughter, not only within a family but also publicly on
affirmative presumption which places the burden of proving account of the acts of her father. This court reversed the order of the lower
the contrary upon those who are interested in impugning the court and declared the appellant as the natural daughter of the deceased with
natural filiation." (Vol. 5, Derecho Civil, pp. 1018, 1019.) a right to a share in the estate, holding in part as follows;

The Supreme Tribunal of Spain in its Sentence of October 11, 1882, declared The lower court based its decision upon the fact that since the
that paternity having been proved, it is presumed that the parents were not appellant had attained the age of majority in the year 1901, and her
disqualified to marry each other. father having died in 1916, without any effort on her part previous to
that time looking to her acknowledgment as a natural child, she had
This liberal interpretation of the complaint is the more compelling in this case lost such right in view of article 137 of the Civil Code which requires
because the status of the plaintiff as a natural child is to be determined in that action for acknowledgment should be commenced during the
harmony with Law 11 of Toro, which was the least serve toward natural lifetime of the father. This is an error. The Civil Code is not applicable
children in the history of Spanish legislation. The development of the law on to this case. The appellant was born and had enjoyed the status of a
this subject has had three periods; first, the Roman law viewpoint which was natural child by acts of acknowledgment of her father even before the
the most strict; second, the Laws of Toro which gave the largest measure of said Code was put in force here. Under the law at that time (Law 11 of

Toro), this tacit acknowledgment on the part of her father was itself Wherefore, the order of the lower court sustaining the demurrer to the plaintiff's
sufficient to give the appellant the status of a natural child, and such amended complaint and dismissing the case, should be and is hereby
acknowledgment could be established by the ordinary means of reversed, without pronouncement as to costs. Let record of the case be
evidence without any limitations as to time. This civil status granted to returned to the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija. So ordered.
the appellant by the former law, derived from the fact of her birth and
from the acts of implied acknowledgment of her father, having taken Yulo, C.J., Moran and Ozaeta, JJ., concur.
place under the former legislation, gives appellant a vested interest
inherent to her status which cannot in any way be impaired by the Separate Opinions
provisions of the civil Code. The transitory provisions of this Code
declare that the changes introduced by it, when prejudicial to the rights
acquired under the former civil legislation, shall not have retroactive PARAS, J., concurring:
effect, and such former legislation shall regulate all the rights arising
under it although the Civil Code may provide differently or may not I concur in the result for the reason that the demurrer admits the allegation in
recognize them. (Decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain of January the complaint that the plaintiffs is half brother to the defendants and that the
16, 1900; of April 11 and December 28, 1907; and decisions of this latter promised to convey to him his legal share in the estate left by their
court in the cases of Mijares vs. Nery, 3 Phil. 195. and of common father. A good cause of action in equity has thus been shown. The
Llorente vs. Rodriguez, 3 Phil. 697.) Court of First Instance of the Province of Nueva Ecija where the plaintiff resides
has jurisdiction to enforce the obligation assumed by the defendants.
Upon the authority of the decision just cited, the plaintiff in the present case is
entitled to be considered and declared a natural son of Dr. Maximo Viola, Republic of the Philippines
voluntarily acknowledged by him through his own acts. There is, however, a Supreme Court
statement in the decision in the Larena case which needs some revision, and Manila
it is this: "Such acknowledgment could be established by the ordinary means
of evidence without any limitations as to time." These italicized words seemed THIRD DIVISION
to have been based on the sentence of the Supreme Tribunal of Spain of
December 28, 1906 cited by Manresa in his comment on the 1st rule of the SPOUSES GORGONIO BENATIRO G.R. No. 161220
transitory provisions. But later decisions of that Tribunal, such as that of and COLUMBA CUYOS-BENATIRO
January 10, 1919, have held that the action by a natural child under Law 11 of substituted by their heirs, namely:
Toro is limited by the period for personal actions, which under article 1964 of Isabelita, Renato, Rosadelia and
the civil Code is fifteen years from the death of the natural father. (See Gorgonio, Jr., surnamed Benatiro, and
also Sentence of December 29, 1927.) It should also be noted that personal SPOUSES RENATO C. BENATIRO and Present:
actions under Law LXIII of Toro should be brought within twenty years; and ROSIE M. BENATIRO,
that under section 44 of the code of Civil Procedure all action not otherwise Respondents,
provided for should be brought within ten years after the cause of action YNARES-SANTIAGO,
accrues. It will thus be seen that whether Law LXIII of Toro, or the Civil Code - versus - Chairperson,
or the Code of Civil Procedure is applied, there is a period for the bringing of AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
an action by a natural child whose status is governed by Law 11 of Toro. In HEIRS OF EVARISTO CUYOS, CHICO-NAZARIO
view of the repealing provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure in section 795 namely: Gloria Cuyos-Talian, NACHURA, and
thereof, the period for bringing an action by a natural child voluntarily Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares, REYES, JJ.
recognized by the father under Law 11 of Toro, for declaration of the status of Numeriano Cuyos, and Enrique Cuyos,
a natural child, should be 10 years from the death of a natural father. In this represented by their attorney-in-fact,
case, less than six years have elapsed from the death of Dr. Maximo Viola to Salud Cuyos,
the filing of the complaint. In any event this matter of prescription of the action Promulgated:
has not been set up as a defense. Respondents. July 30, 2008

WHEREFORE, letters of administration of the estate of the
DECISION late Evaristo Cuyos and including the undivided half accruing to his
spouse Agatona Arrogante who recently died is hereby issued in
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: favor of Mrs. Gloria Cuyos Talian who may qualify as
such administratrix after posting a nominal bond of P1,000.00.[6]

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of

Subsequently, in the Order[7] dated December 12, 1975, the CFI stated that
Court filed by petitioners seeking to annul the Decision[1] dated July 18, 2003 of the Court
when the Intestate Estate hearing was called on that date, respondent Gloria and her
of Appeals (CA) and its Resolution[2] dated November 13, 2003denying petitioners brother, oppositor Francisco, together with their respective counsels, appeared;
motion for reconsideration issued in CA-G.R. SP No. 65630.[3] thatAtty. Yray, Franciscos counsel, manifested that the parties had come to an
agreement to settle the case amicably; that both counsels suggested that the Clerk of
Spouses Evaristo Cuyos and Agatona Arrogante Cuyos were blessed with nine Court, Atty. Andres C. Taneo (Atty. Taneo), be appointed to act as Commissioner to
children, namely: Francisco, Victoria, Columba, Lope, Salud, effect the agreement of the parties and to prepare the project of partition for the approval
Gloria, Patrocenia, Numeriano, and Enrique. On August 28, 1966, Evaristo died leaving of the court. In the same Order, the Court of First Instance (CFI) appointed
six parcels of land located in Tapilon, Daanbantayan, Cebu covered by Tax Declaration Atty. Taneo and ordered him to make a project of partition within 30 days
(TD) Nos. 000725, 000728, 000729, 000730, 000731, 000732, all under the name from December 12, 1975 for submission and approval of the court.
of Agatona Arrogante. In his Commissioner's Report[8] dated July 29, 1976, Atty. Taneo stated that he
issued subpoenae supplemented by telegrams to all the heirs to cause
On July 13, 1971, one of the heirs, Gloria Cuyos-Talian (respondent Gloria) their appearance on February 28 and 29, 1976 in Tapilon, Daanbantayan, Cebu, where
represented by Atty. Victor Elliot Lepiten(Atty. Lepiten), filed before the Court of First the properties are located, for a conference or meeting to arrive at an agreement; that
Instance (CFI) now Regional Trial Court (RTC), Cebu, Branch XI, a petition[4]for Letters out of the nine heirs, only respondents Gloria, Salud and Enrique Cuyos failed to attend;
of Administration, docketed as Special Proceeding (SP) No. 24-BN entitled In the Matter that per return of the service, these three heirs could not be located in their respective
of the Intestate Estate of Evaristo Cuyos, Gloria Cuyos-Talian, petitioner. The petition given addresses; that since some of the heirs present resided outside the province
was opposed by Glorias brother, Francisco, who was represented by Atty. of Cebu, they decided to go ahead with the scheduled meeting.
Jesus Yray (Atty. Yray).
Atty. Taneo declared in his Report that the heirs who were present:
In the hearing held on January 30, 1973, both parties together with their 1. Agreed to consider all income of the properties of the estate
respective counsels appeared. Both counsels manifested that the parties had come to during the time that Francisco Cuyos, one of the heirs, was
administering the properties of the estate (without appointment
an agreement to settle their case. The trial court on even date issued an from the Court) as having been properly and duly accounted for.
Order[5]appointing Gloria as administratrix of the estate. The dispositive portion reads:

2. Agreed to consider all income of the properties of the estate compromise agreement as embodied in the report of the
during the administration of Gloria Cuyos Talian, (duly appointed commissioner is hereby approved. The Court hereby orders
by the Court) also one of the heirs as having been properly and the Administratrix to execute the deed of sale covering all the
duly accounted for. properties of the estate in favor of Columba Cuyos Benatiro after the
payment to her of the sum of P36,000.00. The said sum of money
3. Agreed to consider all motions filed in this shall remain in custodia legis, but after all the claims and
proceedings demanding an accounting from administration expenses and the estate taxes shall have been paid
Francisco Cuyos and Gloria CuyosTalian, as having been for, the remainder shall, upon order of the Court, be divided equally
withdrawn. among the heirs. [11]

4. Agreed not to partition the properties of the estate but

instead agreed to first sell it for the sum of P40,000.00 subject to The CFI disapproved the claim of respondent Gloria for the sum
the condition that should any of the heirs would be in a position to
buy the properties of the estate, the rest of the eight (8) heirs will of P5,570.00, as the same had been allegedly disregarded by the heirs present during
just receive only Four Thousand Pesos (P4,000.00) each. the conference.

5. Agreed to equally divide the administration expenses to be

deducted from their respective share of P4,000.00.[9] In an Order[12] dated January 11, 1978, the CFI appointed Lope Cuyos (Cuyos)
as the new administrator of the estate,purportedly on the basis of the motion to relieve
The Report further stated that Columba Cuyos-Benatiro (Columba), one of the respondent Gloria, as it appeared that she was already residing in Central Luzon and
heirs, informed all those present in the conference of her desire to buy the properties of her absence was detrimental to the early termination of the proceedings.
the estate, to which everybody present agreed, and considered her the
buyer.Atty. Taneo explained that the delay in the submission of the Report was due to On May 25, 1979, administrator Cuyos executed a Deed of Absolute
the request of respondent Gloria that she be given enough time to make some Sale[13] over the six parcels of land constituting the intestate estate of the
consultations on what was already agreed upon by the majority of the heirs; that it was late Evaristo Cuyos in favor of Columba for a consideration of the sum of P36,000.00.
only on July 11, 1976 that the letter of respondent Gloria was handed to Atty. Taneo, with
the information that respondent Gloria was amenable to what had been agreed Sometime in February 1998, the heirs of Evaristo Cuyos, namely:
upon, provided she be given the sum of P5,570.00 as her share of the estate, since one Gloria Cuyos-Talian, Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares, Numeriano Cuyos and
of properties of the estate was mortgaged to her in order to defray their father's Enrique Cuyos, represented by their attorney-in-
hospitalization. fact, Salud Cuyos (respondents), allegedly learned that Tax Declaration Nos. 000725,
000728, 000729, 000730, 000731 and 000732, which were all in the name of their late
Quoting the Commissioners Report, the CFI issued the assailed mother Agatona Arrogante, were canceled and new Tax Declaration Nos., namely, 20-
Order[10] dated December 16, 1976, the dispositiveportion of which reads as follows: 14129, 20-14130, 20-141131, 20-14132, 2014133 and 20-14134, were issued
in Columbas name; and that later on, Original Certificates of Titles covering the estate
WHEREFORE, finding the terms and conditions agreed upon by the
heirs to be in order, the same being not contrary to law, said of Evaristo Cuyos were issued in favor of Columba; that some of these parcels of land

were subsequently transferred to the names of spouses Renato C. Benatiro and Rosie with fraud and irregularity, since the CFI which issued the assailed order did not appear
M. Benatiro, son and daughter-in-law, respectively, of tohave been furnished a copy of the Deed of Absolute Sale; that the CFI was not
petitioners Gorgonio and Columba, for which transfer certificates of title were in custodia legis of the consideration of the sale,as directed in its Order so that it could
subsequently issued; that they subsequently discovered the existence of the assailed divide the remainder of the consideration equally among the heirs after paying all the
CFI Order dated December 16, 1976 and the Deed of Absolute Sale dated May 25, administration expenses and estate taxes; that the intestate case had not yet been
1979. terminated as the last order found relative to the case was the appointment of Lope as
administrator vice Gloria; that they never received their corresponding share in the
Respondents filed a complaint against petitioner Gorgonio Benatiro before the inheritance; and that the act of petitioners in manifest connivance with administrator Lope
Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems (COSLAP) of the Department of amounted to a denial of their right to the property without due process of law, thus, clearly
Justice, which on June 13, 2000 dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.[14] showing that extrinsic fraud caused them to be deprived of their property.

Salud Cuyos brought the matter for conciliation and mediation at Herein petitioners contend that respondents' allegation that they discovered the
the barangay level, but was unsuccessful.[15] assailed order dated December 16, 1976 only in February 1998 was preposterous, as
respondents were represented by counsel in the intestate proceedings; thus, notice of
On July 16, 2001, Salud Cuyos, for herself and in representation[16] of the other Order to counsel was notice to client; that this was only a ploy so that they could claim
heirs of Evaristo Cuyos, namely: Gloria, Patrocenia, Numeriano,[17] and Enrique, filed with that they filed the petition for annulment within the statutory period of four (4) years; that
the CA a petition for annulment of the Order dated December 16, 1976 of the CFI of Cebu, they have been in possession of the six parcels of land since May 25, 1979 when the
Branch XI, in SP No. 24-BN under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court. They alleged that the same was sold to them pursuant to the assailed Order in the intestate proceedings; that
CFI Order dated December 16, 1976 was null and void and of no effect, the same being no extrinsic fraud attended the issuance of the assailed order; that Numeriano executed
based on a Commissioner's Report, which was patently false and irregular; that such an affidavit in which he attested to having received his share of the sale proceeds on
report practically deprived them of due process in claiming their share of their father's May 18, 1988; that respondents were estopped from assailing the Order dated
estate; that Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares executed an affidavit, as well as December 16, 1976, as it had already attained the status of finality.
the unnotarized statement of Gloria stating that no meeting ever took place for the
purpose of discussing how to dispose of the estate of their parents and that they never On July 18, 2003, the CA granted the petition and annulled the CFI order,
received any payment from the supposed sale of their share in the inheritance; that the the dispositive portion of which reads:
report was done in close confederacy with their co-heir Columba, who stood to be FOR ALL THE FOREGOING REASONS, the instant
benefited by the Commissioner's recommendation, should the same be approved by petition is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Order issued by the
Court of First Instance of Cebu Branch XI dated December 16, 1976
the probate court; that since the report was a falsity, any order proceeding therefrom was as well as the Certificates of Title issued in the name
invalid; that the issuance of the certificates of titles in favor of respondents were tainted of ColumbaCuyos-Benatiro and the subsequent transfer of these

Titles in the name of spouses Renato and Rosie Benatiro are hereby
legal effect, citing Quiban v. Butalid;[19] that being a void compromise agreement, the
ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Further, SP Proc. Case No. 24-BN is
hereby ordered reopened and proceedings thereon be continued.[18] assailed Order had no legal effect.

The CA declared that the ultimate fact that was needed to be established was Thus, the CA ruled that the Certificates of Titles obtained by herein petitioners
the veracity and truthfulness of the Commissioners Report, which was used by the trial were procured fraudulently; that the initial transfer of the properties to Columba Cuyos-
court as its basis for issuing the assailed Order. The CA held that to arrive at an agreement, Benatiro by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Lope Cuyos was clearly
there was a need for all the concerned parties to be present in the conference; however, defective, since the compromise agreement which served as the basis of the Deed of
such was not the scenario since in their separate sworn statements, the compulsory heirs Absolute Sale was void and had no legal effect.
of the decedent attested to the fact that no meeting or conference ever happened among
them; that although under Section 3(m), Rule 133 on the Rules of Evidence, there is a The CA elaborated that there was no showing that Columba paid the sum
presumption of regularity in the performance of an official duty, the same may be of P36,000.00 to the administrator as consideration for the sale, except for the testimony
contradicted and overcome by other evidence to prove the contrary. of Numeriano Cuyos admitting that he received his share of the proceeds but without
indicating the exact amount that he received; that even so, such alleged payment was
The CA noted some particulars that led it to conclude that the conference was incomplete and was not in compliance with the trial courts order for the administratix to
not held accordingly, to wit: (1) the Commissioners Report never mentioned the names of
execute the deed of sale covering all properties of the estate in favor of Columba Cuyos-
the heirs who were present in the alleged conference but only the names of those who
Benatiro after the payment to the administratrix of the sum of P36,000.00; that said sum
were absent, when the names of those who were present were equally essential, if not
of money shall remain in custodia legis, but after all the claims and administration
even more important, than the names of those who were absent; (2) the Report also failed
to include any proof of conformity to the agreement from the attendees, such as letting expenses and the estate taxes shall have been paid for, the remainder shall, upon order
them sign the report to signify their consent as regards the agreed mechanisms for the of the Court, be divided equally among the heirs.
estates settlement; (3) there was lack or absence of physical evidence attached to the
report indicating that the respondents were indeed properly notified about the scheduled Moreover, the CA found that the copy of the Deed of Sale was not even
conference. The CA then concluded that due to the absence of the respondents' consent,
furnished the trial court nor was said money placed under custodia legis as agreed upon;
the legal existence of the compromise agreement did not stand on a firm ground.
that the Certification dated December 9, 1998 issued by the Clerk of Court
The CA further observed that although it appeared that notice of the report was
of Cebuindicated that the case had not yet been terminated and that the last Order in the
given to Atty. Lepiten and Atty. Yray, lawyers of Gloria and Francisco Cuyos, respectively,
special proceeding was the appointment of Lope Cuyos as the new administrator of the
the same cannot be taken as notice to the other heirs of Evaristo Cuyos; that a lawyers
estate; thus, the transfer of the parcels of land, which included the execution of the Deed
authority to compromise cannot be simply presumed, since what was required was the
of Absolute Sale, cancellation of Tax Declarations and the issuance of new
special authority to compromise on behalf of his client; that a compromise agreement
Tax Declarations and Transfer Certificates of Title, all in favor of petitioners, were tainted
entered into by a person not duly authorized to do so by the principal is void and has no
with fraud. Consequently, the CA concluded that the compromise
agreement, the certificates of title and the transfers made by petitioners through fraud 18, 1988. In addition, Numeriano had issued a certification[24] dated May 18, 1988, which
cannot be made a legal basis of their ownership over the properties, since to do so would was not refuted by any of the parties, that he had already received P4,000.00 in payment
result in enriching them at the expense of the respondents; and that it was also evident of his share, which could be the reason why he refused to sign the Special Power
that the fraud attendant in this case was one of extrinsic fraud, since respondents were of Attorney supposedly in favor of Salud Cuyos for the filing of the petition with the CA.
denied the opportunity to fully litigate their case because of the scheme utilized by
petitioners to assert their claim. The issue for resolution is whether the CA committed a reversible error in
annulling the CFI Order dated December 16, 1976, which approved the Commissioners
Hence, herein petition raising the following issues: Report embodying the alleged compromise agreement entered into by the heirs

Whether or not annulment of order under Rule 47 of the of Evaristo and Agatona Arrogante Cuyos.
Rules of Court was a proper remedy where the aggrieved party had
other appropriate remedies, such as new trial, appeal, or petition for
relief, which they failed to take through their own fault. We rule in the negative.

Whether or not the Court of Appeals misapprehended the

facts when it annulled the 24 year old Commissioner's Report of the The remedy of annulment of judgment is extraordinary in character[25] and will not
Clerk of Court - an official act which enjoys a strong presumption of so easily and readily lend itself to abuse by parties aggrieved by final judgments. Sections
regularity - based merely on belated allegations of irregularities in the
performance of said official act. 1 and 2 of Rule 47 impose strict conditions for recourse to it, viz.:
Whether or not upon the facts as found by the Court of
Appeals in this case, extrinsic fraud existed which is a sufficient Section 1. Coverage. This Rule shall govern the annulment
ground to annul the lower court's order under Rule 47 of the Rules of by the Court of Appeals of judgments or final orders and resolutions
Court. [20] in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the ordinary remedies
of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are
no longer available through no fault of the petitioner.
Subsequent to the filing of their petition, petitioners filed a Manifestation that
Section 2. Grounds for annulment. The annulment may be
they were in possession of affidavits of waiver and desistance executed by the heirs of based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.
Lope Cuyos[21] and respondent Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares[22] on February 17,
Extrinsic fraud shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of,
2004 and December 17, 2004, respectively. In both affidavits, the affiants stated that or could have been availed of, in a motion for new trial or petition for
they had no more interest in prosecuting/defending the case involving the settlement of
the estate, since the subject estate properties had been bought by their late
sister Columba, and they had already received their share of the purchase Although Section 2 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court provides that annulment of a

price. Another heir, respondent NumerianoCuyos, had also earlier executed an final judgment or order of an RTC may be based "only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud

Affidavit[23] dated December 13, 2001, stating that the subject estate was sold and lack of jurisdiction," jurisprudence recognizes denial of due process as

to Columbaand that she had already received her share of the purchase price on May additional .ground therefor.[26]

However, there is nothing in the records that would establish that the
An action to annul a final judgment on the ground of fraud will lie only if the fraud alleged subpoenae, supplemented by telegrams, for the heirs to appear in the scheduled
is extrinsic or collateral in character.[27] Extrinsic fraud exists when there is a fraudulent act conference were indeed sent to the heirs. In fact, respondent Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares,
committed by the prevailing party outside of the trial of the case, whereby the defeated one of the heirs, who was presumably present in the conference, as she was not
party was prevented from presenting fully his side of the case by fraud or deception mentioned as among those absent, had executed an affidavit[30] dated December 8, 1998
practiced on him by the prevailing party.[28] Fraud is regarded as extrinsic where it prevents attesting, to the fact that she was not called to a meeting nor was there any telegram or
a party from having a trial or from presenting his entire case to the court, or where it notice of any meeting received by her. While Patrocenia had executed on December 17,
operates upon matters pertaining not to the judgment itself but to the manner in which it is 2004 an Affidavit of Waiver and Desistance[31] regarding this case, it was only for the reason
procured. The overriding consideration when extrinsic fraud is alleged is that the fraudulent that the subject estate properties had been bought by their late sister Columba, and that
scheme of the prevailing litigant prevented a party from having his day in court. [29] she had already received her corresponding share of the purchase price, but there was
While we find that the CA correctly annulled the CFI Order dated December 16, nothing in the affidavit that retracted her previous statement that she was not called to a
1976, we find that it should be annulled not on the ground of extrinsic fraud, as there is no meeting. Respondent Gloria also made an unnotarizedstatement[32] that there was no
sufficient evidence to hold Atty. Taneo or any of the heirs guilty of fraud, but on the ground meeting held. Thus, the veracity of Atty. Taneos holding of a conference with the heirs was
that the assailed order is void for lack of due process. doubtful.
Moreover, there was no evidence showing that the heirs indeed convened for the
Clerk of Court Taneo was appointed to act as Commissioner to effect the purpose of arriving at an agreement regarding the estate properties, since they were not
agreement of the heirs and to prepare the project of partition for submission and approval even required to sign anything to show their attendance of the alleged meeting.In fact, the
of the court. Thus, it was incumbent upon Atty. Taneo to set a time and place for the first Commissioner's Report, which embodied the alleged agreement of the heirs, did not bear
meeting of the heirs. In his Commissioners Report, Atty. Taneo stated that he caused the the signatures of the alleged attendees to show their consent and conformity thereto.
appearance of all the heirs of EvaristoCuyos and Agatona Arrogante Cuyos in the
place, where the subject properties were located for settlement, by sending It bears stressing that the purpose of the conference was for the heirs to arrive at
them subpoenae supplemented by telegrams for them to attend the conference a compromise agreement over the estate of Evaristo Cuyos. Thus, it was imperative that
scheduled on February 28 to 29, 1976. It was also alleged that out of the nine heirs, only all the heirs must be present in the conference and be heard to afford them the opportunity
six attended the conference; however, as the CA aptly found, the Commissioner did not to protect their interests. Considering that no separate instrument of conveyance was
state the names of those present, but only those heirs who failed to attend the executed among the heirs embodying their alleged agreement, it was necessary that the
conference, namely: respondents Gloria, Salud and Enrique who, as stated in the Report, Report be signed by the heirs to prove that a conference among the heirs was indeed
based on the return of service, could not be located in their respective given addresses. held, and that they conformed to the agreement stated in the Report.

any deed of settlement and/or partition is agreed upon (i.e., a
Petitioners point out that the Commissioner was an officer of the court and a notice calling all interested parties to participate in the said deed
disinterested party and that, under Rule 133, Section 3(m) of the Rules on Evidence, there of extrajudicial settlement and partition), and not after such an
agreement has already been executed as what happened in the
is a presumption that official duty has been regularly performed. instant case with the publication of the first deed of extrajudicial
settlement among heirs.

While, under the general rule, it is to be presumed that everything done by an The publication of the settlement does not constitute
officer in connection with the performance of an official act in the line of his duty was legally constructive notice to the heirs who had no knowledge or did not take
part in it because the same was notice after the fact of execution. The
done, such presumption may be overcome by evidence to the contrary. We find the requirement of publication is geared for the protection of creditors and
was never intended to deprive heirs of their lawful participation in the
instances mentioned by the CA, such as absence of the names of the persons present in
decedent's estate. In this connection, the records of the present case
the conference, absence of the signatures of the heirs in the Commissioner's Report, as confirm that respondents never signed either of the settlement
documents, having discovered their existence only shortly before the
well as absence of evidence showing that respondents were notified of the conference, to filing of the present complaint. Following Rule 74, these extrajudicial
be competent proofs of irregularity that rebut the presumption. settlements do not bind respondents, and the partition made without
their knowledge and consent is invalid insofar as they are
concerned[36] (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, we find no reversible error committed by the CA in ruling that Applying the above-mentioned case by analogy, what matters is whether the
the conference was not held accordingly and in annulling the assailed order of the CFI. heirs were indeed notified before the compromise agreement was arrived at, which was
not established, and not whether they were notified of the Commissioner's Report
Petitioners attached a Certification[33] dated August 7, 2003 issued by the Officer embodying the alleged agreement afterwards.
In Charge (OIC), Branch Clerk of Court of the RTC, Branch 11, to show that copies of the
Commissioners Report were sent to all the heirs, except Salud and Enrique, as well We also find nothing in the records that would show that the heirs were called
as to Attys. Lepiten and Yray as enumerated in the Notice found at the lower portion of the to a hearing to validate the Report. The CFI adopted and approved the Report despite
Report with the accompanying registry receipts.[34] the absence of the signatures of all the heirs showing conformity thereto. The CFI
adopted the Report despite the statement therein that only six out of the nine heirs
In Cua v. Vargas,[35] in which the issue was whether heirs were deemed attended the conference, thus, effectively depriving the other heirs of their chance to be
constructively notified of and bound by an extra-judicial settlement and partition of the heard. The CFI's action was tantamount to a violation of the constitutional guarantee that
estate, regardless of their failure to participate therein, when the extra-judicial settlement no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law. We find that the
and partition has been duly published, we held: assailed Order dated December 16, 1976, which approved a void Commissioner's

The procedure outlined in Section 1 of Rule 74 is an Report, is a void judgment for lack of due process.
ex parte proceeding. The rule plainly states, however, that
persons who do not participate or had no notice of an
extrajudicial settlement will not be bound thereby. It We are not persuaded by petitioners contentions that all the parties in the
contemplates a notice that has been sent out or issued before
intestate estate proceedings in the trial court were duly represented by respective
counsels, namely, Atty. Lepiten for petitioners-heirs and Atty. Yray for the oppositors- in Columbas name, and Original Certificates of Titles were subsequently issued in favor
heirs; that when the heirs agreed to settle the case amicably, they manifested such of Columba. Thus, they could not have taken an appeal or other remedies.
intention through their lawyers, as stated in the Order dated January 30, 1973; that an
heir in the settlement of the estate of a deceased person need not hire his own Considering that the assailed Order is a void judgment for lack of due process
lawyer,because his interest in the estate is represented by the judicial administrator who of law, it is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right or of any obligation.[38]
retains the services of a counsel; that a judicial administrator is the legal representative
not only of the estate but also of the heirs, legatees, and creditors whose interest he In Nazareno v. Court of Appeals,[39] we stated the consequences of a void
represents; that when the trial court issued the assailed Order dated December 16, 1976 judgment, thus:
approving the Commissioner's Report, the parties lawyers were duly served said copies A void judgment never acquires finality. Hence, while
of the Order on December 21, 1976 as shown by the Certification[37] dated August 7, admittedly, the petitioner in the case at bar failed to appeal timely the
aforementioned decision of the Municipal Trial Court of Naic, Cavite,
2003 of the RTC OIC, Clerk of Court; that notices to lawyers should be considered it cannot be deemed to have become final and executory. In
notices to the clients, since, if a party is represented by counsel, service of notices of contemplation of law, that void decision is deemed non-
existent. Thus, there was no effective or operative judgment to appeal
orders and pleadings shall be made upon the lawyer; that upon receipt of such order by from. In Metropolitan Waterworks & Sewerage System vs. Sison, this
counsels, any one of the respondents could have taken the appropriate remedy such Court held that:

as a motion for reconsideration, a motion for new trial or a petition for relief under Rule x x x [A] void judgment is not entitled to the respect accorded
to a valid judgment, but may be entirely disregarded or declared
38 at the proper time, but they failed to do so without giving any cogent reason for such
inoperative by any tribunal in which effect is sought to be given to it. It
failure. is attended by none of the consequences of a valid adjudication. It has
no legal or binding effect or efficacy for any purpose or at any place. It
cannot affect, impair or create rights. It is not entitled to enforcement
While the trial court's order approving the Commissioners Report was received and is, ordinarily, no protection to those who seek to enforce. All
proceedings founded on the void judgment are themselves regarded
by Attys. Yray and Lepiten, they were the lawyers of Gloria and Francisco, respectively, as invalid. In other words, a void judgment is regarded as a nullity, and
but not the lawyers of the other heirs. As can be seen from the pleadings filed before the the situation is the same as it would be if there were no judgment. It,
accordingly, leaves the parties litigants in the same position they were
probate court, Atty. Lepiten was Glorias counsel when she filed her Petition for letters in before the trial.
of administration, while Atty. Yray was Franciscos lawyer when he filed his opposition to
Thus, a void judgment is no judgment at all. It cannot be the
the petition for letters of administration and his Motion to Order administrarix Gloria to source of any right nor of any obligation. All acts performed pursuant
to it and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. Hence, it can
render an accounting and for the partition of the estate. Thus, the other heirs who were never become final and any writ of execution based on it is void:
not represented by counsel were not given any notice of the judgment approving the "x x x it may be said to be a lawless thing which can be treated as an
outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever and whenever it exhibits
compromise. It was only sometime in February 1998 that respondents learned that the its head.[40] (Emphasis supplied)
tax declarations covering the parcels of land, which were all in the name of their late
mother Agatona Arrogante, were canceled; and new Tax Declarations were issued
The CFI's order being null and void, it may be assailed anytime, collaterally or respondents' right to due process is the paramount consideration in annulling the assailed
in a direct action or by resisting such judgment or final order in any action or proceeding order. It bears stressing that an action to declare the nullity of a void judgment does not
whenever it is invoked, unless barred by laches.[41] Consequently, the compromise prescribe.[45]
agreement and the Order approving it must be declared null and void and set aside.
Finally, considering that the assailed CFI judgment is void, it has no legal and
We find no merit in petitioners' claim that respondents are barred from assailing binding effect, force or efficacy for any purpose. In contemplation of law, it is non-
the judgment after the lapse of 24 years from its finality on ground existent. Hence, the execution of the Deed of Sale by Lope in favor of Columbapursuant
of laches and estoppel. to said void judgment, the issuance of titles pursuant to said Deed of Sale, and the
subsequent transfers are void abinitio. No reversible error was thus committed by the
Section 3, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court provides that an action for annulment CA in annulling the judgment.
of judgment based on extrinsic fraud must be filed within four years from its discovery
and, if based on lack of jurisdiction, before it is barred by laches or estoppel. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Decision dated July 18,
2003 and Resolution dated November 13, 2003 of the Court of Appeals
The principle of laches or "stale demands" ordains that the failure or neglect, for are AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial Court, Branch XI, Cebu and the Heirs
an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which by exercising due of Evaristo Cuyosare DIRECTED to proceed with SP Proceedings Case No. 24-BN for
diligence could or should have been done earlier, or the negligence or omission to assert the settlement of the Estate of Evaristo Cuyos.
a right within a reasonable time, warrants a presumption that the party entitled to assert it
either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.[42] No costs.

There is no absolute rule as to what constitutes laches or staleness of demand; SO ORDERED.

each case is to be determined according to its particular circumstances.[43] The question
of laches is addressed to the sound discretion of the court and, being an equitable doctrine,
its application is controlled by equitable considerations. It cannot be used to defeat justice
or perpetrate fraud and injustice. It is the better rule that courts, under the principle of equity,
will not be guided or bound strictly by the statute of limitations or the doctrine of laches when
to be so, a manifest wrong or injustice would result.[44]

In this case, respondents learned of the assailed order only sometime in February
1998 and filed the petition for annulment of judgment in 2001. Moreover, we find that
Republic of the Philippines demand, thereby causing damages to the petitioners. Accordingly, the latter
SUPREME COURT prayed that judgment be rendered nullifying said deed of extra-judicial
Manila settlement, insofar as it deprives them of their participation of 1/18th of the
properties in litigation; ordering the respondents to reconvey to petitioners their
EN BANC aforementioned share in said properties; ordering the register of deeds to
cancel the transfer certificates of title secured by respondents as above stated
G.R. No. L-19060 May 29, 1964 and to issue new certificates of title in the name of both the petitioners and the
respondents in the proportion of 1/8th for the former and 7/8th for the latter;
ordering the respondents to render accounts of the income of said properties
IGNACIO GERONA, MARIA CONCEPCION GERONA, FRANCISCO and to deliver to petitioners their lawful share therein; and sentencing
GERONA and DELFIN GERONA,petitioners, respondents to pay damages and attorney's fees.
FRANCISCO DE GUZMAN, RUSTICA DE GUZMAN, PACITA DE GUZMAN In their answer, respondents maintained that petitioners' mother, the deceased
and VICTORIA DE GUZMANrespondents. Placida de Guzman, was not entitled to share in the estate of Marcelo de
Guzman, she being merely a spurious child of the latter, and that petitioners'
action is barred by the statute of limitations.
Manuel J. Serapio for petitioners.
D. F. Castro and Associates for respondents.
After appropriate proceedings, the trial court rendered a decision finding that
petitioners' mother was a legitimate child, by first marriage, of Marcelo de
CONCEPCION, J.: Guzman; that the properties described in the complaint belonged to the
conjugal partnership of Marcelo de Guzman and his second wife, Camila
Appeal by certiorari from a decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming that of Ramos; and that petitioners' action has already prescribed, and, accordingly,
the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. dismissing the complaint without costs. On appeal taken by the petitioners, this
decision as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, with costs against them.
In the complaint, filed with the latter court on September 4, 1958, petitioners
herein, namely, Ignacio, Maria Concepcion, Francisco and Delfin, all Petitioners maintain that since they and respondents are co-heirs of the
surnamed Gerona, alleged that they are the legitimate children of Domingo deceased Marcelo de Guzman, the present action for partition of the latter's
Gerona and Placida de Guzman; that the latter, who died on August 9, 1941 estate is not subject to the statute of limitations of action; that, if affected by
was a legitimate daughter of Marcelo de Guzman and his first wife, Teodora said statute, the period of four (4) years therein prescribed did not begin to run
de la Cruz; that after the death of his first wife, Marcelo de Guzman married until actual discovery of the fraud perpetrated by respondents, which, it is
Camila Ramos, who begot him several children, namely, respondents Carmen, claimed, took place in 1956 or 1957; and that accordingly, said period had not
Jose, Clemente, Francisco, Rustica, Pacita and Victoria, all surnamed De expired when the present action was commenced on November 4, 1958.
Guzman; that Marcelo de Guzman died on September 11, 1945; that
subsequently, or on May 6, 1948, respondents executed a deed of "extra- Petitioners' contention is untenable. Although, as a general rule, an action for
judicial settlement of the estate of the deceased Marcelo de Guzman", partition among co-heirs does not prescribe, this is true only as long as the
fraudulently misrepresenting therein that they were the only surviving heirs of defendants do not hold the property in question under an adverse title
the deceased Marcelo de Guzman, although they well knew that petitioners (Cordova vs. Cordova, L-9936, January 14, 1948). The statute of limitations
were, also, his forced heirs; that respondents had thereby succeeded operates as in other cases, from the moment such adverse title is asserted by
fraudulently in causing the transfer certificates of title to seven (7) parcels of the possessor of the property (Ramos vs. Ramos, 45 Phil. 362; Bargayo v.
land, issued in the name of said deceased, to be cancelled and new transfer Camumot, 40 Phil. 857; Castro v. Echarri, 20 Phil. 23).
certificates of title to be issued in their own name, in the proportion of 1/7th
individual interest for each; that such fraud was discovered by the petitioners
When respondents executed the aforementioned deed of extra-judicial
only the year before the institution of the case; that petitioners forthwith
settlement stating therein that they are the sole heirs of the late Marcelo de
demanded from respondents their (petitioners) share in said properties, to the
extent of 1/8th interest thereon; and that the respondents refused to heed said Guzman, and secured new transfer certificates of title in their own name, they

thereby excluded the petitioners from the estate of the deceased, and, plaintiff Delfin Gerona became of legal age on 5 August 1954, so that
consequently, set up a title adverse to them. And this is why petitioners have he was also still a minor at the time he gained knowledge (although
brought this action for the annulment of said deed upon the ground that the constructive) of the deed of extra-judicial settlement on 25 June 1948.
same is tainted with fraud. 1wph1.t Francisco Gerona and Delfin Gerona had, therefore, two years after
the removal of their disability within which to commence their action
Although, there are some decisions to the contrary (Jacinto v. Mendoza, L- (Section 45, paragraph 3, in relation to Section 43, Act 190), that is,
12540, February 28, 1959; Cuison v. Fernandez, L-11764, January 31, 1959; January 29, 1952, with respect to Francisco, and 5 August 1954, with
Maribiles v. Quinto, L-10408, October 18, 1956; and Sevilla v. De los Angeles, respect to Delfin.
L-7745, November 18, 1955), it is already settled in this jurisdiction that an
action for reconveyance of real property based upon a constructive or implied WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby affirmed, with
trust, resulting from fraud, may be barred by the statute of limitations costs against petitioners herein. It is so ordered.
(Candelaria v. Romero, L-12149, September 30, 1960; Alzona v. Capunita, L-
10220, February 28, 1962). EN BANC

Inasmuch as petitioners seek to annul the aforementioned deed of "extra- [G.R. No. L-19668. October 22, 1964.]
judicial settlement" upon the ground of fraud in the execution thereof, the
action therefor may be filed within four (4) years from the discovery of the fraud DOMINGA TORRES, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. J.M. TUASON & CO., INC. and
(Mauricio v. Villanueva, L-11072, September 24, 1959). Such discovery is EUSTAQUIO ALQUIROS, Defendants-Appellees.
deemed to have taken place, in the case at bar, on June 25, 1948, when said
instrument was filed with the Register of Deeds and new certificates of title Atinidoro E. Sison, for Plaintiff-Appellant.
were issued in the name of respondents exclusively, for the registration of the
deed of extra-judicial settlement constitute constructive notice to the whole Tuason & Sison for defendant-appellee J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc.
world (Diaz v. Gorricho, L-11229, March 29, 1958; Avecilla v. Yatco, L-11578,
May 14, 1958; J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Magdangal, L-15539, January 30, Ruiz Law Offices for defendant-appellee Eustaquio Alquiros.
1962; Lopez v. Gonzaga, L-18788, January 31, 1964).

As correctly stated in the decision of the trial court: SYLLABUS

In the light of the foregoing it must, therefore, be held that plaintiffs

learned at least constructively, of the alleged fraud committed against 1. VENUE OF ACTIONS; ACTION TO COMPEL EXECUTION OF DEED OF
them by defendants on 25 June 1948 when the deed of extra-judicial
settlement of the estate of the deceased Marcelo de Guzman was
complaint is entitled to be one for specific performance, yet the fact that he
registered in the registry of deeds of Bulacan, Plaintiffs' complaint in
asked that a deed of sale of a parcel of land situated in Quezon City be issued
this case was not filed until 4 November 1958, or more than 10 years
thereafter. Plaintiff Ignacio Gerona became of age on 3 March 1948. in his favor and that a transfer certificate of title covering said land be issued
He is deemed to have discovered defendants' fraud on 25 June 1948 to him shows that the primary objective and nature of the action is to recover
the parcel of land itself because to execute in favor of appellant the
and had, therefore, only 4 years from the said date within which to file
conveyance requested there is need to make a finding that he is the owner of
this action. Plaintiff Maria Concepcion Gerona became of age on 8
the land which in last analysis resolves itself into an issue of ownership. Hence,
December 1949 or after the registration of the deed of extra-judicial
the action must be commenced in the province where the property is
settlement. She also had only the remainder of the period of 4 years
from December 1949 within which to commence her action. Plaintiff situated.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Francisco Gerona became of age only on 9 January 1952 so that he
was still a minor when he gained knowledge (even if only constructive)
of the deed of extra-judicial settlement on 25 June 1948. Likewise,

price or such reasonable price as the court may
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
The complaint concluded with the following

Sustaining a motion to dismiss of defendant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc., the Court "WHEREFORE, plaintiff most respectfully prays that judgment be
of First Instance of Manila, by order of 20 January 1962, ordered the dismissal rendered:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
of the complaint, in its Civil Case No. 48909, for improper venue. Plaintiff
appealed directly to this Court on points of law. (a) Ordering the defendant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc., to execute the final deed
of sale of the property described in Annex "A" of the complaint, of
The complaint, dated 4 December 1961, recites in substance that since prior approximately (690) square meters in area, in favor of the plaintiff upon
to 1813 to his death, one Telesforo Deudor was the sole owner of a parcel of payment by the letter of the purchase price at the rate of SEVEN PESOS
land situated in Matalahib, Tatalon and Masambong, Quezon City, with an (P7.00) per square meter, or such other rate as this Honorable Court may
area of 50 quiones 1; that when Telesforo Deudor died he was succeeded by deem as the reasonable price per square meter in or about May, 1953; to
his son, Tomas Deudor, who sold one and a half quiones of the land to one consider the sum of P2,760.00 already paid to Eustaquio Alquiros by the
Juliana @ Juana de la Cruz; that when the latter died in 1944 she was plaintiff as a partial payment thereof; and to cause to be issued a Transfer
succeeded by her only son, Eustaquio Alquiros; that on 20 October 1951, Certificate of Title therefor in the name of the plaintiff, and
Alquiros sold to the plaintiff, Dominga Torres, a portion of 690 square meters
for a consideration of P2,760.00, as evidenced by a public instrument (Annex (b) Ordering the defendant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. to pay the costs of the suit.
"A"); that to quiet title to their property of 50 quiones, the successors in
interest of Tomas Deudor filed in 1950 actions against J. M. Tuason & Co. in Plaintiff further prays for such other relief or remedy as this Honorable Court
the Court of First Instance of Quezon City (Civil Cases Nos. Q-135, Q-174, Q- may deem just and equitable in the premises." (Rec. on App., pp. 12-13)
177, Q-186); that plaintiff tried to intervene in said actions, but intervention was
denied; that on 16 March 1953 the Deudors, including Eustaquio Alquiros, and The Manila Court held that it "has no doubt that the action really concerns title
J. M. Tuason & Co. entered into a compromise, in Case No. Q-135, whereby of real property which is in Quezon City", and on 20 January 1962 dismissed
said "Deudors" and Alquiros, in consideration of P1,201,063.00 to be paid the complaint on the ground of improper venue. Plaintiff duly appealed.
them, ceded and quitclaimed in favor of said company any right or title that
said Deudors had over the property in litigation, including the 690 square In this Court, the appellant insists that her action is one of specific
meters sold to plaintiff Torres, which compromise was approved by the court; performance, and, therefore, personal and transitory in nature.
that in the Annex "C" to said compromise the name of plaintiff appeared; that
the compromise stipulated that the buyers listed in Annex "B" shall buy the lots This very issue was considered and decided by this Court in the case of
occupied by them and shall sign new contracts with Tuason & Co., at the Manuel B. Ruiz v. J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc., Et Al., L-18692, promulgated 31
current prices and terms set by the latter, but the amounts paid by them to the January 1963. There the Court, by unanimous vote of all the Justices, held as
Deudors (subject to verification by the Court) shall be credited by Tuason &
Company to the buyers and deducted from the amounts to be paid to the
Deudors; that in the case of Evangelista v. Deudor, G.R. L-12826, the "This contention has no merit. Although appellants complaint is entitled to be
Supreme Court ruled that by the aforementioned compromise agreement "a one for specific performance, yet the fact that he asked that a deed of sale of
sort of contractual relation" existed between J. M. Tuason & Company and the a parcel of land situated in Quezon City be issued in his favor and that a
purchasers of land from the Deudors, among whom is plaintiff herein, and transfer certificate of title covering said land be issued to him shows that the
Tuason & Company assumed certain obligations in favor of said purchasers, primary objective and nature of the action is to recover the parcel of land itself
as regard the sales of their respective lots; that sometime in May, 1953 the because to execute in favor of appellant the conveyance requested there is
plaintiff demanded from J. M. Tuason & Company the execution of a new need to make a finding that he is the owner of the land which in the last analysis
contract of sale in her favor of the portion of land she is occupying, at the resolves itself into an issue of ownership. Hence, the action must be
current price, which was then seven pesos (P7.00) per square meter, but the commenced in the province where the property is situated pursuant to Section
Company failed to do so; that plaintiff was always willing and ready to pay said 3, Rule 5, of the Rules of Court, which provides that actions affecting title to or

recovery of possession of real property shall be commenced and tried in the Tolete, to recover from defendants one-half share of the aforesaid parcels of
province where the property or any part thereof lies. This contention finds land, which, it is alleged belong to the deceased Teodoro Tolete.
support in the following
According, to the facts found by the Court of Appeals, Teodoro Tolete died
"An action by which plaintiff seeks to have it adjudged that he is the owner of intestate in January, 1945. He left for parcels of land, lots Nos. 12006, 119967,
an undivided third of mining property, and to have defendants directed to 14352 and 12176 of the cadastral survey of San Manuel, Pangasinan He left
execute to him a conveyance thereof, is within Code of Civ. Proc., Section 392, as heirs his widow, Leoncia de Leon, and several nephews and nieces,
providing that actions for recovery of real property or of an interest therein, or children of deceased brothers and sisters. On July 25, 1946, without any
for the determination of such interest, must be tried in the country in which the judicial proceedings, his widow executed an affidavit stating that "the
subject of the action is situated." (McFarland v. Martin, Et Al., p. 239) deceased Teodoro Tolete left no children or respondent neither ascendants or
acknowledged natural children neither brother, sisters, nephews or nieces, but
"Suit by purchaser for ascertainment of amount due on contract and for the, widow Leoncia de Leon, the legitimate wife of the deceased, the one and
vendors execution of deed on payment thereof held suit for specific only person to inherit the above properties" (Record on Appeal, p. 9). This
performance, triable where land was situated." (Kopke v. Carlson, Et. Al. 276 affidavit was registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan.
P. 606)" On the same day, she executed a deed of sale of all the above parcels of land
in favor of Benny Sampilo for the sum of P10,000. This sale was also
The Ruiz decision applies, and is determinative of the present case. registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan. On June 17,
1950, Benny Sampilo, in turn, sold the said parcels of land to Honorato
WHEREFORE, the order of dismissal appealed from is affirmed, with costs Salacup for P50,000 and this sale was also registered in the Office of the
against Register of Deeds of Pangasinan (See Annexes "A", "B", "C", attached to the

Republic of the Philippines In March, 1950, Felisa Sinopera instituted proceedings for the administration
SUPREME COURT of the estate of Teodoro Tolete (Special Proceeding No. 3694, Pangasinan),
Manila and having secured her appointment as administratrix, brought the present
action on June 20, 1950. Notice of lis pendens was filed in the Office of the
EN BANC Register of Deeds and said notice was recorded on certificates of title covering
the said properties on June 26, 1950. This notice, however, was subsequent
G.R. No. L-10474 February 28, 1958 to the registration of the deed of sale, in favor of Honorato Salacup, which took
place on June 17, 1950.
vs. The complaint alleges that the widow Leoncia de Leon, had no right to execute
THE COURT OF APPEALS and FELISA SINOPERA respondent. the affidavit of adjudication and that Honorato Salacup acquired no rights to
the lands sold to him, and that neither had Benny Sampilo acquired any right
Clodualdo P. Surio for petitioners. to the said properties. Sampilo and Salacup filed an amended answer alleging
Moises B. Ramos for respondents. that the complaint states no cause of action; that if such a cause exists the
same is barred by the statute of limitations; that defendants are innocent
purchasers for value; and that the complaint is malicious, frivolous and
LABRADOR, J.: spurious, intended to harass and inconvenience the defendants.

Certiorari against decision of the Court of Appeals, Third Division, affirming After trial the Court of First Instance rendered judgment for the plaintiff, Felisa
with slight modification a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Sinopera, declaring that the affidavit of adjudication Exhibit "A", the deed of
Pangasinan, declaring plaintiffs owners of one-half portion of four parcels of sale Exhibit "B", and the deed of sale Exhibit "C", are all null and void; declaring
land described in the complaint, with costs. The judgment was rendered in an plaintiff owner of one-half portion of the four parcels of land in question, and
action instituted by Felisa Sinopera, administrative of the estate of Teodoro
finally declaring that the usufructuary rights of Leoncia de Leon to said Section 4 of Rule 74 provides, in part, as follows:
properties are terminated. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals.
This court held that the annulment of the affidavit of adjudication, Exhibit "A", SEC. 4. Liability of distributees and estate. If it shall appear at any
by the trial court was correct but that the annulment of the deeds Exhibits "B" time within two years after the settlement and distribution of an estate
and "C", insofar as one-half of the properties, conveyed is concerned, and in in accordance with the provisions of either of the first two sections of
adjudicating one-half of the same to the heirs of the deceased, is premature. this rule, that an heir or other has been unduly deprived of his lawful
Hence, it modified the judgment, declaring that Exhibits "B" and "C" are null participation of the such heir or such other person may compel the
and void only insofar as the properties thereby conveyed exceed the portion settlement estate in the courts in the manner hereinafter provided for
that the responds to Leoncia de Leon. Therefore, it ordered the defendants to the purpose of satisfying such lawful participation. . . .
deliver to the plaintiff, in her capacity as administratrix of the estate of Teodoro
Tolete, for disposition according to the law, one-half of the lands described in
Section 1, which is mentioned in Section 4, reads as follows:
the complaint, but reserved to Honorato Salacup the right to claim and secure
adjudication in his favor of whatever portion of said properties may correspond
to Leoncia de Leon and also his right to bring an action for the damages that SEC. 1. Extrajudcial settlement by agreement between the heirs. If
he may have suffered against Leoncia de Leon and Benny Sampilo. the decedent left no debts and the heirs and legatees are all of age,
or the minors are represented by their judicial guardians, the parties
may, without securing letters of administration, divide the estate
Benny Sampilo and Honorato Salacup have appealed to this Court by certiorari
among themselves as they see fit by means of a public instrument filed
and have assigned the following errors in their brief:
in the office of the register of deeds, and should they disagree, they
may do so in an ordinary action of partition. If there is only one heir or
I one legatee, he may adjudicate to himself the entire estate by means
of an affidavit filed in the office of the register of deeds. It shall be
The Court of Appeals erred in affirming that respondent Felisa presumed that the decedent left no debts if no creditor files a petition
Sinopera's right of action to recover her and her co-heirs' participation for letters of administration within two years after the death of the
to the lands in question had not prescribed at the time the action to decedent.
recover was filed.
It will be noted that the provision next above-quoted contains two parts, the
II first referring to a case in which there are two or more heirs interested in the
estate of a deceased person, and the second in which there is only one heir.
The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the petitioners are The section was taken from Section 596 of the old Code of Civil Procedure
innocent purchasers for value. (Act No. 190, as amended by Act No. 2331). Said Section 596 as amended,
was as follows:
SEC. 596. Settlement of Certain Intestates Without Legal
Proceedings. Whenever all the heirs of a person who died intestate
The Court of Appeals erred in aiming the lower court's denial of
are of lawful age and legal capacity and there are no debts due from
petitioner's motion for new trial.
the estate, or all the debts have been paid the heirs may, by
agreement duly executed in writing by all of them, and not otherwise,
In support of the first assignment of error, it is argued that as the action was apportion and divide the estate among themselves, as they may see
instituted almost four years after the affidavit of adjudication, Exhibit "A", was fit, without proceedings in court.
registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds Of Pangasinan, the right of
action of the administratrix has prescribed and lapsed because the same was
We notice two significant provisions in Sections 1 and 4 of Rule 74. In Section
not brought within the period of two years as Prescribed in Section 4 of Rule
74 of the Rules of Court, and as decided in the cases of McMicking vs. Sy 1, it is required that if there are two or more heirs, both or all of them should
Conbieng, 21 Phil., 211 and Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil., 855 869. take part in the extrajudicial settlement. This requirement is made more
imperative in the old law (Section 596, Act No. 190) by the addition of the
clause "and not otherwise." By the title of Section 4, the "distributees and partition, is applicable only (1) to persons who have participated or taken part
estate" are indicates the persons to answer for rights violated by the or had notice of the extrajudicial partition, and, in addition, (2) when the
extrajudicial settlement. On the other hand, it is also significant that no mention provisions of Section 1 of Rule 74 have been strictly complied with, i.e., that
is made expressly of the effect of the extrajudicial settlement on persons who all the persons or heirs of the decedent have taken part in the extrajudicial
did not take part therein or had no notice or knowledge thereof. There cannot settlement or are represented by themselves or through guardians. The case
be any doubt that those who took part or had knowledge of the extrajudicial at bar fails to comply with both requirements because not all the heirs
settlement are bound thereby. As to them the law is clear that if they claim to interested have participated in the extrajudicial settlement, the Court of
have been in any manner deprived of their lawful right or share in the estate Appeals having found that the decedent left aside from his widow, nephews
by the extrajudicial settlement, they may demand their rights or interest within and nieces living at the time of his death.
the period of two years, and both the distributes and estate would be liable to
them for such rights or interest. Evidently, they are the persons in accordance The next contention of appellants is that plaintiff's action is barred by the
with the provision, may seek to remedy, the prejudice to their rights within the statute of limitations. The origin of the Provision (Section 4, Rule 74), upon
two-year period. But as to those who did not take part in the settlement or had which this contention is predicated, which is Section 596 of Act No. 190, fails
no notice of the death of the decedent or of the settlement, there is no direct to support the contention. In the first Place, there is nothing therein, or in its
or express provision is unreasonable and unjust that they also be required to source which shows clearly a statute of limitations and a bar of action against
assert their claims within the period of two years. To extend the effects of the third person's. It is only a bar against the parties who had taken part in the
settlement to them, to those who did not take part or had no knowledge extrajudicial proceedings but not against third persons not Parties thereto. In
thereof, without any express legal provision to that effect, would be violative of the second place, the statute of limitations is contained in a different chapter
the fundamental right to due process of law. In the case of of Act No. 190, Chapter XL, and if Section 596 of the Act had been meant to
Ramirez vs. Gmur, supra, cited by the appellants in this case, we held: be a statute of limitations, it would naturally have been included in the chapter
which defines the statute.
It will be noted that while the law (see. 754) provides that the order of
distribution may be had upon the application of the executor or But even if Section 4 of Rule 74 is a statute of limitations, it is still unavailing
administrator, or of a person interested in the estate, no provision is to the defendants. The action is one based on fraud, as the widow of the
made for notice, by publication or otherwise, of such application. The deceased owner of the lands had declared in her affidavit of partition that the
proceeding, therefore, is to all intents and purposes ex parte. As will deceased left no nephews or niece, or other heirs except herself. Plaintiff's
be seen our law is very vague and incomplete; and certainly it cannot right which is based on fraud and which has a period of four years (Section 43,
be held that a purely ex parte proceeding, had without notice by par. 3, Act no. 190; Article 1146, Civil Code), does not appear to have lapsed
personal service or by publication, by which the court undertakes to the action was instituted. Judicial proceedings where instituted in March, 1950
distribute the property of deceased persons, can be conclusive upon and these proceedings must have been instituted soon after the discovery of
minor heirs who are not represented therein. fraud. In any case, the defendants have the burden of proof as to their claim
of the statute of limitations, which is their defense, and they have not proved
The procedure outlined in Section 1 of Rule 74 of extrajudicial settlement, or that when the action was instituted, four years had already elapsed from the
by affidavit, is an ex parte proceeding. It cannot by any reason or logic be date that the interested parties had actual knowledge of the fraud.
contended that such settlement or distribution would affect third persons who
had no knowledge either of the death of the decedent or of the extrajudicial The second assignment of error, i.e., that the defendants-appellants are
settlement or affidavit, especially as no mention of such effect is made, either innocent purchasers for value was rejected as unfounded by the court of
directly or by implication. We have examined the two cases cited by appellants Appeals. Said court said.
and there is no similarity at all between the circumstances on which the ruling
therein had been predicated and those of the case at bar.
The claim that defendants-appellants did not have sufficient
knowledge or notice of the claim of the heirs of Teodoro Tolete,
Following the above-quoted decision of this Court in the case of deceased, over the land in question does not find support in the
Ramirez vs. Gmur, supra, we are of the opinion and so hold that the provisions evidence of record. As regards defendant Benny Sampilo, it is an
of Section 4 of Rule 74, barring distributees or heirs from objecting to an admitted fact that he is a nephew of Leoncia de Leon and he had been
extrajudicial partition after the expiration of two years from such extrajudicial
living with the latter. Both Benny Sampilo and the heirs of the
deceased who are claiming the property are residents of San Manuel,
Pangasinan. It is hard, therefore, to believe that Benny Sampilo did
not know the existence of said heirs, and that he was not aware that
they were nephews and nieces, children of the deceased brothers, of
the deceased Teodoro Tolete. The fact furthermore that Benny
Sampilo accompanied his aunt Leoncia de Leon to Sison,
Pangasinan, when the later saw Notary Public Ladislao Villamil, who
was the former's uncle, to have him prepare the affidavit of
adjudication Exhibit "A", and the deed of conveyance Exhibit "B" by
which on the same date she conveyed to Sampilo all the property
which she had adjudicated to herself, both of which she acknowledged
before said notary public, coupled with the fact that there is no
sufficient showing that the consideration for the conveyance of
P10,000 had in fact been paid, strengthens our belief that said Benny
Sampilo knew that the deceased Teodoro Tolete had other heirs who
may claim the property, and that the immediate conveyance thereof to
him was a strategem concocted to defeat the former's rights. And as
regards Honorato Salacup, while the claim that no notice of lis
pendens appeared annotated in the certificates of title issued to Benny
Sampilo when he acquired the property might be true, for he
purchased the property on June 17, 1950, and the notice of lis
pendens was noted on said certificates of title on June 26, 1950,
nevertheless, he cannot claim that he was a purchaser in good faith
for value of the property. It is well-settled rule in this jurisdiction that a
purchaser of registered lands who has knowledge of facts which
should put him upon inquiry and investigate as to the possible defects
of the title of the vendor and fails to make such inquiry and
investigation cannot claim that he as a purchaser in good faith for
value and he had acquired a valid title thereto. Leung Yee vs. Strong
Machinery Co., 37 Phil., 644; Dayao vs. Diaz, G.R. L-4106, May 29,

Finding no error in the decision of the Court of Appeals, we hereby affirm it in

toto, with costs against the petitioners. So ordered.

Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo,

Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Endencia and Felix, JJ., concur.