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SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty.

Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 1
COMPILATION OF CASES

LIMITED JURISDICTION The probate court, in two orders dated June 24, 1959 and February
10, 1960, respectively, set the two projects of partition for hearing, at
BERNARDO v. CA which evidence was presented by the parties, followed by the
submission of memoranda discussing certain legal issues. In the
memorandum for the executor and the instituted heirs it was
Republic of the Philippines
contended: (1) that the properties disposed of in the will of the
SUPREME COURT
deceased Eusebio Capili belonged to him exclusively and not to the
Manila
conjugal partnership, because Hermogena Reyes had donated to
him her half share of such partnership; (2) that the collateral heirs of
EN BANC Hermogena Reyes had no lawful standing or grounds to question
the validity of the donation; and (3) that even assuming that they
G.R. No. L-18148 February 28, 1963 could question the validity of the donation, the same must be
litigated not in the testate proceeding but in a separate civil action.
DEOGRACIAS BERNARDO, executor of the testate estate of the
deceased EUSEBIO CAPILI; and the instituted heirs, namely: Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation
ARMANDO CAPILI and ARTURO BERNARDO, ET of facts be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without
AL., petitioners, prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case
vs. not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and THE HEIRS OF THE LATE
HERMOGENA REYES, namely: FRANCISCO REYES, ET AL., The oppositors and heirs of Hermogena Reyes, on their part, argued
and JOSE ISIDORO, ET AL., respondents. that the deed of donation itself was determinative of the original
conjugal character to the properties, aside from the legal
Ambrosio Padilla Law Offices for petitioners. presumption laid down in Article 160 of the Civil Code, and that
Romerico F. Flores for respondents. since the donation was null and void the deceased Eusebio Capili
did not become owner of the share of his wife and therefore could
not validly dispose of it in his will.

On September 14, 1960, the probate court, the Honorable M. Mejia


BARRERA, J.:
presiding, issued an order declaring the donation void without
making any specific finding as to its juridical nature, that is, whether
This is a petition by certiorari for the review of the decision of the it was inter vivos or mortis causa, for the reason that, considered
Court of Appeals affirming that of the Court of First Instance of under the first category, it falls under Article 133 of the Civil Code,
Bulacan holding that the probate court in Special Proceeding 1101 which prohibits donations between spouses during the marriage;
had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the deed of donation in and considered under the second category, it does not comply with
question and to pass upon the question of title or ownership of the the formalities of a will as required by Article 728 in relation to Article
properties mentioned therein. 805 of the same Code, there being no attestation clause. In the
same order the court disapproved both projects of partition and
The facts are briefly stated in the appealed decision of the Court of directed the executor to file another," dividing the property
Appeals as follows: mentioned in the last will and testament of the deceased Eusebio
Capili and the properties mentioned in the deed of donation, Exhibit
B, between the instituted heirs of the deceased Eusebio Capili and
Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes were husband and wife. The
the legal heirs of the deceased Hermogena Reyes, upon the basis
first died on July 27, 1958 and a testate proceeding for the
that the said properties were conjugal properties of the deceased
settlement of his estate was instituted in the Court of the Fist
spouses." On September 27, 1960, the executor filed a motion for
Instance of Bulacan. His will was admitted to probate on October 9,
new trial, reiterating and emphasizing the contention previously
1958, disposing of his properties in favor of his widow; his cousins
raised in their memorandum that the probate court had no
Armando, Ursula, and Buenaventura, all surnamed Capili; and
jurisdiction to take cognizance of the claim of the legal heirs of
Arturo, Deogracias and Eduardo, all surnamed Bernardo.
Hermogena Reyes involving title to the properties mentioned in the
Hermogena Reyes herself died on April 24, 1959. Upon petition of
will of Eusebio Capili and taking exception to the court's declaration
Deogracias Bernardo, executor of the estate of the deceased
of the nullity of the donation "without stating facts or provision of law
Eusebio Capili, she was substituted by her collateral relatives and
on which it was based." The motion for new trial was denied in an
intestate heirs, namely, Marcos, Vicente, Francisco and Dominga, all
order dated October 3, 1960.
surnamed Reyes; and Jose, Constancia, Raymunda and Elena, all
surnamed Isidoro.
On appeal to the Court of Appeals the order appealed from being
affirmed, petitioners filed this present petition for review by certiorari.
On June 12, 1959, the executor filed a project of partition in the
testate proceeding in accordance with the terms of the will,
adjudicating the estate of Eusebio Capili among the testamentary The petitioners-appellants contend that the appellate court erred in
heirs with the exception of Hermogena Reyes, whose share was not declaring that the probate court, having limited and special
alloted to her collateral relatives aforementioned. On June 16, 1959 jurisdiction, had generally no power to adjudicate title and erred in
these relatives filed an opposition to the executor's project of applying the exception to the rule.
partition and submitted a counter-project of partition of their own,
claiming 1/2 of the properties mentioned in the will of the deceased In a line of decisions, this Court consistently held that as a general
Eusebio Capili on the theory that they belonged not to the latter rule, question as to title to property cannot be passed upon on
alone but to the conjugal partnership of the spouses. testate or intestate proceedings,"1 except where one of the parties
prays merely for the inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the
property, in which case the probate court may pass provisionally
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 2
COMPILATION OF CASES

upon the question without prejudice to its final determination in a deceased widow are not heirs of the testator-husband, but the
separate action.2 However, we have also held that when the parties widow is, in addition to her own right to the conjugal property. And it
interested are all heirs of the deceased, it is optional to them to is this right that is being sought to be enforced by her substitutes.
submit to the probate court a question as to title to property, and Therefore, the claim that is being asserted is one belonging to an
when so submitted, said probate court may definitely pass judgment heir to the testator and, consequently, it complies with the
thereon (Pascual v. Pascual, 73 Phil. 561; Manalac v. Ocampo, et requirement of the exception that the parties interested (the
al., 73 Phil. 661); and that with the consent of the parties, matters petitioners and the widow, represented by dents) are all heirs
affecting property under judicial administration may be taken claiming title under the testator.
cognizance of by the court in the course of intestate proceeding,
provided interests of third persons are not prejudiced (Cunanan v. Petitioners contend additionally that they have never submitted
Amparo, 80 Phil. 229, 232). themselves to the jurisdiction of the probate court, for the purpose of
the determination of the question of ownership of the disputed
In the light of this doctrine, may it be said correctly that the trial court properties. This is not borne by the admitted facts. On the contrary, it
as well as the Court of Appeals erred in upholding the power of the is undisputed that they were the ones who presented the project of
probate court in this case to adjudicate in the testate proceedings, partition claiming the questioned properties as part of the testator's
the question as to whether the properties herein involved belong to asset. The respondents, as representatives or substitutes of the
the conjugal partnership of Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes, deceased widow opposed the project of partition and submitted
or to the deceased husband exclusively? another. As the Court of Appeals said, "In doing so all of them must
be deemed to have submitted the issue for resolution in the same
At the outset, let it be clarified that the matter at issue is not a proceeding. Certainly, the petitioners can not be heard to insist, as
question of jurisdiction, in the sense advanced by appellants that the they do, on the approval of their project of partition and, thus, have
trial court had completely no authority to pass upon the title to the the court take it for granted that their theory as to the character of
lands in dispute, and that its decision on the subject is null and void the properties is correct, entirely without regard to the opposition of
and does not bind even those who had invoked its authority and the respondents". In other words, by presenting their project of
submitted to its decision because, it is contended, jurisdiction is a partition including therein the disputed lands (upon the claim that
creature of law and parties to an action can not vest, extend or they were donated by the wife to her husband), petitioners
broaden it. If appellants' contention is correct, then there can be no themselves put in issue the question of ownership of the properties
exception to the no-jurisdiction theory. But as has been stated in the — which is well within the competence of the probate court — and
case of Cunanan v. Amparo (supra) the Supreme Court speaking just because of an opposition thereto, they can not thereafter
through Mr. Justice Pedro Tuason: "Determination of title to property withdraw either their appearance or the issue from the jurisdiction of
is within the jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance. The responding the court. Certainly, there is here a waiver where the parties who
Soriano's objection (that the probate court lacked jurisdiction to order raise the objection are the ones who set the court in motion. 5 They
the delivery of the possession of the lots to the estate) relates can not be permitted to complain if the court, after due hearing,
exclusively to the procedure, which is distinct from jurisdiction. It adjudges question against them.6
affects only personal rights to a mode of practice (the filing of an
independent ordinary action) which may be waived". Strictly Finally, petitioners-appellants claim that appellees are estopped to
speaking, it is more a question of jurisdiction over the person, not raise the question of ownership of the properties involved because
over the subject matter, for the jurisdiction to try controversies the widow herself, during her lifetime, not only did not object to the
between heirs of a deceased person regarding the ownership of inclusion of these properties in the inventory of the assets of her
properties alleged to belong to his estate, has been recognized to be deceased husband, but also signed an extra-judicial partition of
vested in probate courts. This is so because the purpose of an those inventoried properties. But the very authorities cited by
administration proceeding is the liquidation of the estate and appellants require that to constitute estoppel, the actor must have
distribution of the residue among the heirs and legatees. Liquidation knowledge of the facts and be appraised of his rights at the time he
means determination of all the assets of the estate and payment of performs the act constituting estoppel, because silence without
all the debts and expenses.3 Thereafter, distribution is made of the knowledge works no estoppel.7 In the present case, the deceased
decedent's liquidated estate among the persons entitled to succeed widow acted as she did because of the deed of donation she
him. The proceeding is in the nature of an action of partition, in executed in favor of her husband not knowing that such deed was
which each party is required to bring into the mass whatever illegal, if inter-vivos, and ineffectual if mortis-causa, as it has not
community property he has in his possession. To this end, and as a been executed with the required formalities similar to a will.
necessary corollary, the interested parties may introduce proofs
relative to the ownership of the properties in dispute. All the heirs WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals being in
who take part in the distribution of the decedent's estate are before accordance with law, the same is hereby affirmed with costs against
the court, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, in all matters and appellants. So ordered.
incidents necessary to the complete settlement of such estate, so
long as no interests of third parties are affected.4

In the case now before us, the matter in controversy is the question
of ownership of certain of the properties involved — whether they
belong to the conjugal partnership or to the husband exclusively.
This is a matter properly within the jurisdiction of the probate court
which necessarily has to liquidate the conjugal partnership in order
to determine the estate of the decedent which is to be distributed
among his heirs who are all parties to the proceedings, including, of
course, the widow, now represented because of her death, by her
heirs who have been substituted upon petition of the executor
himself and who have appeared voluntarily. There are no third
parties whose rights may be affected. It is true that the heirs of the
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 3
COMPILATION OF CASES

LEDESMA v. INTESTATE ESTATE OF CIPRIANO PEDROSA Pending receipt by the court of the ordered inventory, Cipriano
Pedrosa died. A separate petition for the probate of his last will and
testament was filed.4 Nelson Jimena was named executor and
Republic of the Philippines
substituted Pedrosa in the partition proceedings (Civil Case No.
SUPREME COURT
1446).
Manila

Due to disagreement of the parties on the characterization of the


SECOND DIVISION
properties, the court in the partition proceedings ordered (30 March
1990) the submission of comments, objections and manifestations
G.R. No. 102126 March 12, 1993 on the project of partition submitted by the parties. During a lull in
the proceedings, the presiding judge also passed away. On 24
ANGELICA LEDESMA, petitioner, January 1991 the following now-questioned order was issued by the
vs. herein respondent presiding-judge designate who took over:
INTESTATE ESTATE OF CIPRIANO PEDROSA represented by
Nelson Jimena, Honorable Judge Bethel Katalbas-Moscardon in It is informed by Atty. Pio Villoso that insofar as the status of this
her capacity as Presiding Judge-Designate, Branch 51, RTC, case is concerned, the plaintiff who has long been dead, was
Bacolod City, respondents. substituted by the administrator, now the plaintiff Nelson Jimena,
and Atty. Vicente Sabornay, as the receiver. Furthermore, the
Hector P. Teodosio of Defensor and Teodocio Law Office for judgment as to the annulment of the marriage had already been
petitioner. rendered partially by then Presiding Judge Quirino Abad Santos, Jr.,
on February 8, 1984. What is being litigated here by the parties
affects the property division to dissolve the partnership. However,
Edmundo G. Manlapao for private respondent.
the plaintiff died and an intestate proceeding is now pending before
Branch 43 whereby the said Nelson Jimena was actually the
appointed administrator, and who was substituted as plaintiff in this
case.
PADILLA, J.:
With all these informations, and considering the nature of the action,
This is a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 assailing an the Court finds the substitution of the original plaintiff improper, as
order dated 24 January 1991 issued by herein respondent presiding the defendant herein can pursue her claim over the properties
judge-designate Bethel Katalbas-Moscardon of the Regional Trial before the intestate proceedings being instituted. Action for
Court of Bacolod City, Branch 51 which considered the intervention in order that the judgment in this particular proceeding
supplemental action for partition (after annulment of the marriage) as can be implemented, can be raised in the intestate Court. Likewise,
terminated due to the death of one of the spouses (husband) and the appointment of the receiver conflicts with that of the judicial
the pendency of intestate proceedings over his estate. administrator considering that with the filing of the intestate case, the
properties of the deceased plaintiff are in custodia legis and this
Court losses jurisdiction in determining further the distribution of the
Petitioner Angelica Ledesma's marriage to Cipriano Pedrosa was
properties.
declared a nullity by the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental,
Branch 51 on 8 February 1984 in Civil Case No. 1446.1 The
dispositive portion of the order annulling the marriage also provided In view of the above, without prejudice to the defendant's right to file
thus: as intervenor in the intestate proceedings with the judgment
annulling the marriage, the proceedings becomes moot and
academic with the pendency of the intestate proceeding before
. . . that the properties acquired by plaintiff Cipriano Pedrosa and
Branch 43. This case is therefore deemed TERMINATED.5
defendant Angelica Ledesma at the time they were living together as
common-law husband and wife is (sic) owned by them as co-owners
to be governed by the provisions on co-ownership of the civil code; With the denial of petitioner's motion for reconsideration by the
that the properties acquired by plaintiff and defendant after their respondent court, this special civil action was initiated.
marriage was solemnized on March 25, 1965, which was annulled
by this Court in the above-entitled proceeding, forms (sic) part of the Petitioner argues that respondent judge reneged in the performance
conjugal partnership and upon dissolution of the marriage, to be of a lawful duty when she refrained from rendering a decision in the
liquidated in accordance with the provision of the civil code. 2 partition case (Civil Case No. 1446) and considered the same closed
and terminated, due to the pendency of intestate proceedings over
Surprisingly it took some time before the next order implementing the deceased husband's estate (Sp. Proc. No. 4159). 6 It is likewise
the above disposition was issued on 4 May 1989, the pertinent part erroneous, petitioner contends, to rule that petitioner's remedy is a
of which reads: motion for intervention in said intestate proceedings to implement
judgment in the marriage-annulment case, since petitioner has
already presented all her evidence in the annulment case to prove
. . . . It appearing from the records that the court has to verify and
which properties acquired during the marriage pertain to her.
determine the correct inventory of the properties of Cipriano Pedrosa
and Angelica Ledesma, the parties, including the receiver, through
their respective attorneys, are ordered to submit their respective The case of Macadangdang vs. Court of Appeals,7 where a similar
inventory, if one has not been submitted yet, before June 1, 1989. . . issue was involved — the husband having died after the legal
. .3 separation of the spouses had been finally decreed but before the
actual liquidation of their community of properties — is on point. The
Court therein said:
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 4
COMPILATION OF CASES

WE do not find merit in petitioner's submission that the questioned accordance with the laws of intestate succession in Special
decision had not become final and executory since the law explicitly Proceedings No. 134.
and clearly provides for the dissolution and liquidation of the
conjugal partnership of gains or the absolute community of property The Macadangdang decision involved legal separation but, with
as among the effects of the final decree of legal separation. Article equal reason, the doctrine enunciated therein should be applied to a
106 of the Civil Code thus reads: marriage annulment which is the situation at bar. The respondent
presiding judge is directed to decide the partition (liquidation) case
Art. 106. The decree of legal separation shall have the following (Civil Case No. 1446) within thirty (30) days from receipt of notice of
effects: this decision to determine which of the properties of the conjugal
partnership should be adjudicated to the husband and the wife. This
1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other, is but a consequence or incident of its decision rendered in the same
but the marriage bonds shall not be severed; case annulling the marriage. Petitioner's letters to the Court indicate
that she is seventy (70) years of age and the prolonged action for
partition (liquidation) has taken a toll on her resources. Justice and
2) The conjugal partnership of gains or the absolute conjugal equity demand the disposition of her case with dispatch. Any
community of property shall be dissolved and liquidated, but the properties that may be adjudicated to the deceased husband
offending spouse shall have no right to any share of the profits Pedrosa can then be distributed in accordance with his last will and
earned by the partnership or community, without prejudice to the testament in the special proceedings involving his estate (Sp. Proc.
provisions of Article 176; No. 4159).

xxx xxx xxx ACCORDINGLY, the respondent Judge's order dated 24 January
1991 considering Civil Case No. 1446 closed and terminated for
The aforequoted provision mandates the dissolution and liquidation being moot and academic is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
of the property regime of the spouses upon finality of the decree of Respondent Judge or whoever may have succeeded her is ordered
legal separation. Such dissolution and liquidation are necessary to decide said action for partition (liquidation) within thirty (30) days
consequences of the final decree. This legal effect of the decree of from receipt of this decision.
legal separation ipso facto or automatically follows, as an inevitable
incident of, the judgment decreeing legal separation for the purpose SO ORDERED.
of determining the share of each spouse in the conjugal assets.

xxx xxx xxx

. . . the decision of the trial court dated January 4, 1973 decreeing


the legal separation between then spouses Antonio Macadangdang
and Filomena Gaviana Macadangdang had long become final and
executory and the division of the conjugal property in a
"supplemental decision" is a mere incident of the decree of legal
separation.

Since We have ruled on the finality of the judgment decreeing the


spouses' legal separation as of January 4, 1973, the remaining issue
for Our resolution is the final disposition of their conjugal partnership
of gains which partnership, by reason of the final decree, had been
automatically dissolved. The law (Article 106, 107 of the Civil Code)
clearly spells out the effects of a final decree of legal separation on
the conjugal property.

The death on November 30, 1979 of herein petitioner who was


declared the guilty spouse by the trial court, before the liquidation of
the conjugal property is effected, poses a new problem which can be
resolved simply by the application of the rules on intestate
succession with respect to the properties of the deceased petitioner.

Thus, the rules on dissolution and liquidation of the conjugal


partnership of gains under the aforecited provisions of the Civil Code
would be applied effective January 4, 1973 when the decree of legal
separation became final. Upon the liquidation and distribution
conformably with the law governing the effects of the final decree of
legal separation, the law on intestate succession should take over in
the disposition of whatever remaining properties heave been
allocated to petitioner. This procedure involves details which
properly pertain to the lower court.

The properties that may be allocated to the deceased petitioner by


virtue of the liquidation of the conjugal assets, shall be distributed in
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 5
COMPILATION OF CASES

PEREIRA v. CA In its resolution dated March 28, 1985, the Regional Trial Court,
appointed private respondent Rita Pereira Nagac administratrix of
the intestate estate of Andres de Guzman Pereira upon a bond
Republic of the Philippines
posted by her in the amount of Pl,000.00. The trial court ordered her
SUPREME COURT
to take custody of all the real and personal properties of the
Manila
deceased and to file an inventory thereof within three months after
receipt of the order. 3
FIRST DIVISION
Not satisfied with the resolution of the lower court, petitioner brought
G.R. No. L-81147 June 20, 1989 the case to the Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the
appointment of private respondent as administratrix in its decision
VICTORIA BRINGAS PEREIRA, petitioner, dated December 15, 1987. 4
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and RITA PEREIRA Hence, this petition for review on certiorari where petitioner raises
NAGAC, respondents. the following issues: (1) Whether or not there exists an estate of the
deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira for purposes of
Benjamin J. Quitoriano for petitioner. administration; (2) Whether or not a judicial administration
proceeding is necessary where there are no debts left by the
decedent; and, (3) Who has the better right to be appointed as
Linzag-Arcilla & Associates Law Offices for private respondent.
administratrix of the estate of the deceased, the surviving spouse
Victoria Bringas Pereira or the surviving sister Rita Pereira Nagac?

Anent the first issue, petitioner contends that there exists no estate
GANCAYCO, J.: of the deceased for purposes of administration for the following
reasons: firstly, the death benefits from PAL, PALEA, PESALA and
Is a judicial administration proceeding necessary when the decedent the SSS belong exclusively to her, being the sole beneficiary and in
dies intestate without leaving any debts? May the probate court support of this claim she submitted letter-replies from these
appoint the surviving sister of the deceased as the administratrix of institutions showing that she is the exclusive beneficiary of said
the estate of the deceased instead of the surviving spouse? These death benefits; secondly, the savings deposits in the name of her
are the main questions which need to be resolved in this case. deceased husband with the PNB and the PCIB had been used to
defray the funeral expenses as supported by several receipts; and,
finally, the only real property of the deceased has been
Andres de Guzman Pereira, an employee of the Philippine Air Lines,
extrajudicially settled between the petitioner and the private
passed away on January 3, 1983 at Bacoor, Cavite without a will. He
respondent as the only surviving heirs of the deceased.
was survived by his legitimate spouse of ten months, the herein
petitioner Victoria Bringas Pereira, and his sister Rita Pereira Nagac,
the herein private respondent. Private respondent, on the other hand, argues that it is not for
petitioner to decide what properties form part of the estate of the
deceased and to appropriate them for herself. She points out that
On March 1, 1983, private respondent instituted before Branch 19 of
this function is vested in the court in charge of the intestate
the Regional Trial Court of Bacoor, Cavite, Special Proceeding No.
proceedings.
RTC-BSP-83-4 for the issuance of letters of administration in her
favor pertaining to the estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman
Pereira. 1 In her verified petition, private respondent alleged the Petitioner asks this Court to declare that the properties specified do
following: that she and Victoria Bringas Pereira are the only not belong to the estate of the deceased on the basis of her bare
surviving heirs of the deceased; that the deceased left no will; that allegations as aforestated and a handful of documents. Inasmuch as
there are no creditors of the deceased; that the deceased left this Court is not a trier of facts, We cannot order an unqualified and
several properties, namely: death benefits from the Philippine Air final exclusion or non-exclusion of the property involved from the
Lines (PAL), the PAL Employees Association (PALEA), the PAL estate of the deceased. 5
Employees Savings and Loan Association, Inc. (PESALA) and the
Social Security System (SSS), as well as savings deposits with the The resolution of this issue is better left to the probate court before
Philippine National Bank (PNB) and the Philippine Commercial and which the administration proceedings are pending. The trial court is
Industrial Bank (PCIB), and a 300 square meter lot located at in the best position to receive evidence on the discordant
Barangay Pamplona, Las Pinas, Rizal and finally, that the spouse of contentions of the parties as to the assets of the decedent's estate,
the deceased (herein petitioner) had been working in London as an the valuations thereof and the rights of the transferees of some of
auxiliary nurse and as such one-half of her salary forms part of the the assets, if any. 6 The function of resolving whether or not a certain
estate of the deceased. property should be included in the inventory or list of properties to be
administered by the administrator is one clearly within the
On March 23,1983, petitioner filed her opposition and motion to competence of the probate court. However, the court's determination
dismiss the petition of private respondent 2 alleging that there exists is only provisional in character, not conclusive, and is subject to the
no estate of the deceased for purposes of administration and final decision in a separate action which may be instituted by the
praying in the alternative, that if an estate does exist, the letters of parties.7
administration relating to the said estate be issued in her favor as
the surviving spouse. Assuming, however, that there exist assets of the deceased Andres
de Guzman Pereira for purposes of administration, We nonetheless
find the administration proceedings instituted by private respondent
to be unnecessary as contended by petitioner for the reasons herein
below discussed.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 6
COMPILATION OF CASES

The general rule is that when a person dies leaving property, the We see no reason not to apply this doctrine to the case at bar. There
same should be judicially administered and the competent court are only two surviving heirs, a wife of ten months and a sister, both
should appoint a qualified administrator, in the order established in of age. The parties admit that there are no debts of the deceased to
Section 6, Rule 78, in case the deceased left no will, or in case he be paid. What is at once apparent is that these two heirs are not in
had left one, should he fail to name an executor therein. 8 An good terms. The only conceivable reason why private respondent
exception to this rule is established in Section 1 of Rule 74. 9 Under seeks appointment as administratrix is for her to obtain possession
this exception, when all the heirs are of lawful age and there are no of the alleged properties of the deceased for her own purposes,
debts due from the estate, they may agree in writing to partition the since these properties are presently in the hands of petitioner who
property without instituting the judicial administration or applying for supposedly disposed of them fraudulently. We are of the opinion that
the appointment of an administrator. this is not a compelling reason which will necessitate a judicial
administration of the estate of the deceased. To subject the estate of
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court, however, does not Andres de Guzman Pereira, which does not appear to be substantial
preclude the heirs from instituting administration proceedings, even especially since the only real property left has been extrajudicially
if the estate has no debts or obligations, if they do not desire to settled, to an administration proceeding for no useful purpose would
resort for good reasons to an ordinary action for partition. While only unnecessarily expose it to the risk of being wasted or
Section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as squandered. In most instances of a similar nature, 16 the claims of
they may see fit, or to resort to an ordinary action for partition, the both parties as to the properties left by the deceased may be
said provision does not compel them to do so if they have good properly ventilated in simple partition proceedings where the
reasons to take a different course of action. 10 It should be noted that creditors, should there be any, are protected in any event.
recourse to an administration proceeding even if the estate has no
debts is sanctioned only if the heirs have good reasons for not We, therefore, hold that the court below before which the
resorting to an action for partition. Where partition is possible, either administration proceedings are pending was not justified in issuing
in or out of court, the estate should not be burdened with an letters of administration, there being no good reason for burdening
administration proceeding without good and compelling reasons. 11 the estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira with the
costs and expenses of an administration proceeding.
Thus, it has been repeatedly held that when a person dies without
leaving pending obligations to be paid, his heirs, whether of age or With the foregoing ruling, it is unnecessary for us to delve into the
not, are not bound to submit the property to a judicial administration, issue of who, as between the surviving spouse Victoria Bringas
which is always long and costly, or to apply for the appointment of Pereira and the sister Rita Pereira Nagac, should be preferred to be
an administrator by the Court. It has been uniformly held that in such appointed as administratrix.
case the judicial administration and the appointment of an
administrator are superfluous and unnecessary proceedings . 12 WHEREFORE, the letters of administration issued by the Regional
Trial Court of Bacoor to Rita Pereira Nagac are hereby revoked and
Now, what constitutes "good reason" to warrant a judicial the administration proceeding dismissed without prejudice to the
administration of the estate of a deceased when the heirs are all of right of private respondent to commence a new action for partition of
legal age and there are no creditors will depend on the the property left by Andres de Guzman Pereira. No costs.
circumstances of each case.
SO ORDERED.
In one case, 13 We said:

Again the petitioner argues that only when the heirs do not have any
dispute as to the bulk of the hereditary estate but only in the manner
of partition does section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court apply and
that in this case the parties are at loggerheads as to the corpus of
the hereditary estate because respondents succeeded in
sequestering some assets of the intestate. The argument is
unconvincing, because, as the respondent judge has indicated,
questions as to what property belonged to the deceased (and
therefore to the heirs) may properly be ventilated in the partition
proceedings, especially where such property is in the hands of one
heir.

In another case, We held that if the reason for seeking an


appointment as administrator is merely to avoid a multiplicity of suits
since the heir seeking such appointment wants to ask for the
annulment of certain transfers of property, that same objective could
be achieved in an action for partition and the trial court is not justified
in issuing letters of administration. 14 In still another case, We did not
find so powerful a reason the argument that the appointment of the
husband, a usufructuary forced heir of his deceased wife, as judicial
administrator is necessary in order for him to have legal capacity to
appear in the intestate proceedings of his wife's deceased mother,
since he may just adduce proof of his being a forced heir in the
intestate proceedings of the latter.15
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 7
COMPILATION OF CASES

JIMENEZ v. CA Caolboy and because they have already received their inheritance
consisting of five (5) parcels of lands in Salomague, Bugallon,
Pangasinan.3
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila On March 23, 1981, petitioner Virginia Jimenez was appointed
administrator of the Intestate Estate of Lino Jimenez and Genoveva
Caolboy.4 On May 21, 1981, she filed an inventory of the estate of
THIRD DIVISION
the spouses Lino Jimenez and Genoveva Caolboy wherein she
included the five (5) parcels of land in Salomague, Bugallon,
G.R. No. 75773 April 17, 1990 Pangasinan. As a consequence, Leonardo Jimenez, Jr. moved for
the exclusion of these properties from the inventory on the ground
TOMAS JIMENEZ, VISITACION JIMENEZ, DIGNO JIMENEZ, that these had already been adjudicated to Leonardo Sr., Alberto,
ANTONIO JIMENEZ, AMADEO JIMENEZ, MODESTO JIMENEZ Alejandra and Angeles by their deceased father Lino Jimenez.
and VIRGINIA JIMENEZ, petitioners, Private respondent Leonardo Jimenez, Jr. presented testimonial and
vs. documentary evidence in support of his motion while petitioner
HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, HON. Virginia Jimenez, other than cross-examining the witnesses of
AMANDA VALERA-CABIGAO, in her capacity as Presiding Leonardo, presented no evidence of her own, oral or documentary.
Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch XXXVII, Lingayen,
Pangasinan, LEONARDO JIMENEZ, JR. and CORAZON On September 29, 1981, the probate court ordered the exclusion of
JIMENEZ, respondents. the five (5) parcels of land from the inventory on the basis of the
evidence of private respondent Leonardo Jimenez, Jr. which
Simplicio M. Sevilleja for petitioners. consisted among others of: (1) Tax Declaration showing that the
Bitty S. Viliran for private respondents. subject properties were acquired during the conjugal partnership of
Leonardo B. Jimenez, Jr. for respondents. Lino Jimenez and Consolacion Ungson; and, (2) a Deed of Sale
dated May 12, 1964 wherein Genoveva Caolboy stated, that the
subject properties had been adjudicated by Lino Jimenez to his
children by a previous marriage, namely: Alberto, Leonardo,
Alejandra and Angeles.5 The motion for reconsideration of said order
was denied on January 26, 1982.6
FERNAN, CJ.:
Petitioner Virginia Jimenez then went to the Court of Appeals on a
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set petition for certiorari and prohibition, docketed thereat as CA-G.R.
aside the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated May 29, 1986 No. SP-13916, seeking the annulment of the order dated September
which dismissed the petition for certiorari and mandamus in AC-G.R. 29, 1981 as well as the order of January 26, 1982. On November 18,
No. 06578 entitled "Tomas Jimenez, et. al. vs. Hon. Amanda Valera- 1982, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition because (1)
Cabigao." Genoveva Caolboy, petitioners' mother, had admitted that the
subject parcels of land had been adjudicated to the children of the
The facts are as follows: previous nuptial; (2) the subject properties could not have been
acquired during the marriage of Lino Jimenez to Genoveva Caolboy
because they were already titled in the name of Lino Jimenez even
The marriage of Leonardo (Lino) Jimenez and Consolacion Ungson
prior to 1921, long before Lino's marriage to Genoveva in 1940; (3)
produced four (4) children, namely: Alberto, Leonardo, Sr., Alejandra
the claim of Virginia Jimenez was barred by prescription because it
and Angeles. During the existence of the marriage, Lino Jimenez
was only in 1981 when they questioned the adjudication of the
acquired five (5) parcels of land in Salomague, Bugallon,
subject properties, more than ten (10) years after Genoveva had
Pangasinan.
admitted such adjudication in a public document in 1964; and, (4)
petitioner Virginia Jimenez was guilty of laches. This decision
After the death of Consolacion Ungson, Lino married Genoveva became final and executory.7
Caolboy with whom he begot the seven petitioners herein: Tomas,
Visitacion, Digno, Antonio, Amadeo, Modesto and Virginia, all
Two (2) years after, petitioners filed an amended complaint dated
surnamed Jimenez. Lino Jimenez died on August 11, 1951 while
December 10, 1984 before the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan,
Genoveva Caolboy died on November 21, 1978.
Branch XXXVII, docketed thereat as Civil Case No. 16111, to
recover possession/ownership of the subject five (5) parcels of land
Thereafter, in April 1979, Virginia Jimenez filed a petition before the as part of the estate of Lino Jimenez and Genoveva Caolboy and to
Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Branch V, docketed as order private respondents to render an accounting of the produce
Special Proceedings No. 5346, praying to be appointed as therefrom. Private respondents moved for the dismissal of the
administratrix of the properties of the deceased spouses Lino and complaint on the grounds that the action was barred by prior
Genoveva. Enumerated in her petition were the supposed heirs of judgment in CA-G.R. No. SP-13916 dated November 18, 1982 and
the deceased spouses which included herein co-petitioners and the by prescription and laches. However, petitioners opposed the motion
four children of Lino Jimenez by Consolacion Ungson, his previous to dismiss contending that (1) the action was not barred by prior
wife.2 judgment because the probate court had no jurisdiction to determine
with finality the question of ownership of the lots which must be
In October, 1979, herein private respondent Leonardo Jimenez, Jr., ventilated in a separate action; and, (2) the action instituted in 1981
son of Leonardo Jimenez, Sr., filed a motion for the exclusion of his was not barred by prescription or laches because private
father's name and those of Alberto, Alejandra, and Angeles from the respondents' forcible acquisition of the subject properties occurred
petition, inasmuch as they are children of the union of Lino Jimenez only after the death of petitioners' mother, Genoveva Caolboy in
and Consolacion Ungson and not of Lino Jimenez and Genoveva 1978.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 8
COMPILATION OF CASES

On February 13, 1985, the trial court resolved to dismiss the Indeed, the grounds relied upon by private respondents in their
complaint on the ground of res judicata. 8 On May 31, 1985, motion to dismiss do not appear to be indubitable.1âwphi1Res
petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the resolution was denied. judicata has been shown here to be unavailable and the other
As earlier intimated, the petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by grounds of prescription and laches pleaded by private respondents
petitioners before the appellate court was likewise denied due are seriously disputed. The allegation in the complaint is that the
course and dismissed in a decision dated May 29, 1986. 9 heirs of Leonardo Jimenez, Sr. (referring to private respondents,)
forcibly intruded into and took possession of the disputed properties
Hence, this recourse. only in 1978, after the death of Genoveva Caolboy. Since the action
for reconveyance was instituted in 1984, it would appear that the
same has not yet prescribed or otherwise barred by laches.
The issue in this case is whether in a settlement proceeding (testate
or intestate) the lower court has jurisdiction to settle questions of
ownership and whether res judicata exists as to bar petitioners' There are a number of factual issues raised by petitioners before the
present action for the recovery of possession and ownership of the lower court which cannot be resolved without the presentation of
five (5) parcels of land. In the negative, is the present action for evidence at a full-blown trial and which make the grounds for
reconveyance barred by prescription and/or laches? dismissal dubitable. Among others, the alleged admission made by
petitioners' mother in the deed of sale is vehemently denied, as well
as the fact itself of adjudication, there being no showing that the
We reverse. Petitioners' present action for recovery of possession conjugal partnership of Lino Jimenez and Consolacion Ungson had
and ownership is appropriately filed because as a general rule, a been liquidated nor that a judicial or extra-judicial settlement of the
probate court can only pass upon questions of title provisionally. estate of Lino Jimenez was undertaken whereby such adjudication
Since the probate, court's findings are not conclusive being prima could have been effected.
facie, 10 a separate proceeding is necessary to establish the
ownership of the five (5) parcels of land. 11
The grounds stated in the motion to dismiss not being indubitable,
the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the
The patent reason is the probate court's limited jurisdiction and the complaint in Civil Case No. 16111.
principle that questions of title or ownership, which result in inclusion
or exclusion from the inventory of the property, can only be settled in
a separate action. 12 WHEREFORE, the questioned decision of the respondent appellate
court is hereby REVERSED. Civil Case No. 16111 is reinstated and
the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan, Branch XXXVII is directed to
All that the said court could do as regards said properties is proceed in said case with dispatch.
determine whether they should or should not be included in the
inventory or list of properties to be administered by the administrator.
If there is a dispute as to the ownership, then the opposing parties SO ORDERED.
and the administrator have to resort to an ordinary action for a final
determination of the conflicting claims of title because the probate
court cannot do so. 13

The provisional character of the inclusion in the inventory of a


contested property was again reiterated in the following cases: Pio
Barreto Realty Development, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 14 Junquera
vs. Borromeo, 15 Borromeo vs. Canonoy, 16 Recto vs. de la
Rosa. 17 It has also been held that in a special proceeding for the
probate of a will, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter
which the probate court cannot resolve with finality. 18 This
pronouncement no doubt applies with equal force to an intestate
proceeding as in the case at bar.

Res judicata 19 does not exist because of the difference in the


causes of actions. Specifically in S.P. No. 5346, the action was for
the settlement of the intestate estate of Lino Jimenez and Genoveva
Caolboy while Civil Case No. 16111 was an action for the recovery
of possession and ownership of the five (5) parcels of land.
Moreover, while admittedly, the Court of First Instance of
Pangasinan, Branch V in S.P. No. 5346 had jurisdiction, the same
was merely limited jurisdiction. Any pronouncement by said court as
to title is not conclusive and could still be attacked in a separate
proceeding. Civil Case No. 16111, on the other hand. was lodged
before the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan, Branch XXXVII in the
exercise of the court's general jurisdiction. It was, in fact, such
"separate or ordinary proceedings" contemplated by the rules for a
final determination of the issue of ownership of the disputed
properties. To repeat, since the determination of the question of title
to the subject properties in S.P. 5346 was merely provisional,
petitioners are not barred from instituting the appropriate action in
Civil Case No. 16111.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 9
COMPILATION OF CASES

VALERO VDA. DE RODRIGUEZ v. CA Beatriz B. Valero died intestate on September 12, 1972, survived by
her husband and her adopted child. Her estate is pending settlement
in Special Proceeding No. 88896 of the Court of First Instance of
Republic of the Philippines
Manila. Mrs. Rustia was named administratrix of her adopted
SUPREME COURT
mother's estate.
Manila

More than a month later, or on October 18, 1972, Jose M. Valero


EN BANC
died testate, survived by his two children, Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs.
Gutierrez. His will was duly probated in Special Proceeding No.
G.R. No. L-39532 July 20, 1979 88677, also of the Court of First Instance of Manila. Lawyer Celso F.
Unson, the executor, submitted an inventory wherein, following the
Testate Estate of Jose M. Valero, FLORA VALERO VDA. DE list of conjugal assets in the testator's will, the two San Lorenzo
RODRIGUEZ and ROSIE VALERO DE GUTIERREZ, petitioners- Village lots were included as part of the testate estate.
appellants,
vs. That inclusion provoked Mrs. Rustia, the adopted child of Mrs.
COURT OF APPEALS and CARMEN VALERO- Valero, and Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs. Gutierrez, the legitimate
RUSTIA, respondents-appellees. children of the testator, Jose M. Valero, to file (through Mrs. Rustia's
lawyer) in the testate proceeding a motion for the exclusion of the
Amboriso Padilla Law Office and Iglesia & Associates for appellants. two San Lorenzo Village lots from the testator's inventoried estate.

Angel P. Purisima for appellees. Adduced as reason for the exclusion is the fact that since February
16, 1966 Mrs. Rustia has been the registered owner of the lots as
shown by two Torrens titles, copies of which were attached to the
motion.

AQUINO, J.:1äwphï1.ñët
The executor opposed the motion on the ground that the two lots
were donated to Mrs. Rustia and the donation would allegedly
This is supposedly a case about collation. As factual background, it involve collation and the donee's title to the lots. The executor
should be stated that the spouses, Beatriz Bautista and Jose M. revealed that he was informed by Mrs. Gutierrez and Mrs. Rodriguez
Valero, did not beget any child during their marriage In 1951 Beatriz (supposed movants) that the two lots should be included in the
adopted Carmen (Carmencita) Bautista. Jose wanted also to adopt inventory. Thus, the issue of collation was prematurely raised.
her but because, by his first marriage, he had two children named
Flora Valero Vda. de Rodriguez and Rosie Valero Gutierrez. he was
The probate court in its order of August 9, 1973 excluded the two
disqualified to adopt Carmen. Jose manifested in the adoption
lots from the inventory of the testator's estate but with the
proceeding that he consented to the use by Carmen of his surname
understanding "that the same are subject to collation".
Valero. (See Civil Case No. 12475, Manila CFI; Art. 338[1], Civil
Code and art. 28, Child and Youth Welfare Code.)
On December 4, 1973 or one hundred twelve days after Mrs. Rustia
was served with a copy of that order, she filed a motion for its
On September 18, 1964, Jose M. Valero donated to Carmen B.
reconsideration. She insisted that she is the owner of the two San
Valero (who was already married to Doctor Sergio Rustia) his one-
Lorenzo Village lots as indicated in the Torrens titles. No one
half proindiviso share (apparently his inchoate share) in two conjugal
opposed that motion. At the hearing of that motion, Mrs. Rustia's
lots, with the improvements thereon, located at San Lorenzo Village,
lawyer apprised the court that the executor informed him over the
Makati, Rizal, with an area of 1,500 square meters. His wife, Beatriz,
phone that he was not opposing the motion.
consented to the donation. However, the deed of donation was not
registered.
The probate court in its order of December 14, 1973 ruled that the
two lots were unconditionally excluded from the inventory of Jose M.
On January 13, 1966, Jose M. Valero, who was then seventy-three
Valero's estate, meaning "that they are not subject to collation". That
years old, executed his last will and testament wherein he
order is the bone of contention in this case.
enumerated the conjugal properties of himself and his wife, including
the two San Lorenzo Village lots. In that will, he did not mention the
donation. He devised to his wife properties sufficient to constitute Mrs. Rodriguez (without being joined by her sister, Mrs. Gutierrez)
her legitime and bequeathed the remainder to his two children, Mrs. filed a motion for the reconsideration of the order of December 14,
Rodriguez and Mrs. Gutierrez. 1973. She alleged that the two San Lorenzo Village lots were really
conveyed to Mrs. Rustia by way of donation because the
consideration for the sale was allegedly only one-fifth of the true
About a month later, or on February 15, 1966, the Valero spouses,
value of the lots. Mrs. Rodriguez further contended that the order of
by means of a deed of absolute sale, conveyed the San Lorenzo
August 9, 1973 was final in character.
Village lots and the improvements thereon to Carmen B. Valero-
Rustia for the sum of one hundred twenty thousand pesos. The sale
was registered on the following day. Transfer Certificates of Title In reply, Mrs. Rustia countered that the prior order was interlocutory
Nos. 163270 and 163271 were issued to the vendee, Mrs. Rustia. and that in 1966 the true value of the two lots was around P120,000
and that their value increased considerably in 1973 or 1974.
Moreover, the relatively low price of the sale could be attributed to
On December 4, 1967 she mortgaged the two lots to the Quezon
the fact that Mrs. Rustia and her husband lived with the Valeros and
City Development Bank as security for a loan of fifty thousand pesos
were taking care of them.
(page 204, Rollo).
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 10
COMPILATION OF CASES

The probate court denied the motion for reconsideration. Mrs. as contemplated in section 2, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court and Act
Rodriguez and Mrs. Gutierrez, in their petition for certiorari in the No. 3176 (Pages 223 and 235-6, Rollo).
Court of Appeals, assailed the probate court's order declaring that
the two lots were not subject to collation. We have examined the expedientes of the two cases. We found that
the proceedings have not yet reached the stage when the question
The Court of Appeals held that the order of exclusion dated August of collation or advancement to an heir may be raised and decided.
9, 1973 was interlocutory and that it could be changed or Modified at The numerous debts of the decedents are still being paid. The net
anytime during the course of the administration proceedings. remainder (remanente liquido) of their conjugal estate has not yet
been determined. On the other hand, up to this time, no separate
It further held that it was immaterial whether the two lots were action has been brought by the appellants to nullify Mrs. Rustia's
donated or sold to Mrs. Rustia as "a mere subterfuge to avoid Torrens titles to the disputed lots or to show that the sale was in
payment of the donor's and donee's taxes". According to the reality a donation.
Appellate Court, it was immaterial because under article 1061 of the
Civil Code, only compulsory heirs are required to make collation for In this appeal, it is not proper to pass upon the question of collation
the determination of their legitimes and, under section 2, Rule 90 of and to decide whether Mrs. Rustia's titles to the disputed lots are
the Rules of Court, only heirs are involved in questions as to questionable. The proceedings below have not reached the stage of
advancement and Mrs. Rustia is not an heir of the testator, Jose M. partition and distribution when the legitimes of the compulsory heirs
Valero (Vda. de Rodriguez vs. Valero Rustia, CA-G. R. No. SP- have to be determined.
02944, August 28, 1974, per G. S. Santos, Gaviola, Jr. and De
Castro, JJ.). WHEREFORE, we affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals and
the orders of the, lower court dated August 9 and December 14,
From that decision, an appeal was made to this Court. The appeal 1973, excluding from the inventory of Jose M. Valeros estate the two
was not given due course. However, upon motion for San Lorenzo Village lots now registered in the name of Carmen B.
reconsideration and over Mrs. Rustia's opposition, the appeal was Valero-Rustia, but we delete from that decision and the two orders
later allowed. any ruling regarding collation which is a matter that may be passed
upon by the probate court at the time when it is seasonably raised
The appellants' only assignment of error is that the Court of Appeals by the interested parties, if it is ever raised at all. No costs.
should have held that the probate court's order of exclusion dated
August 9, 1973 was not interlocutory but was a final and appealable SO ORDERED.
order valid that the order of December 14, 1973 modifying the order
of August 3 is void.

We hold that the order of exclusion dated August 9, 1973 was not a
final order. It was interlocutory in the sense that it did not settle once
and for all the title to the San Lorenzo Village lots. The probate court
in the exclusion incident could not determine the question of title.

The prevailing rule is that for the purpose of determining whether a


certain property should or should not be included in the inventory,
the probate court may pass upon the title thereto but such
determination is not conclusive and is subject to the final decision in
a separate action regarding ownership which may be instituted by
the parties (3 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970
Edition, pages 448-9 and 473; Lachenal vs. Salas, L-42257, June
14, 1976, 71 SCRA 262, 266).

We hold further that the dictum of the Court of Appeals and the
probate court that the two disputed lots are not subject to collation
was a supererogation and was not necessary to the disposition of
the case which merely involved the issue of inclusion in, or exclusion
from, the inventory of the testator's estate. The issue of collation was
not yet justifiable at that early stage of the testate proceeding. It is
not necessary to mention in the order of exclusion the controversial
matter of collation.

Whether collation may exist with respect to the two lots and whether
Mrs. Rustia's Torrens titles thereto are indefeasible are matters that
may be raised later or may not be raised at all. How those issues
should be resolved, if and when they are raised, need not be
touched upon in the adjudication of this appeal.

The intestate and testate proceedings for the settlement of the


estates of the deceased Valero spouses were consolidated, as
ordered by the lower court on November 21, 1974, so that the
conjugal estate of the deceased spouses may be properly liquidated,
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 11
COMPILATION OF CASES

PIOBARRETO REALTY DEV’T. INC. v. CA The proceedings for the settlement of the estate of Drepin were
initiated shortly after his death on July 29, 1972 with the filing of a
petition for probate of his holographic will on August 23, 1972.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila In this holographic will the late Drepin listed twenty-two (22) persons
as his alleged creditors, and within the six (6) months after
publication within which to file claims against the estate, twelve (12)
FIRST DIVISION
persons filed their respective claims. The total amount of obligations
that may be chargeable against the Drepin Estate is P1,299,652.66.
G.R. No. L-62431-33 August 31, 1984
The only asset of the testate estate of Drepin consists of three (3)
PIO BARRETTO REALTY DEVELOPMENT, INC., petitioner, parcels of titled land with an area of approximately eighty (80)
vs. hectares, and another parcel with an area of eighty-one (81)
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS (SIXTH DIVISION) and HONOR hectares still pending registration. The estate is saddled with claims
MOSLARES, respondents. of creditors named in the Drepin will and creditors who have filed
their claims within the reglementary period. The only way to pay their
Azucena E. Lozada for petitioner. claims is to sell the Drepin lots, so that from the proceeds of the
sale, the debts of the estate could be paid, and any remaining
balance distributed to the Drepin heirs.
Estrella Funelas Iral & Associates and Tomas Trinidad for
respondents.
Since the filing of the petition for probate of the Drepin will, on
August 23, 1972, nine (9) offers had been made for the purchase of
the Drepin lands, among them, that of GM Management Phils.,
dated August 15, 1978, through its President Honor P. Moslares.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: Basis for Moslares' letter proposal is a deed of sale with mortgage
executed by the decedent in his favor on October 9, 1970. It appears
This petition for certiorari to review the decision of the Court of that on said date, the deceased sold 80.3980 hectares of land
Appeals promulgated on June 30, 1982 in CA-G.R. Nos. 12599-R, absolutely and perpetually to Honor P. Moslares for the sum of
12600-R, and 12601-R entitled "Honor P. Moslares, petitioner v. P2,600,000.00 with a downpayment of P300,000.00. To secure the
Honorable Reynaldo P. Honrado, et al., respondents, was filed as payment of the remaining P2,300,000.00, the latter mortgaged the
part of the effort to expedite the final settlement of the estate of the land to the former. The parties further agreed not to register the sale
deceased NICOLAI DREPIN. yet until P1,300,000.00 shall have been paid to Drepin and
P1,000.000.00 paid to Drepin's creditors.
The dispositive portion of the decision of the respondent Court of
Appeals reads as follows: Subsequently, on June 25, 1971, Drepin and Moslares entered into
a "Joint Venture Agreement". Said agreement listed Drepin as the
registered "owner" of the lots and denominated Moslares as
WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, judgment is hereby
"developer" tasked with converting the lands into a residential
rendered:
subdivision. The agreement specified:

(a) making permanent the temporary restraining order issued:


(h) That the Developer agrees to reserve the right of the registered
Owner of the land to ask for immediate CASH payment against an
(b) declaring null and void the impugned orders of April 15, 1980, "Absolute Deed of Sale " on the said above mentioned properties,
July 2, 1980, September 30, 1980, and October 20, 1980, for having subject of this "Joint Venture Agreement" on the amount of not less
been issued in grave abuse of discretion and in excess of than TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND
jurisdiction, with the September and October orders having the (P2,300,000.00) PESOS, after the big loan is granted to the
additional defect of due process violation; Developer in or about thirty (30) days to forty-five (45) days from the
signing of this Joint Venture Agreement and the "Special Power of
(c) declaring null and void the Deed of Undertaking and Deed of Attorney",
Sale in favor of respondent Pio Barretto Realty Development, Inc.,
for being mere consequences of null orders; (i) However, if the Owner of the property Mr. Nicolai Drepin not
choose to be paid on this said above mentioned property in CASH of
(d) ordering the Register of Deeds of Rizal to cancel the transfer TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND (P2,300,000.00)
certificates of title issued to Pio Barreto Realty Development, (TCT PESOS, this "joint venture agreement is still in full force and effect,
Nos. N-50539, N-50540, N-50541) and to transfer the same to the OTHERWISE if full payment of TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED
Estate of Nicolai Drepin with the annotation that this transfer to the THOUSAND (P2,300,000.00) PESOS receipt is acknowledged by
estate is subject to the final decision in Civil Case No. 41287 of the the said Mr. Nicolai Drepin, the "Joint Venture Agreement" is
CFI of Pasig, Metro Manila; and automatically cancelled and declared no force and effect.

(e) denying the prayer for the exclusion of the three titled lots Before the agreement could be implemented, Nicolai Drepin died.
involved from Special Proceedings Nos. 7257, 7261, and 7269 of
the CFI of Makati Branch Civil Case No. 41287 abovementioned. Upon learning of the existence of Special Proceedings No. 7257,
7261 and 7269 herein respondent Moslares, on August 15, 1978,
informed the Judicial Administrator Atty. Tomas Trinidad that he is
already the owner of the properties made subject matter of the
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 12
COMPILATION OF CASES

Special Proceedings and proposed that he be permitted to pay the Thereupon, the probate court judge directed Moslares through the
balance on the sale with mortgage in accordance with the terms of administrator Atty. Trinidad, to furnish copies of — (1) Deed of
his written proposal. The probate court, on August 17, 1978 issued Absolute Sale; (2) Special Power of Attorney; and (3) Joint Venture
an order approving respondent Moslares' proposal and authorizing Agreement. The same were promptly submitted.
administrator Trinidad to enter into the appropriate agreement. This
was reiterated by the court in its order dated January 9, 1979, with On February 28, 1979, March 6, 1980 and April 15, 1980, letters to
the condition that GM Management Phils. had only up to February Judicial Administrator Trinidad were sent by respondent Moslares
28, 1979 to comply with its letter-offer dated August 15, 1978 and seeking further extension of time within which to pay the balance of
"failure on their part to comply with the same within the period his obligation to the estate, and for favorable recommendations to
specified, the contract with the decedent shall be deemed resolved the probate court in his reports saying: "Help me now, this is ours.
and ineffective." Counsel for heir claimant Cornelia Tejano was We can make money of all this sacrifice we had on the pass (sic)."
Revise given up to said date to make and submit a more beneficial
offer. Neither GM Management nor counsel for Tejano was able to
perform as required. On April 15, 1980, the probate court reiterated its order dated
August 17, 1978 authorizing the Administrator to finalize the sale
with GM Management Phils. and giving respondent Moslares ten
Requests for revision of payment and extension of period within (10) days from date to deposit the necessary amount to cover the
which to pay the balance of P1,600,000.00 were made by Moslares. value of the checks as each fallsdue. Failure to do so would result in
Further, he filed a Manifestation and Urgent Motion proposing the automatic rescission of the authority to sell to GM Management
transfer of the certificate of titles over the land subject of the Phils. and the Administrator would be permitted to accept other
proceedings so as to enable him to generate funds to liquidate the offers in the best interest of the Estate. This order was the probate
payable balance. The same were left unacted upon by the probate court's prompt action on a "Report with Motion for Cancellation of
court. Order Approving Sale to GM Management, Phils. Honor P.
Moslares, if it fails to make good the April 15, 1980 check "As Token
Meanwhile, on September 25,1979, A Deed of Undertaking was Payment in Good Faith", filed by administrator Trinidad on the same
entered into by respondent Moslares and the Administrator to day, April 15, 1980.
implement the Contract of Sale with Mortgage. Such deed provided
for the mode of payment which Moslares was to follow as well as the GM Management sought reconsideration and amendment of the
clearing and transfer of the certificates of title in the name of Order of April 15, 1980 to conform to the provisions of the Deed of
Moslares. The latter proviso was to enable Moslares to secure the Undertaking.
loan needed to pay for the balance of the purchase price. Postdated
checks were issued by Moslares to cover the amount embraced in
said undertaking. Approval of the agreement with Moslares was On May 23, 1980, administrator Trinidad filed a "Report with Motion
strongly urged by the Administrator. No action was taken by the to Authorize Administrator to Screen Offers to Purchase Estate and
court thereon. At the hearing of October 19, 1979, Moslares Others.
tendered P1,600,000.00 to the Judicial Administrator. This was
opposed by counsel for heir Tejano, Atty. Ramon Encarnacion, on On May 31, 1980, respondent Moslares filed another manifestation
the ground that respondent Moslares had only until February 28, praying that his pending motions be acted upon and that the motion
1979 within which to pay the same. Attorney Encarnacion thereupon of administrator Trinidad be denied for lack of merit.
brought to the attention of the court an offer to buy the properties for
P3,000,000.00 by herein petitioner Pio Barretto Realty Development, On June 30, 1980, administrator Trinidad made the following
Inc. Because of the differing contentions and the new offer, the "Observation and Report on the Motion of Buyer GM Management
probate court ordered the parties to submit memoranda and set a Phils. for reconsideration" —
conference on November 28, 1979 to discuss the new offer.

2. Two checks, one for P50,000.00 and one for P250,000.00 were
On November 12, 1979, respondent Moslares submitted his deposited on April 28, 1980 after the Order of the Probate Court.
memorandum containing three points to wit: BOTH BOUNCED. DAIF (Drawn against insufficient funds).

l. Actually, Honor P. Moslares is already owner of the Property, 3. Another check for P300,000.00 is now held by the Administrator,
subject matter of this proceedings, and as such, could no longer be postdated for today, June 30, 1980 and Administrator just received,
the subject matter of this testate proceedings. The payment made by June 29, 1980 a telegram asking to withhold deposit until after 30
Honor P. Moslares to the Judicial Administrator through this days from amendatory order of the Probate Court.
Honorable Court on 19 October, 1979, is in compliance with the
Contract entered into between him and the late Nicolai Drepin, in
xxx xxx xxx
1970;

6. The motion of Administrator is reiterated.


2. The Order of this Honorable Court dated 9 January, 1979,
particularly with reference to the period, mentioned in No. 1, page 2
of the Order of this Honorable Court giving Honor P. Moslares up to On July 2, 1980, the probate court issued the following order:
28 February, 1979, within which to comply with his letter-offer to the
Court dated 15 August, 1978, is not yet final, said period having Finding the Motion of the Administrator well-taken and in the best
been extended; interests of the Estate, the administrator is authorized to enter into
agreement with any other interested parties on a first paid first
3. The Order of this Honorable Court dated 9 January, 1979, served basis without prejudice to G.M. Management Philippines to
particularly No. 2, Page 2 thereof, barred Counsel for Cornelia B. continue with its offer and make good the same in as an ordinary
Tejano from making any further offer, his right to do so having buyer on the same first paid first served basis.
expired on 28 February, 1979.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 13
COMPILATION OF CASES

Respondent Moslares filed a motion for reconsideration of said July In its decision, the Court of Appeals laid down the two principal
2, 1980 order on the ground that: issues involved in the case, as follows: (1) whether or not the
respondent judge (Judge R. Honrado) acted without or in excess of
1. The Honorable Probate Court has no jurisdiction over the three jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in refusing to exclude
(3) parcels of land, consisting of 80.3980 hectares subject matter of the parcels of land involved from the testate proceedings of the
the Deed of Sale which the late Nicolai Drepin, conveyed to Movant Drepin estate; and (2) whether or not the respondent judge acted
Honor P. Moslares. The only right which pertains to the ESTATE, is without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion
the right to demand from Honor P. Moslares, the balance of the in issuing the impugned orders dated April 15, 1980, July 2, 1980,
Deed of Sale, which has been fixed by this Honorable Court at ONE September 30, 1980, and October 20, 1980.
MILLION SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND (P1,600,000.00) PESOS,
Philippine Currency; We are in full accord with the respondent court's resolution of the
first issue, and we quote:
2. As of November, 1979, the law that governs between the
ESTATE and MOVANT, Honor P. Moslares, is the DEED OF For continually presuming that the three titled lots were part of the
UNDERTAKING executed by the Administrator in favor of Movant Drepin estate and for refusing to provisionally pass upon the
Honor P. Moslares, pursuant to the authority given by the Honorable question of exclusion, did the respondent court act without or in
Probate Court to the Administrator contained in the Order dated excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion?
August 15, 1978, reiterated in the Order dated January 9, 1979, and
in the Order dated 15 April 1980; and We hold that even with such presumption and refusal, the
respondent court still acted within its jurisdiction and not with grave
3. The Honorable Probate Court has no jurisdiction to decree abuse of discretion. After all, the jurisprudence and rule are both to
rescission of the Contract into (sic) between the decedent and the effect that the probate court "may" provisionally pass upon the
Movant Honor P. Moslares on the 9th day of October, 1970. question of exclusion, not "should". The obvious reason is the
probate court's limited jurisdiction and the principle that questions of
This motion for reconsideration was opposed by administrator title or ownership, which result to inclusion in or exclusion from the
Trinidad as well as the Tejano heirs through counsel, arguing that inventory of the property, can only be settled in a separate action.
the probate court has jurisdiction to issue the questioned orders Hence, even if respondent court presumed an the way that the
because petitioner submitted himself to the court's jurisdiction and properties sold by Drepin to petitioner were part of Drepin's estate,
his checks bounced also that the Deed of Undertaking was validly that would not prevent nor defeat petitioner's remedy in a separate
cancelled as a result of the valid rescission of Trinidad's authority to suit.
sell to petitioner.
And We hold that Civil Case No. 41287 is just such a suit instituted
On September 30, 1980, the probate court issued an order denying to settle the question of ownership over the lots covered originally by
respondent Moslares' motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. TCTs Nos. 259060, 259061 and 259062, despite the claim for
And on October 10, 1980 administrator Trinidad executed the Deed damages, because of the composite effect of the prayer in the
of Sale in favor of Pio Barretto Realty, Inc. transferring the titles to complaint thereof ...
the properties in question in the name of the latter. The same was
duly registered. On October 20, 1980, the probate court approved xxx xxx xxx
the report of administrator Trinidad dated October 16, 1980, with
xerox copies of the Deed of Sale in favor of Pio Barretto Realty, Inc. In effect, We are saying that the question of whether the properties
of the estate of Nicolai Drepin pursuant to respondent court's order sold by Drepin to Petitioner should be excluded from the probate
authorizing the sale, and of the approved Deed of Undertaking with proceedings below, can not be determined with finality by Us in this
the vendee. case, because in this petition We are merely reviewing the acts of
the respondent CFI as a probate court. Any ruling by the probate
An urgent Motion and Manifestation was filed by respondent court to include those properties "is only provisional in character and
Moslares on April 8, 1981 praying that his motion for reconsideration is without prejudice to a judgment in a separate action on the issue
of the orders be already resolved, followed by an Omnibus Motion of title or ownership" (Sebial v. Sebial, L-23419, June 27, 1975, 64
on April 27, 1981 to resolve all pending motions and praying that the SCRA 385). Consequently, in reviewing the exercise of such limited
Deed of Sale and Deed of Undertaking in favor of Pio Barretto be probate jurisdiction, We cannot order an unqualified and final
cancelled. The same remained unacted upon. exclusion of the properties involved, as prayed for; to do so would
expand the probate court's jurisdiction beyond the perimeters set by
On May 18, 1981, respondent filed Civil Case No. 41287 before the law and jurisprudence. It is fitting and proper that this issue be
Court of First Instance of Rizal in Pasig, Metro Manila to determine ventilated and finally resolved in the already instituted Civil Case No.
title and ownership over the Drepin lands. 41287, even as We hold that respondent court's act of not excluding
the lots involved did not constitute grave abuse of discretion. In view
of this limitation, We need not resolve the issue of whether there
On June 23, 1981, a petition for certiorari was filed by respondent was novation of the Deed of Sale with Mortgage, or not.
Moslares before the Court of Appeals which issued a temporary
restraining order. Judgment was rendered by respondent court in
favor of respondent Moslares, the dispositive portion of which has This same elemental principle, we found occasion to reiterate in the
been quoted. cases of Junquera v. Borromeo (19 SCRA 656); Borromeo v.
Canonoy (19 SCRA 667); Recto v. dela Rosa (75 SCRA
226); Lachenal v. Salas (71 SCRA 202); Bolisay v. Alcid (85 SCRA
Barretto filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied on 213); Vda. de Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals (91 SCRA 540).
November 12, 1982. Hence, this petition.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 14
COMPILATION OF CASES

However, from here, the road forks as we disagree with the taking inconsistent positions. Doctrine of estoppel bars a party from
respondent court's findings on the second issue. trifling with the courts (Depositario v. Hervias, 121 SCRA 756).

In his petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, respondent The merits of the case likewise lead to similar conclusions.
Moslares assails the issuance of the four impugned orders by the
probate court on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction to It cannot but be conceded that the limited jurisdiction of a probate
rescind the Deed of Sale with the Mortgage entered into by the court prohibits it from determining rights to property left by a
deceased during his lifetime, due to the limited jurisdiction of the decedent which depends on the contract (Goodin v. Casselman 200
probate court merely to settle and liquidate the estates of a decedent N.W. 94, 51 N.D. 543). However, actions of the probate court, in the
and not to pass upon questions of title to property. case at bar, do not refer to the adjudication of rights under the
contract entered into by the deceased during his lifetime. It is to be
On the other hand, the petitioner argues that in voiding and nullifying noted that the dealings of the respondent with the court arose out of
the four orders of the probate court, the Court of Appeals, in effect, the latter's bid to sell property under its authority to sell, mortgage or
would have the former court recognize the alleged ownership of Mr. otherwise encumber property of the estate to pay or settle against
Moslares over the three titled Drepin lots involved in this case the estate (Rule 89, Revised Rules of Court). Thus, respondent
contrary to its pronouncement in settling the first issue. bound himself under an agreement with the court separate and
distinct from that which he had with the decedent. In rescinding such
It is to be noted that the last agreement entered into by the contract, the court merely seeks to enforce its right to put an end to
deceased prior to his death, that is, the Joint Venture Agreement an agreement which had ceased to be a working proposition. Surely,
listing Drepin as owner of the properties in question, and the this is well within the power of the probate court. Though of limited
surrender to administrator Trinidad of the certificates of title, had led and special jurisdiction, it cannot be denied, however, that when the
the probate court to enter or include said properties in its inventory law confers jurisdiction upon a court, the latter is deemed to have all
of the deceased's estate. Thus, provisionally, ownership thereof was the necessary powers to exercise such jurisdicton to make it
recognized as vested in the estate. Subsequently, in the course of effective (Zuniga v. Court of Appeals, 95 SCRA 740).
the probate proceedings, the sale of the properties was found to be
necessary to settle the deceased's obligations. It was then that We cannot allow an absurd situation to arise where the Drepin
herein private respondent Moslares submitted himself to the estate will never be settled and liquidated because even if Moslares
jurisdiction of the court in an "Offer to Buy" said properties, based on cannot pay the agreed purchase price of the Drepin lands, still the
his previous agreement with the deceased during the latter's lifetime. probate court can no longer sell the lands to other prospective
buyers. Under the theory of respondent, it is insisted that the probate
It is noteworthy that contrary to Moslares' assertion of ownership, he court has no authority to cancel his unfulfilled offer to buy,
had offered to buy the Drepin lands from the probate court. Surely, notwithstanding the fact that he failed miserably to comply with the
this is not conduct ordinarily expected of one who is the owner of the terms of his own offer to buy. It is to be remembered that Moslares
property. Further, the fact that subsequent to the Deed of Sale, the had already been granted undue leniency by the probate court to
deceased as buyer and as absolute owner entered into an meet his obligations to pay. But, the saga of Moslares' bouncing
agreement with the respondent merely as developer of the lands in checks remains. Three reports of Administrator Trinidad had been
question evidences a change of cause or object as well as a change submitted as annexes to the petition for certiorari. The report, dated
of relation between the parties. Moslares' own acts negate his claims June 30, 1980 showed that two of Moslares' checks were
in this petition that he had acquired ownership of the properties. dishonored, having been drawn against insufficient funds. The
Thus, the transparency of respondent's argument becomes readily August 18, 1980 report stated that: "All the checks submitted to the
apparent. probate court for payment bounced." And in the report dated April
15, 1981, it was further averred by the administrator that "...
believing that the bouncing checks were not intended to defraud the
Having submitted his letter-proposal to the court, the same was Estate," "he refrained from prosecuting Honor P. Moslares criminally
approved, allowing Moslares to pay the balance of the purchase under the law on dishonored checks."
price agreed upon by respondent and the decedent in the amount of
One Million Six Hundred Thousand Pesos (P1,600,000.00)
specifying the time and manner of payment thereof. Thus, he was It is also to be emphasized that it was not respondent's contract of
given preference and priority over other persons or groups offering sale with decedent that had been invalidated but rather the
to buy the estate. Having failed to comply with the conditions of administrator's authority to sell to respondent. Although the court
payment of the contract, the same was rescinded by the probate recognized the Deed of Sale with Mortgage, still the same was not
court. Now, respondent questions this rescission which he maintains being enforced as such but was used only as basis for the terms and
to be beyond the jurisdiction of the court. conditions of respondent's agreement with the court. To enforce the
same is truly beyond the scope of the probate court's jurisdiction.
The court's actions constitute a refusal to pass upon the validity of
Estoppel works to preclude respondent from questioning the the contract to sell.
jurisdiction of the court. By offering to buy the properties in question,
respondent has clearly recognized the jurisdiction of the probate
court to which he had effectively submitted himself. It is well settled Further, the probate court has ample discretion in determining
that a party is estopped from disputing the jurisdiction of the court whether conditions of a particular sale would be beneficial to the
after invoking it himself (Tible v. Aquino, 65 SCRA 207). After estate and this is generally respected by the appellate courts (Court
voluntarily submitting a cause and encountering an adverse decision of First Instance v. Court of Appeals, 106 SCRA 114, Fernandez, et
on the merits, it is too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or al., v. Montejo, 109 Phil. 701). To attack the nullity of the order of the
power of the court (People v. Munar, 53 SCRA 278; Capilitan v. dela probate court to sell property of the deceased, it must be shown that
Cruz, 55 SCRA 706; Summit Guaranty and Insurance Co., Inc., v. the contract of sale is null and void (Rafols v. Barba, 119 SCRA
Court of Appeals, 110 SCRA 241; Tajonera v. Lamoroza, 110 SCRA 147). The infirmity of the subject deed of sale is premised on the
438). A party will not be allowed to make a mockery of justice by alleged nullity of the order of the court authorizing the sale. The
validity of said order may not be attacked in a collateral proceeding,
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 15
COMPILATION OF CASES

the supposed ground for declaring it void for lack of jurisdiction not
being apparent on the face thereof (Rafols v. Barba, supra).
Nevertheless, respondent could have prevented the sale of the
Drepin lands. Section 3, Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court, to
wit:

Section 3. Persons interested may prevent such sale, etc., by giving


bond. — No such authority to sell mortgage, or otherwise encumber
real or personal estate shall be granted if any person interested in
the estate gives a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court,
conditioned to pay the debts, expenses of administration, and
legacies within such tune as the court directs; and such bond shall
be for the security of the creditors, as well as of the executor or
administrator, and may be prosecuted for the benefit of either.

provides respondent with the legal means by which he could have


forestalled the sale of the Drepin lands to the petitioner. (Court of
First Instance v. Court of Appeals, supra) If third persons oppose an
application for leave to sell the property of the decedent, claiming
title to the property, the title claim, cannot be adjudicated by the
probate court, but it can hold approval of the sale in abeyance until
the question of ownership shall have been decided in a proper
action (Baquial v. Amihan, 92 Phil. 501). But this, he failed to do.
Ergo, we find no reason to disturb the questioned orders of the
probate court.

Moreover, the respondent is not without remedy if truly his claim of


ownership is proper and meritorious. Since the probate court has no
jurisdiction over the question of title and ownership of the properties,
the respondents may bring a separate action if they wish to question
the petitioner's titles and ownership (Vda. de Rodriguez v. Court of
Appeals, 91 SCRA 540). Though an order of the probate court
approving the sale of the decedent's property is final, the respondent
may file a complaint in the proper court for the rescission of the sale.
(Pizarro v. Court of Appeals, 99 SCRA 72). Likewise, the initial
question of respondent regarding the propriety of including the
properties in question in the inventory of the probate court as he
claims ownership thereof may therein be finally and conclusively
settled (Vda. de Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals, supra; Lachenal v.
Salas, 71 SCRA 202). The respondent has ample protection of his
rights for the province of the probate court remains merely the
settlement of the estate and may not be extended beyond (Pizarro v.
Court of Appeals, supra).

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for certiorari is


hereby GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals (now
Intermediate Appellate Court), dated June 30, 1982 is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. The permanent restraining order issued against the
trial court is hereby DISMISSED. The impugned orders of the
probate court dated April 15, 1980, July 2, 1980, September 30,
1980 and October 20, 1980 are accordingly REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 16
COMPILATION OF CASES

DOROTHEO v. CA An Order was issued on November 29, 1990 by Judge Zain B.


Angas setting aside the final and executory Order dated January 30,
1986, as well as the Order directing the issuance of the writ of
Republic of the Philippines
execution, on the ground that the order was merely "interlocutory",
SUPREME COURT
hence not final in character. The court added that the dispositive
Manila
portion of the said Order even directs the distribution of the estate of
the deceased spouses. Private respondents filed a motion for
FIRST DIVISION reconsideration which was denied in an Order dated February 1,
1991. Thus, private respondents filed a petition before the Court of
G.R. No. 108581 December 8, 1999 Appeals, which nullified the two assailed Orders dated November
29, 1990 and February 1, 1991.

LOURDES L. DOROTHEO, petitioner,


vs. Aggrieved, petitioner instituted a petition for review arguing that the
COURT OF APPEALS, NILDA D. QUINTANA, for Herself and as case filed by private respondents before the Court of Appeals was a
Attorney-in-Fact of VICENTE DOROTHEO and JOSE petition under Rule 65 on the ground of grave abuse of discretion or
DOROTHEO, respondents. lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner contends that in issuing the two
assailed orders, Judge Angas cannot be said to have no jurisdiction
because he was particularly designated to hear the case. Petitioner
likewise assails the Order of the Court of Appeals upholding the
validity of the January 30, 1986 Order which declared the intrinsic
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: invalidity of Alejandro's will that was earlier admitted to probate.

May a last will and testament admitted to probate but declared Petitioner also filed a motion to reinstate her as executrix of the
intrinsically void in an order that has become final and executory still estate of the late Alejandro and to maintain the status quo or lease
be given effect? This is the issue that arose from the following of the premises thereon to third parties.3 Private respondents
antecedents: opposed the motion on the ground that petitioner has no interest in
the estate since she is not the lawful wife of the late Alejandro.
Private respondents were the legitimate children of Alejandro
Dorotheo and Aniceta Reyes. The latter died in 1969 without her The petition is without merit. A final and executory decision or order
estate being settled. Alejandro died thereafter. Sometime in 1977, can no longer be disturbed or reopened no matter how erroneous it
after Alejandro's death, petitioner, who claims to have taken care of may be. In setting aside the January 30, 1986 Order that has
Alejandro before he died, filed a special proceeding for the probate attained finality, the trial court in effect nullified the entry of judgment
of the latter's last will and testament. In 1981, the court issued an made by the Court of Appeals. It is well settled that a lower court
order admitting Alejandro's will to probate. Private respondents did cannot reverse or set aside decisions or orders of a superior court,
not appeal from said order. In 1983, they filed a "Motion To Declare for to do so would be to negate the hierarchy of courts and nullify the
The Will Intrinsically Void." The trial court granted the motion and essence of review. It has been ruled that a final judgment on
issued an order, the dispositive portion of which reads: probated will, albeit erroneous, is binding on the whole world. 4

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Order is hereby issued It has been consistently held that if no appeal is taken in due time
declaring Lourdes Legaspi not the wife of the late Alejandro from a judgment or order of the trial court, the same attains finality
Dorotheo, the provisions of the last will and testament of Alejandro by mere lapse of time. Thus, the order allowing the will became final
Dorotheo as intrinsically void, and declaring the oppositors Vicente and the question determined by the court in such order can no
Dorotheo, Jose Dorotheo and Nilda Dorotheo Quintana as the only longer be raised anew, either in the same proceedings or in a
heirs of the late spouses Alejandro Dorotheo and Aniceta Reyes, different motion. The matters of due execution of the will and the
whose respective estates shall be liquidated and distributed capacity of the testator acquired the character of res judicata and
according to the laws on intestacy upon payment of estate and other cannot again be brought into question, all juridical questions in
taxes due to the government.1 connection therewith being for once and forever closed. 5 Such final
order makes the will conclusive against the whole world as to its
Petitioner moved for reconsideration arguing that she is entitled to extrinsic validity and due execution.6
some compensation since she took care of Alejandro prior to his
death although she admitted that they were not married to each It should be noted that probate proceedings deals generally with the
other. Upon denial of her motion for reconsideration, petitioner extrinsic validity of the will sought to be probated,7 particularly on
appealed to the Court of Appeals, but the same was dismissed for three aspects:
failure to file appellant's brief within the extended period
granted.2 This dismissal became final and executory on February 3,
n whether the will submitted is indeed, the decedent's last will and
1989 and a corresponding entry of judgment was forthwith issued by
testament;
the Court of Appeals on May 16, 1989. A writ of execution was
issued by the lower court to implement the final and executory
Order. Consequently, private respondents filed several motions n compliance with the prescribed formalities for the execution of
including a motion to compel petitioner to surrender to them the wills;
Transfer Certificates of Titles (TCT) covering the properties of the
late Alejandro. When petitioner refused to surrender the TCT's, n the testamentary capacity of the testator; 8
private respondents filed a motion for cancellation of said titles and
for issuance of new titles in their names. Petitioner opposed the
n and the due execution of the last will and testament.9
motion.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 17
COMPILATION OF CASES

Under the Civil Code, due execution includes a determination of to implement that order of intestate distribution and not to reopen
whether the testator was of sound and disposing mind at the time of and again re-examine the intrinsic provisions of the same will.
its execution, that he had freely executed the will and was not acting
under duress, fraud, menace or undue influence and that the will is It can be clearly inferred from Article 960 of the Civil Code, on the
genuine and not a forgery, 10 that he was of the proper testamentary law of successional rights that testacy is preferred to intestacy. 20 But
age and that he is a person not expressly prohibited by law from before there could be testate distribution, the will must pass the
making a will. 11 scrutinizing test and safeguards provided by law considering that the
deceased testator is no longer available to prove the voluntariness
The intrinsic validity is another matter and questions regarding the of his actions, aside from the fact that the transfer of the estate is
same may still be raised even after the will has been usually onerous in nature and that no one is presumed to give —
authenticated. 12 Thus, it does not necessarily follow that an Nemo praesumitur donare. 21 No intestate distribution of the estate
extrinsically valid last will and testament is always intrinsically valid. can be done until and unless the will had failed to pass both its
Even if the will was validly executed, if the testator provides for extrinsic and intrinsic validity. If the will is extrinsically void, the rules
dispositions that deprives or impairs the lawful heirs of their legitime of intestacy apply regardless of the intrinsic validity thereof. If it is
or rightful inheritance according to the laws on succession, 13 the extrinsically valid, the next test is to determine its intrinsic validity —
unlawful provisions/dispositions thereof cannot be given effect. This that is whether the provisions of the will are valid according to the
is specially so when the courts had already determined in a final and laws of succession. In this case, the court had ruled that the will of
executory decision that the will is intrinsically void. Such Alejandro was extrinsically valid but the intrinsic provisions thereof
determination having attained that character of finality is binding on were void. Thus, the rules of intestacy apply as correctly held by the
this Court which will no longer be disturbed. Not that this Court finds trial court.
the will to be intrinsically valid, but that a final and executory decision
of which the party had the opportunity to challenge before the higher Furthermore, Alejandro's disposition in his will of the alleged share in
tribunals must stand and should no longer be reevaluated. Failure to the conjugal properties of his late spouse, whom he described as his
avail of the remedies provided by law constitutes waiver. And if the "only beloved wife", is not a valid reason to reverse a final and
party does not avail of other remedies despite its belief that it was executory order. Testamentary dispositions of properties not
aggrieved by a decision or court action, then it is deemed to have belonging exclusively to the testator or properties which are part of
fully agreed and is satisfied with the decision or order. As early as the conjugal regime cannot be given effect. Matters with respect to
1918, it has been declared that public policy and sound practice who owns the properties that were disposed of by Alejandro in the
demand that, at the risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts void will may still be properly ventilated and determined in the
must at some point of time fixed by law 14 become final otherwise intestate proceedings for the settlement of his and that of his late
there will be no end to litigation. Interes rei publicae ut finis sit spouse's estate.
litium — the very object of which the courts were constituted was to
put an end to controversies. 15 To fulfill this purpose and to do so
speedily, certain time limits, more or less arbitrary, have to be set up Petitioner's motion for appointment as administratrix is rendered
to spur on the slothful. 16 The only instance where a party interested moot considering that she was not married to the late Alejandro and,
in a probate proceeding may have a final liquidation set aside is therefore, is not an heir.
when he is left out by reason of circumstances beyond his control or
through mistake or inadvertence not imputable to WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the decision appealed
negligence, 17 which circumstances do not concur herein. from is AFFIRMED.

Petitioner was privy to the suit calling for the declaration of the SO ORDERED.
intrinsic invalidity of the will, as she precisely appealed from an
unfavorable order therefrom. Although the final and executory Order
of January 30, 1986 wherein private respondents were declared as
the only heirs do not bind those who are not parties thereto such as
the alleged illegitimate son of the testator, the same constitutes res
judicata with respect to those who were parties to the probate
proceedings. Petitioner cannot again raise those matters anew for
relitigation otherwise that would amount to forum-shopping. It should
be remembered that forum shopping also occurs when the same
issue had already been resolved adversely by some other court. 18 It
is clear from the executory order that the estates of Alejandro and
his spouse should be distributed according to the laws of intestate
succession.

Petitioner posits that the January 30, 1986 Order is merely


interlocutory, hence it can still be set aside by the trial court. In
support thereof, petitioner argues that "an order merely declaring
who are heirs and the shares to which set of heirs is entitled cannot
be the basis of execution to require delivery of shares from one
person to another particularly when no project of partition has been
filed." 19 The trial court declared in the January 30, 1986 Order that
petitioner is not the legal wife of Alejandro, whose only heirs are his
three legitimate children (petitioners herein), and at the same time it
nullified the will. But it should be noted that in the same Order, the
trial court also said that the estate of the late spouses be distributed
according to the laws of intestacy. Accordingly, it has no option but
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 18
COMPILATION OF CASES

LACHENAL v. SALAS On July 20, 1975 the said plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3597 filed in the
probate court their own motion to exclude the said motorboat from
the decedent's estate on the ground that the, probate court has no
Republic of the Philippines
jurisdiction to decide the question as to its ownership because that
SUPREME COURT
matter has to be resolved by the Caloocan court where Civil Case
Manila
No. 3597 is pending.

SECOND DIVISION
The probate court denied that motion. It held that it has jurisdiction
over the issue of ownership because the heirs had agreed to present
G.R. No. L-42257 June 14, 1976 their evidence on that point before a commissioner.

ILDEFONSO LACHENAL, ELIAS LACHENAL, IRENEA L. It invoked the rule that generally "questions of title to property cannot
SANTOS, FLORA L. SANCHEZ and NATIVIDAD D. be passed upon in testate or intestate proceedings, except when the
LACHENAL, petitioners, parties interested are all heirs of the deceased in which event it is
vs. optional upon them to submit to the probate court the question as to
HON. EMILIO V. SALAS, Presiding Judge of the Court of First title to property and when so submitted, said probate court may
Instance of Pasig, Rizal, Branch I, and FLAVIANA L. definitely pass judgment thereon. The reason is that questions of
LEONIO, respondents. collation or of advancement are generally inevitably involved therein
which are proper matters to be passed upon in the due course of
Alberto A. Tecson for petitioners. administration. And it has also been held that with the consent of the
parties, matters affecting property under administration may be
taken cognizance of by the court in the course of the intestate
Briñas, Atienza & Acaban Law Offices for respondents.
proceedings provided the interests of third persons are not
prejudiced." (3 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970
Edition, page 473, citing Alvarez vs. Espiritu, L-18833, August 14,
1965, 14 SCRA 892, 899; Pascual vs. Pascual, 73 Phil. 561; Vda.
AQUINO, J.: de Manalac vs. Ocampo, 73 Phil. 661; Cunanan vs. Amparo, 80
Phil. 227; Dinglasan vs. Ang Chia, 88 Phil. 476; Baquial vs. Amihan,
92 Phil. 501).
Victorio Lachenal died on November 20, 1969. His testate estate is
pending settlement in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig
Branch I (Special Proceeding No. 5836). His son, Ildefonso On January 5, 1976 the executor and his co-plaintiffs in Civil Case
Lachenal, was named executor of his will. Among the properties No. 3597 filed these special civil actions of prohibition
included in the inventory of his estate is a fishing boat and certiorari against the probate court.
called Lachenal VII.
The issue is whether the probate court should be allowed to
On April 1, 1971 the executor filed in that proceeding a motion to continue the hearing on the ownership of the fishing boat or whether
require the spouses Lope L. Leonio and Flaviana Lachenal-Leonio that question should be left to the determination of the Caloocan
to pay the rentals for the lease of Lachenal VII and to return the boat court where the subsequent separate action (now in the pre-trial
to Navotas, Rizal for drydocking and repair. stage) for the recovery of the motorboat is pending.

Mrs. Leonio, who was a daughter of the testator, opposed the We hold that the title to the fishing boat should be determined in Civil
executor's motion. She countered with a motion to exclude the Case No. 3597 because it affects the lessee thereof, Lope L Leonio,
fishing boat from the decedent's estate. She claimed that she is the the decedent's son-in-law, who, although married to his daughter or
owner of the boat because she purchased it from her father in 1967. compulsory heir, is nevertheless a third person with respect to his
The executor opposed the motion for exclusion. estate. "The administrator may not pull him against his will, by
motion, into the administration proceeding" (De la Cruz vs. Camon,
63 O.G. 8704, 16 SCRA 886; De Paula vs. Escay, infra).
The probate court in its order of January 28, 1972 designated a
commissioner to receive the evidence of the parties relative to the
ownership of the motorboat. Mrs. Leonio had already finished the This case falls under the general rule that questions as to title to
presentation of her evidence before the commissioner. property cannot be passed upon in the testate or intestate
proceeding but should be ventilated in a separate action (Ongsingco
vs. Tan, 97 Phil. 330, 334; Bernardo vs. Court of Appeals ,117 Phil.
The executor did not present his countervailing evidence. Instead,
835; Magallanes vs. Kayanan, L-31048, January 20, 1976; Recto vs.
on July 8, 1975 he and the testator's other children named Flora,
Dela Rosa, L-42799, March 16, 1976).
Elias and Irenea, and the children of a deceased child filed in the
Caloocan City Branch of the Court of First Instance of Rizal an
action against the Leonio spouses and the other three children of the Where a party in a probate proceeding prays for the inclusion in, or
testator named Crispula, Modesto and Esperanza, for the recovery exclusion from, the inventory of a piece of property, the court may
of the motorboat Lachenal VII, allegedly valued at P150,000, provisionally pass upon the question without prejudice to its final
together with back rentals and damages (Civil Case No. 3597). determination in a separate action (Garcia vs. Garcia, 67 Phil. 353;
Guinguing vs. Abuton, 48 Phil. 144, 147; Junquera vs. Borromeo, L-
18498, March 30, 1967, 19 SCRA 656; Borromeo vs. Canonoy, L-
It was alleged in the complaint that Victorio Lachenal in 1964 leased
25010, March 30, 1967, 19 SCRA 667).
the said motorboat to his son-in-law, Lope L. Leonio, for a monthly
rental of P2,000 and that after Victorio's death, the executor of his
estate demanded from Leonio the return of the boat and the
payment of the back rentals.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 19
COMPILATION OF CASES

The Court of First Instance is a court of general original jurisdiction In the instant case, in as much as the controversy over the fishing
invested with power to take cognizance of all kinds of cases: civil boat concerns members of the same family, the Caloocan court
cases, criminal cases, special proceedings, land registration, should endeavor before trial to persuade the litigants to agree upon
guardianship, naturalization, admiralty and insolvency cases (Sec. some compromise (Arts. 222 and 2029, Civil Code; Sec. 1[j], Rule
39, Judiciary Law; De Paula vs. Escay, 97 Phil. 617, 619; Manalo vs. 16, Rules of Court).
Mariano, L-33850, January 22, 1976).
WHEREFORE, the probate court's orders of September 17 and
Whether a particular matter should be resolved by the Court of First October 20, 1975, asserting its jurisdiction to decide the title to the
Instance in the exercise of its general jurisdiction or of its limited fishing boat, Lachenal VII, are set aside. No costs.
jurisdiction as a special court (probate, land registration, etc.) is in
reality not a question of over the subject matter. It is in essence a SO ORDERED.
procedural question involving a mode of practice "which may be
waived" (Cunanan vs. Amparo, supra, page 232; Cf. Reyes vs. Diaz,
73 Phil. 484 rejurisdiction over the issue).

Probate jurisdiction includes all matters relating to the settlement of


estates and the probate of wills of persons (Sec. 599, Act 190),
particularly the administration of the decedent's estate, the payment
of his debts, questions as to collation or advancements to the heirs,
the liquidation of the conjugal partnership, and the partition and
distribution of the estate (De La Cruz vs. Camon, supra).

For the recovery or protection or the property rights of the decedent.


an executor or administrator may bring or defend in the right of the
decedent, actions for causes which survive. Actions to recover real
or personal property, or an interest therein, from the decedent's
estate, or to enforce a lien thereon, and actions to recover damages
for an injury to or property, real or personal, may be commenced
against an executor or administrator (Secs. 1 and 2, Rule 87, Rules
of Court).

In the instant case, the executor, by virtue of section 2 of Rule 87,


filed a separate action in the Caloocan court for the recovery of the
fishing boat and back rentals from the Leonio spouses.

In the De la Cruz case, supra, it was held that rentals allegedly due
to the decedent's estate may not be collected by the administrator by
filing a motion in the testate proceeding. The said rentals do not
constitute property in the administrator's hands and are not thus
within the effective control of the probate court. The proper
procedure in collecting such rentals is to file an independent action
in the Court of First Instance so that the right of the estate thereto
may be threshed out in a full-dress trial on the merits.

The ruling in the De la Cruz case applies with stronger force to this
case because here the executor seeks to recover not only the
rentals but also the leased property itself, as to which the wife of the
lessee had asserted adverse title.

Normally, it is expedient and convenient that the question of title to


property, which arises between the decedent's estate and other
persons, should be adjucated in a separate action because such a
question requires the presentation of appropriate pleadings
(complaint, motion to dismiss, answer, counterclaim and reply). A
resort to the modes of discovery may be necessary so that the
issues may be clearly defined and the trial may be expedited. Those
matters can be effectively accomplished in an ordinary action rather
than in the testamentary or intestate proceeding (Mangaliman vs.
Gonzales, L-21033, December 28, 1970, 36 SCRA 462).

The court may also have to resolve ancillary issues as to damages


and counterclaims for money or property. Ultimately, execution has
to be issued. The execution of a judgment is usually made by the
Court of First Instance in an ordinary action and not in a special
proceeding (See Magallanes vs. Kayanan, supra).
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 20
COMPILATION OF CASES

BAYBAYAN v. AQUINO A writ of possession was also issued sometime thereafter, and the
private respondents were placed in possession of their respective
shares. 4 However, when a representative of the private respondents
Republic of the Philippines
went to cultivate the portion adjudicated to said private respondents,
SUPREME COURT
he was prevented by Jose Diaz and Cipriano Evangelista. In view
Manila
thereof, the private respondents filed a motion to cite said Jose Diaz
and Cipriano Evangelista in contempt of court. 5
SECOND DIVISION
As a consequence, herein petitioners Pedro Baybayan, Cipriano
G.R. No. L-42678 April 9, 1987 Evangelists, and the spouses Bartolome and Consuelo Baybayan,
claiming to be the registered owners of the lots involved, filed a
PEDRO E. BAYBAYAN, CIPRIANO EVANGELISTA, and complaint in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Rosales
SPOUSES BARTOLOME and CONSUELO Branch docketed therein as Civil Case No. 231-R, against the
BAYBAYAN, petitioners, Deputy Sheriff and the herein private respondents, for the quieting of
vs. their title, plus damages, and to restrain said defendants from
HON. NARCISO A. AQUINO, as Presiding Judge CFI Pangasinan enforcing the writ of execution issued in Spec. Proc. No. 24-R. 6
Branch XIV; Deputy Sheriff CONSTANCIO PAGADUAN;
EULALIA EVANGELISTA, NORBERTO, PAULINA, FELIZA, all Meanwhile, at the hearing of the motion for contempt in Spec. Proc.
surnamed PADUA; DIONISIA, LAUREANO, JOSEFINA, No. 24-R, the question of the Identity of the lands subject of Spec.
LEONARDO, ANASTACIA, VALENTINA, all surnamed ORPIANO; Proc. No. 24-R, was brought up, so that the probate court ordered a
SERVILLANO, GERTRUDES, PASTORA, LORENZO, FAUSTA, all relocation survey and commissioned a geodetic engineer to
surnamed DELFIN; and DIONISIO, FAUSTINA, AMADO undertake said survey. After the survey, the commissioner submitted
BENJAMIN, all surnamed ORIA, respondents. to the Court a report stating, among others, that the lands which
were delivered by the Deputy Sheriff to the heirs of Vicente Oria,
pursuant to the writ of possession issued by the probate court, are
registered in the names of herein petitioners under TCT No. 50269
and TCT No. 50270 of the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan. 7
PADILLA, J.:

By reason thereof, the probate court, in an order dated 30 October


This is a petition for certiorari to annul and set aside the Order
1975, dismissed the contempt charge against Jose Diaz and
issued by the respondent Judge on 4 December 1975, which
Cipriano Evangelists. However, the same court ordered the
dismissed, without prejudice, the petitioners' complaint filed in Civil
petitioners to amend their complaint filed in Civil Case No. 231-R
Case No. 23 1 -R of the then Court of First Instance of Pangasinan,
since "it is necessary that an amended complaint be filed by Pedro
as well as the Order, dated 24 December 1975, which denied
Baybayan in order to determine whether or not the property in
petitioners' motion for the reconsideration of said order.
question is part of the property under Spec. Proc. No. 24-R,
inasmuch as it is now the property claimed by him which is covered
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows: by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 50269." 8

On 19 January 1960, herein private respondents Norberto Padua, Pursuant thereto, the herein petitioners filed an Omnibus Motion in
Paulina Padua, Felisa Padua, Dionisia Orpiano, Laureano Orpiano, Civil Case No. 231-R, to which was attached an amended complaint
Leonardo Orpiano, Josefina Orpiano, Valentina Orpiano, Servillano wherein some defendants were dropped. 9 The respondent Judge,
Delfin, Gertrudes Delfin, Pastors Delfin Lorenzo Delfin, Fausta however, found that the Amended Complaint did not comply with his
Delfin, Dionisio Oria, Faustina Oria, Amado Oria, and Benjamin Oria, order of 30 October 1975 to exclude Lot E and dismissed the case,
all claiming to be the nephews and nieces of one Vicente Oria who "without prejudice on the part of the plaintiffs to file a proper
died intestate sometime in 1945 in Balungao, Pangasinan, filed a complaint for the recovery of ownership or possession of the
petition for the summary settlement of the decedent's estate, the property in controversy which is Lot B in the relocation plan and
value of which did not exceed P6,000.00. The petition was filed in formerly covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 23684, now
the then Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Tayug Branch. The under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 50269." 10
case was docketed therein as Special Proceeding No. T-300. 1
The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the order, 11 but
After due publication and hearing, the probate court issued an order the motion was denied on 24 December 1975. 12 Thereupon, they
adjudicating the estate to the heirs of the decedent, who were filed with this Court a petition for certiorari for the review of the
ordered to submit a project of partition. 2 Sometime in 1971, the case orders of the lower court. The Court treated the petition as a special
was transferred to the Resales Branch of the Court of First Instance civil action for certiorari. 13
of Pangasinan where it was docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 24-R.
Counsel for the petitioners, in this petition, contends that the
On 18 September 1974, the probate court confirmed the respondent Judge had no authority under the law, both substantive
adjudication earlier made and ordered Eulalia Evangelista to deliver and procedural, to issue the questioned orders because the order to
the respective shares of her co-heirs; to make an accounting of the amend the complaint was issued in, and in connection with Spec.
produce thereof from 1960; and to deliver said produce to her co- Proc. No. 24-R where the herein petitioners are not even parties.
heirs or pay its equivalent. A writ of execution was subsequently
issued pursuant thereto. 3
The contention, in our opinion, is not meritorious. While it may be
true that the order to amend the complaint filed in Civil Case No.
231-R was issued in Spec. Proc. No. 24-R, so that it cannot
ordinarily bind the herein petitioners who are not parties in said
special proceedings, it appears, however, that the petitioners
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 21
COMPILATION OF CASES

voluntarily submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the probate


court, when they filed an Omnibus Motion in Civil Case No. 231-R,
wherein they prayed for leave to amend their complaint in
accordance with the order of the probate court of 30 October 1975.
They cannot now be allowed belatedly to adopt an inconsistent
posture by attacking the jurisdiction of the respondent trial Judge to
whom they submitted their cause voluntarily. 14

We find, however, that the respondent Judge committed a grave


abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, in dismissing
the complaint filed by the petitioners, for their alleged failure to
amend their complaint to exclude therefrom Lot E which the
respondent Judge found, in his order of 30 October 1975, issued in
the probate court, to be owned by the petitioners Cipriano
Evangelists and Consuelo Baybayan. The findings of the respondent
Judge as to the ownership of Lot E after the hearing conducted in
Spec. Proc. No. 24-R do not justify the order to amend the complaint
since the determination of the ownership of the said lot by the
respondent Judge presiding over a court exercising probate
jurisdiction is not final or ultimate in nature and is without prejudice
to the right of an interested party to raise the question of ownership
in a proper action. 15

It is a well-settled rule in this jurisdiction, sanctioned and reiterated in


a long fine of decisions, that "when questions arise as to ownership
of property alleged to be a part of the estate of a deceased person,
but claimed by some other person to be his property, not by virtue of
any right of inheritance from the deceased, but by title adverse to
that of the deceased and his estate, such questions cannot be
determined in the courts of administrative proceedings. The Court of
First Instance, acting, as a probate court, has no jurisdiction to
adjudicate such contentions, which must be submitted to the Court
of First Instance in the exercise of its general jurisdiction as a court
of first instance." 16

Besides, the order to amend the complaint is vague and hazy and
does not specify what the amendments should be or how the
complaint should be amended so that the petitioners should not be
faulted if the amended complaint subsequently filed by them in Civil
Case No. 231-R does not contain the allegations that the respondent
Judge would want to appear therein.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and a writ issued, setting


aside the Orders issued by the respondent Judge on 7 December
1975 and 24 December 1975, in Civil Case No. 231-R of the then
Court of First Instance of Pangasinan. Without costs.

SO ORDERED.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 22
COMPILATION OF CASES

DE BORJA v. DE BORJA Of these cases, the first, numbered L-28040 is an appeal by Tasiana
Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, special administratrix of the testate
estate of Francisco de Borja,1 from the approval of a compromise
Republic of the Philippines
agreement by the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch I, in its
SUPREME COURT
Special Proceeding No. R-7866, entitled, "Testate Estate of Josefa
Manila
Tangco, Jose de Borja, Administrator".

EN BANC
Case No. L-28568 is an appeal by administrator Jose Borja from the
disapproval of the same compromise agreement by the Court of
G.R. No. L-28040 August 18, 1972 First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch II, in its Special Proceeding
No. 832, entitled, "Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja, Tasiana O.
TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSEFA TANGCO, JOSE DE BORJA, Vda. de de Borja, Special Administratrix".
administrator-appellee; JOSE DE BORJA, as administrator,
CAYETANO DE BORJA, MATILDE DE BORJA and CRISANTO And Case No. L-28611 is an appeal by administrator Jose de Borja
DE BORJA (deceased) as Children of Josefa Tangco, appellees, from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch X, in
vs. its Civil Case No. 7452, declaring the Hacienda Jalajala Poblacion,
TASIANA VDA. DE DE BORJA, Special Administratrix of the which is the main object of the aforesaid compromise agreement, as
Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja, appellant. . the separate and exclusive property of the late Francisco de Borja
and not a conjugal asset of the community with his first wife, Josefa
G.R. No L-28568 August 18, 1972 Tangco, and that said hacienda pertains exclusively to his testate
estate, which is under administrator in Special Proceeding No. 832
of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch II.
TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE FRANCISCO DE BORJA,
TASIANA O. VDA. DE DE BORJA, special Administratrix appellee,
vs. It is uncontested that Francisco de Borja, upon the death of his wife
JOSE DE BORJA, oppositor-appellant. Josefa Tangco on 6 October 1940, filed a petition for the probate of
her will which was docketed as Special Proceeding No. R-7866 of
the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch I. The will was probated
G.R. No. L-28611 August 18, 1972
on 2 April 1941. In 1946, Francisco de Borja was appointed executor
and administrator: in 1952, their son, Jose de Borja, was appointed
TASIANA 0. VDA. DE BORJA, as Administratrix of the Testate co-administrator. When Francisco died, on 14 April 1954, Jose
Estate of the late Francisco de Borja, plaintiff-appellee, became the sole administrator of the testate estate of his mother,
vs. Josefa Tangco. While a widower Francisco de Borja allegedly took
JOSE DE BORJA, as Administrator of the Testate Estate of the unto himself a second wife, Tasiana Ongsingco. Upon Francisco's
late Josefa Tangco, defendant-appellant. death, Tasiana instituted testate proceedings in the Court of First
Instance of Nueva Ecija, where, in 1955, she was appointed special
L-28040 administratrix. The validity of Tasiana's marriage to Francisco was
questioned in said proceeding.
Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir for administrator-appellee.
The relationship between the children of the first marriage and
Tasiana Ongsingco has been plagued with several court suits and
Quiogue & Quiogue for appellee Matilde de Borja.
counter-suits; including the three cases at bar, some eighteen (18)
cases remain pending determination in the courts. The testate estate
Andres Matias for appellee Cayetano de Borja. of Josefa Tangco alone has been unsettled for more than a quarter
of a century. In order to put an end to all these litigations, a
Sevilla & Aquino for appellant. compromise agreement was entered into on 12 October 1963,2 by
and between "[T]he heir and son of Francisco de Borja by his first
marriage, namely, Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of
L-28568
the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco," and "[T]he heir and surviving
spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage, Tasiana
Sevilla & Aquino for special administratrix-appellee. Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, assisted by her lawyer, Atty. Luis
Panaguiton Jr." The terms and conditions of the compromise
Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir for oppositor-appellant. agreement are as follows:

L-28611 AGREEMENT

Sevilla & Aquino for plaintiff-appellee. THIS AGREEMENT made and entered into by and between

Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir and David Gueverra for defendant- The heir and son of Francisco de Borja by his first marriage, namely,
appellant. Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the Testate Estate
of Josefa Tangco,

AND
REYES, J.B.L., J.:p
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 23
COMPILATION OF CASES

The heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second 5. In consideration of above payment to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de
marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, assisted by her lawyer, de Borja, Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the
Atty. Luis Panaguiton Jr. Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco, and Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de
de Borja, for themselves and for their heirs, successors, executors,
WITNESSETH administrators, and assigns, hereby forever mutually renounce,
withdraw, waive, remise, release and discharge any and all manner
of action or actions, cause or causes of action, suits, debts, sum or
THAT it is the mutual desire of all the parties herein terminate and sums of money, accounts, damages, claims and demands
settle, with finality, the various court litigations, controversies, claims, whatsoever, in law or in equity, which they ever had, or now have or
counterclaims, etc., between them in connection with the may have against each other, more specifically Sp. Proceedings
administration, settlement, partition, adjudication and distribution of Nos. 7866 and 1955, CFI-Rizal, and Sp. Proc. No. 832-Nueva Ecija,
the assets as well as liabilities of the estates of Francisco de Borja Civil Case No. 3033, CFI Nueva Ecija and Civil Case No. 7452-CFI,
and Josefa Tangco, first spouse of Francisco de Borja. Rizal, as well as the case filed against Manuel Quijal for perjury with
the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, the intention being to completely,
THAT with this end in view, the parties herein have agreed absolutely and finally release each other, their heirs, successors,
voluntarily and without any reservations to enter into and execute and assigns, from any and all liability, arising wholly or partially,
this agreement under the following terms and conditions: directly or indirectly, from the administration, settlement, and
distribution of the assets as well as liabilities of the estates of
1. That the parties agree to sell the Poblacion portion of the Jalajala Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco, first spouse of Francisco de
properties situated in Jalajala, Rizal, presently under administration Borja, and lastly, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja expressly
in the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco (Sp. Proc. No. 7866, Rizal), and specifically renounce absolutely her rights as heir over any
more specifically described as follows: hereditary share in the estate of Francisco de Borja.

Linda al Norte con el Rio Puwang que la separa de la jurisdiccion 6. That Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, upon receipt of the
del Municipio de Pililla de la Provincia de Rizal, y con el pico del payment under paragraph 4 hereof, shall deliver to the heir Jose de
Monte Zambrano; al Oeste con Laguna de Bay; por el Sur con los Borja all the papers, titles and documents belonging to Francisco de
herederos de Marcelo de Borja; y por el Este con los terrenos de la Borja which are in her possession and said heir Jose de Borja shall
Familia Maronilla with a segregated area of approximately 1,313 issue in turn the corresponding receive thereof.
hectares at the amount of P0.30 per square meter.
7. That this agreement shall take effect only upon the fulfillment of
2. That Jose de Borja agrees and obligates himself to pay Tasiana the sale of the properties mentioned under paragraph 1 of this
Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja the total amount of Eight Hundred agreement and upon receipt of the total and full payment of the
Thousand Pesos (P800,000) Philippine Currency, in cash, which proceeds of the sale of the Jalajala property "Poblacion", otherwise,
represent P200,000 as his share in the payment and P600,000 as the non-fulfillment of the said sale will render this instrument NULL
pro-rata shares of the heirs Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde, all AND VOID AND WITHOUT EFFECT THEREAFTER.
surnamed de Borja and this shall be considered as full and complete
payment and settlement of her hereditary share in the estate of the IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have her unto set their
late Francisco de Borja as well as the estate of Josefa Tangco, Sp. hands in the City of Manila, Philippines, the 12th of October, 1963.
Proc. No. 832-Nueva Ecija and Sp. Proc. No. 7866-Rizal,
respectively, and to any properties bequeathed or devised in her On 16 May 1966, Jose de Borja submitted for Court approval the
favor by the late Francisco de Borja by Last Will and Testament or agreement of 12 October 1963 to the Court of First Instance of Rizal,
by Donation Inter Vivos or Mortis Causa or purportedly conveyed to in Special Proceeding No. R-7866; and again, on 8 August 1966, to
her for consideration or otherwise. The funds for this payment shall the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, in Special Proceeding No.
be taken from and shall depend upon the receipt of full payment of 832. Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja opposed in both
the proceeds of the sale of Jalajala, "Poblacion." instances. The Rizal court approved the compromise agreement, but
the Nueva Ecija court declared it void and unenforceable. Special
3. That Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja hereby assumes administratrix Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja appealed the
payment of that particular obligation incurred by the late Francisco Rizal Court's order of approval (now Supreme Court G.R. case No.
de Borja in favor of the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation, now L-28040), while administrator Jose de Borja appealed the order of
Development Bank of the Philippines, amounting to approximately disapproval (G.R. case No. L-28568) by the Court of First Instance
P30,000.00 and also assumes payment of her 1/5 share of the of Nueva Ecija.
Estate and Inheritance taxes on the Estate of the late Francisco de
Borja or the sum of P3,500.00, more or less, which shall be The genuineness and due execution of the compromised agreement
deducted by the buyer of Jalajala, "Poblacion" from the payment to of 12 October 1963 is not disputed, but its validity is, nevertheless,
be made to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja under paragraph 2 of attacked by Tasiana Ongsingco on the ground that: (1) the heirs
this Agreement and paid directly to the Development Bank of the cannot enter into such kind of agreement without first probating the
Philippines and the heirs-children of Francisco de Borja. will of Francisco de Borja; (2) that the same involves a compromise
on the validity of the marriage between Francisco de Borja and
4. Thereafter, the buyer of Jalajala "Poblacion" is hereby authorized Tasiana Ongsingco; and (3) that even if it were valid, it has ceased
to pay directly to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja the balance to have force and effect.
of the payment due her under paragraph 2 of this Agreement
(approximately P766,500.00) and issue in the name of Tasiana In assailing the validity of the agreement of 12 October 1963,
Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, corresponding certified Tasiana Ongsingco and the Probate Court of Nueva Ecija rely on
checks/treasury warrants, who, in turn, will issue the corresponding this Court's decision in Guevara vs. Guevara. 74 Phil. 479, wherein
receipt to Jose de Borja. the Court's majority held the view that the presentation of a will for
probate is mandatory and that the settlement and distribution of an
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 24
COMPILATION OF CASES

estate on the basis of intestacy when the decedent left a will, is It is likewise worthy of note in this connection that as the surviving
against the law and public policy. It is likewise pointed out by spouse of Francisco de Borja, Tasiana Ongsingco was his
appellant Tasiana Ongsingco that Section 1 of Rule 74 of the compulsory heir under article 995 et seq. of the present Civil Code.
Revised Rules explicitly conditions the validity of an extrajudicial Wherefore, barring unworthiness or valid disinheritance, her
settlement of a decedent's estate by agreement between heirs, upon successional interest existed independent of Francisco de Borja's
the facts that "(if) the decedent left no will and no debts, and the last will and testament and would exist even if such will were not
heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their judicial probated at all. Thus, the prerequisite of a previous probate of the
and legal representatives ..." The will of Francisco de Borja having will, as established in the Guevara and analogous cases, can not
been submitted to the Nueva Ecija Court and still pending probate apply to the case of Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja.
when the 1963 agreement was made, those circumstances, it is
argued, bar the validity of the agreement. Since the compromise contract Annex A was entered into by and
between "Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the
Upon the other hand, in claiming the validity of the compromise Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco" on the one hand, and on the other,
agreement, Jose de Borja stresses that at the time it was entered "the heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second
into, on 12 October 1963, the governing provision was Section 1, marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja", it is clear that the
Rule 74 of the original Rules of Court of 1940, which allowed the transaction was binding on both in their individual capacities, upon
extrajudicial settlement of the estate of a deceased person the perfection of the contract, even without previous authority of the
regardless of whether he left a will or not. He also relies on the Court to enter into the same. The only difference between an
dissenting opinion of Justice Moran, in Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 extrajudicial compromise and one that is submitted and approved by
Phil. 479, wherein was expressed the view that if the parties have the Court, is that the latter can be enforced by execution
already divided the estate in accordance with a decedent's will, the proceedings. Art. 2037 of the Civil Code is explicit on the point:
probate of the will is a useless ceremony; and if they have divided
the estate in a different manner, the probate of the will is worse than 8. Art. 2037. A compromise has upon the parties the effect and
useless. authority of res judicata; but there shall be no execution except in
compliance with a judicial compromise.
The doctrine of Guevara vs. Guevara, ante, is not applicable to the
case at bar. This is apparent from an examination of the terms of the It is argued by Tasiana Ongsingco that while the agreement Annex
agreement between Jose de Borja and Tasiana Ongsingco. A expressed no definite period for its performance, the same
Paragraph 2 of said agreement specifically stipulates that the sum of was intended to have a resolutory period of 60 days for its
P800,000 payable to Tasiana Ongsingco — effectiveness. In support of such contention, it is averred that such a
limit was expressly stipulated in an agreement in similar terms
shall be considered as full — complete payment — settlement of her entered into by said Ongsingco with the brothers and sister of Jose
hereditary share in the estate of the late Francisco de Borja as well de Borja, to wit, Crisanto, Matilde and Cayetano, all surnamed de
as the estate of Josefa Tangco, ... and to any properties bequeathed Borja, except that the consideration was fixed at P600,000
or devised in her favor by the late Francisco de Borja by Last Will (Opposition, Annex/Rec. of Appeal, L-28040, pp. 39- 46) and which
and Testament or by Donation Inter Vivos or Mortis Causa or contained the following clause:
purportedly conveyed to her for consideration or otherwise.
III. That this agreement shall take effect only upon the
This provision evidences beyond doubt that the ruling in the consummation of the sale of the property mentioned herein and
Guevara case is not applicable to the cases at bar. There was here upon receipt of the total and full payment of the proceeds of the sale
no attempt to settle or distribute the estate of Francisco de Borja by the herein owner heirs-children of Francisco de Borja, namely,
among the heirs thereto before the probate of his will. The clear Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde, all surnamed de Borja; Provided
object of the contract was merely the conveyance by Tasiana that if no sale of the said property mentioned herein is
Ongsingco of any and all her individual share and interest, actual or consummated, or the non-receipt of the purchase price thereof by
eventual in the estate of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco. the said owners within the period of sixty (60) days from the date
There is no stipulation as to any other claimant, creditor or legatee. hereof, this agreement will become null and void and of no further
And as a hereditary share in a decedent's estate is transmitted or effect.
vested immediately from the moment of the death of
such causante or predecessor in interest (Civil Code of the Ongsingco's argument loses validity when it is considered that Jose
Philippines, Art. 777)3 there is no legal bar to a successor (with de Borja was not a party to this particular contract (Annex 1), and
requisite contracting capacity) disposing of her or his hereditary that the same appears not to have been finalized, since it bears no
share immediately after such death, even if the actual extent of such date, the day being left blank "this — day of October 1963"; and
share is not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the while signed by the parties, it was not notarized, although plainly
estate.4 Of course, the effect of such alienation is to be deemed intended to be so done, since it carries a proposed notarial
limited to what is ultimately adjudicated to the vendor heir. However, ratification clause. Furthermore, the compromise contract with Jose
the aleatory character of the contract does not affect the validity of de Borja (Annex A), provides in its par. 2 heretofore transcribed that
the transaction; neither does the coetaneous agreement that the of the total consideration of P800, 000 to be paid to Ongsingco,
numerous litigations between the parties (the approving order of the P600,000 represent the "prorata share of the heirs Crisanto,
Rizal Court enumerates fourteen of them, Rec. App. pp. 79-82) are Cayetano and Matilde all surnamed de Borja" which corresponds to
to be considered settled and should be dismissed, although such the consideration of P600,000 recited in Annex 1, and that
stipulation, as noted by the Rizal Court, gives the contract the circumstance is proof that the duly notarized contract entered into
character of a compromise that the law favors, for obvious reasons, wit Jose de Borja under date 12 October 1963 (Annex A), was
if only because it serves to avoid a multiplicity of suits. designed to absorb and supersede the separate unformalize
agreement with the other three Borja heirs. Hence, the 60 days
resolutory term in the contract with the latter (Annex 1) not being
repeated in Annex A, can not apply to the formal compromise with
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 25
COMPILATION OF CASES

Jose de Borja. It is moreover manifest that the stipulation that the the opposition to the Court's approval of Annex "A" (Record on
sale of the Hacienda de Jalajala was to be made within sixty days Appeal, L-20840, page 23): that the same was invalid because of
from the date of the agreement with Jose de Borja's co-heirs (Annex the lapse of the allegedly intended resolutory period of 60 days and
1) was plainly omitted in Annex A as improper and ineffective, since because the contract was not preceded by the probate of Francisco
the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) that was to be sold to raise the de Borja's will, as required by this Court's Guevarra vs.
P800,000 to be paid to Ongsingco for her share formed part of the Guevara ruling; that Annex "A" involved a compromise affecting
estate of Francisco de Borja and could not be sold until authorized Ongsingco's status as wife and widow of Francisco de Borja, etc., all
by the Probate Court. The Court of First Instance of Rizal so of which objections have been already discussed. It was natural that
understood it, and in approving the compromise it fixed a term of in view of the widow's attitude, Jose de Borja should attempt to
120 days counted from the finality of the order now under appeal, for reach a new settlement or novatory agreement before seeking
the carrying out by the parties for the terms of the contract. judicial sanction and enforcement of Annex "A", since the latter step
might ultimately entail a longer delay in attaining final remedy. That
This brings us to the plea that the Court of First Instance of Rizal the attempt to reach another settlement failed is apparent from the
had no jurisdiction to approve the compromise with Jose de Borja letter of Ongsingco's counsel to Jose de Borja quoted in pages 35-
(Annex A) because Tasiana Ongsingco was not an heir in the estate 36 of the brief for appellant Ongsingco in G.R. No. 28040; and it is
of Josefa Tangco pending settlement in the Rizal Court, but she was more than probable that the order of 21 September 1964 and the
an heir of Francisco de Borja, whose estate was the object of motion of 17 June 1964 referred to the failure of the parties' quest for
Special Proceeding No. 832 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva a more satisfactory compromise. But the inability to reach a novatory
Ecija. This circumstance is irrelevant, since what was sold by accord can not invalidate the original compromise (Annex "A") and
Tasiana Ongsingco was only her eventual share in the estate of her justifies the act of Jose de Borja in finally seeking a court order for its
late husband, not the estate itself; and as already shown, that approval and enforcement from the Court of First Instance of Rizal,
eventual share she owned from the time of Francisco's death and which, as heretofore described, decreed that the agreement be
the Court of Nueva Ecija could not bar her selling it. As owner of her ultimately performed within 120 days from the finality of the order,
undivided hereditary share, Tasiana could dispose of it in favor of now under appeal.
whomsoever she chose. Such alienation is expressly recognized
and provided for by article 1088 of the present Civil Code: We conclude that in so doing, the Rizal court acted in accordance
with law, and, therefore, its order should be upheld, while the
Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a contrary resolution of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija
stranger before the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be should be, and is, reversed.
subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him for the
price of the sale, provided they do so within the period of one month In her brief, Tasiana Ongsingco also pleads that the time elapsed in
from the time they were notified in writing of the sale of the vendor. the appeal has affected her unfavorably, in that while the purchasing
power of the agreed price of P800,000 has diminished, the value of
If a sale of a hereditary right can be made to a stranger, then a the Jalajala property has increased. But the fact is that her delay in
fortiori sale thereof to a coheir could not be forbidden. receiving the payment of the agreed price for her hereditary interest
was primarily due to her attempts to nullify the agreement (Annex
"A") she had formally entered into with the advice of her counsel,
Tasiana Ongsingco further argues that her contract with Jose de Attorney Panaguiton. And as to the devaluation de facto of our
Borja (Annex "A") is void because it amounts to a compromise as to currency, what We said in Dizon Rivera vs. Dizon, L-24561, 30 June
her status and marriage with the late Francisco de Borja. The point 1970, 33 SCRA 554, that "estates would never be settled if there
is without merit, for the very opening paragraph of the agreement were to be a revaluation with every subsequent fluctuation in the
with Jose de Borja (Annex "A") describes her as "the heir and values of currency and properties of the estate", is particularly
surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage, opposite in the present case.
Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja", which is in itself definite
admission of her civil status. There is nothing in the text of the
agreement that would show that this recognition of Ongsingco's Coming now to Case G.R. No. L-28611, the issue is whether the
status as the surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja was only made Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion), concededly acquired by Francisco
in consideration of the cession of her hereditary rights. de Borja during his marriage to his first wife, Josefa Tangco, is the
husband's private property (as contended by his second spouse,
Tasiana Ongsingco), or whether it forms part of the conjugal
It is finally charged by appellant Ongsingco, as well as by the Court (ganancial) partnership with Josefa Tangco. The Court of First
of First Instance of Nueva Ecija in its order of 21 September 1964, in Instance of Rizal (Judge Herminio Mariano, presiding) declared that
Special Proceedings No. 832 (Amended Record on Appeal in L- there was adequate evidence to overcome the presumption in favor
28568, page 157), that the compromise agreement of 13 October of its conjugal character established by Article 160 of the Civil Code.
1963 (Annex "A") had been abandoned, as shown by the fact that,
after its execution, the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, in its
order of 21 September 1964, had declared that "no amicable We are of the opinion that this question as between Tasiana
settlement had been arrived at by the parties", and that Jose de Ongsingco and Jose de Borja has become moot and academic, in
Borja himself, in a motion of 17 June 1964, had stated that the view of the conclusion reached by this Court in the two preceding
proposed amicable settlement "had failed to materialize". cases (G.R. No. L-28568), upholding as valid the cession of Tasiana
Ongsingco's eventual share in the estate of her late husband,
Francisco de Borja, for the sum of P800,000 with the accompanying
It is difficult to believe, however, that the amicable settlement reciprocal quit-claims between the parties. But as the question may
referred to in the order and motion above-mentioned was the affect the rights of possible creditors and legatees, its resolution is
compromise agreement of 13 October 1963, which already had still imperative.
been formally signed and executed by the parties and duly
notarized. What the record discloses is that some time after its
formalization, Ongsingco had unilaterally attempted to back out from
the compromise agreement, pleading various reasons restated in
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 26
COMPILATION OF CASES

It is undisputed that the Hacienda Jalajala, of around 4,363 Proceedings No. 7866 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal" (Exhibit
hectares, had been originally acquired jointly by Francisco de Borja, "4").
Bernardo de Borja and Marcelo de Borja and their title thereto was
duly registered in their names as co-owners in Land Registration Notwithstanding the four statements aforesaid, and the fact that they
Case No. 528 of the province of Rizal, G.L.R.O. Rec. No. 26403 (De are plain admissions against interest made by both Francisco de
Barjo vs. Jugo, 54 Phil. 465). Subsequently, in 1931, the Hacienda Borja and the Administratrix of his estate, in the course of judicial
was partitioned among the co-owners: the Punta section went to proceedings in the Rizal and Nueva Ecija Courts, supporting the
Marcelo de Borja; the Bagombong section to Bernardo de Borja, and legal presumption in favor of the conjugal community, the Court
the part in Jalajala proper (Poblacion) corresponded to Francisco de below declared that the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) was not
Borja (V. De Borja vs. De Borja 101 Phil. 911, 932). conjugal property, but the private exclusive property of the late
Francisco de Borja. It did so on the strength of the following
The lot allotted to Francisco was described as — evidences: (a) the sworn statement by Francis de Borja on 6 August
1951 (Exhibit "F") that —
Una Parcela de terreno en Poblacion, Jalajala: N. Puang River; E.
Hermogena Romero; S. Heirs of Marcelo de Borja O. Laguna de He tomado possession del pedazo de terreno ya delimitado
Bay; containing an area of 13,488,870 sq. m. more or less, (equivalente a 1/4 parte, 337 hectareas) adjunto a mi terreno
assessed at P297,410. (Record on Appeal, pages 7 and 105) personal y exclusivo (Poblacion de Jalajala, Rizal).

On 20 November 1962, Tasiana O. Vda. de Borja, as Administratrix and (b) the testimony of Gregorio de Borja, son of Bernardo de
of the Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja, instituted a complaint in Borja, that the entire Hacienda had been bought at a foreclosure
the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Civil Case No. 7452) against sale for P40,100.00, of which amount P25,100 was contributed by
Jose de Borja, in his capacity as Administrator of Josefa Tangco Bernardo de Borja and P15,000. by Marcelo de Borja; that upon
(Francisco de Borja's first wife), seeking to have the Hacienda above receipt of a subsequent demand from the provincial treasurer for
described declared exclusive private property of Francisco, while in realty taxes the sum of P17,000, Marcelo told his brother Bernardo
his answer defendant (now appellant) Jose de Borja claimed that it that Francisco (son of Marcelo) wanted also to be a co-owner, and
was conjugal property of his parents (Francisco de Borja and Josefa upon Bernardo's assent to the proposal, Marcelo issue a check for
Tangco), conformably to the presumption established by Article 160 P17,000.00 to pay the back taxes and said that the amount would
of the Philippine Civil Code (reproducing Article 1407 of the Civil represent Francisco's contribution in the purchase of the Hacienda.
Code of 1889), to the effect that: The witness further testified that —

Art. 160. All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the Marcelo de Borja said that that money was entrusted to him by
conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively Francisco de Borja when he was still a bachelor and which he
to the husband or to the wife. derived from his business transactions. (Hearing, 2 February 1965,
t.s.n., pages 13-15) (Emphasis supplied)
Defendant Jose de Borja further counterclaimed for damages,
compensatory, moral and exemplary, as well as for attorney's fees. The Court below, reasoning that not only Francisco's sworn
statement overweighed the admissions in the inventories relied upon
After trial, the Court of First Instance of Rizal, per Judge Herminio by defendant-appellant Jose de Borja since probate courts can not
Mariano, held that the plaintiff had adduced sufficient evidence to finally determine questions of ownership of inventoried property, but
rebut the presumption, and declared the Hacienda de Jalajala that the testimony of Gregorio de Borja showed that Francisco de
(Poblacion) to be the exclusive private property of the late Francisco Borja acquired his share of the original Hacienda with his private
de Borja, and his Administratrix, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, funds, for which reason that share can not be regarded as conjugal
to be entitled to its possession. Defendant Jose de Borja then partnership property, but as exclusive property of the buyer,
appealed to this Court. pursuant to Article 1396(4) of Civil Code of 1889 and Article 148(4)
of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

The evidence reveals, and the appealed order admits, that the
character of the Hacienda in question as owned by the conjugal The following shall be the exclusive property of each spouse:
partnership De Borja-Tangco was solemnly admitted by the late
Francisco de Borja no less than two times: first, in the Reamended xxx xxx xxx
Inventory that, as executor of the estate of his deceased wife Josefa
Tangco, he filed in the Special Proceedings No. 7866 of the Court of (4) That which is purchased with exclusive money of the wife or of
First Instance of Rizal on 23 July 1953 (Exhibit "2"); and again, in the the husband.
Reamended Accounting of the same date, also filed in the
proceedings aforesaid (Exhibit "7"). Similarly, the plaintiff Tasiana O.
Vda. de Borja, herself, as oppositor in the Estate of Josefa Tangco, We find the conclusions of the lower court to be untenable. In the
submitted therein an inventory dated 7 September 1954 (Exhibit "3") first place, witness Gregorio de Borja's testimony as to the source of
listing the Jalajala property among the "Conjugal Properties of the the money paid by Francisco for his share was plain hearsay, hence
Spouses Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco". And once more, inadmissible and of no probative value, since he was merely
Tasiana Ongsingco, as administratrix of the Estate of Francisco de repeating what Marcelo de Borja had told him (Gregorio). There is
Borja, in Special Proceedings No. 832 of the Court of First Instance no way of ascertaining the truth of the statement, since both Marcelo
of Nueva Ecija, submitted therein in December, 1955, an inventory and Francisco de Borja were already dead when Gregorio testified.
wherein she listed the Jalajala Hacienda under the heading In addition, the statement itself is improbable, since there was no
"Conjugal Property of the Deceased Spouses Francisco de Borja need or occasion for Marcelo de Borja to explain to Gregorio how
and Josefa Tangco, which are in the possession of the Administrator and when Francisco de Borja had earned the P17,000.00 entrusted
of the Testate Estate of the Deceased Josefa Tangco in Special to Marcelo. A ring of artificiality is clearly discernible in this portion of
Gregorio's testimony.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 27
COMPILATION OF CASES

As to Francisco de Borja's affidavit, Exhibit "F", the quoted portion


thereof (ante, page 14) does not clearly demonstrate that the "mi
terreno personal y exclusivo (Poblacion de Jalajala, Rizal) " refers
precisely to the Hacienda in question. The inventories (Exhibits 3
and 4) disclose that there were two real properties in Jalajala owned
by Francisco de Borja, one of 72.038 sq. m., assessed at P44,600,
and a much bigger one of 1,357.260.70 sq. m., which is evidently
the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion). To which of these lands did
the affidavit of Francisco de Borja (Exhibit "F") refer to? In addition,
Francisco's characterization of the land as "mi terreno personal y
exclusivo" is plainly self-serving, and not admissible in the absence
of cross examination.

It may be true that the inventories relied upon by defendant-


appellant (Exhibits "2", "3", "4" and "7") are not conclusive on the
conjugal character of the property in question; but as already noted,
they are clear admissions against the pecuniary interest of the
declarants, Francisco de Borja and his executor-widow, Tasiana
Ongsingco, and as such of much greater probative weight than the
self-serving statement of Francisco (Exhibit "F"). Plainly, the legal
presumption in favor of the conjugal character of the Hacienda de
Jalajala (Poblacion) now in dispute has not been rebutted but
actually confirmed by proof. Hence, the appealed order should be
reversed and the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) declared
property of the conjugal partnership of Francisco de Borja and
Josefa Tangco.

No error having been assigned against the ruling of the lower court
that claims for damages should be ventilated in the corresponding
special proceedings for the settlement of the estates of the
deceased, the same requires no pro announcement from this Court.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed order of the Court of


First Instance of Rizal in Case No. L-28040 is hereby affirmed; while
those involved in Cases Nos. L-28568 and L-28611 are reversed
and set aside. Costs against the appellant Tasiana Ongsingco Vda.
de Borja in all three (3) cases.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 28
COMPILATION OF CASES

REYES v. ENRIQUEZ daughters – Graciana, who died single and without issue, and Etta,
the wife of respondent Peter and mother of respondent Deborah Ann
– who succeeded their parents’ rights and took possession of the
Republic of the Philippines
1051 sq. m. of the subject parcel of land. During her lifetime,
SUPREME COURT
Graciana sold her share over the land to Etta. Thus, making the
Baguio City
latter the sole owner of the one-half share of the subject parcel of
land. Subsequently, Etta died and the property passed on to
FIRST DIVISION petitioners Peter and Deborah Ann by virtue of an Extra-Judicial
Settlement of Estate. On June 19, 1999, petitioners Peter and
G.R. No. 162956 April 10, 2008 Deborah Ann sold 200 sq. m. out of the 1051 sq. m. for P200,000.00
to Spouses Dionisio and Catalina Fernandez (Spouses Fernandez),
also their co-respondents in the case at bar. After the sale, Spouses
FAUSTINO REYES, ESPERIDION REYES, JULIETA C. RIVERA,
Fernandez took possession of the said area in the subject parcel of
and EUTIQUIO DICO, JR., petitioners,
land.4
vs.
PETER B. ENRIQUEZ, for himself and Attorney-in-Fact of his
daughter DEBORAH ANN C. ENRIQUEZ, and SPS. DIONISIO When Spouses Fernandez, tried to register their share in the subject
FERNANDEZ and CATALINA FERNANDEZ, respondents. land, they discovered that certain documents prevent them from
doing so: (1) Affidavit by Anacleto Cabrera dated March 16, 1957
stating that his share in Lot No. 1851, the subject property, is
approximately 369 sq. m.; (2) Affidavit by Dionisia Reyes dated July
13, 1929 stating that Anacleto only owned ¼ of Lot No. 1851, while
DECISION 302.55 sq. m. belongs to Dionisia and the rest of the property is co-
owned by Nicolasa Bacalso, Juan Reyes, Florentino Reyes and
PUNO, C.J.: Maximiano Dico; (3) Extra-Judicial Settlement with Sale of the
Estate of Dionisia Reyes dated April 17, 1996; (4) certificates of title
in the name of the herein petitioners; and (5) Deed of Segregation of
This case is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Real Estate and Confirmation of Sale dated March 21, 1997
Revised Rules of Court from the decision of the Court of Appeals
executed by the alleged heirs of Dionisia Reyes and Anacleto
(CA) dated September 29, 2003 in CA G.R. CV No. 68147, entitled
Cabrera. Alleging that the foregoing documents are fraudulent and
"Peter B. Enriquez, et al. v. Faustino Reyes, et al., reversing the
fictitious, the respondents filed a complaint for annulment or
decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch XI
nullification of the aforementioned documents and for
dated June 29, 2000, which dismissed the complaint filed by the
damages. 5 They likewise prayed for the "repartition and
respondents herein.1
resubdivision" of the subject property.6

The subject matter of the present case is a parcel of land known as


The RTC, upon motion of the herein petitioners, dismissed the case
Lot No. 1851 Flr-133 with an aggregate area of 2,017 square meters
on the ground that the respondents-plaintiffs were actually seeking
located in Talisay, Cebu.2
first and foremost to be declared heirs of Anacleto Cabrera since
they can not demand the partition of the real property without first
According to petitioners Faustino Reyes, Esperidion Reyes, Julieta being declared as legal heirs and such may not be done in an
C. Rivera, and Eutiquio Dico, Jr., they are the lawful heirs of Dionisia ordinary civil action, as in this case, but through a special
Reyes who co-owned the subject parcel of land with Anacleto proceeding specifically instituted for the purpose.7
Cabrera as evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT-
3551 (T-8070). On April 17, 1996, petitioners executed an
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed the RTC and
Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale of the Estate of Dionisia Reyes
directed the trial court to proceed with the hearing of the case. 8 The
(the Extra Judicial Settlement) involving a portion of the subject
Motion for Reconsideration filed by the herein petitioners was
parcel of land. On March 21, 1997, the petitioners and the known
similarly denied.9
heirs of Anacleto Cabrera executed a Segregation of Real Estate
and Confirmation of Sale (the Segregation and Confirmation) over
the same property. By virtue of the aforestated documents, TCT No. Hence this petition.
RT-35551 (T-8070) was cancelled and new TCTs were issued: (1)
TCT No. T-98576 in the name of Anacleto Cabrera covering Lot The primary issue in this case is whether or not the respondents
1851-A; (2) TCT No. T-98577 covering Lot 1851-B in the name of have to institute a special proceeding to determine their status as
petitioner Eutiquio Dico, Jr.; (3) TCT No. T-98578 covering Lot 1851- heirs of Anacleto Cabrera before they can file an ordinary civil action
C in the name of petitioner Faustino Reyes; (4) TCT No. T-98579 to nullify the affidavits of Anacleto Cabrera and Dionisia Reyes, the
covering Lot 1851-D in the name of petitioner Esperidion Reyes; (5) Extra-Judicial Settlement with the Sale of Estate of Dionisia Reyes,
TCT No. T-98580 covering Lot 1851-E in the name of petitioner and the Deed of Segregation of Real Estate and Confirmation of
Julieta G. Rivera; (6) TCT No. T-98581 covering Lot 1851-F in the Sale executed by the heirs of Dionisia Reyes and the heirs of
name of Felipe Dico; and (7) TCT No. T-98582 covering Lot 1851-G Anacleto Cabrera, as well as to cancel the new transfer certificates
in the name of Archimedes C. Villaluz.3 of title issued by virtue of the above-questioned documents.

Respondents Peter B. Enriquez (Peter) for himself and on behalf of We answer in the affirmative.
his minor daughter Deborah Ann C. Enriquez (Deborah Ann), also
known as Dina Abdullah Enriquez Alsagoff, on the other hand,
An ordinary civil action is one by which a party sues another for the
alleges that their predecessor-in-interest Anacleto Cabrera and his
enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a
wife Patricia Seguera Cabrera (collectively the Spouses Cabrera)
wrong.10 A special proceeding, on the other hand, is a remedy by
owned ½ pro-indiviso share in the subject parcel of land or 1051 sq.
which a party seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular
m. They further allege that Spouses Cabrera were survived by two
fact.11
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 29
COMPILATION OF CASES

The Rules of Court provide that only a real party in interest is of the aforementioned Yaptinchays — that they have been declared
allowed to prosecute and defend an action in court. 12A real party in the legal heirs of the deceased couple. Now, the determination of
interest is the one who stands to be benefited or injured by the who are the legal heirs of the deceased couple must be made in the
judgment in the suit or the one entitled to the avails thereof. 13 Such proper special proceedings in court, and not in an ordinary suit for
interest, to be considered a real interest, must be one which is reconveyance of property. This must take precedence over the
present and substantial, as distinguished from a mere expectancy, action for reconveyance.24
or a future, contingent, subordinate or consequential interest. 14 A
plaintiff is a real party in interest when he is the one who has a legal In the same manner, the respondents herein, except for their
right to enforce or protect, while a defendant is a real party in allegations, have yet to substantiate their claim as the legal heirs of
interest when he is the one who has a correlative legal obligation to Anacleto Cabrera who are, thus, entitled to the subject property.
redress a wrong done to the plaintiff by reason of the defendant’s act Neither is there anything in the records of this case which would
or omission which had violated the legal right of the former.15 The show that a special proceeding to have themselves declared as
purpose of the rule is to protect persons against undue and heirs of Anacleto Cabrera had been instituted. As such, the trial
unnecessary litigation.16 It likewise ensures that the court will have court correctly dismissed the case for there is a lack of cause of
the benefit of having before it the real adverse parties in the action when a case is instituted by parties who are not real parties in
consideration of a case.17 Thus, a plaintiff’s right to institute an interest. While a declaration of heirship was not prayed for in the
ordinary civil action should be based on his own right to the relief complaint, it is clear from the allegations therein that the right the
sought. respondents sought to protect or enforce is that of an heir of one of
the registered co-owners of the property prior to the issuance of the
In cases wherein alleged heirs of a decedent in whose name a new transfer certificates of title that they seek to cancel. Thus, there
property was registered sue to recover the said property through the is a need to establish their status as such heirs in the proper forum.
institution of an ordinary civil action, such as a complaint for
reconveyance and partition,18 or nullification of transfer certificate of Furthermore, in Portugal,25 the Court held that it would be
titles and other deeds or documents related thereto, 19 this Court has superfluous to still subject the estate to administration proceedings
consistently ruled that a declaration of heirship is improper in an since a determination of the parties' status as heirs could be
ordinary civil action since the matter is "within the exclusive achieved in the ordinary civil case filed because it appeared from the
competence of the court in a special proceeding." 20 In the recent records of the case that the only property left by the decedent was
case of Portugal v. Portugal-Beltran,21 the Court had the occasion the subject matter of the case and that the parties have already
to clarify its ruling on the issue at hand, to wit: presented evidence to establish their right as heirs of the decedent.
In the present case, however, nothing in the records of this case
The common doctrine in Litam, Solivio and Guilas in which the shows that the only property left by the deceased Anacleto Cabrera
adverse parties are putative heirs to the estate of a decedent or is the subject lot, and neither had respondents Peter and Deborah
parties to the special proceedings for its settlement is that if the Ann presented any evidence to establish their rights as heirs,
special proceedings are pending, or if there are no special considering especially that it appears that there are other heirs of
proceedings filed but there is, under the circumstances of the Anacleto Cabrera who are not parties in this case that had signed
case, a need to file one, then the determination of, among other one of the questioned documents. Hence, under the circumstances
issues, heirship should be raised and settled in said special in this case, this Court finds that a determination of the rights of
proceedings. Where special proceedings had been instituted but respondents Peter and Deborah Ann as heirs of Anacleto Cabrera in
had been finally closed and terminated, however, or if a putative heir a special proceeding is necessary.
has lost the right to have himself declared in the special proceedings
as co-heir and he can no longer ask for its re-opening, then an IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the
ordinary civil action can be filed for his declaration as heir in order to Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED and the decision of the
bring about the annulment of the partition or distribution or Regional Trial Court dated June 29, 2000 DISMISSING the
adjudication of a property or properties belonging to the estate of the complaint is REINSTATED.
deceased.22

No costs.
In the instant case, while the complaint was denominated as an
action for the "Declaration of Non-Existency[sic], Nullity of Deeds,
and Cancellation of Certificates of Title, etc.," a review of the SO ORDERED.
allegations therein reveals that the right being asserted by the
respondents are their right as heirs of Anacleto Cabrera who they
claim co-owned one-half of the subject property and not merely one-
fourth as stated in the documents the respondents sought to annul.
As correctly pointed out by the trial court, the ruling in the case
of Heirs of Guido Yaptinchay v. Hon. Roy del Rosario23 is
applicable in the case at bar. In the said case, the petitioners
therein, claiming to be the legal heirs of the late Guido and Isabel
Yaptinchay filed for annulment of the transfer certificates of title
issued in the name of Golden Bay Realty Corporation on the ground
that the subject properties rightfully belong to the petitioners’
predecessor and by virtue of succession have passed on to them. In
affirming the trial court therein, this Court ruled:

...(T)he plaintiffs who claimed to be the legal heirs of the said Guido
and Isabel Yaptinchay have not shown any proof or even a
semblance of it — except the allegations that they are the legal heirs
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 30
COMPILATION OF CASES

PORTUGAL v. PORTUGAL-BELTRAN No. 34292/T-17213 in Portugal’s name was subsequently cancelled


and in its stead TCT No. 15981314 was issued by the Registry of
Deeds for Caloocan City on March 9, 1988 in the name of
Republic of the Philippines
respondent, "Leonila Portugal-Beltran, married to Merardo M.
SUPREME COURT
Beltran, Jr."

THIRD DIVISION
Later getting wind of the death in 1985 of Portugal and still later of
the 1988 transfer by respondent of the title to the Caloocan property
G.R. No. 155555. August 16, 2005 in her name, petitioners filed before the RTC of Caloocan City on
July 23, 1996 a complaint15against respondent for annulment of the
ISABEL P. PORTUGAL and JOSE DOUGLAS PORTUGAL Affidavit of Adjudication executed by her and the transfer certificate
JR., Petitioners, of title issued in her name.
vs.
LEONILA PORTUGAL-BELTRAN, Respondent. In their complaint, petitioners alleged that respondent is not related
whatsoever to the deceased Portugal, hence, not entitled to inherit
the Caloocan parcel of land and that she perjured herself when she
made false representations in her Affidavit of Adjudication.

DECISION
Petitioners accordingly prayed that respondent’s Affidavit of
Adjudication and the TCT in her name be declared void and that the
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Registry of Deeds for Caloocan be ordered to cancel the TCT in
respondent’s name and to issue in its stead a new one in their
Petitioners Isabel P. Portugal and her son, Jose Douglas Portugal (petitioners’) name, and that actual, moral and exemplary damages
Jr., assail the September 24, 20021 Decision of the Court of Appeals and attorney’s fees and litigation expenses be awarded to them.
affirming that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City,
Branch 1242 which dismissed, after trial, their complaint
Following respondent’s filing of her answer, the trial court issued a
for annulment of title for failure to state a cause of action and lack
Pre-Trial Order chronicling, among other things, the issues as
of jurisdiction.
follows:

From the records of the case are gathered the following


a. Which of the two (2) marriages contracted by the deceased Jose
material allegations claims of the parties which they sought to
Q. Portugal Sr., is valid?
prove by testimonial and documentary evidence during the trial of
the case:
b. Which of the plaintiff . . . Jose Portugal Jr. and defendant Leonila
P. Beltran is the legal heir of the deceased Jose Q. Portugal Sr.?
On November 25, 1942, Jose Q. Portugal (Portugal) married Paz
Lazo.3
c. Whether or not TCT No. 159813 was issued in due course and
4
can still be contested by plaintiffs.
On May 22, 1948, Portugal married petitioner Isabel de la Puerta.

d. Whether or not plaintiffs are entitled to their claims under the


On September 13, 1949, petitioner Isabel gave birth to a boy whom
complaint.16 (Underscoring supplied)
she named Jose Douglas Portugal Jr., her herein co-petitioner.5

After trial, the trial court, by Decision of January 18, 2001, 17 after
On April 11, 1950, Paz gave birth to a girl, Aleli,6 later baptized as
giving an account of the testimonies of the parties and their
Leonila Perpetua Aleli Portugal, herein respondent.7
witnesses and of their documentary evidence, without resolving the
issues defined during pre-trial, dismissed the case for lack of cause
On May 16, 1968, Portugal and his four (4) siblings executed a Deed of action on the ground that petitioners’ status and right as putative
of Extra-Judicial Partition and Waiver of Rights8 over the estate of heirs had not been established before a probate (sic) court, and lack
their father, Mariano Portugal, who died intestate on November 2, of jurisdiction over the case, citing Heirs of Guido and Isabel
1964.9 In the deed, Portugal’s siblings waived their rights, interests, Yaptinchay v. Del Rosario.18
and participation over a 155 sq. m. parcel of land located in
Caloocan in his favor.10
In relying on Heirs of Guido and Isabel Yaptinchay, the trial court
held:
On January 2, 1970, the Registry of Deeds for Caloocan City issued
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 34292 covering the Caloocan
The Heirs of Yaptinchay case arose from facts not dissimilar to the
parcel of land in the name of "Jose Q. Portugal, married to Paz C.
case at bar.
Lazo."11

xxx
On February 18, 1984, Paz died.

In the instant case, plaintiffs presented a Marriage Contract, a


On April 21, 1985, Portugal died intestate.
Certificate of Live Birth, pictures (sic) and testimonial evidence to
establish their right as heirs of the decedent. Thus, the preliminary
On February 15, 1988, respondent executed an "Affidavit of act of having a status and right to the estate of the decedent, was
Adjudication by Sole Heir of Estate of Deceased sought to be determined herein. However, the establishment of a
Person"12 adjudicating to herself the Caloocan parcel of land. TCT status, a right, or a particular fact is remedied through a special
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 31
COMPILATION OF CASES

proceeding (Sec. 3(c), Rule 1, 1997 Rules of Court), not an the parties herein have not, therefore, been definitively established,
ordinary civil action whereby a party sues another for the as yet. x x x. Necessarily and naturally, such questions as to such
enforcement or protection of a right, or the protection or redress of a status or right must be properly ventilated in an appropriate special
wrong (ibid, a). The operative term in the former is "to establish", proceeding, not in an ordinary civil action, whereunder a party sues
while in the latter, it is "to enforce", a right. Their status and right as another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the protection
putative heirs of the decedent not having been established, as yet, or redress of a wrong. The institution of an ordinary civil suit for that
the Complaint failed to state a cause of action. purpose in the present case is thus impermissible. For it is axiomatic
that what the law prohibits or forbids directly, it cannot permit or
The court, not being a probate (sic) court, is without jurisdiction to allow indirectly. To permit, or allow, a declaration of heirship, or the
rule on plaintiffs’ cause to establish their status and right herein. establishment of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child to be
Plaintiffs do not have the personality to sue (Secs. 1 and 2, Rule 3, determined in an ordinary civil action, not in an appropriate special
in relation to Secs. 1 and 2, Rule 2, supra).19 (Italics in the original; proceeding brought for that purpose, is thus to impinge upon this
emphasis and underscoring supplied). axiom. x x x21 (Emphasis in the original, underscoring supplied).

Petitioners thereupon appealed to the Court of Appeals, questioning The appellate court, by Decision of September 24, 2002, 22 thus
the trial court’s ratio decedendi in dismissing the case as affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the case.
diametrically opposed to this Court’s following ruling in Cariño v.
Cariño,20 viz: Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari,23 faulting the
appellate court to have erred when
Under Article 40 of the Family Code, the absolute nullity of a
previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the I.
basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage
void. Meaning, where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is . . . it affirmed the RTC decision dismissing the initiatory complaint
sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage, as it failed to state a cause of action.
the sole basis acceptable in law, for said projected marriage to be
free from legal infirmity, is a final judgment declaring the previous
void. (Domingo v. Court of Appeals, 226 SCRA 572, 579 [1993]) II.
However, for purposes other than remarriage, no judicial action is
necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. For other . . . (i) it applied the ruling in Heirs of Guido [and Isabel]
purposes, such as but not limited to the determination of heirship, Yaptingchay despite the existence of a later and contrary ruling
legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution in Cariño, and (ii) when the Honorable CA and the lower court failed
of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may to render judgment based on the evidence presented relative to
pass upon the validity of marriage even after the death of the parties the issues raised during pre-trial, . . .24 (Emphasis and
thereto, and even in a suit not directly instituted to question the underscoring supplied).
validity of said marriage, so long as it is essential to the
determination of the case. (Niñal, et al. v. Bayadog, GR No. Petitioners thus prayed as follows:
13378, March 14, 2000). In such cases, evidence must be adduced,
testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds
rendering such a previous marriage an absolute nullity. These need WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Supreme
not be limited solely to an earlier final judgment of a court declaring Court that the questioned CA decision be reversed, and a new one
entered in accordance with the prayers set forth in the instant
such previous marriage void. (Domingo v. Court of Appeals, supra)
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied). complaint based on the above disquisition and evidence adduced by
petitioners in the court a quo.

Conceding that the ruling in Cariño was promulgated (in 2001)


IN THE ALTERNATIVE, should the Honorable Supreme Court find
subsequent to that of Heirs of Guido and Isabel Yaptinchay (in
that the pronouncements in Cariño apply, a decision be
1999), the appellate court found Cariño to be inapplicable, however,
to the case in this wise: entered remanding to the court a quo the determination of the issues
of which of the two marriages is valid, and the determination of
"heirship" and legitimacy of Jose Jr. and Leonila preparatory to the
To be borne in mind is the fact that the main issue in determination of the annulment of title issued in the name of Leonila.
the Cariño case was the validity of the two marriages contracted by
the deceased SPO4 Santiago Cariño, whose death benefits was the
bone of contention between the two women both named Susan (viz., Other relief and remedy just and equitable in the premises are
likewise prayed for.25 (Underscoring supplied).
Susan Nicdao Cariño and Susan Yee Cariño) both of whom he
married. It is not disputed in said case that SPO4 S. Cariño
contracted two marriages with said two women during his lifetime, Petitioners, in the main, argue that the appellate court
and the only question was: which of these two marriages was validly misapplied Heirs of Guido and Isabel Yaptinchay and in effect
celebrated? The award of the death benefits of the deceased Cariño encouraged multiplicity of suits which is discouraged by this Court as
was thus, merely an incident to the question of which of the two a reading of Cariño shows; that Cariño allows courts to pass on the
marriages was valid. Upon the other hand, the case at bench is of a determination of heirship and the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child
different milieu. The main issue here is so long as it is necessary to the determination of the case; and that
the annulment of title to property. The only undisputed fact in this contrary to the appellate court’s ruling, they had established their
case is that the deceased Jose Portugal, during his lifetime, owned a status as compulsory heirs.
parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-
34292. However, here come two contending parties, — herein
plaintiffs-appellants and defendant-appellee, — both now insisting to
be the legal heir(s) of the decedent. x x x. The status and rights of
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 32
COMPILATION OF CASES

In the main, the issue in the present petition is whether petitioners et al. are not the children of the decedent whose only surviving heir
have to institute a special proceeding to determine their status as is Marcosa.
heirs before they can pursue the case for annulment of respondent’s
Affidavit of Adjudication and of the TCT issued in her name. On appeal to this Court by Dy Tam et al., one of the two issues
raised for determination was whether they are the legitimate children
In the above-cited case of Heirs of Guido and Isabel of Rafael Litam.
Yaptinchay,26 the therein petitioners executed on March 17, 1994 an
extrajudicial settlement of the estate of the deceased Guido and This Court, holding that the issue hinged on whether Rafael Litam
Isabel Yaptinchay, "owners-claimants" of the two lots mentioned and Sia Khin were married in 1911, and whether Rafael Litam is the
therein. They later discovered on August 26, 1994 that a portion, if father of appellants Dy Tam et al., found "substantially correct" the
not all, of the two lots had been titled in the name of the therein trial court’s findings of fact and its conclusion that, among other
respondent Golden Bay Realty and Development Corporation which things, the birth certificates of Dy Tam et al. "do not establish the
in turn sold portions thereof to the therein individual respondents. identity of the deceased Rafael Litam and the persons named
The therein petitioners Heirs thus filed a complaint for annulment of therein as father [and] it does not appear in the said certificates of
titles. The therein respondents moved to dismiss the case for failure birth that Rafael Litam had in any manner intervened in the
of the therein petitioners to, inter alia, state a cause of action and preparation and filing thereof"; and that "[t]he other documentary
prove their status as heirs. The trial court granted the motion to evidence presented by [them] [is] entirely immaterial and highly
dismiss in this wise: insufficient to prove the alleged marriage between the deceased
Rafael Litam and Sia Khin and [their] alleged status . . . as children
But the plaintiffs who claimed to be the legal heirs of the said Guido of said decedent."
and Isabel Yaptinchay have not shown any proof or even a
semblance of it—except the allegations that they are the legal heirs This Court went on to opine in Litam, however, that "the lower court
of the aforementioned Yaptinchays—that they have been declared should not have declared, in the decision appealed from, that
the legal heirs of the deceased couple. Now, the determination of Marcosa is the only heir of the decedent, for such declaration is
who are the legal heirs of the deceased couple must be made in the improper in the [civil case], it being within the exclusive competence
proper special proceedings in court, and not in an ordinary suit for of the court in [the] [s]pecial [p]roceeding."
reconveyance of property. This must take precedence over the
action for reconveyance . . .27 (Italics in the original; underscoring
supplied). In Solivio,31 also cited in Heirs of Guido and Isabel Yaptinchay,
there was a special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the
deceased, who was a soltero, filed before the RTC of Iloilo. In the
On petition for certiorari by the Heirs, this Court, albeit holding that special proceeding, Branch 23 of said court declared as sole heir
the petition was an improper recourse, found that the trial court did Celedonia Solivio, the decedent’s maternal aunt-half sister of his
not commit grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the case. mother. Concordia Javellana-Villanueva, the decedent‘s paternal
Citing Litam et al. v. Rivera28 and Solivio v. Court of Appeals,29 this aunt-sister of his father, moved to reconsider the court’s order
Court held that "the declaration of heirship can be made only in a declaring Celedonia Solivio as sole heir of the decedent, she
special proceeding inasmuch as the petitioners here are seeking the claiming that she too was an heir. The court denied the motion on
establishment of a status or right." the ground of tardiness. Instead of appealing the denial of her
motion, Concordia filed a civil case against Celedonia before the
In the above-cited case of Litam,30 Gregorio Dy Tam instituted a same RTC, for partition, recovery of possession, ownership and
special proceeding for issuance of letters of administration before damages. The civil case was raffled to Branch 26 of the RTC, which
the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Rizal, alleging in his petition rendered judgment in favor of Concordia. On appeal by Celedonia,
that he is the son of Rafael Litam who died in Manila on January 10, the appellate court affirmed the said judgment.
1951 and is survived by him and his therein named seven (7)
siblings who are children of the decedent by his marriage to Sia Khin On petition for review filed before this Court by Celedonia who
celebrated in China in 1911; that the decedent contracted in 1922 in posed, among other issues, "whether Branch 26 of the RTC of Iloilo
the Philippines another marriage with Marcosa Rivera; and that the had jurisdiction to entertain [the civil action] for partition and recovery
decedent left neither a will nor debt. Dy Tam thus prayed for the of Concordia Villanueva’s share of the estate of [the deceased] while
issuance of letters of administration to Marcosa Rivera, "the the [estate] proceedings . . . were still pending . . . in Branch 23 of
surviving spouse of the decedent." The CFI granted the petition and the same court," this Court held that "[i]n the interest of orderly
issued letters of administration to, on Marcosa’s request, her procedure and to avoid confusing and conflicting
nephew Arminio Rivera. dispositions of a decedent’s estate, a court should not interfere
with [estate] proceedings pending in a co-equal
While the special proceeding was pending, Dy Tam and his court," citing Guilas v. CFI Judge of Pampanga.32
purported siblings filed a civil case before the same court, against
the estate of Rafael Litam administrator Arminio Rivera and This Court, however, in Solivio, upon "[c]onsidering that the estate
Remedios R. Espiritu, duly appointed guardian of Marcosa. In their proceedings are still pending, but nonetheless [therein private
complaint, Dy Tam and his purported siblings substantially respondent-Concordia Villanueva] had lost her right to have herself
reproduced the allegations made in his petition in the special declared as co-heir in said proceedings, opted to proceed to discuss
proceeding, with the addition of a list of properties allegedly acquired the merits of her claim in the interest of justice," and declared her
during the marriage of the decedent and Marcosa. an heir of the decedent.

Finding the issue raised in the civil case to be identical to some In Guilas33 cited in Solivio, a project of partition between an adopted
unresolved incidents in the special proceeding, both were jointly daughter, the therein petitioner Juanita Lopez Guilas (Juanita), and
heard by the trial court, following which it rendered a decision in the her adoptive father was approved in the proceedings for the
civil case dismissing it, declaring, inter alia, that the plaintiffs Dy Tam settlement of the testate estate of the decedent-adoptive mother,
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 33
COMPILATION OF CASES

following which the probate court directed that the records of the proceedings filed but there is, under the circumstances of the case,
case be archived. a need to file one, then the determination of, among other issues,
heirship should be raised and settled in said special proceedings.
Juanita subsequently filed a civil action against her adoptive father Where special proceedings had been instituted but had been finally
to annul the project of partition on the ground of lesion, preterition closed and terminated, however, or if a putative heir has lost the
and fraud, and prayed that her adoptive father immediately deliver to right to have himself declared in the special proceedings as co-heir
her the two lots allocated to her in the project of partition. She and he can no longer ask for its re-opening, then an ordinary civil
subsequently filed a motion in the testate estate proceedings for her action can be filed for his declaration as heir in order to bring about
adoptive father to deliver to her, among other things, the same two the annulment of the partition or distribution or adjudication of a
lots allotted to her. property or properties belonging to the estate of the deceased.

After conducting pre-trial in the civil case, the trial court, noting the In the case at bar, respondent, believing rightly or wrongly that she
parties’ agreement to suspend action or resolution on Juanita’s was the sole heir to Portugal’s estate, executed on February 15,
motion in the testate estate proceedings for the delivery to her of the 198835 the questioned Affidavit of Adjudication under the second
two lots alloted to her until after her complaint in the civil case had sentence of Rule 74, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court. 36 Said
been decided, set said case for trial. rule is an exception to the general rule that when a person dies
leaving a property, it should be judicially administered and the
competent court should appoint a qualified administrator, in the
Juanita later filed in the civil case a motion to set aside the order order established in Sec. 6, Rule 78 in case the deceased left no
setting it for trial on the ground that in the amended complaint she, in will, or in case he did, he failed to name an executor therein.37
the meantime, filed, she acknowledged the partial legality and
validity of the project of partition insofar as she was allotted the two
lots, the delivery of which she was seeking. She thus posited in her Petitioners claim, however, to be the exclusive heirs of Portugal. A
motion to set aside the April 27, 1966 order setting the civil case for probate or intestate court, no doubt, has jurisdiction to declare who
hearing that there was no longer a prejudicial question to her motion are the heirs of a deceased.
in the testate estate proceedings for the delivery to her of the actual
possession of the two lots. The trial court, by order of April 27, 1966, It appearing, however, that in the present case the only property of
denied the motion. the intestate estate of Portugal is the Caloocan parcel of land, 38 to
still subject it, under the circumstances of the case, to a special
Juanita thereupon assailed the April 27, 1966 order before this proceeding which could be long, hence, not expeditious, just to
Court. establish the status of petitioners as heirs is not only impractical; it is
burdensome to the estate with the costs and expenses of an
administration proceeding. And it is superfluous in light of the fact
The probate court’s approval of the project of partition and directive that the parties to the civil case – subject of the present case, could
that the records of the case be sent to the archives notwithstanding, and had already in fact presented evidence before the trial court
this Court held that the testate estate proceedings had not been which assumed jurisdiction over the case upon the issues it defined
"legally terminated" as Juanita’s share under the project of partition during pre-trial.
had not been delivered to her. Explained this Court:

In fine, under the circumstances of the present case, there being no


As long as the order of the distribution of the estate has not been compelling reason to still subject Portugal’s estate to administration
complied with, the probate proceedings cannot be deemed closed proceedings since a determination of petitioners’ status as heirs
and terminated (Siguiong vs. Tecson, supra.); because a judicial could be achieved in the civil case filed by petitioners,39 the trial court
partition is not final and conclusive and does not prevent the heir should proceed to evaluate the evidence presented by the parties
from bringing an action to obtain his share, provided the prescriptive during the trial and render a decision thereon upon the issues it
period therefor has not elapse (Mari vs. Bonilla, 83 Phil., 137). The defined during pre-trial, which bear repeating, to wit:
better practice, however, for the heir who has not received his share,
is to demand his share through a proper motion in the same
probate or administration proceedings,or for re-opening of the 1. Which of the two (2) marriages contracted by the deceased Jose
probate or administrative proceedings if it had already been closed, Q. Portugal, is valid;
and not through an independent action, which would be tried
by another court or Judge which may thus reverse a decision or 2. Which of the plaintiff, Jose Portugal Jr. and defendant Leonila P.
order of the probate o[r] intestate court already final and Beltran is the legal heir of the deceased Jose Q. Portugal (Sr.);
executed and re-shuffle properties long ago distributed and
disposed of (Ramos vs. Ortuzar, 89 Phil. 730, 741-742; Timbol vs. 3. Whether or not TCT No. 159813 was issued in due course and
Cano, supra,; Jingco vs. Daluz, L-5107, April 24, 1953, 92 Phil. can still be contested by plaintiffs;
1082; Roman Catholic vs. Agustines, L-14710, March 29, 1960, 107
Phil., 455, 460-461).34 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).
4. Whether or not plaintiffs are entitled to their claim under the
complaint.40
This Court thus set aside the assailed April 27, 1966 order of the trial
court setting the civil case for hearing, but allowed the civil case to
continue because it "involves no longer" the two lots adjudicated to WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed
Juanita. September 24, 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby SET
ASIDE. Let the records of the case be REMANDED to the trial court,
Branch 124 of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, for it to
The common doctrine in Litam, Solivio and Guilas in which evaluate the evidence presented by the parties and render a
the adverse parties are putative heirs to the estate of a decedent or decision on the above-enumerated issues defined during the pre-
parties to the special proceedings for its settlement is that if the trial. No costs. SO ORDERED.
special proceedings are pending, or if there are no special
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 34
COMPILATION OF CASES

EXCEPTIONS October 1991, respectively. She further contended that the marriage
ceremony was performed in the Municipal Hall of Lal-lo, Cagayan,
ENRICO v. HEIRS OF SPS. MEDINACELI and solemnized by the Municipal Mayor. As an affirmative defense,
she sought the dismissal of the action on the ground that it is only
the contracting parties while living who can file an action for
Republic of the Philippines
declaration of nullity of marriage.
SUPREME COURT
Manila
On 11 October 2005, the RTC issued an Order,9 granting the
dismissal of the Complaint for lack of cause of action. It cited A.M.
THIRD DIVISION
No. 02-11-10-SC,10 dated 7 March 2003, promulgated by the
Supreme Court En Banc as basis. The RTC elucidated on its
G.R. No. 173614 September 28, 2007 position in the following manner:

LOLITA D. ENRICO, Petitioner, The Complaint should be dismissed.


vs.
HEIRS OF SPS. EULOGIO B. MEDINACELI AND TRINIDAD
1) Administrative Matter No. 02-11-10-SC promulgated by the
CATLI-MEDINACELI, REPRESENTED BY VILMA M.
Supreme Court which took effect on March 15, 2003 provides in
ARTICULO, Respondents.
Section 2, par. (a)11 that a petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity
of a Void Marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the
wife. The language of this rule is plain and simple which states that
such a petition may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. The
DECISION rule is clear and unequivocal that only the husband or the wife may
file the petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of a Void Marriage.
The reading of this Court is that the right to bring such petition is
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
exclusive and this right solely belongs to them. Consequently, the
heirs of the deceased spouse cannot substitute their late father in
The instant Petition for Certiorari filed under Rule 65 of the 1997 bringing the action to declare the marriage null and
Rules of Civil Procedure assails the Order,1 dated 3 May 2006 of the void.12 (Emphasis supplied.)
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch 6, in Civil
Case No. II-4057, granting reconsideration of its Order,2 dated 11
The dispositive portion of the Order, thus, reads:
October 2005, and reinstating respondents’ Complaint for
Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.
WHEREFORE, [the] Motion to Dismiss raised as an affirmative
defense in the answer is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the
On 17 March 2005, respondents, heirs of Spouses Eulogio B.
Complaint filed by the [respondents] is hereby DISMISSED with
Medinaceli (Eulogio) and Trinidad Catli-Medinaceli (Trinidad) filed
costs de officio. 13
with the RTC, an action for declaration of nullity of marriage of
Eulogio and petitioner Lolita D. Enrico. Substantially, the complaint
alleged, inter alia, that Eulogio and Trinidad were married on 14 Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereof. Following
June 1962, in Lal-lo, Cagayan.3 They begot seven children, herein the filing by petitioner of her Comment to the said motion, the RTC
respondents, namely: Eduardo, Evelyn, Vilma, Mary Jane, Haizel, rendered an Order14 dated 3 May 2006, reversing its Order of 11
Michelle and Joseph Lloyd.4 On 1 May 2004, Trinidad died.5 On 26 October 2005. Hence, the RTC reinstated the complaint on the
August 2004, Eulogio married petitioner before the Municipal Mayor ratiocination that the assailed Order ignored the ruling in Niñal v.
of Lal-lo, Cagayan.6 Six months later, or on 10 February 2005, Bayadog,15 which was on the authority for holding that the heirs of a
Eulogio passed away.7 deceased spouse have the standing to assail a void marriage even
after the death of the latter. It held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-
11-20-SC, which provides that a petition for declaration of absolute
In impugning petitioner’s marriage to Eulogio, respondents averred
nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the
that the same was entered into without the requisite marriage
wife, applies only where both parties to a void marriage are still
license. They argued that Article 348 of the Family Code, which
living.16 Where one or both parties are deceased, the RTC held that
exempts a man and a woman who have been living together for at
the heirs may file a petition to declare the marriage void. The RTC
least five years without any legal impediment from securing a
expounded on its stance, thus:
marriage license, was not applicable to petitioner and Eulogio
because they could not have lived together under the circumstances
required by said provision. Respondents posited that the marriage of The questioned Order disregarded the case of Niñal vs. Bayadog,
Eulogio to Trinidad was dissolved only upon the latter’s death, or on 328 SCRA 122 (March 14, 2000) in which the Supreme Court, First
1 May 2004, which was barely three months from the date of Division, held that the heirs of a deceased person may file a petition
marriage of Eulogio to petitioner. Therefore, petitioner and Eulogio for the declaration of his marriage after his death. The Order subject
could not have lived together as husband and wife for at least five of this motion for reconsideration held that the case of Niñal vs.
years. To further their cause, respondents raised the additional Bayadog is now superseded by the new Rule on Declaration of
ground of lack of marriage ceremony due to Eulogio’s serious illness Absolute Nullity of Marriages (hereinafter referred to as the Rule)
which made its performance impossible. because the Supreme Court has rejected the case of Niñal vs.
Bayadog by approving the Rule on Nullity of Void Marriages. The
Order further held that it is only the husband or the wife who is (sic)
In her Answer, petitioner maintained that she and Eulogio lived
the only parties allowed to file an action for declaration of nullity of
together as husband and wife under one roof for 21 years openly
their marriage and such right is purely personal and is not
and publicly; hence, they were exempted from the requirement of a
transmissible upon the death of the parties.
marriage license. From their union were born Elvin Enrico and
Marco Enrico, all surnamed Medinaceli, on 28 October 1988 and 30
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 35
COMPILATION OF CASES

It is admitted that there seems to be a conflict between the case of compelling reasons, or the nature and importance of the issues
Niñal vs. Bayadog and Section 2(a) of the Rule. In view of this, the raised, warrant the immediate exercise of its jurisdiction. 22 Moreover,
Court shall try to reconcile the case of Niñal vs. Bayadog and the notwithstanding the dismissibility of the instant Petition for its failure
Rule. To reconcile, the Court will have to determine [the] basic rights to observe the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts, this Court will
of the parties. The rights of the legitimate heirs of a person who proceed to entertain the case grounded as it is on a pure question of
entered into a void marriage will be prejudiced particularly with law.
respect to their successional rights. During the lifetime of the
parent[,] the heirs have only an inchoate right over the property of Petitioner maintains that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC governs the instant
the said parents. Hence, during the lifetime of the parent, it would be case. A contrario, respondents posit that it is Niñal which is
proper that it should solely be the parent who should be allowed to applicable, whereby the heirs of the deceased person were granted
file a petition to declare his marriage void. However, upon the death the right to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage
of the parent his heirs have already a vested right over whatever after his death.
property left by the parent. Such vested right should not be
frustrated by any rules of procedure such as the Rule. Rules of
Procedure cannot repeal rights granted by substantive law. The We grant the Petition.
heirs, then, have a legal standing in Court.
In reinstating respondents’ Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of
If the heirs are prohibited from questioning the void marriage entered Marriage, the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion.
by their parent, especially when the marriage is illegal and
feloniously entered into, it will give premium to such union because While it is true that Niñal in no uncertain terms allowed therein
the guilty parties will seldom, if ever at all, ask for the annulment of petitioners to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of their
the marriage. Such void marriage will be given a semblance of father’s marriage to therein respondent after the death of their father,
validity if the heirs will not be allowed to file the petition after the we cannot, however, apply its ruling for the reason that the
death of the parent. impugned marriage therein was solemnized prior to the effectivity of
the Family Code. The Court in Niñal recognized that the applicable
For these reasons, this Court believes that Sec. 2(a) of the Rules on law to determine the validity of the two marriages involved therein is
Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Marriage is applicable only when the Civil Code, which was the law in effect at the time of their
both parties to a (sic) void marriage are still living. Upon the death of celebration.23 What we have before us belongs to a different milieu,
anyone of the guilty party to the void marriage, his heirs may file a i.e., the marriage sought to be declared void was entered into during
petition to declare the the (sic) marriage void, but the Rule is not the effectivity of the Family Code. As can be gleaned from the facts,
applicable as it was not filed b the husband or the wife. It shall be petitioner’s marriage to Eulogio was celebrated in 2004.1âwphi1
the ordinary rule of civil procedure which shall be applicable.17
The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
Perforce, the decretal portion of the RTC Order of 3 May 2006 Annulment of Voidable Marriages as contained in A.M. No. 02-11-
states: 10-SC is explicit in its scope, to wit:

In view of the foregoing, the Court grants the motion for Section 1. Scope. – This Rule shall govern petitions for declaration
reconsideration dated October 31, 2005 and reinstate this case.18 of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of voidable
marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines.

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the


foregoing Order; however, on 1 June 2006, the RTC denied the said The Rules of Court shall apply suppletorily. (Emphasis supplied.)
motion on the ground that no new matter was raised therein. 19
The categorical language of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC leaves no room
Hence, the instant Petition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil for doubt. The coverage extends only to those marriages entered
Procedure on the sole question of whether the case law as into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on 3
embodied in Niñal, or the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of August 1988.24
Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, as specified
in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC of the Supreme Court applies to the case Moreover, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC took effect on 15 March 2003,
at bar. following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. Thus,
contrary to the opinion of the RTC, there is no need to reconcile the
At the outset, we note that petitioner took an abbreviated route to provisions of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC with the ruling in Niñal, because
this Court, countenancing the hierarchy of courts. they vary in scope and application. As has been emphasized, A.M.
No. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the Family Code of the
Philippines, and is prospective in its application. The marriage of
We have earlier emphasized that while the Supreme Court has the petitioner to Eulogio was celebrated on 26 August 2004, and it
concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals and the RTCs (for squarely falls within the ambit of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
writs enforceable within their respective regions), to issue writs of
mandamus, prohibition or certiorari, the litigants are well advised
against taking a direct recourse to this Court. 20 Instead, they should Hence, in resolving the issue before us, we resort to Section 2(a) of
initially seek the proper relief from the lower courts. As a court of last A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, which provides:
resort, this Court should not be burdened with the task of dealing
with causes in the first instance. Where the issuance of an Section 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void
extraordinary writ is concurrently within the competence of the Court marriages. –
of Appeals or the RTC, litigants must observe the principle of
hierarchy of courts.21However, it cannot be gainsaid that this Court
has the discretionary power to brush aside procedural lapses if
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 36
COMPILATION OF CASES

(a) Who may file. – A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of


void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. (n)
(Emphasis supplied.)

There is no ambiguity in the Rule. Absolute sententil expositore non


indiget. When the language of the law is clear, no explanation of it is
required. Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, makes it the sole
right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for declaration of
absolute nullity of void marriage.

The Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and


Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal Separation
and Provisional Orders explicates on Section 2(a) in the following
manner, viz:

1. Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file petitions for


annulment of voidable marriages and declaration of absolute nullity
of void marriages. Such petitions cannot be filed by the compulsory
or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. [Section 2; Section
3, paragraph a]

Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for


annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of
void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or
intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of
the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the petition.
Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the
death of their predecessor, and hence can only question the validity
of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse
filed in the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of the
State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its
dissolution.25 (Emphasis supplied.)

Respondents clearly have no cause of action before the court a quo.


Nonetheless, all is not lost for respondents. While A.M. No. 02-11-
10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of
void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does
not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are already without
any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional
right, for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of
Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages, Legal Separation and Provisional Orders, compulsory or
intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the
spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity, but upon the
death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of
the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. Civil Case No. II-4057


filed before the Regional Trial Court of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch 6, is
ORDERED DISMISSED without prejudice to challenging the validity
of the marriage of Lolita D. Enrico to Eulogio B. Medinaceli in a
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the latter. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 37
COMPILATION OF CASES

GARCIA-QUIAZON v. BELEN Claiming that the venue of the petition was improperly laid, Amelia,
together with her children, Jenneth and Jennifer, opposed the
issuance of the letters of administration by filing an
Republic of the Philippines
Opposition/Motion to Dismiss.5 The petitioners asserted that as
SUPREME COURT
shown by his Death Certificate, 6 Eliseo was a resident of Capas,
Manila
Tarlac and not of Las Piñas City, at the time of his death. Pursuant
to Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court, 7 the petition for
SECOND DIVISION settlement of decedent’s estate should have been filed in Capas,
Tarlac and not in Las Piñas City. In addition to their claim of
G.R. No. 189121 July 31, 2013 improper venue, the petitioners averred that there are no factual and
legal bases for Elise to be appointed administratix of Eliseo’s estate.

AMELIA GARCIA-QUIAZON, JENNETH QUIAZON and MARIA


JENNIFER QUIAZON, Petitioners, In a Decision8 dated 11 March 2005, the RTC directed the issuance
vs. of Letters of Administration to Elise upon posting the necessary
MA. LOURDES BELEN, for and in behalf of MARIA LOURDES bond. The lower court ruled that the venue of the petition was
ELISE QUIAZON, Respondent. properly laid in Las Piñas City, thereby discrediting the position
taken by the petitioners that Eliseo’s last residence was in Capas,
Tarlac, as hearsay. The dispositive of the RTC decision reads:

Having attained legal age at this time and there being no showing of
DECISION
any disqualification or incompetence to serve as administrator, let
letters of administration over the estate of the decedent Eliseo
PEREZ, J.: Quiazon, therefore, be issued to petitioner, Ma. Lourdes Elise
Quiazon, after the approval by this Court of a bond in the amount of
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed pursuant to Rule 45 of ₱100,000.00 to be posted by her.9
the Revised Rules of Court, primarily assailing the 28 November
2008 Decision rendered by the Ninth Division of the Court of On appeal, the decision of the trial court was affirmed in toto in the
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 88589,1the decretal portion of which 28 November 2008 Decision10 rendered by the Court of Appeals in
states: CA-G.R.CV No. 88589. In validating the findings of the RTC, the
Court of Appeals held that Elise was able to prove that Eliseo and
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DENIED. Lourdes lived together as husband and wife by establishing a
The assailed Decision dated March 11, 2005, and the Order dated common residence at No. 26 Everlasting Road, Phase 5, Pilar
March 24, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 275, Las Piñas Village, Las Piñas City, from 1975 up to the time of Eliseo’s death in
City are AFFIRMED in toto.2 1992. For purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of Eliseo’s
estate, the Court of Appeals upheld the conclusion reached by the
RTC that the decedent was a resident of Las Piñas City. The
The Facts
petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the Court of
Appeals in its Resolution11 dated 7 August 2009.
This case started as a Petition for Letters of Administration of the
Estate of Eliseo Quiazon (Eliseo), filed by herein respondents who
The Issues
are Eliseo’s common-law wife and daughter. The petition was
opposed by herein petitioners Amelia Garcia-Quaizon (Amelia) to
whom Eliseo was married. Amelia was joined by her children, The petitioners now urge Us to reverse the assailed Court of
Jenneth Quiazon (Jenneth) and Maria Jennifer Quiazon (Jennifer). Appeals Decision and Resolution on the following grounds:

Eliseo died intestate on 12 December 1992. I. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING
THAT ELISEO QUIAZON WAS A RESIDENT OF LAS PIÑAS AND
THEREFORE, THE PETITION FOR LETTERS OF
On 12 September 1994, Maria Lourdes Elise Quiazon (Elise),
ADMINISTRATION WAS PROPERLY FILED WITH THE RTC OF
represented by her mother, Ma. Lourdes Belen (Lourdes), filed a
LAS PIÑAS;
Petition for Letters of Administration before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Las Piñas City.3 In her Petition docketed as SP Proc. No.
M-3957, Elise claims that she is the natural child of Eliseo having II. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING
been conceived and born at the time when her parents were both THAT AMELIA GARCIA-QUIAZON WAS NOT LEGALLY MARRIED
capacitated to marry each other. Insisting on the legal capacity of TO ELISEO QUIAZON DUE TO PREEXISTING MARRIAGE; AND
Eliseo and Lourdes to marry, Elise impugned the validity of Eliseo’s
marriage to Amelia by claiming that it was bigamous for having been III. THE COURT OF APPEALS OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT
contracted during the subsistence of the latter’s marriage with one ELISE QUIAZON HAS NOT SHOWN ANY INTEREST IN THE
Filipito Sandico (Filipito). To prove her filiation to the decedent, Elise, PETITION FOR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION.12
among others, attached to the Petition for Letters of Administration
her Certificate of Live Birth4 signed by Eliseo as her father. In the
same petition, it was alleged that Eliseo left real properties worth
₱2,040,000.00 and personal properties worth ₱2,100,000.00. In
order to preserve the estate of Eliseo and to prevent the dissipation
of its value, Elise sought her appointment as administratrix of her
late father’s estate.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 38
COMPILATION OF CASES

The Court’s Ruling the extent of taking his marital feud with Amelia before the courts of
law renders untenable petitioners’ position that Eliseo spent the final
We find the petition bereft of merit. days of his life in Tarlac with Amelia and her children. It disproves
rather than supports petitioners’ submission that the lower courts’
findings arose from an erroneous appreciation of the evidence on
Under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for record. Factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the
letters of administration of the estate of a decedent should be filed in appellate court, must be held to be conclusive and binding upon this
the RTC of the province where the decedent resides at the time of Court.21
his death:

Likewise unmeritorious is petitioners’ contention that the Court of


Sec. 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. – If the decedent Appeals erred in declaring Amelia’s marriage to Eliseo as void ab
is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a initio. In a void marriage, it was though no marriage has taken place,
citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration thus, it cannot be the source of rights. Any interested party may
granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance now attack the marriage directly or collaterally. A void marriage can be
Regional Trial Court in the province in which he resides at the time questioned even beyond the lifetime of the parties to the
of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court marriage.22 It must be pointed out that at the time of the celebration
of First Instance now Regional Trial Court of any province in which of the marriage of Eliseo and Amelia, the law in effect was the Civil
he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of Code, and not the Family Code, making the ruling in Niñal v.
the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion Bayadog23 applicable four-square to the case at hand. In Niñal, the
of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it Court, in no uncertain terms, allowed therein petitioners to file a
depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location petition for the declaration of nullity of their father’s marriage to
of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in therein respondent after the death of their father, by
an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of contradistinguishing void from voidable marriages, to wit:
jurisdiction appears on the record. (Emphasis supplied).

Consequently, void marriages can be questioned even after the


The term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as death of either party but voidable marriages can be assailed only
distinguished from "legal residence or domicile." This term "resides," during the lifetime of the parties and not after death of either, in
like the terms "residing" and "residence," is elastic and should be which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the
interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of the statute or rule marriage had been perfectly valid. That is why the action or defense
in which it is employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike voidable marriages where the
– Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature action prescribes. Only the parties to a voidable marriage can assail
– residence rather than domicile is the significant factor. 13Even it but any proper interested party may attack a void marriage.24
where the statute uses word "domicile" still it is construed as
meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. 14 Some
cases make a distinction between the terms "residence" and It was emphasized in Niñal that in a void marriage, no marriage has
"domicile" but as generally used in statutes fixing venue, the terms taken place and it cannot be the source of rights, such that any
are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the term interested party may attack the marriage directly or collaterally
"inhabitant."15In other words, "resides" should be viewed or without prescription, which may be filed even beyond the lifetime of
understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or the parties to the marriage.25
physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of
abode.16 It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay Relevant to the foregoing, there is no doubt that Elise, whose
thereat.17 Venue for ordinary civil actions and that for special successional rights would be prejudiced by her father’s marriage to
proceedings have one and the same meaning.18 As thus defined, Amelia, may impugn the existence of such marriage even after the
"residence," in the context of venue provisions, means nothing more death of her father. The said marriage may be questioned directly by
than a person’s actual residence or place of abode, provided he filing an action attacking the validity thereof, or collaterally by raising
resides therein with continuity and consistency.19 it as an issue in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the
deceased spouse, such as in the case at bar. Ineluctably, Elise, as a
Viewed in light of the foregoing principles, the Court of Appeals compulsory heir,26 has a cause of action for the declaration of the
cannot be faulted for affirming the ruling of the RTC that the venue absolute nullity of the void marriage of Eliseo and Amelia, and the
for the settlement of the estate of Eliseo was properly laid in Las death of either party to the said marriage does not extinguish such
Piñas City. It is evident from the records that during his lifetime, cause of action.
Eliseo resided at No. 26 Everlasting Road, Phase 5, Pilar Village,
Las Piñas City. For this reason, the venue for the settlement of his Having established the right of Elise to impugn Eliseo’s marriage to
estate may be laid in the said city. Amelia, we now proceed to determine whether or not the decedent’s
marriage to Amelia is void for being bigamous.
In opposing the issuance of letters of administration, the petitioners
harp on the entry in Eliseo’s Death Certificate that he is a resident of Contrary to the position taken by the petitioners, the existence of a
Capas, Tarlac where they insist his estate should be settled. While previous marriage between Amelia and Filipito was sufficiently
the recitals in death certificates can be considered proofs of a established by no less than the Certificate of Marriage issued by the
decedent’s residence at the time of his death, the contents thereof, Diocese of Tarlac and signed by the officiating priest of the Parish of
however, is not binding on the courts. Both the RTC and the Court of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Capas, Tarlac. The said marriage
Appeals found that Eliseo had been living with Lourdes, deporting certificate is a competent evidence of marriage and the certification
themselves as husband and wife, from 1972 up to the time of his from the National Archive that no information relative to the said
death in 1995. This finding is consistent with the fact that in 1985, marriage exists does not diminish the probative value of the entries
Eliseo filed an action for judicial partition of properties against therein. We take judicial notice of the fact that the first marriage was
Amelia before the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 106, on the ground celebrated more than 50 years ago, thus, the possibility that a record
that their marriage is void for being bigamous. 20 That Eliseo went to of marriage can no longer be found in the National Archive, given
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu) 39
COMPILATION OF CASES

the interval of time, is not completely remote. Consequently, in the In the instant case, Elise, as a compulsory heir who stands to be
absence of any showing that such marriage had been dissolved at benefited by the distribution of Eliseo’s estate, is deemed to be an
the time Amelia and Eliseo’s marriage was solemnized, the interested party. With the overwhelming evidence on record
inescapable conclusion is that the latter marriage is bigamous and, produced by Elise to prove her filiation to Eliseo, the petitioners’
therefore, void ab initio.27 pounding on her lack of interest in the administration of the
decedent’s estate, is just a desperate attempt to sway this Court to
Neither are we inclined to lend credence to the petitioners’ reverse the findings of the Court of Appeals. Certainly, the right of
contention that Elise has not shown any interest in the Petition for Elise to be appointed administratix of the estate of Eliseo is on good
Letters of Administration. grounds. It is founded on her right as a compulsory heir, who, under
the law, is entitled to her legitimate after the debts of the estate are
satisfied.29 Having a vested right in the distribution of Eliseo’s estate
Section 6, Rule 78 of the Revised Rules of Court lays down the as one of his natural children, Elise can rightfully be considered as
preferred persons who are entitled to the issuance of letters of an interested party within the purview of the law.
administration, thus:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack


Sec. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. — If no of merit. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals assailed 28 November
executor is named in the will, or the executor or executors are 2008 Decision and 7 August 2009 Resolution, arc AFFIRMED in
incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give bond, or a person dies toto.
intestate, administration shall be granted:

SO ORDERED.
(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of
kin, or both, in the discretion of the court, or to such person as such
surviving husband or wife, or next of kin, requests to have
appointed, if competent and willing to serve;

(b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of
kin, or the person selected by them, be incompetent or unwilling, or
if the husband or widow, or next of kin, neglects for thirty (30) days
after the death of the person to apply for administration or to request
that administration be granted to some other person, it may be
granted to one or more of the principal creditors, if competent and
willing to serve;

(c) If there is no such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may


be granted to such other person as the court may select.

Upon the other hand, Section 2 of Rule 79 provides that a petition


for Letters of Administration must be filed by an interested person,
thus:

Sec. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. — A petition


for letters of administration must be filed by an interested person and
must show, so far as known to the petitioner:

(a) The jurisdictional facts;

(b) The names, ages, and residences of the heirs, and the names
and residences of the creditors, of the decedent;

(c) The probable value and character of the property of the estate;

(d) The name of the person for whom letters of administration are
prayed.

But no defect in the petition shall render void the issuance of letters
of administration.

An "interested party," in estate proceedings, is one who would be


benefited in the estate, such as an heir, or one who has a claim
against the estate, such as a creditor. Also, in estate proceedings,
the phrase "next of kin" refers to those whose relationship with the
decedent Is such that they are entitled to share in the estate as
distributees.28