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G.R. No. 189538 February 10, 2014 Finding that the signature appearing in the subject marriage
contract was not that of respondent, the court found basis in
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, granting the latter’s prayer to straighten her record and rectify the
vs. terrible mistake.10
Petitioner, however, moved for the reconsideration of the assailed
DECISION Decision on the grounds that: (1) there was no clerical spelling,
typographical and other innocuous errors in the marriage contract
for it to fall within the provisions of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court;
and (2) granting the cancellation of all the entries in the wife portion
of the alleged marriage contract is, in effect, declaring the marriage
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the void ab initio.11
Rules of Court are the Regional Trial Court1(RTC) Decision2 dated
May 5, 2009 and Order3 dated August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No.
In an Order dated August 25, 2009, the RTC denied petitioner’s
16519-CEB. The assailed decision granted respondent Merlinda L.
motion for reconsideration couched in this wise:
Olaybar's petition for cancellation of entries in the latter's marriage
contract; while the assailed order denied the motion for
reconsideration filed by petitioner Republic of the Philippines WHEREFORE, the court hereby denies the Motion for
through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). Reconsideration filed by the Republic of the Philippines. Furnish
copies of this order to the Office of the Solicitor General, the
petitioner’s counsel, and all concerned government agencies.
The facts of the case are as follows:

Respondent requested from the National Statistics Office (NSO) a
Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) as one of the requirements
for her marriage with her boyfriend of five years. Upon receipt Contrary to petitioner’s stand, the RTC held that it had jurisdiction to
thereof, she discovered that she was already married to a certain Ye take cognizance of cases for correction of entries even on
Son Sune, a Korean National, on June 24, 2002, at the Office of the substantial errors under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court being the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Palace of Justice. She denied appropriate adversary proceeding required. Considering that
having contracted said marriage and claimed that she did not know respondent’s identity was used by an unknown person to contract
the alleged husband; she did not appear before the solemnizing marriage with a Korean national, it would not be feasible for
officer; and, that the signature appearing in the marriage certificate respondent to institute an action for declaration of nullity of
is not hers.4 She, thus, filed a Petition for Cancellation of Entries in marriage since it is not one of the void marriages under Articles 35
the Marriage Contract, especially the entries in the wife portion and 36 of the Family Code.13
thereof.5 Respondent impleaded the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu
City, as well as her alleged husband, as parties to the case. Petitioner now comes before the Court in this Petition for Review on
Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of
During trial, respondent testified on her behalf and explained that the assailed RTC Decision and Order based on the following grounds:
she could not have appeared before Judge Mamerto Califlores, the
supposed solemnizing officer, at the time the marriage was allegedly I.
celebrated, because she was then in Makati working as a medical
distributor in Hansao Pharma. She completely denied having known RULE 108 OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT APPLIES ONLY WHEN
the supposed husband, but she revealed that she recognized the THERE ARE ERRORS IN THE ENTRIES SOUGHT TO BE CANCELLED OR
named witnesses to the marriage as she had met them while she CORRECTED.
was working as a receptionist in Tadels Pension House. She believed
that her name was used by a certain Johnny Singh, who owned a
travel agency, whom she gave her personal circumstances in order
for her to obtain a passport.6 Respondent also presented as witness
a certain Eufrocina Natinga, an employee of MTCC, Branch 1, who GRANTING THE CANCELLATION OF "ALL THE ENTRIES IN THE WIFE
confirmed that the marriage of Ye Son Sune was indeed celebrated PORTION OF THE ALLEGED MARRIAGE CONTRACT," IS IN EFFECT
in their office, but claimed that the alleged wife who appeared was DECLARING THE MARRIAGE VOID AB INITIO.14
definitely not respondent.7 Lastly, a document examiner testified
that the signature appearing in the marriage contract was forged. 8 Petitioner claims that there are no errors in the entries sought to be
cancelled or corrected, because the entries made in the certificate
On May 5, 2009, the RTC rendered the assailed Decision, the of marriage are the ones provided by the person who appeared and
dispositive portion of which reads: represented herself as Merlinda L. Olaybar and are, in fact, the
latter’s personal circumstances.15 In directing the cancellation of the
entries in the wife portion of the certificate of marriage, the RTC, in
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, the petition is granted in
effect, declared the marriage null and void ab initio.16Thus, the
favor of the petitioner, Merlinda L. Olaybar. The Local Civil Registrar
petition instituted by respondent is actually a petition for
of Cebu City is directed to cancel all the entries in the WIFE portion
declaration of nullity of marriage in the guise of a Rule 108
of the alleged marriage contract of the petitioner and respondent Ye
Son Sune.
We deny the petition. correction prayed for. In either case, a certified copy of the
judgment shall be served upon the civil registrar
At the outset, it is necessary to stress that a direct recourse to this concerned who shall annotate the same in his record.
Court from the decisions and final orders of the RTC may be taken
where only questions of law are raised or involved. There is a Rule 108 of the Rules of Court provides the procedure for
question of law when the doubt arises as to what the law is on a cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry. The
certain state of facts, which does not call for the examination of the proceedings may either be summary or adversary. If the correction
probative value of the evidence of the parties.18 Here, the issue is clerical, then the procedure to be adopted is summary. If the
raised by petitioner is whether or not the cancellation of entries in rectification affects the civil status, citizenship or nationality of a
the marriage contract which, in effect, nullifies the marriage may be party, it is deemed substantial, and the procedure to be adopted is
undertaken in a Rule 108 proceeding. Verily, petitioner raised a pure adversary. Since the promulgation of Republic v. Valencia19 in 1986,
question of law. the Court has repeatedly ruled that "even substantial errors in a civil
registry may be corrected through a petition filed under Rule 108,
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets forth the rules on cancellation or with the true facts established and the parties aggrieved by the error
correction of entries in the civil registry, to wit: availing themselves of the appropriate adversarial proceeding." 20 An
appropriate adversary suit or proceeding is one where the trial court
has conducted proceedings where all relevant facts have been fully
SEC. 1. Who may file petition. – Any person interested in
and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been given
any act, event, order or decree concerning the civil status
opportunity to demolish the opposite party’s case, and where the
of persons which has been recorded in the civil register,
evidence has been thoroughly weighed and considered. 21
may file a verified petition for the cancellation or
correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional
Trial Court of the province where the corresponding civil It is true that in special proceedings, formal pleadings and a hearing
registry is located. may be dispensed with, and the remedy [is] granted upon mere
application or motion. However, a special proceeding is not always
summary. The procedure laid down in Rule 108 is not a summary
SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. –
proceeding per se. It requires publication of the petition; it
Upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the
mandates the inclusion as parties of all persons who may claim
civil register may be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b)
interest which would be affected by the cancellation or correction; it
marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) judgments
also requires the civil registrar and any person in interest to file their
of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring
opposition, if any; and it states that although the court may make
marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h)
orders expediting the proceedings, it is after hearing that the court
adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j)
shall either dismiss the petition or issue an order granting the same.
naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship;
Thus, as long as the procedural requirements in Rule 108 are
(l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation;
followed, it is the appropriate adversary proceeding to effect
(n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of
substantial corrections and changes in entries of the civil register. 22

In this case, the entries made in the wife portion of the certificate of
SEC. 3. Parties. – When cancellation or correction of an
marriage are admittedly the personal circumstances of respondent.
entry in the civil register is sought, the civil registrar and all
The latter, however, claims that her signature was forged and she
persons who have or claim any interest which would be
was not the one who contracted marriage with the purported
affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.
husband. In other words, she claims that no such marriage was
entered into or if there was, she was not the one who entered into
SEC. 4. Notice and Publication. – Upon the filing of the such contract. It must be recalled that when respondent tried to
petition, the court shall, by an order, fix the time and place obtain a CENOMAR from the NSO, it appeared that she was married
for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable notice to a certain Ye Son Sune. She then sought the cancellation of entries
thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. in the wife portion of the marriage certificate.
The court shall also cause the order to be published once a
week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of
In filing the petition for correction of entry under Rule 108,
general circulation in the province.
respondent made the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City, as well as her
alleged husband Ye Son Sune, as parties-respondents. It is likewise
SEC. 5. Opposition. – The civil registrar and any person undisputed that the procedural requirements set forth in Rule 108
having or claiming any interest under the entry whose were complied with. The Office of the Solicitor General was likewise
cancellation or correction is sought may, within fifteen notified of the petition which in turn authorized the Office of the
(15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date City Prosecutor to participate in the proceedings. More importantly,
of publication of such notice, file his opposition thereto. trial was conducted where respondent herself, the stenographer of
the court where the alleged marriage was conducted, as well as a
SEC. 6. Expediting proceedings. – The court in which the document examiner, testified. Several documents were also
proceedings is brought may make orders expediting the considered as evidence. With the testimonies and other evidence
proceedings, and may also grant preliminary injunction for presented, the trial court found that the signature appearing in the
the preservation of the rights of the parties pending such subject marriage certificate was different from respondent’s
proceedings. signature appearing in some of her government issued identification
cards.23 The court thus made a categorical conclusion that
SEC. 7. Order. – After hearing, the court may either dismiss respondent’s signature in the marriage certificate was not hers and,
the petition or issue an order granting the cancellation or
therefore, was forged. Clearly, it was established that, as she BRION, J.:
claimed in her petition, no such marriage was celebrated.
We resolve petitioner Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company's (Metro
Indeed the Court made a pronouncement in the recent case of bank's) petition for review on certiorari1 seeking the reversal of the
Minoru Fujiki v. Maria Paz Galela Marinay, Shinichi Maekara, Local decision2 dated August 25, 2005 and the resolution3 dated
Civil Registrar of Quezon City, and the Administrator and Civil November 17, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No.
Registrar General of the National Statistics Office24 that: 86336. The assailed decision affirmed the order4 dated May 7, 2004
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 80. The RTC
To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the had denied the admission of Metrobank's Fourth-Party
civil registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. Complaint5 against the Estate of Jose L. Chua for being a money
A direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the claim that falls under Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court; the
substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family claim should have been filed in the pending judicial settlement of
Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these Chua’s estate before the RTC of Pasay City. The CA affirmed the
safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds for RTC’s order based on the same ground.
the dissolution of marriage, support pendente lite of the spouses
and children, the liquidation, partition and distribution of the Factual Antecedents
properties of the spouses and the investigation of the public
prosecutor to determine collusion. A direct action for declaration of On October 5, 2000, Sherwood Holdings Corporation, Inc. (SHCI)
nullity or annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent filed a complaint for sum of money against Absolute Management
circumvention of the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Corporation (AMC). The complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-
Family Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for 00-42105 and was assigned to the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 80.6
cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed
in the Regional Trial Court where the corresponding civil registry is
SHCI alleged in its complaint that it made advance payments to AMC
located. In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his
for the purchase of 27,000 pieces of plywood and 16,500 plyboards
marriage by the mere expedient of changing his entry of marriage in
in the sum of ₱12,277,500.00, covered by Metrobank Check Nos.
the civil registry.
1407668502, 140768507, 140768530, 140768531, 140768532,
140768533 and 140768534. These checks were all crossed, and were
Aside from the certificate of marriage, no such evidence was all made payable to AMC. They were given to Chua, AMC’s General
presented to show the existence of marriage.1âwphi1 Rather, Manager, in 1998.7
respondent showed by overwhelming evidence that no marriage
was entered into and that she was not even aware of such
Chua died in 1999, 8 and a special proceeding for the settlement of
existence. The testimonial and documentary evidence clearly
his estate was commenced before the RTC of Pasay City. This
established that the only "evidence" of marriage which is the
proceeding was pending at the time AMC filed its answer with
marriage certificate was a forgery. While we maintain that Rule 108
counterclaims and third-party complaint.9
cannot be availed of to determine the validity of marriage, we
cannot nullify the proceedings before the trial court where all the
parties had been given the opportunity to contest the allegations of SHCI made demands on AMC, after Chua’s death, for allegedly
respondent; the procedures were followed, and all the evidence of undelivered items worth ₱8,331,700.00. According to AMC, these
the parties had already been admitted and examined. Respondent transactions could not be found in its records. Upon investigation,
indeed sought, not the nullification of marriage as there was no AMC discovered that in 1998, Chua received from SHCI 18
marriage to speak of, but the correction of the record of such Metrobank checks worth ₱31,807,500.00. These were all payable to
marriage to reflect the truth as set forth by the evidence. Otherwise AMC and were crossed or "for payee’s account only."10
stated, in allowing the correction of the subject certificate of
marriage by cancelling the wife portion thereof, the trial court did In its answer with counterclaims and third-party complaint,11 AMC
not, in any way, declare the marriage void as there was no marriage averred that it had no knowledge of Chua’s transactions with SHCI
to speak of. and it did not receive any money from the latter. AMC also asked
the RTC to hold Metrobank liable for the subject checks in case it is
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of adjudged liable to SHCI.
merit. The Regional Trial Court Decision dated May 5, 2009 and
Order dated August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No. 16519-CEB, are Metrobank filed a motion for bill of particulars,12 seeking to clarify
AFFIRMED. certain ambiguous statements in AMC’s answer. The RTC granted
the motion but AMC failed to submit the required bill of particulars.
SO ORDERED. Hence, Metrobank filed a motion to strike out the third-party
In the meantime, Metrobank filed a motion to dismiss14 against AMC
on the ground that the latter engaged in prohibited forum shopping.
G.R. No. 170498 January 9, 2013
According to Metrobank, AMC’s claim against it is the same claim
that it raised against Chua’s estate in Special Proceedings No. 99-
METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY, Petitioner, 0023 before the RTC of Pasay City, Branch 112. The RTC
vs. subsequently denied this motion.15

The RTC of Quezon City opted to defer consideration16of complaint. As a trial court hearing an ordinary action, it cannot
Metrobank’s motion to strike out third-party complaint17and it resolve matters pertaining to special proceedings because the latter
instead granted AMC’s motion for leave to serve written is subject to specific rules.
interrogatories on the third-party defendant.18 While Metrobank
filed its answer to the written interrogatories, AMC was again Metrobank responded to the RTC ruling by filing a petition for
directed by the RTC, in an order19 dated August 13, 2003, to submit certiorari28 under Rule 65 before the CA.
its bill of particulars. Instead, AMC filed a motion for
reconsideration20 which was denied in an order21 dated October 28,
The CA’s Ruling
2003. AMC still did not file its bill of particulars. The RTC, on the
other hand, did not act on Metrobank’s motion to strike out AMC’s
third-party complaint.22 The CA affirmed the RTC’s ruling that Metrobank’s fourth-party
complaint should have been filed in Special Proceedings No. 99-
0023.29 According to the CA, the relief that Metrobank prayed for
In its answer23 dated December 1, 2003, Metrobank admitted that it
was based on a quasi-contract and was a money claim categorized
deposited the checks in question to the account of Ayala Lumber
as an implied contract that should be filed under Section 5, Rule 86
and Hardware, a sole proprietorship Chua owned and managed. The
of the Rules of Court.
deposit was allegedly done with the knowledge and consent of AMC.
According to
Based on the statutory construction principle of lex specialis derogat
generali, the CA held that Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court is a
Metrobank, Chua then gave the assurance that the arrangement for
special provision that should prevail over the general provisions of
the handling of the checks carried AMC’s consent. Chua also
Section 11, Rule 6 of the Rules of Court. The latter applies to money
submitted documents showing his position and interest in AMC.
claims in ordinary actions while a money claim against a person
These documents, as well as AMC’s admission in its answer that it
already deceased falls under the settlement of his estate that is
allowed Chua to manage AMC with a relative free hand, show that it
governed by the rules on special proceedings. If at all, rules for
knew of Chua’s arrangement with Metrobank. Further, Chua’s
ordinary actions only apply suppletorily to special proceedings.
records show that the proceeds of the checks were remitted to AMC
which cannot therefore now claim that it did not receive these
proceeds. The Present Petition

Metrobank also raised the defense of estoppel. According to In its present petition for review on certiorari,30 Metrobank asserts
Metrobank, AMC had knowledge of its arrangements with Chua for that it should be allowed to file a fourth-party complaint against
several years. Despite this arrangement, AMC did not object to nor Chua’s estate in the proceedings before the RTC; its fourth-party
did it call the attention of Metrobank about Chua’s alleged lack of complaint was filed merely to enforce its right to be reimbursed by
authority to deposit the checks in Ayala Lumber and Hardware’s Chua’s estate in case Metrobank is held liable to AMC. Hence,
account. At this point, AMC is already estopped from questioning Section 11, Rule 6 of the Rules of Court should apply.
Chua’s authority to deposit these checks in Ayala Lumber and
Hardware’s account. AMC, in its comment,31 maintains the line that the CA and the RTC
rulings should be followed, i.e., that Metrobank’s claim is a quasi-
Lastly, Metrobank asserted that AMC gave Chua unbridled control in contract that should be filed as a claim under Section 5, Rule 86 of
managing AMC’s affairs. This measure of control amounted to gross the Rules of Court.
negligence that was the proximate cause of the loss that AMC must
now bear. AMC also challenges the form of Metrobank’s petition for failure to
comply with Section 4, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. This provision
Subsequently, Metrobank filed a motion for leave to admit fourth- requires petitions filed before the Supreme Court to be
party complaint24 against Chua’s estate. It alleged that Chua’s estate accompanied by "such material portions of the record as would
should reimburse Metrobank in case it would be held liable in the support the petition."
third-party complaint filed against it by AMC.
According to AMC, the petition’s annexes are mostly Metrobank’s
The RTC’s Ruling pleadings and court issuances. It did not append all relevant AMC
pleadings before the RTC and the CA. For this reason, the petition
should have been dismissed outright.
In an order25 dated May 7, 2004, the RTC denied Metrobank’s
motion. It likewise denied Metrobank’s motion for reconsideration
in an order26 dated July 7, 2004. Issues

The RTC categorized Metrobank’s allegation in the fourth-party The parties’ arguments, properly joined, present to us the following
complaint as a "cobro de lo indebido"27 – a kind of quasi-contract issues:
that mandates recovery of what has been improperly paid. Quasi-
contracts fall within the concept of implied contracts that must be 1) Whether the petition for review on certiorari filed by
included in the claims required to be filed with the judicial Metrobank before the Supreme Court complies with
settlement of the deceased’s estate under Section 5, Rule 86 of the Section 4, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court; and
Rules of Court. As such claim, it should have been filed in Special
Proceedings No. 99-0023, not before the RTC as a fourth-party 2) Whether Metrobank’s fourth-party complaint against
complaint. The RTC, acting in the exercise of its general jurisdiction, Chua’s estate should be allowed.
does not have the authority to adjudicate the fourth-party
The Court’s Ruling The Merits of the Main Issue

The Present Petition Complies With Section 4, Rule 45 of the Rules The main issue poses to us two essential points that must be
of Court addressed. First, are quasi-contracts included in claims that should
be filed pursuant to Rule 86, Section 5 of the Rules of Court? Second,
AMC posits that Metrobank’s failure to append relevant AMC if so, is Metrobank’s claim against the Estate of Jose Chua based on a
pleadings submitted to the RTC and to the CA violated Section 4, quasi-contract?
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,32 and is a sufficient ground to dismiss
the petition under Section 5, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.33 Quasi-contracts are included in
claims that should be filed under Rule
We disagree with AMC’s position. 86, Section 5 of the Rules of Court

In F.A.T. Kee Computer Systems, Inc. v. Online Networks In Maclan v. Garcia,39 Gabriel Maclan filed a civil case to recover
International, Inc.,34 Online Networks International, Inc. similarly from Ruben Garcia the necessary expenses he spent as possessor of
assailed F.A.T. Kee Computer Systems, Inc.’s failure to attach the a piece of land. Garcia acquired the land as an heir of its previous
transcript of stenographic notes (TSN) of the RTC proceedings, and owner. He set up the defense that this claim should have been filed
claimed this omission to be a violation of Section 4, Rule 45 of the in the special proceedings to settle the estate of his predecessor.
Rules of Court that warranted the petition’s dismissal. The Court Maclan, on the other hand, contended that his claim arises from law
held that the defect was not fatal, as the TSN of the proceedings and not from contract, express or implied. Thus, it need not be filed
before the RTC forms part of the records of the case. Thus, there in the settlement of the estate of Garcia’s predecessor, as mandated
was no incurable omission that warranted the outright dismissal of by Section 5, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court (now Section 5, Rule 86).
the petition.
The Court held under these facts that a claim for necessary expenses
The Court significantly pointed out in F.A.T. Kee that the spent as previous possessor of the land is a kind of quasi-contract.
requirement in Section 4, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is not meant Citing Leung Ben v. O’Brien,40 it explained that the term "implied
to be an absolute rule whose violation would automatically lead to contracts," as used in our remedial law, originated from the
the petition’s dismissal.35 The Rules of Court has not been intended common law where obligations derived from quasi-contracts and
to be totally rigid. In fact, the Rules of Court provides that the from law are both considered as implied contracts. Thus, the term
Supreme Court "may require or allow the filing of such pleadings, quasi-contract is included in the concept "implied contracts" as used
briefs, memoranda or documents as it may deem necessary within in the Rules of Court. Accordingly, liabilities of the deceased arising
such periods and under such conditions as it may consider from quasi-contracts should be filed as claims in the settlement of
appropriate";36 and "[i]f the petition is given due course, the his estate, as provided in Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court.41
Supreme Court may require the elevation of the complete record of
the case or specified parts thereof within fifteen (15) days from Metrobank’s fourth-party complaint is
notice."37 These provisions are in keeping with the overriding based on quasi-contract
standard that procedural rules should be liberally construed to
promote their objective and to assist the parties in obtaining a just, Both the RTC and the CA described Metrobank’s claim against
speedy and inexpensive determination of every action or Chua’s estate as one based on quasi-contract. A quasi-contract
proceeding.38 involves a juridical relation that the law creates on the basis of
certain voluntary, unilateral and lawful acts of a person, to avoid
Under this guiding principle, we do not see Metrobank’s omission to unjust enrichment.42 The Civil Code provides an enumeration of
be a fatal one that should warrant the petition’s outright dismissal. quasi-contracts,43 but the list is not exhaustive and merely provides
To be sure, the omission to submit the adverse party’s pleadings in a examples.44
petition before the Court is not a commendable practice as it may
lead to an unduly biased narration of facts and arguments that According to the CA, Metrobank’s fourth-party complaint falls under
masks the real issues before the Court. Such skewed presentation the quasi-contracts enunciated in Article 2154 of the Civil
could lead to the waste of the Court’s time in sifting through the Code.45 Article 2154 embodies the concept "solutio indebiti" which
maze of the parties’ narrations of facts and arguments and is a arises when something is delivered through mistake to a person who
danger the Rules of Court seeks to avoid. has no right to demand it. It obligates the latter to return what has
been received through mistake.46
Our examination of Metrobank’s petition shows that it contains
AMC’s opposition to its motion to admit fourth-party complaint Solutio indebiti, as defined in Article 2154 of the Civil Code, has two
among its annexes. The rest of the pleadings have been indispensable requisites: first, that something has been unduly
subsequently submitted as attachments in Metrobank’s Reply. A delivered through mistake; and second, that something was
reading of these pleadings shows that their arguments are the same received when there was no right to demand it.47
as those stated in the orders of the trial court and the Court of
Appeals. Thus, even if Metrobank’s petition did not contain some of
In its fourth-party complaint, Metrobank claims that Chua’s estate
AMC’s pleadings, the Court still had the benefit of a clear narration
should reimburse it if it becomes liable on the checks that it
of facts and arguments according to both parties’ perspectives. In
deposited to Ayala Lumber and Hardware’s account upon Chua’s
this broader view, the mischief that the Rules of Court seeks to avoid
has not really been present. If at all, the omission is not a grievous
one that the spirit of liberality cannot address.
This fulfills the requisites of solutio indebiti. First, Metrobank acted Court should prevail over the general provisions of Section 11, Rule
in a manner akin to a mistake when it deposited the AMC checks to 6 of the Rules of Court; the settlement of the estate of deceased
Ayala Lumber and Hardware’s account; because of Chua’s control persons (where claims against the deceased should be filed) is
over AMC’s operations, Metrobank assumed that the checks payable primarily governed by the rules on special proceedings, while the
to AMC could be deposited to Ayala Lumber and Hardware’s rules provided for ordinary claims, including Section 11, Rule 6 ofthe
account. Second, Ayala Lumber and Hardware had no right to Rules of Court, merely apply suppletorily.49
demand and receive the checks that were deposited to its account;
despite Chua’s control over AMC and Ayala Lumber and Hardware, In sum, on all counts in the considerations material to the issues
the two entities are distinct, and checks exclusively and expressly posed, the resolution points to the affirmation of the assailed CA
payable to one cannot be deposited in the account of the other. This decision and resolution. Metrobank's claim in its fourth-party
disjunct created an obligation on the part of Ayala Lumber and complaint against Chua's estate is based on quasi-contract. It is also
Hardware, through its sole proprietor, Chua, to return the amount of a contingent claim that depends on another event. Both belong to
these checks to Metrobank. the category of claims against a deceased person that should be
filed under Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Comi and, as such,
The Court notes, however, that its description of Metrobank’s should have been so filed in Special Proceedings No. 99-0023.
fourth-party complaint as a claimclosely analogous to solutio
indebiti is only to determine the validity of the lower courts’ orders WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition for
denying it. It is not an adjudication determining the liability of Chua’s lack of merit. The decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 25,
estate against Metrobank. The appropriate trial court should still 2005, holding that the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
determine whether Metrobank has a lawful claim against Chua’s 80, did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying
estate based on quasi-contract.1âwphi1 Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company's motion for leave to admit
fourth-party complaint Is
Metrobank’s fourth-party complaint,
as a contingent claim, falls within the AFFIRMED. Costs against Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company.
claims that should be filed under
Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of

A distinctive character of Metrobank’s fourth-party complaint is its
contingent nature – the claim depends on the possibility that
Metrobank would be adjudged liable to AMC, a future event that G.R. No. 174975 January 20, 2009
may or may not happen. This characteristic unmistakably marks the
complaint as a contingent one that must be included in the claims LUISA KHO MONTAÑER, ALEJANDRO MONTAÑER, JR., LILLIBETH
falling under the terms of Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court: MONTAÑER-BARRIOS, AND RHODORA ELEANOR MONTAÑER-
DALUPAN, Petitioners,
Sec. 5. Claims which must be filed under the notice. If not filed, vs.
barred; exceptions. – All claims for money against the decedent, SHARI'A DISTRICT COURT, FOURTH SHARI'A JUDICIAL DISTRICT,
arising from contract, express or implied, whether the same be due, MARAWI CITY, LILING DISANGCOPAN, AND ALMAHLEEN LILING S.
not due, or contingent, all claims for funeral expenses and expenses MONTAÑER, Respondents.
for the last sickness of the decedent, and judgment for money
against the decedent, must be filed within the time limited in the DECISION
notice. [italics ours]
Specific provisions of Section 5, Rule
86 of the Rules of Court prevail over This Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition seeks to set aside the
general provisions of Section 11, Rule Orders of the Shari’a District Court, Fourth Shari’a Judicial District,
6 of the Rules of Court Marawi City, dated August 22, 20061 and September 21, 2006.2

Metrobank argues that Section 11, Rule 6 of the Rules of Court On August 17, 1956, petitioner Luisa Kho Montañer, a Roman
should apply because it impleaded Chua’s estate for reimbursement Catholic, married Alejandro Montañer, Sr. at the Immaculate
in the same transaction upon which it has been sued by AMC. On Conception Parish in Cubao, Quezon City.3 Petitioners Alejandro
this point, the Court supports the conclusion of the CA, to wit: Montañer, Jr., Lillibeth Montañer-Barrios, and Rhodora Eleanor
Montañer-Dalupan are their children.4 On May 26, 1995, Alejandro
Notably, a comparison of the respective provisions of Section 11, Montañer, Sr. died.5
Rule 6 and Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court readily shows
that Section 11, Rule 6 applies to ordinary civil actions while Section On August 19, 2005, private respondents Liling Disangcopan and her
5, Rule 86 specifically applies to money claims against the estate. daughter, Almahleen Liling S. Montañer, both Muslims, filed a
The specific provisions of Section 5, Rule 86 x x x must therefore "Complaint" for the judicial partition of properties before the Shari’a
prevail over the general provisions of Section 11, Rule 6.48 District Court.6 The said complaint was entitled "Almahleen Liling S.
Montañer and Liling M. Disangcopan v. the Estates and Properties of
We read with approval the CA’s use of the statutory construction Late Alejandro Montañer, Sr., Luisa Kho Montañer, Lillibeth K.
principle of lex specialis derogat generali, leading to the conclusion Montañer, Alejandro Kho Montañer, Jr., and Rhodora Eleanor K.
that the specific provisions of Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Montañer," and docketed as "Special Civil Action No. 7-05."7 In the
said complaint, private respondents made the following allegations: III.
(1) in May 1995, Alejandro Montañer, Sr. died; (2) the late Alejandro
Montañer, Sr. is a Muslim; (3) petitioners are the first family of the RESPONDENT SHARI’A DISTRICT COURT DID NOT ACQUIRE
decedent; (4) Liling Disangcopan is the widow of the decedent; (5) JURISDICTION OVER THE COMPLAINT OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS
Almahleen Liling S. Montañer is the daughter of the decedent; and AGAINST PETITIONERS DUE TO NON-PAYMENT OF THE FILING AND
(6) the estimated value of and a list of the properties comprising the DOCKETING FEES.
estate of the decedent.8 Private respondents prayed for the Shari’a
District Court to order, among others, the following: (1) the partition
of the estate of the decedent; and (2) the appointment of an
administrator for the estate of the decedent.9
Petitioners filed an Answer with a Motion to Dismiss mainly on the
following grounds: (1) the Shari’a District Court has no jurisdiction
over the estate of the late Alejandro Montañer, Sr., because he was
a Roman Catholic; (2) private respondents failed to pay the correct
amount of docket fees; and (3) private respondents’ complaint is
barred by prescription, as it seeks to establish filiation between
Almahleen Liling S. Montañer and the decedent, pursuant to Article
175 of the Family Code.10 V.

On November 22, 2005, the Shari’a District Court dismissed the RESPONDENT SHARI’A DISTRICT COURT—MARAWI CITY
private respondents’ complaint. The district court held that COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK
Alejandro Montañer, Sr. was not a Muslim, and its jurisdiction OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT SET SPL. CIVIL ACTION 7-05 FOR TRIAL
extends only to the settlement and distribution of the estate of EVEN IF THE COMPLAINT PLAINLY REVEALS THAT RESPONDENT
On December 12, 2005, private respondents filed a Motion for
Reconsideration.12 On December 28, 2005, petitioners filed an
Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration, alleging that the
motion for reconsideration lacked a notice of hearing.13 On January In their Comment to the Petition for Certiorari, private respondents
17, 2006, the Shari’a District Court denied petitioners’ stress that the Shari’a District Court must be given the opportunity
opposition.14 Despite finding that the said motion for to hear and decide the question of whether the decedent is a
reconsideration "lacked notice of hearing," the district court held Muslim in order to determine whether it has jurisdiction.20
that such defect was cured as petitioners "were notified of the
existence of the pleading," and it took cognizance of the said Jurisdiction: Settlement of the Estate of Deceased Muslims
motion.15 The Shari’a District Court also reset the hearing for the
motion for reconsideration.16 Petitioners’ first argument, regarding the Shari’a District Court’s
jurisdiction, is dependent on a question of fact, whether the late
In its first assailed order dated August 22, 2006, the Shari’a District Alejandro Montañer, Sr. is a Muslim. Inherent in this argument is the
Court reconsidered its order of dismissal dated November 22, premise that there has already been a determination resolving such
2005.17 The district court allowed private respondents to adduce a question of fact. It bears emphasis, however, that the assailed
further evidence.18 In its second assailed order dated September 21, orders did not determine whether the decedent is a Muslim. The
2006, the Shari’a District Court ordered the continuation of trial, trial assailed orders did, however, set a hearing for the purpose of
on the merits, adducement of further evidence, and pre-trial resolving this issue.
Article 143(b) of Presidential Decree No. 1083, otherwise known as
Seeking recourse before this Court, petitioners raise the following the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, provides that
issues: the Shari’a District Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over
the settlement of the estate of deceased Muslims:
ARTICLE 143. Original jurisdiction. — (1) The Shari'a District Court
RESPONDENT SHARI’A DISTRICT COURT – MARAWI CITY LACKS shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over:

II. (b) All cases involving disposition, distribution and settlement of the
estate of deceased Muslims, probate of wills, issuance of letters of
RESPONDENT SHARI’A DISTRICT COURT – MARAWI CITY DID NOT administration or appointment of administrators or executors
ACQUIRE JURISDICTION OVER "THE ESTATES AND PROPERTIES OF regardless of the nature or the aggregate value of the property.
OR JURIDICAL PERSON WITH CAPACITY TO BE SUED. The determination of the nature of an action or proceeding is
controlled by the averments and character of the relief sought in the
complaint or petition.21The designation given by parties to their recognized as among the decedent’s heirs, which would allow them
own pleadings does not necessarily bind the courts to treat it to exercise their right to participate in the settlement and
according to the said designation. Rather than rely on "a falsa liquidation of the estate of the decedent.32 Here, the respondents
descriptio or defective caption," courts are "guided by the seek to establish the fact of Alejandro Montañer, Sr.’s death and,
substantive averments of the pleadings."22 subsequently, for private respondent Almahleen Liling S. Montañer
to be recognized as among his heirs, if such is the case in fact.
Although private respondents designated the pleading filed before
the Shari’a District Court as a "Complaint" for judicial partition of Petitioners’ argument, that the prohibition against a decedent or his
properties, it is a petition for the issuance of letters of estate from being a party defendant in a civil action33 applies to a
administration, settlement, and distribution of the estate of the special proceeding such as the settlement of the estate of the
decedent. It contains sufficient jurisdictional facts required for the deceased, is misplaced. Unlike a civil action which has definite
settlement of the estate of a deceased Muslim,23 such as the fact of adverse parties, a special proceeding has no definite adverse party.
Alejandro Montañer, Sr.’s death as well as the allegation that he is a The definitions of a civil action and a special proceeding,
Muslim. The said petition also contains an enumeration of the respectively, in the Rules illustrate this difference. A civil action, in
names of his legal heirs, so far as known to the private respondents, which "a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a
and a probable list of the properties left by the decedent, which are right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong"34necessarily has
the very properties sought to be settled before a probate court. definite adverse parties, who are either the plaintiff or
Furthermore, the reliefs prayed for reveal that it is the intention of defendant.35 On the other hand, a special proceeding, "by which a
the private respondents to seek judicial settlement of the estate of party seeks to establish a status, right, or a particular fact,"36 has one
the decedent.24 These include the following: (1) the prayer for the definite party, who petitions or applies for a declaration of a status,
partition of the estate of the decedent; and (2) the prayer for the right, or particular fact, but no definite adverse party. In the case at
appointment of an administrator of the said estate. bar, it bears emphasis that the estate of the decedent is not being
sued for any cause of action. As a special proceeding, the purpose of
We cannot agree with the contention of the petitioners that the the settlement of the estate of the decedent is to determine all the
district court does not have jurisdiction over the case because of an assets of the estate,37pay its liabilities,38 and to distribute the
allegation in their answer with a motion to dismiss that Montañer, residual to those entitled to the same.39
Sr. is not a Muslim. Jurisdiction of a court over the nature of the
action and its subject matter does not depend upon the defenses set Docket Fees
forth in an answer25 or a motion to dismiss.26 Otherwise, jurisdiction
would depend almost entirely on the defendant27 or result in having Petitioners’ third argument, that jurisdiction was not validly
"a case either thrown out of court or its proceedings unduly delayed acquired for non-payment of docket fees, is untenable. Petitioners
by simple stratagem.28 Indeed, the "defense of lack of jurisdiction point to private respondents’ petition in the proceeding before the
which is dependent on a question of fact does not render the court court a quo, which contains an allegation estimating the decedent’s
to lose or be deprived of its jurisdiction."29 estate as the basis for the conclusion that what private respondents
paid as docket fees was insufficient. Petitioners’ argument
The same rationale applies to an answer with a motion to essentially involves two aspects: (1) whether the clerk of court
dismiss.30 In the case at bar, the Shari’a District Court is not deprived correctly assessed the docket fees; and (2) whether private
of jurisdiction simply because petitioners raised as a defense the respondents paid the correct assessment of the docket fees.
allegation that the deceased is not a Muslim. The Shari’a District
Court has the authority to hear and receive evidence to determine Filing the appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the
whether it has jurisdiction, which requires an a priori determination prescribed docket fees vest a trial court with jurisdiction over the
that the deceased is a Muslim. If after hearing, the Shari’a District subject matter.40 If the party filing the case paid less than the correct
Court determines that the deceased was not in fact a Muslim, the amount for the docket fees because that was the amount assessed
district court should dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. by the clerk of court, the responsibility of making a deficiency
assessment lies with the same clerk of court.41 In such a case, the
Special Proceedings lower court concerned will not automatically lose jurisdiction,
because of a party’s reliance on the clerk of court’s insufficient
The underlying assumption in petitioners’ second argument, that the assessment of the docket fees.42 As "every citizen has the right to
proceeding before the Shari’a District Court is an ordinary civil action assume and trust that a public officer charged by law with certain
against a deceased person, rests on an erroneous understanding of duties knows his duties and performs them in accordance with law,"
the proceeding before the court a quo. Part of the confusion may be the party filing the case cannot be penalized with the clerk of court’s
attributed to the proceeding before the Shari’a District Court, where insufficient assessment.43 However, the party concerned will be
the parties were designated either as plaintiffs or defendants and required to pay the deficiency.44
the case was denominated as a special civil action. We reiterate that
the proceedings before the court a quo are for the issuance of In the case at bar, petitioners did not present the clerk of court’s
letters of administration, settlement, and distribution of the estate assessment of the docket fees. Moreover, the records do not include
of the deceased, which is a special proceeding. Section 3(c) of the this assessment. There can be no determination of whether private
Rules of Court (Rules) defines a special proceeding as "a remedy by respondents correctly paid the docket fees without the clerk of
which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact." court’s assessment.
This Court has applied the Rules, particularly the rules on special
proceedings, for the settlement of the estate of a deceased Exception to Notice of Hearing
Muslim.31 In a petition for the issuance of letters of administration,
settlement, and distribution of estate, the applicants seek to
establish the fact of death of the decedent and later to be duly
Petitioners’ fourth argument, that private respondents’ motion for on an affirmative answer to the question of whether the Shari’a
reconsideration before the Shari’a District Court is defective for lack District Court has jurisdiction over the estate of the decedent.
of a notice of hearing, must fail as the unique circumstances in the
present case constitute an exception to this requirement. The Rules IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED. The Orders of the Shari’a
require every written motion to be set for hearing by the applicant District Court, dated August 22, 2006 and September 21, 2006
and to address the notice of hearing to all parties concerned.45 The respectively, are AFFIRMED. Cost against petitioners.
Rules also provide that "no written motion set for hearing shall be
acted upon by the court without proof of service
thereof."46 However, the Rules allow a liberal construction of its
provisions "in order to promote [the] objective of securing a just,
speedy, and inexpensive disposition of every action and 4. SECOND DIVISION
proceeding."47 Moreover, this Court has upheld a liberal
construction specifically of the rules of notice of hearing in cases G.R. No. 133000 October 2, 2001
where "a rigid application will result in a manifest failure or
miscarriage of justice especially if a party successfully shows that the PATRICIA NATCHER, petitioner,
alleged defect in the questioned final and executory judgment is not vs.
apparent on its face or from the recitals contained therein."48 In HON. COURT OFAPPEALS AND THE HEIR OF GRACIANO DEL
these exceptional cases, the Court considers that "no party can even ROSARIO – LETICIA DEL ROSARIO, EMILIA DEL RESORIO –
claim a vested right in technicalities," and for this reason, cases MANANGAN, ROSALINDA FUENTES LLANA, RODOLFO FUENTES,
should, as much as possible, be decided on the merits rather than on ALBERTO FUENTES, EVELYN DEL ROSARIO, and EDUARDO DEL
technicalities.49 ROSARIO, respondent..

The case at bar falls under this exception. To deny the Shari’a BUENA, J.:
District Court of an opportunity to determine whether it has
jurisdiction over a petition for the settlement of the estate of a
decedent alleged to be a Muslim would also deny its inherent power May a Regional Trial Court, acting as a court of general jurisdiction in
as a court to control its process to ensure conformity with the law an action for reconveyance annulment of title with damages,
and justice. To sanction such a situation simply because of a lapse in adjudicate matters relating to the settlement of the estate of a
fulfilling the notice requirement will result in a miscarriage of justice. deceased person particularly on questions as to advancement of
property made by the decedent to any of the heirs?
In addition, the present case calls for a liberal construction of the
rules on notice of hearing, because the rights of the petitioners were Sought to be reversed in this petition for review on certiorari under
not affected. This Court has held that an exception to the rules on Rule 45 is the decision1 of public respondent Court of Appeals, the
notice of hearing is where it appears that the rights of the adverse decretal portion of which declares:
party were not affected.50 The purpose for the notice of hearing
coincides with procedural due process,51 for the court to determine "Wherefore in view of the foregoing considerations,
whether the adverse party agrees or objects to the motion, as the judgment appealed from is reversed and set aside and
Rules do not fix any period within which to file a reply or another one entered annulling the Deed of Sale executed
opposition.52 In probate proceedings, "what the law prohibits is not by Graciano Del Rosario in favor of defendant-appellee
the absence of previous notice, but the absolute absence thereof Patricia Natcher, and ordering the Register of Deeds to
and lack of opportunity to be heard."53 In the case at bar, as evident Cancel TCT No. 186059 and reinstate TCT No. 107443
from the Shari’a District Court’s order dated January 17, 2006, without prejudice to the filing of a special proceeding for
petitioners’ counsel received a copy of the motion for the settlement of the estate of Graciano Del Rosario in a
reconsideration in question. Petitioners were certainly not denied an proper court. No costs.
opportunity to study the arguments in the said motion as they filed
an opposition to the same. Since the Shari’a District Court reset the "So ordered."
hearing for the motion for reconsideration in the same order,
petitioners were not denied the opportunity to object to the said
Spouses Graciano del Rosario and Graciana Esguerra were registered
motion in a hearing. Taken together, these circumstances show that
owners of a parcel of land with an area of 9,322 square meters
the purpose for the rules of notice of hearing, procedural process,
located in Manila and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
was duly observed.
11889. Upon the death of Graciana in 1951, Graciano, together with
his six children, namely: Bayani, Ricardo, Rafael, Leticia, Emiliana and
Prescription and Filiation Nieves, entered into an extrajudicial settlement of Graciana's estate
on 09 February 1954 adjudicating and dividing among themselves
Petitioners’ fifth argument is premature. Again, the Shari’a District the real property subject of TCT No. 11889. Under the agreement,
Court has not yet determined whether it has jurisdiction to settle Graciano received 8/14 share while each of the six children received
the estate of the decedent. In the event that a special proceeding for 1/14 share of the said property. Accordingly, TCT No. 11889 was
the settlement of the estate of a decedent is pending, questions cancelled, and in lieu thereof, TCT No. 35980 was issued in the name
regarding heirship, including prescription in relation to recognition of Graciano and the Six children.1âwphi1.nêt
and filiation, should be raised and settled in the said
proceeding.54 The court, in its capacity as a probate court, has Further, on 09 February 1954, said heirs executed and forged an
jurisdiction to declare who are the heirs of the decedent.55 In the "Agreement of Consolidation-Subdivision of Real Property with
case at bar, the determination of the heirs of the decedent depends Waiver of Rights" where they subdivided among themselves the
parcel of land covered by TCT No. 35980 into several lots. Graciano
then donated to his children, share and share alike, a portion of his annulment of title, went beyond its jurisdiction when it
interest in the land amounting to 4,849.38 square meters leaving performed the acts proper only in a special proceeding for
only 447.60 square meters registered under Graciano's name, as the settlement of estate of a deceased person. XXX
covered by TCT No. 35988. Subsequently, the land subject of TCT
No. 35988 was further subdivided into two separate lots where the "X X X Thus the court a quo erred in regarding the subject
first lot with a land area of 80.90 square meter was registered under property as advance inheritance. What the court should
TCT No. 107442 and the second lot with a land area of 396.70 have done was merely to rule on the validity of (the) sale
square meters was registered under TCT No. 107443. Eventually, and leave the issue on advancement to be resolved in a
Graciano sold the first lot2 to a third person but retained ownership separate proceeding instituted for that purpose. XXX"
over the second lot.3
Aggrieved, herein petitioner seeks refuge under our protective
On 20 March 1980, Graciano married herein petitioner Patricia mantle through the expediency of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and
Natcher. During their marriage, Graciano sold the land covered by assails the appellate court's decision "for being contrary to law and
TCT No. 107443 to his wife Patricia as a result of which TCT No. the facts of the case."
1860594 was issued in the latter's name. On 07 October
1985,Graciano died leaving his second wife Patricia and his six
We concur with the Court of Appeals and find no merit in the instant
children by his first marriage, as heirs.

In a complaint5 filed in Civil Case No. 71075 before the Regional Trial
Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines civil
Court of Manila, Branch 55, herein private respondents alleged that
action and special proceedings, in this wise:
upon Graciano's death, petitioner Natcher, through the employment
of fraud, misrepresentation and forgery, acquired TCT No. 107443,
by making it appear that Graciano executed a Deed of Sale dated 25 "XXX a) A civil action is one by which a party sues another
June 19876 in favor herein petitioner resulting in the cancellation of for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the
TCT No. 107443 and the issuance of TCT no. 186059 in the name of prevention or redress of a wrong.
Patricia Natcher. Similarly, herein private respondents alleged in said
complaint that as a consequence of such fraudulent sale, their "A civil action may either be ordinary or special. Both are
legitimes have been impaired. government by the rules for ordinary civil actions, subject
to specific rules prescribed for a special civil action.
In her answer7 dated 19 August 1994, herein petitioner Natcher
averred that she was legally married to Graciano in 20 March 1980 "XXX
and thus, under the law, she was likewise considered a compulsory
heir of the latter. Petitioner further alleged that during Graciano's "c) A special proceeding is a remedy by which a party
lifetime, Graciano already distributed, in advance, properties to his seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact."
children, hence, herein private respondents may not anymore claim
against Graciano's estate or against herein petitioner's property.
As could be gleaned from the foregoing, there lies a marked
distinction between an action and a special proceeding. An action is
After trial, the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 55, rendered a a formal demand of one's right in a court of justice in the manner
decision dated 26 January 1996 holding:8 prescribed by the court or by the law. It is the method of applying
legal remedies according to definite established rules. The term
"1) The deed of sale executed by the late Graciano del "special proceeding" may be defined as an application or proceeding
Rosario in favor of Patricia Natcher is prohibited by law to establish the status or right of a party, or a particular fact. Usually,
and thus a complete nullity. There being no evidence that in special proceedings, no formal pleadings are required unless the
a separation of property was agreed upon in the marriage statute expressly so provides. In special proceedings, the remedy is
settlements or that there has been decreed a judicial granted generally upon an application or motion."9
separation of property between them, the spouses are
prohibited from entering (into) a contract of sale; Citing American Jurisprudence, a noted authority in Remedial Law
expounds further:
"2) The deed as sale cannot be likewise regarded as a valid
donation as it was equally prohibited by law under Article "It may accordingly be stated generally that actions
133 of the New Civil Code; include those proceedings which are instituted and
prosecuted according to the ordinary rules and provisions
"3) Although the deed of sale cannot be regarded as such relating to actions at law or suits in equity, and that special
or as a donation, it may however be regarded as an proceedings include those proceedings which are not
extension of advance inheritance of Patricia Natcher being ordinary in this sense, but is instituted and prosecuted
a compulsory heir of the deceased." according to some special mode as in the case of
proceedings commenced without summons and
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the lower prosecuted without regular pleadings, which are
court's decision ratiocinating, inter alia: characteristics of ordinary actions. XXX A special
proceeding must therefore be in the nature of a distinct
and independent proceeding for particular relief, such as
"It is the probate court that has exclusive jurisdiction to
may be instituted independently of a pending action, by
make a just and legal distribution of the estate. The court a
petition or motion upon notice."10
quo, trying an ordinary action for reconveyance /
Applying these principles, an action for reconveyance and Analogously, in a train of decisions, this Court has consistently
annulment of title with damages is a civil action, whereas matters enunciated the long standing principle that although generally, a
relating to settlement of the estate of a deceased person such as probate court may not decide a question of title or ownership, yet if
advancement of property made by the decedent, partake of the the interested parties are all heirs, or the question is one of
nature of a special proceeding, which concomitantly requires the collation or advancement, or the parties consent to the assumption
application of specific rules as provided for in the Rules of Court. of jurisdiction by the probate court and the rights of third parties are
not impaired, then the probate court is competent to decide the
Clearly, matters which involve settlement and distribution of the question of ownership.16
estate of the decedent fall within the exclusive province of the
probate court in the exercise of its limited jurisdiction. Similarly in Mendoza vs. Teh, we had occasion to hold:

Thus, under Section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, questions as to "In the present suit, no settlement of estate is involved,
advancement made or alleged to have been made by the deceased but merely an allegation seeking appointment as estate
to any heir may be heard and determined by the court having administratrix which does not necessarily involve
jurisdiction of the estate proceedings; and the final order of the settlement of estate that would have invited the exercise
court thereon shall be binding on the person raising the questions of the limited jurisdiction of a probate court.17 (emphasis
and on the heir. supplied)

While it may be true that the Rules used the word "may", it is Of equal importance is that before any conclusion about the legal
nevertheless clear that the same provision11contemplates a probate share due to a compulsory heir may be reached, it is necessary that
court when it speaks of the "court having jurisdiction of the estate certain steps be taken first.18 The net estate of the decedent must
proceedings". be ascertained, by deducting all payable obligations and charges
from the value of the property owned by the deceased at the time
Corollarily, the Regional Trial Court in the instant case, acting in its of his death; then, all donations subject to collation would be added
general jurisdiction, is devoid of authority to render an adjudication to it. With the partible estate thus determined, the legitime of the
and resolve the issue of advancement of the real property in favor of compulsory heir or heirs can be established; and only thereafter can
herein petitioner Natcher, inasmuch as Civil Case No. 471075 for it be ascertained whether or not a donation had prejudiced the
reconveyance and annulment of title with damages is not, to our legitimes.19
mind, the proper vehicle to thresh out said question. Moreover,
under the present circumstances, the RTC of Manila, Branch 55 was A perusal of the records, specifically the antecedents and
not properly constituted as a probate court so as to validly pass proceedings in the present case, reveals that the trial court failed to
upon the question of advancement made by the decedent Graciano observe established rules of procedure governing the settlement of
Del Rosario to his wife, herein petitioner Natcher. the estate of Graciano Del Rosario. This Court sees no cogent reason
to sanction the non-observance of these well-entrenched rules and
At this point, the appellate court's disquisition is elucidating: hereby holds that under the prevailing circumstances, a probate
court, in the exercise of its limited jurisdiction, is indeed the best
forum to ventilate and adjudge the issue of advancement as well as
"Before a court can make a partition and distribution of
other related matters involving the settlement of Graciano Del
the estate of a deceased, it must first settle the estate in a
Rosario's estate.1âwphi1.nêt
special proceeding instituted for the purpose. In the case
at hand, the court a quo determined the respective
legitimes of the plaintiffs-appellants and assigned the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed decision of the
subject property owned by the estate of the deceased to Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED and the instant petition
defendant-appellee without observing the proper is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
proceedings provided (for) by the Rules of Court. From the
aforecited discussions, it is clear that trial courts trying an SO ORDERED.
ordinary action cannot resolve to perform acts pertaining
to a special proceeding because it is subject to specific 5. SECOND DIVISION
prescribed rules. Thus, the court a quo erred in regarding
the subject property as an advance inheritance."12
G.R. No. 109373 March 20, 1995

In resolving the case at bench, this Court is not unaware of our

pronouncement in Coca vs. Borromeo13 and Mendoza vs. Teh14 that
PAULA S. PAUG, and its officers and members, petitioners,
whether a particular matter should be resolved by the Regional Trial
Court (then Court of First Instance) in the exercise of its general
jurisdiction or its limited probate jurisdiction is not a jurisdictional
II, as Liquidator of Pacific Banking Corporation, respondents.
issue but a mere question of procedure. In essence, it is procedural
question involving a mode of practice "which may be waived". 15
G.R. No. 112991 March 20, 1995
Notwithstanding, we do not see any waiver on the part of herein
private respondents inasmuch as the six children of the decedent THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINE DEPOSIT INSURANCE
even assailed the authority of the trail court, acting in its general CORPORATION, as Liquidator of the Pacific Banking Corporation
jurisdiction, to rule on this specific issue of advancement made by , petitioner,
the decedent to petitioner. vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. JUDGE REGINO T. VERIDIANO II, DEPUTY Ang Keong Lan and E.J. Ang Int'l., private respondents in G.R. No.
SHERIFF RAMON ENRIQUEZ and ANG ENG JOO, ANG KEONG LAN 112991, likewise filed claims for the payment of investment in the
and E.J ANG INT'L. LTD., represented by their Attorney-in-fact, PaBC allegedly in the form of shares of stocks amounting to
GONZALO C. SY, respondents. US$2,531,632.18. The shares of stocks, consisting of 154,462
common shares, constituted 11% of the total subscribed capital
MENDOZA, J.: stock of the PaBC. They alleged that their claim constituted foreign
exchange capital investment entitled to preference in payment
under the Foreign Investments Law.
These cases have been consolidated because the principal question
involved is the same: whether a petition for liquidation under §29 of
Rep. Act No. 265, otherwise known as the Central Bank Act, is a In his order dated September 11, 1992, respondent judge of the RTC
special proceeding or an ordinary civil action. The Fifth and the directed the Liquidator to pay private respondents the total amount
Fourteenth Divisions of the Court of Appeals reached opposite of their claim as preferred creditors.7
results on this question and consequently applied different periods
for appealing. The Liquidator received the order on September 16, 1992. On
September 30, 1992 he moved for reconsideration, but his motion
The facts are as follows: was denied by the court on October 2, 1992. He received the order
denying his Motion for Reconsideration on October 5, 1992. On
October 14, 1992 he filed a Notice of Appeal from the orders of
September 16, 1992 and October 2, 1992. As in the case of the
Union, however, the judge ordered the Notice of Appeal stricken off
Proceedings in the CB and the RTC the record on the ground that it had been filed without authority of
the Central Bank and beyond 15 days. In his order of October 28,
On July 5, 1985, the Pacific Banking Corporation (PaBC) was placed 1992, the judge directed the execution of his September 11, 1992
under receivership by the Central Bank of the Philippines pursuant order granting the Stockholders/ Investors' claim.
to Resolution No. 699 of its Monetary Board. A few months later, it
was placed under liquidation1 and a Liquidator was appointed.2 II.

On April 7, 1986, the Central Bank filed with the Regional Trial Court Proceedings in the Court of Appeals
of Manila Branch 31, a petition entitled "Petition for Assistance in
the Liquidation of Pacific Banking Corporation." 3 The petition was
The Liquidator filed separate Petitions for Certiorari, Prohibition
approved, after which creditors filed their claims with the court.
and Mandamus in the Court of Appeals to set aside the orders of the
trial court denying his appeal from the orders granting the claims of
On May 17, 1991, a new Liquidator, Vitaliano N. Nañagas,4 President Union and of the Stockholders/Investors. The two Divisions of the
of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC), was Court of Appeals, to which the cases were separately raffled,
appointed by the Central Bank. rendered conflicting rulings.

On March 13, 1989 the Pacific Banking Corporation Employees In its decision of November 17, 1992 in CA-G.R. SP No. 27751 (now
Organization (Union for short), petitioner in G.R. No. 109373, filed a G.R. No. 09373) the Fifth Division8 held in the case of the Union that
complaint-in-intervention seeking payment of holiday pay, 13th the proceeding before the trial court was a special proceeding and,
month pay differential, salary increase differential, Christmas bonus, therefore, the period for appealing from any decision or final order
and cash equivalent of Sick Leave Benefit due its members as rendered therein is 30 days. Since the notice of appeal of the
employees of PaBC. In its order dated September 13, 1991, the trial Liquidator was filed on the 30th day of his receipt of the decision
court ordered payment of the principal claims of the Union.5 granting the Union's claims, the appeal was brought on time. The
Fifth Division, therefore, set aside the orders of the lower court and
The Liquidator received a copy of the order on September 16, 1991. directed the latter to give due course to the appeal of the Liquidator
On October 16, 1991, he filed a Motion for Reconsideration and and set the Record on Appeal he had filed for hearing.
Clarification of the order. In his order of December 6, 1991, the
judge modified his September 13, 19916 but in effect denied the On the other hand, on December 16, 1993, the Fourteenth
Liquidator's motion for reconsideration. This order was received by Division9 ruled in CA-G.R. SP No. 29351 (now G.R. No. 112991) in the
the Liquidator on December 9, 1991. The following day, December case of the Stockholders/Investors that a liquidation proceeding is
10, 1991, he filed a Notice of Appeal and a Motion for Additional an ordinary action. Therefore, the period for appealing from any
Time to Submit Record on Appeal. On December 23, 1991, another decision or final order rendered therein is 15 days and that since the
Notice of Appeal was filed by the Office of the Solicitor General in Liquidator's appeal notice was filed on the 23rd day of his receipt of
behalf of Nañagas. the order appealed from, deducting the period during which his
motion for reconsideration was pending, the notice of appeal was
In his order of February 10, 1992, respondent judge disallowed the filed late. Accordingly, the Fourteenth Division dismissed the
Liquidator's Notice of Appeal on the ground that it was late, i.e., Liquidator's petition.
more than 15 days after receipt of the decision. The judge declared
his September 13, 1991 order and subsequent orders to be final and III.
executory and denied reconsideration. On March 27, 1992, he
granted the Union's Motion for issuance of a writ of Execution.
Present Proceedings
The Union and the Liquidator then separately filed petitions before ordinary action, the period of appeal is 15 days from notice of the
this Court. decision or final order appealed from.

In G.R. No. 109373 the Union contends that: BP Blg. 129 provides:

1. The Court of Appeals acted without §39. Appeals. — The period for appeal from final
jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of orders, resolutions, awards, judgments, or
the suit. decisions of any court in all cases shall be fifteen
(15) days counted from the notice of the final
2. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in taking order, resolution, award, judgment or decision
cognizance of the petition for certiorari filed by appealed from: Provided, however, that
Nañagas who was without any legal authority to in habeas corpus cases the period for appeal
file it. shall be forty-eight (48) hours from the notice of
the judgment appealed from.
3. The Court of Appeals erred in concluding that
the case is a special proceeding governed by No record on appeal shall be required to take an
Rules 72 to 109 of the Revised Rules of Court. appeal. In lieu thereof, the entire record shall be
transmitted with all the pages prominently
numbered consecutively, together with an index
4. The Court of Appeals erred seriously in
of the contents thereof.
concluding that the notice of appeal filed by
Nañagas was filed on time.
This section shall not apply in appeals in special
proceedings and in other cases wherein multiple
5. The Court of Appeals erred seriously in
appeals are allowed under applicable provisions
declaring that the second notice of appeal filed
of the Rules of Court.
on December 23, 1991 by the Solicitor General is
a superfluity.
The Interim Rules and Guidelines to implement BP Blg. 129 provides:
On the other hand, in G.R. No. 112991 the Liquidator contends that:
19. Period of Appeals. —
1. The Petition for Assistance in the Liquidation
of the Pacific Banking Corporation s a Special (a) All appeals, except
Proceeding case and/or one which allows in habeas corpus cases and in
multiple appeals, in which case the period of the cases referred to in
appeal is 30 days and not 15 days from receipt of paragraph (b) hereof, must
the order/judgment appealed from. be taken within fifteen (15)
days from notice of the
judgment, order, resolution
2. Private respondents are not creditors of PaBC
or award appealed from.
but are plain stockholders whose right to receive
payment as such would accrue only after all the
creditors of the insolvent bank have been paid. (b) In appeals in special
proceedings in accordance
with Rule 109 of the Rules of
3. The claim of private respondents in the
Court and other cases
amount of US$22,531,632.18 is not in the nature
wherein multiple appeals are
of foreign investment as it is understood in law.
allowed, the period of
appeals shall be thirty (30)
4. The claim of private respondents has not been days, a record on appeal
clearly established and proved. being required.

5. The issuance of a writ of execution against the The Fourteenth Division of the Court of Appeals held that the
assets of PaBC was made with grave abuse of proceeding is an ordinary action similar to an action for interpleader
discretion. under Rule 63. 10 The Fourteenth Division stated:

The petitions in these cases must be dismissed. The petition filed is akin to an interpleader under
Rule 63 of the Rules of Court where there are
First. As stated in the beginning, the principal question in these conflicting claimants or several claims upon the
cases is whether a petition for liquidation under §29 of Rep. Act No. same subject matter, a person who claims no
265 is in the nature of a special proceeding. If it is, then the period of interest thereon may file an action for
appeal is 30 days and the party appealing must, in addition to a interpleader to compel the claimants to
notice of appeal, file with the trial court a record on appeal in order "interplead" and litigate their several claims
to perfect his appeal. Otherwise, if a liquidation proceeding is an among themselves. (Section I Rule 63).
An interpleader is in the category of a special Action is the act by which one sues another in a
civil action under Rule 62 which, like an ordinary court of justice for the enforcement or
action, may be appealed only within fifteen (15) protection of a right, or the prevention or
days from notice of the judgment or order redress of a wrong while special proceeding is
appealed from. Under Rule 62, the preceding the act by which one seeks to establish the
rules covering ordinary civil actions which are status or right of a party, or a particular fact.
not inconsistent with or may serve to Hence, action is distinguished from special
supplement the provisions of the rule relating to proceeding in that the former is a formal
such civil actions are applicable to special civil demand of a right by one against another, while
actions. This embraces Rule 41 covering appeals the latter is but a petition for a declaration of a
from the regional trial court to the Court of status, right or fact. Where a party litigant seeks
Appeals. to recover property from another, his remedy is
to file an action. Where his purpose is to seek
xxx xxx xxx the appointment of a guardian for an insane, his
remedy is a special proceeding to establish the
fact or status of insanity calling for an
Thus, under Section 1 Rule 2 of the Rules of
appointment of guardianship.
Court, an action is defined as "an ordinary suit in
a court of justice by which one party prosecutes
another for the enforcement or protection of a Considering this distinction, a petition for liquidation of an insolvent
right or the prevention or redress of a wrong." corporation should be classified a special proceeding and not an
On the other hand, Section 2 of the same Rule ordinary action. Such petition does not seek the enforcement or
states that "every other remedy including one to protection of a right nor the prevention or redress of a wrong
establish the status or right of a party or a against a party. It does not pray for affirmative relief for injury
particular fact shall be by special proceeding." arising from a party's wrongful act or omission nor state a cause of
action that can be enforced against any person.
To our mind, from the aforequoted definitions of
an action and a special proceeding, the petition What it seeks is merely a declaration by the trial court of the
for assistance of the court in the liquidation of corporation's insolvency so that its creditors may be able to file their
an asset of a bank is not "one to establish the claims in the settlement of the corporation's debts and obligations.
status or right of a party or a particular fact." Put in another way, the petition only seeks a declaration of the
Contrary to the submission of the petitioner, the corporation's debts and obligations. Put in another way, the petition
petition is not intended to establish the fact of only seeks a declaration of the corporation's state of insolvency and
insolvency of the bank. The insolvency of the the concomitant right of creditors and the order of payment of their
bank had already been previously determined by claims in the disposition of the corporation's assets.
the Central Bank in accordance with Section 9 of
the CB Act before the petition was filed. All that Contrary to the rulings of the Fourteenth Division, liquidation
needs to be done is to liquidate the assets of the proceedings do not resemble petitions for interpleader. For one, an
bank and thus the assistance of the respondent action for interpleader involves claims on a subject matter against a
court is sought for that purpose. person who has no interest therein. 12 This is not the case in a
liquidation proceeding where the Liquidator, as representative of
It should be pointed out that this petition filed is the corporation, takes charge of its assets and liabilities for the
not among the cases categorized as a special benefit of the creditors.13 He is thus charged with insuring that the
proceeding under Section 1, Rule 72 of the Rules assets of the corporation are paid only to rightful claimants and in
of Court, nor among the special proceedings that the order of payment provided by law.
may be appealed under Section 1, Rule 109 of
the Rules. Rather, a liquidation proceeding resembles the proceeding for the
settlement of state of deceased persons under Rules 73 to 91 of the
We disagree with the foregoing view of the Fourteenth Division. Rules of Court. The two have a common purpose: the determination
Rule 2 of the Rules of Court provide: of all the assets and the payment of all the debts and liabilities of
the insolvent corporation or the estate. The Liquidator and the
administrator or executor are both charged with the assets for the
§1. Action defined. — Action means an ordinary
benefit of the claimants. In both instances, the liability of the
suit in a court of justice, by which the party
corporation and the estate is not disputed. The court's concern is
prosecutes another for the enforcement or
with the declaration of creditors and their rights and the
protection of a right, or the prevention or
determination of their order of payment.
redress of a wrong.

Furthermore, as in the settlement of estates, multiple appeals are

§2. Special Proceeding Distinguished. — Every
allowed in proceedings for liquidation of an insolvent corporation.
other remedy, including one to establish the
As the Fifth Division of the Court of Appeals, quoting the Liquidator,
status or right of a party or a particular fact, shall
correctly noted:
be by special proceeding.

A liquidation proceeding is a single proceeding

Elucidating the crucial distinction between an ordinary action and a
which consists of a number of cases properly
special proceeding, Chief Justice Moran states:" 11
classified as "claims." It is basically a two-phased Inevitably, multiple appeals are allowed in
proceeding. The first phase is concerned with liquidation proceedings. Consequently, a record
the approval and disapproval of claims. Upon the on appeal is necessary in each and every appeal
approval of the petition seeking the assistance of made. Hence, the period to appeal therefrom
the proper court in the liquidation of a close should be thirty (30) days, a record on appeal
entity, all money claims against the bank are being required. (Record pp. 162-164).
required to be filed with the liquidation court.
This phase may end with the declaration by the In G.R. No. 112991 (the case of the Stockholders/Investors), the
liquidation court that the claim is not proper or Liquidator's notice of appeal was filed on time, having been filed on
without basis. On the other hand, it may also the 23rd day of receipt of the order granting the claims of the
end with the liquidation court allowing the claim. Stockholders/Investors. However, the Liquidator did not file a record
In the latter case, the claim shall be classified on appeal with the result that he failed to perfect his appeal. As
whether it is ordinary or preferred, and already stated a record on appeal is required under the Interim
thereafter included Liquidator. In either case, Rules and Guidelines in special proceedings and for cases where
the order allowing or disallowing a particular multiple appeals are allowed. The reason for this is that the several
claim is final order, and may be appealed by the claims are actually separate ones and a decision or final order with
party aggrieved thereby. respect to any claim can be appealed. Necessarily the original record
on appeal must remain in the trial court where other claims may still
The second phase involves the approval by the be pending.
Court of the distribution plan prepared by the
duly appointed liquidator. The distribution plan Because of the Liquidator's failure to perfect his appeal, the order
specifies in detail the total amount available for granting the claims of the Stockholders/Investors became final.
distribution to creditors whose claim were Consequently. the Fourteenth Division's decision dismissing the
earlier allowed. The Order finally disposes of the Liquidator's Petition for Certiorari,Prohibition and Mandamus must
issue of how much property is available for be affirmed albeit for a different reason.
disposal. Moreover, it ushers in the final phase
of the liquidation proceeding — payment of all
On the other hand, in G.R. No. 109373 (case of the Labor Union), we
allowed claims in accordance with the order of
find that the Fifth Division correctly granted the Liquidator's Petition
legal priority and the approved distribution plan.
for Certiorari. Prohibition and Mandamus. As already noted, the
Liquidator filed a notice of appeal and a motion for extension to file
Verily, the import of the final character of an a record on appeal on December 10, 1991, i.e., within 30 days of his
Order of allowance or disallowance of a receipt of the order granting the Union's claim. Without waiting for
particular claim cannot be overemphasized. It is the resolution of his motion for extension, he filed on December 20,
the operative fact that constitutes a liquidation 1991 within the extension sought a record on appeal. Respondent
proceeding a "case where multiple appeals are judge thus erred in disallowing the notice on appeal and denying the
allowed by law." The issuance of an Order which, Liquidator's motion for extension to file a record on appeal.
by its nature, affects only the particular claims
involved, and which may assume finality if no
The Fifth Division of the Court of Appeals correctly granted the
appeal is made therefrom, ipso factocreates a
Liquidator's Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus and
situation where multiple appeals are allowed.
its decision should, therefore, be affirmed.

A liquidation proceeding is commenced by the

Second. In G.R. No. 109373, The Union claims that under §29 of Rep.
filing of a single petition by the Solicitor General
Act No. 265, the court merely assists in adjudicating the claims of
with a court of competent jurisdiction entitled,
creditors, preserves the assets of the institution, and implements the
"Petition for Assistance in the Liquidation of e.g.,
liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board and that,
Pacific Banking Corporation. All claims against
therefore, as representative of the Monetary Board, the Liquidator
the insolvent are required to be filed with the
cannot question the order of the court or appeal from it. It contends
liquidation court. Although the claims are
that since the Monetary Board had previously admitted PaBC's
litigated in the same proceeding, the treatment
liability to the laborers by in fact setting aside the amount of
is individual. Each claim is heard separately. And
P112,234,292.44 for the payment of their claims, there was nothing
the Order issued relative to a particular claim
else for the Liquidator to do except to comply with the order of the
applies only to said claim, leaving the other
claims unaffected, as each claim is considered
separate and distinct from the others. Obviously,
in the event that an appeal from an Order The Union's contention is untenable. In liquidation proceedings, the
allowing or disallowing a particular claim is function of the trial court is not limited to assisting in the
made, only said claim is affected, leaving the implementation of the orders of the Monetary Board. Under the
others to proceed with their ordinary course. In same section (§29) of the law invoked by the Union, the court has
such case, the original records of the proceeding authority to set aside the decision of the Monetary Board "if there is
are not elevated to the appellate court. They a convincing proof that the action is plainly arbitrary and made in
remain with the liquidation court. In lieu of the bad faith." 14 As this Court held in Rural Bank of Buhi, Inc. v. Court of
original record, a record of appeal is instead Appeals: 15
required to be prepared and transmitted to the
appellate court.
There is no question, that the action of the marriage during the subsistence of a previous marriage where the
monetary Board in this regard may be subject to prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years, the spouse
judicial review. Thus, it has been held that the present must institute summary proceedings for the declaration of
Court's may interfere with the Central Bank's presumptive death of the absentee spouse, without prejudice to the
exercise of discretion in determining whether or effect of the reappearance of the absent spouse.
not a distressed bank shall be supported or
liquidated. Discretion has its limits and has never The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General, sought to
been held to include arbitrariness, discrimination appeal the trial court’s order by filing a Notice of Appeal.3
or bad faith (Ramos v. Central Bank of the
Philippines, 41 SCRA 567 [1971]).
By Order of November 22, 1999s,4 the trial court, noting that no
record of appeal was filed and served "as required by and pursuant
In truth, the Liquidator is the representative not only of the Central to Sec. 2(a), Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the present
Bank but also of the insolvent bank. Under §§28A-29 of Rep. Act No. case being a special proceeding," disapproved the Notice of Appeal.
265 he acts in behalf of the bank "personally or through counsel as
he may retain, in all actions or proceedings or against the
The Republic’s Motion for Reconsideration of the trial court’s order
corporation" and he has authority "to do whatever may be
of disapproval having been denied by Order of January 13, 2000,5 it
necessary for these purposes." This authority includes the power to
filed a Petition for Certiorari6 before the Court of Appeals, it
appeal from the decisions or final orders of the court which he
contending that the declaration of presumptive death of a person
believes to be contrary to the interest of the bank.
under Article 41 of the Family Code is not a special proceeding or a
case of multiple or separate appeals requiring a record on appeal.
Finally the Union contends that the notice of appeal and motion for
extension of time to file the record on appeal filed in behalf of the
By Decision of May 5, 2004,7 the Court of Appeals denied the
Central Bank was not filed by the office of the Solicitor General as
Republic’s petition on procedural and substantive grounds in this
counsel for the Central Bank. This contention has no merit. On
October 22, 1992, as Assistant Solicitor General Cecilio O. Estoesta
informed the trial court in March 27, 1992, the OSG had previously
authorized lawyers of the PDIC to prepare and sign pleadings in the At the outset, it must be stressed that the petition is not
case. 16 Conformably thereto the Notice of Appeal and the Motion sufficient in form. It failed to attach to its petition a
for Additional Time to submit Record on Appeal filed were jointly certified true copy of the assailed Order dated January 13,
signed by Solicitor Reynaldo I. Saludares in behalf of the OSG and by 2000 [denying its Motion for Reconsideration of the
lawyers of the PDIC. 17 November 22, 1999 Order disapproving its Notice of
Appeal]. Moreover, the petition questioned the [trial
court’s] Order dated August 15, 1999, which declared
WHEREFORE, in G.R. No. 109373 and G.R. No 112991, the decisions
Clemente Jomoc presumptively dead, likewise for having
appealed from are AFFIRMED.
been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction, yet, not even a copy could be found in
SO ORDERED. the records. On this score alone, the petition should have
been dismissed outright in accordance with Sec. 3, Rule 46
6. THIRD DIVISION of the Rules of Court.

G.R. No. 163604 May 6, 2005 However, despite the procedural lapses, the Court
resolves to delve deeper into the substantive issue of the
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, validity/nullity of the assailed order.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS (Twentieth Division), HON. The principal issue in this case is whether a petition for
PRESIDING JUDGE FORTUNITO L. MADRONA, RTC-BR. 35 and declaration of the presumptive death of a person is in the
APOLINARIA MALINAO JOMOC, respondents. nature of a special proceeding. If it is, the period to appeal
is 30 days and the party appealing must, in addition to a
DECISION notice of appeal, file with the trial court a record on appeal
to perfect its appeal. Otherwise, if the petition is an
ordinary action, the period to appeal is 15 days from
notice or decision or final order appealed from and the
appeal is perfected by filing a notice of appeal (Section 3,
In "In the Matter of Declaration of Presumptive Death of Absentee Rule 41, Rules of Court).
Spouse Clemente P. Jomoc, Apolinaria Malinao Jomoc, petitioner,"
the Ormoc City, Regional Trial Court, Branch 35, by Order of
As defined in Section 3(a), Rule 1 of the Rules of Court, "a
September 29, 1999,1 granted the petition on the basis of the
civil action is one by which a party sues another for the
Commissioner’s Report2 and accordingly declared the absentee
enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention of
spouse, who had left his petitioner-wife nine years earlier,
redress of a wrong" while a special proceeding under
presumptively dead.
Section 3(c) of the same rule is defined as "a remedy by
which a party seeks to establish a status, a right or a
In granting the petition, the trial judge, Judge Fortunito L. Madrona, particular fact (Heirs of Yaptinchay, et al. v. Del Rosario, et
cited Article 41, par. 2 of the Family Code. Said article provides al., G.R. No. 124320, March 2, 1999).
that for the purpose of contracting a valid subsequent
Considering the aforementioned distinction, this Court (g) Hospitalization of insane persons;
finds that the instant petition is in the nature of a special
proceeding and not an ordinary action. The petition (h) Habeas corpus;
merely seeks for a declaration by the trial court of the
presumptive death of absentee spouse Clemente Jomoc. It
(i) Change of name;
does not seek the enforcement or protection of a right or
the prevention or redress of a wrong. Neither does it
involve a demand of right or a cause of action that can be (j) Voluntary dissolution of corporations;
enforced against any person.
(k) Judicial approval of voluntary recognition of
On the basis of the foregoing discussion, the subject Order minor natural children;
dated January 13, 2000 denying OSG’s Motion for
Reconsideration of the Order dated November 22, 1999 (l) Constitution of family home;
disapproving its Notice of Appeal was correctly issued. The
instant petition, being in the nature of a special (m) Declaration of absence and death;
proceeding, OSG should have filed, in addition to its
Notice of Appeal, a record on appeal in accordance with
Section 19 of the Interim Rules and Guidelines to (n) Cancellation or correction of entries in the
Implement BP Blg. 129 and Section 2(a), Rule 41 of the civil registry.
Rules of Court . . . (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Sec. 2. Applicability of rules of civil actions. – In the
The Republic (petitioner) insists that the declaration of presumptive absence of special provisions, the rules provided for in
death under Article 41 of the Family Code is not a special proceeding ordinary actions shall be, as far as practicable, applicable
involving multiple or separate appeals where a record on appeal in special proceedings. (Underscoring supplied)
shall be filed and served in like manner.
The pertinent provision of the Civil Code on presumption of death
Petitioner cites Rule 109 of the Revised Rules of Court which provides:
enumerates the cases wherein multiple appeals are allowed and a
record on appeal is required for an appeal to be perfected. The Art. 390. After an absence of seven years, it being
petition for the declaration of presumptive death of an absent unknown whether or not the absentee still lives, he shall
spouse not being included in the enumeration, petitioner contends be presumed dead for all purposes, except for those of
that a mere notice of appeal suffices. succession.

By Resolution of December 15, 2004,8 this Court, noting that copy of x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
the September 27, 2004 Resolution9 requiring respondent to file her
comment on the petition was returned unserved with postmaster’s Upon the other hand, Article 41 of the Family Code, upon which the
notation "Party refused," Resolved to consider that copy deemed trial court anchored its grant of the petition for the declaration of
served upon her. presumptive death of the absent spouse, provides:

The pertinent provisions on the General Provisions on Special Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the
Proceedings, Part II of the Revised Rules of Court entitled SPECIAL subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void,
PROCEEDINGS, read: unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage,
the prior spouses had been absent for four consecutive
RULE 72 years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief
SUBJECT MATTER AND APPLICABILITY that the absent spouses was already dead. In case of
OF GENERAL RULES disappearance where there is danger of death under the
circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of
Section 1. Subject matter of special proceedings. – Rules of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be
special proceedings are provided for in the following: sufficient.

(a) Settlement of estate of deceased persons; For the purpose pf contracting the subsequent marriage
under the preceding paragraph, the spouses present must
institute a summary proceeding as provided in this
(b) Escheat; Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the
absentee, without prejudice to the effect of a
(c) Guardianship and custody of children; reappearance of the absent spouse. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
(d) Trustees;
Rule 41, Section 2 of the Revised Rules of Court, on Modes of
(e) Adoption; Appeal, invoked by the trial court in disapproving petitioner’s Notice
of Appeal, provides:
(f) Rescission and revocation of adoption;
Sec. 2. Modes of appeal. -
(a) Ordinary appeal. - The appeal to the Court of Appeals Appeal is not necessarily fatal, for the rules of procedure are not to
in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise be applied in a technical sense. Given the issue raised before it by
of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of petitioner, what the appellate court should have done was to direct
appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or petitioner to comply with the rule.
final order appealed from and serving a copy thereof upon
the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required As for petitioner’s failure to submit copy of the trial court’s order
except in special proceedings and other cases of multiple granting the petition for declaration of presumptive death, contrary
or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so to the appellate court’s observation that petitioner was also
require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed assailing it, petitioner’s 8-page petition10filed in said court does not
and served in like manner. (Emphasis and underscoring so reflect, it merely having assailed the order disapproving the
supplied) Notice of Appeal.

xxx WHEREFORE, the assailed May 5, 2004 Decision of the Court of

Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Let the case be
By the trial court’s citation of Article 41 of the Family Code, it is REMANDED to it for appropriate action in light of the foregoing
gathered that the petition of Apolinaria Jomoc to have her absent discussion.
spouse declared presumptively dead had for its purpose her desire
to contract a valid subsequent marriage. Ergo, the petition for that SO ORDERED.
purpose is a "summary proceeding," following above-quoted Art.
41, paragraph 2 of the Family Code.

Since Title XI of the Family Code, entitled SUMMARY JUDICIAL

G.R. No. 141396 April 9, 2002
PROCEEDING IN THE FAMILY LAW, contains the following
provision, inter alia:
DEOGRACIAS MUSA, ROMEO and ANDRO MUSA, as represented by
their Attorney-in-fact, MARILYN MUSA,petitioners,
SYLVIA AMOR, respondent.
Art. 238. Unless modified by the Supreme Court, the
procedural rules in this Title shall apply in all
casesprovided for in this Codes requiring summary court
proceedings. Such cases shall be decided in an
expeditious manner without regard to technical Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari is the Decision of the
rules. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Court of Appeals dated September 27, 1999 in C.A. G.R. S.P. No.
49263 which modified in part the decision of the Department of
Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) and ruled that herein
x x x,
petitioners Deogracias, Romeo and Andro Musa are not tenants of
the subject landholding; as well as the Resolution dated December
there is no doubt that the petition of Apolinaria Jomoc required, and 29, 1999 denying petitioners’ motion for reconsideration.
is, therefore, a summary proceeding under the Family Code, not a
special proceeding under the Revised Rules of Court appeal for
This case involves an agricultural landholding with a total area of
which calls for the filing of a Record on Appeal. It being a summary
9.9611 hectares located at Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon formerly
ordinary proceeding, the filing of a Notice of Appeal from the trial
owned by one Antonio Dasig, two hectares of which are ricelands
court’s order sufficed.
and the rest are devoted to coconuts. When Antonio Dasig migrated
to the United States, his mother, Rosario Dasig, acted as
That the Family Code provision on repeal, Art. 254, provides as administratrix of the said property.
On March 5, 1993, Rosario, representing her son, sold the subject
Art. 254. Titles III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, XI and XV of Book I property to herein respondent Sylvia Amor for the total amount of
of Republic Act No. 386, otherwise known as the Civil Code P300,000.00. This prompted petitioners, claiming to be tenants of
of the Philippines, as amended, and Articles 17, 18, 19, 27, the landholding, to file a case for redemption against respondent
28, 29, 30, 31, 39, 40, 41 and 42 of Presidential Decree No. and Rosario Dasig with the Department of Agrarian Reform Regional
603, otherwise known as the Child and Youth Welfare Adjudicator. Later on, respondent tried to eject petitioners from the
Code, as amended, and all laws, decrees, executive orders, property so the latter withdrew the case for redemption and filed
proclamations rules and regulations, or parts against respondent a complaint for annulment of sale,
thereof, inconsistent therewith are reinstatement and damages with a prayer for preliminary injunction,
hereby repealed, (Emphasis and underscoring supplied), docketed as DARAB Case No. 05-154-S.

seals the case in petitioner’s favor. In their complaint, petitioners averred that in 1979, Deogracias
Musa entered into a verbal tenurial arrangement with Antonio
Finally, on the alleged procedural flaw in petitioner’s petition before Dasig, through Rosario Dasig. Deogracias’ tenancy continued
the appellate court. Petitioner’s failure to attach to his petition uninterrupted under a 2/3-1/3 sharing arrangement per harvest on
before the appellate court a copy of the trial court’s order denying the riceland portion and a 60-40 sharing in the produce of the
its motion for reconsideration of the disapproval of its Notice of coconut plantation. Deogracias was helped by his two sons, Andro
and Romeo Musa. When Deogracias fell ill due to a stroke in 1990, Appeals alleging that DARAB erred in declaring that petitioners
his sons took over the cultivation and continued the previous are bonafide tenants of the subject landholding and in holding that
arrangement with Rosario Dasig who duly acknowledged the same the Secretary of Agrarian Reform has authority to determine
and received the share pertaining to her as landowner. Petitioners whether the said land is covered by P.D. No. 27 and RA
were thus surprised when the landholding was later on sold by 6657.1âwphi1.nêt
Rosario Dasig to respondent without their knowledge and consent.
They tried to redeem the property as tenants but during the In their Comment on the petition, petitioners pointed out that the
pendency of the case, a notice dated September 8, 1993 was issued petition should not be given due course since (1) it was not
by the Department of Agrarian Reform placing the entire property accompanied by a written explanation why the petition was not
under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). This served personally to them and (2) the certification on non-forum
prompted petitioners to file a complaint for annulment of the sale. shopping was inadequate for failure to conform with the prescribed
Finally, petitioners asseverated that the sale of the land to private contents set forth under Section 2, Rule 42 of the Revised Rules of
respondent was illegal and void since the land was subject to the Court.
Voluntary Offer To Sell scheme of the DAR as evidenced by the CARP
VOS Form No. 1 signed by Antonio Dasig.
On September 27, 1999, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision
modifying the DARAB’s ruling only insofar as petitioners’ status is
Rosario Dasig, though impleaded as a party, did not participate in concerned and holding that they "should not be considered tenants
the proceedings before the Regional Adjudicator. Only respondent of the subject landholding."3The decision of the DARAB was affirmed
Amor filed an answer. Respondent maintained that the sale of the in all other respects.4 As to whether or not the subject landholding is
subject landholding was valid because petitioners were covered by P.D. 27 and R.A. 6657, the Court of Appeals sustained the
not bonafide tenants of the same but merely worked thereon as DARAB’s ruling that the matter involves an administrative
hired workers on a "pakyaw" basis; that Deogracias Musa admitted determination within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Secretary of
in an affidavit executed on July 4, 1982 that he was a hired worker; the Department of Agrarian Reform. With regard to the procedural
that the CARP Voluntary Offer To Sell allegedly executed by Antonio error raised by petitioners, the Court of Appeals held that the Rules
Dasig was forged as attested to by the latter in his affidavit dated of Court, particularly on modes of service and filing of pleadings,
November 23, 1993; and that petitioners are not qualified does not apply to agrarian cases.
beneficiaries under P.D. 27 and R.A. 6637 because they are
landowners themselves.
Petitioners sought a reconsideration of the above ruling but the
Court of Appeals denied the motion and affirmed its decision. In
On June 30, 1994, the Regional Adjudicator of DAR ruled in favor of rejecting petitioners’ contention that the case has been rendered
petitioners declaring them as tenants of the subject landholding and moot and academic by the declaration of the Department of
nullifying the deed of absolute sale between Rosario Dasig and Agrarian Reform that the subject landholding is covered by CARP,
respondent. The dispositive portion of the said decision reads: the Court of Appeals reasoned that such development has no
significance because petitioners "have already been declared not to
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: be tenants of the landowner and therefore not qualified beneficiaries
of the provisions of CARP."5
1) Declaring complainant as tenants in the subject
landholding; Petitioners thus found their way to this Court through the present
petition praying for the reversal of the Court of Appeals’ decision
2) Declaring the Deed of Absolute Sale Null and Void and resolution. They assigned the following errors:
without prejudice to the filing with another forum of
appropriate jurisdiction for the parties thereto to recover THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
whatever rights that may pertain to them; DECLARING THAT SINCE PETITIONERS HAVE ALREADY
3) Ordering respondent and all persons acting in their LANDOWNER, THEY ARE NOT QUALIFIED BENEFICIARIES
behalf to reinstate complainants in the subject landholding OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE CARP.
and to maintain the latter in peaceful possession therein;
4) Directing the PARO of Sorsogon, the Regional Director DISMISSING RESPONDENTS PETITION FILED BEFORE SAID
DAR Region V to generate transfer action on the portion of FORUM FOR FAILURE TO CITE AN EXPLANATION AS TO THE
land in question covered by Operation Land Transfer MODES OF SERVICE.6
subject to matter of this case.
First, as to the issue of tenancy, we find no reason to depart from
5) No pronouncement as to Costs and Damages. the findings of the Court of Appeals that herein petitioners were not
bonafide tenants of the landholding. Petitioners gave conflicting
statements as to their alleged tenancy over the landholding. At first,
they maintained that they had been tilling the land since 1979.
However, Deogracias Musa executed an affidavit on July 4, 1982
On appeal, the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board attesting the contrary- that he was not a tenant of Rosario
(DARAB) modified the ruling of the Regional Adjudicator by declaring Dasig.7 Later on, petitioners admitted the execution of such affidavit
that petitioners are bonafide tenants of the land in question and are and claimed that there was no inconsistency because their
thus entitled to security of tenure.2 Not satisfied with the ruling of cultivation of the subject property was commenced after the
the DARAB, respondent brought the case on appeal to the Court of execution of affidavit.8 In another instance, petitioners alleged that
they took over the cultivation of the land from Juan Manlangit in B. Specific
1984.9 These conflicting assertions detract from the veracity of
petitioners’ claim of tenancy. 1. Identify the actual and potential farmer-beneficiaries of
the CARP. (Underscoring ours.)
The Court of Appeals also noted that the testimony of Juan
Manlangit, presented by petitioners, cannot be given credence xxx
because he varied his statements three times. On June 21, 1994, he
executed an affidavit attesting to the tenancy of Deogracias Musa
It is significant to note that on September 3, 1993, the DAR Secretary
over the landholding. He retracted his statement on July 29, 1994
through the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office (MARO) issued a
claiming that he was misled into signing his June 24, 1994 affidavit.
Notice of Coverage placing the entire agricultural landholding,
On August 24, 1994, Manlangit executed another affidavit re-
including the subject property, under CARP. Such being the case, the
affirming his first statement. The vacillating attitude of the witness
appellate court’s pronouncement that petitioners are not qualified
does not help petitioners any. As correctly ruled by the Court of
beneficiaries under CARP is just an obiter dictum and not necessary
Appeals, petitioners’ evidence failed to substantially prove their
in the resolution of the issues.
claim of tenancy over the subject landholding.

Petitioners also allege that the Court of Appeals should not have
Petitioners dispute the Court of Appeals’ statement in its resolution
given due course to the petition because the respondent failed to
denying petitioners’ motion for reconsideration that since they are
attach thereto a written explanation why personal service was not
not tenants of the subject landholding, they are not qualified
done, thereby violating Section 11, Rule 13, of the Rules of Court.
beneficiaries under CARP.10 They argue that such a conclusion is
The Court of Appeals found the service of petition by registered mail
contrary to the Court of Appeals’ pronouncement that the issue of
sufficient notwithstanding the absence of an explanation why
whether the subject landholding is covered by P.D. 27 or R.A. 6657 is
service by mail was resorted to. Citing the case of Reyes vs. Court of
within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Department
Appeals,13 it declared that "the Rules of Court shall not be applicable
of Agrarian Reform. Moreover, assuming arguendo that petitioners
in agrarian cases even in suppletory character."
are not tenants of the landholding, they are still qualified
beneficiaries as farmworkers because R.A. 6657 does not limit the
scope of qualified beneficiaries to tenants alone.11 On this score, the The issue of sufficiency of service of pleadings pertains to the
Court of Appeals itself stated in its decision that it is "in full accord proceedings of the Court of Appeals which are governed by the
with [the DARAB] ruling that the DAR Secretary has authority to Rules of Court. Section 11, Rule 13 of said Rules provides:
determine whether the subject landholding is subject to the
provisions of P.D. No. 27 or R.A. 6657."12 SEC. 11. Priorities in modes of service and filing. -
Whenever practicable, the service and filing of pleadings
It should be pointed out that identification of actual and potential and other papers shall be done personally. Except with
beneficiaries under CARP is vested in the DAR Secretary. respect to papers emanating from the court, a resort to
Administrative Order No. 10, Series of 1989 provides: other modes must be accompanied by a written
explanation why the service or filing was not done
personally. A violation of this Rule may be cause to
consider the paper as not filed.

Series of 1989
As the above-quoted provision requires, service and filing of
pleadings must be done personally whenever practicable. The Court
SUBJECT: RULES AND PROCEDURES GOVERNING THE notes that in the present case, personal service would not be
REGISTRATION OF BENEFICIARIES practicable. Considering the distance between the Court of Appeals
and Donsol, Sorsogon where the petition was posted, clearly, service
I. PREFATORY STATEMENT by registered mail would have entailed considerable time, effort and
expense. A written explanation why service was not done personally
Pursuant to Section 15, Chapter IV, of the Comprehensive might have been superfluous. In any case, as the rule is so worded
Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, the DAR, in coordination with the use of "may," signifying permissiveness, a violation thereof
with the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee (BARC), as gives the court discretion whether or not to consider the paper as
organized pursuant to RA 6657, shall register all not filed. While it is true that procedural rules are necessary to
agricultural lessees, tenants and farmworkers who are secure an orderly and speedy administration of justice,14rigid
qualified beneficiaries of the CARP. This Administrative application of Section 11, Rule 13 may be relaxed in this case in the
Order provides the Implementing Rules and Procedures interest of substantial justice.1âwphi1.nêt
for the said registration.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the decision of the
II. OBJECTIVES. Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. S.P. No. 49263 dated September 27,
1999 is AFFIRMED.
A. General
1. Develop a data bank of potential and qualified
beneficiaries of the CARP for the effective implementation 8. VENTURA VS. VENTURA SEPTEMBER 24, 1969
of the program.
G.R. No. 26751 January 31, 1969 period of more than two years from the date of his appointment (on
May 29, 1963), said Matias S. Matute has neglected to render a true,
JOSE S. MATUTE, petitioner, just and complete account of his administration," and that he "is not
vs. only incompetent but also negligent in his management of the
THE COURT OF APPEALS (Third Division) and MATIAS S. estate under his charge consisting of five haciendas on account of a
MATUTE, respondents. criminal charge for murder filed against him which is occupying most
of his time."1awphil.ñêt
The respondent Matias claims that he forthwith interposed an
opposition to the aforesaid petition, and the record discloses that he
G.R. No. L-26085 January 31, 1969
later filed an amended opposition dated August 25, 1965 wherein he
JOSE S. MATUTE, in his personal capacity and as Judicial Co-
Administrator of the Estate of AMADEO MATUTE
1. That the allegation ... that the herein co-administrator
OLAVE, petitioner,
for the two years of his administration, 1963 and 1964, did
not render any accounting is completely without basis and
HON. JUDGE VICENTE P. BULLECER, Judge of the Court of First
false, because the records show that under date of May
Instance of Davao, Branch IV, and MARIANO NASSER, respondents.
20,1964, he submitted to this Honorable Court with copies
furnished to all the parties concerned, including Carlos S.
--------------------------- Matute, his accounting for 1963, that on Feb. 8, 1965, he
filed his accounting for 1964, which accounts for 1963 and
G.R. No. L-26106 January 31, 1969 1964 have been approved by majority of the heirs
composing of 63% interests in the estate as shown by the
JOSE S. MATUTE AND LUIS S. MATUTE, as Intervenors in their attached manifestation....
personal capacities in Civil Case No. 4252 of the Court of First
Instance of Davao, petitioners, 2. That his competence to act as administrator has been
vs. established to the satisfaction of this Honorable Court as
HON. VICENTE P. BULLECER, Judge of the Court of First Instance of evidenced by his appointment by a fixed,
Davao, Branch IV; ATTY. PATERNO R. CANLAS, DANIEL RIVERA, SR., final and executory order dated May 29, 1963; and Carlos
PABLO V. DEL ROSARIO and NICANOR D. VERGARA, as Defendants S. Matute is now estopped from denying his [Matias S.
in Civil Case No. 4252, of the Court of First Instance of Matute's] competence and qualification by reason of his
Davao, respondents. failure to object to the appointment of herein Judicial
Administrator at the time the application was made
Antonio Enrile Inton for petitioners. therefor;
Paterno R. Canlas for and in his own behalf as respondent.
3. .... The records of the pertinent case in the Court of First
CASTRO, J.: Instance ofDavao will easily discover that the "criminal
charge" supported by perjuredtestimony is nothing but a
trumped-up affair initiated by persons intent
The present three petitions for certiorari with preliminary onintimidating the herein Judicial Administrator into
injunction (L-26571, L-26085 and L-26106) were separately betraying his sworn dutyto protect and safeguard the
interposed within the short span of five months by Jose S. Matute, interest of the Estate. The records of the saidcase will also
one of the fifteen heirs to the Amadeo Matute Olave estate. reveal that it has not occupied any time at all of the herein
Because these petitions are intertwined in several material aspects Judicial Administrator, for aside from a single hearing last
and arose from a common environmental setting — the intra- December 1964 onhis application for bail ... no hearing has
fraternal strife among the Matute heirs which has unduly delayed been held on the said case up tothe present.
for more than a decade the settlement of the Matute estate — this
Court has decided to embody in a single decision the independently
discussed resolutions of the issues raised in the said petitions. Subsequently, Matias filed a memorandum dated September 12,
1965 in support of his foregoing opposition.

On September 21, 1965 the heirs of Agustina Matute Candelario,
Elena MatuteCandelario and Amadeo Matute Candelario and their
Although the petition in L-26751 was filed the latest (October 27, mother and legatee AnunciacionCandelario, moved for the
1966), we shall dispose of it first because our pronouncements and immediate appointment of Agustina Matute Candelario,Carlos S.
observations in this case have direct and concrete relevance to the Matute and Jose S. Matute, herein petitioner, as joint co-
other two. administratorsor anyone of them in place of Matias S. Matute,
whose removal they also soughttogether with the ouster of the
The antecedent events trace their origin to August 20, 1965 when general administrator Carlos V. Matute, on thefollowing additional
Carlos S. Matute, one of the Matute heirs and a full-blood brother of grounds:
both the petitioner and the herein respondent Matias S. Matute,
filed in special proceeding 25876 (settlement of the Matute estate) a 1. Despite the vast resources and income of the estate, the
petition praying for the removal of Matias as co-administrator and present administrators have failed to pay even the annual
his (Carlos') appointment in such capacity. Carlos alleged that "for a real property tax for the years 1964 and 1965;
2. The financial statements of both administrators were He further contended that the value of the Amadeo Matute Olave
not properly signed andauthenticated by a certified public estatefor purposes of jurisdiction had already been resolved in CA-
accountant, and do not contain the exactentries as filed by G.R. 35124-R wherethe Court of Appeals refused to take jurisdiction
former administrators containing the daily and monthly over a petition for certiorari contesting the appointment of Matias
entriesof receipts and disbursements; Matute as co-administrator, on the groundthat the value of the
Matute estate was placed at P2,132,282.72 as evidenced by a
3. Both administrators have deliberately failed to file their "Compromise Agreement" dated April 12, 1956 which was duly
inventories andstatements of accounts of time, and did so signed by all of the heirs.
only when ordered by the probatecourt;
Despite repeated urgent motions filed by Jose S. Matute praying
4. Both administrators have made unauthorized that the Courtof Appeals resolve with dispatch the issue of
disbursements as shown by theirfinancial statements; and jurisdiction, the said appelatetribunal instead required then
respondent Jose S. Matute to answer, which he did.However, on
October 27, 1966 herein petitioner Jose S. Matute interposed
5. The probate court has discretion to remove the
theinstant petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction against
the Court of Appeals and Matias Matute, challenging the jurisdiction
of the respondentCourt of Appeals upon two basic contentions:
It appears that during the reception of evidence conducted on
December 29, 1965by the probate court (Branch IV of the Court of
The Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction to entertain, give
First Instance of Manila withHonorable Emigdio Nietes as the then
due course, andmuch more to issue a writ of preliminary
presiding judge), Carlos S. Matute and theCandelario-Matute heirs
injunction, against the petitioner, Jose S. Matute, and
submitted respective lists of exhibits in support oftheir motion to
respondent Judge Emigdio Nietes in CA-G.R. No. 37039-R
oust Matias. On January 8, 1966 Matias filed a written objectionto
... because the estate of Amadeo Matute Olave is worth
the admission of the movants' exhibits on the ground that the same
more than P200,000.00; and
were hearsay,self-serving, irrelevant and/or mere photostatic copies
of supposed originalswhich were never properly identified nor
shown in court. Four days later, or onJanuary 12, 1966, the counsel The same Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 35124-R, on
for Matias filed with leave of court a "Motion toDismiss and/or January 27, 1965, specialfourth division, has ruled that the
Demurrer to Evidence" which avers that "there is no Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction on theestate of
sufficientevidence on record to justify and support the motions for Amadeo Matute Olave in the matter of the appointment
the removal of theherein co-administrator Matias S. Matute." In the and removal ofits administrators.
same motion, said counselreserved the right to introduce evidence
in behalf of his client should theforegoing motion be denied. The respondent Matias Matute does not controvert the petitioner's
claim that thevalue of the estate of their deceased father exceeds
On January 31, 1966 the probate court issued an order, the P200,000. He maintains,however, that the respondent Court of
dispositive portionof which reads: Appeals has jurisdiction over CA-G.R.37039-R "because the subject
matter involved is merely ... the right to collectthe (monthly) rentals
due the Estate in the sum of P5,000.00" pursuant to acontract of
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court hereby removes co-
lease which he executed in favor of one Mariano Nasser
administrator, Matias S.Matute, as such co-administrator
coveringfive haciendas of the estate under his separate
of the estate and orders him to submit a finalaccounting of
his administration together with his past administration
accountswhich have not been approved, and, in his stead
appoints Jose S. Matute, a brother by the same mother of The foregoing assertion does not merit credence. A searching
Matias S. Matute, as co-administrator, who ishereby review of the record — from the initial petition filed by Carlos
required to put up a bond of P15,000.00, and thereafter Matute to oust the respondentas co-administrator up to the latter's
immediatelyqualify in his commission and assume the petition for certiorari filed with theCourt of Appeals impugning the
responsibility of co-administrator.... validity of the abovementioned order of January31, 1966 which
removed him as co-administrator and appointed the petitioner inhis
place — reveals no single pleading, statement, contention, reference
Forthwith, Matias interposed with the Court of Appeals a petition
or eveninference which would justify the respondent's pretension
for certiorari with preliminary mandatory injunction (CA-G.R. 37039-
that the instantcontroversy is a mere contest over the right to
R) dated February 1, 1966, praying that the aforesaid order of
collect a P5,000 rental. In bold contrast, the record vividly chronicles
January 31, 1966 be set aside as a nullityfor having decreed his
the controversy as a bitter fight for co-administration: the removal
removal without due process and the appointment of JoseS. Matute
of the respondent as co-administrator and the appointment of
without the requisite hearing.
anyone of the movants and the herein petitioner as new co-
administrator. Indeed, the principal conflict gravitates over the right
On March 4, 1966 the Court of Appeals gave due course to the to co-administer the vast Amadeo Matute Olave estate. This is the
aforesaid petitionand resolved to grant a writ of preliminary same issue underlying the respondent'sabovementioned petition in
injunction against Jose S. Matuteand the Honorable Judge Emigdio CA-G.R. 37039-R. The respondent's prayer in said petition
Nietes, respondents in CA-G.R. 37039-R, conditioned on the filing of unmistakably indicates that the dispute pertains to the right to co-
a P1,000 bond by the therein petitioner Matias, the administer in general, not the mere authority to collect a P5,000
respondentherein. On March 22, 1966 Jose S. Matute moved for the monthly rental.The said prayer reads:
dismissal of the abovementionedpetition on the ground that the
Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction totake cognizance of the
same since the value of the estate involved is more thanP200,000.
1. That an ex parte writ of preliminary mandatory Court of Appeals cannot also have original jurisdiction to
injunction be issued enjoiningand/or prohibiting the grant the writsof certiorari and prohibition prayed for by
respondent Judge from approving the administrator's respondent in the instant case, whichare merely incidental
bondthat will be filed by respondent Jose S. Matute and in thereto....
issuing the letters ofadministration of the latter, and from
issuing Orders incidental and/or connectedwith the Note also that the present proceedings under review were
exercise and performance of acts of administration of said for the annulment ofthe appointment of Eliezar Lopez as
respondent Jose S. Matute; likewise enjoining and special co-administrator and to restrain theprobate court
prohibiting respondent Jose S. Matutehimself, and/or from removing respondent as special administrator. It is
through his counsels, agents and representatives from therefore,a contest for the administration of the estate
takingphysical possession of the different haciendas under and, consequently, the amount orvalue of the assets of the
the exclusive administrationand management of herein whole estate is the value in controversy. (4 C.J.S. 204.) It
petitioner and from performing and exercising acts ofa appearing that the value of the estate in dispute is much
duly and legally appointed administrator, upon filing a more than P200,000.00, the Court of Appeals clearly had
bond in such amountthat this Honorable Tribunal may fix; no original jurisdiction to issuethe writs in question.
(emphasis supplied)
2. That the Order of the respondent Judge dated January
31, 1966, removing herein petitioner as co-administrator Like in the aforecited Maravilla case, the instant intra-fraternal
of the Estate of Amadeo Matute Olave andappointing controversy involves a contest over administration, an incident in
respondent Jose S. Matute as co-administrator without the settlement of the vast Matute estate. Considering that the value
presentationof evidence, be declared null and void and of of the said estate is more thanP200,000, and considering further
no force and effect.... that as enunciated in the Maravilla case thetotal value of the subject
estate determines the jurisdictional amount anentdisputes over
In fine, the pith of the controversy is the right to co-administer the administration arising as incidents in a probate or
entire estate. In this regard, the ruling in Fernandez, et al. vs. settlementproceeding, like the case at bar, then it is indubitable that
Maravilla 1 is determinative of the jurisdictional issue posed here. In the respondent Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction over CA-
said case, this Courtruled that in a contest for the administration of G.R. 37039-R nor the judicial authority to grant the writs
an estate, the amount incontroversy is deemed to be the value of of certiorari and prohibition prayed fortherein.
the whole estate, which total valueshould be the proper basis of the
jurisdictional amount. Consequently the Courtproceeded to Herein respondent insists, however, that even granting that the
conclude that the Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction actual controversy pertains to administration, such contested
toissue writs of certiorari and preliminary injunction prayed for in a administration does not encompassthe whole estate but is limited to
petition concerning a conflict over administration arising as an the collection of a P5,000 monthly rental,which sum should be the
incident in the mainprobate or settlement proceeding if in the first basis of the jurisdictional amount, not the value ofthe whole estate.
place the principal case or proceeding falls outside its appelate In support of his thesis, the respondent alleges that duringhis
jurisdiction considering the total value of the subject estate. This incumbency as co-administrator, five haciendas in Davao belonging
Court in the aforesaid Maravilla case elaborated thus: to theestate of his deceased father were consigned to his separate
administration; that in his capacity as co-administrator he leased on
The Court of Appeals, in the decision appealed from, February 10, 1965 said haciendas to one Mariano Nasser for P5,000
assumed jurisdiction overthe present case on the theory a month; that by virtue of said leasecontract, the possession,
that "the amount in controversy relative to management and administration of the said properties were
theappointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co- transferred to the lessee until the expiration of the contract; that
administrator to protect the interestsof the respondents consequently, only the collection of the monthly rental of P5,000
(herein petitioners) is only P90,000.00 more or less, remains asthe subject of the administration.
i.e.,one fourth of the conjugal property" (of respondent
and the deceased DignaMaravilla) which, as per inventory The foregoing contention of the respondent is patently untenable.
submitted by the respondent as special administrator, is
valued at P362,424.90. This theory is untenable. Note that
1. The averment of the respondent that the controversy
theproceedings had on the appointment of Eliezar Lopez as
centers on the collectionof the alleged P5,000 monthly
special co-administrator are merely incidental to the
rental and that the contest over administrationis limited
probate or testate proceedings of the deceased Digna
thereto, does not find any support in the record.

2. The rule remains that the jurisdictional amount is

determined by the totalvalue of the estate, not by value of
the particular property or portion of the estate subject to
That the Court of Appeals have no appelate jurisdiction administration, since the question of administration is
over the said testateproceedings cannot be doubted, merely incidental to the principal proceeding for the
considering the properties therein involved arevalued at settlement and distribution ofthe whole estate.
P362,424.00, as per inventory of the special administrator.
3. The respondent's impression that a co-administrator's
... Not having appelate jurisdiction over the proceedings trust and responsibilityare circumscribed and delimited by
in probate (CA-G.R.No. 27478-R), considering that the the size and value of the particular propertyor portion of
amount involved therein is more than P200,000.00,the the estate subject to his separate administration, is
erroneous. Although a co-administrator is designated to 18,1967, prayed "that a decision on the merits in this case be now
admininister a portion of theestate, he is no less an rendered." To this manifestation, the petitioner replied "that he
administrator of the whole because his has no objection, as in fact, he also prays that this case be decided at
judiciousmanagement of a mere parcel enhances the value the earliest by the Highest Tribunal."
of the entire estate, while hisinefficient or corrupt
administration thereof necessarily diminishes the valueof Since the respondent Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction
the whole estate. Moreover, when two or more over CA-G.R. 37039-R, we are of the considered opinion that this
administrators are appointed toadminister separate parts Court can forestall further delay in the already protracted
of a large estate they are not to discharge theirfunctions in proceedings regarding the settlement of the Matute estate if it now
distant isolation but in close cooperation so as to proceeds to resolve the issue of legality of the abovementioned
safeguard andpromote the general interests of the entire disputed order, rather than wait for the parties to come anew on a
estate. The teaching in Sison vs.Teodoro 2 is of positive separate petition in quest for a verdict on the said issue. Moreover,
relevance. In the said case, the probate court both the petitioner and the respondent private party have
chargedagainst the entire estate the compensation of an manifested and elaborated their respective views on this issue and
administrator who was assignedas judicial administrator prayed and pressed for a decision thereon.
representing the interests of one of the two heiresses.The
other heiress whose interest was represented by the
We shall now discuss separately the twin aspects of the foregoing
executor opposed theaward on the ground that the said
controverted order, namely, (1) the removal of the respondent as
administrator had not rendered service to theestate but
co-administrator of the Matute estate, and (2) the appointment of
only to his wife, the heiress whom he represented. On
the petitioner as the new co-administrator.
appeal, this Court upheld the award and dismissed the
The respondent contends that the disputed order removing him as
co-administrator is a patent nullity for the following reasons:
This argument erroneously assumes that because Carlos
Moran Sison was "judicial administrator representing the
interests of Priscilla F. Sison" he was such administrator (1) He was removed in wanton disregard of due process of
"solely for the purpose of protecting Priscilla's interests," law because the probatejudge arbitrarily deprived him of
and not to protect those of the estate. No words are his day in court;
needed to explain that in general,the interest of the heir
coincides with those of the estate — the bigger theestate (2) The evidence adduced by the movants is manifestly
the better for the heir. Therefore to protect the interest of insufficient, if not devoid of probative value, to warrant his
heiressPriscilla usually meant to favor the interest of the removal; and
estate (sic).... Again, the argument presumes that an
administrator appointed by the Court for thepurpose of (3) He was removed not on the grounds specifically
giving representation to designated heirs, is not deemed invoked by the movants but for causes discovered motu
administratorof the estate. This assumption has no legal propio by the probate judge in the records of
foundation, because it is admitted practice, where the specialproceeding 25876 and without affording him the
estate is large, to appoint two or more administrators opportunity to rebut the findingsof the said judge.
ofsuch estate to have different interests represented and
satisfied, and furthermore,to have such representatives
work in harmony for the best interests of such estate. (In re Upon the other hand, the petitioner advances the following
Drew's Estate, 236 N.W. 701, 2 C.J. p. 1183) (emphasis reasons in support of the order of removal:
(1) The probate judge accorded the respondent all the
Verily, therefore, the scope of a co-administrator's trust opportunity to adduce hisevidence but the latter resorted
encompasses the entireestate and is co-extensive in effect with to dilatory tactics such as filing a "motion to dismiss or
those of the other administrators; consequently, the value of the demurrer to evidence";
entire estate should be the proper basis of the jurisdictional amount
irrespective of the value of the particular property orassets of the (2) The evidences presented to sustain the removal of the
estate which are the objects of a separate administration pending respondent are incontrovertible since aside from being
the settlement proceedings. documentary, they are parts of the record of special
proceeding 25876; and
In view of all the foregoing, we are of the consensus that the
respondent Courtof Appeals has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of (3) The evidence on record conclusively supports the
CA-G.R. 37039-R, and consequently was without power to issue or findings of the probate judge.
grant the writs of certiorariand prohibition prayed for in said case.
The settled rule is that the removal of an administrator under
Notwithstanding that the herein petitioner delimited the issue, as section 2 of Rule 82 lies within the discretion of the court appointing
set forth inhis petition of certiorari, to one of jurisdiction of the him. As aptly expressed in one case, 3 "The sufficiency of any ground
respondent Court of Appeals over CA-G.R. 37039-R, in subsequent for removal should thus be determined by the said court, whose
pleadings and manifestations, however, the parties therein mutually sensibilities are, in the first place, affected by any act or omission on
expanded the issue to include the question of the legality of the the part of the administrator not conformable to or in disregard of
controverted order of January 31, 1966 in CA-G.R. 37039-R. As a the rules or the orders of the court." Consequently, appellate
matter of fact, the respondent, in a "Petition to Resolve" dated July tribunals are disinclined to interfere with the action taken by a
probate court in the matter of the removal of an executor or After the plaintiff has completed the presentation of his
administrator unless positive error or gross abuse of discretion is evidence, the defendant without waiving his right to offer
shown. 4 evidence in the event the motion is not granted, may move
for a dismissal on the ground that upon the facts and law
In the case at bar, we are constrained, however to nullify the the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. (emphasis
disputed order of removal because it is indubitable that the probate supplied)
judge ousted the respondent from his trust without affording him
the full benefit of a day in court, thus denying him his cardinal right The application of the abovecited Rule in special proceedings, like
to due process. the case at bar, is authorized by section 2 of Rule 72 which direct
that in the "absence of special provisions, the rules provided for in
It appears that shortly after the reception of evidence for the ordinary civil actions shall be, as far as practicable, applicable in
movants Carlos Matute and the Candelario-Matute heirs, the special proceedings."
respondent filed on January 8, 1966a verified objection to the
admission in evidence of the movants' exhibits on the ground that But what is patently censurable is the actuation of the probate
the same were hearsay, self-serving, irrelevant and/or mere judge in removing the respondent, not on the strength of the
photostatic copies of supposed originals which were never properly evidence adduced by the movants (not a single exhibit or document
identified nor produced in court. Four days later, or on January 12, introduced by the movants was specifically cited in the disputed
1966, the respondent filed with leave of court a "Motion to Dismiss order as a justification of the respondent's ouster), but on the basis
and/or Demurrer to Evidence", the pertinent and material portion of of his (judge's) findings, which he motu propio gleaned from the
which reads: records of special proceeding 25876, without affording the
respondent an opportunity to controvert said findings or in the very
... considering the specific objection to each exhibit least to explain why he should not be removed on the basis thereof.
contained in said Objections to Admission of Movants'
Exhibits and considering further the ruling of this The probate judge did find, as essayed in his disputed order, that
Honorable Court in open court that pleadings filed in this the respondent "has shown indifference to his duties as such co-
case are evidence only of the fact of their filing and not of administrator of the estate" as evidenced by:
the truth of the statements contained therein and
considering still further the fact that no competent single (1) the disapproval of his 1964 account by the probate
witness was presented by movants in support of their court in an order dated January 5, 1966 due to his "non-
respective contentions, we submit that there is no appearance and non-submission of evidence to sustain his
sufficient evidence on record to justify and support the account on the date set for the presentation of the same;"
motions for removal of the herein co-administrator Matias
S. Matute and in the light of the authorities hereinbelow
(2) the considerable decrease in the income of the
cited, the motions to remove Matias S. Matute must be
properties under his charge, as reflected in said 1964
dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.
account, which circumstance "does not speak well of his
diligence and attention to the administration of said
properties;" and

... However, in the remote possibility that this instant (3) the failure of said 1964 account to disclose the number
motion be denied by this Honorable Court, the herein co- of calves born during the accounting period, "thereby
administrator expressly reserves his right to present his indicating a palpable omission of fact which directly
own evidence ... at least five (5) days from the receipt of reduced the value of the income or the increase of the
said denial.... (emphasis supplied) assets of the estate."

Instead of resolving the foregoing motion, the probate judge issued But, significantly, the movants did not specifically invoke the
the controverted order removing the respondent as co- aforesaid grounds in support of their petition to oust the
administrator without giving him the opportunity to adduce his own respondent. All of the said grounds, which in the mind of the
evidence despite his explicit reservation that he be afforded the probate judge exposed the supposed indifference and incompetence
chance to introduce evidence in his behalf in the event of denial of of the respondent in the discharge of his trust, are based on alleged
his motion to dismiss and/or demurrer to evidence. We are of the defects of the respondent's 1964 account. Under these
view that the above actuation of the probate judge constituted circumstances, it behooved the probate judge to inform the
grave abuse of discretion which dooms his improvident order as a respondent of his findings before ordering the latter's removal. We
nullity. In fact, even without the respondent's reservation, it was the concede that the probate judge enjoys a wide latitude of discretion
bounden duty of the probate judge to schedule the presentation in the matter of the removal of executors and administrators and he
and reception of the respondent's evidence before disposing of the can cause their ouster at his own instance. However, before they are
case on the merits because only the movants at that time had deprived of their office they must be given the full benefit of a day in
presented their evidence. This duty is projected into bolder relief if court, an opportunity not accorded to the respondent herein.
we consider, which we must, that the aforesaid motion is in form as
well as in substance a demurrer to evidence allowed by Rule 35, by
Without forgetting such patent denial of due process, which
virtue of which the defendant does not lose his right to offer
rendered the order of removal a nullity, let us examine the merits of
evidence in the event that his motion is denied. Said Rule states:
the probate judge's motu propio findings to determine whether they
warrant the ouster of the respondent.
As proof of the respondent's "indifference" in the discharge of his deliberate or designed to prejudice the estate. It could have been
duties, the probate judge cited the court's order of January 5, 1966 either an honest mistake or mere inadvertence. In the absence of
disapproving the respondent's 1964 account for his failure to competent proof to the contrary, good faith must be presumed. The
personally appear on the date set for the submission of evidence in probate judge should have required the respondent to explain the
support of the said account. It must be emphasized, however, that said omission instead of branding outright said omission as
the respondent, two days before the issuance of the aforesaid order "palpable."
removing him as co-administrator, seasonably moved for the
reconsideration of the aforecited order of January 5, 1966 on the In his excursion into the records of special proceeding 25876, the
ground that his failure to personally attend the scheduled hearing probate judge also found a copy of a so-called "Compliance"
was due to illness on his part. Evidently, when the probate court submitted by the respondent which reported "a very staggering
decreed the removal of the respondent, the order disapproving his amount of over One Million Pesos supposedly given to the heirs" as
1964 account, which was used as one of the principal justifications advances. The probate judge proceeded to observe that the "record
for his removal as co-admininistrator, was not yet final as it was still does not show that the said advances to the heirs were authorized
subject to possible reconsideration. As a matter of fact, on February by the Court in the amounts made to appear in the 'Compliance.'"
19, 1966 the same probate judge set aside the aforesaid order of He added that a "verification of the record will show that may be
January 5, 1966, thus: part of this amount supposedly paid by the co-administrator to the
heirs were authorized by the Court but a greater volume of the same
Considering that it will be the benefit of all the parties was obviously not authorized." On account of this particular finding,
concerned if former co-administrator Matias S. Matute will the probate court concluded, without equivocation, that the
be allowed to substantiate the accounting which he respondent had been acting without previous authority from the
submitted to this Court but which was disapproved on probate court. Unfortunately again, the respondent was not
January 5, 1966 for his failure to personally appear at the afforded the opportunity to present his side and if possible to
hearing held for the purpose of substantiating said controvert the said finding or correct the impressions of the judge.
accounting, his motion for reconsideration filed on January Hearing the respondent on this point is imperative because, like the
28, 1966 is hereby granted and the order dated January 5, other grounds upon which the probate judge anchored the order of
1966 disapproving the accounting submitted by Matias S. removal, it was not put in issue by the movants, neither was a copy
Matute is set aside. (emphasis supplied) of said "Compliance" submitted in evidence. It bears emphasis that
it there were unauthorized payments of advances to some heirs or
With the order of January 5, 1966 thus revoked, the probate simulated grants as the probate judge appears to theorize, then it is
judge's conclusion that the respondent was "indifferent" to his most surprising why the prejudiced Matute heirs, litigation-proned
duties as co-administrator as evidenced by the disapproval of his as they are, did not impugn the so-called "Compliance."
1964 account loses its principal basis. Furthermore, not one of the movants interested in the removal of
the respondent specifically charged the latter with unauthorized or
fictitious payments of advances. It should also be noted that the said
Again using the 1964 account of the respondent as basis of his
"Compliance" was submitted by the respondent in response to the
finding that the respondent was guilty of disinterest in the discharge
probate court's order for the submission of "a list of the heirs who
of his trust, the probate judge stressed that "a verification of said
have personally received the advances from the administration," not
accounting shows the income of the properties under his
from the respondent alone. It stands to reason, therefore, that the
(respondent's) charge were very much reduced which does not
said "Compliance" could very well be a cumulative list of all the
speak well of his diligence and attention to the administration of the
advances given and received by the Matute heirs from the several
said properties," and that said account failed to report the number
administrators of the Matute estate since 1955. In the absence of
of "offspring of the cattle during the period of accounting belonging
concrete evidence that the said "staggering amount" of over a
to the estate, thereby indicating a palpable omission of fact which
million pesos advances was disbursed by the respondent alone
directly reduced the value of the income or increase of the assets of
during his beleaguered term which commenced only in 1963, we
the estate." It is pertinent to emphasize here that the said 1964
have no recourse but to jettison the adverse conclusion of the
account is still pending approval, hence it was premature to use
probate judge. What the probate judge should have done was to
alleged defects in said account as grounds for the removal of the
afford Matias the chance to explain and substantiate the facts and
respondent. If it is now ruled that the respondent is unfit to
the figures appearing in the aforesaid "Compliance," which
continue as co-administrator because of the alleged infirmities in his
unfortunately does not form part of the record before us. The
account for 1964, the respondent will be greatly prejudiced in the
respondent asserts that if only the probate judge "took pains to
event that said account is finally approved and the said defects are
examine fully the voluminous records of the Matute estate, and as
found to be nonexistent or so trivial as not to affect the general
reflected in the very 'Compliance' submitted to the Court ... any
validity and veracity of the account. Assuming, however, that the
disbursement given to the heirs by all the administrators of the
probate judge correctly observed that the said account reflects a big
Estate were by virtue of the several Orders of the Probate Court
reduction in the income of the haciendas under the separate
issued upon joint motion of all the heirs for their monthly
administration of the respondent, this fact alone does not justify the
maintenance and support."
conclusion that the latter did not exercise due care and zeal. There is
no proof that the decrease in income had been caused by the
respondent's willful negligence or dishonesty. Needless to stress, It likewise appears that the respondent was removed partly due to
varied factors, some beyond the control of an administrator, may his failure to pay the inheritance and estate taxes. In this regard, it
cause the diminution of an estate's income. bears emphasis that the failure to pay the taxes due from the estate
is per se not a compelling reason for the removal of an
administrator, for "it may be true that the respondent administrator
Anent the failure to report the number of calves born during the
failed to pay all the taxes due from the estate, but said failure may
accounting period, granting that the same is true, there is however
be due to lack of funds, and not to a willful omission." 5 In the case at
no evidence on record to prove that the said omission was
bar there is no evidence that the non-payment of taxes was willful. dated May 3, 1966, all issued by the Court of First Instance of Davao,
On the contrary, the respondent alleged, and this was unchallenged be set aside.
by the movants, that while the previous administrators left the taxes
unpaid, he had paid the real property taxes in Davao covering the The sequence of events, like in L-26751, commenced with the
years 1954 to 1966. issuance by the probate court (Court of First Instance of Manila) of
the order of January 31, 1966 removing Matias S. Matute as co-
We now come to the second part of the controverted order — the administrator and replacing him with Jose S. Matute. Armed with
appointment of the petitioner as co-administrator vice the the letters of co-administration awarded to him on February 3,
respondent. Since the removal of Matias was done with inordinate 1966, Jose attempted to take possession of and exercise
haste and without due process, aside from the fact that the grounds administration over the five haciendas La Union, Sigaboy,
upon which he was removed have no evidentiary justification, the Monserrat, Colatinan and Pundaguitan, all belonging to the Matute
same is void, and, consequently, there is no vacancy to which the estate and situated in Governor Generoso, Davao. Said five
petitioner could be appointed. haciendas were previously assigned to the separate administration
of the deposed co-administrator, Matias S. Matute.
Even granting arguendo that the removal of Matias is free from
infirmity, this Court is not prepared to sustain the validity of the Mariano Nasser, herein plaintiff-respondent, who was in actual
appointment of the petitioner in place of the former. To start with, possession of the said haciendas, opposed the projected takeover by
the record does not disclose that any hearing was conducted, much the defendant-petitioner Jose S. Matute in the latter's capacity as
less that notices were sent to the other heirs and interested parties, co-administrator. Subsequently, on February 15, 1966, Nasser
anent the petition for the appointment of Jose S. Matute, among instituted civil case 4968 in the Court of First Instance of Davao, a
others, as co-administrator vice Matias S. Matute. In this regard, it is complain for injunction, alleging that the defendant-petitioner was
pertinent to observe that any hearing conducted by the probate forcibly wresting possession of the said haciendaswith the aid of
court was confined solely to the primary prayers of the separate hired goons, and praying that the said defendant-petitioner be
petitions of Carlos S. Matute, and the Candelario-Matute heirs enjoined from taking physical possession, management and
seeking the ouster of Matias S. Matute. The corollary prayers administration of the aforesaid five haciendas. On February 16, 1966
contained in the same petitions for the appointment of Carlos S. the court a quoissued a writ of preliminary injunction ex parte,
Matute, Jose S. Matute and Agustina Matute Candelario or anyone prohibiting "Jose S. Matute and/or his counsels, agents,
of them as co-administrator were never even considered at any of representatives or employees from taking physical possession,
the hearings. The requirement of a hearing and the notification to all management and administration" of the abovementioned
known heirs and other interested parties as to the date thereof is properties.
essential to the validity of the proceeding for the appointment of
and administrator "in order that no person may be deprived of his On February 23, 1966, seven days after he received on February 16,
right or property without due process of law." (Eusebio vs. 1966, the summons in civil case 4968, the defendant-petitioner
Valmores, 97 Phil. 163) Moreover, a hearing is necessary in order to moved to dismiss the aforesaid complaint for injunction and to
fully determine the suitability of the applicant to the trust, by giving dissolve the ex parte writ of injunction. Said motion to dismiss was
him the opportunity to prove his qualifications and affording predicated mainly on the contention that the court a quo did not
oppositors, if any, to contest the said application. have jurisdiction over the subject haciendas considering that the
same "are properties in custodia legis under the jurisdiction of the
The provision of Rule 83 that if "there is no remaining executor or Probate Court of Manila, in Sp. Proc. No. 25876 since 1955 up to the
administrator, administration may be granted to any suitable present time," and consequently the probate court has exclusive
person," cannot be used to justify the institution of Jose S. Matute jurisdiction over all cases, like the one at bar, involving possession
even without a hearing, because such institution has no factual basis and administration of the aforesaid haciendas. In the same motion
considering that there was a general administrator (Carlos V. to dismiss, the defendant-petitioner averred that the alleged
Matute) who remained in charge of the affairs of the Matute estate contract of lease is simulated and fictitious for which reason not
after the removal of Matias S. Matute. The abovecited provision even a copy of the said contract was attached to the complaint, and
evidently envisions a situation when after the removal of the that granting that such a contract was actually executed, the same is
incumbent administrator no one is left to administer the estate, thus invalid as it was never approved by the probate court. On February
empowering the probate court, as a matter of necessity, to name a 28, 1966 the defendant-petitioner was furnished a copy of the
temporary administrator (or caretaker), pending the appointment of plaintiff-respondent's opposition to the abovementioned motion to
a new administrator after due hearing. Such circumstance does not dismiss and to lift the ex parte writ of injunction.
obtain in the case at bar.
Failing to receive any notice of a court resolution on his client's
Upon the foregoing disquisition, we hold that the respondent Court motion to dismiss during the period of about 1-½ months after the
of Appeals was without jurisdiction over CA-G.R. 37039-R, and that filing of the said motion, the defendant-petitioner's counsel on April
the controverted order of January 31, 1966 is a nullity and must 11, 1966 wrote the clerk of court of the court a quo, requesting that
therefore be set aside in its entirety. any resolution or order of the trial court be mailed to him by airmail
at his expense, instead of by surface mail, in order to minimize
L-26085 postal delay. Sometime between April 11 and 19, 1966, the said
counsel also dispatched an emissary to Davao to inquire about the
status of civil case 4968. After personal verification of the record,
L-26085 is a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction
the said emissary reported to the defendant-petitioner's counsel
interposed on May 19, 1966 by the same petitioner Jose S. Matute,
that the abovementioned motion to dismiss had been denied by the
praying that the controverted order of default dated April 16, 1966,
court a quo in an order dated March 31, 1966. It was also discovered
judgment by default dated April 23, 1966 and order of execution
from the record that the plaintiff-respondent's counsel had been
sent a copy of the order of denial on the very day it was rendered salaries of security guards employed by the plaintiff in the
(March 31, 1966) but the record was silent as to the mailing of the haciendas leased plus P7,000.00 representing
corresponding copy for the defendant-petitioner's counsel, which transportation hotel and representation expenses incurred
copy until then had not been received by the latter. Forthwith, on by the plaintiff for plaintiff's counsel and another P700.00
April 19, 1966, although he had not yet been furnished his copy of representing the yearly premiums on the injunction bond
the said order of denial, defendant-petitioner's counsel interposed filed by plaintiff.
the requisite answer with counterclaim. Then on April 23, 1966 he
filed a manifestation calling the attention of the court a quo that as the defendant-petitioner interposed the instant petition
of the said date he had not received a copy of the order denying his for certiorari with preliminary injunction to annul the order of
client's motion to dismiss. It was only two days later, or on April 25, default, the judgment by default, and the order of execution, and to
1966, that the said counsel claims, uncontroverted by the restrain the execution of the aforesaid judgment pending the
respondent Judge and the plaintiff-respondent, that he received his resolution of the instant petition.
copy of the aforesaid order.
On May 23, 1966 this Court granted the writ of preliminary
In a "Motion to Strike" dated April 26, 1966, the plaintiff- injunction prayed for, conditioned on the petitioner's posting a bond
respondent urged that the aforementioned answer with of P5,000, which he did on June 4, 1966.
counterclaim be stricken from the record on the grounds that
on April 16, 1966 the court a quo had declared defendant-
We are of the consensus that the herein petition should be
petitioner in default for failure to answer the complaint in civil case
4928 and that subsequently, on April 23, 1966, a judgment by
default had been entered against the latter.
Rule 11, section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court gives the defendant
a period of fifteen (15) days after service of summons within which
Immediately after receipt on May 5, 1966 of a copy of the said
to file his answer and serve a copy thereof upon the plaintiff, unless
"Motion to Strike," the defendant-petitioner filed his opposition,
a different period is fixed by the court. However, within the period
asserting that it was legally impossible to declare him in default as of
of time for pleading, the defendant is entitled to move for dismissal
April 16, 1966 for failure to file his responsive pleading, considering
of the action on any of the ground enumerated in Rule 16. If the
that it was only after the said date, that is, on April 25, 1966, that he
motion to dismiss is denied or if determination thereof is deferred,
received, through his counsel, a copy of the order denying his
the movant shall file his answer within the period prescribed by Rule
motion to dismiss. On the same day, May 5, 1966, the defendant-
11, computed from the time he received notice of the denial or
petitioner's counsel dispatched a rush telegram to the clerk of court
deferment, unless the court provides a different period (Rule 16,
of the Court of First Instance of Davao inquiring whether the trial
section 4). In other words, the period for filing a responsive pleading
court had really rendered the order of default dated April 16, 1966
commence to run all over again from the time the defendant
and the subsequent judgment by default dated April 23, 1966,
received notice of the denial of his motion to dismiss. 6
copies of which had not been received by him. On the following day,
May 6, 1966, the defendant-petitioner filed an "Urgent Motion to
Investigate the Office of the Clerk of Court for Mailing Discrepancy." Reverting to the case at bar, the defendant-petitioner was served
with summons in connection with civil case 4968 on February 16,
1966, hence he had until March 3, 1966 to file his responsive
The defendant-petitioner's counsel claims — and this is not
pleading. Instead of filing an answer, he seasonably interposed a
controverted by the respondent Judge and the plaintiff-respondent
motion to dismiss on February 23, 1966. Although the aforesaid
— that it was only May 17, 1966 that he received a copy of the
motion to dismiss was denied as early as March 31, 1966, he
judgment by default and at the same time a copy of the order of
received notice of the denial, through his counsel of record, only on
execution dated May 3, 1966, and that a copy of the order of default
April 25, 1966, a fact not traversed by either the respondent Judge
had never been furnished him.
or the plaintiff-respondent. Consequently, the defendant-petitioner
had fifteen (15) days from April 25, 1966, or up to May 10, 1966, to
Because of the impending execution of the judgment by default file his answer.
with the following dispositive portion —
The delay in the mailing of a copy of the order of denial to the
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, defendant-petitioner's counsel was confirmed by the court a quo in
judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and a report rendered after an investigation of the office of the clerk of
against the defendant confirming the right of the plaintiff court upon urgent motion of the defendant-petitioner. The report
to the possession of the premises leased in his favor by the reads in part:
judicial administrator, Matias S. Matute and the injunction
against the defendant issued in this case is hereby
From its investigation of the employee in charge of Civil
declared permanent and defendant is hereby permanently
Cases, the Court found out that, indeed, there was a delay
enjoined from interfering in the peaceful possession of the
in the mailing of the Order of this Court dated March 31,
plaintiff over the haciendas La Union, Sigaboy, Monserrrat,
1966 to counsel for the defendant, Atty. Antonio Enril
Golatinan and Pundaguitan of the estate of Amadeo
Inton. This Court, however, is convinced of the sincerity of
Matute Olave, all situated in Governor Generoso, Davao
the reasons given by the employee concerned, and that is:
and from doing any act of taking any step against the
that her failure to cause to be mailed the copy intended
peaceful possession of said properties by the plaintiff. The
for Atty. Antonio Enrile Inton on the same date that she
defendant is likewise ordered to pay the plaintiff the
caused to be mailed the copy for Atty. Paterno Canlas
amount of P50,000.00 as attorney's fees due and payable
(plaintiff-respondent's counsel) was purely a case of an
to plaintiff's counsel for filing this action: P2,400.00 a
honest mistake and inadvertene on her part owing to the
month beginning February, 1966, representing monthly
volume of her work; the affidavit of the employee in been validly declared in default. It does not preclude a defendant
charge of Civil Cases being hereto attached. who has been illegallydeclared in default from pursuing a more
speedy and efficacious remedy, like a petition for certiorari to have
The affidavit of the employee concerned mentioned in the above- the judgment by default set aside as a nullity.
quoted portion of the report clearly admits the delay, thus:
It should be emphasized that a defendant who is properly declared
That due to the fact that I am the only one handling in default is differently situated from one who is improvidently
matters relative to Civil Cases and, because of the volume declared in default. The former irreparably loses his right to
of my work in the office, I must have inadvertently participate in the trial, while the latter rentals such right and may
misplaced the envelop containing a copy of the Order exercise the same after having the order of default and the
intended for Atty. Antonio Enrile Inton, and only subsequent judgment be default annulled and the case remanded to
discovered by (my) mistake on April 14, 1966, when I went the court of origin. Moreover the former is limited to the remedy set
over some papers contained in the drawer of my table; forth in section 2, paragraph 3 of Rule 41 by virtue of which he can
contest only the judgment by default on the designated ground that
it is contrary to the evidence or the law; the latter, however, has the
That upon discovery of the said envelope containing the
option to avail of the same remedy or to forthwith interpose a
copy of the order dated March 31, 1966, among the
petition for certiorari seeking the nullification of the order of default
papers in my table drawer, I forthwith sent the same to
even before the promulgation of a judgment by default, or in the
the one in charge of mailing and who mailed the same
event that the latter has been rendered, to have both court decrees
on April 16, 1966, by registered air mail special delivery, as
— the other of default and the judgment by default — declared
evidenced by Registry Receipt No. 26897 now attached to
void. The defendant-petitioner's choice of the latter course of action
the records of this case. (emphasis supplied)
is correct for he controverts the judgment by default not on the
ground that it is not supported by evidence or it is contrary to law,
It is unmistakable from the foregoing exposition that when the but on the ground that it is intrinsically void for having been
defendant-petitioner was declared in default on April 16, 1966 the rendered pursuant to a patently invalid order of default.
time for filing his answer had not yet even commenced to run anew
because on the said date his counsel had not yet received notice of
Granting, however, that an appeal is open to the defendant-
the denial of the motion to dismiss. The order of denial was received
petitioner, the same is no longer an adequate and speedy remedy
only on April 25, 1966, or definitely after April 16, 1966, the day
considering that the court a quo had already ordered the issuance of
when a copy of the said order was mailed to the defendant-
a writ of execution and the carrying out of such writ loomed as a
petitioner's counsel and when the defendant-petitioner was
great probability. This is in consonance with the doctrine enunciated
declared in default.
in Vda. de Saludes vs Pajarillo and Bautista 8 wherein this Court held
that an "appeal under the circumstances was not adequate remedy
No further elaboration is needed to show that the trial judge acted there being an order of execution issued by the municipal court."
in excess of jurisdiction when he declared the defendant-petitioner Hence, the rule that certioraridoes not lie when there is an appeal is
in default. Consequently, the herein controverted order of default is relaxed where, as in the instant case, the trial court had already
a patent nullity, an infirmity which likewise afflicts, necessarily, the ordered the issuance of a writ of execution. 9
subsequent judgment by default and the order of execution.
The plaintiff-respondent also argues that the instant petition
It is not amiss to say that, at the very least, the defendant- should be denied for failure of the defendant-petitioner to move for
petitioner's motion to dismiss should have been considered as an a reconsideration of the challenged decrees so as to afford the
answer, since it raised issues on the merits of the case, such as the court a quo the chance to amend its errors. While as a matter of
invalidity of the alleged contract of lease. Consequently, the policy a motion for reconsideration in the lower court has often
defendant petitioner should have been notified of the hearing, and been considered a condition sine qua non for the granting of a writ
failure to give him an opportunity to appear in the court below of certiorari, this rule does not apply "where the proceeding in
tainted the subsequent proceedings not only with irregularity but which the error occurred is a patent nullity," 10 or where "the
also with illegality. It follows, therefore, that the petitioner was deprivation of petitioner's fundamental right to due process ... taints
incorrectly declared in default, and the holding of the trial of the the proceedings against him in the court below not only with
case on the merits in his absences, without due notice to him, was a irregularly but with nullity," 11 or when special circumstances
denial of due process. 7 warrant immediate and more direct action. 12 The fact that the
defendant-petitioner had been deprived of due process, taken
In opposing the instant petition, the plaintiff-respondent contends together with the circumstance that a writ of execution had already
that the remedy of the defendant-petitioner is not a petition been issued, perforce takes this case outside of the purview of the
for certiorari but an ordinary appeal pursuant to Rule 41, section 2, rule requiring a previous motion for reconsideration.
paragraph 3 which reads:
The nullity of the challenged orders relieves the defendant-
A party who has been declared in default may likewise petitioner from paying the damages assessed against him by the
appeal from the judgment rendered against him as court a quo; however, it does not entitle him to pursue further his
contrary to the evidence or to the law, even if no petition claim of possession and administration over the abovementioned
for relief to set aside the order of default has been five haciendas, considering that we have declared in L-26751 that his
presented by him in accordance with Rule 38. appointment as co-administrator is void.

We do not agree. The remedy provided for in the abovequoted rule

is properly, though not exclusively, available to a defendant who has
In view of the foregoing disquisition, the controverted order of The defendant-respondent Canlas subsequently interposed a
default, judgment by default and order of execution should be motion to dismiss dated February 24, 1964 predicated on the
annulled and set aside. ground of res judicata, among others. Anent the issue of res
judicata, said motion to dismiss averred:
The records of Civil Case No. 14208, entitled "Rosario
L-26106 is another petition for certiorari with preliminary Matute, et al. v. Amadeo Matute Olave", Court of First
injunction instituted on May 25, 1966 by Jose S. Matute (the same Instance of Manila, Branch X, will show that on December
petitioner in L-26751 and L-26085) and his brother Luis S. 5, 1962, the Honorable Judge Jose L. Moya, Presiding
Matute, 13 praying for the nullification of the following orders of the Judge of Branch X, of the Court of First Instance of Manila,
Court of First Instance of Davao: rendered a Compromise Judgment ... pursuant to a
Compromise Agreement ... entered into between
defendant Paterno R. Canlas and the Estate of Amadeo
1. The order of February 15, 1966 dismissing with
Matute Olave, duly represented by the General
prejudice civil case 4252, a complaint filed by Matias S.
Administrator of the Estate, the late Julian V. Matute and
Matute in behalf of the Matute estate for the annulment
his counsel of record in said Civil Case No. 14208, Atty.
of a compromise agreement and for the reconveyance of
Marcelo Rafols Javier involving the attorney's fees of
certain properties, in which case Jose and Luis Matute
defendant Paterno R. Canlas in said Civil Case No. 14208,
appeared as intervenors in alliance with the plaintiff
secured with a charging lien on the properties involves
herein. Pursuant to said Compromise Judgment, the said
Julian V. Matute, as General Administrator of the Estate of
2. The order of March 29, 1966 declaring in default the his deceased father, Amadeo Matute Olave, transferred
intervenors in civil case 4252 for failure to answer the and conveyed the properties involved herein which were
defendant Paterno Canlas' counterclaim, and adjudging ordered to be sold by the Probate Court of Manila for only
them to jointly and severally pay the sum of P100,000 in P144,000.00, in favor of defendant Paterno R. Canlas as
damages to the said Canlas; and full payment of his attorney's fees in Civil Case No. 14208
in the amount of P200,000.00 agreed upon in the
3. The order of April 12, 1966 directing the issuance of a Compromise Agreement. The said Compromise Judgment
writ of execution against the intervenors to enforce the of December 5, 1962 is immediately final and not
abovementioned judgment by default. appeallable and has the effect and authority of Res
Judicata in this case filed by co-administrator, Matias S.
The factual milieu follows: Matute, on behalf of the Estate, without authority of his
general administrator, Carlos V. Matute, who filed a
Motion to Dismiss the complaint in this case
On February 5, 1966 Matias S. Matute, in his capacity as co-
administrator, instituted in the name of the Matute estate civil case
4252 praying for, among others, (1) the annulment of the
compromise agreement dated November 26, 1962 entered into
between the co-administrator Julian V. Matute and Atty. Paterno R. That the records of Civil Case No. 14208 will show that
Canlas, one of the defendants-respondents herein, in full settlement after the Compromise Judgment was rendered on
of the latter's claim for attorney's fees against the decedent Amadeo December 5, 1962, a Petition for relief to set aside the said
Matute Olave; (2) the nullification of the compromise judgment of Compromise Judgment was filed by two (2) of the heirs
December 5, 1962 approving the aforesaid compromise agreement; and full-blooded sisters of plaintiff co-administrator,
(3) the voiding of the deed of conveyance and assignment of rights Matias S. Matute, namely, Rosario and Trinidad Suazo
dated December 20, 1962 by virtue of which the said Julian Matute Matute on June 6, 1963, on grounds of (a) fraud and (b)
transferred to Canlas several parcels of land belonging to the Matute lack of the probate court's approval to the Compromise
estate pursuant to the compromise judgment; (4) the annulment of Agreement, the very same grounds alleged in the present
the deed of conveyance covering the said parcels of land executed Complaint of plaintiff Estate, a copy of the Petition for
on February 20, 1963 by Canlas in favor of Daniel Rivera, Sr., also Relief is hereto attached as Annex "C" of this Motion to
one of the defendants-respondents; (5) the nullification of the Dismiss. That on June 13, 1963, herein defendant Paterno
unregistered deeds of mortgages, both date July 19, 1963, over said R. Canlas filed his Opposition to petition for Relief, and, on
properties executed by Rivera in favor of Pablo del Rosario and June 26, 1963, a Supplementary Opposition to Petition for
Nicanor Vergara, also defendants-respondents herein; and (6) the Relief and refuting all the above issues raised in the
reconveyance of the said properties. Petition for Relief, copies of which are hereto attached as
Annexes "D" and "E". Rosario and Trinidad Suazo Matute
The aforesaid complaint was anchored on the grounds that (1) the filed Reply and defendant Paterno R. Canlas filed his
compromise agreement was entered into in fraud of the Matute Rejoinder on July 8, 1963 attaching therewith the letter-
estate; (2) Julian Matute, as a mere co-administrator, had no conformity to the Compromise Judgment of co-
authority to enter into the said compromise agreement without the administrator, Matias S. Matute, copies of which are
consent of the then general administrator, Don Celestino Alonzo; (3) hereto attached as Annexes "F" and "F-1" of this Motion to
the compromise agreement was approved by the Court of First Dismiss. That on July 13, 1963, Branch X of the Court of
Instance of Manila (Branch X) without notice to the heirs and the First Instance of Manila, taking cognizance of Civil Case No.
general administrator; and (4) the said agreement had neither prior 14208, rightfully denied the Petition for Relief on all the
nor subsequent approval of the probate court which has custody of grounds stated in our Opposition to the Petition for Relief,
the parcels of land involved in the said agreement. Supplementary Opposition, etc., and Rejoinder, a copy of
which order is hereto attached as Annex "G" of this that the above-entitled case is patently frivolous and
Motion to Dismiss. unfounded and was instituted in bad faith and calculated
to merely harass the defendant in order to satisfy the
In other words, it is the basic contention of Canlas that both personal revenge, hatred and vindictiveness of the co-
the compromise judgment of December 5, 1962rendered by the administrator Matias S. Matute, representing the plaintiff
Court of First Instance of Manila (Branch X) 14 and the order of the estate, and intervenors Jose S. Matute and Luis S. Matute,
same court dated July 13, 1963denying the aforecited petition for the truth being that the complaint in the above-entitled
relief from judgment which sought the setting aside of the said case was instituted precisely to prevent defendants from
compromise judgment, bar by virtue of res judicata the prosecution illegally and fraudulently transforming and conveying
of the abovementioned civil case 4252 which seeks anew the themselves valuable properties of plaintiff estate worth
annulment of the said compromise judgment on practically the more than P500,000.00;
same grounds invoked in the aforesaid petition for relief, which
grounds were justifiably denied by the competent court. and disclaimed any

It appears that on the same day Canlas filed his motion to dismiss, knowledge of any actual, moral and consequential
the general administrator and heir, Carlos V. Matute, filed his own damage having been suffered by defendant Paterno R.
motion to dismiss dated February 15, 1964, stating among other Canlas.
things, that he had never authorized his co-administrator, Matias
Matute, to file civil case 4252 in the name of the estate and that said Meanwhile, upon motion of the counsels for the defendants, Judge
complaint was filed without legal authority and is prejudicial to the Cusi ordered on August 28, 1965 the reshuffle of civil case 4252 in
interests of the estate as it would only entail unnecessary litigation accordance with section 7, Rule 22 of the Rules of Court. Eventually,
expenses. He presented his written conformity to the compromise the case was transferred to the sala of Judge Vicente P. Bullecer, the
judgment in his capacity as the succeeding general administrator. respondent judge herein.

On February 27, 1964 the defendants-respondents Daniel Rivera, On January 22, 1966 Canlas filed a "Motion to Resolve: I. Motion to
Sr., Pablo del Rosario and Nicanor Vergara filed their own joint Dismiss; II. Supplementary and/or Second Motion to Dismiss."
motion to dismiss, alleging among other things that they were
innocent transferees and mortgages for value of the properties
On February 3, 1966 Jose Matute interposed an urgent ex
subject matter of the complaint and adopted as their own the
parte motion for substitution as representative of the plaintiff-
motions to dismiss filed by Canlas and Carlos V. Matute.
estate in place of Matias Matute, citing the order of January 31,
1966 of the probate court of Manila which appointed him as co-
On April 11, 1964 the Honorable Judge Vicente N. Cusi, Jr., administrator in place of Matias Matute.
executive judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao, issued an
order deferring to after the trial the final hearing and determination
Subsequently, Matias Matute filed in behalf of the plaintiff-estate a
of the motions to dismiss since the grounds alleged therein "do not
motion to withdraw and/or dismiss with prejudice the complaint in
appear to be indubitable." From this order, the defendants moved
civil case 4252, which, it will be recalled, he himself instituted in the
for a reconsideration which was denied on January 16, 1965.
name of the Matute estate. The following grounds were advanced to
justify the said motion:
Meanwhile, on August 17, 1964 Jose and Luis Matute filed a motion
to intervene, asking that they be allowed to adopt the complaint of
That after a thorough study of the documents presented
the plaintiff-estate. Said motion was granted on September 5, 1964.
by the parties in this case, the undersigned Judicial
Administrator realized that he has expressly ratified and
After the aforesaid rejection of the defendants' motion for confirmed any and all contracts and compromise for
reconsideration of the order denying their separate motions to attorney's fees that his co-administrator Julian V. Matute
dismiss, Canlas filed on February 15, 1965 his answer ad cautelam, has already entered into with the defendant Atty. Paterno
traversing the material allegations of the complaint in civil case 4252 R. Canlas in his capacity as co-administrator of the said
and interposing the grounds stated in his motion to dismiss as testacy;
affirmative defenses. He also filed a counterclaim for damages in the
amount of P100,000 jointly against Matias Matute, for filing the
That the causes of action of the above-entitled complaint
"frivolous and unfounded" action in the name of the estate, and
against the defendants were based and predicated from
Jose an Luis Matute, for intervening in the case. All there were
the compromise agreement entered into between
charged in their personal capacities. On the same date, the other
co-administrator Julian V. Matute and the defendant
defendants, Rivera, del Rosario and Vergara, filed their own
Paterno R. Canlas on December 2, 1962 and which
answer ad cautelam, denying the essential averments of the
compromise agreement was approved by Judge Jose
complaint having relevance to them and adopting the affirmative
Moya, presiding Judge of Branch X of the Court of First
defenses interposed by Canlas. Said defendants similarly interposed
Instance of Manila, in Civil Case No. 14208 entitled Rosario
a counterclaim of P50,000 for damages, directed against the
S. Matute, et al. vs. Amadeo Matute Olave, etc., in the
Compromise Judgment dated December 5, 1962.

On March 1, 1965 Matias Matute, representing the plaintiff-estate,

On February 15, 1966 the respondent Judge dismissed with
filed the corresponding answers to the foregoing counterclaims. The
prejudice the aforesaid complaint. The order of dismissal reads:
answer to Canlas' counterclaim specifically denied.
The records show that this action was filed by Matias S. Hence, the interposition by the intervenors of the instant petition
Matute in his capacity as co-administrator of the Estate of for certiorari with preliminary injunction.
Amadeo Matute Olave appointed in Sp. Proc. No. 25876,
Probate Court of Manila, to annul a compromise judgment Anent the order of February 15, 1966 dismissing with prejudice civil
awarding attorney's fees to defendant Atty. Paterno R. case 4252, the intervenors-petitioners (now Jose Matute alone, as
Canlas and rendered in Civil Case No. 14208, Court of First the other petitioner, Luis Matute, has already withdrawn) contend
Instance of Manila. that the said order is a nullity as it was predicated on a void motion
to dismiss and/or withdraw filed by Matias Matute on February 14,
Pending incidents in this case, are the motion to dismiss 1966, two weeks after the latter had been removed as co-
and supplementary motion to dismiss on the ground of res administrator by the probate court in an order dated January 31,
judicata filed by the defendants and adopted by the 1966. It is further maintained that when Matias Matute interposed
General Administrator of the Estate, Carlos V. Matute, and the aforesaid motion to dismiss and/or to withdraw, he had no more
the heirs Maria Luisa Matute, Conchita V. Matute, Carlos S. authority to represent the Matute estate as a consequence of his
Matute, Ramos S. Matute, Eduarda S. Matute and Mrs. ouster as co-administrator. The foregoing argument is irredeemably
Cecilia Villanueva Matute. foreclosed by our explicit ruling in L-26751 setting aside the
abovementioned order of January 31, 1966 and declaring as void the
It appears now that the co-administrator Matias S. removal of Matias Matute and the appointment of the herein
Matute who filed this action in the name of the Estate of intervenor-petitioner Jose S. Matute as the new co-administrator.
Don Amadeo Matute Olave filed a motion to withdraw Granting, therefore, that the controverted order of dismissal was
and/or dismiss dated January 8, 1966 and verified before rendered on account of Matias Matute's aforesaid motion which
the acting Clerk of Court of Appeals stating that he is was filed in behalf of the plaintiff estate, the validity of such
withdrawing the complaint he filed in this case and prays dismissal order cannot be challenged on the ground that the movant
this Court to dismiss it with prejudice and further ratifying (Matias Matute) lacked the capacity to represent the plaintiff estate
and expressing conformity to the compromise judgment considering that his personality and authority as co-administrator
subject matter of the complaint rendered in the Civil Case remained unimpaired because the order of January 31, 1966 is a
14208, Court of First Instance of Manila. nullity.

As prayed for in defendants' motion to dismiss and However, the intervenor-petitioner is of the mistaken impression
supplementary action (motion) to dismiss, the action filed that the disputed order of dismissal was based on Matias Matute's
in this case is hereby dismissed with prejudice without cost motion to dismiss and/or to withdraw. As correctly pointed out by
to plaintiff . (emphasis supplied). the defendants-respondents, the said order was anchored on their
own motion to dismiss and supplementary motion to dismiss.
Although both the motions of the co-administrator in representation
On March 12, 1966 the respondent Judge issued another order
of the plaintiff estate and of the defendants, either of which could
declaring that "all the other incidents pending in this case are hereby
justify the dismissal of the complaint in civil case 4252, were
terminated and closed." (Emphasis supplied) Said order reads:
prominently mentioned in the body of the said controverted order,
the unequivocal import of the dispositive portion of said decree,
Considering the order of this Court dated February 15, however, is that the dismissal was predicated on the defendants'
1966 dismissing this case with prejudice on the ground motion to dismiss and supplementary motion to dismiss, thus:
of res judicata in view of the final order of July 31, 1963
issued by the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch X, in
As prayed for in defendants' motion to dismiss and
Civil Case No. 14208, as alleged in the defendants' motion
supplementary action to dismiss, the action filed in this
to dismiss and supplementary motion to dismiss: and
case is hereby dismissed with prejudice without cost to
considering further that the co-administrator Matias S.
plaintiff. (emphasis supplied)
Matute who filed the complaint in this case in the name of
the plaintiff Estate has withdrawn and/or prayed for the
dismissal of this case with prejudice, and considering Moreover, both the order of March 12, 1966 declaring the
furthermore, that the said Order of this Court of February termination of all other incidents in civil case 4252 and the order of
15, 1966 is now fixed and final, all the other incidents April 11, 1966 denying the intervenors' motion for reconsideration,
pending in this case are hereby terminated and closed. categorically affirm that the disputed order of dismissal was
anchored on the defendants' motion to dismiss on the ground of res
judicata. The order of April 11, 1966 specifically declares that the
However, on March 29, 1966 the respondent Judge promulgated
dismissal of civil case 4252 was based
an order declaring in default both the intervenors and the plaintiff
estate, the former for failure to answer Canlas' counterclaim and the
latter for failure to respond to the other defendants' separate ... on the ground of res judicata invoked by the
counterclaim. The same decree included a judgment by default defendants in their Motion to Dismiss and Supplementary
condemning the intervenors to jointly and severally pay the sum of Motion to Dismiss for the reason that the Compromise
P100,000 as damages to Canlas and likewise sentencing the plaintiff Judgment rendered in Civil Case No. 14208, Court of First
estate to indemnify the other defendants Rivera, del Rosario and Instance of Manila, sought to be annulled in this case, and
Vergara in the sum of P50,000. Subsequently, on April 12, 1966 the the Order of July 31, 1963 denying the Petition for Relief in
respondent Judge ordered the issuance of a writ of execution to Civil Case No. 14208 and settling all the issues raised in the
enforce the aforesaid judgment by default. Complaint, have both the force and effect of res judicata.
Undeniably, the aforesaid order of dismissal with prejudice notice of appeal and appeal bond. Conceding that the foregoing
adjudicated civil case 4252 upon the merits. Since there is no assertion is correct, the intervenor-petitioner's projected appeal was
showing that the respondent Judge issued the said order with grave still out of time since the requisite record on appeal was filed only
abuse of discretion or without or in excess of jurisdiction, an on May 26, 1966, or thirty-one days from April 25, 1966.
ordinary appeal, then, not a petition for certiorari, was the proper
remedy available to the intervenors Jose and Luis Matute who claim In passing, it is pertinent to note that the dismissal of the complaint
to be aggrieved, by the dismissal. But having failed to seasonably in civil case 4252m, after the issues were joined with the filing of the
appeal from the aforesaid order of dismissal, the herein intervenor- responsive pleadings, upon the defendants' motion to resolve a
petitioner cannot avail of a petition for certiorarias a substitute pending motion to dismiss, the resolution of which had been
remedy 15 to challenge the said order, which in the meantime had previously deferred until after the trial by virtue of an order of the
already become final. same court under another judge, is a procedural deviation from the
standard sequence of trial in accordance with which the court a quo,
The pretention of the intervenor-petitioner that his inability to after the requisite answers were filed, should have proceeded with
appeal on time was due to the failure of the court a quo to furnish the trial on the merits, and only thereafter resolved the motion to
him a copy of the order of dismissal is a spurious, if not an utterly dismiss as was the import of the order of defendant. Nevertheless, it
perfidious, claim. To begin with, when the herein intervenor- is relevant to emphasize, on the other hand, that an order deferring
petitioner and his brother Luis filed their motion to intervene on the resolution of a motion to dismiss, being an interlocutory order,
August 17, 1964, they were not represented by counsel, but they may be altered or revoked by the trial court during the pendency of
failed to disclose their respective addresses or at least the address of the main action. It is settled that an "interlocutory order or decree
one of them, contrary to the requirement of section 5 of Rule 7 that made in the progress of a case is always under the control of the
a "party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign his court until the final decision of the suit, and may be modified or
pleadings and state his address." (emphasis supplied) Consequently, rescinded upon sufficient grounds shown at any time before final
if the pertinent orders and notices were not sent to the intervenors, judgment...." 16 Of similar import is the ruling of this Court declaring
it was because of their failure to disclose their mailing addresses. At that "it is rudimentary that such (interlocutory) orders are subject to
all events, since the intervenors virtually allied with the plaintiff change in the discretion of the court. 17 Moreover, one of the
estate by adopting in toto the latter's complaint without filing a inherent powers of the court is "To amend and control its process
separate complaint in intervention, it is not without justification to and orders so as to make them conformable to law and justice." 18 In
rule, considering the particular circumstances obtaining, that notice the language of Chief Justice Moran, paraphrasing the ruling in Veluz
to the plaintiff estate should be deemed sufficient notice to the vs. Justice of the Peace of Sariaya, 19 "since judges are human,
intervenors. Moreover, it is of record that both Attys. Wenceslao susceptible to mistakes, and are bound to administer justice in
Laureta and Robert Porter, who appeared on February 7, 1966 as accordance with law, they are given the inherent power of
counsels for the intervenor Jose S. Matute in his capacity as alleged amending their orders or judgments so as to make them
co-administrator by virtue of the abovecited order of the probate conformable to law and justice, and they can do so before they los
court dated January 31, 1966, were duly furnished with copies of all their jurisdiction of the case that is before the time to appeal has
orders of the court a quosubsequent to their appearance. Anent the expired and no appeal has been perfected." 20 And in the
order of dismissal dated February 15, 1966, the lower court abovecited Veluz case, this Court held that "If the trial court should
reported, after an investigation of the deputy clerk of court for discover or be convinced that it had committed an error in its
alleged mailing discrepancies upon motion of the intervenors, that judgment, or had done an injustice, before the same has become
copies of the said order were "each mailed to and received by Attys. final, it may, upon its own motion or upon a motion of the parties,
Wenceslao Laureta and Robert E. Porter on March 18 and 3, 1966, correct such error in order to do justice between the parties.... It
respectively, per registry return cards duly attached to the records would seem to be the very height of absurdity to prohibit a trial
of this case." In other words, the intervenor-petitioner Jose S. judge from correcting an error, mistake, or injustice which is called
Matute was furnished, through counsel, a copy of the order of to his attention before he has lost control of his judgment."
dismissal at the earliest on March 3, 1966 when Atty. Porter Corollarily, it has also been held "that a judge of first instance is not
received a copy of the order. After a lapse of twenty-three (23) legally prevented from revoking the interlocutory order of another
daysfrom the receipt of the said copy, Attys. Laureta and Porter filed judge in the very litigation subsequently assigned to him for judicial
on March 26, 1966 a motion for reconsideration of the order of action." 21
dismissal. Hence, when the said motion was filed, the intervenor-
petitioner had still seven (7) days to perfect an appeal. In view of the foregoing rulings, it is then enough to say that the
Subsequently, on April 11, 1966, the court a quo denied the abovementioned order of deferment, issued by the Honorable Judge
aforesaid motion for reconsideration. Separate copies of said denial Vicente Cusi, Jr., to whose sala civil case 4252 was originally
were received by Atty. Laureta on April 16, 1966 and by Atty. Porter assigned, is interlocutory in nature, and as such, the court a quo,
on April 18, 1966, respectively, as per registry receipts 25870 and through the now respondent Judge Vicente Bullecer, had the power
25872 and delivery No. 69785 and the reply-telegram dated July 2, to set it aside, as it did by finally deciding the pending motion to
1966 from the Bureau of Posts addressed to the respondent Judge. dismiss on the ground of res judicata. Moreover, as previously
From April 16, 1966, the intervenor-petitioner still had seven (7) stated, there is no evidence to show that the respondent Judge, in
days or up to April 23, 1966 to perfect an appeal. However, it was issuing the order of dismissal, acted with grave abuse of discretion
only on April 25, 1966 that the requisite notice of appeal and appeal or without or in excess of jurisdiction.
bond were filed while the record on appeal was filed much later, on
May 26, 1966, clearly way beyond the reglementary period.
We now come to the challenged order of default and judgment by
default, both contained in the abovementioned order dated March
The intervenor-petitioner contends, however, that it was only on 29, 1966. Attacking the validity of the said order of default, the
April 25, 1966 that he received notice of the dismissal of civil case intervenor-petitioner claims that the respondent Judge failed to
4252 and on the very same day he caused the filing of the necessary consider that Matias Matute, representing the plaintiff estate, filed
on time an answer dated March 1, 1965 traversing the allegations of The motion interposed on June 14, 1966 by the herein intervenor-
Canlas' counterclaim, which answer inured to the benefit of not only petitioner, in his alleged capacity as co-administrator, in behalf of
Matias Matute but also to the intervenors who were jointly the Amadeo Matute Olave estate, praying that the said estate be
impleaded as defendants in the said counterclaim. The defendant- allowed to adopt the instant petition for certiorari with preliminary
respondent Canlas, on the other hand, while not denying receipt of injunction and be admitted as co-petitioner, the resolution of which
the aforesaid answer to his counterclaim, contends that the herein we had previously deferred, should therefore be denied on the
intervenor-petitioner's failure to personally answer said ground that the intervenor-petitioner has no legal personality to
counterclaim is fatal and that he could not take refuge under the represent the Matute estate considering that his appointment as co-
answer interposed by Matias Matute. administrator has been voided. Nevertheless, it is our considered
view that the declaration of total nullity of the abovementioned
We are of the considered opinion that the herein disputed order of judgment by default shall perforce bar the execution against the
default is illegal and void, and, consequently, the controverted Matute estate of that portion of the said void judgment which
judgment by default and order of execution were improvidently condemns it to pay the sum of P50,000 in damages to the
issued. defendants-respondents Rivera, del Rosario and Vergara.

1. The counterclaim interposed by Canlas raised a common cause ACCORDINGLY, (1) in L-26751 the petition for certiorari is hereby
of action for damages against Matias Matute, as the representative granted; the respondent Court of Appeals is adjudged as without
of the plaintiff estate, and Jose and Luis Matute, as intervenors in jurisdiction over CA-G.R. 37039-R; the probate court's controverted
civil case 4252, all in their personal capacities. The counterclaim order of January 31, 1966 is hereby set aside in its entirety, thereby
reads: maintaining the respondent Matias S. Matute in his trust as co-
administrator of the Amadeo Matute Olave estate; (2) in L-
26085 the petition for certiorari is hereby granted; the order of
That for instituting this patently frivolous and unfounded
default dated April 16, 1966, the judgment by default dated April 23,
action in bad faith calculated to merely harass answering
1966, and the order of execution dated May 3, 1966, all issued in
defendant Paterno R. Canlas in order to satisfy the
excess of jurisdiction by the respondent Judge of the Court of First
personal revenge, hatred and vindictiveness of the co-
Instance of Davao, are set aside; and (3) in L-26106 the petition
administrator, Matias S. Matute, representing the plaintiff
for certiorari is hereby denied in so far as it seeks to nullify the final
Estate, and the intervenors Jose S. Matute and Luis S.
order of dismissal dated February 15, 1966; the order of default and
Matute, defendant Paterno R. Canlas suffered actual,
judgment by default dated March 29, 1966 and the order of
moral and consequential damages in the total amount of
execution dated April 12, 1966, all similarly issued in excess of
P100,000.00, for which plaintiff Matias S. Matute and
jurisdiction by the same respondent Judge are set aside. No
intervenors Jose S. Matute and Luis S. Matute should be
pronouncement as to costs.
held personally liable. (emphasis supplied)


Having been this jointly charged to pay the abovestated damages,
the brothers Matias, Jose and Luis Matute could validly file a
common responsive pleading, as in effect they did when Matias G.R. No. 172547 June 30, 2009
Matute filed an answer to the aforesaid counterclaim, the receipt of
which Canlas admits. It is significant to note that the said answer PRECY BUNYI and MILA BUNYI, Petitioners,
does not only deny the charge against Matias Matute but as well as vs.
negates the claim against the intervenors. FE S. FACTOR, Respondent.

2. Moreover, having successfully prayed for the resolution of his DECISION

pending motion to dismiss, even after the issues had been joined
with the filing of his answer, the defendant-respondent Canlas is QUISUMBING, J.:
deemed to have abandoned his counterclaim and voluntarily
reverted himself to the time when he initially interposed his motion
For review on certiorari are the Decision1 dated January 16, 2006
to dismiss prior to the filing of his answer with counterclaim. Thus,
and Resolution2 dated April 26, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
when the complaint in civil case 4252 was dismissed on the basis of
G.R. SP No. 90397, which had affirmed the Decision3 dated March 7,
Canlas' motion, the entire proceeding was inevitably terminated
2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Piñas City, Branch 198
and there was nothing more to adjudge. In fact, the termination of
in Civil Case No. LP-04-0160.
all the pending incidents in civil case 4252 was subsequently decreed
by the respondent Judge himself in the orders of March 12, 1966
and April 11, 1966. Consequently, the respondent Judge, to say the The antecedent facts are as follows:
least, acted in excess of jurisdiction when he issued, after having
dismissed the principal complaint, the herein controverted order of Respondent Fe S. Factor is one of the co-owners of an 18-hectare
default and judgment by default for then there was nothing left to piece of land located in Almanza, Las Piñas City. The ownership of
be adjudicated. Said decrees having been rendered in excess of the land originated from respondent’s paternal grandparents
jurisdiction, certiorari will lie to have then annulled. Constantino Factor and Maura Mayuga-Factor who had been in
actual, continuous, peaceful, public, adverse and exclusive
In view of the foregoing discussion, the finality of the order of possession and occupation of the land even before 1906.4
dismissal should be upheld, while the disputed order of default,
judgment by default and order of execution should be declared void On December 9, 1975, the children of Constantino Factor and Maura
and set aside. Mayuga-Factor filed a Petition for Original Registration and
Confirmation of Imperfect Title to the said parcel of land, or Lots 1, On July 13, 2004, the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Las Piñas
2, 3 and 4 of Psu-253567, before the RTC of Pasig City, Branch City, Branch 79 ruled in favor of Fe S. Factor. The dispositive portion
71.5 On December 8, 1994, the trial court granted the petition in LRC of the decision reads:
Case No. N-9049 and declared the children of Constantino Factor
and Maura Mayuga-Factor as co-owners of the property. 6 The WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff
children of Constantino Factor and Maura Mayuga-Factor thereafter and against the defendants ordering the latter and all persons
sold seven (7) hectares of the Factor family property during the claiming rights under them to:
same year. The siblings, except Enrique Factor, respondent’s father,
shared and divided the proceeds of the sale among themselves, with
1. To immediately vacate the subject premises and
the agreement that Enrique would have as his share the portion of
surrender possession thereof to the plaintiff.
the property located in Antioch Street, Pilar Executive Village,
Almanza I, Las Piñas City, known as the Factor compound.
2. To pay the monthly rental of ₱2,000.00 from December
1, 2002 up to the time they finally vacate the premises.
Following his acquisition thereof, Enrique caused the construction of
several houses in the compound including the subject property, a
rest house, where members of the Factor family stayed during get- 3. To pay attorney’s fee of Php 10,000.00.
togethers and visits.7Petitioners Precy Bunyi and her mother, Mila
Bunyi, were tenants in one of the houses inside the compound, The counter-claim is dismissed for lack of merit.
particularly in No. 8 Antioch St., Pilar Village, Almanza, Las Piñas City
since 1999.8 SO ORDERED.10

When Enrique Factor died on August 7, 1993, the administration of Petitioners appealed the decision to the RTC of Las Piñas City,
the Factor compound including the subject rest house and other Branch 198, which, however, affirmed in toto the decision of the
residential houses for lease was transferred and entrusted to MeTC and later denied their motion for
Enrique’s eldest child, Gloria Factor-Labao. reconsideration.11 Undaunted, petitioners filed a petition for review
before the Court of Appeals but it was denied also. Hence, the
Gloria Factor-Labao, together with her husband Ruben Labao and instant petition before us.
their son Reggie F. Labao, lived in Tipaz, Taguig, Metro Manila but
visited and sometimes stayed in the rest house because Gloria Petitioners submit the following issues for the Court’s consideration:
collected the rentals of the residential houses and oversaw the
Factor compound. When Gloria died on January 15, 2001, the
administration and management of the Factor compound including I.
the subject rest house, passed on to respondent Fe S. Factor as co-
owner of the property. As an act of goodwill and compassion, [WHETHER] THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED
considering that Ruben Labao was sickly and had no means of IN LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF
income, respondent allowed him to stay at the rest house for brief, THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT THAT FORCE, THREAT, INTIMIDATION
transient and intermittent visits as a guest of the Factor family. AND STEALTH HAD BEEN COMMITTED BY THE PETITIONERS IN
On May 31, 2002, Ruben Labao married petitioner Precy Bunyi. On
November 10, 2002, Ruben Labao died. II.

At about this time, respondent discovered that petitioners forcibly [WHETHER] THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED
opened the doors of the rest house and stole all the personal WHEN IT MISAPPRECIATED THE FACT THAT THE RESPONDENT HAS A
properties owned by the Factor family and then audaciously BETTER RIGHT OF PHYSICAL AND MATERIAL POSSESSION OF THE
occupied the premises. Respondent alleged that petitioners SUBJECT PROPERTY;
unlawfully deprived her and the Factor family of the subject
property’s lawful use and possession. Respondent also added that III.
when she tried to enter the rest house on December 1, 2002, an
unidentified person who claimed to have been authorized by
petitioners to occupy the premises, barred, threatened and chased
her with a jungle bolo. Thus, on September 12, 2003, respondent Fe
S. Factor filed a complaint9 for forcible entry against herein
petitioners Precy Bunyi and Mila Bunyi.

Petitioners, for their part, questioned Fe’s claim of ownership of the

The resolution of the first issue raised by petitioners requires us to
subject property and the alleged prior ownership of her father
inquire into the sufficiency of the evidence presented below, a
Enrique Factor. They asserted that the subject property was owned
course of action which this Court will not do, consistent with our
by Ruben Labao, and that petitioner Precy with her husband moved
repeated holding that the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts.13 The
into the subject property, while petitioner Mila Bunyi, mother of
resolution of factual issues is the function of lower courts, whose
Precy, remained in No. 8 Antioch St.
findings on these matters are received with respect and considered
binding by the Supreme Court subject only to certain exceptions,
none of which is present in the instant petition. 14 Noteworthy, in
this case, the cited findings of the RTC have been affirmed by the husband was never a resident of the subject property, petitioner
Court of Appeals. Precy failed to explain convincingly how she was able to move in
with Ruben Labao in the subject property during their marriage.
As to the second issue, the resolution thereof boils down to a
determination of who, between petitioners and respondent, would On the other hand, it was established that respondent’s
be entitled to the physical possession of the subject property. grandparents, Constantino Factor and Maura Mayuga-Factor, had
been the occupants and in possession of various agricultural parcel
Both parties anchor their right of material possession of the of lands situated in Almanza, Las Piñas City, in the concept of
disputed property on their respective claims of ownership. owners, for more than thirty years prior to 1975. In fact, the RTC in
Petitioners insist that petitioner Precy has a better right of its Decision dated December 8, 1994 in LRC Case No. N-9049 has
possession over the subject property since she inherited the subject confirmed the rights of respondent’s predecessors over the subject
property as the surviving spouse and sole heir of Ruben Labao, who property and ordered the issuance of the corresponding certificate
owned the property before his death. of title in their favor.22

Respondent, on the other hand, hinges her claim of possession on The right of respondent’s predecessors over the subject property is
the fact that her predecessor-in-interest had prior possession of the more than sufficient to uphold respondent’s right to possession over
property as early as 1975. the same. Respondent’s right to the property was vested in her
along with her siblings from the moment of their father’s death.23 As
heir, respondent had the right to the possession of the property,
After careful consideration, we find in favor of the respondent.
which is one of the attributes of ownership. Such rights are enforced
and protected from encroachments made or attempted before the
In ejectment cases, the only issue for resolution is who is entitled to judicial declaration since respondent acquired hereditary rights even
the physical or material possession of the property involved, before judicial declaration in testate or intestate proceedings.24
independent of any claim of ownership set forth by any of the party-
litigants. The one who can prove prior possession de facto may
After the death of Enrique Factor, it was his eldest child, Gloria
recover such possession even from the owner himself.15 Possession
Factor-Labao who took over the administration of the subject
de facto is the physical possession of real property. Possession de
property. And as a consequence of co-ownership,25 soon after the
facto and not possession de jure is the only issue in a forcible entry
death of Gloria, respondent, as one of the surviving co-owners, may
case.16 This rule holds true regardless of the character of a party’s
be subrogated to the rights of the deceased co-owner, which
possession, provided, that he has in his favor priority of time which
includes the right to the administration and management of the
entitles him to stay on the property until he is lawfully ejected by a
subject property.
person having a better right by either accion publiciana or accion
As found by the Court of Appeals, petitioners’ unsupported claim of
possession must yield to that of the respondent who traces her
Petitioners argue that respondent was never in possession of the
possession of the subject property to her predecessors-in-interest
subject property since the latter never occupied the same. They
who have always been in possession of the subject property. Even
claim that they have been in actual possession of the disputed
assuming that respondent was never a resident of the subject
property from the time petitioner Precy married Ruben Labao in
property, she could legally continue possessing the property. Visiting
the property on weekends and holidays is evidence of actual or
physical possession.26 The fact of her residence somewhere else, by
In this instance, however, petitioners’ contention is unconvincing. itself, does not result in loss of possession of the subject property.
The law does not require one in possession of a house to reside in
For one to be considered in possession, one need not have actual or the house to maintain his possession.27 For, again, possession in the
physical occupation of every square inch of the property at all eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on
times.18 Possession can be acquired not only by material occupation, every square meter of the ground before he is deemed in
but also by the fact that a thing is subject to the action of one’s will possession.28 There is no cogent reason to deviate from this
or by the proper acts and legal formalities established for acquiring doctrine.
such right.19 Possession can be acquired by juridical acts. These are
acts to which the law gives the force of acts of possession. Examples All things considered, this Court finds that respondent Fe S. Factor
of these are donations, succession, execution and registration of successfully proved the extent and character of her possession over
public instruments, and the inscription of possessory information the disputed property. As a consequence of her ownership thereof,
titles.20 respondent is entitled to its possession, considering petitioners’
failure to prove prior possession. The Court stresses, however, that
While petitioners claim that respondent never physically occupied its determination of ownership in the instant case is not final. It is
the subject property, they failed to prove that they had prior only a provisional determination for the sole purpose of resolving
possession of the subject property. On record, petitioner Precy the issue of possession. It would not bar or prejudice a separate
Bunyi admitted that Gloria Factor-Labao and Ruben Labao, as action between the same parties involving the quieting of title to the
spouses, resided in Tipaz, Taguig, Metro Manila and used the subject subject property.29
property whenever they visit the same.21 Likewise, as pointed out by
the MeTC and the RTC, Ruben and petitioner Precy’s marriage As regards the means upon which the deprivation took effect, it is
certificate revealed that at the time of their marriage, Ruben was not necessary that the respondent must demonstrate that the taking
residing at 123 A. Lake St., San Juan, Metro Manila. Even Ruben’s was done with force, intimidation threat, strategy or stealth. The
death certificate showed that his place of death and residence was
at #4 Labao St., Tipaz, Taguig, Metro Manila. Considering that her
Supreme Court, in Bañes v. Lutheran Church in the RUFINA LUY LIM, petitioner,
Philippines,30 explained: vs.
In order to constitute force that would justify a forcible entry case, DISTRIBUTING, INC., ACTIVE DISTRIBUTORS, ALLIANCE MARKETING
the trespasser does not have to institute a state of war. The act of CORPORATION, ACTION COMPANY, INC. respondents.
going to the property and excluding the lawful possessor therefrom
necessarily implies the exertion of force over the property which is BUENA, J.:
all that is necessary and sufficient to show that the action is based
on the provisions of Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court.31 May a corporation, in its universality, be the proper subject of and
be included in the inventory of the estate of a deceased person?
As expressly stated in David v. Cordova:32
Petitioner disputes before us through the instant petition for review
The words ‘by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth’ include on certiorari, the decision1 of the Court of Appeals promulgated on
every situation or condition under which one person can wrongfully 18 April 1996, in CA-GR SP No. 38617, which nullified and set aside
enter upon real property and exclude another, who has had prior the orders dated 04 July 19952 , 12 September 19953 and 15
possession therefrom. If a trespasser enters upon land in open September 19954 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
daylight, under the very eyes of the person already clothed with 93, sitting as a probate court.
lawful possession, but without the consent of the latter, and there
plants himself and excludes such prior possessor from the property, Petitioner Rufina Luy Lim is the surviving spouse of late Pastor Y. Lim
the action of forcible entry and detainer can unquestionably be whose estate is the subject of probate proceedings in Special
maintained, even though no force is used by the trespasser other Proceedings Q-95-23334, entitled, "In Re: Intestate Estate of Pastor
than such as is necessarily implied from the mere acts of planting Y. Lim Rufina Luy Lim, represented by George Luy,
himself on the ground and excluding the other party.33 Petitioner".1âwphi1.nêt

Respondent, as co-owner, has the control of the subject property Private respondents Auto Truck Corporation, Alliance Marketing
even if she does not stay in it. So when petitioners entered said Corporation, Speed Distributing, Inc., Active Distributing, Inc. and
property without the consent and permission of the respondent and Action Company are corporations formed, organized and existing
the other co-owners, the latter were deprived of its possession. under Philippine laws and which owned real properties covered
Moreover, the presence of an unidentified man forbidding under the Torrens system.
respondent from entering the subject property constitutes force
contemplated by Section 1,34 Rule 70 of the Rules of Court.1avvphi1
On 11 June 1994, Pastor Y. Lim died intestate. Herein petitioner, as
surviving spouse and duly represented by her nephew George Luy,
As to the last issue, we have previously ruled that while the courts fried on 17 March 1995, a joint petition5 for the administration of
may fix the reasonable amount of rent for the use and occupation of the estate of Pastor Y. Lim before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
a disputed property, they could not simply rely on their own City.
appreciation of land values without considering any evidence. The
reasonable amount of any rent could not be determined by mere
Private respondent corporations, whose properties were included in
judicial notice but by supporting evidence.35 In the instant case, we
the inventory of the estate of Pastor Y. Lim, then filed a motion6 for
find no evidence on record to support the MeTC’s award of rent.
the lifting of lis pendens and motion7 for exclusion of certain
properties from the estate of the decedent.
On the matter of attorney’s fees awarded to the respondent, we are
in agreement to delete it. It is a well-settled rule that where
In an order8 dated 08 June 1995, the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
attorney’s fees are granted, the court must explicitly state in the
City, Branch 93, sitting as a probate court, granted the private
body of the decision, and not only in the dispositive portion thereof,
respondents' twin motions, in this wise:
the legal reason for the award.36 Again, nothing in the body of both
decisions of RTC and MeTC explicitly stated the reasons for the
award of attorney’s fees. Wherefore, the Register of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby
ordered to lift, expunge or delete the annotation of lis
pendens on Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 116716,
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The challenged Decision
116717, 116718, 116719 and 5182 and it is hereby further
dated January 16, 2006 and Resolution dated April 26, 2006 of the
ordered that the properties covered by the same titles as
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 90397 are AFFIRMED with
well as those properties by (sic) Transfer Certificate of Title
MODIFICATION that the award of rentals and attorney’s fees are
Nos. 613494, 363123, 236236 and 263236 are excluded
from these proceedings.

No pronouncement as to costs.

Subsequently, Rufina Luy Lim filed a verified amended
petition9 which contained the following averments:
3. The late Pastor Y. Lim personally owned during his
G.R. No. 124715 January 24, 2000 lifetime the following business entities, to wit:
Copies of the above-mentioned Transfer Certificate of Title
Business Entity Address:
and/or Tax Declarations are hereto attached as Annexes
xxx xxx xxx "C" to "W".

Alliance Block 3, Lot 6, Dacca BF Homes, xxx xxx xxx

Marketing, Inc. Parañaque, Metro Manila.

xxx xxx xxx 7. The aforementioned properties and/or real interests left
by the late Pastor Y. Lim, are all conjugal in nature, having
Speed 910 Barrio Niog, Aguinaldo Highway, been acquired by him during the existence of his marriage
Distributing Inc. Bacoor, Cavite. with petitioner.

xxx xxx xxx 8. There are other real and personal properties owned by
Pastor Y. Lim which petitioner could not as yet identify.
Auto Truck TBA
2251 Roosevelt Avenue, Quezon City. Petitioner, however will submit to this Honorable Court
the identities thereof and the necessary documents
xxx xxx xxx covering the same as soon as possible.

Active On 04 July 1995, the Regional Trial Court acting on petitioner's

Block 3, Lot 6, Dacca BF Homes,
Distributors, motion issued an order10 , thus:
Parañaque, Metro Manila.
Wherefore, the order dated 08 June 1995 is hereby set
xxx xxx xxx
aside and the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby
Action 100 20th Avenue Murphy, Quezon directed to reinstate the annotation of lis pendens in case
Company City or 92-D Mc-Arthur Highway said annotation had already been deleted and/or
Valenzuela Bulacan. cancelled said TCT Nos. 116716, 116717, 116718, 116719
and 51282.

3.1 Although the above business entities dealt Further more (sic), said properties covered by TCT Nos.
and engaged in business with the public as 613494, 365123, 236256 and 236237 by virtue of the
corporations, all their capital, assets and equity petitioner are included in the instant petition.
were however, personally owned by the late
Pastor Y Lim. Hence the alleged stockholders and
officers appearing in the respective articles of
incorporation of the above business entities
were mere dummies of Pastor Y. Lim, and they On 04 September 1995, the probate court appointed Rufina Lim as
were listed therein only for purposes of special administrator11 and Miguel Lim and Lawyer Donald Lee, as
registration with the Securities and Exchange co-special administrators of the estate of Pastor Y. Lim, after which
Commission. letters of administration were accordingly issued.

4. Pastor Lim, likewise, had Time, Savings and Current In an order12 dated 12 September 1995, the probate court denied
Deposits with the following banks: (a) Metrobank, Grace anew private respondents' motion for exclusion, in this wise:
Park, Caloocan City and Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
Branches and (b) First Intestate Bank (formerly Producers The issue precisely raised by the petitioner in her petition
Bank), Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and in other is whether the corporations are the mere alter egos or
banks whose identities are yet to be determined. instrumentalities of Pastor Lim, Otherwise (sic) stated, the
issue involves the piercing of the corporate veil, a matter
5. That the following real properties, although registered that is clearly within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
in the name of the above entities, were actually acquired Court and not the Securities and Exchange Commission.
by Pastor Y. Lim during his marriage with petitioner, to wit: Thus, in the case of Cease vs. Court of Appeals, 93 SCRA
483, the crucial issue decided by the regular court was
whether the corporation involved therein was the mere
Corporation Title Location extension of the decedent. After finding in the affirmative,
the Court ruled that the assets of the corporation are also
xxx xxx xxx assets of the estate.
k. Auto Truck TCT No. Sto. Domingo
617726 TBA A reading of P.D. 902, the law relied upon by oppositors,
Corporation shows that the SEC's exclusive (sic) applies only to intra-
Cainta, Rizal corporate controversy. It is simply a suit to settle the
intestate estate of a deceased person who, during his
q. Alliance TCT No. Prance, Metro lifetime, acquired several properties and put up
Marketing 27896 Manila corporations as his instrumentalities.

On 15 September 1995, the probate court acting on an ex Yet, before we delve into the merits of the case, a review of the
parte motion filed by petitioner, issued an order13 the dispositive rules on jurisdiction over probate proceedings is indeed in order.
portion of which reads:
The provisions of Republic Act 769117 , which introduced
Wherefore, the parties and the following banks concerned amendments to Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, are pertinent:
herein under enumerated are hereby ordered to comply
strictly with this order and to produce and submit to the Sec. 1. Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise
special administrators, through this Honorable Court known as the "Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980", is
within (5) five days from receipt of this order their hereby amended to read as follows:
respective records of the savings/current accounts/time
deposits and other deposits in the names of Pastor Lim
Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts
and/or corporations above-mentioned, showing all the
shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction:
transactions made or done concerning savings/current
accounts from January 1994 up to their receipt of this
court order. xxx xxx xxx

xxx xxx xxx (4) In all matters of probate, both testate and intestate,
where the gross value of the estate exceeds One Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P100,000) or, in probate matters in
Metro Manila, where such gross value exceeds Two
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000);
Private respondent filed a special civil action for certiorari14 , with an
urgent prayer for a restraining order or writ of preliminary
xxx xxx xxx
injunction, before the Court of Appeals questioning the orders of the
Regional Trial Court, sitting as a probate court.
Sec. 3. Section 33 of the same law is hereby amended to
read as follows:
On 18 April 1996, the Court of Appeals, finding in favor of herein
private respondents, rendered the assailed decision15 , the decretal
portion of which declares: Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts,
Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts in Civil Cases. — Metropolitan Trial
Wherefore, premises considered, the instant special civil
Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal
action for certiorari is hereby granted, The impugned
Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
orders issued by respondent court on July 4, 1995 and
September 12, 1995 are hereby nullified and set aside. The
impugned order issued by respondent on September 15, 1. Exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions
1995 is nullified insofar as petitioner corporations" bank and probate proceedings, testate and intestate,
accounts and records are concerned. including the grant of provisional remedies in
proper cases, where the value of the personal
property, estate or amount of the demand does
not exceed One Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P100,000) or, in Metro Manila where such
Through the expediency of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, herein personal property, estate or amount of the
petitioner Rufina Luy Lim now comes before us with a lone demand does not exceed Two Hundred
assignment of Thousand Pesos (P200,000), exclusive of
error16 : interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's
fees, litigation expenses and costs, the amount
The respondent Court of Appeals erred in reversing the of which must be specifically alleged, Provided,
orders of the lower court which merely allowed the that interest, damages of whatever kind,
preliminary or provisional inclusion of the private attorney's, litigation expenses and costs shall be
respondents as part of the estate of the late deceased (sic) included in the determination of the filing
Pastor Y. Lim with the respondent Court of Appeals fees, Provided further, that where there are
arrogating unto itself the power to repeal, to disobey or to several claims or causes of actions between the
ignore the clear and explicit provisions of Rules 81,83,84 same or different parties, embodied in the same
and 87 of the Rules of Court and thereby preventing the complaint, the amount of the demand shall be
petitioner, from performing her duty as special the totality of the claims in all the causes of
administrator of the estate as expressly provided in the action, irrespective of whether the causes of
said Rules. action arose out of the same or different
Petitioner's contentions tread on perilous grounds.
xxx xxx xxx
In the instant petition for review, petitioner prays that we affirm the
orders issued by the probate court which were subsequently set Simply put, the determination of which court exercises jurisdiction
aside by the Court of Appeals. over matters of probate depends upon the gross value of the estate
of the decedent.
As to the power and authority of the probate court, petitioner relies that the question of whether or not a particular matter
heavily on the principle that a probate court may pass upon title to should be resolved by the court in the exercise of its
certain properties, albeit provisionally, for the purpose of general jurisdiction or of its limited jurisdiction as a special
determining whether a certain property should or should not be court (e.g. probate, land registration, etc.), is in reality not
included in the inventory. a jurisdictional but in essence of procedural one, involving
a mode of practice which may be waived. . . .
In a litany of cases, We defined the parameters by which the court
may extend its probing arms in the determination of the question of . . . . These considerations assume greater cogency where,
title in probate proceedings. as here, the Torrens title is not in the decedent's name but
in others, a situation on which this Court has already had
This Court, in PASTOR, JR. vs. COURT OF APPEALS,18 held: occasion to rule . . . . (emphasis Ours)

. . . As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous Petitioner, in the present case, argues that the parcels of land
matter which the probate court cannot resolve with covered under the Torrens system and registered in the name of
finality. Thus, for the purpose of determining whether a private respondent corporations should be included in the inventory
certain property should or should not be included in the of the estate of the decedent Pastor Y. Lim, alleging that after all the
inventory of estate properties, the Probate Court may pass determination by the probate court of whether these properties
upon the title thereto, but such determination is should be included or not is merely provisional in nature, thus, not
provisional, not conclusive, and is subject to the final conclusive and subject to a final determination in a separate action
decision in a separate action to resolve title. brought for the purpose of adjudging once and for all the issue of
We reiterated the rule in PEREIRA vs. COURT OF APPEALS19 :
Yet, under the peculiar circumstances, where the parcels of land are
registered in the name of private respondent corporations, the
. . . The function of resolving whether or not a certain
jurisprudence pronounced in BOLISAY vs., ALCID 24 is of great
property should be included in the inventory or list of
essence and finds applicability, thus:
properties to be administered by the administrator is one
clearly within the competence of the probate court.
However, the court's determination is only provisional in It does not matter that respondent-administratrix has
character, not conclusive, and is subject to the final evidence purporting to support her claim of ownership,
decision in a separate action which may be instituted by for, on the other hand, petitioners have a Torrens title in
the parties. their favor, which under the law is endowed with
incontestability until after it has been set aside in the
manner indicated in the law itself, which of course, does
Further, in MORALES vs. CFI OF CAVITE20 citing CUIZON
not include, bringing up the matter as a mere incident in
vs. RAMOLETE21 , We made an exposition on the probate court's
special proceedings for the settlement of the estate of
limited jurisdiction:
deceased persons. . . .

It is a well-settled rule that a probate court or one in

. . . . In regard to such incident of inclusion or exclusion,
charge of proceedings whether testate or intestate cannot
We hold that if a property covered by Torrens title is
adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be a
involved, the presumptive conclusiveness of such title
part of the estate and which are equally claimed to belong
should be given due weight, and in the absence of strong
to outside parties. All that the said court could do as
compelling evidence to the contrary, the holder thereof
regards said properties is to determine whether they
should be considered as the owner of the property in
should or should not be included in the inventory or list of
controversy until his title is nullified or modified in an
properties to be administered by the administrator. If
appropriate ordinary action, particularly, when as in the
there is no dispute, well and good; but if there is, then the
case at bar, possession of the property itself is in the
parties, the administrator and the opposing parties have
persons named in the title. . . .
to resort to an ordinary action for a final determination of
the conflicting claims of title because the probate court
cannot do so. A perusal of the records would reveal that no strong compelling
evidence was ever presented by petitioner to bolster her bare
assertions as to the title of the deceased Pastor Y. Lim over the
Again, in VALERA vs. INSERTO22 , We had occasion to elucidate,
properties. Even so, P.D. 1529, otherwise known as, "The Property
through Mr. Justice Andres Narvasa23 :
Registration Decree", proscribes collateral attack on Torrens Title,
Settled is the rule that a Court of First Instance (now
Regional Trial Court), acting as a probate court, exercises
xxx xxx xxx
but limited jurisdiction, and thus has no power to take
cognizance of and determine the issue of title to property
claimed by a third person adversely to the decedent, Sec. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. — A
unless the claimant and all other parties having legal certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack.
interest in the property consent, expressly or impliedly, to It cannot be altered, modified or cancelled except in a
the submission of the question to the probate court for direct proceeding in accordance with law.
adjudgment, or the interests of third persons are not
thereby prejudiced, the reason for the exception being
In CUIZON vs. RAMOLETE, where similarly as in the case at bar, the It is settled that a corporation is clothed with personality separate
property subject of the controversy was duly registered under the and distinct from that of the persons composing it. It may not
Torrens system, We categorically stated: generally be held liable for that of the persons composing it. It may
not be held liable for the personal indebtedness of its stockholders
. . . Having been apprised of the fact that the property in or those of the entities connected with it.28
question was in the possession of third parties and more
important, covered by a transfer certificate of title issued Rudimentary is the rule that a corporation is invested by law with a
in the name of such third parties, the respondent court personality distinct and separate from its stockholders or members.
should have denied the motion of the respondent In the same vein, a corporation by legal fiction and convenience is an
administrator and excluded the property in question from entity shielded by a protective mantle and imbued by law with a
the inventory of the property of the estate. It had no character alien to the persons comprising it.
authority to deprive such third persons of their possession
and ownership of the property. . . . Nonetheless, the shield is not at all times invincible. Thus, in FIRST
Inasmuch as the real properties included in the inventory of the enunciated:
estate of the Late Pastor Y. Lim are in the possession of and are
registered in the name of private respondent corporations, which . . . When the fiction is urged as a means of perpetrating a
under the law possess a personality separate and distinct from their fraud or an illegal act or as a vehicle for the evasion of an
stockholders, and in the absence of any cogency to shred the veil of existing obligation, the circumvention of statutes, the
corporate fiction, the presumption of conclusiveness of said titles in achievement or perfection of a monopoly or generally the
favor of private respondents should stand undisturbed. perpetration of knavery or crime, the veil with which the
law covers and isolates the corporation from the members
Accordingly, the probate court was remiss in denying private or stockholders who compose it will be lifted to allow for
respondents' motion for exclusion. While it may be true that the its consideration merely as an aggregation of individuals. .
Regional Trial Court, acting in a restricted capacity and exercising ..
limited jurisdiction as a probate court, is competent to issue orders
involving inclusion or exclusion of certain properties in the inventory Piercing the veil of corporate entity requires the court to see
of the estate of the decedent, and to adjudge, albeit, provisionally through the protective shroud which exempts its stockholders from
the question of title over properties, it is no less true that such liabilities that ordinarily, they could be subject to, or distinguishes
authority conferred upon by law and reinforced by jurisprudence, one corporation from a seemingly separate one, were it not for the
should be exercised judiciously, with due regard and caution to the existing corporate fiction.30
peculiar circumstances of each individual case.
The corporate mask may be lifted and the corporate veil may be
Notwithstanding that the real properties were duly registered under pierced when a corporation is just but the alter ego of a person or of
the Torrens system in the name of private respondents, and as such another corporation. Where badges of fraud exist, where public
were to be afforded the presumptive conclusiveness of title, the convenience is defeated; where a wrong is sought to be justified
probate court obviously opted to shut its eyes to this gleamy fact thereby, the corporate fiction or the notion of legal entity should
and still proceeded to issue the impugned orders. come to naught.31

By its denial of the motion for exclusion, the probate court in effect Further, the test in determining the applicability of the doctrine of
acted in utter disregard of the presumption of conclusiveness of title piercing the veil of corporate fiction is as follows: 1) Control, not
in favor of private respondents. Certainly, the probate court through mere majority or complete stock control, but complete domination,
such brazen act transgressed the clear provisions of law and not only of finances but of policy and business practice in respect to
infringed settled jurisprudence on this matter. the transaction attacked so that the corporate entity as to this
transaction had at the time no separate mind, will or existence of its
Moreover, petitioner urges that not only the properties of private own; (2) Such control must have been used by the defendant to
respondent corporations are properly part of the decedent's estate commit fraud or wrong, to perpetuate the violation of a statutory or
but also the private respondent corporations themselves. To rivet other positive legal duty, or dishonest and unjust act in
such flimsy contention, petitioner cited that the late Pastor Y. Lim contravention of plaintiffs legal right; and (3) The aforesaid control
during his lifetime, organized and wholly-owned the five and breach of duty must proximately cause the injury or unjust loss
corporations, which are the private respondents in the instant complained of. The absence of any of these elements prevent
case.25 Petitioner thus attached as Annexes "F"26 and "G"27 of the "piercing the corporate veil".32
petition for review affidavits executed by Teresa Lim and Lani
Wenceslao which among others, contained averments that the Mere ownership by a single stockholder or by another corporation
incorporators of Uniwide Distributing, Inc. included on the list had of all or nearly all of the capital stock of a corporation is not of itself
no actual and participation in the organization and incorporation of a sufficient reason for disregarding the fiction of separate corporate
the said corporation. The affiants added that the persons whose personalities.33
names appeared on the articles of incorporation of Uniwide
Distributing, Inc., as incorporators thereof, are mere dummies since
Moreover, to disregard the separate juridical personality of a
they have not actually contributed any amount to the capital stock
corporation, the wrong-doing must be clearly and convincingly
of the corporation and have been merely asked by the late Pastor Y.
established. It cannot be presumed.34
Lim to affix their respective signatures thereon.
Granting arguendo that the Regional Trial Court in this case was not
merely acting in a limited capacity as a probate court, petitioner
nonetheless failed to adduce competent evidence that would have
justified the court to impale the veil of corporate fiction. Truly, the
reliance reposed by petitioner on the affidavits executed by Teresa
Lim and Lani Wenceslao is unavailing considering that the
aforementioned documents possess no weighty probative value
pursuant to the hearsay rule. Besides it is imperative for us to stress
that such affidavits are inadmissible in evidence inasmuch as the
affiants were not at all presented during the course of the
proceedings in the lower court. To put it differently, for this Court to
uphold the admissibility of said documents would be to relegate
from Our duty to apply such basic rule of evidence in a manner
consistent with the law and jurisprudence.


vs. LEONIDAS35 finds pertinence:

Affidavits are classified as hearsay evidence since they are

not generally prepared by the affiant but by another who
uses his own language in writing the affiant's statements,
which may thus be either omitted or misunderstood by
the one writing them. Moreover, the adverse party is
deprived of the opportunity to cross-examine the affiants.
For this reason, affidavits are generally rejected for being
hearsay, unless the affiant themselves are placed on the
witness stand to testify thereon.

As to the order36 of the lower court, dated 15 September 1995, the

Court of Appeals correctly observed that the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 93 acted without jurisdiction in issuing said order; The
probate court had no authority to demand the production of bank
accounts in the name of the private respondent corporations.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing disquisitions, the instant

petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the decision of
the Court of Appeals which nullified and set aside the orders issued
by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 93, acting as a probate court,
dated 04 July 1995 and 12 September 1995 is