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TAN Based from the foregoing, it thus appears obvious that the CFI of Rizal exceeded its jurisdiction
in acting upon the question of ownership in its capacity as probate court. Such question has
Tasiana Ongsingco vs. Hon. Bienvenido Tan and Jose de Borja been squarely raised in an action pending in the CFI of Nueva Ecija. It is of no consequence that
97 Phil. 330 what respondent court merely did was look into the identity of said properties. This question is
necessarily imbibed in the greater issue of ownership and being interwoven one can hardly draw
Petitioner Tasiana Ongsingco is the wife and judicial guardian of Francisco de Borja, who was the line of demarcation that would separate one from the other.
declared incompetent by the CFI of Rizal in Spec. Pro. No. 1764. Francisco de Borja is the
surviving spouse of Josefa Tangco whose estate is being settled in Spec. Pro. No. 7866 in the Doctrine: A probate court cannot act on questions of ownership lest it exceeds its jurisdiction.
same court. Respondent Jose de Borja is the son of Francisco de Borja and administrator of the
estate of Josefa Tangco.

After Francisco was declared incompetent, Tasiana took possession of two parcels of land
situated in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ejica and commenced the threshing of the palay crop standing
thereon. Jose filed a motion in the estate proceedings of Josefa praying that Tasiana be
restrained from threshing the palays until the ownership of the lands has been resolved by the
court or by agreement of the parties.

Tasiana opposed the motion and stated that the question of ownership can only be threshed out
elsewhere and not by the probate court. She then filed an action in the CFI of Nueva Ecija to
prevent Jose from interfering with the harvest. The CFI of Nueve Ecija granted the preliminary
injunction prayed for by Tasiana.

Meanwhile, the CFI of Rizal issued an order restraining Tasiana in the threshing of the palay
harvested in the disputed lands. Tasian filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was
denied. She then filed a petition for certiorari with prohibition in the Supreme Court.

Whether the CFI of Rizal has jurisdiction to resolve the ownership dispute between
Tasiana Ongsingco and Jose de Borja?

No. In Franco vs. O’Brien, it was held that “the question of ownership is one which
should be determined in an ordinary action and not in probate proceedings, and this whether or
not the property is alleged to belong to the estate”. In another case it was held that “the general
rule is that questions as to title to property cannot be passed upon in testate or intestate
proceedings”[1] or stating the rule more elaborately, “When questions arise as to the ownership
of property alleged to be a part of the estate of a deceased person but claimed by some other
person to be his property, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the deceased, but by title
adverse to that of the deceased and his estate, such questions cannot be determined in the
courts of administrative proceedings”.[2]

Nos. L-59867-68 May 7, 1987 Fabiana thereupon instituted a separate action for injunction and damages, with application for
a preliminary injunction. This was docketed as Civil Case No. 13742 and assigned to Branch I
of the Iloilo CFI, Hon. Sancho Y. Inserto, presiding. The estate administrators filed a motion to
The fishpond originally belonged to the Government, and had been given in lease to Rafael dismiss the complaint and to dissolve the temporary restraining order, averring that the action
Valera in his lifetime. Rafael Valera ostensibly sold all his leasehold rights in the fishpond to his was barred by the Probate Court's prior judgment which had exclusive jurisdiction over the issue
daughter, Teresa Garin; but the sale was fictitious, having been resorted to merely so that she of the lease, and that the act sought to be restrained had already been accomplished, Fabiana
might use the property to provide for her children's support and education, and was subject to having voluntarily surrendered possession of the fishpond to the sheriff
the resolutory term that the fishpond should revert to Rafael Valera upon completion of the
schooling of Teresa Garin's Children; and with the income generated by the fishpond, the G.R. Nos. 59867-68
property was eventually purchased from the Government by the Heirs of Teresa Garin,
collectively named as such in the Original Certificate of Title issued in their favor. In the meantime, Jose Garin — having filed a motion for reconsideration of the above mentioned
order of Judge Adil (declaring the estate to be the owner of the fishpond), in which he asserted
In the proceedings for the settlement of the intestate estate of the decedent spouses, Rafael that the Probate Court, being of limited jurisdiction, had no competence to decide the ownership
Valera and Consolacion Sarrosa 1 — in which Eumelia Cabado and Pompiro Valera had been of the fishpond,
appointed administrators 2 — the heirs of a deceased daughter of the spouses, Teresa Garin,
filed a motion asking that the Administratrix, Cabado, be declared in contempt for her failure to These two special civil actions were jointly decided by the Court of Appeals. The Court granted
render an accounting of her administration. Cabado replied that no accounting could be the petitions
submitted unless Jose Garin, Teresa's husband and the movant heirs' father, delivered to the
administrator an 18-hectare fishpond in Baras, Barotoc Nuevo, Iloilo, belonging to the estate and
she in turn moved for the return thereof to the estate, 4 so that it might be partitioned among the ISSUE:
decedents' heirs. Jose Garin opposed the plea for the fishpond's return to the estate, asserting WON Probate Court had authority to order reconveyance of the fishpond?
that the property was owned by his children and this was why it had never been included in any
inventory of the estate
The Court, presided over by Hon. Judge Midpantao Adil, viewed the Garin Heirs' motion for As regards the first issue, settled is the rule that a Court of First Instance (now Regional
contempt, as well as Cabado's prayer for the fishpond's return to the estate, as having given rise Trial Court), acting as a Probate Court, exercises but limited jurisdiction, 28 and thus has no
to a claim for the recovery of an asset of the estate within the purview of Section 6, Rule 87 of power to take cognizance of and determine the issue of title to property claimed by a third person
the Rules of Court. Thereafter, the Court issued an Order dated September 17, 1980 adversely to the decedent, unless the claimant and all the Other parties having legal interest in
commanding the Heirs of Teresa Garin "to reconvey immediately the fishpond in question * * to the property consent, expressly or impliedly, to the submission of the question to the Probate
the intestate Estate of the Spouses. Court for adjudgment, or the interests of third persons are not thereby prejudiced

Thereafter, the Court issued an Order dated September 17, 1980 commanding the Heirs of The facts obtaining in this case, however, do not call for the application of the exception to the
Teresa Garin "to reconvey immediately the fishpond in question * * to the intestate Estate of the rule. As already earlier stressed, it was at all times clear to the Court as well as to the parties
Spouses. Judge Adil afterwards granted the administrators' motion for execution of the order that if cognizance was being taken of the question of title over the fishpond, it was not for the
pending appeal, and directed the sheriff to enforce the direction for the Garin Heirs to reconvey purpose of settling the issue definitely and permanently, and writing "finis" thereto, the question
the fishpond to the estate. being explicitly left for determination "in an ordinary civil action," but merely to determine whether
it should or should not be included in the inventory.Parenthetically, in the light of the foregoing
Later however, Fabiana filed a complaint-in-intervention with the Probate Court seeking principles, the Probate Court could have admitted and taken cognizance of Fabiana's complaint
vindication of his right to the possession of the fishpond, based on a contract of lease between in intervention after obtaining the consent of all interested parties to its assumption of jurisdiction
himself, as lessee, and Jose Garin, as lessor over the question of title to the fishpond, or ascertaining the absence of objection thereto. But it
did not. It dismissed the complaint in intervention instead. And all this is now water under the
Since the determination by the Probate Court of the question of title to the fishpond was merely
provisional, not binding on the property with any character of authority, definiteness or
permanence, having been made only for purposes of in. conclusion in the inventory and upon FELIX AZUELA v. COURT OF APPEALS and GERALDA AIDA CASTILLO
evidence adduced at the hearing of a motion, it cannot and should not be subject of execution,
as against its possessor who has set up title in himself (or in another) adversely to the decedent, G.R. 122880, 12 April 2006
and whose right to possess has not been ventilated and adjudicated in an appropriate action.
These considerations assume greater cogency where, as here, the Torrens title to the property
is not in the decedents' names but in others, a situation on which this Court has already had Felix Azuela filed a petition with the trial court for the probate of a notarial will purportedly
occasion to rule Since, too, both the Probate Court and the estate administrators are one in the executed by Eugenia E. Igsolo on June 10, 1981 and notarized on the same day. The will
recognition of the proposition that title to the fishpond could in the premises only be appropriately consisted of two (2) pages and was written in Filipino. The attestation clause did not state the
determined in a separate action, 36 the actual firing of such a separate action should have been number of pages and it was not signed by the attesting witnesses at the bottom thereof. The
anticipated, and should not therefore have come as a surprise, to the latter. And since moreover, said witnesses affixed their signatures on the left-hand margin of both pages of the will though.
implicit in that recognition is also the acknowledge judgment of the superiority of the authority of
Geralda Castillo opposed the petition, claiming that the will was a forgery. She also argued that
the court in which the separate action is filed over the issue of title, the estate administrators
may not now be heard to complain that in such a separate action, the court should have issued the will was not executed and attested to in accordance with law. She pointed out that the
orders necessarily involved in or flowing from the assumption of that jurisdiction. decedent’s signature did not appear on the second page of the will, and the will was not properly

The trial court held the will to be authentic and to have been executed in accordance with
law and, thus, admitted it to probate, calling to fore “the modern tendency in respect to the
formalities in the execution of a will…with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom
in expressing his last wishes.” According to the trial court, the declaration at the end of the
will under the sub-title, “Patunay Ng Mga Saksi,” comprised the attestation clause and the
acknowledgement, and was a substantial compliance with the requirements of the law. It
also held that the signing by the subscribing witnesses on the left margin of the second page
of the will containing the attestation clause and acknowledgment, instead of at the bottom
thereof, substantially satisfied the purpose of identification and attestation of the will. The
Court of Appeals, however, reversed the trial court’s decision and ordered the dismissal of
the petition for probate. It noted that the attestation clause failed to state the number of
pages used in the will, thus rendering the will void and undeserving of probate.

Azuela argues that the requirement under Article 805 of the Civil Code that “the number of
pages used in a notarial will be stated in the attestation clause” is merely directory, rather
than mandatory, and thus susceptible to what he termed as “the substantial compliance

Whether or not the subject will complied with the requirements of the law and,
hence, should be admitted to probate

The petition is DENIED. particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the
will, from the requisite that the will be attested and subscribed by them. The signatures on the
A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will left-hand corner of every page signify, among others, that the witnesses are aware that the page
is written is fatally defective. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental they are signing forms part of the will. On the other hand, the signatures to the attestation clause
witnesses is fatally defective. And perhaps most importantly, a will which does not contain an establish that the witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause
acknowledgment, but a mere jurat, is fatally defective. Any one of these defects is sufficient to itself. An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested will. Even if the instrumental
deny probate. A notarial will with all three defects is just aching for judicial rejection. witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned attestation clause,
Prior to the New Civil Code, the statutory provision governing the formal requirements such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses’ undertakings in the clause, since the
of wills was Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Extant therefrom is the requirement that signatures that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal.
the attestation state the number of pages of the will. The enactment of the New Civil Code put The notary public who notarized the subject will wrote, “Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko
in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills, at least insofar as the attestation ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic), 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila.” By no manner of
clause is concerned, that may vary from the philosophy that governed the said Section 618. contemplation can these words be construed as an acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the
Article 809 of the Civil Code, the Code Commission opted to recommend a more liberal act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and
construction through the “substantial compliance rule.” However, Justice J.B.L. Reyes cautioned declaring it to be his act or deed. It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat, even
that the rule “must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an though it does not follow to the usual language thereof. A jurat is that part of an affidavit where
examination of the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered; whether the the notary certifies that before him/her, the document was subscribed and sworn to by the
signatures appear in each and every page; whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the executor.
will was notarized...But the total number of pages, and whether all persons required to sign did
so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the attestation clause, being the It may not have been said before, but a notarial will that is not acknowledged before a
only check against perjury in the probate proceedings.” The Court suggested in Caneda v. Court notary public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective, even if it is subscribed and
of Appeals (G.R. No. 103554, May 28, 1993, 222 SCRA 781): “the rule, as it now stands, is that sworn to before a notary public. The importance of the requirement of acknowledgment is
omission which can be supplied by an examination of the will itself, without the need of resorting highlighted by the fact that it had been segregated from the other requirements under Art. 805
to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would not obstruct the allowance to and entrusted into a separate provision, Art. 806. The express requirement of Art. 806 is that the
probate of the will being assailed. However, those omissions which cannot be supplied except will be “acknowledged”, and not merely subscribed and sworn to. The acknowledgment coerces
by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately, of the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had
the will itself.” executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. Such declaration is under oath
and under pain of perjury, thus allowing for the criminal prosecution of persons who participate
The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was in the execution of spurious wills, or those executed without the free consent of the testator. It
written remains a fatal flaw, despite Art. 809. This requirement aims at safeguarding the will also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is of certain mindset in making the
against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and thus preventing any testamentary dispositions to those persons he/she had designated in the will.
increase or decrease in the pages. Following Caneda, there is substantial compliance with this
requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of, as was the
situation in Singson and Taboada. In this case, however, there could have been no substantial
compliance with the requirements under Art. 805 of the Civil Code since there is no statement
in the attestation clause or anywhere in the will itself as to the number of pages which comprise
the will. There was an incomplete attempt to comply with this requisite, a space having been
allotted for the insertion of the number of pages in the attestation clause. Yet the blank was never
filled in.

The subject will cannot be considered to have been validly attested to by the
instrumental witnesses. While the signatures of the instrumental witnesses appear on the left-
hand margin of the will, they do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause. Art. 805
UY KIAO vs NIXON LEE results from the official station of the party to whom the writ is directed or from operation of law.
This definition recognizes the public character of the remedy, and clearly excludes the idea that
GR NO. 176831 January 15, 2010
it may be resorted to for the purpose of enforcing the performance of duties in which the public
has no interest. The writ is a proper recourse for citizens who seek to enforce a public right and
to compel the performance of a public duty, most especially when the public right involved is
Respondent Nixon Lee filed a petition for mandamus with damages against his mother Uy Kiao mandated by the Constitution. As the quoted provision instructs, mandamus will lie if the tribunal,
Eng, herein petitioner, before the RTC of Manila to compel petitioner to produce the holographic corporation, board, officer, or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the
will of his father so that probate proceedings for the allowance thereof could be instituted. law enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station.
Respondent had already requested his mother to settle and liquidate the patriarch’s estate and
to deliver to the legal heirs their respective inheritance, but petitioner refused to do so without
any justifiable reason. Petitioner denied that she was in custody of the original holographic will The writ of mandamus, however, will not issue to compel an official to do anything which
and that she knew of its whereabouts. The RTC heard the case. After the presentation and is not his duty to do or which it is his duty not to do, or to give to the applicant anything to which
formal offer of respondent’s evidence, petitioner demurred, contending that her son failed to he is not entitled by law. Nor will mandamus issue to enforce a right which is in substantial
prove that she had in her custody the original holographic will. The RTC, at first, denied the dispute or as to which a substantial doubt exists, although objection raising a mere technical
demurrer to evidence. However, it granted the same on petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. question will be disregarded if the right is clear and the case is meritorious. As a rule, mandamus
Respondent’s motion for reconsideration of this latter order was denied. Hence, the petition was will not lie in the absence of any of the following grounds: [a] that the court, officer, board, or
dismissed. Aggrieved, respondent sought review from the appellate court. The CA initially denied person against whom the action is taken unlawfully neglected the performance of an act which
the appeal for lack of merit. Respondent moved for reconsideration. The appellate court granted the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from office, trust, or station; or [b] that such court,
the motion, set aside its earlier ruling, issued the writ, and ordered the production of the will and officer, board, or person has unlawfully excluded petitioner/relator from the use and enjoyment
the payment of attorney’s fees. It ruled this time that respondent was able to show by testimonial of a right or office to which he is entitled. On the part of the relator, it is essential to the issuance
evidence that his mother had in her possession the holographic will. Dissatisfied with this turn of of a writ of mandamus that he should have a clear legal right to the thing demanded and it must
events, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. The appellate court denied this motion. Left be the imperative duty of respondent to perform the act required.
with no other recourse, petitioner brought the matter before this Court, contending in the main
Recognized further in this jurisdiction is the principle that mandamus cannot be used to
that the petition for mandamus is not the proper remedy and that the testimonial evidence used
enforce contractual obligations. Generally, mandamus will not lie to enforce purely private
by the appellate court as basis for its ruling is inadmissible.
contract rights, and will not lie against an individual unless some obligation in the nature of a
public or quasi-public duty is imposed. The writ is not appropriate to enforce a private right
against an individual.] The writ of mandamus lies to enforce the execution of an act, when,
Whether or not mandamus is the proper remedy of the respondent. otherwise, justice would be obstructed; and, regularly, issues only in cases relating to the public
and to the government; hence, it is called a prerogative writ. To preserve its prerogative
HELD: character, mandamus is not used for the redress of private wrongs, but only in matters relating
to the public.
The Court cannot sustain the CA’s issuance of the writ.
Moreover, an important principle followed in the issuance of the writ is that there should
Mandamus is a command issuing from a court of law of competent jurisdiction, in the be no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law other than the remedy
name of the state or the sovereign, directed to some inferior court, tribunal, or board, or to some of mandamus being invoked. In other words, mandamus can be issued only in cases where the
corporation or person requiring the performance of a particular duty therein specified, which duty usual modes of procedure and forms of remedy are powerless to afford relief. Although classified
as a legal remedy, mandamus is equitable in its nature and its issuance is generally controlled BALUYOT v. PANIO
by equitable principles. Indeed, the grant of the writ of mandamus lies in the sound discretion of (1976)
the court.
Soltero Baluyut died on January 6, 1975 at the age of 86, leaving an estate valued at not less
In the instant case, the Court, without unnecessarily ascertaining whether the obligation than Php2M. A few weeks later, his nephew Alfredo Baluyut filed before the CFI of Quezon City
a verified petition for the issuance of letters of administration in his favor, alleging that
involved here—the production of the original holographic will—is in the nature of a public or a
Encarnacion Lopez Baluyut, Soltero’s widow, was mentally incapable of acting as administratrix
private duty, rules that the remedy of mandamus cannot be availed of by respondent Lee of the decedent’s estate. Believing that Soltero executed a will, Alfredo prayed that he be
because there lies another plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. appointed as special administrator in the meantime. The CFI granted Alfredo’s petition.
Let it be noted that respondent has a photocopy of the will and that he seeks the production of
the original for purposes of probate. The Rules of Court, however, does not prevent him from Mrs. Baluyut filed an opposition to the appointment. She claimed that the allegation as to her
instituting probate proceedings for the allowance of the will whether the same is in his possession mental incapacity was libelous, and that she was unaware that her husband executed a will.
or not. Finding that Mrs. Baluyut was mentally qualified, the CFI cancelled Alfredo’s appointment.
However, upon filing of a motion for reconsideration, Alfredo’s appointment was again appointed
There being a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law for the as special administrator, together with Jose Espino, an acknowledged natural child of Soltero.
production of the subject will, the remedy of mandamus cannot be availed of. Suffice it to state
Mrs. Baluyut again countered, arguing that Jose effectively rid Alfredo of any interest in the
that respondent Lee lacks a cause of action in his petition. Thus, the Court grants the demurrer.
estate of Soltero by exclusion, he being a collateral relative. Alfredo naturally opposed, arguing
that Jose was not a natural child of the decedent, at the same time insisting that Mrs. Baluyut
was incapable of becoming an administratrix, as declared by another court in a separate
guardianship proceeding.

Based on the testimony of Mrs. Baluyut herself, the probate court terminated the appointment of
Jose and Alfredo as adminstrators and ordered that the former be appointed as administratrix,
due to her preferential right to be appointed as such. Letters of administration were issued in her
favor after posting a Php20,000.00 bond. In appointing Mrs. Baluyut as administratrix, the court
proceeded upon the assumption that as a collateral relative, Alfredo had no interest in the estate
of Soltero.

Aggrieved, Alfredo elevated the matter to the Supreme Court via a special civil action for

During the course of the proceedings, the alleged will of the decedent was apparently discovered
and presented to the court. Although the decision did not dwell on the contents of the will and
the manner through which it was discovered, the decision did mention that Alfredo was named
a legatee therein, giving him standing to question the qualifications of the administratrix.

1. W/N the court erred in finding Mrs. Baluyut mentally capable of becoming an
administratrix on the basis of her testimony
2. W/N the proceeding in the lower court must be converted into a testamentary BALTAZAR vs. LAXA
proceeding after the alleged will has been presented G.R. No. 174489 April 11, 2012

Paciencia was a 78 y/o spinster when she made her last will and testament in the Pampango
HELD: dialect on Sept. 13, 1981. The will, executed in the house of retired Judge Limpin, was read to
1. Yes. Paciencia twice. After which, Paciencia expressed in the presence of the instrumental witnesses
A hearing is necessary in order to determine the suitability of the person to be appointed that the document is her last will and testament. She thereafter affixed her signature at the end
administrator by giving him the opportunity to prove his qualifications and affording oppositors a of the said document on page 3 and then on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 thereof.
chance to contest the petition. Whether Sotero Baluyut died testate or intestate, it is imperative Childless and without any brothers or sisters, Paciencia bequeathed all her properties to
respondent Lorenzo Laxa and his wife Corazon Laza and their children Luna and Katherine.
in the interest of the orderly administration of justice that a hearing be held to determine Mrs.
Lorenzo is Paciencia’s nephew whom she treated as her own son. Conversely, Lorenzo came
Baluyut's fitness to act as executrix or administratrix. Persons questioning her capacity should
to know and treated Paciencia as his own mother.
be given an adequate opportunity to be heard and to present evidence.

2. Yes. Six days after the execution of the Will (Sept. 19, 1981), Paciencia left for USA. There, she
It is necessary to convert the proceeding in the lower court into a testamentary proceeding. The resided with Lorenzo and his family until her death on Jan. 4, 1996. In the interim, the Will
probate of the will cannot be dispensed with and is a matter of public policy. After the will is remained in the custody of Judge Limpin.
probated, the prior letters of administration should be revoked and proceedings for the issuance
of letters testamentary or of administration under the will should be conducted.
More than 4 years after the death of Paciencia or on Apr. 27, 2000, Lorenzo filed a petition with
the RTC of Guagua, Pampanga for the probate of the Will of Paciencia and for the issuance of
Letters of Administration in his favor.

On Jun 23, 2000 one of petitioners, Antonio Baltazar filed an opposition to Lorenzo’s petition.
Antonio averred that the properties subject of Paciencia’s Will belong to Nicomeda Mangalindan,
his predecessor-in-interest; hence, Paciencia had no right to bequeath them to Lorenzo. Also,
one of the petitioners, Rosie Mateo testified that Paciencia is in the state of being “mangulyan”
or forgetful making her unfit for executing a will and that the execution of the will had been
procured by undue and improper pressure and influence.

Petitioners also opposed the issuance of the Letters of Administration in Lorenzo’s favor arguing
that Lorenzo was disqualified to be appointed as such, he being a citizen and resident of the
USA. Petitioners prayed that Letters of Administration be instead issued in favor of Antonio.

RTC denies the petition for probate of the will and concluded that when Paciencia signed the
will, she was no longer possessed of the sufficient reason or strength of mind to have the
testamentary capacity. On appeal, CA reversed the decision of the RTC and granted the probate
of the will. The petitioner went up to SC for a petition for review on Certiorari.
Whether the authenticity and due execution of the will was sufficiently established to G.R. No. L-27082 January 31, 1978
warrant its allowance for probate.
These two cases involve the question of whether the ownership of a parcel of land, whether
belonging to the deceased spouses or to their heirs, should be decided in the intestate
proceeding or in a separate action. Also in issue in these two cases is the liability of the
HELD: decedents' estate for the litigation expenses allegedly incurred in a case regarding that same
Yes. A careful examination of the face of the Will shows faithful compliance with the land.
formalities laid down by law. The signatures of the testatrix, Paciencia, her instrumental
witnesses and the notary public, are all present and evident on the Will. Further, the attestation Being related cases, their adjudication in a single decision was allowed in this Court's resolution.
clause explicitly states the critical requirement that the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses Spouses Juan Pangilinan and Teresa Magtuba had 3 children named:
attested and subscribed to the Will in the presence of the testator and of one another. In fact, 1. Concepcion (deceased) has 3 children Maria, Eusebio and Apolinar all surnamed
even the petitioners acceded that the signature of Paciencia in the Will may be authentic Yamuta
although they question of her state of mind when she signed the same as well as the voluntary 2. Prima
nature of said act. 3. Francisco (deceased) married to Guadalupe Pizarras has 7 children named Francis,
Algeran, Benjamin, Perla, Francisco Jr. and Helen (deceased) with children named
Roseller, Demosthenes and Eliza

The burden to prove that Paciencia was of unsound mind at the time of the execution The spouses died intestate in 1943 and 1948, respectively. They possess a homestead,
of the will lies on the shoulders of the petitioners. The SC agree with the position of the CA that consisting of two parcels of land, located at Misamis Occidental. 1st parcel has an area of 3.9791
the state of being forgetful does not necessarily make a person mentally unsound so as to render hectares in the name of Juan Pangilinan, 2nd parcel has an area of 18.0291 hectares in the
him unfit to execute a Will. Forgetfulness is not equivalent to being of unsound mind. Besides, name of the Heirs of Juan Pangilinan, represented by Concepcion P. de Yamuta. According to
Art. 799 of the NCC states: “To be of unsound mind, it is not necessary that the testator be in Guadalupe Pizarras , a 3rd parcel with an area of 8 hectares which was surveyed in the name
full possession of all his reasoning faculties, or that his mind be wholly unbroken, unimpaired, or of Concepcion P and which adjoins the 1st and 2nd lot
unshattered by disease, injury or other cause. It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the Special Proceeding was instituted in the Court of First Instance of Misamis Occidental for the
time of making the Will to know the nature of the estate to be disposed of, the proper objects of settlement of the estate of the deceased spouses, Juan C. Pangilinan and Teresa Magtuba.
his bounty, and the character of the testamentary act.”
The administrator presented a project of partition for lot 1 and 2.

The heirs of Francisco Pangilinan (Guadalupe Pizarras, et al.) opposed that project of partition.
They contended that the proposed partition contravened the lower court's order of December 6,
1963 which recognized the right of the heirs of Francisco Pan to a twelve-hectare portion of Lot
No. 1112; that Prima Pangilinan, who sold her share to Francisco Pan should be excluded from
the partition; that the total share of the heirs of Francisco Pangilinan in Lot No. 1112 is 12.6720
hectares, while that of the heirs of Concepcion Pangilinan is 6.3360 hectares, and that the claim
of the heirs of Concepcion Pangilinan for 115,088.50 had not been properly allowed.

CFI ordered - partitioned the properties:

1. Giving atty’s fees to Crispin Borromeo
2. Without taking into consideration ownership of a 12-hec land claimed by the heirs of
Francisco Pangilinan, of a 6 hec land claimed by Crispin Borromeo and
a. ) Debt to Concepcion’s estate
b. ) If Prima sold her share to Francisco WON Prima was excluded as an heir.
CFI ordered that a separate ordinary action is needed to determine ownership of theland in EMILIO B. PACIOLES, Jr. et. al. vs. MIGUELA CHUATOCO-CHING
dispute. Later on, they approved the project of partition but excluded the 12 ha and did not bother G.R. No. 12790 [DATE] August 9, 2005
to decide how the remainder should be partitioned and WON Prima had a share in that
remainder. On 1992, Miguelita died intestate, leaving real properties with an estimated value of P10.5M,
stock investments worth P518,783.00, bank deposits amounting to P6.54M, and interests in
CA sustained CFI. certain businesses. She was survived by her husband (Petitioner) and their 2 minor children.

Consequently, petitioner filed with the RTC a verified petition for the settlement of Miguelita’s
ISSUE: estate. He prayed that (a) letters of administration be issued in his name, and (b) that the net
residue of the estate be divided among the compulsory heirs.
Whether or not separate proceedings should be filed to determine ownership.
Miguelita’s mother, Miguela Chuatoco-Ching (Respondent) filed an opposition, specifically to
HELD: petitioner’s prayer for the issuance of letters of administration on the grounds that (a) petitioner
is incompetent and unfit to exercise the duties of an administrator; and (b) the bulk of Miguelita’s
No, the case is an exception. The probate court may provisionally pass upon the estate is composed of “paraphernal properties.” Respondent prayed that the letters of
question of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece of property without prejudice administration be issued to her instead. Afterwards, she also filed a motion for her appointment
to its finaldetermination in a separate action. as special administratrix.

The general rule is that Probate Court may not pass upon ownership. Except: If the Petitioner’s allegations: That the resp. had no direct and material interest in the estate, she not
interested parties are all heirs, (case at bar)-or if the question is one of collation or advancement, being a compulsory heir, and that he, being the surviving spouse, has the preferential right to be
or the parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by the probate court, and the rights of 3rd appointed as administrator under the law.
parties are not impaired, then the probate court is competent to decide the question of
ownership.The appellees belong to the poor stratum of society. They should not be forced to Respondent’s contentions: That she has direct and material interest in the estate because she
incur additional expenses by bringing a separate action to determine ownership of the 12 hectare gave half of her inherited properties to Miguelita on condition that both of them “would undertake
portion. whatever business endeavor they decided to, in the capacity of business partners.” In her
omnibus motion, she nominated her son Emmanuel to act as special administrator.

The RTC appointed petitioner and Emmanuel as joint regular administrators of the estate. Both
were issued letters of administration after taking their oath and posting the requisite bond.

No claims were filed against the estate within the period set. Thereafter, petitioner submitted to
the intestate court an inventory of Miguelita’s estate. Emmanuel did not submit an inventory.

The RTC declared petitioner and his 2 minor children as the only compulsory heirs of Miguelita.

Petitioner filed with the intestate court an omnibus motion praying, among others, that an Order
be issued directing the: 1) payment of estate taxes; 2) partition and distribution of the estate
among the declared heirs; and 3) payment of attorney’s fees.

The intestate court partially allowed the motion. It denied petitioner’s prayer for partition and
distribution of the estate, holding that it is “premature.” The intestate court ratiocinated as follows:
The Court finds the prayer of petitioner in this regard to be premature. Thus, a hearing is
necessary to determine, whether the properties listed in the amended complaint filed by
petitioner are entirely conjugal or the paraphernal properties of the deceased, or a co-ownership
between the oppositor and the petitioner in their partnership venture.‟
regards said properties is to determine whether they should or should not be included
Petitioner filed with the CA a petition for certiorari seeking to annul and set aside the intestate in the inventory or list of properties to be administered by the administrator. If there is
court’s Order and Resolution. (CA dismissed) no dispute, well and good, but if there is, then the parties, the administrator, and the
opposing parties have to resort to an ordinary action for a final determination of the
conflicting claims of title because the probate court cannot do so.
Whether or not a trial court (acting as an intestate court) can hear and pass upon Hence, respondent’s recourse is to file a separate action with a court of general
questions of ownership involving properties claimed to be part of the decedents estate? jurisdiction. The intestate court is not the appropriate forum for the resolution of her adverse
claim of ownership over properties ostensibly belonging to Miguelita’s estate.
No, the question of ownership of properties alleged to be part of the estate must be
submitted to the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its general jurisdiction. (Petition Doctrine: When a question arises as to ownership of property alleged to be a part of the
GRANTED. CA Reversed) estate of the deceased person, but claimed by some other person to be his property, not by
The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial court either as an intestate or a virtue of any right of inheritance from the deceased but by title adverse to that of the deceased
probate court relates only to matters having to do with the settlement of the estate and probate and his estate, such question cannot be determined in the course of an intestate or probate
of will of deceased persons but does not extend to the determination of questions of ownership proceedings.
that arise during the proceedings. The patent rationale for this rule is that such court exercises
special and limited jurisdiction.
A well-recognized deviation to the rule is the principle that an intestate or a probate
court may hear and pass upon questions of ownership when its purpose is to determine whether
or not a property should be included in the inventory. In such situations the adjudication is merely
incidental and provisional.
The Court of Appeals relied heavily on the above principle in sustaining the jurisdiction
of the intestate court to conduct a hearing on respondent’s claim. Such reliance is misplaced.
Under the said principle, the key consideration is that the purpose of the intestate or probate
court in hearing and passing upon questions of ownership is merely to determine whether or not
a property should be included in the inventory.
The facts of this case show that such was not the purpose of the intestate court.
Respondent’s purpose here was not to obtain from the intestate court a ruling of what properties
should or should not be included in the inventory. She wanted to secure from the intestate court
a final determination of her claim of ownership over properties comprising the bulk of Miguelita’s
Clearly, the RTC, acting as an intestate court, had overstepped its jurisdiction. Its
proper course should have been to maintain a hands-off stance on the matter. It is well settled
in this jurisdiction, sanctioned and reiterated in a long line of decisions, that when a question
arises as to ownership of property alleged to be a part of the estate of the deceased person, but
claimed by some other person to be his property, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from
the deceased but by title adverse to that of the deceased and his estate, such question cannot
be determined in the course of an intestate or probate proceedings. The intestate or probate
court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate such contentions, which must be submitted to the court in
the exercise of its general jurisdiction as a regional trial court. Jurisprudence teaches us that:
A probate court or one in charge of proceedings whether testate or intestate
cannot adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate and
which are claimed to belong to outside parties. All that the said court could do as