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[G.R. Nos. L-21938-39. May 29, 1970.

] been commenced before a court of first instance, as in the case at bar, the probate of the
will of the decedent should be submitted to the same court, either in a separate
VICENTE URIARTE, Petitioner, v. THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS proceeding or in an appropriate motion for said purpose in the intestate proceedings. It
OCCIDENTAL (12th Judicial District) THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA, is not in accord with public policy and the orderly and inexpensive administration of
BRANCH IV, JUAN URIARTE ZAMACONA and HIGINIO URIARTE, Respondents. justice to unnecessarily multiply litigation, especially if several courts would be involved.
Furthermore, the party seeking the probate of the will in the instant case knew before
SYLLABUS filing the petition for probate with another court of first instance of the pendency of the
1. REMEDIAL LAW; COURTS OF FIRST INSTANCE; ORIGINAL AND EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION intestate proceedings .
OVER "ALL MATTERS OF PROBATE." — Under the Judiciary Act of 1948 (Section 44, 5. ID.; ID.; VENUE; WRONG VENUE WAIVABLE; WAIVER BY LACHES; INSTANT CASE. — It is
paragraph (e), Courts of First Instance have original exclusive jurisdiction over "all matters well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely a waivable procedural defect.
of probate," that is, over special proceedings for the settlement of the estate of deceased Petitioner, in the instant case, has waived the right to raise such objection or is precluded
persons — whether they died testate or intestate. from doing so by laches.
2. ID.; SETTLEMENT OF ESTATE OF DECEASED PERSONS; VENUE; COURT OF FIRST 6. ID.; ID.; ID.; COURT NOT INCLINED TO ANNUL PROCEEDINGS REGULARLY HAD IN
INSTANCE OF PROVINCE WHERE DECEDENT INHABITANT OF PHILIPPINES RESIDED AT LOWER COURT ON THE GROUND OF IMPROPER VENUE. — This Court is not inclined to
TIME OF HIS DEATH OR WHERE INHABITANT OF FOREIGN COUNTRY HAD ESTATE. — The annul proceedings regularly had in a lower Court even if the latter was not the proper
matter of venue, or the particular Court of First Instance where the special proceeding venue therefor, if the net result would be to have the same proceedings repeated in some
should be commenced, is regulated by Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court, other court of the same jurisdiction; more so in a case like the present where the
which provides that the estate of a decedent inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of objection against said proceedings is raised too late.
his death, whether a citizen or an alien, shall be in the court of first instance in the
province of which he resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign 7. CIVIL LAW; PATERNITY AND FILIATION; NATURAL CHILD: QUESTION OF
country, the court of first instance of any province in which he had estate. Accordingly, ACKNOWLEDGMENT MAY BE PRESENTED IN INDEPENDENT ACTION FOR COMPULSORY
when the estate to be settled is that of a non-resident alien — like the decedent in the ACKNOWLEDGMENT OR IN PROBATE PROCEEDINGS. — A party claiming to be an
instant case — the Courts of First Instance in provinces where the deceased left any acknowledged natural child of testator is entitled to submit for determination the
property have concurrent jurisdiction to take cognizance of the proper special proceeding question of his acknowledgment as a natural child of said deceased testator in the
for the settlement of his estate. proceeding instituted precisely for his compulsory acknowledgment as such natural child,
or intervene in proceedings for the probate of will of testator if it is still open, or to ask
3. ID.; ID.; TESTATE PROCEEDINGS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER INTESTATE PROCEEDINGS. — for its re-opening, if it has already been closed, the probate having jurisdiction to declare
Testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person take who are the heirs of the deceased testator and whether or not a particular party is or
precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus, if in the course of should be declared his acknowledged natural child.
intestate proceedings pending before a court of first instance it is found that the decedent
had left a last will, proceedings for the probate of the latter should replace the intestate 8. ID.; PETITION FOR MANDAMUS; DISMISSAL AS MOOT AND ACADEMIC; INSTANT CASE.
proceedings even if at that stage an administrator had already been appointed, the latter — The supplemental petition for mandamus, in the case at bar, has become moot and
being required to render final account and turn over the estate in his possession to the academic for if the said petition is successful it will only result in compelling the Negros
executor subsequently appointed. This, however, is understood to be without prejudice Court to give due course to the appeal that petitioner was taking from the orders of said
that should the alleged last will be rejected or is disapproved, the proceeding shall court dated December 7, 1963 and February 26, 1964, the first being the order of the said
continue as an intestacy. This is a clear indication that proceedings for the probate of a court dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, and the second being an order denying
will enjoy priority over intestate proceedings. petitioner’s motion for the reconsideration of said order of dismissal. Said order being, as
a result of what has been said heretofore, beyond petitioner’s power to contest, the
4. ID.; ID.; PROBATE OF WILL SHOULD BE FILED IN SAME COURT WHERE INTESTATE conclusion can not be other than that the intended appeal would serve no useful purpose,
PROCEEDINGS HAD BEEN COMMENCED. — Where intestate proceedings had already

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or worse still, would enable petitioner to circumvent our ruling that he can no longer issued by the Negros Court on December 7, 1963 and February 26, 1964, the first
question the validity of said orders. disapproving his record on appeal and the second denying his motion for reconsideration,
and further commanding said court to approve his record on appeal and to give due
DECISION course to his appeal. On July 15, 1964 We issued a resolution deferring action on this
DIZON, J.: Supplemental Petition until the original action for certiorari (G.R. L-21938) is taken up on
the merits.
On October 3, 1963 petitioner Vicente Uriarte filed an original petition for certiorari —
docketed as G.R. L-21938 — against the respondents Juan Uriarte Zamacona, Higinio On October 21, 1963 the respondents in G.R. L-21938 filed their answer traversing
Uriarte, and the Courts of First Instance of Negros Occidental and of Manila, Branch IV, petitioner’s contention that the respondent courts had committed grave abuse of
who will be referred to hereinafter as the Negros Court and the Manila Court, respectively discretion in relation to the matters alleged in the petition for certiorari.
— praying:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
It appears that on November 6, 1961 petitioner filed with the Negros Court a petition for
". . . that after due proceedings judgment be rendered annulling the orders of 19 April the settlement of the estate of the late Don Juan Uriarte y Goite (Special Proceeding No.
1963 (Annex ‘H’) and 11 July 1963 (Annex ‘I’) of respondent Negros court dismissing the 6344) alleging therein, inter alia, that, as a natural son of the latter, he was his sole heir,
first instituted Special Proceeding No. 6344, supra, and the order of 1 July 1963 (Annex and that, during the lifetime of said decedent, petitioner had instituted Civil Case No.
‘K’) of respondent Manila court denying petitioner’s omnibus motion to intervene and to 6142 in the same Court for his compulsory acknowledgment as such natural son. Upon
dismiss the later-instituted Special Proceeding No. 51396, supra, both special proceedings petitioner’s motion the Negros Court appointed the Philippine National Bank as special
pertaining to the settlement of the same estate of the same deceased, and consequently administrator on November 13, 1961 and two days later it set the date for the hearing of
annulling all proceedings had in Special Proceeding No. 51396; supra of the respondent the petition and ordered that the requisite notices be published in accordance with law.
Manila court as all taken without jurisdiction. The record discloses, however, that, for one reason or another, the Philippine National
Bank never actually qualified as special administrator.chanrobles.com : virtual law library
"For the preservation of the rights of the parties pending these proceedings, petitioner
prays for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining respondents Manila On December 19, 1961, Higinio Uriarte, one of the two private respondents herein, filed
court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona and Higinio Uriarte from proceeding with Special an opposition to the above-mentioned petition alleging that he was a nephew of the
Proceeding No. 51396, supra, until further orders of this Court."cralaw virtua1aw library deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite who had "executed a Last Will and Testament in Spain, a
duly authenticated copy whereof has been requested and which shall be submitted to
Reasons in support of said petition are stated therein as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph this Honorable Court upon receipt thereof," and further questioning petitioner’s capacity
and interest to commence the intestate proceeding.
"6. Respondent Negros court erred in dismissing its Special Proceeding No. 6344, supra,
and failing to declare itself ‘the court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the On August 28, 1962, Juan Uriarte Zamacona, the other private respondent, commenced
estate of’ the deceased Don Juan Uriarte y Goite as prescribed in Rule 75 section 1 of the Special Proceeding No. 51396 in the Manila Court for the probate of a document alleged
Rules of Court. Respondent Manila court erred in failing to dismiss its Special Proceeding to be the last will of the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite, and on the same date he filed in
No. 51396, supra, notwithstanding proof of prior filing of Special Proceeding No. 6344, Special Proceeding No. 6344 of the Negros Court a motion to dismiss the same on the
supra, in the Negros court."cralaw virtua1aw library following grounds: (1) that, as the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite had left a last will, there
was no legal basis to proceed with said intestate proceedings, and (2) that petitioner
The writ of preliminary injunction prayed for was granted and issued by this Court on Vicente Uriarte had no legal personality and interest to initiate said intestate proceedings,
October 24, 1963. he not being an acknowledged natural son of the decedent. A copy of the Petition for
Probate and of the alleged Will were attached to the Motion to Dismiss.
On April 22, 1964 petitioner filed against the same respondents a pleading entitled
SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION FOR MANDAMUS — docketed in this Court as G.R. No. L-21939 Petitioner opposed the aforesaid motion to dismiss contending that, as the Negros Court
— praying, for the reasons therein stated, that judgment be rendered annulling the orders was first to take cognizance of the settlement of the estate of the deceased Juan Uriarte
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y Goite, it had acquired exclusive jurisdiction over the same pursuant to Rule 75, Section Philippine National Bank who, as stated heretofore, failed to qualify.
1 of the Rules of Court.
On the other hand, it is not disputed that, after proper proceedings were had in Special
On April 19, 1963, the Negros Court sustained Juan Uriarte Zamacona’s motion to dismiss Proceeding No. 51396, the Manila Court admitted to probate the document submitted to
and dismissed the Special Proceeding No. 6344 pending before it. His motion for it as the last will of Juan Uriarte y Goite, the petition for probate appearing not to have
reconsideration of said order having been denied on July 27, 1963, petitioner proceeded been contested. It appears further that, as stated heretofore, the order issued by the
to file his notice of appeal, appeal bond and record on appeal for the purpose of appealing Manila Court on July 1, 1963 denied petitioner Vicente Uriarte’s Omnibus Motion for
from said orders to this court on questions of law. The administrator with the will annexed Intervention, Dismissal of Petition and Annulment of said
appointed by the Manila Court in Special Proceeding No. 51396 objected to the approval proceedings.chanrobles.com.ph : virtual law library
of the record on appeal, and under date of December 7, 1963 the Negros Court issued the
following order:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph Likewise, it is not denied that to the motion to dismiss the special proceeding pending
before the Negros Court filed by Higinio Uriarte were attached a copy of the alleged last
"Oppositor prays that the record on appeal filed by the petitioner on July 27, 1963, be will of Juan Uriarte y Goite and of the petition filed with the Manila Court for its probate.
dismissed for having been filed out of time and for being incomplete. In the meantime, It is clear, therefore, that almost from the start of Special Proceeding No. 6344, the Negros
before the said record on appeal was approved by this Court, the petitioner filed a Court and petitioner Vicente Uriarte knew of the existence of the aforesaid last will and
petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court entitled Vicente Uriarte, Petitioner, v. of the proceedings for its probate.
Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, Et Al., G.R. No. L-21938, bringing this case
squarely before the Supreme Court on questions of law which is tantamount to The principal legal questions raised in the petition for certiorari are (a) whether or not the
petitioner’s abandoning his appeal from this Court.cralawnad Negros Court erred in dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6644, on the one hand, and on
the other, (b) whether the Manila Court similarly erred in not dismissing Special
"WHEREFORE, in order to give way to the certiorari, the record on appeal filed by the Proceeding No. 51396 notwithstanding proof of the prior filing of Special Proceeding No.
petitioner is hereby disapproved."cralaw virtua1aw library 6344 in the Negros Court.

In view of the above-quoted order, petitioner filed the supplemental petition for Under the Judiciary Act of 1948 [Section 44, paragraph (e)], Courts of First Instance have
mandamus mentioned heretofore. original exclusive jurisdiction over "all matters of probate," that is, over special
proceedings for the settlement of the estate of deceased persons — whether they died
On April 15, 1963 Vicente Uriarte filed an Omnibus Motion in Special Proceeding No. testate or intestate. While their jurisdiction over such subject matter is beyond question,
51396 pending in the Manila Court, asking for leave to intervene therein; for the dismissal the matter of venue, or the particular Court of First Instance where the special proceeding
of the petition and the annulment of the proceedings had in said special proceeding. This should be commenced, is regulated by former Rule 75, Section 1 of the Rules of Court,
motion was denied by said court in its order of July 1 of the same year. now Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides that the estate of a
decedent inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an
It is admitted that, as alleged in the basic petition filed in Special Proceeding No. 6344 of alien, shall be in the court of first instance in the province in which he resided at the time
the Negros Court, Vicente Uriarte filed in the same court, during the lifetime of Juan of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the court of first instance of
Uriarte y Goite, Civil Case No. 6142 to obtain judgment for his compulsory any province in which he had estate. Accordingly, when the estate to be settled is that of
acknowledgment as his natural child. Clearly inferrable from this is that at the time he a non-resident alien — like the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite — the Courts of First
filed the action, as well as when he commenced the aforesaid special proceeding, he had Instance in provinces where the deceased left any property have concurrent jurisdiction
not yet been acknowledged as natural son of Juan Uriarte y Goite. Up to this time, no final to take cognizance of the proper special proceeding for the settlement of his estate. In
judgment to that effect appears to have been rendered. the case before Us, these Courts of First Instance are the Negros and the Manila Courts
— province and city where the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite left considerable properties.
The record further discloses that the special proceeding before the Negros Court has not From this premise petitioner argues that, as the Negros Court had first taken cognizance
gone farther than the appointment of a special administrator in the person of the of the special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of said decedent (Special
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Proceeding No. 6344), the Manila Court no longer had jurisdiction to take cognizance of that there was already a special proceeding pending in the Negros Court for the
Special Proceeding No. 51396 intended to settle the estate of the same decedent in settlement of the estate of the same deceased person. As far as Higinio Uriarte is
accordance with his alleged will, and that consequently, the first court erred in dismissing concerned, it seems quite clear that in his opposition to petitioner’s petition in Special
Special Proceeding No. 6344, while the second court similarly erred in not dismissing Proceeding No. 6344, he had expressly promised to submit said will for probate to the
Special Proceeding No. 51396.chanroblesvirtual|awlibrary Negros Court.

It can not be denied that a special proceeding intended to effect the distribution of the But the fact is that instead of the aforesaid will being presented for probate to the Negros
estate of a deceased person, whether in accordance with the law on intestate succession Court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed the petition for the purpose with the Manila Court.
or in accordance with his will, is a "probate matter" or a proceeding for the settlement of We can not accept petitioner’s contention in this regard that the latter court had no
his estate. It is equally true, however, that in accordance with settled jurisprudence in this jurisdiction to consider said petition, albeit we say that it was not the proper venue
jurisdiction, testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person therefor.chanrobles law library
take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus it has been held
repeatedly that, if in the course of intestate proceedings pending before a court of first It is well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely a waiveable procedural
instance it is found that the decedent had left a last will, proceedings for the probate of defect, and, in the light of the circumstances obtaining in the instant case, we are of the
the latter should replace the intestate proceedings even if at that stage an administrator opinion, and so hold, that petitioner has waived the right to raise such objection or is
had already been appointed, the latter being required to render final account and turn precluded from doing so by laches. It is enough to consider in this connection that
over the estate in his possession to the executor subsequently appointed. This, however, petitioner knew of the existence of a will executed by Juan Uriarte y Goite since December
is understood to be without prejudice that should the alleged last will be rejected or is 19, 1961 when Higinio Uriarte filed his opposition to the initial petition filed in Special
disapproved, the proceeding shall continue as an intestacy. As already adverted to, this is Proceeding No. 6344; that petitioner likewise was served with notice of the existence
a clear indication that proceedings for the probate of a will enjoy priority over intestate (presence) of the alleged last will in the Philippines and of the filing of the petition for its
proceedings. probate with the Manila Court since August 28, 1962 when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed
a motion for the dismissal of Special Proceeding No. 6344. All these notwithstanding, it
Upon the facts before Us the question arises as to whether Juan Uriarte Zamacona should was only on April 15, 1963 that he filed with the Manila Court in Special Proceeding No.
have filed the petition for the probate of the last will of Juan Uriarte y Goite with the 51396 an Omnibus motion asking for leave to intervene and for the dismissal and
Negros Court — particularly in Special Proceeding No. 6344 — or was entitled to annulment of all the proceedings had therein up to that date; thus enabling the Manila
commence the corresponding separate proceedings, as he did, in the Manila Court. Court not only to appoint an administrator with the will annexed but also to admit said
will to probate more than five months earlier, or more specifically, on October 31, 1962.
The following considerations and the facts of record would seem to support the view that To allow him now to assail the exercise of jurisdiction over the probate of the will by the
he should have submitted said will for probate to the Negros Court, either in a separate Manila Court and the validity of all the proceedings had in Special Proceeding No. 51396
special proceeding or in an appropriate motion for said purpose filed in the already would put a premium on his negligence. Moreover, it must be remembered that this
pending Special Proceeding No. 6344. In the first place, it is not in accord with public policy Court is not inclined to annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter
and the orderly and inexpensive administration of justice to unnecessarily multiply was not the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be to have the same
litigation, especially if several courts would be involved. This, in effect, was the result of proceedings repeated in some other court of similar jurisdiction; more so in a case like
the submission of the will aforesaid to the Manila Court. In the second place, when the present where the objection against said proceedings is raised too late.
respondent Higinio Uriarte filed an opposition to Vicente Uriarte’s petition for the
issuance of letters of administration, he had already informed the Negros Court that the In his order of April 19, 1963 dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, Judge Fernandez of
deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite had left a will in Spain, of which a copy had been requested the Negros Court said that he was "not inclined to sustain the contention of the petitioner
for submission to said court; and when the other respondent, Juan Uriarte Zamacona, that inasmuch as the herein petitioner has instituted Civil Case No. 6142 for compulsory
filed his motion to dismiss Special Proceeding No. 6344, he had submitted to the Negros acknowledgment by the decedent such action justifies the institution by him of this
Court a copy of the alleged will of the decedent, from which fact it may be inferred that, proceedings. If the petitioner is to be consistent with the authorities cited by him in
like Higinio Uriarte, he knew before filing the petition for probate with the Manila Court support of his contention, the proper thing for him to do would be to intervene in the
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testate estate proceedings entitled Special Proceedings No. 51396 in the Court of First
Instance of Manila instead of maintaining an independent action, for indeed his supposed Fernando and Teehankee, JJ., did not take part.
interest in the estate of the decedent is of his doubtful character pending the final
decision of the action for compulsory acknowledgment."cralaw virtua1aw library

We believe in connection with the above matter that petitioner is entitled to prosecute
Civil Case No. 6142 until it is finally determined, or intervene in Special Proceeding No.
51396 of the Manila Court, if it is still open, or to ask for its reopening if it has already
been closed, so as to be able to submit for determination the question of his
acknowledgment as natural child of the deceased testator, said court having, in its
capacity as a probate court, jurisdiction to declare who are the heirs of the deceased
testator and whether or not a particular party is or should be declared his acknowledged
natural child (II Moran on Rules of Court, 1957 Ed., p. 476; Conde v. Abaya, 13 Phil. 249;
Severino v. Severino, 44 Phil. 343; Lopez v. Lopez, 68 Phil. 227, and Jimoga-on v. Belmonte,
47 O.G. 1119).

Coming now to the supplemental petition for mandamus (G.R. No. L-21939), We are of
the opinion, and so hold, that in view of the conclusions heretofore stated, the same has
become moot and academic. If the said supplemental petition is successful, it will only
result in compelling the Negros Court to give due course to the appeal that petitioner was
taking from the orders of said court dated December 7, 1963 and February 26, 1964, the
first being the order of said court dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, and the second
being an order denying petitioner’s motion for the reconsideration of said order of
dismissal. Said orders being, as a result of what has been said heretofore, beyond
petitioner’s power to contest, the conclusion can not be other than that the intended
appeal would serve no useful purpose, or, worse still, would enable petitioner to
circumvent our ruling that he can no longer question the validity of said orders.chanrobles
virtual lawlibrary

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, judgment is hereby rendered denying the


writs prayed for and, as a result, the petition for certiorari filed in G.R. No. L-21938, as
well as the supplemental petition for mandamus docketed as G.R. No. L-21939, are
hereby dismissed. The writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued is set aside. With
costs against petitioner.

Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Barredo and Villamor, JJ., concur.

Reyes, J .B.L., J., concurs in the result.

Castro, J., is on official leave.

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G.R. No. L-18148 February 28, 1963 The probate court, in two orders dated June 24, 1959 and February 10, 1960, respectively,
set the two projects of partition for hearing, at which evidence was presented by the
DEOGRACIAS BERNARDO, executor of the testate estate of the deceased EUSEBIO parties, followed by the submission of memoranda discussing certain legal issues. In the
CAPILI; and the instituted heirs, namely: ARMANDO CAPILI and ARTURO BERNARDO, ET memorandum for the executor and the instituted heirs it was contended: (1) that the
AL., petitioners, properties disposed of in the will of the deceased Eusebio Capili belonged to him
vs. exclusively and not to the conjugal partnership, because Hermogena Reyes had donated
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and THE HEIRS OF THE LATE HERMOGENA REYES, namely: to him her half share of such partnership; (2) that the collateral heirs of Hermogena Reyes
FRANCISCO REYES, ET AL., and JOSE ISIDORO, ET AL., respondents. had no lawful standing or grounds to question the validity of the donation; and (3) that
Ambrosio Padilla Law Offices for petitioners. even assuming that they could question the validity of the donation, the same must be
Romerico F. Flores for respondents. litigated not in the testate proceeding but in a separate civil action.

BARRERA, J.: Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be
admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties
This is a petition by certiorari for the review of the decision of the Court of Appeals adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of
affirming that of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan holding that the probate court in facts. 1äwphï1.ñët
Special Proceeding 1101 had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the deed of donation
in question and to pass upon the question of title or ownership of the properties The oppositors and heirs of Hermogena Reyes, on their part, argued that the deed of
mentioned therein. donation itself was determinative of the original conjugal character to the properties,
aside from the legal presumption laid down in Article 160 of the Civil Code, and that since
The facts are briefly stated in the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals as follows: the donation was null and void the deceased Eusebio Capili did not become owner of the
share of his wife and therefore could not validly dispose of it in his will.
Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes were husband and wife. The first died on July 27,
1958 and a testate proceeding for the settlement of his estate was instituted in the Court On September 14, 1960, the probate court, the Honorable M. Mejia presiding, issued an
of the Fist Instance of Bulacan. His will was admitted to probate on October 9, 1958, order declaring the donation void without making any specific finding as to its juridical
disposing of his properties in favor of his widow; his cousins Armando, Ursula, and nature, that is, whether it was inter vivos or mortis causa, for the reason that, considered
Buenaventura, all surnamed Capili; and Arturo, Deogracias and Eduardo, all surnamed under the first category, it falls under Article 133 of the Civil Code, which prohibits
Bernardo. Hermogena Reyes herself died on April 24, 1959. Upon petition of Deogracias donations between spouses during the marriage; and considered under the second
Bernardo, executor of the estate of the deceased Eusebio Capili, she was substituted by category, it does not comply with the formalities of a will as required by Article 728 in
her collateral relatives and intestate heirs, namely, Marcos, Vicente, Francisco and relation to Article 805 of the same Code, there being no attestation clause. In the same
Dominga, all surnamed Reyes; and Jose, Constancia, Raymunda and Elena, all surnamed order the court disapproved both projects of partition and directed the executor to file
Isidoro. another," dividing the property mentioned in the last will and testament of the deceased
Eusebio Capili and the properties mentioned in the deed of donation, Exhibit B, between
On June 12, 1959, the executor filed a project of partition in the testate proceeding in
the instituted heirs of the deceased Eusebio Capili and the legal heirs of the deceased
accordance with the terms of the will, adjudicating the estate of Eusebio Capili among the
Hermogena Reyes, upon the basis that the said properties were conjugal properties of
testamentary heirs with the exception of Hermogena Reyes, whose share was alloted to
the deceased spouses." On September 27, 1960, the executor filed a motion for new trial,
her collateral relatives aforementioned. On June 16, 1959 these relatives filed an
reiterating and emphasizing the contention previously raised in their memorandum that
opposition to the executor's project of partition and submitted a counter-project of
the probate court had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the claim of the legal heirs of
partition of their own, claiming 1/2 of the properties mentioned in the will of the
Hermogena Reyes involving title to the properties mentioned in the will of Eusebio Capili
deceased Eusebio Capili on the theory that they belonged not to the latter alone but to
and taking exception to the court's declaration of the nullity of the donation "without
the conjugal partnership of the spouses.
stating facts or provision of law on which it was based." The motion for new trial was
denied in an order dated October 3, 1960.

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On appeal to the Court of Appeals the order appealed from being affirmed, petitioners in probate courts. This is so because the purpose of an administration proceeding is the
filed this present petition for review by certiorari. liquidation of the estate and distribution of the residue among the heirs and legatees.
Liquidation means determination of all the assets of the estate and payment of all the
The petitioners-appellants contend that the appellate court erred in not declaring that debts and expenses.3 Thereafter, distribution is made of the decedent's liquidated estate
the probate court, having limited and special jurisdiction, had generally no power to among the persons entitled to succeed him. The proceeding is in the nature of an action
adjudicate title and erred in applying the exception to the rule. of partition, in which each party is required to bring into the mass whatever community
In a line of decisions, this Court consistently held that as a general rule, question as to title property he has in his possession. To this end, and as a necessary corollary, the interested
to property cannot be passed upon on testate or intestate proceedings," 1 except where parties may introduce proofs relative to the ownership of the properties in dispute. All
one of the parties prays merely for the inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the the heirs who take part in the distribution of the decedent's estate are before the court,
property, in which case the probate court may pass provisionally upon the question and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, in all matters and incidents necessary to the
without prejudice to its final determination in a separate action. 2 However, we have also complete settlement of such estate, so long as no interests of third parties are affected. 4
held that when the parties interested are all heirs of the deceased, it is optional to them In the case now before us, the matter in controversy is the question of ownership of
to submit to the probate court a question as to title to property, and when so submitted, certain of the properties involved — whether they belong to the conjugal partnership or
said probate court may definitely pass judgment thereon (Pascual v. Pascual, 73 Phil. 561; to the husband exclusively. This is a matter properly within the jurisdiction of the probate
Manalac v. Ocampo, et al., 73 Phil. 661); and that with the consent of the parties, matters court which necessarily has to liquidate the conjugal partnership in order to determine
affecting property under judicial administration may be taken cognizance of by the court the estate of the decedent which is to be distributed among his heirs who are all parties
in the course of intestate proceeding, provided interests of third persons are not to the proceedings, including, of course, the widow, now represented because of her
prejudiced (Cunanan v. Amparo, 80 Phil. 229, 232). death, by her heirs who have been substituted upon petition of the executor himself and
In the light of this doctrine, may it be said correctly that the trial court as well as the Court who have appeared voluntarily. There are no third parties whose rights may be affected.
of Appeals erred in upholding the power of the probate court in this case to adjudicate in It is true that the heirs of the deceased widow are not heirs of the testator-husband, but
the testate proceedings, the question as to whether the properties herein involved belong the widow is, in addition to her own right to the conjugal property. And it is this right that
to the conjugal partnership of Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes, or to the deceased is being sought to be enforced by her substitutes. Therefore, the claim that is being
husband exclusively? asserted is one belonging to an heir to the testator and, consequently, it complies with
the requirement of the exception that the parties interested (the petitioners and the
At the outset, let it be clarified that the matter at issue is not a question of jurisdiction, in widow, represented by dents) are all heirs claiming title under the testator.
the sense advanced by appellants that the trial court had completely no authority to pass
upon the title to the lands in dispute, and that its decision on the subject is null and void Petitioners contend additionally that they have never submitted themselves to the
and does not bind even those who had invoked its authority and submitted to its decision jurisdiction of the probate court, for the purpose of the determination of the question of
because, it is contended, jurisdiction is a creature of law and parties to an action can not ownership of the disputed properties. This is not borne by the admitted facts. On the
vest, extend or broaden it. If appellants' contention is correct, then there can be no contrary, it is undisputed that they were the ones who presented the project of partition
exception to the no-jurisdiction theory. But as has been stated in the case of Cunanan v. claiming the questioned properties as part of the testator's asset. The respondents, as
Amparo (supra) the Supreme Court speaking through Mr. Justice Pedro Tuason: representatives or substitutes of the deceased widow opposed the project of partition
"Determination of title to property is within the jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance. and submitted another. As the Court of Appeals said, "In doing so all of them must be
The responding Soriano's objection (that the probate court lacked jurisdiction to order deemed to have submitted the issue for resolution in the same proceeding. Certainly, the
the delivery of the possession of the lots to the estate) relates exclusively to the petitioners can not be heard to insist, as they do, on the approval of their project of
procedure, which is distinct from jurisdiction. It affects only personal rights to a mode of partition and, thus, have the court take it for granted that their theory as to the character
practice (the filing of an independent ordinary action) which may be waived". Strictly of the properties is correct, entirely without regard to the opposition of the respondents".
speaking, it is more a question of jurisdiction over the person, not over the subject matter, In other words, by presenting their project of partition including therein the disputed
for the jurisdiction to try controversies between heirs of a deceased person regarding the lands (upon the claim that they were donated by the wife to her husband), petitioners
ownership of properties alleged to belong to his estate, has been recognized to be vested themselves put in issue the question of ownership of the properties — which is well within

7
the competence of the probate court — and just because of an opposition thereto, they
can not thereafter withdraw either their appearance or the issue from the jurisdiction of
the court. Certainly, there is here a waiver where the parties who raise the objection are
the ones who set the court in motion.5 They can not be permitted to complain if the court,
after due hearing, adjudges question against them.6

Finally, petitioners-appellants claim that appellees are estopped to raise the question of
ownership of the properties involved because the widow herself, during her lifetime, not
only did not object to the inclusion of these properties in the inventory of the assets of
her deceased husband, but also signed an extra-judicial partition of those inventoried
properties. But the very authorities cited by appellants require that to constitute estoppel,
the actor must have knowledge of the facts and be appraised of his rights at the time he
performs the act constituting estoppel, because silence without knowledge works no
estoppel.7 In the present case, the deceased widow acted as she did because of the deed
of donation she executed in favor of her husband not knowing that such deed was illegal,
if inter-vivos, and ineffectual if mortis-causa, as it has not been executed with the
required formalities similar to a will.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals being in accordance with law, the same
is hereby affirmed with costs against appellants. So ordered.

Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Paredes, Dizon
and Regala, JJ., concur.
Makalintal, J., took no part.