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G.R. No.

L-81147 June 20, 1989 administration and praying in the alternative, that if an estate does exist, the letters of
administration relating to the said estate be issued in her favor as the surviving spouse.
VICTORIA BRINGAS PEREIRA, petitioner,
vs. In its resolution dated March 28, 1985, the Regional Trial Court, appointed private
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and RITA PEREIRA NAGAC, respondents. respondent Rita Pereira Nagac administratrix of the intestate estate of Andres de
Guzman Pereira upon a bond posted by her in the amount of Pl,000.00. The trial court
Benjamin J. Quitoriano for petitioner. ordered her to take custody of all the real and personal properties of the deceased and
to file an inventory thereof within three months after receipt of the order. 3
Linzag-Arcilla & Associates Law Offices for private respondent.
Not satisfied with the resolution of the lower court, petitioner brought the case to the
Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the appointment of private respondent
GANCAYCO, J.: as administratrix in its decision dated December 15, 1987. 4

Is a judicial administration proceeding necessary when the decedent dies intestate Hence, this petition for review on certiorari where petitioner raises the following
without leaving any debts? May the probate court appoint the surviving sister of the issues: (1) Whether or not there exists an estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman
deceased as the administratrix of the estate of the deceased instead of the surviving Pereira for purposes of administration; (2) Whether or not a judicial administration
spouse? These are the main questions which need to be resolved in this case. proceeding is necessary where there are no debts left by the decedent; and, (3) Who
has the better right to be appointed as administratrix of the estate of the deceased, the
Andres de Guzman Pereira, an employee of the Philippine Air Lines, passed away on surviving spouse Victoria Bringas Pereira or the surviving sister Rita Pereira Nagac?
January 3, 1983 at Bacoor, Cavite without a will. He was survived by his legitimate
spouse of ten months, the herein petitioner Victoria Bringas Pereira, and his sister Rita Anent the first issue, petitioner contends that there exists no estate of the deceased for
Pereira Nagac, the herein private respondent. purposes of administration for the following reasons: firstly, the death benefits from
PAL, PALEA, PESALA and the SSS belong exclusively to her, being the sole beneficiary
On March 1, 1983, private respondent instituted before Branch 19 of the Regional Trial and in support of this claim she submitted letter-replies from these institutions
Court of Bacoor, Cavite, Special Proceeding No. RTC-BSP-83-4 for the issuance of letters showing that she is the exclusive beneficiary of said death benefits; secondly, the
of administration in her favor pertaining to the estate of the deceased Andres de savings deposits in the name of her deceased husband with the PNB and the PCIB had
Guzman Pereira. 1 In her verified petition, private respondent alleged the following: been used to defray the funeral expenses as supported by several receipts; and, finally,
that she and Victoria Bringas Pereira are the only surviving heirs of the deceased; that the only real property of the deceased has been extrajudicially settled between the
the deceased left no will; that there are no creditors of the deceased; that the deceased petitioner and the private respondent as the only surviving heirs of the deceased.
left several properties, namely: death benefits from the Philippine Air Lines (PAL), the
PAL Employees Association (PALEA), the PAL Employees Savings and Loan Association, Private respondent, on the other hand, argues that it is not for petitioner to decide what
Inc. (PESALA) and the Social Security System (SSS), as well as savings deposits with the properties form part of the estate of the deceased and to appropriate them for herself.
Philippine National Bank (PNB) and the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank She points out that this function is vested in the court in charge of the intestate
(PCIB), and a 300 square meter lot located at Barangay Pamplona, Las Pinas, Rizal and proceedings.
finally, that the spouse of the deceased (herein petitioner) had been working in London
as an auxiliary nurse and as such one-half of her salary forms part of the estate of the
deceased. Petitioner asks this Court to declare that the properties specified do not belong to the
estate of the deceased on the basis of her bare allegations as aforestated and a handful
of documents. Inasmuch as this Court is not a trier of facts, We cannot order an
On March 23,1983, petitioner filed her opposition and motion to dismiss the petition of unqualified and final exclusion or non-exclusion of the property involved from the
private respondent 2 alleging that there exists no estate of the deceased for purposes of estate of the deceased. 5
The resolution of this issue is better left to the probate court before which the such case the judicial administration and the appointment of an administrator are
administration proceedings are pending. The trial court is in the best position to receive superfluous and unnecessary proceedings . 12
evidence on the discordant contentions of the parties as to the assets of the decedent's
estate, the valuations thereof and the rights of the transferees of some of the assets, if Now, what constitutes "good reason" to warrant a judicial administration of the estate
any. 6 The function of resolving whether or not a certain property should be included in of a deceased when the heirs are all of legal age and there are no creditors will depend
the inventory or list of properties to be administered by the administrator is one clearly on the circumstances of each case.
within the competence of the probate court. However, the court's determination is only
provisional in character, not conclusive, and is subject to the final decision in a separate
action which may be instituted by the parties.7 In one case, 13 We said:

Assuming, however, that there exist assets of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira Again the petitioner argues that only when the heirs do not have any
for purposes of administration, We nonetheless find the administration proceedings dispute as to the bulk of the hereditary estate but only in the manner
instituted by private respondent to be unnecessary as contended by petitioner for the of partition does section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court apply and
reasons herein below discussed. that in this case the parties are at loggerheads as to the corpus of the
hereditary estate because respondents succeeded in sequestering
some assets of the intestate. The argument is unconvincing, because,
The general rule is that when a person dies leaving property, the same should be as the respondent judge has indicated, questions as to what property
judicially administered and the competent court should appoint a qualified belonged to the deceased (and therefore to the heirs) may properly
administrator, in the order established in Section 6, Rule 78, in case the deceased left be ventilated in the partition proceedings, especially where such
no will, or in case he had left one, should he fail to name an executor therein. 8 An property is in the hands of one heir.
exception to this rule is established in Section 1 of Rule 74. 9 Under this exception, when
all the heirs are of lawful age and there are no debts due from the estate, they may agree
in writing to partition the property without instituting the judicial administration or In another case, We held that if the reason for seeking an appointment as administrator
applying for the appointment of an administrator. is merely to avoid a multiplicity of suits since the heir seeking such appointment wants
to ask for the annulment of certain transfers of property, that same objective could be
achieved in an action for partition and the trial court is not justified in issuing letters of
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court, however, does not preclude the heirs administration. 14 In still another case, We did not find so powerful a reason the
from instituting administration proceedings, even if the estate has no debts or argument that the appointment of the husband, a usufructuary forced heir of his
obligations, if they do not desire to resort for good reasons to an ordinary action for deceased wife, as judicial administrator is necessary in order for him to have legal
partition. While Section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as capacity to appear in the intestate proceedings of his wife's deceased mother, since he
they may see fit, or to resort to an ordinary action for partition, the said provision does may just adduce proof of his being a forced heir in the intestate proceedings of the
not compel them to do so if they have good reasons to take a different course of latter.15
action. 10 It should be noted that recourse to an administration proceeding even if the
estate has no debts is sanctioned only if the heirs have good reasons for not resorting
to an action for partition. Where partition is possible, either in or out of court, the estate We see no reason not to apply this doctrine to the case at bar. There are only two
should not be burdened with an administration proceeding without good and surviving heirs, a wife of ten months and a sister, both of age. The parties admit that
compelling reasons. 11 there are no debts of the deceased to be paid. What is at once apparent is that these two
heirs are not in good terms. The only conceivable reason why private respondent seeks
appointment as administratrix is for her to obtain possession of the alleged properties
Thus, it has been repeatedly held that when a person dies without leaving pending of the deceased for her own purposes, since these properties are presently in the hands
obligations to be paid, his heirs, whether of age or not, are not bound to submit the of petitioner who supposedly disposed of them fraudulently. We are of the opinion that
property to a judicial administration, which is always long and costly, or to apply for this is not a compelling reason which will necessitate a judicial administration of the
the appointment of an administrator by the Court. It has been uniformly held that in estate of the deceased. To subject the estate of Andres de Guzman Pereira, which does
not appear to be substantial especially since the only real property left has been
extrajudicially settled, to an administration proceeding for no useful purpose would
only unnecessarily expose it to the risk of being wasted or squandered. In most
instances of a similar nature, 16 the claims of both parties as to the properties left by the
deceased may be properly ventilated in simple partition proceedings where the
creditors, should there be any, are protected in any event.

We, therefore, hold that the court below before which the administration proceedings
are pending was not justified in issuing letters of administration, there being no good
reason for burdening the estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira with the
costs and expenses of an administration proceeding.

With the foregoing ruling, it is unnecessary for us to delve into the issue of who, as
between the surviving spouse Victoria Bringas Pereira and the sister Rita Pereira
Nagac, should be preferred to be appointed as administratrix.

WHEREFORE, the letters of administration issued by the Regional Trial Court of Bacoor
to Rita Pereira Nagac are hereby revoked and the administration proceeding dismissed
without prejudice to the right of private respondent to commence a new action for
partition of the property left by Andres de Guzman Pereira. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 199885 evidentiary matters that ought to be tackled during trial. Nevertheless, to answer
Dujali's allegations, Buot attached to her comment a copy of the necrological services
JESUSA DUJALI BUOT, Petitioner program11 where she was listed as one of Gregorio's heirs, a certification12 from the
vs. municipal mayor that she is Gregorio's child, and a copy of the Amended Extrajudicial
ROQUE RASAY DUJALI, Respondent Settlement13 dated July 4, 2001 which includes both Buot and Dujali as Gregorio's heirs.
Notably, this Amended Extrajudicial Settlement pertained to parcels of land not
included in the list of properties annexed in Buot's petition.
DECISION
On May 3, 2011, the RTC denied Dujali's motion to dismiss. It agreed with Buot that the
JARDELEZA, J.: issues raised by Dujali are evidentiary matters that should be addressed during trial.14

This is a petition for review on certiorari1under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Petitioner Dujali filed a motion for reconsideration.15 He argued that under the Rules of Court and
Jesusa Dujali Buot (Buot) challenged the Orders of Branch 34 of the Regional Trial Court prevailing jurisprudence, a party's lack of legal capacity to sue should be raised in a
(RTC), Panabo City, dated September 19, 20112 and December 8, 2011,3 dismissing her motion to dismiss. Further, he took issue with the existence of the Amended
petition and denying her subsequent motion for reconsideration, respectively. Extrajudicial Settlement. According to him, when an estate has no debts, recourse to
administration proceedings is allowed only when there are good and compelling
Buot filed before the RTC a petition4 for letters of administration of the estate of reasons. Where an action for partition (whether in or out of court) is possible, the estate
deceased Gregorio Dujali (Gregorio). In her petition, Buot alleged that she was a should not be burdened with an administration proceeding.
surviving heir, along with Roque Dujali, Constancia Dujali-Tiongson, Concepcion Dujali-
Satiembre, Marilou Sales-Dujali, Marietonete Dujali, Georgeton Dujali, Jr. and Geomar The RTC, in its Order dated September 19, 2011, granted Dujali's motion for
Dujali, of Gregorio who died intestate.5 Buot annexed6 to her petition a list of Gregorio's reconsideration. It held that under the law, there are only two exceptions to the
properties that are allegedly publicly known. She claimed that since Gregorio's death, requirement that the settlement of a deceased's estate should be judicially
there had been no effort to settle his estate. Roque Dujali (Dujali) purportedly administered--extrajudicial settlement and summary settlement of an estate of small
continued to manage and control the properties to the exclusion of all the other heirs. value.16 According to the RTC, in the case of Buot's petition, administration has been
Buot further alleged that Dujali for no justifiable reason denied her request to settle the barred by the fact that Gregorio's estate has already been settled extrajudicially as
estate.7 Thus, Buot asked that: (1) an administrator be appointed to preserve Gregorio's evidenced by the Amended Extrajudicial Settlement. It also noted that Gregorio had no
estate; (2) a final inventory of the properties be made; (3) the heirs be established; and creditors since Buot failed to allege it in her petition.17 Since recourse to judicial
(4) the net estate be ordered distributed in accordance with law among the legal heirs.8 administration of an estate that has no debt is allowed only when there are good
reasons for not resorting to extrajudicial settlement or action for partition, the RTC
Dujali filed an opposition with motion to dismiss,9 arguing that Buot had no legal dismissed Buot's petition. Buot filed a motion for reconsideration which the RTC denied
capacity to institute the proceedings. He asserted that despite Buot's claim that she was in its Order dated December 8, 2011. According to the RTC, not only was Buot's motion
Gregorio's child with his first wife Sitjar Escalona, she failed to attach any document, a second motion for reconsideration prohibited under the Rules, there was also no
such as a certificate of live birth or a marriage certificate, to prove her filiation. Dujali, sufficient reason to reverse its earlier dismissal of the petition.18
on the other hand, attached a certificate of marriage between Gregorio and his mother
Yolanda Rasay. This certificate also indicated that Gregorio had never been previously Buot filed this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
married to a certain Sitjar Escalona. Thus, as Buot failed to prove that she is an heir, challenging the RTC's Orders on pure questions of law. In her petition, Buot argues that
Dujali prayed that her petition be dismissed outright. her motion for reconsideration is not a prohibited second motion for reconsideration.
Section 2 of Rule 52 of the Rules of Court states that a prohibited second motion for
Buot filed her comment10 to Dujali's opposition with motion to dismiss. She argued that reconsideration is one filed by the same party. In this case, Buot's motion for
under the Rules of Court, only ultimate facts should be included in an initiatory reconsideration was her first, since the motion for reconsideration subject of the Order
pleading. The marriage certificate and certificate of live birth which Dujali demands are
dated September 19, 2011 was filed by Dujali. She also argued that the Amended Extra All other issues raised in the pleadings before us are questions of fact that we cannot
judicial Settlement did not cover all of Gregorio's properties.19 resolve at this time. As we shall shortly explain in this Decision, these questions of fact
ought to be resolved by a trial court in the appropriate proceeding.
Further, Buot maintains that heirs are not precluded from instituting a petition for
administration if they do not, for good reason, wish to pursue an ordinary action for We will first rule on the procedural issue raised in the petition. In its Order dated
partition. In her case, she claims that there are good reasons justifying her recourse to September 19, 2011, the RTC held that Buot's motion for reconsideration is a second
administration proceedings: (1) the Amended Extrajudicial Settlement did not cover motion for reconsideration prohibited under the Rules of Court. Thus, the motion was
the entire estate; (2) there has been no effort to partition the property; (3) Dujali seeks denied. We reviewed the motions filed by the parties before the RTC and rule that the
to challenge Buot' s status as an heir; (4) other heirs have been deprived of the RTC erred in its finding.
properties of the estate; and (5) other heirs, particularly Constancia Dujali and Marilou
Dujali, have already manifested that they are amenable to the appointment of an When Buot filed her petition for administration, Dujali filed an opposition with a motion
administrator.20 to dismiss.1âwphi1 When the R TC denied his motion to dismiss, Dujali filed a motion
for reconsideration. This led to the RTC's issuance of the Order of September 19, 2011
In his comment,21 Dujali argues that Buot is not an interested person allowed to file a granting Dujali's motion for reconsideration and holding that Buot's petition for
petition for administration of the estate. While she claims to be Gregorio's heir, public administration should be dismissed. It was only at this point that Buot filed, for the first
documents, such as Buot's certificate of live birth and the certificate of marriage time, a motion seeking for reconsideration of the Order which declared the dismissal of
between Gregorio and Yolanda Rasay, reveal otherwise. Dujali also attached to his her petition for administration. Clearly, this is not the motion for reconsideration
comment certain documents that appear to show that there has been an extra judicial contemplated in Section 2 of Rule 52 of the Rules of Court which states:
settlement of some of the prope1iies of the estate and that Buot has already received
her share from the proceeds of the sale of these properties by the true heirs.22 Further, Sec. 2. Second motion for reconsideration. - No second motion for
he explains that Buot was only allowed to participate in the Amended Extrajudicial reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution by the same party
Settlement by Gregorio's legitimate heirs out of humanitarian considerations, not shall be entertained.
because she is a true heir. All these, Dujali argues, clearly indicate that there is no good
and compelling reason to grant Buot's petition for administration.23
Section 2 of Rule 52 is clear and leaves no room for interpretation. What it prohibits is
a second motion for reconsideration filed by the same party involving
In her reply,24 Buot contends that the issue of whether she is a person interested in the the same judgment or final resolution. In the present case, Buot's motion for
estate is a matter that should be raised during the trial by the RTC of her petition for reconsideration was only her first motion challenging the Order dismissing her petition
administration. for administration of Gregorio's estate. The RTC clearly erred in denying her motion on
the ground that it is a second motion for reconsideration prohibited under the Rules.
We deny the petition.
Nevertheless, we rule that the RTC properly ordered the dismissal of Buot's petition for
First, we must emphasize that this is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 administration.
of the Rules of Court. This recourse to the Court covers only a review of questions of
law. In this case, the question of law presented before us is whether the RTC properly When a person dies intestate, his or her estate may generally be subject to judicial
dismissed the petition for administration on the ground that there has already been an administration proceedings.25There are, however, several exceptions. One such
extrajudicial settlement of certain properties of the estate. An additional question of exception is provided for in Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Rules of Court. This Section
procedure raised here is whether the RTC was correct in holding that Buot's motion for states:
reconsideration should be denied as it is a prohibited second motion for
reconsideration.
Sec. I . Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. - If the
decedent left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of age, or the
minors are represented by their judicial or legal representatives divide the estate among themselves as they may see fit, or to resort
duly authorized for the purpose, the parties may, without securing to an ordinary action of partition, it does not compel them to do so if
letters of administration, divide the estate among themselves as they they have good reasons to take a different course of action. Said
see fit by means of a public instrument filed in the office of the section is not mandatory or compulsory as may be gleaned from the
register of deeds, and should they disagree, they may do so in an use made therein of the word may. If the intention were otherwise
ordinary action of partition. If there is only one heir, he may the framer of the rule would have employed the word shall as was
adjudicate to himself the entire estate by means of an affidavit filed done in other provisions that are mandatory in character.x x
in the office of the register of deeds. The parties to an extrajudicial x27 (Italics in the original.)
settlement, whether by public instrument or by stipulation in a
pending action for partition, or the sole heir who adjudicates the Since such proceedings are always "long," "costly," "superfluous and
entire estate to himself by means of an affidavit shall file, unnecessary,"28 resort to judicial administration of cases falling under Section 1, Rule 7
simultaneously with and as a condition precedent to the filing of the 4 appears to have become the exception rather than the rule. Cases subsequent
public instrument, or stipulation in the action for partition, or of the to Rodriguez emphasized that "[w]here partition is possible, either in or out of court,
affidavit in the office of the register of deeds, a bond with the said the estate should not be burdened with an administration proceeding without good and
register of deeds, in an amount equivalent to the value of the compelling reasons."29
personal property involved as certified to under oath by the parties
concerned and conditioned upon the payment of any just claim that
may be filed under Section 4 of this rule. It shall be presumed that In Pereira v. Court of Appeals,30we had the opportunity to explain what the "good reason
the decedent left no debts if no creditor files a petition for letters of exception" means. What constitutes good reason depends on the circumstances of each
administration within two (2) years after the death of the decedent. case. We said:

The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be "Again the petitioner argues that 'only when the heirs do not have
published in a newspaper of general circulation in the manner any dispute as to the bulk of the hereditary estate but only in the
provided in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial manner of partition does section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court
settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not apply and that in this case the parties are at loggerheads as to the
participated therein or had no notice thereof corpus of the hereditary estate because respondents succeeded in
sequestering some assets of the intestate. The argument is
unconvincing, because, as the respondent judge has indicated,
According to this provision, when the deceased left no will and no debts and the heirs questions as to what property belonged to the deceased (and
are all of age, the heirs may divide the estate among themselves without judicial therefore to the heirs) may properly be ventilated in the partition
administration. The heirs may do so extrajudicially through a public instrument filed in proceedings, especially where such property is in the hands of one
the office of the Register of Deeds. In case of disagreement, they also have the option to heir."
file an action for partition.
In another case, We held that if the reason for seeking an
Section 1 of Rule 74, however, does not prevent the heirs from instituting appointment as administrator is merely to avoid a multiplicity of
administration proceedings if they have good reasons for choosing not to file an action suits since the heir seeking such appointment wants to ask for the
for partition. In Rodriguez, et al. v. Tan, etc. and Rodriguez,26we said: annulment of certain transfers of property, that same objective
could be achieved in an action for partition and the trial court is not
[S]ection 1 [of Rule 74] does not preclude the heirs from instituting justified in issuing letters of administration. In still another case, We
administration proceedings, even if the estate has no debts or did not find so powerful a reason the argument that the appointment
obligation, if they do not desire to resort for good reasons to an of the husband, a usufructuary forced heir of his deceased wife, as
ordinary action of partition. While section 1 allows the heirs to judicial administrator is necessary in order for him to have legal
capacity to appear in the intestate proceedings of his wife's deceased
mother, since he may just adduce proof of his being a forced heir in
2 intestate proceedings of the latter.31 (Citations omitted.)

Thus, in Pereira, we refused to allow administration proceedings where the only reason
why the appointment of an administrator was sought so that one heir can take
possession of the estate from the other heir. We held that this was not a compelling
reason to order judicial administration. We added that in cases like this, "the claims of
both parties as to the properties left by the deceased may be properly ventilated in
simple partition proceedings where the creditors, should there be any, are protected in
any event."32

We have reviewed the reasons which Buot proffers to warrant the grant of her petition
for letters of administration and rule that these do not suffice to warrant the submission
of Gregorio's estate to administration proceedings. That the extrajudicial settlement in
this case did not cover Gregorio's entire estate is, by no means, a sufficient reason to
order the administration of the estate. Whether the extrajudicial settlement did in fact
cover the entire estate and whether an extrajudicial settlement that does not cover the
entire estate may be considered valid do not automatically create a compelling reason
to order the administration of the estate. Parties seeking to challenge an extrajudicial
settlement of estate possess sufficient remedies under the law and procedural rules. As
to Buot's other allegations that: (1) there has been no effort to partition the estate; (2)
that Dujali challenges her status as an heir; (3) that other heirs have been deprived of
the estate; and (4) these heirs are amenable to the appointment of an administrator, we
find that none of these allegations actually prevent the filing of an ordinary action for
partition. In fact, if it is indeed true that there has been no effort to partition Gregorio's
entire estate, the filing of an action for partition before the proper court will leave his
heirs with no choice but to proceed. An action for partition is also the proper venue to
ascertain Buot's entitlement to participate in the proceedings as an heir. 33 Not only
would it allow for the full ventilation of the issues as to the properties that ought to be
included in the partition and the true heirs entitled to receive their portions of the
estate, it is also the appropriate forum to litigate questions of fact that may be necessary
to ascertain if partition is proper and who may participate in the proceedings.

WHEREFORE, this petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The Orders of Branch
34 of the Regional Trial Court, Panabo City, dated September 19, 2011 and December
8, 2011 are AFFIRMED insofar as they ordered the dismissal of the petition for letters
of administration.

SO ORDERED.
CYNTHIA C. ALABAN, G.R. No. 156021 October 2000 in Janiuay, Iloilo.[4] Respondent alleged that he was the heir of the
FRANCIS COLLADO, JOSE decedent and the executor of her will. On 30 May 2001, the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
P. COLLADO, JUDITH Present:
PROVIDO, CLARITA PROVIDO, Branch 68, in P.D. Monfort North, Dumangas, Iloilo, rendered its Decision,[5] allowing
ALFREDO PROVIDO, MANUEL PUNO, J.,
PROVIDO, JR., LORNA DINA Chairman, the probate of the will of the decedent and directing the issuance of letters testamentary
E. PROVIDO, SEVERO ARENGA, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
to respondent.[6]
JR., SERGIO ARENGA, EDUARDO CALLEJO, SR.,
ARENGA, CAROL ARENGA, RUTH TINGA, and
BABASA, NORMA HIJASTRO, CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
DOLORES M. FLORES, ANTONIO More than four (4) months later, or on 4 October 2001, herein petitioners filed a motion
MARIN, JR., JOSE MARIN, SR., and
MATHILDE MARIN, Promulgated: for the reopening of the probate proceedings.[7] Likewise, they filed an opposition to the
Petitioners, allowance of the will of the decedent, as well as the issuance of letters testamentary to
September 23, 2005
respondent,[8] claiming that they are the intestate heirs of the decedent. Petitioners
- versus -
claimed that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over the petition due to non-payment

of the correct docket fees, defective publication, and lack of notice to the other heirs.
COURT OF APPEALS and
FRANCISCO H. PROVIDO, Moreover, they alleged that the will could not have been probated because: (1) the
Respondents.
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x signature of the decedent was forged; (2) the will was not executed in accordance with

law, that is, the witnesses failed to sign below the attestation clause; (3) the decedent
DECISION lacked testamentary capacity to execute and publish a will; (4) the will was executed by
TINGA, J.: force and under duress and improper pressure; (5) the decedent had no intention to

make a will at the time of affixing of her signature; and (6) she did not know the

This is a petition for review of the Resolutions[1] of the properties to be disposed of, having included in the will properties which no longer

Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 69221,[2] dismissing petitioners petition for belonged to her. Petitioners prayed that the letters testamentary issued to respondent

annulment of judgment. be withdrawn and the estate of the decedent disposed of under intestate succession. [9]

On 8 November 2000, respondent Francisco Provido (respondent) filed a On 11 January 2002, the RTC issued an Order[10] denying petitioners motion for being
petition, docketed as SP Proc. No. 00-135, for the probate of the Last Will and unmeritorious. Resolving the issue of jurisdiction, the RTC held that petitioners were

Testament[3] of the late Soledad Provido Elevencionado (decedent), who died on 26 deemed notified of the hearing by publication and that the deficiency in the payment of
docket fees is not a ground for the outright dismissal of the petition. It merely required new trial or petition for relief from judgment in the RTC, the CA added.[18] Petitioners

respondent to pay the deficiency.[11] Moreover, the RTCs Decision was already final and sought reconsideration of the Resolution, but the same was denied by the CA for lack of

executory even before petitioners filing of the motion to reopen.[12] merit.[19]

Petitioners thereafter filed a petition[13] with an application for preliminary injunction Petitioners now come to this Court, asserting that the CA committed grave abuse of

with the CA, seeking the annulment of the RTCs Decision dated 30 May 2001 discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it dismissed their petition for the

and Order dated 11 January 2002. They claimed that after the death of the decedent, alleged failure to show that they have not availed of or resorted to the remedies of new

petitioners, together with respondent, held several conferences to discuss the matter trial, appeal, petition for relief from judgment or other remedies through no fault of

of dividing the estate of the decedent, with respondent agreeing to a one-sixth (1/6) their own, and held that petitioners were not denied their day in court during the

portion as his share. Petitioners allegedly drafted a compromise agreement to proceedings before the RTC.[20] In addition, they assert that this Court has yet to decide

implement the division of the estate. Despite receipt of the agreement, respondent a case involving Rule 47 of the Rules of Court and, therefore, the instant petition should

refused to sign and return the same. Petitioners opined that respondent feigned be given due course for the guidance of the bench and bar.[21]

interest in participating in the compromise agreement so that they would not suspect

his intention to secure the probate of the will.[14] They claimed that they learnt of the For his part, respondent claims that petitioners were in a position to avail of the

probate proceedings only in July of 2001, as a result of which they filed their motion to remedies provided in Rules 37 and 38, as they in fact did when they filed a motion for
reopen the proceedings and admit their opposition to the probate of the will only on 4 new trial.[22] Moreover, they could have resorted to a petition for relief from judgment

October 2001. They argued that the RTC Decision should be annulled and set aside on since they learned of the RTCs judgment only three and a half months after its

the ground of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction on the part of the RTC.[15] promulgation.[23] Respondent likewise maintains that no extrinsic fraud exists to

warrant the annulment of the RTCs Decision, since there was no showing that they were

In its Resolution[16] promulgated on 28 February 2002, the CA dismissed the petition. It denied their day in court. Petitioners were not made parties to the probate proceedings

found that there was no showing that petitioners failed to avail of or resort to the because the decedent did not institute them as her heirs.[24] Besides,

ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief from judgment, or other assuming arguendo that petitioners are heirs of the decedent, lack of notice to them is

appropriate remedies through no fault of their own.[17] Moreover, the CA declared as not a fatal defect since personal notice upon the heirs is a matter of procedural

baseless petitioners claim that the proceedings in the RTC was attended by extrinsic convenience and not a jurisdictional requisite.[25] Finally, respondent charges
fraud. Neither was there any showing that they availed of this ground in a motion for petitioners of forumshopping, since the latter have a pending suit involving the same
issues as those in SP No. 00-135, that is SP No. 1181[26] filed before Branch 23, RTC of

General Santos City and subsequently pending on appeal before the CA in CA-G.R. Section 37 of the Rules of Court allows an aggrieved party to file a motion for

No.74924.[27] new trial on the ground of fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence. The same

It appears that one of the petitioners herein, Dolores M. Flores (Flores), who

is a niece of the decedent, filed a petition for letters of administration with the RTC of Rule permits the filing of a motion for reconsideration on the grounds of excessive
General Santos City, claiming that the decedent died intestate without any issue, award of damages, insufficiency of evidence to justify the decision or final order, or that
survived by five groups of collateral heirs. Flores, armed with a Special Power of the decision or final order is contrary to law.[32] Both motions should be filed within the
Attorney from most of the other petitioners, prayed for her appointment as period for taking an appeal, or fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or final
administratrix of the estate of the decedent. The RTC dismissed the petition on the order.
ground of lack of jurisdiction, stating that the probate court in Janiuay, Iloilo has

jurisdiction since the venue for a petition for the settlement of the estate of a decedent Meanwhile, a petition for relief from judgment under Section 3 of Rule 38 is
is the place where the decedent died. This is also in accordance with the rule that the resorted to when a judgment or final order is entered, or any other proceeding is
first court acquiring jurisdiction shall continue hearing the case to the exclusion of thereafter taken, against a party in any court through fraud, accident, mistake, or
other courts, the RTC added.[28] On 9 January 2002, Flores filed a Notice of excusable negligence. Said party may file a petition in the same court and in the same
Appeal [29] and on 28 January 2002, the case was ordered forwarded to the CA.[30] case to set aside the judgment, order or proceeding. It must be filed within sixty (60)

days after the petitioner learns of the judgment and within six (6) months after entry
Petitioners maintain that they were not made parties to the case in which the thereof.[33]
decision sought to be annulled was rendered and, thus, they could not have availed of

the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief from judgment and other A motion for new trial or reconsideration and a petition for relief from judgment are
appropriate remedies, contrary to the ruling of the CA. They aver that respondents offer remedies available only to parties in the proceedings where the assailed
of a false compromise and his failure to notify them of the probate of the will constitute

extrinsic fraud that necessitates the annulment of the RTCs judgment.[31]

The petition is devoid of merit.


judgment is rendered.[34] In fact, it has been held that a person who was never a party As parties to the probate proceedings, petitioners could have validly availed of the

to the case, or even summoned to appear therein, cannot avail of a petition for relief remedies of motion for new trial or reconsideration and petition for relief from

from judgment.[35] judgment. In fact, petitioners filed a motion to reopen, which is essentially a motion for

new trial, with petitioners praying for the reopening of the case and the setting of

However, petitioners in this case are mistaken in asserting that they are not or have not further proceedings. However, the motion was denied for having been filed out of time,

become parties to the probate proceedings. long after the Decision became final and executory.

Conceding that petitioners became aware of the Decision after it had become final, they

Under the Rules of Court, any executor, devisee, or legatee named in a will, or could have still filed a petition for relief from judgment after the denial of their motion

any other person interested in the estate may, at any time after the death of the testator, to reopen. Petitioners claim that they learned of the Decision only on 4 October 2001,

petition the court having jurisdiction to have the will allowed.[36] Notice of the time and or almost four (4) months from the time the Decision had attained finality. But they

place for proving the will must be published for three (3) consecutive weeks, in a failed to avail of the remedy.

newspaper of general circulation in the province,[37] as well as furnished to the

designated or other known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator. [38] Thus, it has For failure to make use without sufficient justification of the said remedies

been held that a proceeding for the probate of a will is one in rem, such that with the available to them, petitioners could no longer resort to a petition for annulment of

corresponding publication of the petition the court's jurisdiction extends to all persons judgment; otherwise, they would benefit from their own inaction or negligence.[41]

interested in said will or in the settlement of the estate of the decedent.[39]

Publication is notice to the whole world that the proceeding has for its object

to bar indefinitely all who might be minded to make an objection of any sort against the

right sought to be established. It is the publication of such notice that brings in the Even casting aside the procedural requisite, the petition for annulment of judgment

whole world as a party in the case and vests the court with jurisdiction to hear and must still fail for failure to comply with the substantive requisites, as the appellate court

decide it.[40] Thus, even though petitioners were not mentioned in the petition for ruled.

probate, they eventually became parties thereto as a consequence of the publication of


the notice of hearing. An action for annulment of judgment is a remedy in law independent of the

case where the judgment sought to be annulled was rendered.[42] The purpose of such
action is to have the final and executory judgment set aside so that there will be a The Court is not convinced.

renewal of litigation. It is resorted to in cases where the ordinary remedies of new trial,

appeal, petition for relief from judgment, or other appropriate remedies are no longer

available through no fault of the petitioner,[43] and is based on only two grounds: According to the Rules, notice is required to be personally given to known

extrinsic fraud, and lack of jurisdiction or denial of due process.[44] A person need not heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator.[48] A perusal of the will shows that

be a party to the judgment sought to be annulled, and it is only essential that he can respondent was instituted as the sole heir of the decedent. Petitioners, as nephews and

prove his allegation that the judgment was obtained by the use of fraud and collusion nieces of the decedent, are neither compulsory nor testate heirs [49] who are entitled to

and he would be adversely affected thereby.[45] be notified of the probate proceedings under the Rules. Respondent had no legal

obligation to mention petitioners in the petition for probate, or to personally notify

them of the same.

An action to annul a final judgment on the ground of fraud lies only if the fraud

is extrinsic or collateral in character.[46] Fraud is regarded as extrinsic where it prevents Besides, assuming arguendo that petitioners are entitled to be so notified, the
a party from having a trial or from presenting his entire case to the court, or where it purported infirmity is cured by the publication of the notice. After all, personal notice
operates upon matters pertaining not to the judgment itself but to the manner in which upon the heirs is a matter of procedural convenience and not a jurisdictional
it is procured. The overriding consideration when extrinsic fraud is alleged is that the requisite.[50]
fraudulent scheme of the prevailing litigant prevented a party from having his day in

court.[47] The non-inclusion of petitioners names in the petition and the alleged failure

to personally notify them of the proceedings do not constitute extrinsic fraud.


To sustain their allegation of extrinsic fraud, petitioners assert that as a result of Petitioners were not denied their day in court, as they were not prevented from
respondents deliberate omission or concealment of their names, ages and residences participating in the proceedings and presenting their case before the probate court.
as the other heirs of the decedent in his petition for allowance of the will, they were not

notified of the proceedings, and thus they were denied their day in court. In addition,
One other vital point is the issue of forum-shopping against petitioners.
they claim that respondents offer of a false compromise even before the filing of the
Forum-shopping consists of filing multiple suits in different courts, either
petition prevented them from appearing and opposing the petition for probate.
simultaneously or successively, involving the same parties, to ask the courts to rule on
the same or related causes and/or to grant the same or substantially same reliefs,[51] on even though the notice of appeal was filed way before the petition for annulment of

the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable judgment was instituted.

disposition.[52] Obviously, the parties in the instant case, as well as in the appealed case
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioners.
before the CA, are the same. Both cases deal with the existence and validity of the

alleged will of the decedent, with petitioners anchoring their cause on the state of SO ORDERED.

intestacy. In the probate proceedings, petitioners position has always been that the

decedent left no will and if she did, the will does not comply with the requisites of a

valid will. Indeed, that position is the bedrock of their present petition. Of course, DANTE O. TINGA Associate
Justice
respondent maintains the contrary stance. On the other hand, in the petition for letters

of administration, petitioner Flores prayed for her appointment as administratrix of the

estate on the theory that the decedent died intestate. The petition was dismissed on the

ground of lack of jurisdiction, and it is this order of dismissal which is the subject of

review in CA-G.R. No. 74924. Clearly, therefore, there is forum-shopping.

Moreover, petitioners failed to inform the Court of the said pending case in

their certification against forum- shopping. Neither have they done so at any time

thereafter. The Court notes that even in the petition for annulment of judgment,

petitioners failed to inform the CA of the pendency of their appeal in CA-G.R. No. 74924,