SIGNIFICANT DOCTRINES IN SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS

JURISDICTION OF PROBATE COURT 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 regards said properties is to determine whether they should or should not be included in the inventory or list of properties to be administered by the administrator. If there is 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." Hence, respondent’s recourse is to file a separate action with a court of general jurisdiction. (Pacioles, Jr. vs. Chuatoco-Ching, G.R. 127920, August 9, 2005) ESTATE OF DECEASED PERSONS  In our jurisdiction, the rule is that there can be no valid partition among the heirs until after the will has been probated. In testate succession, there can be no valid partition among the heirs until after the will has been probated. The law enjoins the probate of a will and the public requires it, because unless a will is probated and notice thereof given to the whole world, the right of a person to dispose of his property by will may be rendered nugatory. (Union Bank of the Philippines vs. Santibanez, et al., G.R. 149926, February 23, 2005)

 Well - settled is the rule that a probate court has the jurisdiction to determine all the properties of the deceased, to determine whether they should or should not be included in the inventory or list of properties to be administered. The said court is primarily concerned with the administration, liquidation and distribution of the estate. (Union Bank of the Philippines vs. Santibanez, et al., G.R. 149926, February 23, 2005)  The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial court either as an intestate or a probate court relates only to matters having to do with the settlement of the estate and probate of will of deceased persons but does not extend to the determination of questions of ownership 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. Thus, in Pastor, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, we held: “x x x As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the probate court cannot resolve with finality. Thus, for the purpose of determining whether a certain property should or should not be included in the inventory of estate properties, the probate court may pass upon the title thereto, but such determination is provisional, not conclusive, and is subject to the final decision in a separate action to resolve title.” (Pacioles, Jr. vs. Chuatoco-Ching, G.R. 127920, August 9, 2005)  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

 Settled is the rule in this jurisdiction that when an order authorizing the sale or encumbrance of real property was issued by the testate or intestate court without previous notice to the heirs, devisees and legatees as required by the Rules, it is not only the contract itself which is null and void but also the order of the court authorizing the same. (Pahamotang, et al. vs. Philippine National Bank, et al., G.R. 156403, March 31, 2005)

Where special proceedings had been instituted but had been finally closed and terminated, however, or if a putative heir has lost the right to have himself declared in the special proceedings as co-heir and he can no longer ask for its re-opening, then an ordinary civil action can be filed for his declaration as heir in order to bring about the annulment of the partition or distribution or adjudication of a property or properties belonging to the estate of the deceased. (Portugal, et al. vs. Portugal-Beltran, G.R. 155555, August 16, 2005)

ADMINISTRATORS AND EXECUTORS

 No law requires partition among heirs to be in writing and be registered in order to be valid. The requirement in Sec. 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court that a partition be put in a public document and registered, has for its purpose the protection of creditors and the heirs themselves against tardy claims. The object of registration is to serve as constructive notice to others. It follows then that the intrinsic validity of partition not executed with the prescribed formalities is not undermined when no creditors to take into consideration, it is competent for the heirs of an estate to enter into an agreement for distribution thereof in a manner and upon a plan different from those provided by the rules from which, in the first place, nothing can be inferred that a written or other formality is essential for the partition to be valid. The partition of inherited property need not be embodied in a public document so as to be effective as regards the heirs that participated therein. The requirement of Article 1358 of the Civil Code that acts which have for their object the creation, transmission, modification or extinguishments of real rights over immovable property, must appear in a public instrument, is only for convenience, non-compliance with which does not affect the validity of enforceability of the acts of the parties as among themselves. And neither does the Statute of Frauds under Article 1403 of the New Civil Code apply because partition among heirs is not legally deemed a conveyance of real property, considering that it involves not a transfer of property from one to the other but rather, a confirmation or ratification of title or right of property that an heir is renouncing in favor of another heir who accepts and receives the inheritance. (Spouses Castro, et. al. vs. Miat, G.R. 143297, February 11, 2003)

 It should be noted that on the matter of appointment of administrator of the estate of the deceased, the surviving spouse is preferred over the next of kin of the decedent. When the law speaks of “next of kin”, the reference is to those who are entitled, under the statute of distribution, to the decedent’s property; one whose relationship is such that he is entitled to share in the estate as distributed, or, in short, an heir. In resolving, therefore, the issue of whether an applicant for letters of administration is a next of kin or an heir of the decedent, the probate court perforce has to determine and pass upon the issue of filiation. A separate action will only result in a multiplicity of suits. Upon this consideration, the trial court acted within bounds when it looked into and pass upon the claimed relationship of respondent to the late Francisco Angeles. (Angeles vs. Angeles, G.R. 153798, September 2, 2005)
PROBATE PROCEEDINGS

 Under the Rules of Court, any executor, devisee, or legatee named in a will, or any other person interested in the estate may, at any time after the death of the testator, petition the court having jurisdiction to have the will allowed. Notice of the time and place for proving the will must be published for three (3) consecutive weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation in the province, as well as furnished to the designated or other known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator. Thus, it has been held that a proceeding for the probate of a will is one in rem, such that with the corresponding publication of the petition the court’s jurisdiction extends to all persons interested in said will or in the settlement of the estate of the decedent. 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 whole world as a party in the case and vests the court with jurisdiction to hear and decide it. Thus, even though petitioners were not mentioned in the petition for probate, they eventually became parties thereto as a consequence of the publication of the

notice of hearing. (Alaban, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. 156021, September 23, 2005) According to the Rules, notice is required to be personally given to known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator. A perusal of the will shows that respondent was instituted as the sole heir of the decedent. Petitioners, as nephews and nieces of the decedent, are neither compulsory nor testate heirs who are entitled to 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. Besides, assuming arguendo that petitioners are entitled to be so notified, the purported infirmity is cured by the publication of the notice. After all, personal notice upon the heirs is a matter of procedural convenience and not a jurisdictional requisite. 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. Petitioners were not denied their day in court, as they were not prevented from participating in the proceedings and presenting their case before the probate court. (Alaban, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. 156021, September 23, 2005) GUARDIAN AD LITEM  In resolving whether to appoint a guardian ad litem for the respondent, the appellate court needed only to determine whether the individual for whom a guardian was proposed was so incapable of handling personal and financial affairs as to warrant the need for the appointment of a temporary guardian. It only needed to make a finding that, based on clear and convincing evidence, the respondent is incompetent and that it is more likely than not that his welfare requires the immediate appointment of a temporary guardian. A finding that the person for whom a guardian ad litem is proposed is incapable of managing his own personal and financial affairs by reason of his mental illness is enough. Guardians ad litem are considered officers of the court in a limited sense, and the office of such guardian is to represent the interest of the incompetent or the minor. Whether or not to appoint a guardian

ad litem for the petitioners is addressed to the sound discretion of the court where the petition was filed, taking into account the best interest of the incompetent or the minor. The court has discretion in appointing a guardian ad litem that will best promote the interest of justice. The appointment of a guardian ad litem is designed to assist the court in its determination of the incompetent’s best interest. (Rivero, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. 141273, May 17, 2005) ESCHEAT  Escheat is a proceeding, unlike that of succession or assignment, whereby the state, by virtue of its sovereignty, steps in an claims the real or personal property of a person who dies intestate leaving no heir. In the absence of a lawful owner a property is claimed by the state to forestall an open “invitation to self service by the first service”. Since escheat is one of the incidents of sovereignty, the state may, and usually does, prescribe the conditions and limits the time within which a claim to such property may be made. The procedure by which the escheated property may be recovered is generally prescribed by statute, and a time limit is imposed within which such action must be sought. In this jurisdiction a claimant to an escheated property must file his claim “within 5-years from the date of such judgment, such person shall have possession of and title to the same, or if sold the municipality or city shall be accountable to him for the proceeds, after the deducting the estate; but a claim not made shall be barred forever.” The five-year period is not a device capriciously conjured by the state to defraud any claimant; on the contrary, it is decidedly prescribed to encourage would be claimants to be punctilious in asserting their claims, otherwise they may lose them forever in a final judgment. In a special proceeding for escheat under sections 750 and 751 the petitioner is not the sole and exclusive interested party. Any person alleging to have a direct right or interest in the property sought to be escheated is likewise an interested party and may appear and oppose the petition for escheat. A judgment in Escheat proceedings when rendered by a court

of competent jurisdictions is conclusive against all persons with actual or constructive notice, but not against those who are not parties of privies thereto. As held in Hamilton vs. Brown, “a judgment of escheat was held conclusive upon persons notified by advertisements to all persons interested. Absolute lack on the part of the petitioners of any dishonest intent to deprive the appellee of any right or in any way injure him, constitute due process of law, proper notice having been observed”. (Republic vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. 143483, January 31, 2002) HABEAS CORPUS Writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, or by which the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled to it. The singular function of a petition for habeas corpus is to protect and secure the basic freedom of physical liberty. (In the Matter of the Petition for the Habeas Corpus of Atty. Fernando Arguelles. Jr., et al. vs. Balajadia, Jr., 484 SCRA 653, March 14, 2006)  The writ of habeas corpus applies to all cases of illegal confinement or detention in which individuals are deprived of liberty. It was devised as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint; or, more specifically, to obtain immediate relief for those who may have been illegally confined or imprisoned without sufficient cause and thus deliver them from unlawful custody. It is therefore a writ of inquiry intended to test the circumstances under which a person is detained. The writ may not be availed of when the person in custody is under a judicial process or by virtue of a valid judgment. However, as a postconviction remedy, it may be allowed when, as a consequence of a judicial proceeding, any of the following exceptional circumstances is attendant: (1) there has been a deprivation of a constitutional right resulting in the restraint of a person; (2) the court had no jurisdiction to impose the sentence; or (3) the imposed penalty has been excessive, thus voiding the sentence as to such

excess. (Go, et al. vs. Dimagiba, G.R. 151876, June 21, 2005)  The remedy of habeas corpus has one objective: to inquire into the cause of detention of a person. The purpose of the writ is to determine whether a person is being illegally deprived of his liberty. If the inquiry reveals that the detention is illegal, the court orders the release of the person. If, however, the detention is proven lawful, then the habeas corpus proceedings terminate. The use of habeas corpus is thus very limited. It is not a writ of error. Neither can it substitute for an appeal. Nonetheless, case law has expanded the writ’s application to circumstances where there is deprivation of a person’s constitutional rights. The writ is available where a person continues to be unlawfully denied of one or more of his constitutional freedoms, where there is denial of due process, where the restraints are not merely involuntary but are also unnecessary, and where a deprivation of freedom originally valid has later become arbitrary. However, a mere allegation of a violation of one’s constitutional right is not sufficient. The courts will extend the scope of the writ only if any of the following circumstances is present: (a) there is a deprivation of a constitutional right resulting in the unlawful restraint of a person; (b) the court had no jurisdiction to impose the sentence; or (c) an excessive penalty is imposed and such sentence is void as to the excess. Whatever situation the petitioner invokes, the threshold remains high. The violation of constitutional right must be sufficient to void the entire proceedings. (Alejano, et al. vs. Cabuay, et al., G.R. 160792, August 25, 2005)

 As a general rule, the writ of habeas corpus will not issue where the person alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under a process issued by the court which has jurisdiction to do so. Further, the writ of habeas corpus should not be allowed after the party sought to be released had been charged before any court or quasi-judicial body. The term “court” necessarily includes the General Court - Martial. (Navales, et al. vs. Abaya, et al., G.R. 162318, October 25, 2004)

The most basic criterion for the issuance of the writ, therefore, is that the individual seeking such relief be illegally deprived of his freedom of movement or placed under some form of illegal restraint. If an individual’s liberty is restrained via some legal process, the writ of habeas corpus is unavailing. Concomitant to this principle, the writ of habeas corpus cannot be used to directly assail a judgment rendered by a competent court or tribunal which, having duly acquired jurisdiction, was not deprived or ousted of this jurisdiction through some anomaly in the conduct of the proceedings. (Navales, et al. vs. Abaya, et al., G.R. 162318, October 25, 2004)  What do you mean by the phrase “habeas corpus reaches the body but not the records of the case”? Habeas Corpus cannot be used to review the findings of fact long passed upon with finality. The writ of habeas corpus is not a writ of error and should not be, thus, used. The writ, whereas permitting a collateral challenge of the jurisdiction of the court or tribunal issuing the process or judgment by which an individual is deprived of his liberty, cannot be distorted by extending the inquiry to mere errors of trial courts acting squarely within its jurisdiction. A habeas corpus petition reaches the body, but not the record of the case. A record must be allowed to remain extant, and cannot be revised, modified, altered or amended by the simple expedient of resort to habeas corpus proceedings. Clearly, mere errors of fact or law, which did not have the effect of depriving the trial court of its jurisdiction over the case and the person of the defendant, are not correctible in a petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus, if at all, these errors must be corrected on certiorari or on appeal, in the form and manner prescribed by law. The writ of habeas corpus is not to be used as a substitute for another, more proper remedy. Resort to the writ of habeas corpus is available only in the limited instances when a judgment is rendered by a court or tribunal devoid of jurisdiction. If, for, instance, it can be demonstrated that there was a deprivation of a constitutional right, the writ can be granted even after an individual has been meted a sentence by final judgment. (In re: the writ of

habeas corpus for Reynaldo De Villa, G.R. 158802, November 17, 2004)  A habeas corpus petition reaches the body, but not the record of the case. A record must be allowed to remain extant, and cannot be revised, modified, altered or amended by the simple expedient of resort to habeas corpus proceedings. A survey of our decisions in habeas corpus cases demonstrates that, in general, the writ of habeas corpus is a high prerogative writ which furnishes an extraordinary remedy; it may thus be invoked only under extraordinary circumstances. We have been categorical in our pronouncements that the writ of habeas corpus is not to be used as a substitute for another, more proper remedy. Resort to the writ of habeas corpus is available only in the limited instances when a judgment is rendered by a court or tribunal devoid of jurisdiction. If, for instance, it can be demonstrated that there was a deprivation of a constitutional right, the writ can be granted even after an individual has been meted a sentence by final judgment. Thus, in the case of Chavez v. Court of Appeals, the writ of habeas corpus was held to be available where an accused was deprived of the constitutional right against selfincrimination. A defect so pronounced as the denial of an accused’s constitutional rights results in the absence or loss of jurisdiction, and therefore invalidates the trial and the consequent conviction of the accused. That void judgment of conviction may be challenged by collateral attack, which precisely is the function of habeas corpus. (Navales, et al. vs. Abaya, et al., G.R. 162318, October 25, 2004)

 The writ of habeas corpus, although not designed to interrupt the orderly administration of justice, can be invoked by the attendance of a special circumstance that requires immediate action. In such situations, the inquiry on a writ of habeas corpus would be addressed, not to errors committed by a court within its jurisdiction, but to the question of whether the proceeding or judgment under which a person has been restrained is a complete nullity. The probe may thus proceed to check on the power and authority, itself an equivalent test of jurisdiction, of the court or the judge to render the order that so serves as the basis of

imprisonment or detention. It is the nullity of an assailed judgment of conviction which makes it susceptible to collateral attack through the filing of a petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus. (Navales, et al. vs. Abaya, et al., G.R. 162318, October 25, 2004)

 A close scrutiny of Section 5, Rule 102 of the Rules of Civil Procedure on Habeas Corpus, shows that a court may grant the writ if it appears upon presentation of the petition that the writ ought to be issued. Thus, Section 5 states: “When the writ must be granted and issued. — A court or judge authorized to grant the writ must, when a petition therefore is presented and it appears that the writ ought to issue, grant the same forthwith, and immediately thereupon the clerk of court shall issue the writ under the seal of the court; or in case of emergency, the judge may issue the writ under his own hand, and may depute any officer or person to serve it.” Clearly therefore, respondent judge was well within his authority when he issued the writ as no hearing is required before a writ may be issued. (Charlton Tan vs. Judge Abednego O. Adre, 450 SCRA 145, January 31, 2005)

 In habeas corpus proceeding involving the welfare and custody of a child of tender age, the paramount concern is to resolve immediately the issue of who has legal custody of the child. Technicalities should not stand in the way of giving such child of tender age full protection. This rule has sound statutory basis in Article 213 of the Family Code, which states, “No child under seven years of age shall be separated from the mother unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise.” In this case, the child was only one year and four months when taken away from the mother. (Tribiana vs. Tribiana, G.R. 137359, September 13, 2004)
 As a general rule, the writ of habeas corpus will not issue where the person alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in custody of an officer under a process issued by the court which has jurisdiction to do so. In exceptional circumstances, habeas corpus may be granted by the courts even when the person concerned is detained pursuant to a valid arrest or his voluntary surrender, for this writ of liberty is recognized as “the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action” due to its ability to cut through barriers of form and procedural mazes.” Thus, in a previous case we issued the writ where the deprivation of liberty, while initially valid under the law, had later become invalid, and even though the persons praying for its issuance were not completely deprived of their liberty. Moreover, a petition for habeas corpus is not the appropriate remedy for asserting one’s right to bail. It cannot be availed of where accused is entitled to bail not as a matter of right but on the discretion of the court and the latter has not abused such discretion in refusing to grant bail, or has not even exercised said discretion. The proper recourse is to file an application for bail with the court where the criminal case is pending and to allow hearings thereon to proceed.

 Habeas corpus is not in the nature of a writ of error; nor intended as substitute for the trial court’s function. It cannot take the place of appeal, certiorari or writ of error. (Kiani vs. Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, 482 SCRA 341)  The writ cannot be used to investigate and consider questions of error that might be raised relating to procedure or on the merits. The inquiry in a habeas corpus proceeding is addressed to the question of whether the proceedings and the assailed order are, for any reason, null and void. The writ is not ordinarily granted where the law provides for other remedies in the regular course, and in the absence of exceptional circumstances. Moreover, habeas corpus should not be granted in advance of trial. The orderly course of trial must be pursued and the usual remedies exhausted before resorting to the writ where exceptional circumstances are extant. (Caballes vs. Court of Appeals, 452 SCRA 312, February 23, 2005)  The filing of the Charge Sheet before the Bureau of Special Inquiry of the Board of Immigration and Deportation cures whatever irregularities or infirmities that were attendant to the arrest of an alien, and his remedy is to file a motion for the dismissal of the Charge Sheet and the Mission Order of the Immigration Commissioner, not a petition for a writ of habeas corpus before the Regional

Trial Court. (Kiani vs. Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, 482 SCRA 341)

 A petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus may be filed if one is deprived of his right to a speedy disposition of the case under Article IV, Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution and of his right to due process. However, the petitioner never invoked in the trial court his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the case against him. What he invoked was his right to a speedy trial under Rule 119 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure. He invoked his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the case against him, for the first time, only in the Court of Appeals when he filed his petition for habeas corpus. (Caballes vs. Court of Appeals, 452 SCRA 312, February 23, 2005)
 A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is a remedy different from the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, as amended. The writ of habeas corpus is a collateral attack on the processes, orders, or judgment of the trial court, while certiorari is a direct attack of said process, orders, or judgment on the ground of lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction. A writ of certiorari reaches only jurisdictional errors. It has no other use, except to bring before the court a record material to be considered in exercising jurisdiction. A writ of certiorari reaches the record. On the other hand, a writ of habeas corpus reaches the body but not the record; it also reaches jurisdictional matters but does not reach the record. The review of the petitioner’s material averments in his petition before the CA reveals that it was a “petition for habeas corpus or, in the alternative, a petition for a writ of certiorari.” The petitioner assailed therein the orders of the trial court denying his petition for bail and his motion to dismiss on the ground that he was deprived of his right to a speedy disposition of the case against him, and questioned Judge Laurea’s order of inhibition. We agree with the CA that a petition for a writ of habeas corpus cannot be joined with the special civil action for certiorari because the two remedies are governed by a different set of rules. Rule 2, Section 5(b) of the Rules of

Court mandates that the joinder of causes of action shall not include special actions or actions governed by special rules, thus proscribing the joinder of a special proceeding with a special civil action. A writ of habeas corpus, which is regarded as a “palladium of liberty” is a prerogative writ which does not issue as a matter of right but in the sound discretion of the court or judge. It, is, however, a writ of right on proper formalities being made by proof. Resort to the writ is to inquire into the criminal act of which a complaint is made but unto the right of liberty, notwithstanding the act, and the immediate purpose to be served is relief from illegal restraint. The primary, if not the only object of the writ of habeas corpus ad subjuciendum is to determine the legality of the restraint under which a person is held. It bears stressing that a decision in a habeas corpus action stands in no different position that with any other proceeding and if the appealed decision is to be reviewed by an appellate court, the remedy is by writ of error because the error committed by the court is an error of judgment and not an error of jurisdiction. (Caballes vs. Court of Appeals, 452 SCRA 312, February 23, 2005) FALSIFIED ENTRIES CERTIFICATE IN BIRTH

 A petition alleging material entries in the birth certificate as having been falsified is properly considered as a special proceeding pursuant to Section 39c), Rule 1 and Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. (Ceruila vs. Delantar, 477 SCRA 134, December 9, 2005)

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