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1.) [G.R. No. L-8437. November 28, 1956.]


ESTATE OF K. H. HEMADY, deceased, vs. LUZON SURETY
CO., INC., claimant-Appellant.
DECISION
REYES, J. B. L., J.:
Appeal by Luzon Surety Co., Inc., from an order of the Court of
First Instance of Rizal, presided by Judge Hermogenes Caluag,
dismissing its claim against the Estate of K. H. Hemady (Special
Proceeding No. Q-293) for failure to state a cause of action.
The Luzon Surety Co. had filed a claim against the Estate based
on twenty different indemnity agreements, or counter bonds,
each subscribed by a distinct principal and by the deceased K.
H. Hemady, a surety solidary guarantor) in all of them, in
consideration of the Luzon Surety Co.s of having guaranteed,
the various principals in favor of different creditors. The twenty
counterbonds, or indemnity agreements, all contained the
following stipulations:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Premiums. As consideration for this suretyship, the
undersigned jointly and severally, agree to pay the COMPANY
the sum of ________________ (P______) pesos, Philippines
Currency, in advance as premium there of for every __________
months or fractions thereof, this ________ or any renewal or
substitution thereof is in effect.
Indemnity. The undersigned, jointly and severally, agree at all
times to indemnify the COMPANY and keep it indemnified and
hold and save it harmless from and against any and all
damages, losses, costs, stamps, taxes, penalties, charges, and
expenses of whatsoever kind and nature which the COMPANY
shall or may, at any time sustain or incur in consequence of
having become surety upon this bond or any extension,
renewal, substitution or alteration thereof made at the instance
of the undersigned or any of them or any order executed on
behalf
of
the
undersigned
or
any
of
them; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryand to pay, reimburse and make good to
the COMPANY, its successors and assigns, all sums and amount
of money which it or its representatives shall pay or cause to be
paid, or become liable to pay, on account of the undersigned or
any of them, of whatsoever kind and nature, including 15% of
the amount involved in the litigation or other matters growing
out of or connected therewith for counsel or attorneys fees, but
in no case less than P25. It is hereby further agreed that in case
of extension or renewal of this ________ we equally bind

ourselves for the payment thereof under the same terms and
conditions as above mentioned without the necessity of
executing another indemnity agreement for the purpose and
that we hereby equally waive our right to be notified of any
renewal or extension of this ________ which may be granted
under this indemnity agreement.
Interest on amount paid by the Company. Any and all sums of
money so paid by the company shall bear interest at the rate of
12% per annum which interest, if not paid, will be
accummulated and added to the capital quarterly order to earn
the same interests as the capital and the total sum thereof, the
capital and interest, shall be paid to the COMPANY as soon as
the COMPANY shall have become liable therefore, whether it
shall have paid out such sums of money or any part thereof or
not.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Waiver. It is hereby agreed upon by and between the
undersigned that any question which may arise between them
by reason of this document and which has to be submitted for
decision to Courts of Justice shall be brought before the Court of
competent jurisdiction in the City of Manila, waiving for this
purpose any other venue. Our right to be notified of the
acceptance and approval of this indemnity agreement is hereby
likewise waived.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Our Liability Hereunder. It shall not be necessary for the
COMPANY to bring suit against the principal upon his default, or
to exhaust the property of the principal, but the liability
hereunder of the undersigned indemnitor shall be jointly and
severally, a primary one, the same as that of the principal, and
shall be exigible immediately upon the occurrence of such
default. (Rec. App. pp. 98- 102.)
The Luzon Surety Co., prayed for allowance, as a contingent
claim, of the value of the twenty bonds it had executed in
consideration of the counterbonds, and further asked for
judgment for the unpaid premiums and documentary stamps
affixed to the bonds, with 12 per cent interest thereon.
Before answer was filed, and upon motion of the administratrix
of Hemadys estate, the lower court, by order of September 23,
1953, dismissed the claims of Luzon Surety Co., on two
grounds:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (1) that the premiums due
and cost of documentary stamps were not contemplated under
the indemnity agreements to be a part of the undertaking of the

Page 2 of 58

guarantor (Hemady), since they were not liabilities incurred


after
the
execution
of
the
counterbonds; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryand (2) that whatever losses may occur
after Hemadys death, are not chargeable to his estate, because
upon his death he ceased to be guarantor.
Taking up the latter point first, since it is the one more far
reaching in effects, the reasoning of the court below ran as
follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The administratrix further contends that upon the death of
Hemady, his liability as a guarantor terminated, and therefore,
in the absence of a showing that a loss or damage was suffered,
the claim cannot be considered contingent. This Court believes
that there is merit in this contention and finds support in Article
2046 of the new Civil Code. It should be noted that a new
requirement has been added for a person to qualify as a
guarantor, that is:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary integrity. As
correctly pointed out by the Administratrix, integrity is
something purely personal and is not transmissible. Upon the
death of Hemady, his integrity was not transmitted to his estate
or successors. Whatever loss therefore, may occur after
Hemadys death, are not chargeable to his estate because upon
his death he ceased to be a guarantor.
Another clear and strong indication that the surety company
has exclusively relied on the personality, character, honesty and
integrity of the now deceased K. H. Hemady, was the fact that
in the printed form of the indemnity agreement there is a
paragraph entitled Security by way of first mortgage, which
was expressly waived and renounced by the security company.
The security company has not demanded from K. H. Hemady to
comply with this requirement of giving security by way of first
mortgage. In the supporting papers of the claim presented by
Luzon Surety Company, no real property was mentioned in the
list of properties mortgaged which appears at the back of the
indemnity agreement. (Rec. App., pp. 407-408).
We find this reasoning untenable. Under the present Civil Code
(Article 1311), as well as under the Civil Code of 1889 (Article
1257), the rule is that
Contracts take effect only as between the parties, their assigns
and heirs, except in the case where the rights and obligations
arising from the contract are not transmissible by their nature,
or by stipulation or by provision of law.
While in our successional system the responsibility of the heirs
for the debts of their decedent cannot exceed the value of the

inheritance they receive from him, the principle remains intact


that these heirs succeed not only to the rights of the deceased
but also to his obligations. Articles 774 and 776 of the New Civil
Code (and Articles 659 and 661 of the preceding one) expressly
so provide, thereby confirming Article 1311 already quoted.
ART. 774. Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of
which the property, rights and obligations to the extent of the
value of the inheritance, of a person are transmitted through his
death to another or others either by his will or by operation of
law.
ART. 776. The inheritance includes all the property, rights
and obligations of a person which are not extinguished by his
death.
In Mojica vs. Fernandez, 9 Phil. 403, this Supreme Court
ruled:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Under the Civil Code the heirs, by virtue of the rights of
succession are subrogated to all the rights and obligations of
the deceased (Article 661) and cannot be regarded as third
parties with respect to a contract to which the deceased was a
party, touching the estate of the deceased (Barrios vs. Dolor, 2
Phil. 44).
xxx
xxx
xxx
The principle on which these decisions rest is not affected by
the provisions of the new Code of Civil Procedure, and, in
accordance with that principle, the heirs of a deceased person
cannot be held to be third persons in relation to any contracts
touching the real estate of their decedent which comes in to
their
hands
by
right
of
inheritance; chan
roblesvirtualawlibrarythey take such property subject to all the
obligations resting thereon in the hands of him from whom they
derive their rights.
(See also Galasinao vs. Austria, 51 Off. Gaz. (No. 6) p. 2874 and
de Guzman vs. Salak, 91 Phil., 265).
The binding effect of contracts upon the heirs of the deceased
party is not altered by the provision in our Rules of Court that
money debts of a deceased must be liquidated and paid from
his estate before the residue is distributed among said heirs
(Rule 89). The reason is that whatever payment is thus made
from the estate is ultimately a payment by the heirs and
distributees, since the amount of the paid claim in fact
diminishes or reduces the shares that the heirs would have
been entitled to receive.

Page 3 of 58

Under our law, therefore, the general rule is that a partys


contractual rights and obligations are transmissible to the
successors. The rule is a consequence of the progressive
depersonalization of patrimonial rights and duties that, as
observed by Victorio Polacco, has characterized the history of
these institutions. From the Roman concept of a relation from
person to person, the obligation has evolved into a relation from
patrimony to patrimony, with the persons occupying only a
representative position, barring those rare cases where the
obligation is strictly personal, i.e., is contracted intuitu
personae, in consideration of its performance by a specific
person and by no other. The transition is marked by the
disappearance of the imprisonment for debt.
Of the three exceptions fixed by Article 1311, the nature of the
obligation of the surety or guarantor does not warrant the
conclusion that his peculiar individual qualities are
contemplated as a principal inducement for the contract. What
did the creditor Luzon Surety Co. expect of K. H. Hemady when
it accepted the latter as surety in the counterbonds? Nothing
but the reimbursement of the moneys that the Luzon Surety Co.
might have to disburse on account of the obligations of the
principal debtors. This reimbursement is a payment of a sum of
money,
resulting
from
an
obligation
to
give; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryand to the Luzon Surety Co., it was
indifferent that the reimbursement should be made by Hemady
himself or by some one else in his behalf, so long as the money
was paid to it.
The second exception of Article 1311, p. 1, is intransmissibility
by stipulation of the parties. Being exceptional and contrary to
the general rule, this intransmissibility should not be easily
implied, but must be expressly established, or at the very least,
clearly inferable from the provisions of the contract itself, and
the text of the agreements sued upon nowhere indicate that
they are non-transferable.
(b) Intransmisibilidad por pacto. Lo general es la
transmisibilidad
de
darechos
y
obligaciones; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryle
excepcion,
la
intransmisibilidad.
Mientras nada se diga en contrario impera el principio de la
transmision, como elemento natural a toda relacion juridica,
salvo las personalisimas. Asi, para la no transmision, es
menester el pacto expreso, porque si no, lo convenido entre
partes trasciende a sus herederos.

Siendo estos los continuadores de la personalidad del causante,


sobre ellos recaen los efectos de los vinculos juridicos creados
por sus antecesores, y para evitarlo, si asi se quiere, es
indespensable convension terminante en tal sentido.
Por su esencia, el derecho y la obligacion tienden a ir ms all
de las personas que les dieron vida, y a ejercer presion sobre
los
sucesores
de
esa
persona; chan
roblesvirtualawlibrarycuando no se quiera esto, se impone una
estipulacion limitativa expresamente de la transmisibilidad o de
cuyos tirminos claramente se deduzca la concresion del
concreto a las mismas personas que lo otorgon. (Scaevola,
Codigo Civil, Tomo XX, p. 541-542) (Emphasis supplied.)
Because under the law (Article 1311), a person who enters into
a contract is deemed to have contracted for himself and his
heirs and assigns, it is unnecessary for him to expressly
stipulate to that effect; hence, his failure to do so is no sign that
he intended his bargain to terminate upon his death. Similarly,
that the Luzon Surety Co., did not require bondsman Hemady to
execute a mortgage indicates nothing more than the companys
faith and confidence in the financial stability of the surety, but
not that his obligation was strictly personal.
The third exception to the transmissibility of obligations under
Article 1311 exists when they are not transmissible by
operation of law. The provision makes reference to those cases
where the law expresses that the rights or obligations are
extinguished by death, as is the case in legal support (Article
300), parental authority (Article 327), usufruct (Article 603),
contracts for a piece of work (Article 1726), partnership (Article
1830 and agency (Article 1919). By contract, the articles of the
Civil Code that regulate guaranty or suretyship (Articles 2047 to
2084) contain no provision that the guaranty is extinguished
upon the death of the guarantor or the surety.
The lower court sought to infer such a limitation from Art. 2056,
to the effect that one who is obliged to furnish a guarantor
must present a person who possesses integrity, capacity to bind
himself, and sufficient property to answer for the obligation
which he guarantees. It will be noted, however, that the law
requires these qualities to be present only at the time of the
perfection of the contract of guaranty. It is self-evident that
once the contract has become perfected and binding, the
supervening incapacity of the guarantor would not operate to
exonerate him of the eventual liability he has contracted; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryand if that be true of his capacity to bind

Page 4 of 58

himself, it should also be true of his integrity, which is a quality


mentioned in the article alongside the capacity.
The foregoing concept is confirmed by the next Article 2057,
that runs as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
ART. 2057. If the guarantor should be convicted in first
instance of a crime involving dishonesty or should become
insolvent, the creditor may demand another who has all the
qualifications required in the preceding article. The case is
excepted where the creditor has required and stipulated that a
specified person should be guarantor.
From this article it should be immediately apparent that the
supervening dishonesty of the guarantor (that is to say, the
disappearance of his integrity after he has become bound) does
not terminate the contract but merely entitles the creditor to
demand a replacement of the guarantor. But the step remains
optional in the creditor:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary it is his right,
not his duty; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryhe may waive it if he
chooses, and hold the guarantor to his bargain. Hence Article
2057 of the present Civil Code is incompatible with the trial
courts stand that the requirement of integrity in the guarantor
or surety makes the latters undertaking strictly personal, so
linked to his individuality that the guaranty automatically
terminates upon his death.
The contracts of suretyship entered into by K. H. Hemady in
favor of Luzon Surety Co. not being rendered intransmissible
due to the nature of the undertaking, nor by the stipulations of
the contracts themselves, nor by provision of law, his eventual
liability thereunder necessarily passed upon his death to his
heirs. The contracts, therefore, give rise to contingent claims
provable against his estate under section 5, Rule 87 (2 Moran,
1952 ed., p. 437; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryGaskell & Co. vs.
Tan Sit, 43 Phil. 810, 814).
The most common example of the contigent claim is that
which arises when a person is bound as surety or guarantor for
a principal who is insolvent or dead. Under the ordinary contract
of suretyship the surety has no claim whatever against his
principal until he himself pays something by way of satisfaction
upon the obligation which is secured. When he does this, there
instantly arises in favor of the surety the right to compel the
principal to exonerate the surety. But until the surety has
contributed something to the payment of the debt, or has
performed the secured obligation in whole or in part, he has no
right of action against anybody no claim that could be

reduced to judgment. (May vs. Vann, 15 Pla., 553; chan


roblesvirtualawlibraryGibson vs. Mithell, 16 Pla., 519; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryMaxey vs. Carter, 10 Yarg. [Tenn.], 521
Reeves
vs.
Pulliam,
7
Baxt.
[Tenn.],
119; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryErnst vs. Nou, 63 Wis., 134.)
For Defendant administratrix it is averred that the above
doctrine refers to a case where the surety files claims against
the
estate
of
the
principal
debtor; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryand it is urged that the rule does not apply
to the case before us, where the late Hemady was a surety, not
a principal debtor. The argument evinces a superficial view of
the relations between parties. If under the Gaskell ruling, the
Luzon Surety Co., as guarantor, could file a contingent claim
against the estate of the principal debtors if the latter should
die, there is absolutely no reason why it could not file such a
claim against the estate of Hemady, since Hemady is a solidary
co-debtor of his principals. What the Luzon Surety Co. may
claim from the estate of a principal debtor it may equally claim
from the estate of Hemady, since, in view of the existing
solidarity, the latter does not even enjoy the benefit of
exhaustion of the assets of the principal debtor.
The foregoing ruling is of course without prejudice to the
remedies of the administratrix against the principal debtors
under Articles 2071 and 2067 of the New Civil Code.
Our conclusion is that the solidary guarantors liability is not
extinguished by his death, and that in such event, the Luzon
Surety Co., had the right to file against the estate a contingent
claim for reimbursement. It becomes unnecessary now to
discuss the estates liability for premiums and stamp taxes,
because irrespective of the solution to this question, the Luzon
Suretys claim did state a cause of action, and its dismissal was
erroneous.
Wherefore, the order appealed from is reversed, and the records
are ordered remanded to the court of origin, with instructions to
proceed in accordance with law. Costs against the
Administratrix- Appellee. SO ORDERED.

Page 5 of 58

Page 6 of 58

#2.)[G.R. No. 149926. February 23, 2005]


UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs.
EDMUND SANTIBAEZ and FLORENCE SANTIBAEZ ARIOLA,
respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of
the Revised Rules of Court which seeks the reversal of the
Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated May 30, 2001 in CAG.R. CV No. 48831 affirming the dismissal[2] of the petitioners
complaint in Civil Case No. 18909 by the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Makati City, Branch 63.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
On May 31, 1980, the First Countryside Credit Corporation
(FCCC) and Efraim M. Santibaez entered into a loan
agreement[3] in the amount of P128,000.00. The amount was
intended for the payment of the purchase price of one (1) unit
Ford 6600 Agricultural All-Purpose Diesel Tractor. In view
thereof, Efraim and his son, Edmund, executed a promissory
note in favor of the FCCC, the principal sum payable in five
equal annual amortizations of P43,745.96 due on May 31, 1981
and every May 31st thereafter up to May 31, 1985.
On December 13, 1980, the FCCC and Efraim entered into
another loan agreement,[4] this time in the amount of
P123,156.00. It was intended to pay the balance of the
purchase price of another unit of Ford 6600 Agricultural AllPurpose Diesel Tractor, with accessories, and one (1) unit
Howard Rotamotor Model AR 60K. Again, Efraim and his son,
Edmund, executed a promissory note for the said amount in
favor of the FCCC. Aside from such promissory note, they also
signed a Continuing Guaranty Agreement[5] for the loan dated
December 13, 1980.
Sometime in February 1981, Efraim died, leaving a holographic
will.[6] Subsequently in March 1981, testate proceedings
commenced before the RTC of Iloilo City, Branch 7, docketed as
Special Proceedings No. 2706. On April 9, 1981, Edmund, as one
of the heirs, was appointed as the special administrator of the

estate of the decedent.[7] During the pendency of the testate


proceedings, the surviving heirs, Edmund and his sister
Florence Santibaez Ariola, executed a Joint Agreement[8] dated
July 22, 1981, wherein they agreed to divide between
themselves and take possession of the three (3) tractors; that
is, two (2) tractors for Edmund and one (1) tractor for Florence.
Each of them was to assume the indebtedness of their late
father to FCCC, corresponding to the tractor respectively taken
by them.
On August 20, 1981, a Deed of Assignment with Assumption of
Liabilities[9] was executed by and between FCCC and Union
Savings and Mortgage Bank, wherein the FCCC as the assignor,
among others, assigned all its assets and liabilities to Union
Savings and Mortgage Bank.
Demand letters[10] for the settlement of his account were sent
by petitioner Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) to Edmund,
but the latter failed to heed the same and refused to pay. Thus,
on February 5, 1988, the petitioner filed a Complaint[11] for
sum of money against the heirs of Efraim Santibaez, Edmund
and Florence, before the RTC of Makati City, Branch 150,
docketed as Civil Case No. 18909. Summonses were issued
against both, but the one intended for Edmund was not served
since he was in the United States and there was no information
on his address or the date of his return to the Philippines.[12]
Accordingly, the complaint was narrowed down to respondent
Florence S. Ariola.
On December 7, 1988, respondent Florence S. Ariola filed her
Answer[13] and alleged that the loan documents did not bind
her since she was not a party thereto. Considering that the joint
agreement signed by her and her brother Edmund was not
approved by the probate court, it was null and void; hence, she
was not liable to the petitioner under the joint agreement.
On January 29, 1990, the case was unloaded and re-raffled to
the RTC of Makati City, Branch 63.[14] Consequently, trial on
the merits ensued and a decision was subsequently rendered by
the court dismissing the complaint for lack of merit. The
decretal portion of the RTC decision reads:

Page 7 of 58

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the


complaint for lack of merit.[15]
The trial court found that the claim of the petitioner should have
been filed with the probate court before which the testate
estate of the late Efraim Santibaez was pending, as the sum of
money being claimed was an obligation incurred by the said
decedent. The trial court also found that the Joint Agreement
apparently executed by his heirs, Edmund and Florence, on July
22, 1981, was, in effect, a partition of the estate of the
decedent. However, the said agreement was void, considering
that it had not been approved by the probate court, and that
there can be no valid partition until after the will has been
probated. The trial court further declared that petitioner failed
to prove that it was the now defunct Union Savings and
Mortgage Bank to which the FCCC had assigned its assets and
liabilities. The court also agreed to the contention of respondent
Florence S. Ariola that the list of assets and liabilities of the
FCCC assigned to Union Savings and Mortgage Bank did not
clearly refer to the decedents account. Ruling that the joint
agreement executed by the heirs was null and void, the trial
court held that the petitioners cause of action against
respondent Florence S. Ariola must necessarily fail.
The petitioner appealed from the RTC decision and elevated its
case to the Court of Appeals (CA), assigning the following as
errors of the trial court:
1. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE JOINT
AGREEMENT (EXHIBIT A) SHOULD BE APPROVED BY THE
PROBATE COURT.
2. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE CAN BE
NO VALID PARTITION AMONG THE HEIRS UNTIL AFTER THE WILL
HAS BEEN PROBATED.
3. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE
DEFENDANT HAD WAIVED HER RIGHT TO HAVE THE CLAIM RELITIGATED IN THE ESTATE PROCEEDING.[16]
The petitioner asserted before the CA that the obligation of the
deceased had passed to his legitimate children and heirs, in this
case, Edmund and Florence; the unconditional signing of the

joint agreement marked as Exhibit A estopped respondent


Florence S. Ariola, and that she cannot deny her liability under
the said document; as the agreement had been signed by both
heirs in their personal capacity, it was no longer necessary to
present the same before the probate court for approval; the
property partitioned in the agreement was not one of those
enumerated in the holographic will made by the deceased; and
the active participation of the heirs, particularly respondent
Florence S. Ariola, in the present ordinary civil action was
tantamount to a waiver to re-litigate the claim in the estate
proceedings.
On the other hand, respondent Florence S. Ariola maintained
that the money claim of the petitioner should have been
presented before the probate court.[17]
The appellate court found that the appeal was not meritorious
and held that the petitioner should have filed its claim with the
probate court as provided under Sections 1 and 5, Rule 86 of
the Rules of Court. It further held that the partition made in the
agreement was null and void, since no valid partition may be
had until after the will has been probated. According to the CA,
page 2, paragraph (e) of the holographic will covered the
subject properties (tractors) in generic terms when the
deceased referred to them as all other properties. Moreover, the
active participation of respondent Florence S. Ariola in the case
did not amount to a waiver. Thus, the CA affirmed the RTC
decision, viz.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision of
the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 63, is hereby
AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.[18]
In the present recourse, the petitioner ascribes the following
errors to the CA:
I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT
THE JOINT AGREEMENT SHOULD BE APPROVED BY THE PROBATE
COURT.

Page 8 of 58

II.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE CAN
BE NO VALID PARTITION AMONG THE HEIRS OF THE LATE
EFRAIM SANTIBAEZ UNTIL AFTER THE WILL HAS BEEN
PROBATED.
III.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE
RESPONDENT HAD WAIVED HER RIGHT TO HAVE THE CLAIM RELITIGATED IN THE ESTATE PROCEEDING.
IV.
RESPONDENTS CAN, IN FACT, BE HELD JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY
LIABLE WITH THE PRINCIPAL DEBTOR THE LATE EFRAIM
SANTIBAEZ ON THE STRENGTH OF THE CONTINUING GUARANTY
AGREEMENT EXECUTED IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER-APPELLANT
UNION BANK.
V.
THE PROMISSORY NOTES DATED MAY 31, 1980 IN THE SUM OF
P128,000.00 AND DECEMBER 13, 1980 IN THE AMOUNT OF
P123,000.00 CATEGORICALLY ESTABLISHED THE FACT THAT THE
RESPONDENTS BOUND THEMSELVES JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY
LIABLE WITH THE LATE DEBTOR EFRAIM SANTIBAEZ IN FAVOR
OF PETITIONER UNION BANK.[19]
The petitioner claims that the obligations of the deceased were
transmitted to the heirs as provided in Article 774 of the Civil
Code; there was thus no need for the probate court to approve
the joint agreement where the heirs partitioned the tractors
owned by the deceased and assumed the obligations related
thereto. Since respondent Florence S. Ariola signed the joint
agreement without any condition, she is now estopped from
asserting any position contrary thereto. The petitioner also
points out that the holographic will of the deceased did not
include nor mention any of the tractors subject of the
complaint, and, as such was beyond the ambit of the said will.
The active participation and resistance of respondent Florence

S. Ariola in the ordinary civil action against the petitioners claim


amounts to a waiver of the right to have the claim presented in
the probate proceedings, and to allow any one of the heirs who
executed the joint agreement to escape liability to pay the
value of the tractors under consideration would be equivalent to
allowing the said heirs to enrich themselves to the damage and
prejudice of the petitioner.
The petitioner, likewise, avers that the decisions of both the trial
and appellate courts failed to consider the fact that respondent
Florence S. Ariola and her brother Edmund executed loan
documents, all establishing the vinculum juris or the legal bond
between the late Efraim Santibaez and his heirs to be in the
nature of a solidary obligation. Furthermore, the Promissory
Notes dated May 31, 1980 and December 13, 1980 executed by
the late Efraim Santibaez, together with his heirs, Edmund and
respondent Florence, made the obligation solidary as far as the
said heirs are concerned. The petitioner also proffers that,
considering the express provisions of the continuing guaranty
agreement and the promissory notes executed by the named
respondents, the latter must be held liable jointly and severally
liable thereon. Thus, there was no need for the petitioner to file
its money claim before the probate court. Finally, the petitioner
stresses that both surviving heirs are being sued in their
respective personal capacities, not as heirs of the deceased.
In her comment to the petition, respondent Florence S. Ariola
maintains that the petitioner is trying to recover a sum of
money from the deceased Efraim Santibaez; thus the claim
should have been filed with the probate court. She points out
that at the time of the execution of the joint agreement there
was already an existing probate proceedings of which the
petitioner knew about. However, to avoid a claim in the probate
court which might delay payment of the obligation, the
petitioner opted to require them to execute the said agreement.
According to the respondent, the trial court and the CA did not
err in declaring that the agreement was null and void. She
asserts that even if the agreement was voluntarily executed by
her and her brother Edmund, it should still have been subjected
to the approval of the court as it may prejudice the estate, the
heirs or third parties. Furthermore, she had not waived any
rights, as she even stated in her answer in the court a quo that

Page 9 of 58

the claim should be filed with the probate court. Thus, the
petitioner could not invoke or claim that she is in estoppel.
Respondent Florence S. Ariola further asserts that she had not
signed any continuing guaranty agreement, nor was there any
document presented as evidence to show that she had caused
herself to be bound by the obligation of her late father.
The petition is bereft of merit.
The Court is posed to resolve the following issues: a) whether or
not the partition in the Agreement executed by the heirs is
valid; b) whether or not the heirs assumption of the
indebtedness of the deceased is valid; and c) whether the
petitioner can hold the heirs liable on the obligation of the
deceased.
At the outset, 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.[20] The
said court is primarily concerned with the administration,
liquidation and distribution of the estate.[21]
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. The authentication of a will decides no other
question than such as touch upon the capacity of the testator
and the compliance with those requirements or solemnities
which the law prescribes for the validity of a will.[22]
This, of course, presupposes that the properties to be
partitioned are the same properties embraced in the will.[23] In
the present case, the deceased, Efraim Santibaez, left a
holographic will[24] which contained, inter alia, the provision
which reads as follows:

(e) All other properties, real or personal, which I own and may
be discovered later after my demise, shall be distributed in the
proportion indicated in the immediately preceding paragraph in
favor of Edmund and Florence, my children.
We agree with the appellate court that the above-quoted is an
all-encompassing provision embracing all the properties left by
the decedent which might have escaped his mind at that time
he was making his will, and other properties he may acquire
thereafter. Included therein are the three (3) subject tractors.
This being so, any partition involving the said tractors among
the heirs is not valid. The joint agreement[25] executed by
Edmund and Florence, partitioning the tractors among
themselves, is invalid, specially so since at the time of its
execution, there was already a pending proceeding for the
probate of their late fathers holographic will covering the said
tractors.
It must be stressed that the probate proceeding had already
acquired jurisdiction over all the properties of the deceased,
including the three (3) tractors. To dispose of them in any way
without the probate courts approval is tantamount to divesting
it with jurisdiction which the Court cannot allow.[26] Every act
intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs and
legatees or devisees is deemed to be a partition, although it
should purport to be a sale, an exchange, a compromise, or any
other transaction.[27] Thus, in executing any joint agreement
which appears to be in the nature of an extra-judicial partition,
as in the case at bar, court approval is imperative, and the heirs
cannot just divest the court of its jurisdiction over that part of
the estate. Moreover, it is within the jurisdiction of the probate
court to determine the identity of the heirs of the decedent.[28]
In the instant case, there is no showing that the signatories in
the joint agreement were the only heirs of the decedent. When
it was executed, the probate of the will was still pending before
the court and the latter had yet to determine who the heirs of
the decedent were. Thus, for Edmund and respondent Florence
S. Ariola to adjudicate unto themselves the three (3) tractors
was a premature act, and prejudicial to the other possible heirs
and creditors who may have a valid claim against the estate of
the deceased.

Page 10 of 58

The question that now comes to fore is whether the heirs


assumption of the indebtedness of the decedent is binding. We
rule in the negative. Perusing the joint agreement, it provides
that the heirs as parties thereto have agreed to divide between
themselves and take possession and use the above-described
chattel and each of them to assume the indebtedness
corresponding to the chattel taken as herein after stated which
is in favor of First Countryside Credit Corp.[29] The assumption
of liability was conditioned upon the happening of an event,
that is, that each heir shall take possession and use of their
respective share under the agreement. It was made dependent
on the validity of the partition, and that they were to assume
the indebtedness corresponding to the chattel that they were
each to receive. The partition being invalid as earlier discussed,
the heirs in effect did not receive any such tractor. It follows
then that the assumption of liability cannot be given any force
and effect.
The Court notes that the loan was contracted by the decedent.
The petitioner, purportedly a creditor of the late Efraim
Santibaez, should have thus filed its money claim with the
probate court in accordance with Section 5, Rule 86 of the
Revised Rules of Court, which provides:
Section 5.Claims which must be filed under the notice. If not
filed barred; exceptions. All claims for money against the
decedent, arising from contract, express or implied, whether the
same be due, not due, or contingent, all claims for funeral
expenses for the last sickness of the decedent, and judgment
for money against the decedent, must be filed within the time
limited in the notice; otherwise they are barred forever, except
that they may be set forth as counterclaims in any action that
the executor or administrator may bring against the claimants.
Where an executor or administrator commences an action, or
prosecutes an action already commenced by the deceased in
his lifetime, the debtor may set forth by answer the claims he
has against the decedent, instead of presenting them
independently to the court as herein provided, and mutual
claims may be set off against each other in such action; and if
final judgment is rendered in favor of the defendant, the
amount so determined shall be considered the true balance
against the estate, as though the claim had been presented
directly before the court in the administration proceedings.

Claims not yet due, or contingent, may be approved at their


present value.
The filing of a money claim against the decedents estate in the
probate court is mandatory.[30] As we held in the vintage case
of Py Eng Chong v. Herrera:[31]
This requirement is for the purpose of protecting the estate of
the deceased by informing the executor or administrator of the
claims against it, thus enabling him to examine each claim and
to determine whether it is a proper one which should be
allowed. The plain and obvious design of the rule is the speedy
settlement of the affairs of the deceased and the early delivery
of the property to the distributees, legatees, or heirs. `The law
strictly requires the prompt presentation and disposition of the
claims against the decedent's estate in order to settle the
affairs of the estate as soon as possible, pay off its debts and
distribute the residue.[32]
Perusing the records of the case, nothing therein could hold
private respondent Florence S. Ariola accountable for any
liability incurred by her late father. The documentary evidence
presented, particularly the promissory notes and the continuing
guaranty agreement, were executed and signed only by the late
Efraim Santibaez and his son Edmund. As the petitioner failed to
file its money claim with the probate court, at most, it may only
go after Edmund as co-maker of the decedent under the said
promissory notes and continuing guaranty, of course, subject to
any defenses Edmund may have as against the petitioner. As
the court had not acquired jurisdiction over the person of
Edmund, we find it unnecessary to delve into the matter further.
We agree with the finding of the trial court that the petitioner
had not sufficiently shown that it is the successor-in-interest of
the Union Savings and Mortgage Bank to which the FCCC
assigned its assets and liabilities.[33] The petitioner in its
complaint alleged that by virtue of the Deed of Assignment
dated August 20, 1981 executed by and between First
Countryside Credit Corporation and Union Bank of the
Philippines[34] However, the documentary evidence[35] clearly
reflects that the parties in the deed of assignment with
assumption of liabilities were the FCCC, and the Union Savings
and Mortgage Bank, with the conformity of Bancom Philippine

Page 11 of 58

Holdings, Inc. Nowhere can the petitioners participation therein


as a party be found. Furthermore, no documentary or
testimonial evidence was presented during trial to show that
Union Savings and Mortgage Bank is now, in fact, petitioner
Union Bank of the Philippines. As the trial court declared in its
decision:
[T]he court also finds merit to the contention of defendant that
plaintiff failed to prove or did not present evidence to prove that
Union Savings and Mortgage Bank is now the Union Bank of the
Philippines. Judicial notice does not apply here. The power to
take judicial notice is to [be] exercised by the courts with
caution; care must be taken that the requisite notoriety exists;
and every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be
promptly resolved in the negative. (Republic vs. Court of
Appeals, 107 SCRA 504).[36]
This being the case, the petitioners personality to file the
complaint is wanting. Consequently, it failed to establish its
cause of action. Thus, the trial court did not err in dismissing
the complaint, and the CA in affirming the same.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby
DENIED. The assailed Court of Appeals Decision is AFFIRMED.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Page 12 of 58

#3.)G.R. No. 78115 March 5, 1993


DOMINGA REGIDOR, FAUSTA REGIDOR, ALEJANDRO
REGIDOR, LEONARDA REGIDOR, APOLINARIA REGIDOR,
CECILIA REGIDOR, EUGENIO REGIDOR and BERNARDINO
REGIDOR, petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, FILOMENO ALEGARBES,
CRISANTA ALEGARBES BELLEZA, JESUS ALEGARBES,
PRISCA A. DAYONDON, and PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF RTC,
BRANCH XXVI, respondents.
Democrito C. Barcenas for petitioners.
Gilberto G. Alfafara for private respondents.

NOCON, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking reversal of the
decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated August 29, 1986, in CAG.R. SP No. 07731, which dismissed the petition for annulment
of judgment filed by petitioners; and its resolution dated
November 13, 1986, which denied the motion for
reconsideration.
The antecedent facts are, as follows:
In October, 1976, private respondents Filomeno Alegarbes,
Crisanta Alegarbes Belleza, Jesus Alegarbes and Prisca A.
Dayondon filed a complaint 2 for recovery of ownership and
possession of Lot No. 2109. covered by Free Patent No. 502692
and OCT No. 0-7093 against Manuel Regidor, who is the
husband of petitioner Dominga Regidor and father of petitioners
Fausta, Alejandro, Leonarda, Apolinaria, Cecilia, Eugenio and
Bernardino, all surnamed Regidor. It was filed before the then
Court of First Instance of Cebu, 14th Judicial District. Branch XV,
docketed as Civil Case No. AV-353.

On January 24, 1980, the trial court rendered judgment


upholding the claim of private respondents, the dispositive
portion of which, reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing facts
and circumstances, judgment is hereby rendered
in favor of the plaintiffs and against the
defendants; that O.C.T. No. 0-7093 for Lot No.
2109, Free Patent No. 502692 issued in the name
of defendant Manuel Regidor is hereby ordered
cancelled; that defendant Manuel Regidor is
hereby ordered to reconvey the lot covered by
the aforecited title to the herein plaintiffs;
ordering the defendant, Manuel Regidor, to pay
P5,000.00 to the plaintiffs by way of moral
damages; ordering defendant Manuel Regidor to
pay P3,000.00 as attorney's fees and costs.
SO ORDERED. 3
Petitioners then filed an appeal before public respondent Court
of Appeals which was, however, dismissed for their failure to
pay the required docket fee.
Later, private respondents were able to secure a writ of
execution which was about to be enforced by the provincial
sheriff.
On October 21, 1985, petitioners filed a petition for annulment
of the trial court's decision before respondent court, based on
the following grounds:
1. That the trial court has no jurisdiction to
disturb the findings made by the Executive
Branch in awarding a free patent to Manuel
Regidor;
2. That plaintiffs therein (now private respondents
herein) had no personality to bring the action for
annulment of a free patent because only the

Page 13 of 58

Solicitor General can bring an action for reversion


of land under the Public Land Act;
3. That petitioners were deprived of due process
because they were denied the opportunity to
have their case ventilated in the Court of Appeals
when their appeal was dismissed for failure to
pay the docket fees; and
4. That since the land is conjugal property, the
judgment in said civil case does not bind the
other half belonging to the surviving spouse,
petitioner Maria Regidor. 4
On August 29, 1986, respondent
petition, 5 rationalizing as follows:

court

dismissed

the

It appears, however, that the decision of the then


CFI of Cebu in Civil Case No. AV-353 is already
final and executory, since the appeal therefrom
had been dismissed by the then Court of Appeals
and the RTC of Cebu (Argo (sic) Branch) has
already issued a Writ of execution for its
implementation Apparently, petitioners are now
utilizing this petition for annulment of the
decision in lieu of the appeal which they lost.
Petitioners claim that the then CFI of Cebu (Argo
(sic) Branch) had no jurisdiction to disturb the
findings of the Bureau of Lands approved by the
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
But the power of judicial review over executive
action has always existed in the courts.
It is not correct for petitioners to claim that the
plaintiffs in Civil Case No. AV-353 had no
personality to bring the action therein and that
only the Solicitor General could bring an action
for reversion of land because the action in said
Civil Case No. AV-353 was an action for
reconveyance of the land that defendant therein
was tenanting on the ground of fraud in securing

a free patent title. It was, therefore, not an action


for reversion of land, contrary to the claim of
petitioners herein.
There was no deprivation of due process because
petitioners' appeal to the then Court of Appeals
was dismissed for failure to pay the docket fee.
Petitioners claim this was error of their counsel,
but the rule is that mistakes of counsel are
imputable to their clients.
Petitioners try to escape the valid jurisdiction of
the lower court by claiming that the land was
conjugal and therefore the rights of the surviving
spouse cannot be affected. However, this point is
covered by the res judicata rule and by the fact
that the Free Patent Title itself, copy of which is
attached to the petition, was in the name of
Manuel Regidor only. Moreover, petitioners' claim
that Manuel Regidor died in 1981 while the
appeal to the then Court of Appeals of Civil Case
No. AV-353 (was pending), appears to be false
because a xerox copy of the certified copy of his
Death Certificate showed that he died on July 2,
1982. (p. 26, Rollo). 6
The respondent court should have confined its
disquisition on the first issue, as We shall briefly
elucidate later. On November 13, 1986, the motion for
reconsideration was denied. 7 Hence, the present petition
for review on certiorari.
Petitioners raise the following issues:
1. whether or not the lower court has jurisdiction and authority
to cancel a free patent title issued by the Bureau of Lands at
the instance of a private individual;
2. whether or not an action for reconveyance based on alleged
fraud filed after more than 4 years from the discovery of such
alleged fraud could prosper; and

Page 14 of 58

3. whether or not the instant case is an exception to the general


rule that clients must suffer from the negligence of their
counsel.

patent and original certificate of title of Manuel Regidor are


deleted.
SO ORDERED.

A judgment can be annulled only on two grounds: (a) that the


judgment is void for want of jurisdiction or for lack of due
process of law, or (b) that it has been obtained by
fraud. 8 Conformably with this rule, We shall disregard the last
two issues raised by petitioners and limit Our discussion on the
issue of lack of jurisdiction. The respondent court should have
likewise limited its discussion on this issue.
Petitioners persist that in ordering reconveyance of the
questioned property in favor of private respondents, the trial
court acted as an administrative body usurping the power of the
Bureau of Lands by awarding through judicial decision said
property to private respondents.
This argument of petitioners has long been put to rest by
settled jurisprudence. 9 In the old case of Vital v. Anore, et
al., 10 We distinctly enunciated the rule that the true owner may
bring an action to have the ownership or title to the land
judicially determined and the Court in the exercise of its
jurisdiction, may direct the defendant, the registered owner, to
reconvey the land to the plaintiff who has been found to be the
true owner thereof. This has been Our consistent ruling and We
presume that petitioners are cognizant thereof. If the aim of this
petition
is
to
overturn
said
rule,
definitely,
their
one-sentence argument will not and does not suffice. There is
no convincing reason to deviate therefrom.
We note, however, that the trial court also ordered the
cancellation of the free patent and original certificate of title of
Manuel Regidor. In this regard, it erred in doing so. The
jurisdiction of trial courts is solely to order the reconveyance of
the subject land. 11
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of the
Court of Appeals dated August 29, 1986 and its resolution dated
November 13, 1986 are AFFIRMED, subject to the modification
that the order of the trial court for cancellation of the free

Page 15 of 58

#4.)[G.R. No.L-9315. March 24, 1956.]


EUGENIA MORALES, ET AL., Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs.
PROCESO YAEZ, Defendant-Appellee.
DECISION

Applying the Civil Code, the trial judge absolved the Defendant.
He refused to apply the New Civil Code that grants for the first
time successional rights to illegitimate children, in accordance
with this Courts decision in Uson vs. Del Rosario, (92 Phil., 530)
promulgated January 29, 1953, the pertinent portions of which
are:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

BENGZON, J.:

Appeal from an order of the Hon. Jose P. Veluz, Judge of the


Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental dismissing Plaintiffs
complaint dated July 17, 1950 for the recovery of three parcels
of land in the City of Cagayan de Oro.

There is no question that said lands belonged to Eugeniano


Saarenas who died intestate in 1937, leaving no ascendants nor
descendants; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat as his surviving
nephews (by a sister) Defendant Proceso Yaez (and his sisters)
took possession of said lots; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand that
Plaintiffs are illegitimate (adulterous) children of Eugeniano,
born between 1910 and 1927.

Plaintiffs action is founded on arts. 287 and 988 of the New


Civil Code, giving illegitimate children the right to succeed,
where decedent leaves no ascendants nor descendants.

Defendant Yaez (and his sisters) claim the right to inherit


under the Civil Code articles 946, 947, and 948 the law in
force at the time of Eugenianos death.

But Defendants contend that, while it is true that the four


minor Defendants are illegitimate children of the late Faustino
Nebrada and under the old Civil Code are not entitled to any
successional rights, however, under the new Civil Code which
became in force in June 1950, they are given the status and
rights which the law accords to the latter (Article 2264 and
Article 278, new Civil Code), and because these successional
rights were declared for the first time in the new code, they
shall be given retroactive effect even though the event which
gave rise to them may have occurred under the prior legislation
(Art. 2253, new Civil Code).

There is no merit in this claim. Article 2253 cralaw provides


that if a right should be declared for the first time in this Code,
it shall be effective at once, even though the act or event which
gives rise thereto may have been done or may have occurred
under the prior legislation, provided said new right does not
prejudice or impair any vested or acquired right, of the same
origin. As already stated in the early part of this decision, the
right of ownership of Maria Uson over the lands in question
became vested in 1945 upon the death of her late husband and
this is so because of the imperative provision of the law which
commands that the rights to succession are transmitted from
the moment of death (Article 657, old Civil Code). The new right
recognized by the new Civil Code in favor of the illegitimate
children of the deceased cannot, therefore, be asserted to the
impairment of the vested right of Maria Uson over the lands in
dispute.

Page 16 of 58

It is clear that His Honor read the law correctly. Appellants


contend, however, that for Defendant to acquire a vested right
to Eugenianos property, he must first commence proceedings
to settle Eugenianos estate which he had not done. There is
no merit to the contention. This Court has repeatedly held that
the right of heirs to the property of the deceased is vested from
the moment of death. 1 Of course the formal declaration or
recognition or enforcement of such right needs judicial
confirmation in proper proceedings. But we have often enforced
or protected such rights from encroachments made or
attempted before the judicial declaration. 2 Which can only
mean that the heir acquired hereditary rights even before
judicial declaration in testate or intestate proceedings.

However, a more conclusive consideration barring Plaintiffs


demand is to be found in Article 2263 of the New Civil Code
which read:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

ART. 2263. Rights to the inheritance of a person who died, with


or without a will, before the effectivity of this Code, shall be
governed by the Civil Code of 1889, by other previous laws, and
by the Rules of Court. The inheritance of those who, with or
without a will, die after the beginning of the effectivity of this
Code, shall be adjudicated and distributed in accordance with
this new body of laws and by the Rules of Court; chan
roblesvirtualawlibrarybut the testamentary provisions shall be
carried out insofar as they may be permitted by this Code.
Therefore, legitimes, betterments, legacies and bequests shall
be respected; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryhowever, their amount
shall be reduced if in no other manner can every compulsory
heir be given his full share according to this Code.

According to the above italicized portion the rights of the herein


litigants to the property of Eugeniano must be determined in
accordance with the Civil Code, because he died in 1937, i. e,
before the enactment of the New Civil Code in 1949.

The appealed order is therefore affirmed with cost against


Appellants.

Page 17 of 58

#5.)G.R. No. L-28040

August 18, 1972

vs.
JOSE DE BORJA, as Administrator of the Testate Estate of
the late Josefa Tangco, defendant-appellant.

TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSEFA TANGCO, JOSE DE BORJA,


administrator-appellee;
JOSE
DE
BORJA,
as
administrator, CAYETANO DE BORJA, MATILDE DE BORJA
and CRISANTO DE BORJA (deceased) as Children of
Josefa Tangco, appellees,

L-28040

vs.
TASIANA VDA. DE DE BORJA, Special Administratrix of
the Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja, appellant. .

Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir for administrator-appellee.

Quiogue & Quiogue for appellee Matilde de Borja.


G.R. No L-28568

August 18, 1972


Andres Matias for appellee Cayetano de Borja.

TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE FRANCISCO DE BORJA,


TASIANA O. VDA. DE DE BORJA, special Administratrix
appellee,

Sevilla & Aquino for appellant.

vs.
JOSE DE BORJA, oppositor-appellant.

G.R. No. L-28611

August 18, 1972

TASIANA 0.VDA. DE BORJA, as Administratrix of the


Testate Estate of the late Francisco de Borja, plaintiffappellee,

L-28568

Sevilla & Aquino for special administratrix-appellee.

Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir for oppositor-appellant.

Page 18 of 58

L-28611

Branch X, in its Civil Case No. 7452, declaring the Hacienda


Jalajala Poblacion, which is the main object of the aforesaid
compromise agreement, as the separate and exclusive property
of the late Francisco de Borja and not a conjugal asset of the
community with his first wife, Josefa Tangco, and that said
hacienda pertains exclusively to his testate estate, which is
under administrator in Special Proceeding No. 832 of the Court
of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch II.

Sevilla & Aquino for plaintiff-appellee.

Pelaez, Jalandoni &


defendant-appellant.

Jamir

and

David

Gueverra

for

REYES, J.B.L., J.:p

Of these cases, the first, numbered L-28040 is an appeal by


Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, special administratrix of
the testate estate of Francisco de Borja, 1 from the approval of
a compromise agreement by the Court of First Instance of Rizal,
Branch I, in its Special Proceeding No. R-7866, entitled, "Testate
Estate of Josefa Tangco, Jose de Borja, Administrator".

Case No. L-28568 is an appeal by administrator Jose Borja from


the disapproval of the same compromise agreement by the
Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch II, in its Special
Proceeding No. 832, entitled, "Testate Estate of Francisco de
Borja, Tasiana O. Vda. de de Borja, Special Administratrix".

And Case No. L-28611 is an appeal by administrator Jose de


Borja from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal,

It is uncontested that Francisco de Borja, upon the death of his


wife Josefa Tangco on 6 October 1940, filed a petition for the
probate of her will which was docketed as Special Proceeding
No. R-7866 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch I. The
will was probated on 2 April 1941. In 1946, Francisco de Borja
was appointed executor and administrator: in 1952, their son,
Jose de Borja, was appointed co-administrator. When Francisco
died, on 14 April 1954, Jose became the sole administrator of
the testate estate of his mother, Josefa Tangco. While a widower
Francisco de Borja allegedly took unto himself a second wife,
Tasiana Ongsingco. Upon Francisco's death, Tasiana instituted
testate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija,
where, in 1955, she was appointed special administratrix. The
validity of Tasiana's marriage to Francisco was questioned in
said proceeding.

The relationship between the children of the first marriage and


Tasiana Ongsingco has been plagued with several court suits
and counter-suits; including the three cases at bar, some
eighteen (18) cases remain pending determination in the
courts. The testate estate of Josefa Tangco alone has been
unsettled for more than a quarter of a century. In order to put
an end to all these litigations, a compromise agreement was
entered into on 12 October 1963, 2 by and between "[T]he heir
and son of Francisco de Borja by his first marriage, namely, Jose
de Borja personally and as administrator of the Testate Estate of
Josefa Tangco," and "[T]he heir and surviving spouse of
Francisco de Borja by his second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco
Vda. de Borja, assisted by her lawyer, Atty. Luis Panaguiton Jr."

Page 19 of 58

The terms and conditions of the compromise agreement are as


follows:

AGREEMENT

THIS AGREEMENT made and entered into by and between

The heir and son of Francisco de Borja by his first marriage,


namely, Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the
Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco,

AND

The heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his


second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda.de Borja, assisted by
her lawyer, Atty. Luis Panaguiton Jr.

WITNESSETH

THAT it is the mutual desire of all the parties herein terminate


and settle, with finality, the various court litigations,
controversies, claims, counterclaims, etc., between them in
connection with the administration, settlement, partition,
adjudication and distribution of the assets as well as liabilities of
the estates of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco, first spouse
of Francisco de Borja.

THAT with this end in view, the parties herein have agreed
voluntarily and without any reservations to enter into and
execute this agreement under the following terms and
conditions:

1.
That the parties agree to sell the Poblacion portion of the
Jalajala properties situated in Jalajala, Rizal, presently under
administration in the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco (Sp. Proc.
No. 7866, Rizal), more specifically described as follows:

Linda al Norte con el Rio Puwang que la separa de la jurisdiccion


del Municipio de Pililla de la Provincia de Rizal, y con el pico del
Monte Zambrano; al Oeste con Laguna de Bay; por el Sur con
los herederos de Marcelo de Borja; y por el Este con los terrenos
de la Familia Maronilla

with a segregated area of approximately 1,313 hectares at the


amount of P0.30 per square meter.

2.
That Jose de Borja agrees and obligates himself to pay
Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja the total amount of Eight
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P800,000) Philippine Currency, in
cash, which represent P200,000 as his share in the payment
and P600,000 as pro-rata shares of the heirs Crisanto, Cayetano
and Matilde, all surnamed de Borja and this shall be considered
as full and complete payment and settlement of her hereditary
share in the estate of the late Francisco de Borja as well as the
estate of Josefa Tangco, Sp. Proc. No. 832-Nueva Ecija and Sp.
Proc. No. 7866-Rizal, respectively, and to any properties
bequeathed or devised in her favor by the late Francisco de
Borja by Last Will and Testament or by Donation Inter Vivos or

Page 20 of 58

Mortis Causa or purportedly conveyed to her for consideration


or otherwise. The funds for this payment shall be taken from
and shall depend upon the receipt of full payment of the
proceeds of the sale of Jalajala, "Poblacion."

3.
That Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja hereby
assumes payment of that particular obligation incurred by the
late Francisco de Borja in favor of the Rehabilitation Finance
Corporation, now Development Bank of the Philippines,
amounting to approximately P30,000.00 and also assumes
payment of her 1/5 share of the Estate and Inheritance taxes on
the Estate of the late Francisco de Borja or the sum of
P3,500.00, more or less, which shall be deducted by the buyer
of Jalajala, "Poblacion" from the payment to be made to Tasiana
Ongsingco Vda. de Borja under paragraph 2 of this Agreement
and paid directly to the Development Bank of the Philippines
and the heirs-children of Francisco de Borja.

4.
Thereafter, the buyer of Jalajala "Poblacion" is hereby
authorized to pay directly to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de
Borja the balance of the payment due her under paragraph 2 of
this Agreement (approximately P766,500.00) and issue in the
name of Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, corresponding
certified checks/treasury warrants, who, in turn, will issue the
corresponding receipt to Jose de Borja.

5.
In consideration of above payment to Tasiana Ongsingco
Vda. de de Borja, Jose de Borja personally and as administrator
of the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco, and Tasiana Ongsingco
Vda. de de Borja, for themselves and for their heirs, successors,
executors, administrators, and assigns, hereby forever mutually
renounce, withdraw, waive, remise, release and discharge any
and all manner of action or actions, cause or causes of action,
suits, debts, sum or sums of money, accounts, damages, claims
and demands whatsoever, in law or in equity, which they ever
had, or now have or may have against each other, more

specifically Sp. Proceedings Nos. 7866 and 1955, CFI-Rizal, and


Sp. Proc. No. 832-Nueva Ecija, Civil Case No. 3033, CFI Nueva
Ecija and Civil Case No. 7452-CFI, Rizal, as well as the case filed
against Manuel Quijal for perjury with the Provincial Fiscal of
Rizal, the intention being to completely, absolutely and finally
release each other, their heirs, successors, and assigns, from
any and all liability, arising wholly or partially, directly or
indirectly, from the administration, settlement, and distribution
of the assets as well as liabilities of the estates of Francisco de
Borja and Josefa Tangco, first spouse of Francisco de Borja, and
lastly, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja expressly and
specifically renounce absolutely her rights as heir over any
hereditary share in the estate of Francisco de Borja.

6.
That Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, upon receipt of
the payment under paragraph 4 hereof, shall deliver to the heir
Jose de Borja all the papers, titles and documents belonging to
Francisco de Borja which are in her possession and said heir
Jose de Borja shall issue in turn the corresponding receive
thereof.

7.
That this agreement shall take effect only upon the
fulfillment of the sale of the properties mentioned under
paragraph 1 of this agreement and upon receipt of the total and
full payment of the proceeds of the sale of the Jalajala property
"Poblacion", otherwise, the non-fulfillment of the said sale will
render this instrument NULL AND VOID AND WITHOUT EFFECT
THEREAFTER.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have her unto set


their hands in the City of Manila, Philippines, the 12th of
October, 1963.

Page 21 of 58

On 16 May 1966, Jose de Borja submitted for Court approval the


agreement of 12 October 1963 to the Court of First Instance of
Rizal, in Special Proceeding No. R-7866; and again, on 8 August
1966, to the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, in Special
Proceeding No. 832. Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja
opposed in both instances. The Rizal court approved the
compromise agreement, but the Nueva Ecija court declared it
void and unenforceable. Special administratrix Tasiana
Ongsingco Vda.de de Borja appealed the Rizal Court's order of
approval (now Supreme Court G.R. case No. L-28040), while
administrator Jose de Borja appealed the order of disapproval
(G.R. case No. L-28568) by the Court of First Instance of Nueva
Ecija.

The genuineness and due execution of the compromised


agreement of 12 October 1963 is not disputed, but its validity
is, nevertheless, attacked by Tasiana Ongsingco on the ground
that: (1) the heirs cannot enter into such kind of agreement
without first probating the will of Francisco de Borja; (2) that the
same involves a compromise on the validity of the marriage
between Francisco de Borja and Tasiana Ongsingco; and (3) that
even if it were valid, it has ceased to have force and effect.

In assailing the validity of the agreement of 12 October 1963,


Tasiana Ongsingco and the Probate Court of Nueva Ecija rely on
this Court's decision in Guevara vs. Guevara. 74 Phil. 479,
wherein the Court's majority held the view that the presentation
of a will for probate is mandatory and that the settlement and
distribution of an estate on the basis of intestacy when the
decedent left a will, is against the law and public policy. It is
likewise pointed out by appellant Tasiana Ongsingco that
Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Revised Rules explicitly conditions
the validity of an extrajudicial settlement of a decedent's estate
by agreement between heirs, upon the facts that "(if) the
decedent left no will and no debts, and the heirs are all of age,
or the minors are represented by their judicial and legal
representatives ..." The will of Francisco de Borja having been
submitted to the Nueva Ecija Court and still pending probate

when the 1963 agreement was made, those circumstances, it is


argued, bar the validity of the agreement.

Upon the other hand, in claiming the validity of the compromise


agreement, Jose de Borja stresses that at the time it was
entered into, on 12 October 1963, the governing provision was
Section 1, Rule 74 of the original Rules of Court of 1940, which
allowed the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of a deceased
person regardless of whether he left a will or not. He also relies
on the dissenting opinion of Justice Moran, in Guevara vs.
Guevara, 74 Phil. 479, wherein was expressed the view that if
the parties have already divided the estate in accordance with a
decedent's will, the probate of the will is a useless ceremony;
and if they have divided the estate in a different manner, the
probate of the will is worse than useless.

The doctrine of Guevara vs. Guevara, ante, is not applicable to


the case at bar. This is apparent from an examination of the
terms of the agreement between Jose de Borja and Tasiana
Ongsingco. Paragraph 2 of said agreement specifically
stipulates that the sum of P800,000 payable to Tasiana
Ongsingco

shall be considered as full complete payment settlement


of her hereditary share in the estate of the late Francisco de
Borja as well as the estate of Josefa Tangco, ... and to any
properties bequeathed or devised in her favor by the late
Francisco de Borja by Last Will and Testament or by Donation
Inter Vivos or Mortis Causa or purportedly conveyed to her for
consideration or otherwise.

This provision evidences beyond doubt that the ruling in the


Guevara case is not applicable to the cases at bar. There was

Page 22 of 58

here no attempt to settle or distribute the estate of Francisco de


Borja among the heirs thereto before the probate of his will. The
clear object of the contract was merely the conveyance by
Tasiana Ongsingco of any and all her individual share and
interest, actual or eventual in the estate of Francisco de Borja
and Josefa Tangco. There is no stipulation as to any other
claimant, creditor or legatee. And as a hereditary share in a
decedent's estate is transmitted or vested immediately from
the moment of the death of such causante or predecessor in
interest (Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 777) 3 there is no
legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting capacity)
disposing of her or his hereditary share immediately after such
death, even if the actual extent of such share is not determined
until the subsequent liquidation of the estate. 4 Of course, the
effect of such alienation is to be deemed limited to what is
ultimately adjudicated to the vendor heir. However, the aleatory
character of the contract does not affect the validity of the
transaction; neither does the coetaneous agreement that the
numerous litigations between the parties (the approving order
of the Rizal Court enumerates fourteen of them, Rec. App. pp.
79-82) are to be considered settled and should be dismissed,
although such stipulation, as noted by the Rizal Court, gives the
contract the character of a compromise that the law favors, for
obvious reasons, if only because it serves to avoid a multiplicity
of suits.

It is likewise worthy of note in this connection that as the


surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja, Tasiana Ongsingco was
his compulsory heir under article 995 et seq. of the present Civil
Code. Wherefore, barring unworthiness or valid disinheritance,
her successional interest existed independent of Francisco de
Borja's last will and testament and would exist even if such will
were not probated at all. Thus, the prerequisite of a previous
probate of the will, as established in the Guevara and analogous
cases, can not apply to the case of Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de
de Borja.

Since the compromise contract Annex A was entered into by


and between "Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of
the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco" on the one hand, and on
the other, "the heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja
by his second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja", it
is clear that the transaction was binding on both in their
individual capacities, upon the perfection of the contract, even
without previous authority of the Court to enter into the same.
The only difference between an extrajudicial compromise and
one that is submitted and approved by the Court, is that the
latter can be enforced by execution proceedings. Art. 2037 of
the Civil Code is explicit on the point:

8.
Art. 2037. A compromise has upon the parties the effect
and authority of res judicata; but there shall be no execution
except in compliance with a judicial compromise.

It is argued by Tasiana Ongsingco that while the agreement


Annex A expressed no definite period for its performance, the
same was intended to have a resolutory period of 60 days for its
effectiveness. In support of such contention, it is averred that
such a limit was expressly stipulated in an agreement in similar
terms entered into by said Ongsingco with the brothers and
sister of Jose de Borja, to wit, Crisanto, Matilde and Cayetano,
all surnamed de Borja, except that the consideration was fixed
at P600,000 (Opposition, Annex/Rec. of Appeal, L-28040, pp. 3946) and which contained the following clause:

III.
That this agreement shall take effect only upon the
consummation of the sale of the property mentioned herein and
upon receipt of the total and full payment of the proceeds of the
sale by the herein owner heirs-children of Francisco de Borja,
namely, Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde, all surnamed de Borja;
Provided that if no sale of the said property mentioned herein is
consummated, or the non-receipt of the purchase price thereof
by the said owners within the period of sixty (60) days from the

Page 23 of 58

date hereof, this agreement will become null and void and of no
further effect.

Ongsingco's argument loses validity when it is considered that


Jose de Borja was not a party to this particular contract (Annex
1), and that the same appears not to have been finalized, since
it bears no date, the day being left blank "this day of October
1963"; and while signed by the parties, it was not notarized,
although plainly intended to be so done, since it carries a
proposed notarial ratification clause. Furthermore, the
compromise contract with Jose de Borja (Annex A), provides in
its par. 2 heretofore transcribed that of the total consideration
of P800, 000 to be paid to Ongsingco, P600,000 represent the
"prorata share of the heirs Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde all
surnamed de Borja" which corresponds to the consideration of
P600,000 recited in Annex 1, and that circumstance is proof
that the duly notarized contract entered into wit Jose de Borja
under date 12 October 1963 (Annex A), was designed to absorb
and supersede the separate unformalize agreement with the
other three Borja heirs. Hence, the 60 days resolutory term in
the contract with the latter (Annex 1) not being repeated in
Annex A, can not apply to the formal compromise with Jose de
Borja. It is moreover manifest that the stipulation that the sale
of the Hacienda de Jalajala was to be made within sixty days
from the date of the agreement with Jose de Borja's co-heirs
(Annex 1) was plainly omitted in Annex A as improper and
ineffective, since the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) that was
to be sold to raise the P800,000 to be paid to Ongsingco for her
share formed part of the estate of Francisco de Borja and could
not be sold until authorized by the Probate Court. The Court of
First Instance of Rizal so understood it, and in approving the
compromise it fixed a term of 120 days counted from the
finality of the order now under appeal, for the carrying out by
the parties for the terms of the contract.

This brings us to the plea that the Court of First Instance of Rizal
had no jurisdiction to approve the compromise with Jose de
Borja (Annex A) because Tasiana Ongsingco was not an heir in

the estate of Josefa Tangco pending settlement in the Rizal


Court, but she was an heir of Francisco de Borja, whose estate
was the object of Special Proceeding No. 832 of the Court of
First Instance of Nueva Ecija. This circumstance is irrelevant,
since what was sold by Tasiana Ongsingco was only her
eventual share in the estate of her late husband, not the estate
itself; and as already shown, that eventual share she owned
from the time of Francisco's death and the Court of Nueva Ecija
could not bar her selling it. As owner of her undivided
hereditary share, Tasiana could dispose of it in favor of
whomsoever she chose. Such alienation is expressly recognized
and provided for by article 1088 of the present Civil Code:

Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a
stranger before the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be
subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him
for the price of the sale, provided they do so within the period
of one month from the time they were notified in writing of the
sale of the vendor.

If a sale of a hereditary right can be made to a stranger, then a


fortiori sale thereof to a coheir could not be forbidden.

Tasiana Ongsingco further argues that her contract with Jose de


Borja (Annex "A") is void because it amounts to a compromise
as to her status and marriage with the late Francisco de Borja.
The point is without merit, for the very opening paragraph of
the agreement with Jose de Borja (Annex "A") describes her as
"the heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his
second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja", which is
in itself definite admission of her civil status. There is nothing in
the text of the agreement that would show that this recognition
of Ongsingco's status as the surviving spouse of Francisco de
Borja was only made in consideration of the cession of her
hereditary rights.

Page 24 of 58

It is finally charged by appellant Ongsingco, as well as by the


Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija in its order of 21
September 1964, in Special Proceedings No. 832 (Amended
Record on Appeal in L-28568, page 157), that the compromise
agreement of 13 October 1963 (Annex "A") had been
abandoned, as shown by the fact that, after its execution, the
Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, in its order of 21
September 1964, had declared that "no amicable settlement
had been arrived at by the parties", and that Jose de Borja
himself, in a motion of 17 June 1964, had stated that the
proposed amicable settlement "had failed to materialize".

It is difficult to believe, however, that the amicable settlement


referred to in the order and motion above-mentioned was the
compromise agreement of 13 October 1963, which already had
been formally signed and executed by the parties and duly
notarized. What the record discloses is that some time after its
formalization, Ongsingco had unilaterally attempted to back out
from the compromise agreement, pleading various reasons
restated in the opposition to the Court's approval of Annex "A"
(Record on Appeal, L-20840, page 23): that the same was
invalid because of the lapse of the allegedly intended resolutory
period of 60 days and because the contract was not preceded
by the probate of Francisco de Borja's will, as required by this
Court's Guevarra vs. Guevara ruling; that Annex "A" involved a
compromise affecting Ongsingco's status as wife and widow of
Francisco de Borja, etc., all of which objections have been
already discussed. It was natural that in view of the widow's
attitude, Jose de Borja should attempt to reach a new
settlement or novatory agreement before seeking judicial
sanction and enforcement of Annex "A", since the latter step
might ultimately entail a longer delay in attaining final remedy.
That the attempt to reach another settlement failed is apparent
from the letter of Ongsingco's counsel to Jose de Borja quoted in
pages 35-36 of the brief for appellant Ongsingco in G.R. No.
28040; and it is more than probable that the order of 21
September 1964 and the motion of 17 June 1964 referred to the
failure of the parties' quest for a more satisfactory compromise.

But the inability to reach a novatory accord can not invalidate


the original compromise (Annex "A") and justifies the act of Jose
de Borja in finally seeking a court order for its approval and
enforcement from the Court of First Instance of Rizal, which, as
heretofore described, decreed that the agreement be ultimately
performed within 120 days from the finality of the order, now
under appeal.

We conclude that in so doing, the Rizal court acted in


accordance with law, and, therefore, its order should be upheld,
while the contrary resolution of the Court of First Instance of
Nueva Ecija should be, and is, reversed.

In her brief, Tasiana Ongsingco also pleads that the time


elapsed in the appeal has affected her unfavorably, in that
while the purchasing power of the agreed price of P800,000 has
diminished, the value of the Jalajala property has increased. But
the fact is that her delay in receiving the payment of the agreed
price for her hereditary interest was primarily due to her
attempts to nullify the agreement (Annex "A") she had formally
entered into with the advice of her counsel, Attorney
Panaguiton. And as to the devaluation de facto of our currency,
what We said in Dizon Rivera vs. Dizon, L-24561, 30 June 1970,
33 SCRA 554, that "estates would never be settled if there were
to be a revaluation with every subsequent fluctuation in the
values of currency and properties of the estate", is particularly
opposite in the present case.

Coming now to Case G.R. No. L-28611, the issue is whether the
Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion), concededly acquired by
Francisco de Borja during his marriage to his first wife, Josefa
Tangco, is the husband's private property (as contended by his
second spouse, Tasiana Ongsingco), or whether it forms part of
the conjugal (ganancial) partnership with Josefa Tangco. The
Court of First Instance of Rizal (Judge Herminio Mariano,
presiding) declared that there was adequate evidence to

Page 25 of 58

overcome the presumption in favor of its conjugal character


established by Article 160 of the Civil Code.

We are of the opinion that this question as between Tasiana


Ongsingco and Jose de Borja has become moot and academic,
in view of the conclusion reached by this Court in the two
preceding cases (G.R. No. L-28568), upholding as valid the
cession of Tasiana Ongsingco's eventual share in the estate of
her late husband, Francisco de Borja, for the sum of P800,000
with the accompanying reciprocal quit-claims between the
parties. But as the question may affect the rights of possible
creditors and legatees, its resolution is still imperative.

It is undisputed that the Hacienda Jalajala, of around 4,363


hectares, had been originally acquired jointly by Francisco de
Borja, Bernardo de Borja and Marcelo de Borja and their title
thereto was duly registered in their names as co-owners in Land
Registration Case No. 528 of the province of Rizal, G.L.R.O. Rec.
No. 26403 (De Barjo vs. Jugo, 54 Phil. 465). Subsequently, in
1931, the Hacienda was partitioned among the co-owners: the
Punta section went to Marcelo de Borja; the Bagombong section
to Bernardo de Borja, and the part in Jalajala proper (Poblacion)
corresponded to Francisco de Borja (V. De Borja vs. De Borja
101 Phil. 911, 932).

The lot allotted to Francisco was described as

Una Parcela de terreno en Poblacion, Jalajala: N. Puang River; E.


Hermogena Romero; S. Heirs of Marcelo de Borja O. Laguna de
Bay; containing an area of 13,488,870 sq. m. more or less,
assessed at P297,410. (Record on Appeal, pages 7 and 105)

On 20 November 1962, Tasiana O. Vda. de Borja, as


Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja,
instituted a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Civil
Case No. 7452) against Jose de Borja, in his capacity as
Administrator of Josefa Tangco (Francisco de Borja's first wife),
seeking to have the Hacienda above described declared
exclusive private property of Francisco, while in his answer
defendant (now appellant) Jose de Borja claimed that it was
conjugal property of his parents (Francisco de Borja and Josefa
Tangco), conformably to the presumption established by Article
160 of the Philippine Civil Code (reproducing Article 1407 of the
Civil Code of 1889), to the effect that:

Art. 160. All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to


the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains
exclusively to the husband or to the wife.

Defendant Jose de Borja further counterclaimed for damages,


compensatory, moral and exemplary, as well as for attorney's
fees.

After trial, the Court of First Instance of Rizal, per Judge


Herminio Mariano, held that the plaintiff had adduced sufficient
evidence to rebut the presumption, and declared the Hacienda
de Jalajala (Poblacion) to be the exclusive private property of
the late Francisco de Borja, and his Administratrix, Tasiana
Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, to be entitled to its possession.
Defendant Jose de Borja then appealed to this Court.

The evidence reveals, and the appealed order admits, that the
character of the Hacienda in question as owned by the conjugal
partnership De Borja-Tangco was solemnly admitted by the late
Francisco de Borja no less than two times: first, in the

Page 26 of 58

Reamended Inventory that, as executor of the estate of his


deceased wife Josefa Tangco, he filed in the Special Proceedings
No. 7866 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal on 23 July 1953
(Exhibit "2"); and again, in the Reamended Accounting of the
same date, also filed in the proceedings aforesaid (Exhibit "7").
Similarly, the plaintiff Tasiana O. Vda.de Borja, herself, as
oppositor in the Estate of Josefa Tangco, submitted therein an
inventory dated 7 September 1954 (Exhibit "3") listing the
Jalajala property among the "Conjugal Properties of the Spouses
Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco". And once more, Tasiana
Ongsingco, as administratrix of the Estate of Francisco de Borja,
in Special Proceedings No. 832 of the Court of First Instance of
Nueva Ecija, submitted therein in December, 1955, an inventory
wherein she listed the Jalajala Hacienda under the heading
"Conjugal Property of the Deceased Spouses Francisco de Borja
and Josefa Tangco, which are in the possession of the
Administrator of the Testate Estate of the Deceased Josefa
Tangco in Special Proceedings No. 7866 of the Court of First
Instance of Rizal" (Exhibit "4").

and (b) the testimony of Gregorio de Borja, son of Bernardo de


Borja, that the entire Hacienda had been bought at a
foreclosure sale for P40,100.00, of which amount P25,100 was
contributed by Bernardo de Borja and P15,000. by Marcelo de
Borja; that upon receipt of a subsequent demand from the
provincial treasurer for realty taxes the sum of P17,000, Marcelo
told his brother Bernardo that Francisco (son of Marcelo) wanted
also to be a co-owner, and upon Bernardo's assent to the
proposal, Marcelo issue a check for P17,000.00 to pay the back
taxes and said that the amount would represent Francisco's
contribution in the purchase of the Hacienda. The witness
further testified that

Notwithstanding the four statements aforesaid, and the fact


that they are plain admissions against interest made by both
Francisco de Borja and the Administratrix of his estate, in the
course of judicial proceedings in the Rizal and Nueva Ecija
Courts, supporting the legal presumption in favor of the
conjugal community, the Court below declared that the
Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) was not conjugal property, but
the private exclusive property of the late Francisco de Borja. It
did so on the strength of the following evidences: (a) the sworn
statement by Francis de Borja on 6 August 1951 (Exhibit "F")
that

The Court below, reasoning that not only Francisco's sworn


statement overweighed the admissions in the inventories relied
upon by defendant-appellant Jose de Borja since probate courts
can not finally determine questions of ownership of inventoried
property, but that the testimony of Gregorio de Borja showed
that Francisco de Borja acquired his share of the original
Hacienda with his private funds, for which reason that share can
not be regarded as conjugal partnership property, but as
exclusive property of the buyer, pursuant to Article 1396(4) of
Civil Code of 1889 and Article 148(4) of the Civil Code of the
Philippines.

He tomado possession del pedazo de terreno ya delimitado


(equivalente a 1/4 parte, 337 hectareas) adjunto a mi terreno
personal y exclusivo (Poblacion de Jalajala, Rizal).

The following shall be the exclusive property of each spouse:

Marcelo de Borja said that that money was entrusted to him by


Francisco de Borja when he was still a bachelor and which he
derived from his business transactions. (Hearing, 2 February
1965, t.s.n., pages 13-15) (Emphasis supplied)

xxx

xxx

xxx

Page 27 of 58

(4)
That which is purchased with exclusive money of the
wife or of the husband.

We find the conclusions of the lower court to be untenable. In


the first place, witness Gregorio de Borja's testimony as to the
source of the money paid by Francisco for his share was plain
hearsay, hence inadmissible and of no probative value, since he
was merely repeating what Marcelo de Borja had told him
(Gregorio). There is no way of ascertaining the truth of the
statement, since both Marcelo and Francisco de Borja were
already dead when Gregorio testified. In addition, the statement
itself is improbable, since there was no need or occasion for
Marcelo de Borja to explain to Gregorio how and when Francisco
de Borja had earned the P17,000.00 entrusted to Marcelo. A
ring of artificiality is clearly discernible in this portion of
Gregorio's testimony.

As to Francisco de Borja's affidavit, Exhibit "F", the quoted


portion thereof (ante, page 14) does not clearly demonstrate
that the "mi terreno personal y exclusivo (Poblacion de Jalajala,
Rizal) " refers precisely to the Hacienda in question. The
inventories (Exhibits 3 and 4) disclose that there were two real
properties in Jalajala owned by Francisco de Borja, one of
72.038 sq. m., assessed at P44,600, and a much bigger one of
1,357.260.70 sq. m., which is evidently the Hacienda de Jalajala
(Poblacion). To which of these lands did the affidavit of Francisco
de Borja (Exhibit "F") refer to? In addition, Francisco's
characterization of the land as "mi terreno personal y exclusivo"
is plainly self-serving, and not admissible in the absence of
cross examination.

It may be true that the inventories relied upon by defendantappellant (Exhibits "2", "3", "4" and "7") are not conclusive on

the conjugal character of the property in question; but as


already noted, they are clear admissions against the pecuniary
interest of the declarants, Francisco de Borja and his executorwidow, Tasiana Ongsingco, and as such of much greater
probative weight than the self-serving statement of Francisco
(Exhibit "F"). Plainly, the legal presumption in favor of the
conjugal character of the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) now
in dispute has not been rebutted but actually confirmed by
proof. Hence, the appealed order should be reversed and the
Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) declared property of the
conjugal partnership of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco.
No error having been assigned against the ruling of the lower
court that claims for damages should be ventilated in the
corresponding special proceedings for the settlement of the
estates of the deceased, the same requires no pro
announcement from this Court.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed order of the Court of
First Instance of Rizal in Case No. L-28040 is hereby affirmed;
while those involved in Cases Nos. L-28568 and L-28611 are
reversed and set aside. Costs against the appellant Tasiana
Ongsingco Vda.de Borja in all three (3) cases.
Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Teehankee,
Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.

Page 28 of 58

Page 29 of 58

#6.)G.R. No. L-41715

June 18, 1976

ROSALIO BONILLA (a minor) SALVACION BONILLA (a


minor) and PONCIANO BONILLA (their father) who
represents the minors, petitioners,
vs.
LEON BARCENA, MAXIMA ARIAS BALLENA, ESPERANZA
BARCENA, MANUEL BARCENA, AGUSTINA NERI, widow of
JULIAN TAMAYO and HON. LEOPOLDO GIRONELLA of the
Court of First Instance of Abra, respondents.

Federico Paredes for petitioners.

Demetrio V. Pre for private respondents.

MARTIN, J:

This is a petition for review 1 of the Order of the Court of First


Instance of Abra in Civil Case No. 856, entitled Fortunata
Barcena vs. Leon Barcena, et al., denying the motions for
reconsideration of its order dismissing the complaint in the
aforementioned case.

On March 31, 1975 Fortunata Barcena, mother of minors Rosalio


Bonilla and Salvacion Bonilla and wife of Ponciano Bonilla,
instituted a civil action in the Court of First Instance of Abra, to
quiet title over certain parcels of land located in Abra.

On May 9, 1975, defendants filed a written motion to dismiss


the complaint, but before the hearing of the motion to dismiss,
the counsel for the plaintiff moved to amend the complaint in
order to include certain allegations therein. The motion to
amend the complaint was granted and on July 17, 1975,
plaintiffs filed their amended complaint.

On August 4, 1975, the defendants filed another motion to


dismiss the complaint on the ground that Fortunata Barcena is
dead and, therefore, has no legal capacity to sue. Said motion
to dismiss was heard on August 14, 1975. In said hearing,
counsel for the plaintiff confirmed the death of Fortunata
Barcena, and asked for substitution by her minor children and
her husband, the petitioners herein; but the court after the
hearing immediately dismissed the case on the ground that a
dead person cannot be a real party in interest and has no legal
personality to sue.

On August 19, 1975, counsel for the plaintiff received a copy of


the order dismissing the complaint and on August 23, 1975, he
moved to set aside the order of the dismissal pursuant to
Sections 16 and 17 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. 2

On August 28, 1975, the court denied the motion for


reconsideration filed by counsel for the plaintiff for lack of merit.

Page 30 of 58

On September 1, 1975, counsel for deceased plaintiff filed a


written manifestation praying that the minors Rosalio Bonilla
and Salvacion Bonilla be allowed to substitute their deceased
mother, but the court denied the counsel's prayer for lack of
merit. From the order, counsel for the deceased plaintiff filed a
second motion for reconsideration of the order dismissing the
complaint claiming that the same is in violation of Sections 16
and 17 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court but the same was denied.

Hence, this petition for review.

The Court reverses the respondent Court and sets aside its
order dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 856 and its
orders denying the motion for reconsideration of said order of
dismissal. While it is true that a person who is dead cannot sue
in court, yet he can be substituted by his heirs in pursuing the
case up to its completion. The records of this case show that the
death of Fortunata Barcena took place on July 9, 1975 while the
complaint was filed on March 31, 1975. This means that when
the complaint was filed on March 31, 1975, Fortunata Barcena
was still alive, and therefore, the court had acquired jurisdiction
over her person. If thereafter she died, the Rules of Court
prescribes the procedure whereby a party who died during the
pendency of the proceeding can be substituted. Under Section
16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court "whenever a party to a pending
case dies ... it shall be the duty of his attorney to inform the
court promptly of such death ... and to give the name and
residence of his executor, administrator, guardian or other legal
representatives." This duty was complied with by the counsel
for the deceased plaintiff when he manifested before the
respondent Court that Fortunata Barcena died on July 9, 1975
and asked for the proper substitution of parties in the case. The
respondent Court, however, instead of allowing the substitution,
dismissed the complaint on the ground that a dead person has
no legal personality to sue. This is a grave error. Article 777 of
the Civil Code provides "that the rights to the succession are
transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent."
From the moment of the death of the decedent, the heirs

become the absolute owners of his property, subject to the


rights and obligations of the decedent, and they cannot be
deprived of their rights thereto except by the methods provided
for by law. 3 The moment of death is the determining factor
when the heirs acquire a definite right to the inheritance
whether such right be pure or contingent. 4 The right of the
heirs to the property of the deceased vests in them even before
judicial declaration of their being heirs in the testate or
intestate proceedings. 5 When Fortunata Barcena, therefore,
died her claim or right to the parcels of land in litigation in Civil
Case No. 856, was not extinguished by her death but was
transmitted to her heirs upon her death. Her heirs have thus
acquired interest in the properties in litigation and became
parties in interest in the case. There is, therefore, no reason for
the respondent Court not to allow their substitution as parties in
interest for the deceased plaintiff.

Under Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court "after a party


dies and the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall
order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the
deceased to appear and be substituted for the deceased, within
such time as may be granted ... ." The question as to whether
an action survives or not depends on the nature of the action
and the damage sued for. 6 In the causes of action which
survive the wrong complained affects primarily and principally
property and property rights, the injuries to the person being
merely incidental, while in the causes of action which do not
survive the injury complained of is to the person, the property
and rights of property affected being incidental. 7 Following the
foregoing criterion the claim of the deceased plaintiff which is
an action to quiet title over the parcels of land in litigation
affects primarily and principally property and property rights
and therefore is one that survives even after her death. It is,
therefore, the duty of the respondent Court to order the legal
representative of the deceased plaintiff to appear and to be
substituted for her. But what the respondent Court did, upon
being informed by the counsel for the deceased plaintiff that
the latter was dead, was to dismiss the complaint. This should
not have been done for under the same Section 17, Rule 3 of
the Rules of Court, it is even the duty of the court, if the legal

Page 31 of 58

representative fails to appear, to order the opposing party to


procure the appointment of a legal representative of the
deceased. In the instant case the respondent Court did not have
to bother ordering the opposing party to procure the
appointment of a legal representative of the deceased because
her counsel has not only asked that the minor children be
substituted for her but also suggested that their uncle be
appointed as guardian ad litem for them because their father is
busy in Manila earning a living for the family. But the
respondent Court refused the request for substitution on the
ground that the children were still minors and cannot sue in
court. This is another grave error because the respondent Court
ought to have known that under the same Section 17, Rule 3 of
the Rules of Court, the court is directed to appoint a guardian
ad litem for the minor heirs. Precisely in the instant case, the
counsel for the deceased plaintiff has suggested to the
respondent Court that the uncle of the minors be appointed to
act as guardian ad litem for them. Unquestionably, the
respondent Court has gravely abused its discretion in not
complying with the clear provision of the Rules of Court in
dismissing the complaint of the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 856
and refusing the substitution of parties in the case.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the order of the respondent Court


dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 856 of the Court of
First Instance of Abra and the motions for reconsideration of the
order of dismissal of said complaint are set aside and the
respondent Court is hereby directed to allow the substitution of
the minor children, who are the petitioners therein for the
deceased plaintiff and to appoint a qualified person as guardian
ad litem for them. Without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Page 32 of 58

#7.)[G.R. No. 118464. December 21, 1998]

HEIRS OF IGNACIO CONTI and ROSARIO CUARIO,


petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and LYDIA S. REYES
as Attorney-in-Fact of JOSEFINA S. REYES, BERNARDITA
S. PALILIO, HERMINIA S. PALILIO, REMEDIOS A. SAMPAYO,
ILUMINADA A. SAMPAYO, ENRICO A. SAMPAYO, CARLOS
A. SAMPAYO, GENEROSO C. SAMPAYO, MYRNA C.
SAMPAYO, ROSALINO C. SAMPAYO, MANUEL C. SAMPAYO,
DELIA A. SAMPAYO, CORAZON C. SAMPAYO, NILO C.
SAMPAYO, and LOLITA A. SAMPAYO in her own behalf and
as Attorney-in-Fact of NORMA A. SAMPAYO, respondents.

DECISION

Sampayo, Myrna C. Sampayo, Rosalina C. Sampayo, Manuel C.


Sampayo, Delia A. Sampayo, Corazon C. Sampayo, Nilo C.
Sampayo, Lolita A. Sampayo and Norma A. Sampayo, all
represented by their Attorney-in-Fact Lydia S. Reyes, with Lolita
A. Sampayo acting also in her own behalf and as Attorney-inFact of Norma A. Sampayo, all claiming to be collateral relatives
of the deceased Lourdes Sampayo, filed an action for partition
and damages before RTCBr. 54, Lucena City.[3]

The spouses Ignacio Conti and Rosario Cuario refused the


partition on the ground that private respondents failed to
produce any document to prove that they were the rightful heirs
of Lourdes Sampayo.[4] On 30 August 1987 Ignacio Conti died
and was substituted as party-defendant by his children
Asuncion, Francisco, Milagros, Joselito, Luisito, Diego and
Teresita, all surnamed Conti.[5]

BELLOSILLO, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the 30


March 1994 Decision and 21 December 1994 Resolution of
respondent Court of Appeals which upheld the right of private
respondents as heirs of Lourdes Sampayo to demand partition
under Art. 494 of the Civil Code.

Lourdes Sampayo and Ignacio Conti, married to Rosario Cuario,


were the co-owners of the property in litigation consisting of a
539-square meter lot at the corner of Zamora and Abellanosa
Streets, Lucena City, covered by TCT No. T15374, with a house
erected thereon.[1] On 17 March 1986 Lourdes Sampayo died
intestate without issue.[2] Subsequently, on 1 April 1987
private respondents Josefina S. Reyes, Bernardita S. Palilio,
Herminia S. Palilio, Remedios A. Sampayo, Iluminada A.
Sampayo, Enrico A. Sampayo, Carlos A. Sampayo, Generoso C.

At the trial, private respondents presented Lydia Sampayo


Reyes and Adelaida Sampayo to prove that they were the
collateral heirs of the deceased Lourdes Sampayo and therefore
entitled to her rights as co-owner of the subject lot. Bringing
with her the original copy of her certificate of live birth showing
that her father was Inocentes Reyes and her mother was
Josefina Sampayo,[6] Lydia Sampayo Reyes testified that she
was one of the nieces of Lourdes Sampayo, being the daughter
of Josefina Sampayo, the only living sibling of Lourdes. Lydia
also testified that Lourdes had another sister named Remedios
J. Sampayo who died in 1948, and two brothers, Manuel J.
Sampayo and Luis J. Sampayo who died in 1983 and 1960,
respectively. To prove that Josefina, Remedios, Luis and Manuel
were siblings of Lourdes, their baptismal certificates together
with a photocopy of the birth certificate of Manuel Sampayo
were offered in evidence. These documents showed that their
father and mother, like Lourdes Sampayo, were Antonio
Sampayo and Brigida Jaraza.

Page 33 of 58

The certificates of baptism presented as part of the testimony


of Lydia Sampayo Reyes were prepared by Rev. Franklin C.
Rivero who duly certified that all data therein written were in
accordance with the church records, hence, the lower left
portion of the documents bearing the seal of the church with
the notation as to where the documents were logged in
particular.[7] The baptismal certificates were presented in lieu
of the birth certificates because the repository of those
documents, the Office of the Civil Registrar of Lucena City, had
been razed by fire on two separate occasions, 27 November
1974 and 30 August 1983, thus all civil registration records
were totally burned.[8] On the other hand, a photocopy of
Manuel's birth certificate dated 25 October 1919 (Exh. "I")[9]
showed that it was issued by the Local Civil Registrar of Lucena,
Tayabas (now Lucena City).

Adelaida Sampayo, widow of Manuel Sampayo, testified that her


husband Manuel was the brother of the deceased Lourdes, and
with the death of Manuel, Luis and Remedios, the only living
sibling of Lourdes was Josefina.[10]

To rebut whatever rights the alleged heirs of Lourdes had over


the subject lot, petitioners presented Rosario Cuario Conti, Rosa
Ladines Malundas and Rodolfo Espineli. Rosario testified that
the subject property was co-owned in equal shares by her
husband Ignacio Conti and Lourdes Sampayo and that her
family (Rosario) had been staying in the subject property since
1937.[11] In fact, she said that her late husband Ignacio Conti
paid for the real estate taxes[12] and spent for the necessary
repairs and improvements thereon[13] because by agreement
Lourdes would leave her share of the property to them.[14]

However, as correctly found by the trial court, no will, either


testamentary or holographic, was presented by petitioners to
substantiate this claim.[15] Rosario also disclosed that when
Lourdes died her remains were taken by her relatives from their

house.[16] When cross examined on who those relatives were,


she replied that the only one she remembered was Josefina
since there were many relatives who came. When asked who
Josefina's parents were, she said she could not recall. Likewise,
when asked who the parents of Lourdes were, Rosario denied
having ever known them.[17]

Another witness, Rosa Ladines Malundas, narrated that she


used to be the neighbor and hairdresser of the deceased
Lourdes Sampayo who told her that upon her death her share
would go to Ignacio Conti whom she considered as her brother
since both of them were "adopted" by their foster parents
Gabriel Cord and Anastacia Allarey Cord,[18] although she
admitted that she did not know whether Lourdes had other
relatives.[19]

According to another witness, Rodolfo Espineli, he took pictures


of the tombs bearing the tombstones of Gabriel Cord and
Anastacia Allarey Cord and Ignacio Conti as well as that of
Lourdes Sampayo who was supposed to have been interred
beside her "adoptive" parents. However, as revealed by Rosario
during her direct examination, Lourdes was not in fact interred
there because her relatives took her remains.[20]

On 4 April 1991 the trial court declared private respondents as


the rightful heirs of Lourdes Sampayo. It further ordered private
respondents and petitioners to submit a project of partition of
the residential house and lot for confirmation by the court.[21]

Petitioners elevated the case to the Court of Appeals


contending that the trial court erred in finding that private
respondents were the heirs of Lourdes Sampayo and that they

Page 34 of 58

were entitled to the partition of the lot and the improvements


thereon.[22]

On 30 March 1994 the Court of Appeals affirmed the assailed


RTC decision and held[23]-

In the instant case, plaintiffs [now private respondents] were


able to prove and establish by preponderance of evidence that
they are the collateral heirs of deceased Lourdes Sampayo and
therefore the lower court did not err in ordering herein plaintiffs
[now private respondents] and defendants [now petitioners] to
submit a project of partition of the residential house and lot
owned in common by the deceased Lourdes Sampayo and
defendant spouses Conti for confirmation by the court x x x x
Considering our earlier finding that the lower court did not err in
declaring herein plaintiffs [now private respondents] as heirs of
deceased Sampayo and therefore entitled to inherit her
property, the argument of the appellants [now petitioners] that
the plaintiffs [now private respondents] are not entitled to
partition is devoid of merit (insertions in [ ] supplied).

Respondent court also ruled, citing Hernandez v. Padua[24] and


Marabilles v. Quito[25], that a prior and separate judicial
declaration of heirship was not necessary[26] and that private
respondents became the co-owners of the portion of the
property owned and registered in the name of Lourdes Sampayo
upon her death and, consequently, entitled to the immediate
possession thereof and all other incidents/rights of ownership as
provided for by law including the right to demand partition
under Art. 777 of the Civil Code,[27] and Ilustre v. Alaras
Frondosa[28] holding that the property belongs to the heirs at
the moment of death of the decedent, as completely as if he
had executed and delivered to them a deed for the same before
his death.

The appellate court subsequently denying a motion for


reconsideration upheld the probative value of the documentary
and testimonial evidence of private respondents and faulted
petitioners for not having subpoenaed Josefina if they believed
that she was a vital witness in the case.[29] Hence, petitioners
pursued this case arguing that a complaint for partition to claim
a supposed share of the deceased co-owner cannot prosper
without prior settlement of the latter's estate and compliance
with all legal requirements, especially publication, and private
respondents were not able to prove by competent evidence
their relationship with the deceased.[30]

There is no merit in the petition. A prior settlement of the estate


is not essential before the heirs can commence any action
originally pertaining to the deceased as we explained in Quison
v. Salud [31] -

Claro Quison died in 1902. It was proven at the trial that the
present plaintiffs are next of kin and heirs, but it is said by the
appellants that they are not entitled to maintain this action
because there is no evidence that any proceedings have been
taken in court for the settlement of the estate of Claro Quison,
and that without such settlement, the heirs cannot maintain this
action. There is nothing in this point. As well by the Civil Code
as by the Code of Civil Procedure, the title to the property
owned by a person who dies intestate passes at once to his
heirs. Such transmission is, under the present law, subject to
the claims of administration and the property may be taken
from the heirs for the purpose of paying debts and expenses,
but this does not prevent an immediate passage of the title,
upon the death of the intestate, from himself to his heirs.
Without some showing that a judicial administrator had been
appointed in proceedings to settle the estate of Claro Quison,
the right of the plaintiffs to maintain this action is established.

Page 35 of 58

Conformably with the foregoing and taken in conjunction with


Arts. 777 and 494[32] of the Civil Code, from the death of
Lourdes Sampayo her rights as a co-owner, incidental to which
is the right to ask for partition at any time or to terminate the
co-ownership, were transmitted to her rightful heirs. In so
demanding partition private respondents merely exercised the
right originally pertaining to the decedent, their predecessor-ininterest.

Petitioners' theory as to the requirement of publication would


have been correct had the action been for the partition of the
estate of Lourdes Sampayo, or if we were dealing with
extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs and the
summary settlement of estates of small value.[33] But what
private respondents are pursuing is the mere segregation of
Lourdes' one-half share which they inherited from her through
intestate succession. This is a simple case of ordinary partition
between co-owners. The applicable law in point is Sec. 1 of Rule
69 of the Rules of Court -

Sec. 1.Complaint in an action for partition of real estate. - A


person having the right to compel the partition of real estate
may do so as in this rule prescribed, setting forth in his
complaint the nature and extent of his title and an adequate
description of the real estate of which partition is demanded
and joining as defendants all the other persons interested in the
property.

A cursory reading of the aforecited rule shows that publication


is not required as erroneously maintained by petitioners. There
are two (2) simultaneous issues in an action for partition. First,
whether the plaintiff is indeed a co-owner of the property
sought to be partitioned, and second, if answered in the
affirmative, the manner of the division of the property, i.e., what
portion should go to which co-owner.[34] Thus, in this case, we
must
determine
whether
private
respondents,
by

preponderance of evidence, have been able to establish that


they are co-owners by way of succession as collateral heirs of
the late Lourdes Sampayo as they claim to be, either a sister, a
nephew or a niece. These, private respondents were able to
prove in the trial court as well as before respondent Court of
Appeals.

Petitioners however insist that there was no such proof of


filiation because: (a) mere photocopies of birth certificates do
not prove filiation; (b) certifications on non-availability of
records of birth do not prove filiation; (c) baptismal certificates
do not prove filiation of alleged collateral relatives of the
deceased; and, (d) the testimonies of Lydia S. Reyes, alleged
daughter of Josefina Reyes, and Adelaida Sampayo, alleged
sister-in-law of Josefina and Lourdes, were incompetent as Lydia
was made to testify on events which happened before her birth
while Adelaida testified on matters merely narrated to her.[35]

We are not persuaded. Altogether, the documentary and


testimonial evidence submitted are competent and adequate
proofs that private respondents are collateral heirs of Lourdes
Sampayo. Private respondents assert that they are co-owners of
one-half (1/2) pro-indiviso share of the subject property by way
of legal or intestate succession.

Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the


property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the
inheritance of a person are transmitted through his death to
another or others either by his will or by operation of law.[36]
Legal or intestate succession takes place if a person dies
without a will, or with a void will, or one which has subsequently
lost its validity.[37] If there are no descendants, ascendants,
illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral
relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the decedent.[38]
It was established during the trial that Lourdes died intestate

Page 36 of 58

and without issue. Private respondents as sister, nephews and


nieces now claim to be the collateral relatives of Lourdes.

Under Art. 172 of the Family Code,[39] the filiation of legitimate


children shall be proved by any other means allowed by the
Rules of Court and special laws, in the absence of a record of
birth or a parents admission of such legitimate filiation in a
public or private document duly signed by the parent. Such
other proof of ones filiation may be a baptismal certificate, a
judicial admission, a family Bible in which his name has been
entered, common reputation respecting his pedigree, admission
by silence, the testimonies of witnesses and other kinds of proof
admissible under Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.[40] By
analogy, this method of proving filiation may also be utilized in
the instant case.

Public documents are the written official acts, or records of the


official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies and
tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a
foreign country.[41] The baptismal certificates presented in
evidence by private respondents are public documents. Parish
priests continue to be the legal custodians of the parish records
and are authorized to issue true copies, in the form of
certificates, of the entries contained therein.[42]

The admissibility of baptismal certificates offered by Lydia S.


Reyes, absent the testimony of the officiating priest or the
official recorder, was settled in People v. Ritter, citing U.S. v. de
Vera (28 Phil. 105 [1914]),[43] thus -

x x x the entries made in the Registry Book may be considered


as entries made in the course of the business under Section 43
of Rule 130, which is an exception to the hearsay rule. The

baptisms administered by the church are one of its transactions


in the exercise of ecclesiastical duties and recorded in the book
of the church during the course of its business.

It may be argued that baptismal certificates are evidence only


of the administration of the sacrament, but in this case, there
were four (4) baptismal certificates which, when taken together,
uniformly show that Lourdes, Josefina, Remedios and Luis had
the same set of parents, as indicated therein. Corroborated by
the undisputed testimony of Adelaida Sampayo that with the
demise of Lourdes and her brothers Manuel, Luis and sister
Remedios, the only sibling left was Josefina Sampayo Reyes,
such baptismal certificates have acquired evidentiary weight to
prove filiation.

Petitioners' objection to the photocopy of the certificate of birth


of Manuel Sampayo was properly discarded by the court a quo
and respondent Court of Appeals. According to Sec. 3, par. (1),
Rule 130, of the Rules of Court, when the subject of inquiry is
the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible
other than the original document itself except when the original
has been lost or destroyed or cannot be produced in court,
without bad faith on the part of the offeror. The loss or
destruction of the original certificate of birth of Manuel J.
Sampayo was duly established by the certification issued by the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Lucena City to the effect
that its office was completely destroyed by fire on 27 November
1974 and 30 August 1983, respectively, and as a consequence
thereof, all civil registration records were totally burned.

Apparently, there seems to be some merit in petitioners


contention that the testimony of Adelaida Sampayo cannot
prove filiation for being hearsay considering that there was no
declaration ante litem motam as required by the rules, i.e., that
the declaration relating to pedigree was made before the
controversy occurred. Nonetheless, petitioners made no move

Page 37 of 58

to dispute her testimony in open court when she was


mentioning who the brothers and sisters of Lourdes were. As
correctly observed by the trial court in explicit terms, "the
documentary and testimonial evidence were not disputed by
defendants" (now petitioners).[44] Notably, when Rosario
Cuario Conti took the witness stand, she admitted that she was
not aware of the identities of the parents of the deceased.
Clearly, this runs counter to the relationship akin to filial
bonding which she professed she had enjoyed with the
decedent. As wife of Ignacio Conti, she was supposedly a
"sister-in-law" of the deceased Lourdes Sampayo who regarded
Ignacio as a brother. However, in sum, we rule that all the
pieces of evidence adduced, taken together, clearly
preponderate to the right of private respondents to maintain
the action for partition. Absent any reversible error in the
assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals, this
petition for review on certiorari will not lie.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision


dated 30 March 1994 and Resolution dated 21 December 1994
of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Page 38 of 58

#8.)G.R. No. 149017

November 28, 2008

VALENTE RAYMUNDO,petitioner,

situated in Barrio Caniogan, Pasig with an area of 348 square


meters covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 30680;
(2) property located in Pinagbuhatan, Pasig, with an area of
1,020 square meters under Tax Declaration No. A-016-01003;
and (3) Lot Nos. 5, 6 & 7, Block 2 covered by Tax Declaration
No. A-01700723 (subject properties).

vs.
TEOFISTA ISAGON VDA. DE SUAREZ, DANILO I. SUAREZ,
EUFROCINA SUAREZ, MARCELO I. SUAREZ, JR, EVELYN
SUAREZ, ET AL., respondents.

After the death of Marcelo Sr. in 1955, Teofista and herein


respondents, as well as Elpidio Suarez,7 executed an
Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate,8 partitioning Marcelo Sr.'s
estate, thus:

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

This petition, filed under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, assails


the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision1 and Resolution2 in CA-G.R.
SP No. 58090 which reversed, set aside and recalled the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Orders3 in Civil Case No. 51203.

WHEREAS, the said deceased is survived by the parties hereto


who are his only legal heirs: TEOFISTA ISAGON, being the
surviving spouse, and EUFROCINA S. ANDRES, ELPIDIO SUAREZ,
DANILO SUAREZ, EVELYN SUAREZ, MARCELO SUAREZ, JR. and
REGGINEO SUAREZ, being the legitimate children of the
deceased with the said TEOFISTA ISAGON;

WHEREAS, the minors ELPIDIO, SUAREZ, DANILO SUAREZ,


EVELYN SUAREZ, MARCELO SUAREZ, JR. and REGGINEO SUAREZ
are represented herein by EUFROCINA S. ANDRES, in her
capacity as the guardian and legal administrator of the property
of the said minors;

First, the long settled facts.

Marcelo and Teofista Isagon Suarez'4 marriage was blessed with


both material wealth and progeny in herein respondents,
namely, Danilo,5 Eufrocina, Marcelo Jr., Evelyn, and Reggineo,6
all surnamed Suarez. During their marriage, governed by the
conjugal partnership of gains regime, they acquired numerous
properties, which included the following: (1) a parcel of land

WHEREAS, there are no known debts or financial obligations of


whatever nature and amount against the estate of the
deceased;

Page 39 of 58

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises,


the Parties have agreed to settle and liquidate the assets of the
conjugal partnership between the deceased and TEOFISTA
ISAGON, and to settle and adjudicate the estate of the said
deceased, by and pursuance to these presents, in the following
manner, to wit:

1. That TEOFISTA ISAGON, as the surviving spouse and partner


of the deceased, shall receive in absolute and exclusive
ownership the following properties as her lawful share in the
assets of the conjugal partnership of gains between her and the
deceased, to wit:

(a) Half (1/2) interest and participation in the parcel of land


covered by Tax Declaration No. 6938, situated at Sitio Pantayan,
Municipality of Taytay, Province of Rizal;

(b) Half (1/2) interest and participation in the parcel of land


covered by Tax Declaration No. 6939, situated at Sitio Pantayan,
Municipality of Taytay, Province of Rizal;

(c) Half (1/2) interest and participation in the parcel of land


covered by TCT No. 38291, situated at Barrio Rosario,
Municipality of Pasig, Province of Rizal;

(d) Half (1/2) interest and participation in the parcel of land


covered by TCT No. 38290, situated at Barrio Rosario,
Municipality of Pasig, Province of Rizal;

(e) TWELVE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY PESOS AND


NINETY (P12,530.90) deposited with the Commercial Bank and
Trust Company of the Philippines, and THIRTY-NINE PESOS
(P39.00) deposited with Prudential Bank.

2. That the Parties TEOFISTA ISAGON, EUFROCINA S. ANDRES,


ELPIDIO SUAREZ, DANILO SUAREZ, EVELYN SUAREZ, MARCELO
SUAREZ, JR. and REGGINEO SUAREZ, shall each and all receive
and be entitled to a share equivalent to one-seventh (1/7) of the
estate of the deceased MARCELO SUAREZ, which estate is
comprised of the following properties, to wit:

(a) A parcel of land covered by TCT No. 30680, situated at


Barrio Kaniogan, Municipality of Pasig, Province of Rizal, with an
assessed value of P4,150.00.

(b) Three (3) parcels of land covered by TCT Nos. 33982, 33983
and 33984, situated at Barrio Pineda, Municipality of Pasig,
Province of Rizal, with an assessed value of P560.00.

(c) A parcel of land covered by TCT 33986, situated at Barrio


Pineda, Municipality of Pasig, Province of Rizal, with an assessed
value of P440.00.

(d) Two (2) parcels of land, being Lots Nos. 42 and 44 of the
amendment-subdivision plan TY-4653-Amd., being a portion of
Lot 2 described on the original plan II-4653, G.L.R.O. Record No.
_____, situated at Barrio Santolan, Municipality of Pasig, Province
of Rizal, with a total assessed value of P590.00.

Page 40 of 58

(e) Two parcels of land, being Lots Nos. 43 and 45 of the


amendment-subdivision plan TY-4653-Amd., being a portion of
Lot 2 described on the original plan II-4653, G.L.R.O. Record No.
_______, situated at Barrio Santolan, Municipality of Pasig,
Province of Rizal, with a total assessed value of P1,190.00.

(f) A parcel of land, being Lot No. 6, Block 269 of the subdivision
plan pos-112, being a portion of Lot 2, Block 348, Psd-3188,
G.L.R.O. Record Nos. 375,699 and 917, situated at San Felipe
Neri, Province of Rizal, with an assessed value of P6,340.00.

(g) A parcel of land covered by OCT No. 391, situated in the


Municipality of Taytay, Province of Rizal, with an assessed value
of P1,840.00.

(h) TWELVE THOUSAND (12,000) shares of stock of the


Consolidated Mines, Inc. represented by Certificate No. 71-5-B
(for 1,000 shares) and Certificate No. 12736 (for 11,000 shares).

PROVIDED, that their title to the properties hereinabove


mentioned shall be in common and the share of each heir being
pro indiviso.

Curiously, despite the partition, title to the foregoing properties,


explicitly identified in the Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate as
forming part of Marcelo's and Isagon's property regime,
remained in the couple's name. Not surprisingly, Teofista
continued to administer and manage these properties. On the
whole, apart from those now owned exclusively by Teofista, all
the properties were held pro indiviso by Teofista and her

children; and respective titles thereto were not changed, with


Teofista as de facto administrator thereof.

In 1975, Rizal Realty Corporation (Rizal Realty) and Teofista, the


latter owning ninety percent (90%) of the former's shares of
stock, were sued by petitioner Valente Raymundo, his wife
Violeta, Virginia Banta and Maria Concepcion Vito (plaintiffs) in
consolidated cases for Rescission of Contract and Damages,
docketed as Civil Case Nos. 21736 to 21739. Thereafter, in
1975, the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Rizal, Branch 1,
rendered judgment: (1) rescinding the respective contracts of
plaintiffs with Rizal Realty and Teofista, and (2) holding the two
defendants solidarily liable to plaintiffs for damages in the
aggregate principal amount of about P70,000.00.9

When the judgment of the CFI became final and executory,


herein subject properties were levied and sold on execution on
June 24, 1983 to satisfy the judgment against Teofista and Rizal
Realty. The aforementioned plaintiffs were the highest bidder,
and bought the levied properties for the amount of P94,170.00.
As a result, a certificate of sale was issued to them and
registered in their favor on August 1, 1983. On July 31, 1984,
the Provincial Sheriff of Rizal issued a final deed of sale over the
subject properties.

Parenthetically, before expiration of the redemption period, or


on June 21, 1984, herein respondents filed a revindicatory
action against petitioner Valente, Violeta, Virginia and Maria
Concepcion, docketed as Civil Case No. 51203, for the
annulment of the auction sale and recovery of ownership of the
levied properties. Essentially, respondents alleged in their
complaint that they cannot be held liable for the judgment
rendered against their mother, Teofista, not having been
impleaded therein; and consequently, the subject properties,
which they own pro indiviso with their mother, can neither be
levied nor be sold on execution.

Page 41 of 58

Meanwhile, the RTC, Branch 151, formerly the CFI, Branch 1, in


Civil Case Nos. 21376 to 21379, issued an Order10 directing
Teofista: (1) to vacate the subject properties, (2) to desist from
despoiling,
dismantling,
removing
or
alienating
the
improvements thereon, (3) to place petitioner Valente, Violeta,
Virginia and Maria Concepcion in peaceful possession thereof,
and (4) to surrender to them the owner's duplicate copy of the
torrens title and other pertinent documents. Herein
respondents, joined by their mother, Teofista, filed a Motion for
Reconsideration arguing that the subject properties are coowned by them and further informing the RTC of the filing and
pendency of Civil Case No. 51203. Nonetheless, the trial court
denied Teofista's and herein respondents' motion, reiterated its
previous order, which included, among others, the order for
Teofista and all persons claiming right under her, to vacate the
lots subject of the judicial sale.

Undaunted, Teofista and herein respondents filed a petition for


certiorari before the CA to annul the foregoing orders. The
appellate court, on July 6, 1987, dismissed Teofista's and herein
respondents' petition, thus:

We believe this petition cannot prosper for two reasons. First, as


purported case for certiorari it fails to show how the respondent
judge had acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with
grave abuse of discretion. The two orders being assailed were
preceded by a final judgment, a corresponding writ of
execution, a levy on execution and a judicial sale, all of which
enjoy a strong sense presumption of regularity.

Secondly, as far as [petitioner] Teofista Suarez is concerned, she


cannot complain about the levy because she was a party in the
consolidated cases where judgment was rendered against her in

her personal capacity. Since she did not appeal from the
decision, she cannot say that the judgment is erroneous for an
obligation that belong to the corporation. And with respect to
the children of Teofista Suarez, who are co-petitioners in this
proceedings [herein respondents], suffice it to point out that not
being parties in the consolidated cases, what they should have
done was to immediately file a third party claim. The moment
levy was made on the parcels of land, which they claim are
theirs by virtue of hereditary succession, they should have
seasonably filed such claim to protect their rights. As the record
discloses, however, the children chose to remain silent, and
even allowed the auction sale to be held, filing almost a year
later a half-hearted complaint to annul the proceedings which
they allowed to be dismissed by not diligently prosecuting it.

In Santos v. Mojica (10 SCRA 318), a partition case with thirdparty claimants, the Supreme Court came out with the following
ruling: "The procedure (a petition for certiorari) followed by him
(a petitioner not party to the original partition case) in
vindicating his right is not the one sanctioned by law, for he
should have filed a separate and independent action making
parties therein the sheriff and the plaintiffs responsible for the
execution xxx. It can, therefore, be said that (he) acted
improperly in filing the present petition because his remedy was
to file a separate and independent action to vindicate his
ownership over the land.

WHEREFORE, the petition is denied and the restraining order


previously issued is DISSOLVED, with costs against
petitioners.11

On the other litigation front concerning Civil Case No. 51203, a


writ of preliminary injunction was issued by the RTC Pasig,
Branch 155, on February 25, 1985, enjoining petitioner Valente,
Violeta, Virginia and Maria Concepcion from transferring to third
parties the levied properties based on its preliminary finding

Page 42 of 58

that the auctioned properties are co-owned by Teofista and


herein respondents. Subsequently, however, Civil Case No.
51203 was dismissed by the RTC, Branch 155, at the instance of
petitioner Valente for failure of herein respondents to prosecute.
But in yet another turn of events, the RTC, Branch 155, lifted its
previous order of dismissal and directed the issuance of alias
summons.

Thus, it was now petitioner Valente's, Violeta's, Virginia's and


Maria Concepcion's turn to file a petition for certiorari with the
CA, assailing the various orders of the RTC, Branch 155, which
all rejected their bid to dismiss Civil Case No. 51203. The CA
granted their petition, thus:

And the fact that herein private respondents, as the legal heirs
of Teofista Vda. de Suarez and supposedly not parties in Civil
Case Nos. 21376 - 21379 does not preclude the application of
the doctrine of res judicata since, apart from the requisites
constitutive of this procedural tenet, they were admittedly the
children of Teofista Suarez, who is the real party-in-interest in
the previous final judgment. As successors-in-interest of Teofista
Suarez, private respondents merely stepped into the shoes of
their mother in regard to the levied pieces of property. Verily,
there is identity of parties, not only where the parties in both
actions are the same, but where there is privity with them as in
the cases of successors-in-interest by title subsequent to the
commencement of the action or where there is substantial
identity.

Finally, the action to annul the judicial sale filed by herein


private respondents is not the reinvindicatory suit, much less
the third party claim contemplated by Section 17 of Rule 39.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby granted and


the questioned orders dated February 25, 1985, May 19, 1989
and February 26, 1990 issued in Civil Case No. 51203 are
hereby annulled; further respondent judge is ordered to dismiss
Civil Case No. 51203.12

From this ruling, herein respondents appealed to the Supreme


Court. In Suarez v. Court of Appeals,13 we reversed the
appellate court, thus:

Even without touching on the incidents and issues raised by


both petitioner [herein respondents] and private respondents
[petitioner Valente, Violeta, Virginia and Maria Concepcion] and
the developments subsequent to the filing of the complaint,
[w]e cannot but notice the glaring error committed by the trial
court.

It would be useless to discuss the procedural issue on the


validity of the execution and the manner of publicly selling en
masse the subject properties for auction. To start with, only onehalf of the 5 parcels of land [subject properties] should have
been the subject of the auction sale.

The law in point is Article 777 of the Civil Code, the law
applicable at the time of the institution of the case:

The rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment


of the death of the decedent."

Page 43 of 58

Article 888 further provides:

"The legitime of the legitimate children and descendants


consists of one-half of the hereditary estate of the father and of
the mother.

The latter may freely dispose of the remaining half, subject to


the rights of illegitimate children and of the surviving spouse as
hereinafter provided."

Article 892, par. 2 likewise provides:

"If there are two or more legitimate children or descendants,


the surviving spouse shall be entitled to a portion equal to the
legitime of each of the legitimate children or descendants."

Thus, from the foregoing, the legitime of the surviving spouse is


equal to the legitime of each child.

The proprietary interest of petitioners [herein respondents] in


the levied and auctioned property is different from and adverse
to that of their mother [Teofista]. Petitioners [herein
respondents] became co-owners of the property not because of
their mother [Teofista] but through their own right as children of
their deceased father [Marcelo Sr.]. Therefore, petitioners
[herein respondents] are not barred in any way from instituting
the action to annul the auction sale to protect their own
interest.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated July 27,


1990 as well as its Resolution of August 28, 1990 are hereby
REVERSED and set aside; and Civil Case No. 51203 is reinstated
only to determine that portion which belongs to petitioners and
to annul the sale with regard to said portion.

It was at this point when another series of events transpired,


culminating in the present petition.

Upon our reinstatement of Civil Case No. 51203, each and every
pleading filed by herein respondents, as plaintiffs therein, was
hotly contested and opposed by therein defendants, including
petitioner Valente. Moreover, even at that stage, when the case
had been remanded with a directive to "determine that portion
which belongs to [herein respondents] and to annul the sale
with regard to said portion," Civil Case No. 51203 had to be reraffled and transferred, for varied reasons, to the different court
branches in Pasig City. In between all these, petitioner Valente,
along with the other defendants, repeatedly filed a Motion to
Dismiss Civil Case No. 51203 for the purported failure of herein
respondents to prosecute the case. Most of these Motions to
Dismiss were denied.

With each transfer of Civil Case No. 51203, the judge to which
the case was raffled had to study the records anew. Expectedly,
part of the records went missing and were lost. On April 12,
1993, the Clerk of Court of RTC, Branch 71, to which Civil Case
No. 51203 was remanded, filed a report on the records of the
case, to wit:

Page 44 of 58

1. The first volume of the record in the above-entitled case was


recorded as received on June 20, 1990, by Sheriff Alejandro O.
Loquinario;

7. That it was only later on that this office discovered that


important documents were indeed lost, including transcripts of
stenographic notes in a case that was submitted for decision;

2. That the staff of Branch 71 at this time was sharing a small


room with Branch 161 at the First Floor of the Justice Hall, and
as the Branch was newly formed, it had no equipment or
furniture of its own, and was still undermanned;

8. That sometime in May 1992, the branch moved its Office to


its present location;

3. That sometime in August 1990, Branch 71 moved to the


staffroom of Branch 159 at the Second Floor of the Justice Hall;

4. That on October 25, 1990, this Court received a Notice of


Judgment dated October 22, 1990 from the Court of Appeals
that ruled the dismissal of the above-entitled case, and as per
standing instructions of Judge Graduacion A. Reyes-Claravall,
the same was bound as volume 2 of the case;

5. That just before the Christmas vacation in 1991, the branch


was forced to hastily move all of its records and equipment to
branch 69, because of the unexpected notice we received that
the room we were occupying was to be demolished in order to
meet the schedule for the renovation of the building;

9. That on March 8, 1993, this Court received a copy of a


Decision of the Supreme Court reversing the earlier ruling of the
Court of Appeals;

10. That it was at this time that the first volume of this case,
which was bundled along with other cases which were decided
and/or archived, was reported as missing;

11. That from the time the same was found to be missing, Judge
Claravall ordered that a search for the same be made in all of
the offices wherein this branch was forced to share a room with,
as well as the Court of Appeals, in the event that the same was
transmitted to said Court;

12. That all the efforts were in vain, as said record could not be
located anywhere;
6. That unfortunately, the room was demolished before the
undersigned could make a last check to see if everything was
transferred;

13. That the undersigned now concludes that the first volume of
the above-entitled case was probably lost during the renovation
of the Justice Hall Building, and will have to be reconstituted

Page 45 of 58

with the use of documents in the possession of the parties, or


documents entered as exhibits in other Courts.14

subject properties worth millions then, for a measly bid price of


P94,170.00, for a judgment obligation worth only P70,000.00.

In this regard, herein respondents filed a Motion for


Reconstitution of Records15 of the case. Initially, petitioner
Valente, and the other defendants -- Violeta, Virginia and Maria
Concepcion -- opposed the motion.16 However, the trial court
eventually granted the motion for reconstitution, and ordered
petitioner Valente and the other defendants to submit a copy of
their Answer filed thereat and copies of other pleadings
pertinent to the case.17

3. An Urgent Motion [to direct compliance by plaintiffs (herein


respondents) with Supreme Court Decision or to consider the
matter submitted without evidence on the part of plaintiffs]20
filed by therein defendants, including herein petitioner Valente,
pointing out that plaintiffs (herein respondents) have yet to
comply with the RTC, Branch 67 Order commanding them to
submit (to the RTC) any evidence showing settlement of the
estate of the deceased Marcelo Suarez, in order for the court to
determine the portion in the estate which belongs to Teofista.
The Urgent Motion stated in paragraph 2, thus:

Thereafter, three (3) incidents, among numerous others, set off


by the parties' pleadings, are worth mentioning, to wit:

1. A Motion for Leave to File and Admit Supplemental


Complaint18 filed by herein respondents. The Supplemental
Complaint additionally prayed that the levy and sale at public
auction of the subject properties be annulled and set aside, as
the bid price was unconscionable and grossly inadequate to the
current value of the subject properties. The Supplemental
Complaint further sought a re-bidding with respect to Teofista's
share in the subject properties. Finally, it prayed that TCT No.
6509 in the name of petitioner Valente, Violeta, Virginia and
Maria Concepcion be cancelled and TCT No. 30680 in the name
of Marcelo Suarez, married to Teofista Isagon, be reinstated.

2. A Manifestation and Motion (to Execute/Enforce Decision


dated September 4, 1992 of the Supreme Court)19 filed by
herein respondents pointing out that the Supreme Court itself
had noted the current increased value of the subject properties
and that petitioner Valente, Violeta, Virginia and Maria
Concepcion unjustly enriched themselves in appropriating the

2. The defendants [including herein petitioner Valente] did


everything possible to expedite the disposition of this case
while the plaintiffs [herein respondents] did everything possible
to DELAY the disposition of the same obviously because the
plaintiffs [herein respondents] are in full possession and
enjoyment of the property in dispute. In its decision of
September 4, 1992, the SUPREME COURT nullified TWO final
and executory DECISIONS of the Court of Appeals in an
unprecedented action. In said decision, the Supreme Court
ordered the plaintiffs [herein respondents] to establish with
evidence their personality as heirs of Marcelo Suarez, and after
being able to do so, to adduce evidence that would determine
what portion belongs to plaintiffs hence the above matters need
be litigated upon before the RTC can "annul the sale with regard
to said portion" (belonging to the plaintiffs alleged heirs).

On these incidents, the records reveal the following Orders


issued by the different branches of the RTC:

Page 46 of 58

1. Order dated March 17, 1995, issued by Presiding Judge


Rodrigo B. Lorenzo of Branch 266, Pasig City, admitting herein
respondents' Supplemental Complaint.21

2. Order dated January 22, 1996, issued by Judge Apolinario B.


Santos resolving: (a) herein respondents' Manifestation and
Motion (to execute/enforce Decision dated September 4, 1992
of the Supreme Court), and (b) therein defendants' (including
herein petitioner Valente's) Request for Answer to Written
Interrogatories.22 The RTC, Branch 67, resolved the incidents,
thus:

From the foregoing uncontroverted facts, this Court is convinced


beyond a shadow of doubt that the Decision of the Supreme
Court of September 4, 1992, being the final arbiter in any
judicial dispute, should be implemented for the following
reasons:

xxxx

"xxx and Civil Case No. 51203 is reinstated only to determine


that portion which belongs to petitioner and to annul the sale
with regard to said portion."

In order to enforce such mandate of the Supreme Court, this


court orders that:

a. The auction sale of the five (5) parcels of land and all prior
and subsequent proceedings in relation thereto are declared
null and void.

b. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 6509 in the name of


defendant Valente Raymundo is also declared null and void, and
the Register of Deeds of Rizal, Pasig City, is ordered to issue a
new one in the name of the deceased Marcelo Suarez or to
reinstate Transfer Certificate of Title No. 30680 in the name of
Marcelo Suarez.

On the request for Answers to Written Interrogatories filed by


the defendants, it is obvious that at this stage of the
proceedings where the Supreme Court had already pronounced
the undisputed facts, which binds this court, the answer sought
to be elicited through written interrogatories, therefore, are
entirely irrelevant, aside from having been filed way out of time.

c. Teofista Suarez is ordered to reimburse the amount of


P94,170.00, plus legal interest from the date of issuance of this
order, and failing which, the portion of the estate of Marcelo
Suarez belonging to the surviving spouse, Teofista Suarez, may
be levied on execution.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this court, implements the


decision of the Supreme Court dated September 4, 1992 which
mandates that:

d. [Herein respondents], including Teofista Suarez, are hereby


ordered to submit to this court any evidence showing
settlement of the estate of the deceased, Marcelo Suarez, in
order for this court to determine the portion in the estate which
belongs to Teofista Suarez.

Page 47 of 58

Therein defendants, including petitioner Valente, filed a Motion


for Reconsideration which the trial court denied on May 29,
1996.

3. Order dated September 10, 1996, issued by Judge Santos


denying the appeal interposed by petitioner Valente from the
January 22, 1996 and May 29, 1996 Orders, ruling that these
are interlocutory orders, and, therefore, not appealable.23

4. Order dated April 8, 1999, issued by Pairing Judge Santiago


Estrella which declared, thus:

Considering that counsel for the plaintiffs does not have the
birth certificates of the heirs of the plaintiff to prove their
affiliation with the deceased which is one of the matters written
in the decision of the higher court which must be complied with,
and in order for counsel for the plaintiffs [herein respondents] to
have the opportunity to complete all documentary evidence and
in view of abbreviating the proceedings and as prayed for,
today's scheduled pre-trial is re-set for the last time to May 19,
1999 at 8:30 a.m.

In this connection, counsel for plaintiffs [herein respondents] is


advised to secure all the documentary evidence she needs
material to this case which will expedite the disposition of this
case.24

This last Order and therein defendants' Urgent Motion spawned


another contentious issue between the parties. In this

connection, Judge Estrella issued an Order25 requiring the


parties to file their respective position papers due to the
"divergent views on the nature of the hearing that should be
conducted in compliance with" our decision in Suarez. Both
parties duly filed their position papers, with herein respondents
attaching thereto a copy of the Extrajudicial Settlement of
Estate executed by the heirs of Marcelo Suarez in 1957.

In resolving this latest crossfire between the parties, the RTC,


Branch 67, issued an Order dated January 11, 2000, which
reads, in part:

This Court is of the view that the Honorable Supreme Court is


not a trier of facts, precisely it directed that the records of this
case be remanded to the Regional Trial Court for further
proceedings.

xxxx

It is a matter of record that there was no trial on the merits


completed in the Regional Trial Court. xxx The Supreme Court
reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and ordered the
reinstatement of Civil Case No. 51203. Naturally, there was no
trial on the merits before this Court that allowed the parties to
adduce evidence to establish their respective claims in the
plaintiffs' [herein respondents] complaint and in the defendants'
[including petitioner Valente] counter-claim, respectively. It is in
this context that the Honorable Supreme Court reinstated the
"action [of herein respondents] to annul the auction sale to
protect their [herein respondents] own interest.

Page 48 of 58

While this Court is of the view that trial on the merits is


necessary for the purpose of giving the plaintiffs [herein
respondents] a chance to adduce evidence to sustain their
complaint and the defendants [including petitioner Valente] to
prove their defense, consistent with the directive of the
Honorable Supreme Court (in its Decision promulgated on
September 4, 1992), the Court is, however, confronted with the
very recent decision of the Honorable Supreme Court in "Heirs
of Guido Yaptinchay, et al. vs. Del Rosario, et al., G.R. No.
124320, March 2, 1999" where it held that -

The declaration of heirship must be made in an administration


proceeding, and not in an independent civil action. This doctrine
was reiterated in Solve vs. Court of Appeals (182 SCRA 119,
128). The trial court cannot make a declaration of heirship in
the civil action for the reason that such a declaration can only
be made in a special proceeding. Under Section 3, Rule 1 of the
1997 Revised Rules of Court, a civil action is defined as "one by
which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of
a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong" while a special
proceeding is "a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a
status, a right, or a particular fact." It is then decisively clear
that the declaration of heirship can be made only in a special
proceeding inasmuch as the petitioners here are seeking the
establishment of a status or right.

In as much as the leading case on the matter is that of "Heirs of


Yaptinchay v. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 124320, March 2, 1999" it is
left with no choice but to obey said latter doctrine.

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, this Court


holds that in the light of the doctrine laid down in the case of
"Heirs of Yaptinchay vs. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 124320, March 2,
1999" this case is dismissed without prejudice to the plaintiffs'
[herein respondents'] filing a special proceeding consistent with
said latest ruling.26

Herein respondents moved for reconsideration thereof which,


however, was denied by the RTC, Branch 67 on March 14,
2000.27

Consequently, herein respondents filed a petition for certiorari


before the CA alleging grave abuse of discretion in the trial
court's order dismissing Civil Case No. 51203 without prejudice.
All the defendants in the trial court were impleaded as private
respondents in the petition. Yet, curiously, only petitioner
Valente filed a Comment thereto. The appellate court granted
the petition, recalled and set aside RTC, Branch 67's Orders
dated January 11, 2000 and March 14, 2000, and reinstated
Judge Santos' Orders dated May 29, 1996 and September 6,
1996. It disposed of the petition, thus:

We agree with [herein respondents].

On September 4, 1992, the Supreme Court (G.R. No. 94918)


reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and mandates
that Civil Case No. 51203 be reinstated in order to determine
the portion in the estate which belongs to Teofista Suarez. The
sale of the parcels of land was declared null and void.
Necessarily, the title (TCT No. 5809) in the name of respondents
was also declared null and void. xxx

xxxx

Hon. Apolinario Santos of Br. 67, Regional Trial Court, Pasig City,
on January 22, 1996 and on motion of [herein respondents],

Page 49 of 58

issued an order to execute/enforce the decision of the Supreme


Court xxx.

2. The CA ignored and violated the Supreme Court's ruling in


Heirs of Yaptinchay v. Del Rosario28 which held that a
declaration of heirship must be made in a special proceeding
and not in a civil action.

xxxx
We find the petition bereft of merit.
[Petitioner Valente, Violeta, Virginia and Maria Concepcion] filed
a notice of appeal on the order of Judge Santos. The appeal, on
motion of [herein respondents] was denied on September 10,
1996. Obviously, the decision of the Supreme Court had
become final and executory. Likewise, both orders of Judge
Santos dated May 29, 1996 denying the motion for
reconsideration and the denial of the notice of appeal dated
September 6, 1996 had also become final and executory.

The denial of petitioner Valente's Motion for Reconsideration


prompted the filing of this present petition for certiorari.

At the outset, we note that petitioner Valente incorrectly filed a


petition for certiorari to appeal the CA decision. Petitioner
should have filed a petition for review on certiorari under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court. Simply imputing in a petition that the
decision sought to be reviewed is tainted with grave abuse of
discretion does not magically transform a petition into a special
civil action for certiorari. The CA decision disposed of the merits
of a special civil action, an original petition, filed thereat by
herein respondents. That disposition is a final and executory
order, appealable to, and may be questioned before, this Court
by persons aggrieved thereby, such as petitioner Valente, via
Rule 45.

Petitioner Valente posits that the appellate court committed


grave abuse of discretion in recalling and setting aside the
Orders of Judge Estrella and reinstating those of Judge Santos
because:

On this score alone, the petition should have been dismissed


outright. However, we have disregarded this procedural flaw
and now resolve this case based on the merits or lack thereof.

1. The CA ruled that the Orders dated May 29, 1996 and
September 6, 1996 issued by Judge Santos were final and
executory, and yet the latter did not allow an appeal to be taken
therefrom ratiocinating that the questioned orders were
interlocutory, and therefore, not appealable; and

Petitioner asseverates that the assailed CA ruling "is unfair and


it amounts to a trickery to prevent an appeal against a final
order by claiming that the appealed order is merely
interlocutory and later maintain that the same order has
become final after declaring it to be interlocutory."

Page 50 of 58

We reject petitioner's paltry contention. Petitioner apparently


does not comprehend the distinction between an interlocutory
order which is final and executory, and a final order which
disposes of the controversy or case; much less, understand the
available remedies therefrom.

We have defined an interlocutory order as referring to


something between the commencement and the end of the suit
which decides some point or matter but it is not the final
decision on the whole controversy.29 It does not terminate or
finally dismiss or finally dispose of the case, but leaves
something to be done by the court before the case is finally
decided on the merits.30 Upon the other hand, a final order is
one which leaves to the court nothing more to do to resolve the
case.31

We cannot overemphasize the rule that the correct


identification of the nature of an assailed order determines the
remedies available to an aggrieved party. The old Rules of Court
in Section 2, Rule 41 reads, thus:

SEC. 2. Judgments or orders subject to appeal.-Only final


judgments or orders shall be subject to appeal. No interlocutory
or incidental judgment or order shall stay the progress of an
action, nor shall it be the subject of appeal until final judgment
or order is rendered for one party or the other.

xxxx
On more than one occasion, we laid down the test to ascertain
whether an order is interlocutory or final i.e., "Does it leave
something to be done in the trial court with respect to the
merits of the case?" If it does, it is interlocutory; if it does not, it
is final. The key test to what is interlocutory is when there is
something more to be done on the merits of the case.32 The
Orders dated May 29, 1996 and September 6, 1996 issued by
Judge Santos are interlocutory, and therefore, not appealable,
as they leave something more to be done on the merits of the
case. In fact, in paragraph (d) of Judge Santos' Order dated May
29, 1996, herein respondents were directed to submit evidence
showing settlement of the estate of the deceased Marcelo Sr.

Contrary to petitioner Valente's stance, there is no trickery or


chicanery in the CA's distinction between an interlocutory and a
final order. Indeed, as ruled by the CA, the RTC Order denying
petitioner Valente's Notice of Appeal attained finality when he
failed to file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules
of Court.

With the advent of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, Section 1,


Rule 41 now provides for the appropriate remedy to be taken
from an interlocutory order, thus:

SECTION 1.Subject of appeal. - An appeal may be taken from a


judgment or final order that completely disposes of the case, or
of a particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to
be appealable.

No appeal may be taken from:

xxx

Page 51 of 58

before this Court on a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, when
the proper remedy is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45.
(c) An interlocutory order;

xxx

In all the above instances where the judgment or final order is


not appealable, the aggrieved party may file an appropriate
special civil action under Rule 65.

Clearly, the denial of therein defendants' (including petitioner


Valente's) appeal from the Orders dated May 29, 1996 and
September 6, 1996 was in order. Thus, the CA decision affirming
the RTC's denial was correct.

Further, on this crucial distinction as applied to this case,


petitioner Valente filed a petition for certiorari from the CA
decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 58090, which is not an interlocutory
order. It is a final order which completely disposed of the merits
of the case with nothing more left to be done therein. The
correct and available remedy available to petitioner Valente
was, as previously discussed, a petition for review on certiorari
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

In fine, petitioner Valente erroneously sought relief through


reversed remedies. He tried to appeal the interlocutory orders
of the RTC which are unappealable. Thus, the RTC properly
denied his Notice of Appeal, and the CA correctly upheld the
RTC. He should have filed a petition for certiorari; under Rule 65.
On the other hand, from the final order of the CA, he comes

In the recent case of Jan-Dec Construction Corporation v. Court


of Appeals33 we ruled in this wise:

As a rule, the remedy from a judgment or final order of the CA is


appeal via petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules.

Under Rule 45, decisions, final orders or resolutions of the CA in


any case, i.e., regardless of the nature of the action or
proceedings involved, may be appealed to the Court by filing a
petition for review, which would be but a continuation of the
appellate process over the original case. It seeks to correct
errors of judgment committed by the court, tribunal, or officer.
In contrast, a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 is
an independent action based on the specific grounds therein
provided and proper only if there is no appeal or any plain,
speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. It is
an extraordinary process for the correction of errors of
jurisdiction and cannot be availed of as a substitute for the lost
remedy of an ordinary appeal.

Independently of this procedural infirmity, even on the merits of


the case, the petition does not fare otherwise. It must be
dismissed for lack of merit.

Petitioner Valente insists that, following our ruling in Heirs of


Yaptinchay v. Del Rosario,34 herein respondents must first be
declared heirs of Marcelo Sr. before they can file an action to

Page 52 of 58

annul the judicial sale of what is, undisputedly, conjugal


property of Teofista and Marcelo Sr.

We disagree. Our ruling in Heirs of Yaptinchay is not applicable.

Herein respondents' status as legitimate children of Marcelo Sr.


and Teofista and thus, Marcelo Sr.'s heirs has been firmly
established, and confirmed by this Court in Suarez v. Court of
Appeals.35 True, this Court is not a trier of facts,36 but as the
final arbiter of disputes,37 we found and so ruled that herein
respondents are children, and heirs of their deceased father,
Marcelo Sr. This having been settled, it should no longer have
been a litigated issue when we ordered a remand to the lower
court. In short, petitioner Valente's, Violeta's, Virginia's, and
Maria Concepcion's representation in the RTC that our ruling in
Suarez required herein respondents to present evidence of their
affiliation with the deceased, Marcelo Sr., is wrong.

As was set forth in the dispositive portion of Suarez, "Civil Case


No. 51203 is reinstated only to determine that portion which
belongs to [herein respondents] and to annul the sale with
regard to said portion." There is clearly no intimation in our
decision for the RTC to have to determine an already settled
issue i.e., herein respondents' status as heirs of Marcelo Sr.

Moreover, petitioner Valente cannot assail, directly or indirectly,


the status of herein respondents as legitimate children of
Marcelo Sr. and Teofista, and likewise demand that herein
respondents first prove their filiation to Marcelo Sr. The
following records bear out Marcelo, Sr.'s and Teofista's paternity
of herein respondents, and the latter's status as legitimate
children:

1. The CA decision in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 10646 to 10649 where


Teofista, along with herein respondents, questioned the RTC,
Branch 151's Orders dated October 10, 1984 and October 14,
1986. Although the CA ruled against Teofista and herein
respondents, it explicitly recognized the latter's status as
legitimate children of Teofista and Marcelo Sr.; and38

2. The CA decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 20320 which incorrectly


ruled that herein respondents were, as children of Teofista,
merely successors-in-interest of the latter to the property and
by virtue thereof, bound by the judgment in Civil Case Nos.
21376 to 21379 consistent with the doctrine of res judicata.39
We subsequently reversed this ruling on the wrong application
of res judicata in the conclusive case of Suarez. We retained and
affirmed, however, the CA's factual finding of herein
respondents' status as heirs of Marcelo Sr. We categorically held
therein that "the proprietary interest of [herein respondents] in
the levied and auctioned [properties] is different from and
adverse to that of [Teofista]. [Herein respondents] became coowners of the property not because of [Teofista] but through
their own right as children of their deceased father [, Marcelo
Sr.]."

Clearly, herein respondents' long possessed status of legitimate


children of Marcelo Sr. and Teofista cannot be indirectly or
directly attacked by petitioner Valente in an action to annul a
judicial sale.

Articles 262,40 263,41 265 and 26642 of the Civil Code, the
applicable law at the time of Marcelo's death, support the
foregoing conclusion, to wit:

Page 53 of 58

Art. 262. The heirs of the husband may impugn the legitimacy
of the child only in the following cases:

(1) If the husband should die before the expiration of the period
fixed for bringing his action;

(2) If the husband should die after the filing of the complaint,
without having desisted from the same;

(3) If the child was born after the death of the husband.

Art. 263. The action to impugn the legitimacy of the child shall
be brought within one year from the recording of birth in the
Civil Register, if the husband should be in the same place, or in
a proper case, any of his heirs.

If he or his heirs are absent, the period shall be eighteen


months if they should reside in the Philippines; and two years if
abroad. If the birth of the child has been concealed, the term
shall be counted from the discovery of the fraud.

Art. 265. The filiation of legitimate children is proved by the


record of birth appearing in the Civil Register, or by an
authentic document or a final judgment.

Art. 266. In the absence of the titles indicated in the preceding


article, the filiation shall be proved by the continuous
possession of status of a legitimate child.

In Heirs of Yaptinchay, the complaint for annulment and/or


declaration of nullity of certain TCT's was dismissed for failure of
the petitioners to demonstrate "any proof or even a semblance
of it" that they had been declared the legal heirs of the
deceased couple, the spouses Yaptinchay. In stark contrast, the
records of this case reveal a document, an Extrajudicial
Settlement of Marcelo Sr.'s estate, which explicitly recognizes
herein respondents as Marcelo Sr.'s legitimate children and
heirs. The same document settles and partitions the estate of
Marcelo Sr. specifying Teofista's paraphernal properties, and
separates the properties she owns in common with her children,
herein respondents. Plainly, there is no need to re-declare
herein respondents as heirs of Marcelo Sr., and prolong this
case interminably.

Petitioner Valente, along with Violeta, Virginia and Maria


Concepcion, became owners of the subject properties only by
virtue of an execution sale to recover Teofista's judgment
obligation. This judgment obligation is solely Teofista's, and
payment therefor cannot be made through an execution sale of
properties not absolutely owned by her. These properties were
evidently conjugal properties and were, in fact, even titled in
the name of Marcelo, Sr. married to Teofista. Thus, upon Marcelo
Sr.'s death, by virtue of compulsory succession, Marcelo Sr.'s
share in the conjugal partnership was transmitted by operation
of law to his compulsory heirs.

Compulsory succession is a distinct kind of succession, albeit


not categorized as such in Article 77843 of the Civil Code. It
reserves a portion of the net estate of the decedent in favor of
certain heirs, or group of heirs, or combination of heirs,
prevailing over all kinds of succession.44 The portion that is so

Page 54 of 58

reserved is the legitime. Article 886 of the Civil Code defines


legitime as "that part of the testator's property which he cannot
dispose of because the law has reserved it for certain heirs who
are, therefore, called compulsory heirs." Herein respondents are
primary compulsory heirs,45 excluding secondary compulsory
heirs,46 and preferred over concurring compulsory heirs in the
distribution of the decedent's estate.47

Even without delving into the Extrajudicial Settlement of


Marcelo Sr.'s estate in 1957, it must be stressed that herein
respondents' rights to the succession vested from the moment
of their father's death.48 Herein respondents' ownership of the
subject properties is no longer inchoate; it became absolute
upon Marcelo's death, although their respective shares therein
remained pro indiviso. Ineluctably, at the time the subject
properties were sold on execution sale to answer for Teofista's
judgment obligation, the inclusion of herein respondents' share
therein was null and void.

In fine, Teofista's ownership over the subject properties is not


absolute. Significantly, petitioner Valente does not even
attempt to dispute the conjugal nature of the subject properties.
Since Teofista owns only a portion of the subject properties, only
that portion could have been, and was actually, levied upon and
sold on auction by the provincial sheriff of Rizal. Thus, a
separate declaration of heirship by herein respondents is not
necessary to annul the judicial sale of their share in the subject
properties.

The common doctrine in Litam, Solivio and Guilas in which the


adverse parties are putative heirs to the estate of a decedent or
parties to the special proceedings for its settlement is that if the
special proceedings are pending, or if there are no special
proceedings filed but there is, under the circumstances of the
case, a need to file one, then the determination of, among other
issues, heirship should be raised and settled in said special
proceedings. Where special proceedings had been instituted but
had been finally closed and terminated, however, or if a
putative heirs 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.

In the case at bar, respondent, believing rightly or wrongly that


she was the sole heir to Portugal's estate, executed on February
15, 1988 the questioned Affidavit of Adjudication under the
second sentence of Rule 74, Section of the Revised Rules of
Court. Said rule is an exception to the general rule that when a
person dies leaving property, it should be judicially
administered and the competent court should appoint a
qualified administrator, in the order established in Sec. 6, Rule
78 in case the deceased left no will, or in case he did, he failed
to name an executor therein.

xxx
We note the recent case of Portugal v. Portugal-Beltran,49
where we scrutinized our rulings in Heirs of Yaptinchay and the
cited cases of Litam v. Rivera50 and Solivio v. Court of
Appeals,51 and Guilas v. CFI Judge of Pampanga52 cited in
Solivio. We ruled thus:

It appearing, however, that in the present case the only


property of the intestate estate of Portugal is the Caloocan
parcel of land, to still subject it, under the circumstances of the
case, to a special proceeding which could be long, hence, not

Page 55 of 58

expeditious, just to establish the status of petitioners as heirs is


not only impractical; it is burdensome to the estate with the
costs and expenses of an administration proceedings. And it is
superfluous in light of the fact that the parties to the civil casesubject of the present case, could and had already in fact
presented evidence before the trial court which assumed
jurisdiction over the case upon the issues it defined during pretrial.

#9.) HEIRS OF THE LATE DOMINGO N. NICOLAS,


Petitioners,

In fine, under the circumstances of the present case, there


being no compelling reason to still subject Portugal's estate to
administration proceedings since a determination of petitioners'
status as heirs could be achieved in the civil case filed by
petitioners xxx.53

versus -

METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY,


Respondent.

All told, under the circumstances, in addition to the already


settled status of herein respondents as heirs of Marcelo Sr.,
there is no need to dismiss Civil Case No. 51203 and require
herein respondents to institute a separate special proceeding
for a declaration of their heirship.

G.R. No. 137548

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The


Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 58090 is
AFFIRMED. The Orders dated May 29, 1996 and September 6,
1996 issued by Judge Santos are REINSTATED. Costs against the
petitioner.

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,

Present:

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
AZCUNA, and

SO ORDERED.

GARCIA, JJ.

Page 56 of 58

Promulgated:

September 3, 2007

Quezon City as evidenced by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT)


Nos. 156339 and 156341 of the Registry of Deeds, same city.
On these lots is the residential house of spouses Nicolas and
their two children, herein petitioners. These properties are
conjugal.

x
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

On May 19, 1986, Domingo Nicolas passed away.

DECISION

On June 11, 1988, a fire gutted the office of the Register of


Deeds of Quezon City. Among the records destroyed were the
original copies of TCTs Nos. 156339 and 156341.

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

Sometime in 1988, Josefa Nicolas, the surviving spouse of


Domingo, filed with the Land Registration Administration (LRA)
an application for reconstitution of the two (2) land titles.

For our resolution is the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari


under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended,
seeking to reverse the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals
( Sixteenth Division) dated January 14, 1999 in CA-G.R. SP No.
49926.

The facts of the case are not in dispute, thus:

Spouses Domingo and Josefa Nicolas are the registered owners


of two (2) parcels of land located at Sanville Subdivision,

In 1991, the LRA approved the application and ordered the


reconstitution of the destroyed TCTs but only in the name of
applicant Josefa Nicolas.

In 1998, petitioners learned that their mother mortgaged the


lots with the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., herein respondent;
that the mortgage had been foreclosed; that respondent had
the land titles consolidated in its name; and that respondent
filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 77, Quezon City
a petition for the issuance of a writ of possession (LRC Case No.
Q-8019[96]) which was granted on January 15, 1998.

Page 57 of 58

Petitioners then filed with the RTC, Branch 22, Quezon City Civil
Case No. Q-98-34312 for Annulment of Reconstituted Titles,
Mortgage and Sale at Public Auction. This case is still pending
trial.

Petitioners also filed with the RTC, Branch 77, Quezon City a
motion to quash the writ of possession, but it was denied on
September 10, 1998. Thereupon, they filed with the Court of
Appeals a petition for certiorari, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
49926. However, the appellate court dismissed the petition. It
held that the trial court, in issuing the writ of possession in
favor of the respondent, did not commit grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
considering that the trial court has the ministerial task to issue
such writ.

Petitioners seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration, but


this was denied by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution of
February 24, 1999.

Hence, the instant petition.

Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in


dismissing their petition for certiorari, invoking our ruling in
Rivero de Ortega v. Natividad[2] which reads:
The general rule is that after a sale has been made under a
decree in a foreclosure suit, the court has the power to give
possession to the purchaser, and the latter will not be driven to

an action in law to obtain possession. The power of the court to


issue a process and place the purchaser in possession, is said to
rest upon the ground that it has power to enforce its own
decrees and thus avoid circuitous actions and vexatious
litigation. But where a party in possession was not a party to
the foreclosure, and did not acquire his possession from a
person who was bound by the decree, but who is a mere
stranger and who entered into possession before the suit was
begun, the court has no power to deprive him of possession by
enforcing the decree. Thus, it was held that only parties to the
suit, persons who came in under them pendente lite, and
trespassers or intruders without title, can be evicted by a writ of
possession. The reason for this limitation is that the writ does
not issue in case of doubt, nor will a question of legal title be
tried or decided in proceedings looking to the exercise of the
power of the court to put a purchaser in possession. A very
serious question may arise upon full proofs as to where the
legal title to the property rests, and should not be disposed of in
a summary way. The petitioner, it is held, should be required to
establish his title in a proceeding directed to that end.
Here, petitioners as children and, therefore, compulsory heirs of
spouses Nicolas, acquired ownership of portions of the lots as
their legitime upon the death of their father or prior to the
foreclosure of mortgage and the filing by the respondent of its
petition for the issuance of a writ of possession. Consequently,
petitioners are strangers or third parties therein whose rights
cannot be determined as they were not impleaded by
respondent. Verily, they should not be deprived of their legitime
by the enforcement of the writ of possession. Clearly, therefore,
the writ of possession should not include parts of the two lots
pertaining to petitioners.

Records indicate that the estate of Domingo Nicolas has not


been judicially or extra-judicially settled.

It is basic that after consolidation of title in the buyers name for


failure of the mortgagor to redeem, the writ of possession

Page 58 of 58

becomes a matter of right[3] and its issuance to a purchaser in


an extra-judicial foreclosure is merely a ministerial function.[4]
However, considering the circumstances obtaining in this case
and following our ruling in Rivero de Ortega, earlier cited, we
hold that such writ of possession should apply only to the share
of Josefa as may be determined in Civil Case No. Q-98-34312 or
in any other proceeding that may be instituted by petitioners
for the purpose of settling the undivided estate of Domingo
Nicolas.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The assailed Decision of


the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 49926 is MODIFIED in the
sense that the writ of possession issued by the RTC, Branch 77,
Quezon City in LRC Case No. Q-8019(96) shall apply only to
such portion of the lots

pertaining to Josefa Nicolas as may be determined in Civil Case


No. Q-98-34312 or in any other proper proceeding which
petitioners may file.

SO ORDERED.