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TOPIC: 1. RULES OF SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (RULE 72)

G.R. NO. 16680 SEPTEMBER 13, 1920

BROADWELL HAGANS, PETITIONER, VS. ADOLPH WISLIZENUS,


JUDGE OF FIRST INSTANCE OF CEBU, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: This is an original petition, presented in the Supreme Court, for writ
of certiorari. The only question presented is, whether or not a judge of the
Court of First Instance, in "special proceedings," is authorized under the law
to appoint assessors for the purpose of fixing the amount due to an
administrator or executor for his services and expenses in the care,
management, and settlement of the estate of a deceased person.

The respondent judge, in support of his demurrer, argues that the


provision of Act No. 190 permit him to appoint assessors in "special
proceedings," The petitioner contends that no authority in law exists for the
appointment of assessors in such proceedings.

Section 154 of Act No. 190 provides that Either party to an action
may apply in writing to the judge for assessors to sit in the trial. Upon the
filing of such application, the judge shall direct that assessors be provided

ISSUE: Whether or not special proceedings are similar with actions.

RULING: No. A special proceeding is not the same with an action.

There is a marked distinction between an action and a special


proceeding.

An action is a formal demand of one's legal rights in a court of justice


in the manner prescribed by the court or by the law. It is the method of
applying legal remedies according to definite established rules.

The term "special proceeding" may be defined as an application or


proceeding to establish the status or right of a party, or a particular fact.
Usually, in special proceedings, no formal pleadings are required, unless the
statute expressly so provides. The remedy in special proceedings is generally
granted upon an application or motion.

Said section 1 of Act 190 provides that an "action" means an ordinary


suit in a court of justice, while "every other remedy furnished by law is a
'special proceeding."

Thus, the judge of the Court of First Instance is without authority to


appoint assessors.

G.R. NO. 129242 JANUARY 16, 2001


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PILAR S. VDA. DE MANALO, ANTONIO S. MANALO, ORLANDO S.


MANALO, AND ISABELITA MANALO ,PETITIONERS, VS. HON.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA
(BRANCH 35), PURITA S. JAYME, MILAGROS M. TERRE, BELEN
M. ORILLANO, ROSALINA M. ACUIN, ROMEO S. MANALO,
ROBERTO S. MANALO, AMALIA MANALO AND IMELDA
MANALO, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Troadio Manalo, died intestate on February 14, 1992. He was


survived by his wife, Pilar S. Manalo, and his eleven (11) children. He left
several real properties.

On November 26, 1992, herein respondents, the eight (8) surviving


children, filed a petition with the respondent RTC for the judicial settlement
of the estate of their late father, Troadio Manalo, and for the appointment of
their brother, Romeo Manalo, as administrator thereof.

Subsequently, herein petitioners filed a petition for certiorari alleging


that SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 is an ordinary civil action involving members of
the same family. Hence, it should be dismissed under Rule 16, Section 1(j) of
the Revised Rules of Court which provides that a motion to dismiss a
complaint may be filed on the ground that a condition precedent for filing the
claim has not been complied with, that is, that the petitioners therein failed
to aver in the petition that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been
made involving members of the same family prior to the filing of the petition
pursuant to Article 222[14] of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not that case at bar is in the nature of an ordinary civil action
involving members of the same family;

2. Whether or not Article 22 of the Civil Code applicable in Special Proceeding


cases.

RULING: Regarding the first issue, the Court said that a careful scrutiny of
the Petition for Issuance of Letters of Administration, Settlement and
Distribution of Estate belies herein petitioners claim that the same is in the
nature of an ordinary civil action.

The said petition contains sufficient jurisdictional facts required in a


petition for the settlement of estate of a deceased person such as the fact of
death of the late Troadio Manalo on February 14, 1992, as well as his
residence in the City of Manila at the time of his said death. The fact of death
of the decedent and of his residence within the country are foundation facts
upon which all the subsequent proceedings in the administration of the
estate rest.
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The petition also contains an enumeration of the names of his legal


heirs including a tentative list of the properties left by the deceased which
are sought to be settled in the probate proceedings. In addition, the reliefs
prayed for in the said petition leave no room for doubt as regard the
intention of the private respondents herein to seek judicial settlement of the
estate of their deceased

Although the petition contains certain averments which may be typical


of an ordinary civil action, petitioners may not be allowed to defeat the
purpose of the essentially valid petition for the settlement of the estate of
the late Troadio Manalo by raising matters that are irrelevant and immaterial
to the said petition. The rule has always been to the effect that the
jurisdiction of a court, as well as the concomitant nature of an action, is
determined by the averments in the complaint and not by the defenses
contained in the answer.

As to the second issue, the Court declared that Art. 222 of the Civil
Code, which provides that: No suit shall be filed or maintained between
members of the same family unless it should appear that earnest efforts
toward a compromise have been made, but that the same have failed,
subject to the limitations in Article 203. Is applicable only to ordinary civil
actions. The above-quoted provision of the law is applicable only to ordinary
civil actions. This is clear from the term suit that it refers to an action by one
person or persons against another or others in a court of justice in which the
plaintiff pursues the remedy which the law affords him for the redress of an
injury or the enforcement of a right, whether at law or in equity. A civil action
is thus an action filed in a court of justice, whereby a party sues another for
the enforcement of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong.

It must be emphasized that the oppositors (herein petitioners) are not


being sued for any cause of action as in fact no defendant was impleaded
therein. The Petition for Issuance of Letters of Administration, Settlement and
Distribution of Estate in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 is a special proceeding and,
as such, it is a remedy whereby the petitioners therein seek to establish a
status, a right, or a particular fact. The private respondents herein merely
seek to establish the fact of death of their father and subsequently to be duly
recognized as among the heirs of the said deceased so that they can validly
exercise their right to participate in the settlement and liquidation of the
estate of the decedent consistent with the limited and special jurisdiction of
the probate court.

G.R. NO. 133000 OCTOBER 2, 2001


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PATRICIA NATCHER, PETITIONER, VS. HON. COURT OFAPPEALS


AND THE HEIR OF GRACIANO DEL ROSARIO LETICIA DEL
ROSARIO, EMILIA DEL RESORIO MANANGAN, ROSALINDA
FUENTES LLANA, RODOLFO FUENTES, ALBERTO FUENTES,
EVELYN DEL ROSARIO, AND EDUARDO DEL
ROSARIO, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: Spouses Graciano del Rosario and Graciana Esguerra were registered
owners of a parcel of land. Upon the death of Graciana in 1951, Graciano,
together with his six children entered into an extrajudicial settlement of
Graciana's estate adjudicating and dividing among themselves the real
property.

Under the agreement, Graciano received 8/14 share while each of the
six children received 1/14 share of the said property. Accordingly, TCT No.
11889 was cancelled, and in lieu thereof, TCT No. 35980 was issued in the
name of Graciano and the six children.

Subsequently, the land subject of TCT No. 35988 was further


subdivided into two separate lots and Graciano eventually sold the first lot to
a third person but retained ownership over the second lot.

Later, Graciano married herein petitioner Patricia Natcher. During their


marriage, Graciano sold the second lot to his wife Patricia as a result of which
TCT No. 1860594 was issued in the latter's name.

Thereafter, Graciano died leaving his second wife Patricia and his six
children by his first marriage, as heirs.

In a complaint filed by herein private respondents, they alleged that


upon Graciano's death, petitioner Natcher, through the employment of fraud,
misrepresentation and forgery, acquired TCT No. 107443, by making it
appear that Graciano executed a Deed of Sale in her favor. Similarly, herein
private respondents alleged in said complaint that as a consequence of such
fraudulent sale, their legitimes have been impaired.

The RTC held that the deed of sale is prohibited by law and thus a
complete nullity. There being no evidence that a separation of property was
agreed upon in the marriage settlements or that there has been decreed a
judicial separation of property between them, the spouses are prohibited
from entering (into) a contract of sale. Also, the deed as sale cannot be
likewise regarded as a valid donation as it was equally prohibited by law
under Article 133 of the New Civil Code.

The CA reversed the decision and ruled that: "It is the probate court
that has exclusive jurisdiction to make a just and legal distribution of the
estate. The court a quo, trying an ordinary action for reconveyance /
annulment of title, went beyond its jurisdiction when it performed the acts
proper only in a special proceeding for the settlement of estate of a
deceased person." Thus this present petition.
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ISSUE: May the Regional Trial Court, acting as a court of general jurisdiction
in an action for reconveyance and annulment of title with damages,
adjudicate matters relating to the settlement of the estate of a deceased
person particularly on questions as to advancement of property made by the
decedent to any of the heirs?

RULING: No, the RTC may not.

Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines civil action and
special proceedings, in this wise:

a) A civil action is one by which a party sues another for the


enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a
wrong.

"A civil action may either be ordinary or special. Both are government
by the rules for ordinary civil actions, subject to specific rules
prescribed for a special civil action.

c) A special proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to


establish a status, a right or a particular fact."

As could be gleaned from the foregoing, there lies a marked distinction


between an action and a special proceeding. An action is a formal demand
of one's right in a court of justice in the manner prescribed by the court or by
the law. It is the method of applying legal remedies according to definite
established rules.

The term "special proceeding" may be defined as an application or


proceeding to establish the status or right of a party, or a particular fact.
Usually, in special proceedings, no formal pleadings are required unless the
statute expressly so provides. In special proceedings, the remedy is granted
generally upon an application or motion.

Applying these principles, an action for reconveyance and annulment


of title with damages is a civil action, whereas matters relating to settlement
of the estate of a deceased person such as advancement of property made
by the decedent, partake of the nature of a special proceeding, which
concomitantly requires the application of specific rules as provided for in the
Rules of Court.

Clearly, matters which involve settlement and distribution of the estate


of the decedent fall within the exclusive province of the probate court in the
exercise of its limited jurisdiction.

Thus, under Section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, questions as to


advancement made or alleged to have been made by the deceased to any
heir may be heard and determined by the court having jurisdiction of the
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estate proceedings; and the final order of the court thereon shall be binding
on the person raising the questions and on the heir.

The Regional Trial Court in the instant case, acting in its general
jurisdiction, is devoid of authority to render an adjudication and resolve the
issue of advancement of the real property in favor of herein petitioner
Natcher, inasmuch as the Civil Case for reconveyance and annulment of title
with damages is not, according to the SC, the proper vehicle to thresh out
said question. Moreover, under the present circumstances, the RTC was not
properly constituted as a probate court so as to validly pass upon the
question of advancement made by the decedent Graciano Del Rosario to his
wife, herein petitioner Natcher.

G.R. NO. 26751 JANUARY 31, 1969

JOSE S. MATUTE, PETITIONER, VS. THE COURT OF APPEALS


(THIRD DIVISION) AND MATIAS S. MATUTE, RESPONDENTS.

---------------------------

G.R. NO. L-26085 JANUARY 31, 1969

JOSE S. MATUTE, IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY AND AS JUDICIAL


CO-ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF AMADEO MATUTE
OLAVE, PETITIONER, VS. HON. JUDGE VICENTE P. BULLECER,
JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF DAVAO, BRANCH
IV, AND MARIANO NASSER, RESPONDENTS.

---------------------------

G.R. NO. L-26106 JANUARY 31, 1969

JOSE S. MATUTE AND LUIS S. MATUTE, AS INTERVENORS IN


THEIR PERSONAL CAPACITIES IN CIVIL CASE NO. 4252 OF THE
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF DAVAO, PETITIONERS, VS. HON.
VICENTE P. BULLECER, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF DAVAO, BRANCH IV; ATTY. PATERNO R. CANLAS,
DANIEL RIVERA, SR., PABLO V. DEL ROSARIO AND NICANOR D.
VERGARA, AS DEFENDANTS IN CIVIL CASE NO. 4252, OF THE
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF DAVAO, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Carlos Matute, one of the Matute heirs and a full-blood brother of
both the petitioner and the herein respondent Matias, filed in special
proceeding 25876 (settlement of the Matute estate) a petition praying for
the removal of Matias as co-administrator and his (Carlos') appointment in
such capacity. Carlos alleged that "for a period of more than two years from
the date of his appointment (on May 29, 1963), said Matias has neglected to
render a true, just and complete account of his administration," and that he
"is not only incompetent but also negligent in his management of the estate
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under his charge consisting of five haciendas on account of a criminal charge


for murder filed against him which is occupying most of his time."
The respondent Matias opposed to the petition and contended: That
the allegation is completely without basis and false, because the records
show that under date of May 20,1964, he submitted to this Honorable Court
with copies furnished to all the parties concerned, including Carlos, his
accounting for 1963, that on Feb. 8, 1965, he filed his accounting for 1964;
That his competence to act as administrator has been established to the
satisfaction of this Honorable Court as evidenced by his appointment by
a fixed, final and executory order dated May 29, 1963; and That the records
of the pertinent case in the CFI of Davao will easily discover that it has not
occupied any time at all of the herein Judicial Administrator, for aside from a
single hearing last December 1964 on his application for bail ... no hearing
has been held on the said case up to the present.
Matias filed a written objection to the admission of the movants'
exhibits on the ground that the same were hearsay, self-serving, irrelevant
and/or mere photostatic copies of supposed originals which were never
properly identified nor shown in court. Later, the counsel for Matias filed with
leave of court a "Motion to Dismiss and/or Demurrer to Evidence" which
avers that "there is no sufficient evidence on record to justify and support
the motions for the removal of the herein co-administrator Matias." In the
same motion, said counsel reserved the right to introduce evidence in behalf
of his client should the foregoing motion be denied.
The probate court issued an order for Matias removal as co-
administrator. Forthwith, Matias interposed with the CA a petition
for certiorari praying that the aforesaid order be set aside as a nullity for
having decreed his removal without due process and the appointment of Jose
Matute without the requisite hearing.
Upon the other hand, the petitioner advances the reason in support of
the order of removal that the probate judge accorded the respondent all the
opportunity to adduce his evidence but the latter resorted to dilatory tactics
such as filing a motion to dismiss and/or demurrer to evidence.

ISSUE: Whether the rule of the Rules of Court regarding judgment on


demurrer to evidence is applicable to special proceedings.

RULING: YES.
The settled rule is that the removal of an administrator under section 2
of Rule 82 lies within the discretion of the court appointing him. As aptly
expressed in one case, "The sufficiency of any ground for removal should
thus be determined by the said court, whose sensibilities are, in the first
place, affected by any act or omission on the part of the administrator not
conformable to or in disregard of the rules or the orders of the court."
Consequently, appellate tribunals are disinclined to interfere with the action
taken by a probate court in the matter of the removal of an executor or
administrator unless positive error or gross abuse of discretion is shown.
In the case at bar, the Court was constrained, however to nullify the
disputed order of removal because it is indubitable that the probate judge
ousted the respondent from his trust without affording him the full benefit of
a day in court, thus denying him his cardinal right to due process.
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It appears that shortly after the reception of evidence for the movants
Carlos Matute and the Candelario-Matute heirs, the respondent filed on
January 8, 1966 a verified objection to the admission in evidence of the
movants' exhibits on the ground that the same were hearsay, self-serving,
irrelevant and/or mere photostatic copies of supposed originals which were
never properly identified nor produced in court. Four days later, or on January
12, 1966, the respondent filed with leave of court a "Motion to Dismiss
and/or Demurrer to Evidence", where he expressly reserved his right to
present his own evidence in the event that the said motion is denied.
However, instead of resolving the foregoing motion, the probate judge
issued the controverted order removing the respondent as co-administrator
without giving him the opportunity to adduce his own evidence despite his
explicit reservation. According to the SC, the above actuation of the probate
judge constituted grave abuse of discretion which dooms his improvident
order as a nullity. In fact, even without the respondent's reservation, it was
the bounden duty of the probate judge to schedule the presentation and
reception of the respondent's evidence before disposing of the case on the
merits because only the movants at that time had presented their evidence.
This duty is projected into bolder relief if we consider, which we must, that
the aforesaid motion is in form as well as in substance a demurrer to
evidence allowed by Rule 35, by virtue of which the defendant does not lose
his right to offer evidence in the event that his motion is denied. Said Rule
states:
After the plaintiff has completed the presentation of his evidence,
the defendant without waiving his right to offer evidence in the event
the motion is not granted, may move for a dismissal on the ground
that upon the facts and law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief.
(emphasis supplied)
The application of the abovecited Rule in special proceedings, like the
case at bar, is authorized by section 2 of Rule 72 which direct that in the
"absence of special provisions, the rules provided for in ordinary civil actions
shall be, as far as practicable, applicable in special proceedings."
But what is patently censurable is the actuation of the probate judge in
removing the respondent, not on the strength of the evidence adduced by
the movants (not a single exhibit or document introduced by the movants
was specifically cited in the disputed order as a justification of the
respondent's ouster), but on the basis of his (judge's) findings, which
he motu propio gleaned from the records of special proceeding 25876,
without affording the respondent an opportunity to controvert said findings
or in the very least to explain why he should not be removed on the basis
thereof.
The probate judge did find, as essayed in his disputed order, that the
respondent "has shown indifference to his duties as such co-administrator of
the estate" as evidenced by:
(1) the disapproval of his 1964 account by the probate court in an order
dated January 5, 1966 due to his "non-appearance and non-submission of
evidence to sustain his account on the date set for the presentation of the
same;"
(2) the considerable decrease in the income of the properties under his
charge, as reflected in said 1964 account, which circumstance "does not
speak well of his diligence and attention to the administration of said
properties;" and
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(3) the failure of said 1964 account to disclose the number of calves born
during the accounting period, "thereby indicating a palpable omission of fact
which directly reduced the value of the income or the increase of the assets
of the estate."
But, significantly, the movants did not specifically invoke the aforesaid
grounds in support of their petition to oust the respondent. All of the said
grounds, which in the mind of the probate judge exposed the supposed
indifference and incompetence of the respondent in the discharge of his
trust, are based on alleged defects of the respondent's 1964 account. Under
these circumstances, it behooved the probate judge to inform the
respondent of his findings before ordering the latter's removal. We concede
that the probate judge enjoys a wide latitude of discretion in the matter of
the removal of executors and administrators and he can cause their ouster at
his own instance. However, before they are deprived of their office they must
be given the full benefit of a day in court, an opportunity not accorded to the
respondent herein.

G.R. NO. 163707 SEPTEMBER 15, 2006

MICHAEL C. GUY, PETITIONER, VS. HON. COURT OF APPEALS,


HON. SIXTO MARELLA, JR., PRESIDING JUDGE, RTC, BRANCH
138, MAKATI CITY AND MINORS, KAREN DANES WEI AND
KAMILLE DANES WEI, REPRESENTED BY THEIR MOTHER,
REMEDIOS OANES, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Private respondent-minors Karen Oanes Wei and Kamille Oanes Wei,
represented by their mother Remedios Oanes (Remedios), filed a petition for
letters of administration of estate of the deceased Sima Wei before the RTC,
alleging that they are the duly acknowledged illegitimate children of the
deceased. Sima Weis known heirs are his surviving spouse Shirley Guy and
children, Emy, Jeanne, Cristina, George and Michael, all surnamed Guy. PRs
prayed for the appointment of a regular administrator for the orderly
settlement of Sima Wei's estate. They likewise prayed that, in the meantime,
petitioner Michael Guy, son of the decedent, be appointed as Special
Administrator of the estate. Petitioner prayed for the dismissal of the petition
alleging, among others, that PRs should have established their status as
illegitimate children of the deceased. The RTC denied the Motion to Dismiss
and affirmed by the CA; hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the RTC in a petition for letters of administration is


precluded from receiving evidence about the private respondents status as
illegitimate.

RULING: NO. The RTC is not precluded from receiving evidence about the
private respondents illegitimate status.
While the original action filed by private respondents was a petition for
letters of administration, the trial court is not precluded from receiving
evidence on private respondents' filiation. Its jurisdiction extends to matters
incidental and collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers in handling
the settlement of the estate, including the determination of the status of
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each heir. That the two causes of action, one to compel recognition and the
other to claim inheritance, may be joined in one complaint is not new in our
jurisprudence. As held in Briz v. Briz:
The question whether a person in the position of the present plaintiff
can in any event maintain a complex action to compel recognition as a
natural child and at the same time to obtain ulterior relief in the
character of heir, is one which in the opinion of this court must be
answered in the affirmative, provided always that the conditions
justifying the joinder of the two distinct causes of action are present in
the particular case. In other words, there is no absolute necessity
requiring that the action to compel acknowledgment should have been
instituted and prosecuted to a successful conclusion prior to the action
in which that same plaintiff seeks additional relief in the character of
heir. Certainly, there is nothing so peculiar to the action to compel
acknowledgment as to require that a rule should be here applied
different from that generally applicable in other cases.

The conclusion above stated, though not heretofore explicitly


formulated by the Court, is undoubtedly to some extent supported by the
SCs prior decisions. Thus, as decided in numerous cases, and the doctrine
must be considered well settled, that a natural child having a right to compel
acknowledgment, but who has not been in fact acknowledged, may maintain
partition proceedings for the division of the inheritance against his coheirs
(Siguiong vs. Siguiong; Tiamson vs. Tiamson); and the same person may
intervene in proceedings for the distribution of the estate of his deceased
natural father, or mother (Capistrano vs. Fabella; Conde vs. Abaya; Ramirez
vs. Gmur). In neither of these situations has it been thought necessary for
the plaintiff to show a prior decree compelling acknowledgment. The obvious
reason is that in partition suits and distribution proceedings the other
persons who might take by inheritance are before the court; and the
declaration of heirship is appropriate to such proceedings.

G.R. NO. 167405 FEBRUARY 16, 2006

ANA JOYCE S. REYES, PETITIONER, VS. HON. CESAR M.


SOTERO, PRESIDING JUDGE, RTC OF PANIQUI, TARLAC, BRANCH
67, ATTY. PAULINO SAGUYOD, THE CLERK OF COURT OF
BRANCH 67 OF THE RTC AT PANIQUI, TARLAC IN HIS CAPACITY
AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR, CORAZON CHICHIOCO, ANGELITO
LISING, ERLINDA ESPACIO, GONZALO ZALZOS AND ERNESTO
LISING, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Respondent Corazon Chichioco filed a petition for the issuance of


letters of administration and settlement of estate of the late Elena Lising
before the RTC (Spec. Proc. No. 204). Chichioco claimed that she was the
niece and heir of Lising who died intestate on July 31, 1998. Named as co-
heirs of Chichioco were Rosario L. Zalzos, Florante Zalzos, Erlinda Lising,
Manuel Lising, Evelyn Lising, Josephine Lising, Alfredo Lising and respondents
Ernesto Lising and Erlinda Espacio.
According to Chichioco, the deceased left real properties, as well as
assorted pieces of jewelry and money which were allegedly in the possession
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of petitioner Ana Joyce S. Reyes, a grandniece of the deceased. Chichioco


prayed that she be appointed administrator of the estate, upon payment of a
bond, pending settlement and distribution of Lisings properties to the legal
heirs.
Petitioner Reyes filed an Opposition claiming that she was an adopted
child of Elena and the latters husband, Serafin Delos Santos. She asserted
that the petition should be dismissed and that the appointment of an
administrator was unnecessary, since she was the only heir of Lising who
passed away without leaving any debts. Petitioner filed a Supplement to the
Opposition attaching thereto a Certification stating that Reyes was adopted
by the Delos Santos spouses. She also presented a copy of Judicial Form No.
43 indicating that the adoption decree was on file in the General Docket of
the RTC-Tarlac City, wherein the dispositive portion of the adoption decree
was recorded.
Respondents Chichioco and her alleged co-heirs filed a petition for
annulment of the adoption decree. They claimed that no proceedings for the
adoption of petitioner took place in 1968 since there were no records of the
adoption case. Petitioners natural mother supposedly connived with the
court personnel to make it appear that petitioner was adopted by the Delos
Santos spouses and that the CFIs order for initial hearing was published in a
weekly newspaper which was not authorized to publish court orders in
special proceedings. Hence, respondent alleged "badges of fraud" of the
adoption.
The CA, however, refused to dismiss Spec. Proc. No. 204 since stating
that it was incumbent upon petitioner to prove before the trial court that she
was indeed adopted by the Delos Santos spouses since, according to the
appellate court, "imputations of irregularities permeating the adoption
decree render its authenticity under a cloud of doubt."

ISSUE: Whether the CA erred in holding that petitioner had to prove the
validity of her adoption due to imputations of irregularities.

RULING: YES.
The Court agree with petitioner that she need not prove her legal
adoption by any evidence other than those which she had already presented
before the trial court. The certifications she presented were issued under the
seal of the issuing offices and were signed by the proper officers. These are
thus presumed to have been regularly issued as part of the official duties
that said public officers perform.
It should be borne in mind that an adoption decree is a public
document required by law to be entered into the public records. Documents
consisting of entries in public records made in the performance of a duty by
a public officer are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. Mere
"imputations of irregularities" will not cast a "cloud of doubt" on the adoption
decree since the certifications and its contents are presumed valid until proof
to the contrary is offered.
In this regard, it must be pointed out that such contrary proof can be
presented only in a separate action brought principally for the purpose of
nullifying the adoption decree. The latter cannot be assailed collaterally in a
proceeding for the settlement of a decedents estate, as categorically held in
Santos v. Aranzanso. Accordingly, respondents cannot assail in these
proceedings the validity of the adoption decree in order to defeat petitioners
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claim that she is the sole heir of the decedent. Absent a categorical
pronouncement in an appropriate proceeding that the decree of adoption is
void, the certifications regarding the matter, as well as the facts stated
therein, should be deemed legitimate, genuine and real. Petitioners status
as an adopted child of the decedent remains unrebutted and no serious
challenge has been brought against her standing as such. Therefore, for as
long as petitioners adoption is considered valid, respondents cannot claim
any interest in the decedents estate. For this reason, we agree with
petitioner that Spec. Proc. No. 204 should be dismissed.

G.R. NO. 168156 DECEMBER 6, 2006

HEIRS OF ROSENDO LASAM, REPRESENTED BY ROGELIO LASAM


AND ATTY. EDWARD P. LLONILLO, PETITIONERS, VS. VICENTA
UMENGAN, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: The lots subject of the unlawful detainer are Lot No. 5427 and Lot
No. 990 registered in the names of the original owners, spouses Pedro
Cuntapay and Leona Bunagan.

In an instrument denominated as Deed of Confirmation, the heirs of


the said spouses conveyed the ownership of the subject lots in favor of their
two children, Irene and Isabel Cuntapay. In another instrument entitled
Partition agreement, it was agreed that the eastern half portion shall belong
to the heirs of Isabel Cuntapay. On the other hand, the west portion shall
belong to the heirs of Irene Cuntapay.

Isabel Cuntapay had four children by her first husband, Domingo


Turingan, namely: Abdon, Sado (deceased), Rufo and Maria. When Domingo
Turingan passed away, Isabel Cuntapay remarried Mariano Lasam. She had
two other children by him, namely: Trinidad and Rosendo.

Sometime in January 2001, the heirs of Rosendo Lasam (son of Isabel


Cuntapay by her second husband) filed with the MTCC a complaint for
unlawful detainer against Vicenta Umengan, who was then occupying the
subject lot. Vicenta Umengan is the daughter of Abdon Turingan (son of
Isabel Cuntapay by her first husband).

In their complaint, the heirs of Rosendo Lasam alleged that they are
the owners of the subject lot, having inherited it from their father. Rosendo
Lasam was allegedly the sole heir of the deceased Pedro Cuntapay through
Isabel Cuntapay. During his lifetime, Rosendo Lasam allegedly temporarily
allowed Vicenta Umengan to occupy the subject lot sometime in 1955. The
latter and her husband allegedly promised that they would vacate the
subject lot upon demand. However, despite written notice and demand by
the heirs of Rosendo Lasam, Vicenta Umengan allegedly unlawfully refused
to vacate the subject lot and continued to possess the same.
13

In her Answer , Vicenta Umengan countered that when Isabel Cuntapay


passed away, the subject lot was inherited by her six children by her first and
second marriages through intestate succession. Each of the six children
allegedly had a pro indiviso share of 1/6 of the subject lot.
It was further alleged by Vicenta Umengan that her father, Abdon
Turingan, purchased the respective 1/6 shares in the subject lot of his
siblings Maria and Sado. These conveyances were allegedly evidenced by the
Deed of Sale.

Prior thereto, Rufo already sold his 1/6 share in the subject lot to
Vicenta Umengan and her husband as evidenced by the Deed of Sale. Also
on June 14, 1961, Abdon donated his 1/6 share in the subject lot to her
daughter Vicenta Umengan as evidenced by the Deed of Donation.

According to Vicenta Umengan, the children of Isabel Cuntapay by her


second husband (Rosendo and Trinidad Lasam) own only 2/6 portion of the
subject lot. She thus prayed that the complaint for ejectment be dismissed
and that the heirs of Rosendo Lasam be ordered to pay her damages.

The MTCC rendered judgment in favor of the heirs of Rosendo Lasam and
directed the ejectment of Vicenta Umengan. In so ruling, the MTCC gave
credence to the newly discovered last will and testament
(entitled Testamento Abierto) purportedly executed by Isabel Cuntapay
where she bequeathed the subject lot to her son, Rosendo Lasam. RTC
affirmed in toto.

Undaunted, Vicenta Umengan filed an appeal with the CA which reversed


and set aside the decision of the RTC. The CA explained that the said last
will and testament did not comply with the formal requirements of the law on
wills.[6]

The heirs of Rosendo Lasam sought the reconsideration thereof but their
motion was denied by the CA. Hence, this present petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not a will not probated is valid and binding.

RULING: No. Contrary to the ruling of the MTCC and RTC, the purported last
will and testament of Isabel Cuntapay could not properly be relied upon to
establish petitioners right to possess the subject lot because, without having
been probated, the said last will and testament could not be the source of
any right.

Article 838 of the Civil Code is instructive:


No will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is
proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court.
The testator himself may, during his lifetime, petition the court
having jurisdiction for the allowance of his will. In such case, the
pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court for the allowance of
wills after the testators death shall govern.
14

The Supreme Court shall formulate such additional Rules of Court


as may be necessary for the allowance of wills on petition of the
testator.
Subject to the right of appeal, the allowance of the will, either
during the lifetime of the testator or after his death, shall be
conclusive as to its due execution.

Dr. Tolentino, an eminent authority on civil law, also explained


that before any will can have force or validity it must be probated. To probate
a will means to prove before some officer or tribunal, vested by law with
authority for that purpose, that the instrument offered to be proved is the
last will and testament of the deceased person whose testamentary act it is
alleged to be, and that it has been executed, attested and published as
required by law, and that the testator was of sound and disposing mind. It is
a proceeding to establish the validity of the will. Moreover, the presentation
of the will for probate is mandatory and is a matter of public policy.
Following the above truisms, the MTCC and RTC, therefore, erroneously
ruled that petitioners have a better right to possess the subject lot on the
basis of the purported last will and testament of Isabel Cuntapay, which, to
date, has not been probated. Stated in another manner, Isabel Cuntapays
last will and testament, which has not been probated, has no effect whatever
and petitioners cannot claim any right thereunder.
Hence, the CA correctly held that, as against petitioners
claim, respondent has shown a better right of possession over the subject lot
as evidenced by the deeds of conveyances executed in her favor by the
children of Isabel Cuntapay by her first marriage.

G.R. NO. 139868 JUNE 8, 2006

ALONZO Q. ANCHETA, PETITIONER, VS. CANDELARIA GUERSEY-


DALAYGON, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: Spouses Audrey and Richard Guersey (Richard) were American


citizens who resided in the Philippines for 30 years. They have an adopted
daughter, Kyle Guersey Hill.

On July 29, 1979, Audrey died, leaving a will. In it, she bequeathed her
entire estate to Richard. The will was admitted to probate before the
Orphans Court of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A, which named James N. Phillips.
The court also named Atty. Alonzo Q. Ancheta (petitioner) of the Quasha
Asperilla Ancheta Pena & Nolasco Law Offices as ancillary administrator.

In 1981, Richard married Candelaria Guersey-Dalaygon (respondent)


with whom he has two children.

On October 12, 1982, Audreys will was also admitted to probate by


the then Court of First Instance of Rizal. As administrator of Audreys estate
in the Philippines, petitioner filed an inventory and appraisal thereof.

On July 20, 1984, Richard died, leaving a will, wherein he bequeathed


his entire estate to respondent, save for his rights and interests over the A/G
15

Interiors, Inc. shares, which he left to Kyle. The will was also admitted to
probate by the Orphans Court of Ann Arundel, Maryland, U.S.A, and James N.
Phillips was likewise appointed as executor, who in turn, designated Atty.
William Quasha or any member of the Quasha Asperilla Ancheta Pena &
Nolasco Law Offices, as ancillary administrator.

Richards will was then submitted for probate before the Regional Trial
Court of Makati, Branch 138, docketed as Special Proceeding No. M-888.

On October 19, 1987, petitioner filed in Special Proceeding No.9625


before the Makati RTC, a motion to declare Richard and Kyle as heirs of
Aubrey and apportioned to them and of all the estate, respectively. This
motion and project of partition was granted and approved by the trial court
in its Order dated February 12, 1988. This was opposed by respondent on the
ground that under the law of the State of Maryland, a legacy passes to the
legatee the entire interest of the testator in the property subject of the
legacy. Respondent argued that since Audrey devised her entire estate to
Richard, then it should be wholly adjudicated to him and not merely
thereof, and since Richard left his entire estate to the respondent, except for
the A/G Interior Inc. shares, then the entire property should now pertain to
respondent. The Court of Appeals annulled the trial courts Orders in Special
Proceeding No. 9625 and later denied the appeal of the petitioner, thus the
petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUE: Whether or not the trial courts order in Special Proceeding No. 9625
should be annulled.

RULING: YES.

A decree of distribution of the estate of a deceased person vests the


title to the land of the estate in the distributees, which, if erroneous may be
corrected by a timely appeal. Once it becomes final, its binding effect is like
any other judgment in rem. However, in exceptional cases, a final decree of
distribution of the estate may be set aside for lack of jurisdiction or fraud.

Petitioners failure to proficiently manage the distribution of Audreys


estate according to the terms of her will and as dictated by the applicable
law amounted to extrinsic fraud. Hence the CA Decision annulling the RTC
Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, must be upheld.

It is undisputed that Audrey Guersey was an American citizen


domiciled in Maryland, U.S.A. During the reprobate of her will in Special
Proceeding No. 9625, it was shown, among others, that at the time of
Audreys death, she was residing in the Philippines but is domiciled in
Maryland, U.S.A.; her Last Will and Testament dated August 18, 1972 was
executed and probated before the Orphans Court in Baltimore, Maryland,
U.S.A., which was duly authenticated and certified by the Register of Wills of
Baltimore City and attested by the Chief Judge of said court; the will was
admitted by the Orphans Court of Baltimore City on September 7, 1979; and
the will was authenticated by the Secretary of State of Maryland and the Vice
Consul of the Philippine Embassy.
16

Being a foreign national, the intrinsic validity of Audreys will,


especially with regard as to who are her heirs, is governed by her national
law, i.e., the law of the State of Maryland, as provided in Article 16 and
Article 1039 of the Civil Code further provides that "capacity to succeed is
governed by the law of the nation of the decedent."

As a corollary rule, Section 4, Rule 77 of the Rules of Court on


Allowance of Will Proved Outside the Philippines and Administration of Estate
Thereunder, states:

SEC. 4. Estate, how administered.When a will is thus allowed, the


court shall grant letters testamentary, or letters of administration with
the will annexed, and such letters testamentary or of administration,
shall extend to all the estate of the testator in the Philippines. Such
estate, after the payment of just debts and expenses of administration,
shall be disposed of according to such will, so far as such will may
operate upon it; and the residue, if any, shall be disposed of as is
provided by law in cases of estates in the Philippines belonging to
persons who are inhabitants of another state or country.

While foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our
courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of them; however, petitioner,
as ancillary administrator of Audreys estate, was duty-bound to introduce in
evidence the pertinent law of the State of Maryland.

The record reveals, however, that no clear effort was made to prove
the national law of Audrey ONeill Guersey during the proceedings before the
court a quo.

Moreover, whether petitioners omission was intentional or not, the fact


remains that the trial court failed to consider said law when it issued the
assailed RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, declaring
Richard and Kyle as Audreys heirs, and distributing Audreys estate
according to the project of partition submitted by petitioner. This eventually
prejudiced respondent and deprived her of her full successional right to the
Makati property.

G.R. NO. 170015 AUGUST 29, 2007

CRISOLOGO C. DOMINGO, PETITIONER, VS. SEVERINO AND


RAYMUNDO LANDICHO, JULIAN ABELLO, MARTA DE SAGUN AND
EDITHA G. SARMIENTO, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Facts Petitioner Crisologo Domingo filed for the registration of


parcels of lands in Tagaytay and was opposed by Landicho et. al. During the
pendency of the case, Domingo died and his lawyer failed to inform the
court. The Regional Trial Court ruled in his favor, but was later reversed by
the Court of Appeals. The heirs of Domingo interposed the defense that there
was no valid substitution of parties and therefore, they are not bound by the
reversal of the Court of Appeals. Hence, they now come to the succor of the
Supreme Court.
17

ISSUE: Whether or not failure to substitute parties is fatal to the


proceedings.

RULING: Yes.

The Supreme Court held that when a party dies in an action that
survives and no order is issued by the court for the appearance of the legal
representative or of the heirs of the deceased in substitution of the
deceased, and as a matter of fact no substitution has been effected , the
proceedings held by the court without such legal representatives or heirs and
the judgment rendered after such trial are null and void, because the court
acquired no jurisdiction over the person of the legal representative or of the
heirs upon whom trial and judgment would be binding. However, in this case,
the Court deemed objection on the jurisdiction over the person of the parties
as waived as the surviving heirs participated in the present petition, albeit
belatedly.
18

TOPIC: 2. SETTLEMENT OF ESTATES OF DECEASED PERSON (RULE 73-90)

G.R. NO. L-8409 DECEMBER 28, 1956

IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE OF THE DECEASED ANDRES


EUSEBIO. EUGENIO EUSEBIO, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, VS.
AMANDA EUSEBIO, JUAN EUSEBIO, DELFIN EUSEBIO, VICENTE
EUSEBIO, AND CARLOS EUSEBIO, OPPOSITORS-APPELLANTS.

FACTS: Eugenio Eusebio filed with the Court of First Instance of Rizal, a
petition for his appointment as administrator of the estate of his father,
Andres Eusebio, who died on November 28, 1952, residing, according to said
petition, in the City of Quezon. On December 4, 1953, respondents, all
surnamed Eusebio, objected to said petition, stating that they are illegitimate
children of the deceased and that the latter was domiciled in San Fernando,
Pampanga, and praying, therefore, that the case be dismissed upon the
ground that venue had been improperly filed.
The issue hinges on the situs of the residence of Andres Eusebio on
November 28, 1952, for Rule 75, section 1, of the Rules of Court, provides:
Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is
an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a
citizens or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration
granted, and his estate, in the Court of First Instance in the province in
which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a
foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any province in which he
had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the
estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all
other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends
on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his
estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an
appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of
jurisdiction appears on the record.

It is not disputed that up to, at least, October 29, 1952, Andres Eusebio
was, and had always been, domiciled in San Fernando, Pampanga, where he
had his home, as well as some other properties. Inasmuch as his heart was in
bad condition and his son, Dr. Jesus Eusebio, who treated him, resided at No.
41 P. Florentino St., Quezon City, on October 29, 1952, Andres Eusebio
bought a house and lot at 889-A Espaa Extention, in said City (Exhibit 2).
While transferring his belongings to this house, soon thereafter, the decedent
suffered a stroke (probably heart failure), for which reason Dr. Eusebio took
him to his (Dr. Eusebio's) aforementioned residence, where the decedent
19

remained until he was brought to the UST Hospital, in the City of Manila,
sometimes before November 26, 1952.

On this date, he contracted marriage in articulo mortis with his


common law wife, Concepcion Villanueva, in said hospital. Two (2) days later,
he died at the age of seventy-four (74) years. Consequently, he never stayed
or even slept in said house at Espaa Extention.
It being apparent from the foregoing that the domicile of origin of the
decedent was San Fernando, Pampanga, where he resided for over seventy
(70) years, the presumption is that he retained such domicile, and, hence,
residence, in the absence of satisfactory proof to the contrary, for it is well-
settled that "a domicile once acquired is retained until a new domicile is
gained"
Under the circumstances surrounding the case at bar, if Andres
Eusebio established another domicile, it must have been one of choice, for
which the following conditions are essential, namely: (1) capacity to choose
and freedom of choice; (2) physical presence at the place chosen; and (3)
intention to stay therein permanently.
Admittedly, the decedent was juridically capable of choosing a domicile
and had been in Quezon City several days prior to his demise.

ISSUE: Whether or not Andres Eusebio intended to stay in Espaa Extension


permanently.

RULING: NO.
There is no direct evidence of such intent. Neither does the decedent
appears to have manifested his wish to live indefinitely in said city. His son,
petitioner-appellee, who took the witness stand, did not testify thereon,
despite the allegation, in his answer to the aforemention, opposition of the
appellants herein, that "the deceased (had) decided to reside . . . for the rest
of his life, in Quezon City". Moreover, said appellee did not introduce the
testimony of his legitimate full brother and son of the decedent, Dr. Jesus
Eusebio, upon whose advice, presumably, the house and lot at No. 889-A
Espaa Extention was purchased, and who, therefore, might have cast some
light on his (decedent's) purpose in buying said property. This
notwithstanding, the lower court held that the decedent's intent to stay
permanently in Quezon City is "manifest" from the acquisition of said
property and the transfer of his belonging thereto. This conclusion is
untenable.
The aforementioned house and lot were bought by the decedent
because he had been adviced to do so "due to his illness", in the very words
of herein appellee. It is not improbable in fact, its is very likely that said
advice was given and followed in order that the patient could be near his
doctor and have a more effective treatment. It is well settled that "domicile is
not commonly changed by presence in a place merely for one's own health",
20

even if coupled with "knowledge that one will never again be able, on
account of illness, to return home."

Again, the decedent did not part with, or alienate, his house in San
Fernando, Pampanga. Moreover, some of his children, who used to live with
him in San Fernando, Pampanga, remained in that municipality. Then, again,
in the deed Exhibit 2, by virtue of which said property at No. 889-A Espaa
Extention, Quezon City, was conveyed to him, on October 29, 1952, or less
than a month before his death, the decedent gave San Fernando, Pampanga,
as his residence. Similarly, the "A" and "B" residence certificates used by the
decedent in aknowledging said Exhibit 2, before a notary public, was issued
in San Fernando, Pampanga. Lastly, the marriage contract Exhibit 1, signed
by the deceased when he was married, in articulo mortis, to Concepcion
Villanueva, at the UST Hospital, on November 26, 1952, or two (2) days prior
to his demise, stated that his residence is San Fernando, Pampanga.
It is worthy of notice that Alfonso Eusebio, one of the legitimate full
brothers of the herein appellee, was a witness to said wedding, thus
indicating that the children of the deceased by his first marriage, including
said appellee, were represented on that occasion and would have objected to
said statement about his residence, if it were false. Consequently, apart from
appellee's failure to prove satisfactory that the decedent had decided to
establish his home in Quezon City, the acts of the latter, shortly and
immediately before his death, prove the contrary. At any rate, the
presumption in favor of the retention of the old domicile 1 which is
particularly strong when the domicile is one of the origin 2as San Fernando,
Pampanga, evidently was, as regards said decedent has not been offset by
the evidence of record.
If proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a deceased resident
are instituted in two or more courts, and the question of venue is raised
before the same, the court in which the first case was filed shall have
exclusive jurisdiction to decide said issue, and we so held in the case of
Taciana Vda. De Borja vs. Tan, L-7792 (July 27, 1955). Should it be decided, in
the proceedings before the said court, that venue had been improperly laid,
the case pending therein should be dismissed and the corresponding
proceedings may, thereafter, be initiated in the proper court.
In conclusion, we find that the decedent was, at the time of his death,
domiciled in San Fernando, Pampanga; that the Court of First Instance of
Rizal had no authority, therefore, to appoint an administrator of the estate of
the deceased, the venue having been laid improperly; and that it should,
accordingly, have sustained appellants' opposition and dismissed appellee's
petition.
21

G.R. NO. 129505 JANUARY 31, 2000

OCTAVIO S. MALOLES II, PETITIONER, VS. PACITA DE LOS


REYES PHILLIPS, RESPONDENT.

-----------------------------

G.R. NO. 133359 JANUARY 31, 2000

OCTAVIO S. MALOLES II, PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF APPEALS,


HON. FERNANDO V. GOROSPE, JR., IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY
AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF RTC-MAKATI, BRANCH 61, AND PACITA
PHILLIPS AS THE ALLEGED EXECUTRIX OF THE ALLEGED WILL
OF THE LATE DR. ARTURO DE SANTOS, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: In 1995, Dr. Arturo De Los Santos filed a petition for probate of his
will. He declared that he has no compulsory heirs and that he is naming as
sole devisee and legatee the Arturo de Santos Foundation, Inc. (ASF). The
named executrix is Pacita De Los Reyes Phillips. The petition was filed in RTC
Makati Branch 61. Judge Fernando Gorospe of said court determined that
Arturo is of sound mind and was not acting in duress when he signed his last
will and testament and so Branch 61 allowed the last will and testament on
February 16, 1996.
Ten days from the allowance, Arturo died. Thereafter, Pacita, as
executrix, filed a motion for the issuance of letters of testamentary with
Branch 61. She however withdrew the motion but later on refiled it with RTC
Makati Branch 65.
Meanwhile, a certain Octavio Maloles II filed a motion for intervention
with Branch 61 claiming that as a next of kin (him being the full blooded
nephew of Arturo) he should be appointed as the administrator of the estate
and that he is an heir.
Judge Abad Santos of Branch 65 issued an order transferring the
motion filed by Pacita to Branch 61. Judge Santos ratiocinated that since the
probate proceeding started in Branch 61, then it should be the same court
which should hear Pacitas motion. Branch 61 however refused to consolidate
and referred the case back to Branch 65. Branch 65 subsequently
consolidated the case per refusal of Branch 61. Eventually, Branch 65
allowed the motion for intervention filed by Octavio.

ISSUES:
1. Whether or not Octavio Maloles II has the right to intervene in the
probate proceeding
22

2. Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court Makati, Branch 61


has lost jurisdiction to proceed with the probate proceedings upon its
issuance of an order allowing the will of Dr. Arturo de Santos?
RULING:
1. NO. The Supreme Court first clarified that the probate of will filed in
Branch 61 has already terminated upon the allowance of the will.
Hence when Pacita filed a motion with Branch 65, the same is already
a separate proceeding and not a continuance of the now concluded
probate in Branch 61. There is therefore no reason for Branch 65 to
refer back the case to Branch 61 as it initially did. Further even if the
probate was terminated, under Rule 73 of the Rules of Court
concerning the venue of settlement of estates, it is provided that when
a case is filed in one branch, jurisdiction over the case does not attach
to the branch or judge alone, to the exclusion of the other branches.

2. In cases for the probate of wills, it is well-settled that the authority of


the court is limited to ascertaining the extrinsic validity of the will, i.e.,
whether the testator, being of sound mind, freely executed the will in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by law.
Ordinarily, probate proceedings are instituted only after the
death of the testator, so much so that, after approving and allowing
the will, the court proceeds to issue letters testamentary and settle the
estate of the testator. The cases cited by petitioner are of such nature.
In fact, in most jurisdictions, courts cannot entertain a petition for
probate of the will of a living testator under the principle of ambulatory
nature of wills.
However, Art. 838 of the Civil Code authorizes the filing of a
petition for probate of the will filed by the testator himself. It provides:
CIVIL CODE, ART. 838. No will shall pass either real or
personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance
with the Rules of Court.
The testator himself may, during his lifetime, petition the
court having jurisdiction for the allowance of his will. In
such case, the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court for
the allowance of wills after the testator's death shall
govern.
The Supreme Court shall formulate such additional Rules of
Court as may be necessary for the allowance of wills on
petition of the testator.
Subject to the right of appeal, the allowance of the will,
either during the lifetime of the testator or after his death,
shall be conclusive as to its due execution.
Rule 76, 1 likewise provides:
Sec. 1. Who may petition for the allowance of will. Any
executor, devisee, or legatee named in a will, or any other
23

person interested in the estate, may, at any time after the


death of the testator, petition the court having jurisdiction
to have the will allowed, whether the same be in his
possession or not, or is lost or destroyed.
The testator himself may, during his lifetime, petition in the
court for the allowance of his will.
Thus, after the allowance of the will of Dr. De Santos on February
16, 1996, there was nothing else for Branch 61 to do except to issue a
certificate of allowance of the will pursuant to Rule 73, 12 of the Rules
of Court.

The fact that the will was allowed during the lifetime of the
testator meant merely that the partition and distribution of the estate
was to be suspended until the latter's death. In other words, the
petitioner, instead of filing a new petition for the issuance of letters
testamentary, should have simply filed a manifestation for the same
purpose in the probate court.

G.R. NO. L-22761 MAY 31, 1969

ROSE BUCH MALIG AND JOE THOMAS, AND JOHN ALL


SURNAMED BUSH, REPRESENTED IN THIS SUIT BY THEIR
ATTORNEY-IN-FACT, ROSE BUSH MALIG, PLAINTIFSS-
APPELLANTS, VS. MARIA SANTOS BUSH, DEFENDANT-
APPELLEE.

FACTS: The plaintiffs filed the complaint, alleging that they were the
acknowledged natural children and the only heirs in the direct line of the
deceased John T. Bush; that the defendant, by falsely alleging that she was
the legal wife of the deceased was able to secure her appointment as
administratrix of the estate of the deceased; that she submitted to the court
for approval a project of partition, purporting to show that the deceased left
a will; that the defendant then knew that the plaintiffs were the
acknowledged natural children of the deceased; and that they discovered the
fraud and misrepresentation perpetrated by the defendant only in July, 1962.
They prayed that the project of partition be annulled. The defendant filed a
motion to dismiss stating that since the action was one to annul a project of
partition duly approved by the probate court it was that court alone which
could take cognizance of the case, citing Rule 75, Section 1, of the Rules of
Court.

ISSUE: Whether or not the requirement provided under Rule 75 Section 1


(now Rule 73 Section 1) is jurisdictional.

RULING: NO. The case should be remanded for further proceedings.


24

Section 1 of Rule 75 (now Rule 73 Section 1) of the Rules of Court fixes


the jurisdiction for purposes of the special proceeding for the settlement of
the estate of a deceased person, "so far as it depends on the place of
residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate." The matter really
concerns venue, as the caption of Rule cited indicates, and in order to
preclude different courts which may properly assume jurisdiction from doing
so, the Rule specifies that "the court first taking cognizance of the settlement
of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all
other courts."

In the final analysis this action is not necessarily one to annul the
partition already made and approved by the probate court, and to reopen the
estate proceeding so that a new partition may be made, but for recovery by
the plaintiffs of the portion of their alleged inheritance of which, through
fraud, they have been deprived. Without prejudice to whatever defenses may
be available to the defendant, the Court believes that the plaintiffs' cause
should not be foreclosed without a hearing on the merits.

G.R. NO. 129242 JANUARY 16, 2001

PILAR S. VDA. DE MANALO, ANTONIO S. MANALO, ORLANDO S.


MANALO, AND ISABELITA MANALO, PETITIONERS, VS. HON.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA
(BRACH 35), PURITA S. JAYME, MILAGROS M. TERRE, BELEN M.
ORILLANO, ROSALINA M. ACUIN, ROMEO S. MANALO, ROBERTO
S. MANALO, AMALIA MANALO AND IMELDA MALAO,
RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Troadio Manalo, died intestate. He was survived by his wife, Pilar S.
Manalo, and his eleven (11) children, who are all of legal age.

At the time of his death, Troadio Manalo left several real properties located in
Manila and in the province of Tarlac including a business under the name and
style Manalo's Machine Shop with offices at Arty Subdivision, Valenzuela,
Metro Manila.

Eight (8) of the surviving children of the late Troadio Manalo, filed a petition
with the Regional Trial Court of Manila for the judicial settlement of the
estate of their late father, Troadio Manalo, and for the appointment of their
brother, Romeo Manalo, as administrator thereof.

One of the orders of the TC is to set the application of Romeo Manalo for
appointment as regular administrator in the intestate estate of the deceased
Troadio Manalo for hearing on September 9, 1993 at 2:00 o'clock in the
afternoon.

Petitioner averred that there was absence of earnest efforts toward


compromise among members of the same family.
25

ISSUE: Whether or not the petition is for judicial settlement of estate or


actually an ordinary civil action involving members of the same family.
JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF ESTATE.

RULING: It is a fundamental rule that in the determination of the nature of


an action or proceeding, the averments and the character of the relief sought
in the complaint, or petition, as in the case at bar, shall be controlling.

A careful srutiny of the Petition for Issuance of Letters of


Administration, Settlement and Distribution of Estate in SP. PROC. No. 92-
63626 belies herein petitioners' claim that the same is in the nature of an
ordinary civil action. The said petition contains sufficient jurisdictional facts
required in a petition for the settlement of estate of a deceased person such
as the fat of death of the late Troadio Manalo on February 14, 1992, as well
as his residence in the City of Manila at the time of his said death.

The fact of death of the decedent and of his residence within the
country are foundation facts upon which all the subsequent proceedings in
the administration of the estate rest. The petition in the SP.PROC also
contains an enumeration of the names of his legal heirs including a tentative
list of the properties left by the deceased which are sought to be settled in
the probate proceedings. In addition, the relief's prayed for in the said
petition leave no room for doubt as regard the intention of the petitioners
therein (private respondents herein) to seek judicial settlement of the estate
of their deceased father, Troadio Manalo.

Concededly, the petition in the SP. PROC. contains certain averments


which may be typical of an ordinary civil action. Herein petitioners, as
oppositors therein, took advantage of the said defect in the petition and filed
their so-called Opposition thereto which, as observed by the trial court, is
actually an Answer containing admissions and denials, special and
affirmative defenses and compulsory counterclaims for actual, moral and
exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees and costs in an apparent effort to
make out a case of an ordinary civil action and ultimately seek its dismissal.

It is our view that herein petitioners may not be allowed to defeat the
purpose of the essentially valid petition for the settlement of the estate of
the late Troadio Manalo by raising matters that as irrelevant and immaterial
to the said petition. It must be emphasized that the trial court, siting as a
probate court, has limited and special jurisdiction and cannot hear and
dispose of collateral matters and issues which may be properly threshed out
only in an ordinary civil action. In addition, the rule has always been to the
effect that the jurisdiction of a court, as well as the concomitant nature of an
action, is determined by the averments in the complaint and not by the
defenses contained in the answer. If it were otherwise, it would not be too
difficult to have a case either thrown out of court or its proceedings unduly
delayed by simple strategem. So it should be in the instant petition for
settlement of estate.

Petitioners argue that even if the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626
were to be considered as a special proceeding for the settlement of estate of
a deceased person, Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Rules of Court vis--vis Article
222 of the Civil Code of the Philippines would nevertheless apply as a ground
for the dismissal of the same by virtue of Rule 1, Section 2 of the Rules of
26

Court which provides that the 'rules shall be liberally construed in order to
promote their object and to assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy and
inexpensive determination of every action and proceedings.' Petitioners
contend that the term "proceeding" is so broad that it must necessarily
include special proceedings.

The argument is misplaced. Herein petitioners may not validly take


refuge under the provisions of Rule 1, Section 2, of the Rules of Court to
justify the invocation of Article 222 of the Civil Code for the dismissal of the
petition for settlement of the estate of the deceased Troadio Manalo
inasmuch as the latter provision is clear enough. To wit:

Art. 222. No suit shall be filed or maintained between members of the


same family unless it should appear that earnest efforts toward a
compromise have been made, but that the same have failed, subject to
the limitations in Article 2035(underscoring supplied).

The above-quoted provision of the law is applicable only to


ordinary civil actions. This is clear from the term 'suit' that it refers to an
action by one person or persons against another or other in a court of justice
in which the plaintiff pursues the remedy which the law affords him for the
redress of an injury or the enforcement of a right, whether at law or in equity.
A civil action is thus an action filed in a court of justice, whereby a party sues
another for the enforcement of a right, or the prevention or redress of a
wrong.

It must be emphasized that the oppositors (herein petitioners) are not


being sued in SP. PROC. for any cause of action as in fact no defendant was
imploded therein. The Petition for issuance of letters of Administration,
Settlement and Distribution of Estate in SP. PROC. is a special proceeding
and, as such, it is a remedy whereby the petitioners therein seek to establish
a status, a right, or a particular fact. The petitioners therein (private
respondents herein) merely seek to establish the fact of death of their father
and subsequently to be duly recognized as among the heirs of the said
deceased so that they can validly exercise their right to participate in the
settlement and liquidation of the estate of the decedent consistent with the
limited and special jurisdiction of the probate court.

G.R. NO. L-21993 JUNE 21, 1966

ANGELA RODRIGUEZ, MARIA RODRIGUEZ, ET AL., PETITIONERS,


VS. HON. JUAN DE BORJA, AS JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
27

INSTANCE OF BULCAN, BRANCH IIII, ANATOLIA PANGILINAN


AND ADELAIDA JACALAN, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: It involves an action for the settlement of the estate of the deceased
Rev. Fr. Celestino Rodriguez entitled 'In the matter of the Intestate Estate of
the deceased Rev. Fr. Celestino Rodriguez which was filed ahead of the
instant case".

Fr. Celestino Rodriguez died on February 12, 1963 in the City of Manila;
that Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan delivered to the Clerk of Court
of Bulacan a purported last will and testament of Fr. Rodriguez but before the
Court could act on the petition, the same was withdrawn.

Petitioners filed before the Court of First Instance of Rizal a petition for
the settlement of the intestate estate of Fr. Rodriguez alleging, among other
things, that Fr. Rodriguez was a resident of Paraaque, Rizal, and died
without leaving a will and praying that Maria Rodriguez be appointed as
Special Administratrix of the estate.

Thereafter, Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan filed a petition in


this Court for the probation of the will delivered by them on March 4, 1963.

It was stipulated by the parties that Fr. Rodriguez was born in


Paraaque, Rizal; that he was Parish priest of the Catholic Church of
Hagonoy, Bulacan, from the year 1930 up to the time of his death in 1963;
that he was buried in Paraaque, and that he left real properties in Rizal,
Cavite, Quezon City and Bulacan.

The movants contend that since the intestate proceedings in the Court
of First Instance of Rizal was filed at 8:00 A.M. on March 12, 1963 while the
petition for probate was filed in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan at
11:00 A.M. on the same date, the latter Court has no jurisdiction to entertain
the petition for probate, citing as authority in support thereof the case of
Ongsingco Vda. de Borja vs. Tan and De Borja.

The petitioners Pangilinan and Jacalan, on the other hand, take the
stand that the Court of First Instance of Bulacan acquired jurisdiction over
the case upon delivery by them of the will to the Clerk of Court on March 4,
1963, and that the case in this Court therefore has precedence over the case
filed in Rizal on March 12, 1963.

The Court of First Instance, as previously stated denied the motion to


dismiss on the ground that a difference of a few hours did not entitle one
proceeding to preference over the other. Reconsiderations having been
denied, movants, now petitioners, came to this Court, relying principally on
Rule 73, section 1 of the Rules of Court, and invoking our ruling in Ongsingco
vs. Tan and De Borja, L-7792, July 27, 1955.

SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the


decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death,
whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of
administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First
Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his death,
and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First
28

Instance of any province which he had estate. The court first taking
cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction
assumed by a court, as far as it depends on the place of residence of
the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in
a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original
case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.

ISSUE: Whether or not the CFI of Bulacan has jurisdiction over the case.

RULING: YES. The jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan


became vested upon the delivery thereto of the will of the late Father
Rodriguez on March 4, 1963, even if no petition for its allowance was filed
until later, because upon the will being deposited the court could, motu
proprio, have taken steps to fix the time and place for proving the will, and
issued the corresponding notices conformably to what is prescribed by
section 3, Rule 76, of the Revised Rules of Court

SEC. 3. Court to appoint time for proving will. Notice thereof to be


published. When a will is delivered to, or a petition for the allowance
of a will is filed in, the Court having jurisdiction, such Court shall fix a
time and place for proving the will when all concerned may appear to
contest the allowance thereof, and shall cause notice of such time and
place to be published three (3) weeks successively, previous to the
time appointed, in a newspaper of general circulation in the province.

But no newspaper publication shall be made where the petition for


probate has been filed by the testator himself.

The use of the disjunctive in the words "when a will is delivered to OR a


petition for the allowance of a will is filed" plainly indicates that the court
may act upon the mere deposit therein of a decedent's testament, even if no
petition for its allowance is as yet filed. Where the petition for probate is
made after the deposit of the will, the petition is deemed to relate back to
the time when the will was delivered. Since the testament of Fr. Rodriguez
was submitted and delivered to the Court of Bulacan on March 4, while
petitioners initiated intestate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of
Rizal only on March 12, eight days later, the precedence and exclusive
jurisdiction of the Bulacan court is incontestable.

But, petitioners object, section 3 of revised Rule 76 (old Rule 77)


speaks of a will being delivered to "the Court having jurisdiction," and in the
case at bar the Bulacan court did not have it because the decedent was
domiciled in Rizal province.

According to the SC, it cannot disregard Fr. Rodriguez's 33 years of


residence as parish priest in Hagonoy, Bulacan (1930-1963); but even if we
do so, and consider that he retained throughout some animus revertendi to
the place of his birth in Paraaque, Rizal, that detail would not imply that the
Bulacan court lacked jurisdiction. As ruled in previous decisions, the power to
settle decedents' estates is conferred by law upon all courts of first instance,
and the domicile of the testator only affects the venue but not the
jurisdiction of the Court (In re Kaw Singco, 74 Phil. 239; Reyes vs. Diaz, 73
29

Phil. 484; Bernabe vs. Vergara, 73 Phil. 676). Neither party denies that the
late Fr. Rodriguez is deceased, or that he left personal property in Hagonoy,
province of Bulacan (t.s.n. p. 46, hearing of June 11, 1963, Annex "H",
Petition, Rec., p. 48). That is sufficient in the case before us.

The estate proceedings having been initiated in the Bulacan Court of


First Instance ahead of any other, that court is entitled to assume jurisdiction
to the exclusion of all other courts, even if it were a case of wrong venue by
express provisions of Rule 73 (old Rule 75) of the Rules of Court, since the
same enjoins that:

The Court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a


decedent shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. (Sec.
1)

This disposition presupposes that two or more courts have been asked
to take cognizance of the settlement of the estate. Of them only one could
be of proper venue, yet the rule grants precedence to that Court whose
jurisdiction is first invoked, without taking venue into account.

There are two other reasons that militate against the success of
petitioners.

One is that their commencing intestate proceedings in Rizal, after they


learned of the delivery of the decedent's will to the Court of Bulacan, was in
bad faith, patently done with a view to divesting the latter court of the
precedence awarded it by the Rules. Certainly the order of priority
established in Rule 73 (old Rule 75) was not designed to convert the
settlement of decedent's estates into a race between applicants, with the
administration of the properties as the price for the fleetest.

The other reason is that, in our system of civil law, intestate succession
is only subsidiary or subordinate to the testate, since intestacy only takes
place in the absence of a valid operative will. Says Article 960 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines:

ART. 960. Legal or intestate succession takes place:

(1) If a person dies without a will, or with a void will, or one which has
subsequently lost its validity;

(2) When the will does not institute an heir to, or dispose of all the
property belonging to the testator. In such case, legal succession shall
take place only with respect to the property in which the testator has
not disposed;

(3) If the suspensive condition attached to the institution of heir does


not happen or is not fulfilled, or if the heir dies before the testator, or
repudiates the inheritance, there being no substitution, and no right of
accretion takes place;

(4) When the heir instituted is incapable of succeeding, except in cases


provided in this Code.
30

Therefore, as ruled in Castro, et al. vs. Martinez, 10 Phil. 307, "only


after final decision as to the nullity of testate succession could an intestate
succession be instituted in the form of pre-established action". The institution
of intestacy proceedings in Rizal may not thus proceed while the probate of
the purported will of Father Rodriguez is pending.

We rule that the Bulacan Court of First Instance was entitled to priority
in the settlement of the estate in question, and that in refusing to dismiss the
probate proceedings, said court did not commit any abuse of discretion. It is
the proceedings in the Rizal Court that should be discontinued.

G.R. NO. L-24742 OCTOBER 26, 1973

ROSA CAYETANO CUENCO, PETITIONERS, VS. THE HONORABLE


COURT OF APPEALS, THIRD DIVISION, MANUEL CUENCO,
LOURDES CUENCO, CONCEPCION CUENCO MANGUERRA,
CARMEN CUENCO, CONSUELO CUENCO REYES, AND TERESITA
CUENCO GONZALES, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Senator Mariano Jesus Cuenco died in Manila. He was survived by his
widow and two minor sons, residing in Quezon City, and children of the first
marriage, residing in Cebu. Lourdes, one of the children of the first marriage,
filed a Petition for Letters of Administration with the Court of First Instance
(CFI) Cebu, alleging that the senator died intestate in Manila but a resident of
Cebu with properties in Cebu and Quezon City. While petition was still
pending with CFI Cebu, Rosa Cayetano Cuenco, the second wife, filed a
petition with CFI Rizal (Quezon City) for the probate of the last will and
testament, where she was named executrix. Hence, Rosa also filed an
opposition and motion to dismiss in CFI Cebu but this court held in abeyance
resolution over the opposition until CFI Quezon shall have acted on the
probate proceedings. Lourdes filed an opposition and motion to dismiss in CFI
Quezon, on ground of lack of jurisdiction and/or improper venue, considering
that CFI Cebu already acquired exclusive jurisdiction over the case. The
opposition and motion to dismiss were denied. Upon appeal CA ruled in favor
of Lourdes and issued a writ of prohibition to CFI Quezon.

ISSUE: Whether or not CFI Quezon acted without jurisdiction or grave abuse
of discretion in taking cognizance and assuming exclusive jurisdiction over
the probate proceedings in pursuance to CFI Cebus order expressly
consenting in deference to the precedence of probate over intestate
proceedings.

RULING: The rules on venue and jurisdiction, under Rule 73 (section 1),
provides that the court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate
of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts.
31

However, upon learning that a petition for probate of the decedents last will
has been presented in another court where the decedent obviously had his
conjugal domicile and resided with his surviving widow and their minor
children, and that the allegation of the intestate petition before it stating that
the decedent died intestate may be actually false, may decline to take
cognizance of the petition and hold the petition before it in abeyance, and
instead defer to the second court which has before it the petition for probate
of the decedents alleged last will. The residence of the decedent or the
location of his estate is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject matter
but merely of venue. If this were otherwise, it would affect the prompt
administration of justice.

Therefore, the CFI of Quezon City did not act with grave abuse of
jurisdiction nor it acted without jurisdiction.

G.R. NO. 133000 OCTOBER 2, 2001

PATRICIA NATCHER, PETITIONER, VS. HON. COURT OFAPPEALS


AND THE HEIR OF GRACIANO DEL ROSARIO LETICIA DEL
ROSARIO, EMILIA DEL RESORIO MANANGAN, ROSALINDA
FUENTES LLANA, RODOLFO FUENTES, ALBERTO FUENTES,
EVELYN DEL ROSARIO, AND EDUARDO DEL
ROSARIO, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: Spouses Graciano del Rosario and Graciana Esguerra were registered
owners of a parcel of land. Upon the death of Graciana in 1951, Graciano,
together with his six children, entered into an extrajudicial settlement of
Gracianas estate adjudicating and dividing among themselves the
mentioned real property. In 1980, Graciano married herein petitioner Patricia
Natcher. During their marriage, Graciano sold the land covered by TCT No.
107443 to his wife Patricia as a result of which TCT No. 1860594 was issued
in the latters name. On 1985, Graciano died leaving his second wife Patricia
and his six children by his first marriage, as heirs. The private respondents
filed a civil case against the petitioner before RTC Manila. They alleged that
upon Gracianos death, petitioner Natcher through the employment of fraud,
misrepresentation and forgery, acquired TCT No. 107443, by making it
appear that Graciano executed a Deed of Sale in favor herein petitioner
resulting in the cancellation of TCT No. 107443 and the issuance of another
TCT No. in the name of Patricia Natcher. Similarly, herein private respondents
alleged in said complaint that as a consequence of such fraudulent sale, their
legitimes have been impaired.

ISSUE: May a Regional Trial Court, acting as a court of general jurisdiction in


an action for reconveyance annulment of title with damages, adjudicate
matters relating to the settlement of the estate of a deceased person
32

particularly on questions as to advancement of property made by the


decedent to any of the heirs?

RULING: The court answered in the negative.

An action for reconveyance and annulment of title with damages is a


civil action, whereas matters relating to settlement of the estate of a
deceased person such as advancement of property made by the decedent,
partake of the nature of a special proceeding which concomitantly requires
the application of specific rules as provided for in the Rules of Court. Matters
which involve settlement and distribution of the estate of the decedent fall
within the exclusive province of the probate court in the exercise of its
limited jurisdiction.

Thus, under Section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, questions as to


advancement made or alleged to have been made by the deceased to any
heir may be heard and determined by the court having jurisdiction of the
estate proceedings; and the final order of the court thereon shall be binding
on the person raising the questions and on the heir.

In the case at hand, the RTC acted in its general jurisdiction is devoid
of authority to render an adjudication and resolve the issue of advancement
of the real property in favor of herein petitioner. Moreover, the RTC of Manila
Branch 55 was not properly constituted as a probate court so as to validly
pass upon the question of advancement made by the decedent Graciano Del
Rosario to his wife, herein petitioner Natcher.

G.R. NO. 133743 FEBRUARY 6, 2007

EDGAR SAN LUIS, PETITIONER, VS. FELICIDAD SAN LUIS,


RESPONDENT.

X------------------------------------------X
33

G.R. NO. 134029 FEBRUARY 6, 2007

RODOLFO SAN LUIS, PETITIONER, VS. FELICIDAD SAGALONGOS


ALIAS FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: The case involves the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo San Luis.
During his lifetime, Felicisimo contracted three marriages. From the first
marriage contracted in 1942 he had six children, two of whom are the
petitioners in this case. His first wife died in 1963 and his second marriage to
an American citizen ended in the wife getting a divorce in 1971. In 1974
Felicisimo married Felicidad, the respondent in this case, in the USA. They
had no children but lived together for 18 years until Felicisimo died in 1992.
After his death, Felicidad sought the dissolution of their conjugal partnership
assets and filed a petition for letters of administration. The children of
Felicisimo from his first marriage opposed this on the grounds that Felicidad
is only a mistress, the second marriage to the American wife subsisting. The
petitioners claimed that Article 26, par. 2 of the Family Code cannot be given
retroactive effect to validate the bigamous marriage because it would impair
the vested rights of Felicisimos legitimate children.

ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent Felicidad have legal capacity to file
the petition for letters of administration.

RULING: Yes, Felicidad has legal personality to file the petition for letters of
administration as she may be considered the co-owner of the properties that
were acquired through their joint efforts during their cohabitation, the
existence of which was not denied by the petitioners. Sec 2, Rule 79 provides
that a petition for letters of administration must be filed by an interested
person. In view of the foregoing, we find that respondents legal capacity to
file the subject petition for letters of administration may arise from her status
as the surviving wife of Felicisimo or as his co-owner under article 144 of the
civil code or article 148 of the family code.

G.R. NO. L-31174 MAY 30, 1972

MANUEL Y. MACIAS, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, VS. UY KIM,


ANDRES CO, NEMESIO G. CO, NICASIO G. CO, MANUEL
SOSANTONG AND RELIABLE REALTY CORPORATION,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.
34

FACTS: Petitioner-appellant Manuel Y. Macias filed a petition against


respondents Uy Kim, Andres Co, Nemesio Co, Nicasio Co, Manuel Sosantong,
Reliable Realty Corporation, and Branch X of the Manila Court of First
Instance, alleging that he filed on a complaint dated for the annulment of a
deed of sale, reivindicacion and damages against respondents and prays for
judgment (a) declaring the deed of sale over the aforementioned lots as null
and void, (b) directing the cancellation of the transfer certificates of titles
issued in the name of Reliable Realty Corporation.

Herein respondents Reliable Realty Corporation, Uy Kim, Andres Co,


Nemesio Co, Nicasio Co and Manuel Sosantong filed their motion to dismiss
the instant petition on the ground that Branch X of the Manila Court of First
Instance has no jurisdiction over plaintiff's complaint, for the said Branch X is
without authority to review the decisions of Branch IV, a coordinate branch of
the Manila Court of First Instance; and that petitioner-appellant had already
appealed the order of Judge Barcelona of Branch VIII authorizing and
approving the sale of the lots in favor of respondent Reliable Realty.

It is not disputed that the orders sought to be annulled and set aside
by herein petitioner-appellant in his complaint against private respondents
which was assigned to Branch X of the Manila Court of First Instance presided
over by Judge Jose L. Moya, were issued by Judge Barcelona presiding over
Branch VIII of the same court.

ISSUE: Whether or not Branch VIII first acquired jurisdiction over the case to
the exclusion of all other branches.

RULING: Yes.

The pretense of herein petitioner-appellant is without merit. Under


Section 1 of Rule 73, Rules of Court, "the court first taking cognizance of the
settlement of the estates of the deceased, shall exercise jurisdiction to the
exclusion of all other courts." Pursuant to this provision, therefore all
questions concerning the settlement of the estate of the deceased Rosina
Marguerite Wolfson should be filed before Branch VIII of the Manila Court of
First Instance.

This Court stated the rationale of said Section 1 of Rule 73, thus:

... The reason for this provision of the law is obvious. The
settlement of the estate of a deceased person in court
constitutes but one proceeding. For the successful administration
of that estate it is necessary that there should be but one
responsible entity, one court, which should have exclusive
control of every part of such administration. To intrust it to two or
more courts, each independent of the other, would result in
confusion and delay.

Even in other cases, it is also a general principle that the branch of the
court of first instance that first acquired jurisdiction over the case retains
35

such jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other branches of the same court of
first instance or judicial district and all other coordinate courts. Thus, in the
1970 case of De Leon vs. Salvador, Mr. Justice Teehankee, speaking for the
Court, ruled:

The various branches of a Court of First Instance of a province or city,


having as they have the same or equal authority and exercising as
they do concurrent and coordinate jurisdiction, should not, cannot, and
are not permitted to interfere with the respective cases, much less with
their orders or judgments, by means of injunction.

G.R. NO. L-18148 FEBRUARY 28, 1963

DEOGRACIAS BERNARDO, EXECUTOR OF THE TESTATE ESTATE


OF THE DECEASED EUSEBIO CAPILI; AND THE INSTITUTED
HEIRS, NAMELY: ARMANDO CAPILI AND ARTURO BERNARDO, ET
AL., PETITIONERS, VS. HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND THE
HEIRS OF THE LATE HERMOGENA REYES, NAMELY: FRANCISCO
REYES, ET AL., AND JOSE ISIDORO, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes were husband and wife. The
first died on July 27, 1958 and a testate proceeding for the settlement of his
estate was instituted. Hermogena Reyes herself died on April 24, 1959. Upon
petition of Deogracias Bernardo, executor of the estate of the deceased
Eusebio Capili, she was substituted by her collateral relatives and intestate
heirs.

On June 12, 1959, the executor filed a project of partition in the testate
proceeding in accordance with the terms of the will, adjudicating the estate
of Eusebio Capili among the testamentary heirs with the exception of
Hermogena Reyes, whose share was alloted to her collateral relatives
aforementioned. Later, these relatives filed an opposition to the executor's
project of partition and submitted a counter-project of partition of their own,
claiming 1/2 of the properties mentioned in the will of the deceased Eusebio
Capili on the theory that they belonged not to the latter alone but to the
conjugal partnership of the spouses.

The petitioners contend that the appellate court erred in not declaring
that the probate court, having limited and special jurisdiction, had generally
no power to adjudicate title and erred in applying the exception to the rule.

ISSUE: May the Settlement Court determine properties as conjugal or


separate property.

RULING: As a general rule, question as to title to property cannot be passed


upon on testate or intestate proceedings," except where one of the parties
prays merely for the inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the
property, in which case the probate court may pass provisionally upon the
question without prejudice to its final determination in a separate
36

action. However, the SC have also held that when the parties interested are
all heirs of the deceased, it is optional to them to submit to the probate court
a question as to title to property, and when so submitted, said probate court
may definitely pass judgment thereon; and that with the consent of the
parties, matters affecting property under judicial administration may be
taken cognizance of by the court in the course of intestate proceeding,
provided interests of third persons are not prejudiced.

In the case now before us, the matter in controversy is the question of
ownership of certain of the properties involved whether they belong to the
conjugal partnership or to the husband exclusively. This is a matter properly
within the jurisdiction of the probate court which necessarily has to liquidate
the conjugal partnership in order to determine the estate of the decedent
which is to be distributed among his heirs who are all parties to the
proceedings, including, of course, the widow, now represented because of
her death, by her heirs who have been substituted upon petition of the
executor himself and who have appeared voluntarily.

There are no third parties whose rights may be affected. It is true that
the heirs of the deceased widow are not heirs of the testator-husband, but
the widow is, in addition to her own right to the conjugal property. And it is
this right that is being sought to be enforced by her substitutes. Therefore,
the claim that is being asserted is one belonging to an heir to the testator
and, consequently, it complies with the requirement of the exception that
the parties interested (the petitioners and the widow, represented by dents)
are all heirs claiming title under the testator.

G.R. NO. L-32281 JUNE 19, 1975

PEDRO ERMAC, AND HIS CHILDREN, ELENA, CARLOS, ANTONIO,


LUCIANO, HILARIO, INDALECIO AND FRANCISCA, ALL
SURNAMED ERMAC, PETITIONERS, VS. CENON MEDELO AND
JUDGE HERNANDO PINEDA AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH II
OF THE LANAO DEL NORTE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE,
RESPONDENTS.

Summary settlement of estates of small value

FACTS: Potenciano Ermac and spouse Anastacia Mariquit died leaving only
one parcel of land in Iligan City with an assessed value of Php 590.00. Cenon
Medelo, one of the grandchildren (being one of the children of their
predeceased daughter Digna Ermac) , filed a petition for summary
settlement of said estate.

All requirements having been complied with and there being no oppositions
thereto, the petition was granted, enumerating the heirs entitled to
participate in the inheritance and ordering Medelo to present the proper
project of partition of the lot.

Pedro Ermac, one of the children of the spouses, moved for


reconsideration claiming that the lot belongs to him and his wife. This motion
37

was denied with the court ruling that a separate suit is the proper remedy
and accordingly, Ermac instituted a separate civil case.

The court then approved the project of partition submitted by Medelo.


Ermac objected to this on the ground that the lot is subject of a pending
case. However, this was denied.

ISSUE: Whether or not the court exceeded its jurisdiction or gravely abused
its discretion in approving the project of partition notwithstanding that it is
being claimed by petitioners in a separate civil action to be their property
and not of the estate.

RULING: NEGATIVE

The policy of the law is to terminate proceedings for the settlement of


the estate of deceased persons with the least loss of time. This is especially
true with small estates for which the rules provide precisely a summary
procedure dispensing with the appointment of an administrator together with
the other involved and cumbersome steps ordinarily required in the
determination of the assets of the deceased and the persons entitled to
inherit therefrom and the payment of his obligations.

Definitely, the probate court is not the best forum for the resolution of
adverse claims of ownership of any property ostensibly belonging to the
decedent's estate. While there are settled exceptions to this rule as applied
to regular administration proceedings, it is not proper to delay the summary
settlement of a deceased person just because an heir or a third person
claims that certain properties do not belong to the estate but to him. Such
claim must be ventilated in an independent action, and the probate court
should proceed to the distribution of the estate, if there are no other legal
obstacles to it, for after all, such distribution must always be subject to the
results of the suit. For the protection of the claimant the appropriate step is
to have the proper annotation of lis pendens entered.

G.R. NOS. L-27860 AND L-27896 MARCH 29, 1974

PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BANK,


ADMINISTRATOR OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF CHARLES
NEWTON HODGES (SP. PROC. NO. 1672 OF THE COURT OF
FIRST INSTANCE OF ILOILO), PETITIONER, VS. THE HONORABLE
VENICIO ESCOLIN, PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
38

INSTANCE OF ILOILO, BRANCH II, AND AVELINA A. MAGNO,


RESPONDENTS.

G.R. NOS. L-27936 & L-27937 MARCH 29, 1974

TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE LINNIE JANE HODGES (SP. PROC.


1307). TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE CHARLES NEWTON
HODGES (SP. PROC. NO. 1672). PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND
INDUSTRIAL BANK, ADMINISTRATOR-APPELLANT, VS. LORENZO
CARLES, JOSE PABLICO, ALFREDO CATEDRAL, SALVADOR
GUZMAN, BELCESAR CAUSING, FLORENIA BARRIDO,
PURIFICACION CORONADO, GRACIANO LUCERO, ARITEO
THOMAS JAMIR, MELIQUIADES BATISANAN, PEPITO IYULORES,
ESPERIDION PARTISALA, WINIFREDO ESPADA, ROSARIO
ALINGASA, ADELFA PREMAYLON, SANTIAGO PACAONSIS, AND
AVELINA A. MAGNO, THE LAST AS ADMINISTRATRIX IN SP.
PROC. NO. 1307, APPELLEES, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF
TECHNOLOGY, INC., MOVANT-APPELLEE.

FACTS: The instant case refers to the estate left by the late Charles Newton
Hodges as well as that of his wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, who predeceased him
by about 5years and a half. Both of them were originally from Texas, USA and
they were childless. In their respective wills which were executed on different
occasions, each of them provided mutually that each of the decedents
estate shall go to the surviving spouse and that the spouse may do whatever
he/she pleases, with the condition that when the surviving spouse likewise
passes away, the residual estate shall pass on to the surviving
brothers/sisters of the first decedent (and if they die, the corresponding heirs
shall represent).

Mrs. Hodges died first on May 23, 1957. Her husband was appointed
special administrator of her estate. As administrator, he was allowed by the
probate court to do several acts of administration. At some point, Mr. Hodges
allegedly renounced all the inheritance he got from his wife in favour of
Linnies siblings.

Shortly, he died on December 25, 1962 without having liquidated nor


distributed Linnies estate. Upon his death, Avelina Magno, an employee
closest to the spouses was appointed. She carried on acts of administration
in both esates until she was joined by Charles brother, Joe as co-
administrator.

They were subsequently replaced by several other individuals until


only PCIB was appointed sole administrator. (There were no records of why
the changes took place and why PCIB ended up the sole admin).

The instant petition was filed by PCIB against the court which handled
both proceedings (regarding the estate of Linnie and that of Charles) on the
ground that the Judge Escolin kept on approving motions apparently from
both estates, which led to confusing or even conflicting issues.

PCIBS ARGUMENTS:
39

A. Linnies will should be governed by Philippine Law even if she was a


Texas National because it was her intention as stated in her will and she was
a resident of the Philippines at the time of her death. This was in relation to
the pertinent laws of Texas and the principle of renvoi. Therefore, her estate
could consists of no more than one-fourth of the said conjugal properties, the
one-fourth being the legitime of her husband which she could not have
disposed of nor burdened with any condition.

B. There was no asset left to Linnies estate at the time of her


husbands death on the theory that it is practically closed since she
bequeathed everything to her husband. There is no Testamentary
Substitution because the elements are wanting. (That the first designated
heir: 1. Predecease the testator 2. Refuse to accept the inheritance and 3.
Incapacitated to inherit)

AVELINA ARGUMENT:

A. Linnie never change nor intended to change her original residence


of birth in Texas,United States and contends that, anyway, regardless of the
question of her residence, she being a a citizen of Texas, the distribution of
her estate is subject to the laws of her State which, do not provide for any
legitime. Hence, her brothers and sisters are entitled to the remainder of the
whole of her share of the conjugal partnership properties consisting of one-
half thereof.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the estate should be partitioned/liquidated according to


the Philippine laws.

2. Whether or not Linnies siblings were entitled to anything.

RULING:

1. The court REMAND the issue to the Trial Court because it is an issue of
fact and that the evidence presented by both parties were not adequate
enough for it to properly render a decision.

The Supreme Court advised both the administrators to act in


conjunction with the other and never proceed with one estate independently.

2. AFFIRMATIVE

Linnies siblings or representative are entitled to her estate which


should not be less than one-fourth of the community estate at the time of
her death, minus whatever Charles may have gratuitously disposed of during
his administration and as sole heir.

PCIBs contention is erroneous when it views the said disposition


exclusively in the light of Substitutions covered by the Civil Code when it is
obvious that substitution occurs only when another heir is appointed in a will
40

so that he may enter into the inheritance in default of the heir originally
instituted.

The siblings of Mrs. Hodges are not substitutes because the will
does not say that the said relatives would inherit if Mr. Hodges would
predecease, be incapacitated or should repudiate the inheritance but rather,
they are also her heirs instituted simultaneously with Hodges, subject, to
certain conditions.

The institution of Mr. Hodges partakes of a resolutory term, that


his ownership of the inherited properties would end at his death while the
institution of Mrs. Hodges brothers and sisters is on the other hand an
institution subject to a suspensive term, their inheritance having become
vested at the time of Mrs. Hodges death but only become operative upon
the death of Mr. Hodges.

G.R. NO. L-44602 NOVEMBER 28, 1938

MARIA CALMA, AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE TESTAMENTARY


PROCEEDINGS OF FAUSTA MACASAQUIT, PLAINTIFF-
APPELLANT, VS. ESPERANZA TAEDO, ASSISTED BY HER
HUSBAND FELIPE MAMAUAL, AND BARTOLOME QUIZON,
DEPUTY SHERIFF OF TARLAC, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.

FACTS: The spouses Eulalio Calma and Fausta Macasaquit were the owners
of a certain property. They were indebted to Esperanza Taedo in the sums of
P948.34 and P247, with interest thereon at 10 per cent per annum which are
chargeable against the conjugal property. Fausta Macasaquit died leaving a
will wherein she appointed her daughter, Maria Calma, as administratrix of
her properties.

In the probate proceedings in the CFI of Tarlac, Maria Calma, was


appointed judicial administratrix of the properties of the deceased. During
the prendency of these proceedings, Taedo filed a suit for collection of sum
of money against the husband. The lower court rendered a judgement in her
favor and ordered the sheriff to sell the conjugal property despite the third
party claim filed by Fausta.

Maria, as administratix of the estate of Fausta, now brought this action


to ask that the sale made by the sheriff of the property be annulled and that
the estate of Fausta Macasaquit be declared the sole and absolute heir.

ISSUE: Whether or not the sale made by the sheriff is valid.

RULING: NEGATIVE
41

The sale of the property made by the sheriff in execution of the judgment
rendered against Eulalio Calma for the collection of the indebtedness
chargeable against the conjugal property is void and said property should be
deemed subject to the testamentary proceedings of the deceased Fausta
Macasaquit.

The probate proceedings of the deceased Fausta Macasaquit were


instituted in accordance with Act No. 3176 which provides:

SEC. 685. When the marriage is dissolved by the death of the husband
or wife, the community property shall be inventoried, administered,
and liquidated, and the debts thereof shall be paid, in the testamentary
or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse, in accordance with
the provisions of this Code relative to the administration and
liquidation and partition proceeding, unless the parties, being all of age
and legally capacitated, avail themselves of the right granted to them
by this Code of proceeding to an extrajudicial partition and liquidation
of said property.

In case it is necessary to sell any portion of said community property in


order to pay the outstanding debts and obligations of the same, such sale
shall be made in the manner and with the formalities established by this
Code for the sale of the property of deceased persons. Any sale, transfer,
alienation or disposition of said property effected without said formalities
shall be null and void, except as regards the portion that belonged to the
vendor at the time the liquidation and partition was made.

Consequently, the testamentary proceedings of Fausta Macasaquit


having been instituted, the liquidation and partition of the conjugal property
by reason of her marriage to Eulalio Calma should be made in these
proceedings, to the exclusion of any other proceeding for the same purpose.

Furthermore, when the marriage is dissolved by the death of the wife,


the legal power of management of the husband ceases, passing to the
administrator appointed by the court in the testate or intestate proceedings
instituted to that end if there be any debts to be paid. Thus, Eulalio Calma
having ceased as legal administrator of the conjugal property had with his
wife Fausta Macasaquit, no complaint can be brought against him for the
recovery of an indebtedness chargeable against said conjugal property, and
that the action should be instituted in the testamentary proceedings of the
deceased Fausta Macasaquit in the manner provided by law, by filing it first
with the committee on claims.
42

G.R. NO. L-2263 MAY 30, 1951

PAZ Y. OCAMPO, JOSEFA Y. OCAMPO, ISIDRO Y. OCAMPO, GIL Y.


OCAMPO, MAURO Y. OCAMPO, AND VICENTE Y.
OCAMPO VS. CONRADO POTENCIANO, VICTOR POTENCIANO
AND LOURDES POTENCIANO

FACTS: The petitioners filed an appeal by certiorari from the decision of the
Court of Appeal. The petitioner executed a document purporting to convey
the subject property located in Binan, Laguna by way of pacto de retro sale
to the defendant. The petitioner also executed another document making it
appear that for the period of redemption, an annual rental of P300 or 12% of
the purchase price shall be paid for the lease house and lot. Although the
subject property is registered only in the name of the husband, Edilberto
Ocampo, the same is actually a conjugal property. Also, the original period
fixed for repurchase was one year, extendible to another year. However,
several extensions were granted up to its last extension in 1937, with the
vendor paying the principal in addition to interests. After the lapse of the last
extension defendant, and without the right to repurchase being exercised,
Potenciano filed with the register of deeds of Laguna for the consolidation of
the title under the names of Sps. Potenciano.

In 1939, defendant, Potenciano gave the wife of Edilberto, Paz Yatco an


option to repurchase the property within 5 years. Yatco sought to exercise
the option by tendering to Potenciano but being rejected, she then deposited
the money (P4,000) in court and brought an action for in her own name as
administratrix of the estate of her husband. Defendants children, intervened
by way of cross-complaint. They alleged that the option given by their father
to the plaintiff was null and void with respect to the share of their deceased
mother which passed unto by right of inheritance. Also, the defendants
children wanted to exercise the right to redemption accorded by law to co-
owners of property held in common.

ISSUE: Whether or not the surviving spouse (Potenciano) has the authority
as the de facto administrator of the conjugal estate to enter into an
agreement after the death of his wife with respect to their conjugal property.

RULING: NO. The Court of Appeals erred in the supposing that the surviving
spouse had the authority to as de facto administrator in of the conjugal
estate.

The Supreme Court pointed out that the decision relied upon by the CA
is now obsolete. The rule that, upon dissolution of the marriage by the death
of the wife, the husband must liquidate the partnership affairs has been
43

changed by ACT No. 3176, now section 2, Rule 75 which provides that when
marriage is dissolved by death of either the husband or wife, the partnership
affairs must be liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings of the
deceased spouse. The court also noted that CA found and it was undisputed
that the pacto de retro sale was in reality a loan with security or an equitable
mortgage, with simulated rental for interest. Also, the option agreement in
question was nothing more than mere extension of the time of payment of
the mortgagee, since in the mind of the parties the real transaction between
them was that of a loan with security or equitable mortgage.

Consequently, under such view there it is no longer necessary to


consider the claim of the defendants children, Victor and Lourdes
Potenciano, since the consolidation of title to the property in the name of
their parents was null and void.

G.R. NO. L-7516 MAY 12, 1955

LEONOR P. REYES, ASSISTED BY HER HUSBAND, AGUSTIN


ARCON, PETITIONER, VS. THE HONORABLE BONIFACIO YSIP,
JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF BULACAN, AND
DR. AURELIO CRISOSTOMO, SPECIAL ADMINISTRATRIX IN
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS NO. 563, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: A petition was presented for the probate of the last will and
testament of decedent of Juan Reyes Panlilio.

Leonor P. Reyes (petitioner) is the natural daughter of the deceased


filed an opposition thereto.

The special administratrix, who had presented the will for probate,
objected to the personality and right of the petitioner herein to contest the
will and asked that the court resolve her right to contest the will before the
hearing thereon.

Both counsel for the proponent of the will and the opponent, petitioner
herein, understood that the above order permitted the oppositor to appear
and intervene in the hearing on the will, leaving her personality, put in
question by proponent, to be resolved later.

Thus Attorney for the proponent asked for a reconsideration of the


court's order and at a subsequent hearing (for the probate of the will),
opponent on her part offered evidence on her alleged filiation.

The attorney for the administratrix again objected to the presentation


of said evidence (supporting the claim of the filiation of the petitioner
herein), but the trial judge, the Hon. Bonifacio Ysip, held that only the
probate of the will was at issue and that the question of the presentation of
evidence as to the filiation of the oppositor, petitioner herein, was out of
place.
44

Counsel for petitioner made attempts to have the court reconsider its
order but the court refused to do so. So her counsel begged the court to
suspend the proceedings, and he instituted the present petition for a writ to
compel the respondent judge to permit her to prove her alleged filiation as a
recognized natural child of the testator.

ISSUE: Whether or not the court is obliged to accept or receive evidence of


the filiation of an oppositor in the hearing of a petition for the probate of a
will.

RULING: NO.

Had the court prohibited or prevented the petitioner, oppositor to the


probate of the will, from intervening in the hearing on the will and submitting
evidence to support the grounds for her opposition to the probate, perhaps
the petitioner would have been justified in coming to us to compel the judge
to admit evidence of her filiation. But the trial judge ruled that only evidence
as to the execution of the will or in opposition to the probate could then be
admitted, postponing reception of evidence as to the filation of the petitioner
to another occasion or hearing, and perhaps on the occasion of the hearing
for the declaration of heirs.

In this respect the judge's ruling finds support in the circumstances. To


allow petitioner, oppositor in the probate, to prove her filiation would be
injecting matters different from the issues involved in the probate, which in
this case were the alleged non-execution of the will, or the execution thereof
under pressure or influence or by threat, or the alleged forgery of the
signatures of the testator.

If the court permitted submission of evidence as to the filiation of the


proceedings for probate, the nature of the evidence submitted would
nevertheless be only prima facie, and only to justify her intervention in the
probate proceedings. It would not be decisive of her right to inherit as a
recognized natural child, as the final decision on the matter would be made
after hearing for the declaration of the heirs. Anyway, the court was not
depriving her of the right or opportunity to contest the will. And the legal
issue raised by the proponent of the will would also tend to confuse or
increase the number of issues to be determined at the hearing on the will, all
these without any benefit or advantage to the parties, or prejudice to the
petitioner because she was not being denied the right to sustain or introduce
evidence to sustain her opposition to the probate of the will. Considerations
of convenience and expediency, therefore, support the ruling of the court in
refusing to admit evidence of petitioner's filiation and postponing the same
at a later stage in the distribution proceedings.

Therefore, find that the order of the court did not amount to a
prohibition to the petitioner to take part in the hearing for the probate of the
will and was motivated by a desire to avoid a multiplicity of the issues
45

thereat and the limitation thereof to the execution and the validity of the
execution of the will. The court, therefore, did not deprive the petitioner of
any right which she is entitled to under the law or rules, nor did it abuse its
discretion in refusing the submission of evidence as to filiation in the hearing
for the probate.

G.R. NO. L-1313 FEBRUARY 16, 1948

ROSALINA CUNANAN, IN HER CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATRIX


OF THE INTESTATE OF ISAAC CUNANAN AND CANDIDA JOAQUIN
SPECIAL PROCEEDING NO. 8355 OF COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF NUEVA ECIJA, PETITIONER, VS. RAFAEL AMPARO,
JUDGE OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NUEVA ECIJA, AND BONIFACIO
SORIANO, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Bonifacio Soriano, one of the respondents filed a money claim for
P880 against the decedent's estate.

He alleged that on various dates in 1937 and 1938, the deceased


received from him diverse sums of money aggregating P880.

On 1941, Rosalina Cunanan (petitioner), the administratrix Isaac


Cunanan and Candida Joaquin, filed a motion setting out Bonifacio Soriano's
claim and two others totalling P2,054, besides a debt of P1,600 in favor of
one Filomeno Santos bearing 12% interest per year.

To pay these obligations, and because funds were needed to defray the
expenses on the farm, she asked the court for authority to negotiate a loan
in such amount or to sell so much of the property described in the inventory
as might be sufficient to satisfy the said obligation. Judge Sotero Rodas
granted the motion.

On 1944, Rosalina Cunanan manifested to the court that she had


tendered to Bonifacio Soriano in March of that year P880 but that Soriano
refused to accept it on the ground that the money she offered was Japanese
notes and had no value. She prayed that the creditor be ordered to accept
the amount tendered, to execute the necessary deed of cancellation, and to
return the possession of two parcels of land which had been conveyed to
him.

Judge Quintin Paredes, Jr. authorized the administratix to deposit with


the clerk of court P880 in full payment of the obligation in favor of Bonifacio
Soriano and ordered Soriano to deliver the property in his possession to the
administratix.

On July 17, 1944, the administratix filed a complaint against Soriano


for contempt of court, alleging that she had complied with the court's order
but that Soriano disobeyed that part of it which commanded him to return
the two parcels of land to the estate of Isaac Cunanan and Candida Joaquin
46

After hearing, Judge Paredes found Soriano not guilty of contempt but
reiterated his order that Soriano "deliver the property in question to the
administratix Rosalina Cunanan for the benefit of the Intestate Estate."
Bonifacio Soriano filed a MR of such order.

On August 16, 1946, the Judge Rafael Amparo, who now was presiding
over the CFI granted Soriano's motion. He justified the refusal of Bonifacio
Soriano to accept Japanese military notes and Soriano's insistence on being
paid in the same currency which he had paid for the land.

Rosalina Cunanan (petitioner) alleged that these orders were made


"without and/or in excess of his jurisdiction, with grave abuse of discretion.

ISSUE: Whether or not these orders made by Judge Rafael Amparo were
"without and/or in excess of his jurisdiction, with grave abuse of discretion.

RULING: YES. Petition granted.

As a general rule, with the consent of the parties matters affecting


property under judicial administration may be taken cognizance of by the
court in the course of the intestate proceeding provided the interests of third
persons are not prejudiced. Determination of title to property is within the
jurisdiction of CFI. The respondent Soriano's objection relates exclusively to
the procedure, which is distinct from jurisdiction. It affects only personal
rights to a mode of practice which may be waived. Certainly, there is waiver
where, as here, and has been pointed out, the party who raises the objection
was the one who set the court in motion, and who, by failing to disclose the
existence of a sale under pacto de retro, suppressed jurisdictional facts that
might be in the way of his claim's success.

Soriano is bound by his own petition and by the court's adjudication of


his claim made in consonance with his prayer. A party cannot trifle with a
court's decision or order which he himself sought with full awareness of his
rights under the premises, by taking it or leaving it at pleasure. The
allegations, statements, or admissions contained in a pleading are
conclusively as against the pleader. A party cannot subsequently take a
position contradictory of, or inconsistent with, his pleadings. Specifically, he
is not allowed to ask money back when the peso value is good, and later say
he wants to keep the land when the peso's purchasing power is down. The
tender of payment by the administratix, to say the least, operated to
preserve her right of redemption.

The repurchase of the lots should have been effected in


Commonwealth currency is bereft of reason and justice and is not the law.
Japanese war notes were the only money in circulation in March, 1944. It
seems to us extremely unjust and unreasonable to expect the administratix
at that time to repurchase the lots in any other means of exchange. If it be
correct a point which we do not decide that the purchaser could not be
47

compelled to accept payment in the currency in use at the time of


repurchase, then the period of redemption should have been considered
extended until that currency was replaced with one more acceptable to the
creditor. Suspension of the time of repurchase should have followed the
vendor's inability to effect the redemption in Commonwealth currency by
reason of circumstances not of his own making.

Therefore, this was the least that should have been conceded to the
debtor. Thus given a grace, the administratix had until within reasonable
time after liberation top repurchase the property. It is fortunate, be it said to
the credit of the administratix, that she expressed to the respondent judge,
before he made the orders complained of, her willingness to pay the debt or
to repurchase the lots, as the case may be, in genuine Philippine money,
forgetting the deposit and without insisting that it be regarded as a sufficient
and valid exercise of her option.

G.R. NO. 117417 SEPTEMBER 21, 2000

MILAGROS A. CORTES, PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF APPEALS


AND MENANDRO A. RESELVA, RESPONDENTS.

Rule 73 Section 2- Where estate upon dissolution of marriage

FACTS: Spouses Teodoro and Lucresia has three children. They are
Menandro, Milagros and Florante. The spouses was able to acquire a house
and lot in Tondo Manila and this was being occupied by their Son Menandro.
Lucresia died ahead of Teodoro and the later made a holographic will making
Milagros as the appointed executrix. The will was probated and Milagros also
filed a motion to order Menandro to vacate the said property. The said
motion was granted by the Probate Court, but was also reverse by the CA
upon Menandro's appeal. The CA's decision is founded on their finding that
the order is beyond the probate court's limited jurisdiction.

ISSUE: Whether or not the probate court in the instant case has jurisdiction
to adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be part of the estate.

RULING: Yes because the properties involved in this case is not claimed by
an outside party but by one of the parties thereto.

The long standing rule is that probate courts, or those in charge of


proceedings whether testate or intestate, cannot adjudicate or determine
title to properties claimed to be part of the estate and which are claimed to
belong to outside parties. - Stated otherwise, "claims for title to, or right of
possession of, personal or real property, made by the heirs themselves, by
48

title adverse to that of the deceased, or made by third persons, cannot be


entertained by the (probate) court."

In the present case, however, private respondent Menandro A. Reselva,


who refused to vacate the house and lot is not an "outside party" but one of
the three compulsory heirs. By way of exception to the above-mentioned
rule, "when the parties are all heirs of the decedent, it is optional upon them
to submit to the probate court the question of title to property."

Here, the probate court is competent to decide the question of


ownership. More so, when the opposing parties belong to the poor stratum of
society and a separate action would be most expensive and inexpedient. In
addition, Menandro's claim is not at all adverse to, or in conflict with that of,
the decedent since the former's theory merely advances co-ownership with
the latter. In the same way, when the controversy is whether the property in
issue belongs to the conjugal partnership or exclusively to the decedent, the
same is properly within the jurisdiction of the probate court, which
necessarily has to liquidate the conjugal partnership in order to determine
the estate of the decedent which is to be distributed among the heirs. More
importantly, the case at bar falls squarely under Rule 73, Section 2 of the
Revised Rules of Court, thus:

RULE 73 SEC. 2.Where estate upon dissolution of marriage. - When


the marriage is dissolved by the death of the husband or wife, the
community property shall be inventoried, administered, and liquidated,
and the debts thereof paid, in the testate or intestate proceedings of
the deceased spouse. If both spouses have died, the conjugal
partnership shall be liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings
of either."

The CA's decision is set aside but without reinstating the decision of
the RTC and the case was REMANDED to the court of origin for further
proceedings.

G.R. NO. 94284 APRIL 8, 1991

RICARDO C. SILVERIO, PETITIONER, VS. THE COURT OF


APPEALS, HON. BENIGNO G. GAVIOLA, AS JUDGE OF THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CEBU CITY, BRANCH IX, AND
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENTS.
Rule 72- Subject Matter of special proceedings. Sec 1. (i) Change of Name

FACTS: Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio is a transgender. He wanted to


change his name, "Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and his sex from "male" to
"female in his birth certificate. The trial court granted his petition but the CA
and SC reverses Trial Court's decision. The decision of the RTC lacks legal
49

basis, because there is no law allowing a person to change his/her name due
to sex reassignment.

ISSUE: Whether or not, change of name due to sex reassignment is allowed


under rule 72 sec 1 (i) is allowed.
RULING: RA 9048 now governs the change of first name. It vests the power
and authority to entertain petitions for change of first name to the city or
municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned. Under the law,
therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of first name is now
primarily lodged with the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent
and effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name from the
coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108 (Cancellation or Correction
of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an
administrative petition for change of name is first filed and subsequently
denied. It likewise lays down the corresponding venue, form and procedure.
In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating change of first name are
primarily administrative in nature, not judicial. In addition, RA 9048 likewise
provides the grounds for which change of first name may be allowed:
SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or Nickname. The
petition for change of first name or nickname may be allowed in any of
the following cases:
(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous,
tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce;
(2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually and
continuously used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by
that first name or nickname in the community; or
(3) The change will avoid confusion.

Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present
proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason justifying such change.
In addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by the use of his true
and official name. In this case, he failed to show, or even allege, any
prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using his true and official name.
The Court recognizes that there are people whose preferences and
orientation do not fit neatly into the commonly recognized parameters of
social convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal.
However, the remedies petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to
be addressed solely by the legislature, not by the courts. Petition is hereby
denied.
50

TOPIC: 2.1 SUMMARY SETTLEMENT OF ESTATES (RULE 74)

G.R. NO. 197813 SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF- APPELLEE, VS. EDWIN


IBANEZ Y ALBANTE AND ALFREDO (FREDDIE) NULLA Y IBANEZ,
ACCUSED-APPELLANTS.

FACTS: Vicenta Salamanca died intestate leaving as heirs 1 son and 4


daughters. Ramon (son) filed in CFI Laguna a petition for his appointment as
administrator of the properties of his deceased mother. His sisters
(respondents) opposed saying that they are all of age; the debts and
obligations of the estate has already been paid; that they did not want to be
burdened with admin proceedings; and that Ramons remedy was to sue for
partition under Rule 74 of ROC.
Judge Ibanez issued an order stating that in accordance with Fule v
Fule the proper remedy should be an action for partition because all the heirs
were of age and there were no debts of the estate. He required the sisters to
institute partition proceedings and that the litigation begun by Ramon will be
held in abeyance. The sisters filed an action for partition. Ramon filed this
special civil action alleging that the respondent judge had committed grave
abuse of discretion. He prayed for the court to proceed with the hearing of
his petition for administration.
Petitioner asserts that it is not known whether there are any debts
because these may be shown only in the administration proceedings but he
did not assert otherwise when respondents affidavit says that there was no
debt. He argues that only when the heirs do not have any dispute as to the
bulk of hereditary estate but only in the manner of partition does Section 1
Rule 74 of ROC apply, and that in this case the parties are at loggerheads
as to the corpus of the hereditary estate because respondents succeeded
in sequestering some assets of the intestate.

ISSUE: Whether or not the administration proceedings should be held in


abeyance.

RULING: YES.
Fule v Fule applies: where there are no debts, the heirs are not bound
to submit the property to a judicial administration which is always long and
costly or to apply for an appointment of an admin by the court. These
proceedings are superfluous and unnecessary. The creditors are protected
even if, without benefit of the administration, the estate is distributed in an
action for partition.
51

Questions as to what property belonged to the deceased (and to the


heirs) may properly be ventilated in the partition proceedings, especially
where such property is in the hands of one heir. The questions he seeks to
raise in the admin proceedings may equally de decided in the partition suit.
Besides, since the sisters constitute 4/5 of the heirs. The majority interest
usually gets to select the administrator. SC also said that the admin
proceedings will be dismissed soon, inasmuch as the partition suit has
already been instituted, because the court has already intimated that the
proceedings will be suspended pending the presentation of other suit.

G.R. NO. L-6044 NOVEMBER 24, 1952

FORTUNA VDA. DE RODRIGUEZ, BENJAMIN RODRIGUEZ,


MERCEDES RODRIGUEZ DE HALLARE, LUZ RODRIGUES DE
CARLOS AND ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ, PETITIONERS, VS. HON.
BIENVENIDO A. TAN, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
OF RIZAL, AND ABELARDO RODRIGUEZ, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Flaviano Rodriguez died on February 8, 1944, leaving as his heirs the
following:
Petitioners
a. Fortunata (Widow) and six children
b. Benjamine,
c. Mercedes,
d. Luz
e. Antonio
Respondent
f. Abelardo

All the heirs, who were then already of age, verbally agreed not to
liquidate the estate and place under the administration of the Widow and
each of the children will be entitled to receive a portion of the income.
On March 19, 1952 Abelardo filed a petition for administration of their
inatestate estate of said deceased. The other heirs opposed conteding that
the estate having no debts and all the heirs were of age and that the heirs
had a verbal agreement to place the estate under the administration of
Fortunanta.
Repondent admitted the existence of the verbal agreement but contended
that the same was not carried out because in reality it was Benjamin who
took over the administration of the estate and in the discharge of his duties
he failed and refused to give him his share in the income.
The RTC ruled in favor of Abelardo and appointed him as the
administrator.
52

ISSUE: Whether or not it was proper to appoint Ablardo as administrator.

RULING: Yes. Under section 1, rule 74 of the Rules of Court, if the decedent
left no debts and the heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by
their judicial guardians, the parties may, without securing letters of
administration, divide the estate among themselves as they see fit, and
should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action of partition.
Construing the scope of said section 1, this Court repeatedly held "that
when a person dies without leaving pending obligations to be paid, his heirs,
whether of age or not, are not bound to submit the property to a judicial
administration, which is always long and costly, or to apply for the
appointment of an administrator by the court. It has been uniformly held that
in such case the judicial administration and the appointment of an
administrator are superfluous and unnecessary proceedings"
However, section 1 does not preclude the heirs from instituting
administration proceedings, even if the estate has no debts or obligations, if
they do not desire to resort for good reasons to an ordinary action of
partition. While section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among
themselves as they may see fit, or to resort to an ordinary action of partition,
it does not compel them to do so if they have good reasons to take a
different course of action. Said section is not mandatory or compulsory as
may be gleaned from the use made therein of the word may. If the intention
were otherwise the framer of the rule would have employed the word shall as
was done in other provisions that are mandatory in character. Note that the
word may is used not only once but in the whole section which indicates an
intention to leave the matter entirely to the discretion of the heirs.

G.R. NO. L-14921 DECEMBER 31, 1960

DOLORES B. GUICO, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, VS.


PABLO G. BAUTISTA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.

FACTS: Gertrudes Garcia died intestate on August 31, 1956 leaving as her
legitimate heirs plaintiffs and defendants. During her lifetime, she made
several deeds of donation of some of her properties in favor of all the
defendants, but did not provide that the properties donated would not be
subject to collation. She also left outstanding obligations to the Rehabilitation
Finance Corporation and the G.A. Machineries, Inc.
Dolores Guico then filed a complaint for partition over the estate of
Gertrudes. Respondents filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the
action is premature because it is admitted that Gertrudes has left certain
debts. The RTC and CA dismissed the action.

ISSUE: Whether or not partition is proper prior to the payment of the debts
of the estate.
53

RULING: No. Where the deceased left pending obligations, such obligations
must be first paid or compounded with the creditors before the estate can be
divided among the heirs; and unless they reach an amicable settlement as to
how such obligations should be settled, the estate would inevitably be
submitted to administration for the payment of such debts. As compared to
ordinary partition, the regular estate proceeding offer the advantage of
requiring all creditors of the deceased to disclose themselves and submit
their respective claims within a comparatively short period (12 months under
Rule 87, unless claims are contingent), otherwise, they are forever barred;
while in ordinary judicial partitions the creditors 1claims are only
extinguished by the expiration of the period extinctive prescription.
An heir, therefore, may have an interest in making sure that the share
allocated to him will be freed from invisible claims, so that creditors may not
later appear and initiate the very estate proceeding sought to be avoided,
and he may properly object to an action for partition this ground.
Unless, therefore, all the heirs are agreeable to assuming personal
liability for all the decedent's obligations, those known as well as those
undisclosed, regular estate proceedings cannot be avoided.

G.R. NO. L-273 MARCH 29, 1947

CRESENCIA HERNANDEZ, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ZACARIAS


ANDAL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. QUIRINO DIMASACAT, MARIA
HERNANDEZ AND AQUILINA HERNANDEZ, INTERVENORS-
APPELLANTS.

FACTS: The plaintiff, Cresencia Hernandez, the intervenors, Maria and


Aquilina Hernandez, and Pedro and Basilia Hernandez who are not parties
here, are brother and sisters. They acquired in common by descent from
their father a parcel of land of which he died seized and known as lot No.
120073 of the Batangas cadastral survey.

On January 23, 1944, the intervenors sold 1800 square meters of this
parcel, a portion which is particularly described in the deed of conveyance
Exhibit A, to Zacarias Andal, the defendant, and Andal's wife in consideration
of P860. This portion purports to be the combined shares of the intervenors
in the larger parcel, allotted to them in a verbal partition alleged to have
been made (time not stated) among the five brother and sisters.

After the sale, on a date as to which the evidence is in disagreement


but which is not now important, the plaintiff attempted to repurchase the
land sold to Andal. According to her original complaint, dated February 3,
1944, she offered the purchasers P150 as price of repurchase, this being,
according to that complaint, the amount Andal had paid for Maria
Hernandez's and Aquilina Hernandez's shares, but Andal, it is alleged,
refused to part with the property.
54

It results that on the date last mentioned, Andal executed a deed of


sale for P970, in favor of the intervenors, an amount which included Andal's
expenses as well as the normal sale price. The document of repurchase gave
as reason for the transaction the fact that it had been agreed that in the
event trouble should arise the sellers should return to the buyer what they
had received and pay the latter his expenses.

On April 4, 1944, Maria and Aquilina Hernandez's answer in


intervention was filed. The intervenors alleged that there had been a
partition among them and their brother and sisters "with the share of each
delineated and marked, and after partition and delineation everyone took
exclusive, separate and independent possession of his portion in the
partition." They charged the plaintiff with bad faith in that "it was upon her
request for chance that the sale to the defendant, about to take place last
November, was delayed till January of this year when she finally informed the
intervenors that they could sell to the defendant, or she could pay only P150
and could not raise the amount of P860 offered by the defendant."

Cresencia Hernandez, the plaintiff, was the only witness to testify on


her own behalf. Substantially she reiterated the allegations in her two
complaints. Zacarias Andal, the defendant, also testified. He said that he was
in possession of the land in question until he returned it to the intervenors.
He declared that the plaintiff offered to repurchase the land from him long
after he had bought it, that is, when she was about to file her action. He
stated that after he came from Candelaria, Tayabas, with the document of
sale he showed it to the plaintiff: that was on the 23rd of January. He was
able to do this because he lived near Cresencia and passed by her house on
his way home from Candelaria. He said that Cresencia Hernandez upon being
shown the document merely exclaimed, "Oh, so you already have a
document." When asked whether the land "described in the complaint of the
herein plaintiff has been the object of partition among the co-owners Pedro,
Basilia, Cresencia, Maria and Aquilina surnamed Hernandez," counsel for the
plaintiff objected on the ground that the best evidence was the document of
partition, and the objection was sustained. The same objection and the same
ruling were made on the same ground when the witness was queried how it
was that the land he had bought from Maria and Aquilina Hernandez had
been specified in the deed of sale, Exhibit A.

In consequence of this ruling, counsel for the defendant and


intervenors did not call any more witnesses but only announced that he had
witnesses ready to prove that a parol partition among the five brother and
sisters had been made, mentioning the names of six such witnesses. Counsel
for the plaintiff again objected asserting that "under the Rules of Court
agreement affecting real estate may not be proved except by means of
writing subscribed by the person against whom the proof is offered. "Upon
this objection, the court ruled that under Rules 74 and 123 of the Rules of
Court (Statute of Frauds) as well as under article 1248 of the Civil Code, parol
evidence of partition was inadmissible, adding that to decide the case it had
enough with the testimony and evidence offered by the parties.

Thereafter the court handed down its decision declaring that the resale
of the land by Zacarias Andal in favor of Maria and Aquilina Hernandez was
illegal and in bad faith. It, however, did not seem to have found as a fact the
allegation that the resale was simulated.

ISSUE 1: Whether or not there be an oral partition?


55

RULING: YES. Oral partitions are not covered by the Statute of Frauds since
partitions are not conveyances of property but merely segregation and
separation.

There is a conflict of authority as to whether an agreement of partition


is such a contract as is required to be in writing under the statute of frauds.
One line of authorities holds the affirmative view; other authorities say no.
The reason for the rule that excludes partition from the operation of the
statute of frauds is that partition is not a conveyance but simply a separation
and designation of that part of the land which belongs to each tenant in
common. (27 C.J., 206.)

On general principle, independent and in spite of the statute of frauds, courts


of equity have enforced oral partition when it has been completely or partly
performed.

It is on the effects of Rule 74, section 1, of the Rules of Court on a parol


partition that there are sharp divergences of opinion among the members of
this Court. This section reads:

If the decedent left no debts and the heirs and legatees are all of age,
or the minors are represented by their judicial guardians, the parties
may, without securing letters of administration, divide the estate
among themselves as they see fit by means of a public instrument file
in the office of the register of deeds, and should they disagree, they
may do so in an ordinary action of partition. If there is only one heir or
one legatee, he may adjudicate to himself the entire estate by means
of an affidavit filed in the office of the register of deeds. It shall be
presumed that the decedent left no debts if no creditor files a petition
for letters of administration within two years after the death of the
decedent.

It is contended that under this rule a verbal partition is entirely void


and cannot be validated by any acts of the parties short of the execution of a
public document and its registration.

As a general proposition, transactions, so far as they affect the parties,


are required to be reduced to writing either as a condition of jural validity or
as a means of providing evidence to prove the transactions. Written form
exacted by the statute of frauds, for example, "is for evidential purposes
only." (Domalagan vs. Bolifer, 33 Phil., 471.) The decisions of this Court which
we have noticed were predicated on this assumption. The Civil Code, too,
requires the accomplishment of acts or contracts in a public instrument, not
in order to validate the act or contract but only to insure its efficacy so that
after the existence of the acts or contracts has been admitted, the party
bound may be compelled to execute the document. (Hawaiian Philippine
Co. vs .Hernaez, 45 Phil., 746.)

ISSUE 2: Is section 1 of Rule 74 constitutive and not merely evidential of


partition. In other words, is writing the act that confers legal validity upon the
agreement.
56

RULING: NO. There are no indications in the phraseology of this rule which
justify an affirmative answer to these questions.

It must be noted that where the law intends a writing or other formality
to be the essential requisite to the validity of the transactions it says so in
clear and unequivocal terms. Section 1 of Rule 74 contains no such express
or clear declaration that the required public instruments is to be constitutive
of a contract of partition or an inherent element of its effectiveness as
between the parties. And this Court had no apparent reason, in adopting this
rule, to make the efficacy of a partition as between the parties dependent on
the execution of a public instrument and its registration. On the other hand,
the opposite theory is not without reasonable support. We can think of
possible factors against the proposition that a public document and its
registration were contemplated as necessary ingredients to give life to a
contract of partition so that without them no oral partition can bind the
parties.

In the first place, the Rules of Court of which the rule under
consideration forms a part were promulgated by the Judicial Department
under authority to deal with matters of procedure exclusively. For this court
to prescribe what is to be a binding agreement between co-heirs in the
settlement of their private affairs which in no way affect the rights of third
parties would be to transcends its rule-making power. We bring out this
limitation upon the authority of this court to make rules, as an aid to
interpretation, as a method of arriving at the conclusion that section 1 of
Rule 74 was meant to be remedial and not a rule of substantive law of far-
reaching importance and serious juridical and practical implications. It is to
be presumed that the framers of the Rules of Court realized the bounds of
this court's functions and did not intend to trespass on purely substantive
rights of the parties to the partition. To the extent the execution and
registration of a notarized instrument are made essential elements to validity
to protect innocent third parties, the rule is legitimate and necessary;
legitimate because decedent's estate are placed under the jurisdiction of the
courts to administer and distribute. The interests of third parties eliminated,
the rule loses its character as one of procedure and practice and invades the
realm of substantive law.

Section 596 of Act No. 190, which is the precursor of section 1 Rule 74,
is enlightening and instructive. The former after stating that heirs may
apportion and divide the estate among themselves as they may see fit by
agreement duly executed in writing by all of them, adds the words "and not
otherwise." These words, in our opinion, were expressive of an intention to
make the written formality inherent element of the validity of a parol
partition. But what is far more to the point is that by logical process of
deduction the elimination from the new rule of the words "and not otherwise"
imports the casting away from the prescribed public document of its jural
character which the document enjoyed in the former code. At the same time,
the inclusion of the aforesaid words in the old provision serves to emphasize
the necessity of a positive and clear language if a given contractual formality
is to be the exclusive basis of the contract's binding effect on the parties. It is
of course unnecessary to say that the attaching of jural character to the
prescribed public instrument in section 596 of Act No. 190 is no argument for
contending that such document must be clothed with the same raiment in
the new Rules. Act No. 190 was a mixture of procedural and substantive
provisions, having been enacted by the legislative body itself which, unlike
57

this court, was unhampered and untrammelled, except by the fundamental


law, in the choice of its subjects of legislation.

The requirement that a partition be put in a public document and


registered has, in our opinion, for its purpose the protection of creditors and
at the same time the protection of the heirs themselves against tardy claims.
Note that the last sentence of the section speaks of debts and creditors. The
object of registration is to serve as constructive notice, and this means
notice to others. It must follow that the intrinsic validity of partition not
executed with the prescribed formalities does not come into play when, as in
this case, there are no creditors or the rights of creditors are not affected. No
rights of creditors being involved, it is competent for the heirs of an estate to
enter into an agreement for distribution in a manner and upon a plan
different from those provided by law.

G.R. NO. L-1578 SEPTEMBER 30, 1947

PEREGRINA REBONG, PETITIONER, VS. FIDEL IBAEZ, JUDGE


OF FIRST INSTANCE OF LAGUNA, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: This is a petition for certiorari against the respondent judge of the
Court of First Instance of Laguna on the ground that the latter acted in
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in denying the petition
for cancellation of the lien or annotation on the certificate of title issued to
the petitioner, of a land extrajudicially inherited by him as the only heir of
her predecessors in interest to the effect that the property described in the
title is subject to the claims of the creditors and other heirs of the deceased
Jose Rebong and Maria Rebong within two years from July 9, 1947, in
accordance with sections 1 and 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court.

ISSUE: Will the liens and annotations on the certificate of title be cancelled
upon extrajudicial transfer of the property to the heirs?

RULING: NO. If the said liens and annotations have not yet terminated or
ceased, then the rules of court do not give authority to the judge to cancel
those liens and annotations on the title.

The petitioner based on her petition on section 112 of Act No. 496 and
offered to file a bond of P5,000, the estimated value of the above mentioned
property to answer for such contingent claims.

The pertinent part of said section 112 of Act No. 496 provides:

SEC. 112. ... Any registered owner or other person in interest may at
any time apply petition to the court, upon the ground that the
registered interests of any description, whether vested, contingent,
expectant, or inchoate, have terminated and ceased; or that new
interests have arisen or been created which do not appear upon the
58

certificate; ... and the court shall have jurisdiction to hear and
determine the petition after notice to all parties in interest, and may
order the entry of a new certificate, the entry or cancellation of a
memorandum upon a certificate or grant any other relief upon such
terms and conditions, requiring security if necessary, as it may deem
proper; . . . .

According to the above quoted provisions, the court "may order the
entry of a new certificate, the entry or cancellation of a memorandum upon a
certificate or grant any other relief upon such terms and conditions, requiring
security if necessary," upon application of a registered owner on "the ground
that registered interests of any description, whether vested, contingent,
expectant, or inchoate, have terminated and ceased, or that new interests
have arisen or been created which do not appear upon the certificate."
Applying these provisions to the present case, it is evident that, since the
registered or annotated contingent interest of the creditors or other heirs of
the petitioner's predecessors in interest, established by section 4 of Rule 74
has not yet terminated or ceased, for the period of two from July 9, 1947,
have not yet elapsed, the respondent judge had no jurisdiction or power to
order the cancellation of said lien or annotation as prayed by the petitioner.
Neither section 4, Rule 74, of the Rules of Court, nor section 112 of Act No.
496 authorizes interest of substitution of a bond for a lien or registered
interest of any description, whether vested, expedient, inchoate or
contingent, which have not yet terminated or ceased.

In view of the foregoing it is plan that the respondent judge has not
acted in excess of jurisdiction nor with grave abuse of discretion, but in
conformity with the law, in denying the petitioner's petition, and the petition
for certiorari is therefore denied.

G.R. NO. L-6871 JANUARY 15, 1912

JOSE MCMICKING, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF


MARGARITA JOSE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, VS. BENITO SY
CONBIENG, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF PIO DE LA
GURDIA BARRETTO SY PIOCO, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

FACTS: On or about the 5th of February, 1902, one Margarita Jose, a native
of the Philippine Islands, died at Amoy, in the empire of China, leaving an
estate consisting of personal property partly in Hongkong and partly in the
Philippine Islands. On the 16th of April, 1902, one Engracio Palanca was
appointed administrator with the will annexed of the estate of the said
Margarita Jose, deceased, by the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila,
and Mariano Ocampo Lao Sempco and Dy Cunyao became his sureties and
qualified as such in the sum of P60,000. After the execution of this bond the
said Palanca, as such administrator, took possession of all the property of the
said Margarita Jose, amounting in all to $58,820.29 Hongkong currency.

On the 22d of April, 1904, the Mariano Ocampo Lao Sempco died in the
city of Manila, testate. On the 11th of May, 1904, one Doroteo Velasco was
59

appointed administrator with the will annexed of said Mariano Ocampo Lao
Sempco, deceased, and on July 7 following Mariano Velasco and Pio de la
Guardia Barretto qualified as sureties of the said administrator in the sum of
P30,000. Said Mariano Ocampo Lao Sempco left him surviving as his heirs at
law and devises and legatees one daughter, to whom he devised two-thirds
of his estate, and three sons in China, to whom he devised the remaining
one-third.

On the 27th of July, 1904, said Doroteo Velasco, as such administrator,


filed with the court a complete report and inventory of the property of the
deceased, together with a statement of all his debts and liabilities. As a part
of this report and inventory said administrator filed an instrument signed by
all of the persons interested in the estate of the said Mariano Ocampo
agreeing to the partition of he estate among themselves without proceedings
in court, at the same time assuming the payment of all obligations against
the estate. This agreement of partition was drawn and executed under
sections 596 and 597 of the Code of Civil Procedure for the purposes and to
attain the ends therein mentioned.

On the 30th of March, 1908, by virtue of an order made by the Court of


First Instance of the city of Manila, upon application of all parties interested,
the said Engracio Palanca was removed from office as administrator of the
estate of said Margarita Jose, deceased, and the plaintiff herein, Jose
McMicking, was appointed in his stead. The said Palanca was removed from
office by reason of the fact that he failed and refused to render an account of
the property and funds of the estate of the said Margarita Jose, deceased,
which has come to his possession as such administrator, and failed and
refused, on order of the court, to deliver said property and funds or any
portion thereof to the court or to the said Jose McMicking, his successor.
Instead of so doing, he retained possession of said property and funds,
absconded with the same, and never returned to the Philippine Islands. At
the time of his removal he was indebted to the estate in the sum of
P41,960.15, no part of which has ever been received by the estate or by its
representative.

ISSUE: Whether or not Doroteo Velasco, surety, is liable to the claims


against the estate of Mariano Ocampo.

RULING: NO. Since the principal to the obligation, Pio Barretto is not liable,
then the surety is likewise not liable. Further, since there was already
extrajudicial settlement of the estate, then Velasco, being an administrator is
already discharged.

We are of the opinion that the judgment must be affirmed. We base our
affirmance upon the ground that Doroteo Velasco, for whom the deceased
Pio de la Guardia Barretto was surety, would not have been liable himself had
this action been commenced against him. If the principal is not liable upon
the obligation, the surety cannot be.

At the head of the law of administration of the Philippine Islands stands


sections 596 and 597 of the Code of Civil Procedure. They are as follows:
60

SEC. 596. Settlement of intestate estates, without legal proceedings, in


certain cases. Whatever all the heirs of a deceased person are of
lawful age and legal capacity, and their are no debts due from the
intestate estate, or all the debts have been paid by the heirs, the heirs
may, by a family council as shown under Spanish law, or by agreement
between themselves, duly executed in writing, apportion and divide
the estate among themselves, as they may see fit, without
proceedings in court.

SEC. 597. In such case distributees liable for debts. But if it shall
appear, at any time within two years after such settlement and
distribution of the estate, that there are debts outstanding against the
estate which have not been paid, any creditor may compel the
settlement of the estate in the courts in the manner hereinafter
provided, unless his debt shall be paid, with interest; and the
administrator appointed by the court may recover the assets of the
estate from those who have received them, for the purpose of paying
the debts; and the real estate belonging to the deceased shall remain
charged with the liability to creditors for the full period of two years
after such distribution, notwithstanding any transfers thereof that may
have been made.

In the case at the bar we are of the opinion that, under the broad and
liberal policy which we must adopt in the interpretation and application of
the provisions referred to, the decision of the property of Mariano Ocampo,
deceased, in the form, in the manner and for the purposes expressed, falls
within the provisions of said sections and may be termed, therefore, and we
hold it to be, a partition of the property of a decedent without legal
proceedings within the meaning of those sections.

The fact of the prior appointment of an administrator and the filing of


an inventory before such partition is of no consequence so far as the right of
the owners to partition is concerned. The only requisite for such petition
prescribed by the law is that "there are no debts . . . or all the debts have
been paid by the heirs." When the condition is fulfilled the partition can take
place, no matter what stage the administration may have reached. By this it
is, of course, not meant that the partition after the appointment of an
administrator will interfere with the rights acquired by third person dealing
with said administrator within the limits of his authority and prior to the
partition; nor that the administrator can be deprived of the property of which
he is legally in possession without proper proceedings and the consent of the
court.

As already indicated, the basis of the liability of a surety on an


administrators' bond is the fault or failure of the principal. The liability of the
principal precedes that of the surety. If Velasco incurred no liability, then his
surety incurred none. The question that naturally suggests itself is, then, in
what was Velasco at fault or in what did he fail?

When the persons interested in the estate of Mariano Ocampo agreed


voluntarily upon a partition and division of the property of said estate and
the actual partition followed, the matter passed out of the hands of Velasco
as administrator. The parties to the partition stood invoking their rights under
section 596 and 597.
61

Velasco was helpless. He was powerless to prevent the parties from


taking the property to which they were entitled under the agreement, it
being conceded that they were actually entitled thereto in law. Those
sections were applicable to the situation and there was nothing that Velasco
could do to prevent the estate from being divided according to their
provisions. In giving his consent to the partition and in assisting the parties
to obtain the approval of the court thereto he did no wrong. He simply aided
in carrying out the provisions of the sections referred to.

It is a universal principle that one who follows a law commits no fault,


incurs no failure and wounds no rights. If one obeys the law he is free not
only in person but in property. Observance of the law discharges obligations;
it does not create them; and an obligation once discharged cannot be re-
acted by the act of others in which the person as to whom it was discharged
takes no part.

The proceedings under sections referred to, were after the partition
was actually made and the property duly turned over the administrator
under the proper proceedings, a complete settlement of the estate of
Mariano Ocampo, deceased, as it then stood, so far as the administrator was
concerned. Nothing further needed to be done. Every duty which Velasco
owed up to the time of the partition had been met. All debts presented or
known had been paid.

The court had given it approbation to the delivery of the property by


the administrator to the partitioning parties. Every obligation which lay upon
him had been removed. Nor could there arise against him any obligation in
the future in relation to the same property. The instant that the partition
occurred, in the form and manner stated, he stood stripped of all
responsibility to the estate, to its creditors, to the heirs and to the court. He
stood divested o every official duty and obligation, as fully as before his
appointment as completely as if he had not been appointed at all.

In law, therefore, he was no longer administrator with the will annexed


of the estate of Mariano Ocampo, deceased. He was in effect, discharged. As
to him the estate had been wiped out as a legal entity. It had ceased to exist.
And, while at any time within two years after the partition the property, or a
portion thereof, then in the possession of the partitioning persons could have
been placed in administration upon the happening of certain events, it would
not have been the same estate that had been represented by Velasco, nor
would Velasco have been the administrator of the estate by virtue of his
appointment in the old. It would have been necessary for the court, upon the
proper application setting forth the conditions prescribed by the sections, to
appoint another administrator for the purposes specified therein. It might
have been Velasco, if he would have accepted the appointment, or it might
have been another.

The point is that it would have been necessary to appoint a new


administrator just as if one had not been named before. The new
administrator would have had new duties, some of which would have been
quite different from those of the administrator appointed originally. He would
have had different sureties, who would have found themselves to different
obligations.
62

After the partition and division provided for in sections 596 and 597
have been fully consummated, no further administration of the estate can be
had unless there occur the following requisites:

1. There must have been discovered a claim against the estate "within
two years after such settlement and distribution of estate."

2. The creditor holding the claim must be the person who moves the
court for the appointment of an administrator.

(1) In the case at bar no debt was discovered during the prescribed
period. It was nearly four years after the partition of the estate and the
taking possession by the heirs of their respective portions before it was even
discovered that Palanca had been guilty of converting the property of the
estate to his own use; and, so far as the records shows, it was nearly five
years before the alleged claim against the estate of Mariano Ocampo was
fixed.

(2) No creditor made his application.

The creditor himself is not without duties. In the case at bar it was five years
after the petition before the alleged creditor made any attempt whatsoever
to "discover" or present his claim. He knew of the death of Ocampo very
soon after it occurred. He knew that it was among the possibilities that
Ocampo's estate might be called upon to respond for the failure of Palanca to
perform his duty as administrator. It was his duty to see to it that he would
be protected in that event. Nevertheless he permitted the estate of Ocampo
to be partitioned and distributed without protest and without the
presentation of his contingent claim, and sat quiet and passive for nearly five
years thereafter knowing that it was very probable that the property of the
estate was being consumed, incumbered, and transferred by the persons
among whom it had been distributed.

G.R. NO. L-19060 MAY 29, 1964

IGNACIO GERONA, MARIA CONCEPCION GERONA, FRANCISCO


GERONA AND DELFIN GERONA, PETITIONERS, VS. CARMEN DE
GUZMAN, JOSE DE GUZMAN, CLEMENTE DE GUZMAN,
FRANCISCO DE GUZMAN, RUSTICA DE GUZMAN, PACITA DE
GUZMAN AND VICTORIA DE GUZMAN RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: In the complaint, filed with the latter court on September 4, 1958,
petitioners herein, namely, Ignacio, Maria Concepcion, Francisco and Delfin,
all surnamed Gerona, alleged that they are the legitimate children of
Domingo Gerona and Placida de Guzman; that the latter, who died on August
9, 1941 was a legitimate daughter of Marcelo de Guzman and his first wife,
Teodora de la Cruz; that after the death of his first wife, Marcelo de Guzman
married Camila Ramos, who begot him several children, namely, respondents
Carmen, Jose, Clemente, Francisco, Rustica, Pacita and Victoria, all surnamed
De Guzman; that Marcelo de Guzman died on September 11, 1945; that
subsequently, or on May 6, 1948, respondents executed a deed of "extra-
63

judicial settlement of the estate of the deceased Marcelo de Guzman",


fraudulently misrepresenting therein that they were the only surviving heirs
of the deceased Marcelo de Guzman, although they well knew that
petitioners were, also, his forced heirs; that respondents had thereby
succeeded fraudulently in causing the transfer certificates of title to seven
(7) parcels of land, issued in the name of said deceased, to be cancelled and
new transfer certificates of title to be issued in their own name, in the
proportion of 1/7th individual interest for each; that such fraud was
discovered by the petitioners only the year before the institution of the case;
that petitioners forthwith demanded from respondents their (petitioners)
share in said properties, to the extent of 1/8th interest thereon; and that the
respondents refused to heed said demand, thereby causing damages to the
petitioners. Accordingly, the latter prayed that judgment be rendered
nullifying said deed of extra-judicial settlement, insofar as it deprives them of
their participation of 1/18th of the properties in litigation; ordering the
respondents to reconvey to petitioners their aforementioned share in said
properties; ordering the register of deeds to cancel the transfer certificates of
title secured by respondents as above stated and to issue new certificates of
title in the name of both the petitioners and the respondents in the
proportion of 1/8th for the former and 7/8th for the latter; ordering the
respondents to render accounts of the income of said properties and to
deliver to petitioners their lawful share therein; and sentencing respondents
to pay damages and attorney's fees.

In their answer, respondents maintained that petitioners' mother, the


deceased Placida de Guzman, was not entitled to share in the estate of
Marcelo de Guzman, she being merely a spurious child of the latter, and that
petitioners' action is barred by the statute of limitations.

After appropriate proceedings, the trial court rendered a decision


finding that petitioners' mother was a legitimate child, by first marriage, of
Marcelo de Guzman; that the properties described in the complaint belonged
to the conjugal partnership of Marcelo de Guzman and his second wife,
Camila Ramos; and that petitioners' action has already prescribed, and,
accordingly, dismissing the complaint without costs. On appeal taken by the
petitioners, this decision as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, with costs
against them.

Petitioners maintain that since they and respondents are co-heirs of


the deceased Marcelo de Guzman, the present action for partition of the
latter's estate is not subject to the statute of limitations of action; that, if
affected by said statute, the period of four (4) years therein prescribed did
not begin to run until actual discovery of the fraud perpetrated by
respondents, which, it is claimed, took place in 1956 or 1957; and that
accordingly, said period had not expired when the present action was
commenced on November 4, 1958.

ISSUE: Whether or not the action to cancel the certificates of title on the
ground of fraud had already prescribed.

RULING: YES. The action has already prescribed since it was filed after 10
years upon discovery of the fraud which is beyond the 4-year period.
64

Petitioners' contention is untenable. Although, as a general rule, an


action for partition among co-heirs does not prescribe, this is true only as
long as the defendants do not hold the property in question under an
adverse title (Cordova vs. Cordova, L-9936, January 14, 1948). The statute of
limitations operates as in other cases, from the moment such adverse title is
asserted by the possessor of the property (Ramos vs. Ramos, 45 Phil. 362;
Bargayo v. Camumot, 40 Phil. 857; Castro v. Echarri, 20 Phil. 23).

When respondents executed the aforementioned deed of extra-judicial


settlement stating therein that they are the sole heirs of the late Marcelo de
Guzman, and secured new transfer certificates of title in their own name,
they thereby excluded the petitioners from the estate of the deceased, and,
consequently, set up a title adverse to them. And this is why petitioners have
brought this action for the annulment of said deed upon the ground that the
same is tainted with fraud.

Although, there are some decisions to the contrary it is already settled


in this jurisdiction that an action for reconveyance of real property based
upon a constructive or implied trust, resulting from fraud, may be barred by
the statute of limitations.

Inasmuch as petitioners seek to annul the aforementioned deed of


"extra-judicial settlement" upon the ground of fraud in the execution thereof,
the action therefor may be filed within four (4) years from the discovery of
the fraud. Such discovery is deemed to have taken place, in the case at bar,
on June 25, 1948, when said instrument was filed with the Register of Deeds
and new certificates of title were issued in the name of respondents
exclusively, for the registration of the deed of extra-judicial settlement
constitute constructive notice to the whole world.

As correctly stated in the decision of the trial court:

In the light of the foregoing it must, therefore, be held that plaintiffs


learned at least constructively, of the alleged fraud committed against them
by defendants on 25 June 1948 when the deed of extra-judicial settlement of
the estate of the deceased Marcelo de Guzman was registered in the registry
of deeds of Bulacan, Plaintiffs' complaint in this case was not filed until 4
November 1958, or more than 10 years thereafter. Plaintiff Ignacio Gerona
became of age on 3 March 1948. He is deemed to have discovered
defendants' fraud on 25 June 1948 and had, therefore, only 4 years from the
said date within which to file this action. Plaintiff Maria Concepcion Gerona
became of age on 8 December 1949 or after the registration of the deed of
extra-judicial settlement. She also had only the remainder of the period of 4
years from December 1949 within which to commence her action. Plaintiff
Francisco Gerona became of age only on 9 January 1952 so that he was still a
minor when he gained knowledge (even if only constructive) of the deed of
extra-judicial settlement on 25 June 1948. Likewise, plaintiff Delfin Gerona
became of legal age on 5 August 1954, so that he was also still a minor at
the time he gained knowledge (although constructive) of the deed of extra-
judicial settlement on 25 June 1948. Francisco Gerona and Delfin Gerona had,
therefore, two years after the removal of their disability within which to
commence their action (Section 45, paragraph 3, in relation to Section 43,
Act 190), that is, January 29, 1952, with respect to Francisco, and 5 August
1954, with respect to Delfin.
65

G.R. NO. 118680 MARCH 5, 2001

MARIA ELENA RODRIGUEZ PEDROSA, PETITIONER, VS. THE


HON. COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE, CARMEN, MERCEDES &
RAMON, ALL SURNAMED RODRIGUEZ, ROSALINA RODRIGUEZ,
CHAN LUNG FAI, MATEO TAN TE, TE ENG SUY, LORETA TE,
VICTORIO S. DETALIA, JEROME DEIPARINE, PETRONILO S.
DETALIA, HUBERT CHIU YULO, PATERIO N. LAO, LORENSITA M.
PADILLA, IMMACULATE CONCEPCION COLLEGE AND LILIAN
EXPRESS, INC. AND TIO TUAN, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: In 1946, the spouses Miguel Rodriguez and Rosalina de Rodriguez


initiated proceedings for the legal adoption of Maria Elena Rodriguez
Pedrosa. This was granted. Miguel died intestate. Thereafter, petitioner and
Rosalina entered into an extrajudicial settlement of Miguel's estate,
adjudicating between themselves in equal proportion the estate of Miguel. In
1972, private respondents filed an action to annul the adoption of petitioner.

Petitioner argues that the complaint for annulment of the EJ partition


has not yet prescribed since the prescriptive period which should be applied
is four years following the case of Beltran vs. Ayson. She also avers that Sec.
4, Rule 74 which provides for a two-year prescriptive period needs two
requirements.

1. The party assailing the partition must have been given notice; and

2. The party assailing the partition must have participated therein.

Petitioner insists these requirements are not present in her case, since
she did not participate in the "Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement and
Partition." She cites Villaluz vs. Neme, 7 SCRA 27, 30 (1963), where we held
that a deed of extrajudicial partition executed without including some of the
heirs, who had no knowledge and consent to the same, is fraudulent. She
asserts that she is an adoptive daughter and thus an heir of Miguel.

Respondents, in response, claim that the action of petitioner had


already prescribed. Also, the non-participation of Maria Elena in the
extrajudicial partition was understandable since her status as an adopted
child was then under litigation.

ISSUES:
66

1. Whether or not the complaint for annulment of the "Deed of Extrajudicial


Settlement and Partition" had already prescribed;

2. Whether or not said deed is valid; and

3. Whether or not the petitioner is entitled to recover the lots which had
already been transferred to the respondent buyers.

RULING:

(1) NO. Section 4, Rule 74 provides for a two year prescriptive period

(1) to persons who have participated or taken part or had notice of the
extrajudicial partition, and in addition

(2) when the provisions of Section 1 of Rule 74 have been strictly


complied with, i.e., that all the persons or heirs of the decedent have
taken part in the extrajudicial settlement or are represented by
themselves or through guardians.

Petitioner did not participate in the extrajudicial partition. Patently


then, the two-year prescriptive period is not applicable in her case. The
applicable prescriptive period here is four (4) years as provided in Gerona vs.
De Guzman which held that:

[The action to annul] a deed of "extrajudicial settlement" upon the


ground of fraud...may be filed within four years from the discovery of
the fraud. Such discovery is deemed to have taken place when said
instrument was filed with the Register of Deeds and new certificates of
title were issued in the name of respondents exclusively.

Considering that the complaint of the petitioner was filed on January


28, 1987, or three years and ten months after the questioned
extrajudicial settlement dated March 11, 1983, was executed, we hold that
her action against the respondents on the basis of fraud has not yet
prescribed.

Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Rules of Court is the applicable rule on


publication of extrajudicial settlement. It states:

The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be


published in a newspaper of general circulation in the manner provided
in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial settlement shall be
binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no
notice thereof.

(2). NO. Under said provision, without the participation of all persons
involved in the proceedings, the extrajudicial settlement cannot be binding
on said persons. The rule contemplates a notice which must be sent out or
issued before the Deed of Settlement and/or Partition is agreed upon, i.e., a
notice calling all interested parties to participate in the said deed of
extrajudicial settlement and partition, not after, which was when publication
was done in the instant case. Following Rule 74 and the ruling in Beltran vs.
67

Ayson, since Maria Elena did not participate in the said partition, the
settlement is not binding on her.

The provision of Section 4, Rule 74 will also not apply when the deed of
extrajudicial partition is sought to be annulled on the ground of fraud. A deed
of extrajudicial partition executed without including some of the heirs, who
had no knowledge of and consent to the same, is fraudulent and
vicious Maria Elena is an heir of Miguel together with her adopting mother,
Rosalina. Being the lone descendant of Miguel, she excludes the collateral
relatives of Miguel from participating in his estate

To say that Maria Elena was represented by Rosalina in the partitioning


is imprecise. Maria Elena, the adopted child, was no longer a minor at the
time Miguel died. Rosalina, only represented her own interests and not those
of Maria Elena. Since Miguel predeceased Pilar, a sister, his estate
automatically vested to his child and widow, in equal shares. Respondent
Rodriguezes' interests did not include Miguel's estate but only Pilar's estate.

(3). NO. Could petitioner still redeem the properties from buyers? Given the
circumstances in this case, we are constrained to hold that this is not the
proper forum to decide this issue. The properties sought to be recovered by
the petitioner are now all registered under the name of third parties. Well
settled is the doctrine that a Torrens Title cannot be collaterally attacked. The
validity of the title can only be raised in an action expressly instituted for
such purpose.

G.R. NO. L-10474 FEBRUARY 28, 1958

BENNY SAMPILO AND HONORATO SALACUP, PETITIONERS, VS.


THE COURT OF APPEALS AND FELISA SINOPERA, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: Teodoro Tolete died intestate in January, 1945. He left four parcels of
land. He left as heirs his widow, Leoncia de Leon, and several nephews and
nieces, children of deceased brothers and sisters. In 1946, without any
judicial proceedings, his widow executed an affidavit stating that "the
deceased Teodoro Tolete left no children or respondent neither ascendants or
acknowledged natural children neither brother, sisters, nephews or nieces,
but the widow the one and only person to inherit the above properties" This
affidavit was registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds.

On the same day, she executed a deed of sale of all the above parcels
of land in favor of Benny Sampilo for the sum of P10,000. This sale was also
registered. In 1950, Benny Sampilo, in turn, sold the said parcels of land to
Honorato Salacup for P50,000 and this sale was also registered. In March,
1950, Felisa Sinopera instituted proceedings for the administration of the
estate of Teodoro Tolete and having secured her appointment as
administratrix, brought the present action.

The complaint alleges that the widow Leoncia de Leon, had no right to
execute the affidavit of adjudication and that Honorato Salacup acquired no
68

rights to the lands sold to him, and that neither had Benny Sampilo acquired
any right to the said properties. Sampilo and Salacup filed an amended
answer alleging that the complaint states no cause of action; that if such a
cause exists the same is barred by the statute of limitations.

ISSUE: Whether or not the right of action of the respondent administratrix


has prescribed and lapsed because the same was not brought within the
period of two years as prescribed in Section 4 of Rule 74 of the Rules of
Court.

RULING: No.

The Court noticed two significant provisions in Sections 1 and 4 of Rule 74. In
Section 1, it is required that if there are two or more heirs, both or all of them
should take part in the extrajudicial settlement. As to them the law is clear
that if they claim to have been in any manner deprived of their lawful right
or share in the estate by the extrajudicial settlement, they may demand their
rights or interest within the period of two years, and both the distributes and
estate would be liable to them for such rights or interest. Evidently, they are
the persons in accordance with the provision, may seek to remedy, the
prejudice to their rights within the two-year period. But as to those who did
not take part in the settlement or had no notice of the death of the decedent
or of the settlement, there is no direct or express provision is unreasonable
and unjust that they also be required to assert their claims within the period
of two years. To extend the effects of the settlement to them, to those who
did not take part or had no knowledge thereof, without any express legal
provision to that effect, would be violative of the fundamental right to due
process of law.

The procedure outlined in Section 1 of Rule 74 of extrajudicial


settlement, or by affidavit, is an ex parte proceeding. It cannot by any reason
or logic be contended that such settlement or distribution would affect third
persons who had no knowledge either of the death of the decedent or of the
extrajudicial settlement or affidavit, especially as no mention of such effect is
made, either directly or by implication.

The provisions of Section 4 of Rule 74, barring distributees or heirs


from objecting to an extrajudicial partition after the expiration of two years
from such extrajudicial partition, is applicable only:

(1) To persons who have participated or taken part or had notice of the
extrajudicial partition; and,

(2) When the provisions of Section 1 of Rule 74 have been strictly


complied with, i.e., that all the persons or heirs of the decedent have
taken part in the extrajudicial settlement or are represented by
themselves or through guardians.

The case at bar fails to comply with both requirements because not all
the heirs interested have participated in the extrajudicial settlement, the
Court of Appeals having found that the decedent left aside from his widow,
nephews and nieces living at the time of his death.
69

ISSUE: Whether or not the action is barred by the statute of limitations.

RULING: No.

In the first Place, there is nothing therein, or in its source which shows
clearly a statute of limitations and a bar of action against third persons. It is
only a bar against the parties who had taken part in the extrajudicial
proceedings but not against third persons not Parties thereto.

But even if Section 4 of Rule 74 is a statute of limitations, it is still


unavailing to the defendants. The action is one based on fraud, as the
widow of the deceased owner of the lands had declared in her affidavit of
partition that the deceased left no nephews or niece, or other heirs except
herself. Plaintiff's right which is based on fraud and which has a period of four
years (Section 43, par. 3, Act no. 190; Article 1146, Civil Code), does not
appear to have lapsed the action that was instituted. Judicial proceedings
were instituted in March, 1950 and these proceedings must have been
instituted soon after the discovery of fraud. In any case, the defendants have
the burden of proof as to their claim of the statute of limitations, which is
their defense, and they have not proved that when the action was instituted,
four years had already elapsed from the date that the interested parties had
actual knowledge of the fraud.

G.R. NO. 156536 OCTOBER 31, 2006

JOSEPH CUA, PETITIONER, VS. GLORIA A. VARGAS, AURORA


VARGAS, RAMON VARGAS, MARITES VARGAS, EDELINA VARGAS
AND GEMMA VARGAS, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: A parcel of residential land was left behind by the late Paulina
Vargas. In 1994, a notarized Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs was
executed by and among Paulina Vargas' heirs, namely Ester, Visitacion, Juan,
Zenaida, Rosario, Gloria, Antonina and Florentino, partitioning and
adjudicating unto themselves the lot in question, each one of them getting a
share of 11 square meters. Only Ester, Visitacion, Juan, Zenaida and Rosario
signed it. On November 15, 1994, an EJ Settlement Among Heirs with
Sale was again executed by and among the same heirs over the same
property and also with the same sharings. Once more, only Ester, Visitacion,
Juan, Zenaida and Rosario signed the document and their respective shares
totaling 55 square meters were sold to Joseph Cua, petitioner herein.

According to Gloria Vargas, the widow of Santiago Vargas and one of


respondents herein, she came to know of the Extra Judicial Settlement
Among Heirs with Sale dated November 16, 1994 only when the original
house built on the lot was being demolished sometime in May 1995. She
likewise claimed she was unaware that an earlier Extra Judicial Settlement
Among Heirs dated February 4, 1994 involving the same property.

Gloria Vargas tried to redeem the property but was refused. Thus she
filed a case for annulment of the EJ settlement and Legal Redemption.
70

Respondents claimed that as co-owners of the property, they may be


subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him the price of the
sale. They likewise alleged that the 30-day period following a written notice
by the vendors to their co-owners for them to exercise the right of
redemption of the property had not yet set in as no written notice was sent
to them.

ISSUES:

1. Whether the heirs are deemed constructively notified and bound,


regardless of their failure to participate therein. No.

2. Whether the written notice required to be served by an heir to his co-heirs


in connection with the sale of hereditary rights to a stranger before partition
under Article 1088 of the Civil Code can be dispensed with. No.

RULING: Petitioner argues that the acquisition by petitioner of the subject


property subsequent to the extrajudicial partition was valid because the
partition was duly published. The publication of the same constitutes due
notice to respondents and signifies their implied acquiescence thereon.
Respondents are therefore estopped from denying the validity of the
partition and sale at this late stage. Considering that the partition was valid,
respondents no longer have the right to redeem the property.

The petition lacks merit.

The procedure outlined in Section 1 of Rule 74 is an ex


parte proceeding. The rule plainly states, however, that persons who do not
participate or had no notice of an extrajudicial settlement will not be bound
thereby. It contemplates a notice that has been sent out or issued before any
deed of settlement and/or partition is agreed upon (i.e., a notice calling all
interested parties to participate in the said deed of extrajudicial settlement
and partition), and not after such an agreement has already been
executed as what happened in the instant case with the publication of the
first deed of extrajudicial settlement among heirs.

The publication of the settlement does not constitute constructive


notice to the heirs who had no knowledge or did not take part in it because
the same was notice after the fact of execution. The requirement of
publication is geared for the protection of creditors and was never intended
to deprive heirs of their lawful participation in the decedent's estate. In this
connection, the records of the present case confirm that respondents never
signed either of the settlement documents, having discovered their existence
only shortly before the filing of the present complaint. Following Rule 74,
these extrajudicial settlements do not bind respondents, and the partition
made without their knowledge and consent is invalid insofar as they are
concerned.

This is not to say, though, that respondents' co-heirs cannot validly sell
their hereditary rights to third persons even before the partition of the
71

estate. The heirs who actually participated in the execution of the


extrajudicial settlements, which included the sale to petitioner of their pro
indiviso shares in the subject property, are bound by the same. Nevertheless,
respondents are given the right to redeem these shares pursuant to Article
1088 of the Civil Code. The right to redeem was never lost because
respondents were never notified in writing of the actual sale by their co-
heirs. Based on the provision, there is a need for written notice to start the
period of redemption, thus:

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 by the vendor. (Emphasis
supplied.)

It bears emphasis that the period of one month shall be reckoned from
the time that a co-heir is notified in writing by the vendor of the actual sale.
Written notice is indispensable and mandatory, 20 actual knowledge of the
sale acquired in some other manner by the redemptioner notwithstanding.
Though the Code does not prescribe any particular form of written notice nor
any distinctive method for written notification of redemption, the method of
notification remains exclusive, there being no alternative provided by law.

Considering, therefore, that respondents' co-heirs failed to comply with


this requirement, there is no legal impediment to allowing respondents to
redeem the shares sold to petitioner given the former's obvious willingness
and capacity to do so.

G.R. NO. 140422 AUGUST 7, 2006

MERCEDES CRISTOBAL CRUZ, ANSELMO A. CRISTOBAL AND


ELISA CRISTOBAL SIKAT, PETITIONERS, VS. EUFROSINA
CRISTOBAL, FLORENCIO CRISTOBAL, JOSE CRISTOBAL, HEIRS
OF NORBERTO CRISTOBAL AND THE COURT OF APPEALS,
RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Petitioners (Mercedes Cristobal, Anselmo Cristobal, the heirs of the


deceased Socorro Cristobal, and Elisa Cristobal-Sikat) claim that they are the
legitimate children of Buenaventura Cristobal during his first marriage to
Ignacia Cristobal. On the other hand, private respondents (Norberto,
Florencio, Eufrosina and Jose, all surnamed Cristobal) are also the children of
Buenaventura Cristobal resulting from his second marriage to Donata
Enriquez.

In 1926, Buenaventura Cristobal purchased a parcel of land. Sometime


in the year 1930, Cristobal died intestate. More than six decades later,
petitioners learned that private respondents had executed an extrajudicial
partition of the subject property and transferred its title to their names.
72

Petitioners then filed a Complaint for Annulment of Title and Damages.


In their prayer, they sought the annulment of the Deed of Partition executed
by respondents. Petitioner Elisa testified that the [private respondents]
divided the property among themselves without giving the [petitioners] their
share.

In 1948, respondent Eufrosina admitted having executed an EJ Partition


with her brothers and sisters of the property left by their parents. She
declared that since her father died in 1930, Elisa, Mercedes, and Anselmo
never asserted their alleged right over the property subject of the present
litigation.

ISSUES:

(1) Whether or not the petitioners are bound by the Deed of Partition of the
subject property executed by the private respondents.

(2) Whether or not petitioners right to question the Deed of Partition had
prescribed.

(3) Whether or not petitioners right to recover their share of the subject
property is barred by laches.

RULING:

(1) As to the validity of the Deed of Partition of the subject property executed
by the private respondents among themselves to the exclusion of petitioners,
the applicable rule is Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court, which states:

The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be


published in a newspaper of general circulation in the manner provided in
the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial settlement shall be binding
upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice thereof.

Under the said provision, without the participation of all persons


involved in the proceedings, the extrajudicial settlement is not binding on
said persons. In the case at bar, since the estate of the deceased Cristobal is
composed solely of the subject property, the partition thereof by the private
respondents already amounts to an extrajudicial settlement of Cristobals
estate. The partition of the subject property by the private respondents shall
not bind the petitioners since petitioners were excluded therefrom.
Petitioners were not aware of the Deed of Partition executed by private
respondents among themselves in 1948.

Petitioner Elisa became aware of the transfer and registration of the


subject property in the names of private respondents only in 1994 when she
was offered by private respondent Eufrocina to choose between a portion of
the subject property or money, as one of the children of private respondent
Jose wanted to construct an apartment on the subject property. This led
petitioner Elisa to inquire as to the status of the subject property. She learned
73

afterwards that the title to the subject property had been transferred to the
names of private respondents, her half brothers and sisters, to the exclusion
of herself and her siblings from the first marriage of Buenaventura Cristobal.

The Deed of Partition excluded four of the eight heirs of Buenaventura


Cristobal who were also entitled to their respective shares in the subject
property. Since petitioners were not able to participate in the execution of
the Deed of Partition, which constitutes as an extrajudicial settlement of the
estate of the late Buenaventura Cristobal by private respondents, such
settlement is not binding on them.

(2) As the extrajudicial settlement executed by the private respondents in


February 1948 did not affect the right of petitioners to also inherit from the
estate of their deceased father, it was incorrect for the trial and appellate
court to hold that petitioners right to challenge the said settlement had
prescribed.

Considering that the Deed of Partition of the subject property does not
affect the right of petitioners to inherit from their deceased father, this Court
shall then proceed to divide the subject property between petitioners and
private respondents, as the rule on succession prescribes.

(3) In our view, the doctrine of laches does not apply in the instant case.
Note that upon petitioner Elisas knowledge in 1994 that the title to the
subject property had been transferred to the private respondents to the
exclusion of herself and her siblings from the first marriage of Buenaventura
Cristobal, petitioners filed in 1995 a petition with their barangay to settle the
case among themselves and private respondents, but since no settlement
was had, they lodged a complaint before the RTC on 27 March 1995, to annul
private respondents title over the land. There is no evidence showing failure
or neglect on their part, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time,
to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been
done earlier. The doctrine of stale demands would apply only where for the
reason of the lapse of time, it would be inequitable to allow a party to
enforce his legal rights.
74

TOPIC: 2.2 PROBATE OF WILLS (RULES 75-77)

G.R. NO. L-12767 NOVEMBER 16, 1918

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF EMIL H. JOHNSON. EBBA


INGEBORG JOHNSON, APPLICANT-APPELLANT.

FACTS: On February 4, 1916, Emil H. Johnson, a native of Sweden and a


naturalized citizen of the United States, died in the city of Manila, leaving a
will, dated September 9, 1915, by which he disposed of an estate. This
document is an holographic instrument, being written in the testator's own
handwriting, and is signed by himself and two witnesses only, instead of
three witnesses required by section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

On February 9, 1916, however, a petition was presented in the Court of


First Instance of the city of Manila for the probate of this will, on the ground
that Johnson was at the time of his death a citizen of the State of Illinois,
United States of America; that the will was duly executed in accordance with
the laws of that State; and hence could properly be probated here pursuant
to section 636 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

By the will in question the testator gives to his brother Victor one
hundred shares of the corporate stock in the Johnson-Pickett Rope Company;
to his father and mother in Sweden, the sum of P20,000; to his daughter
from his first wife (Divorced), Ebba Ingeborg (Petitioner), the sum of P5,000;
to his second wife, Alejandra Ibaez, the sum of P75 per month, if she
remains single; to Simeona Ibaez, spinster, P65 per month, if she remains
single. The rest of the property is left to the testator's five children
Mercedes, Encarnacion, Victor, Eleonor and Alberto.

On June 12, 1916, or about three months after the will had been
probated, the attorneys for Ebba Ingeborg Johnson entered an appearance in
her behalf to annul the decree of probate and put the estate into intestate
75

administration, thus preparing the way for the establishment of the claim of
the petitioner as the sole legitimate heir of her father.

ISSUES: The grounds upon which the petitioner seeks to avoid the probate
are as follows:

(1) The order admitting the will to probate was made without notice to the
petitioner;

(2) Emil H. Johnson was a resident of the city of Manila and not a resident
of the State of Illinois at the time the will in question was executed; and

(3) The will is invalid and inadequate to pass real and personal property in
the State of Illinois

RULING: As to the first ground: It is, however, pointed out in the argument
submitted in behalf of the petitioner, that, at the time the court made the
order of publication, it was apprised of the fact that the petitioner lived in the
United States and that as daughter and heir she was necessarily interested
in the probate of the will. It is, therefore, insisted that the court should have
appointed a date for the probate of the will sufficiently far in the future to
permit the petitioner to be present either in person or by representation; and
it is said that the failure of the court thus to postpone the probate of the will
constitutes an infringement of that provision of the Philippine Bill which
declared that property shall not be taken without due process of law.

On this point we are of the opinion that the proceedings for the probate
of the will were regular and that the publication was sufficient to give the
court jurisdiction to entertain the proceeding and to allow the will to be
probated.

As was said in the case of In re Davis (136 Cal., 590, 596), "the
proceeding as to the probate of a will is essentially one in rem, and in the
very nature of things the state is allowed a wide latitude in determining the
character of the constructive notice to be given to the world in a proceeding
where it has absolute possession of the res. It would be an exceptional case
where a court would declare a statute void, as depriving a party of his
property without due process of law, the proceeding being strictly in rem,
and the res within the state, upon the ground that the constructive notice
prescribed by the statute was unreasonably short."

We do have a provision of a general nature authorizing a court under


certain circumstances to set aside any judgment, order, or other proceeding
whatever. This provision is found in section 113 of the Code of Civil
Procedure, which reads as follows:

Upon such terms as may be just the court may relieve a party or his
legal representative from a judgment, order or other proceeding taken
against him through his mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable
76

neglect; Provided, That application therefor be made within a reasonable


time, but in no case exceeding six months after such judgment, order, or
proceeding was taken.

The petitioner, therefore, in this case could have applied, under the
section cited, at any time within six months for March 16, 1916, and upon
showing that she had been precluded from appearing in the probate
proceedings by conditions over which she had no control and that the order
admitting the will to probate had been erroneously entered upon insufficient
proof or upon a supposed state of facts contrary to the truth, the court would
have been authorized to set the probate aside and grant a rehearing. It is no
doubt true that six months was, under the circumstances, a very short period
of time within which to expect the petitioner to appear and be prepared to
contest the probate with the proof which she might have desired to collect
from remote countries. Nevertheless, although the time allowed for the
making of such application was inconveniently short, the remedy existed;
and the possibility of its use is proved in this case by the circumstance that
on June 12, 1916, she in fact here appeared in court by her attorneys and
excepted to the order admitting the will to probate.

From what has been said it follows that the order of March 16, 1916,
admitting the will of Emil H. Johnson to probate cannot be declared null and
void merely because the petitioner was unavoidably prevented from
appearing at the original hearing upon the matter of the probate of the will in
question.

As to the second, petitioner raises the question whether the order of


probate can be set aside in this proceeding on the other ground stated in the
petition, namely, that the testator was not a resident of the State of Illinois
and that the will was not made in conformity with the laws of that State.

It is noteworthy that the petition by which it is sought to annul the


probate of this will does not assert that the testator was not a citizen of
Illinois at the date when the will was executed. The most that is said on this
point is he was "never a resident of the State of Illinois after the year 1898,
but became and was a resident of the city of Manila," etc. But residence in
the Philippine Islands is compatible with citizenship in Illinois.

In Section 625 of the Code of Civil Procedure it is declared that "the


allowance by the court of a will of real or personal property shall be
conclusive as to its due execution."

The circumstance that the judgment of the trial court recites that the
will was executed in conformity with the law of Illinois and also, in effect, that
the testator was a citizen of that State places the judgment upon an
unassailable basis so far as any supposed error apparent upon the fact of the
judgment is concerned. It is, however, probable that even if the judgment
had not contained these recitals, there would have been a presumption from
the admission of the will to probate as the will of a citizen of Illinois that the
facts were as recited in the order of probate.
77

Anent the controversy over the citizenship of the testator, it is found


that in the testimony submitted to the trial court it appears that, when
Johnson first came to the United States as a boy, he took up his abode in the
State of Illinois and there remained until he came as a soldier in the United
States Army to the Philippine Islands. Although he remained in these Islands
for sometime after receiving his discharge, no evidence was adduced
showing that at the time he returned to the United States, in the autumn of
1902, he had then abandoned Illinois as the State of his permanent domicile,
and on the contrary the certificate of naturalization itself recites that at that
time he claimed to be a resident of Illinois.

This being true, it is to be presumed that he retained his citizenship in


the State of Illinois along with his status as a citizen of the United States.

Upon the third issue as to whether the will was executed in


conformity with the statutes of the State of Illinois we note that it does not
affirmatively appear from the transaction of the testimony adduced in the
trial court that any witness was examined with reference to the law of Illinois
on the subject of the execution of will.

Nevertheless, even supposing that the trial court may have erred in
taking judicial notice of the law of Illinois on the point in question, such error
is not now available to the petitioner, first, because the petition does not
state any fact from which it would appear that the law of Illinois is different
from what the court found, and, secondly, because the assignment of error
and argument for the appellant in this court raises no question based on
such supposed error. Though the trial court may have acted upon pure
conjecture as to the law prevailing in the State of Illinois, its judgment could
not be set aside, even upon application made within six months under
section 113 of the Code of Civil procedure, unless it should be made to
appear affirmatively that the conjecture was wrong. The petitioner, it is true,
states in general terms that the will in question is invalid and inadequate to
pass real and personal property in the State of Illinois, but this is merely a
conclusion of law. The affidavits by which the petition is accompanied
contain no reference to the subject, and we are cited to no authority in the
appellant's brief which might tent to raise a doubt as to the correctness of
the conclusion of the trial court. It is very clear, therefore, that this point
cannot be urged as of serious moment.

But it is insisted in the brief for the appellant that the will in question
was not properly admissible to probate because it contains provisions which
cannot be given effect consistently with the laws of the Philippine Islands;
and it is suggested that as the petitioner is a legitimate heir of the testator
she cannot be deprived of the legitime to which she is entitled under the law
governing testamentary successions in these Islands. Upon this point it is
sufficient to say that the probate of the will does not affect the intrinsic
validity of its provisions, the decree of probate being conclusive only as
regards the due execution of the will.
78

G.R. NO. 38050 SEPTEMBER 22, 1933

IN THE MATTER OF THE WILL OF DONATA MANAHAN. TIBURCIA


MANAHAN, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, VS. ENGRACIA MANAHAN,
OPPONENT-APPELLANT.

FACTS: On August 29, 1930, Tiburcia Manahan instituted special


proceedings for the probate of the will of the deceased Donata Manahan. The
petitioner herein, niece of the testatrix, was named the executrix in said will.
The court set the date for the hearing and the necessary notice required by
law was accordingly published. On the day of the hearing of the petition, no
opposition thereto was filed and, after the evidence was presented, the court
entered the decree admitting the will to probate as prayed for. The will was
probated on September 22, 1930.

One year and seven months later, that is, on My 11, 1932, to be exact, the
appellant herein filed a motion for reconsideration and a new trial, praying
that the order admitting the will to probate be vacated and the authenticated
will declared null and void ab initio.

ISSUES:

(1) That she was an interested party in the testamentary proceedings and, as
such, was entitled to and should have been notified of the probate of the will;

(2) that the court, in its order of September 22, 1930, did not really probate
the will but limited itself to decreeing its authentication; and

(3) that the will is null and void ab initio on the ground that the external
formalities prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure have not been complied
with in the execution thereof.

RULING: The appellant's first contention is obviously unfounded and


untenable. She was not entitled to notification of the probate of the will and
neither had she the right to expect it, inasmuch as she was not an interested
party, not having filed an opposition to the petition for the probate thereof.
Her allegation that she had the status of an heir, being the deceased's sister,
did not confer on her the right to be notified on the ground that the testatrix
died leaving a will in which the appellant has not been instituted heir.
Furthermore, not being a forced heir, she did not acquire any successional
right.

The second contention is puerile. The court really decreed the


authentication and probate of the will in question, which is the only
pronouncement required of the trial court by the law in order that the will
may be considered valid and duly executed in accordance with the law. In
the phraseology of the procedural law, there is no essential difference
between the authentication of a will and the probate thereof. The words
authentication and probate are synonymous in this case. All the law requires
is that the competent court declared that in the execution of the will the
79

essential external formalities have been complied with and that, in view
thereof, the document, as a will, is valid and effective in the eyes of the law.

The last contention of the appellant may be refuted merely by stating


that, once a will has been authenticated and admitted to probate, questions
relative to the validity thereof can no more be raised on appeal. The decree
of probate is conclusive with respect to the due execution thereof and it
cannot impugned on any of the grounds authorized by law, except that of
fraud, in any separate or independent action or proceedings (sec. 625, Code
of Civil Procedure)

But there is another reason which prevents the appellant herein from
successfully maintaining the present action and it is that inasmuch as the
proceedings followed in a testamentary case are in rem, the trial court's
decree admitting the will to probate was effective and conclusive against
her, in accordance with the provisions of section 306 of the said Code of Civil
Procedure which reads as follows:

SEC. 306. EFFECT OF JUDGMENT. . . . .1.In case of a judgment or


order against a specific thing, or in respect to the probate of a will, or
the administration of the estate of a deceased person, or in respect to
the personal, political, or legal condition or relation of a particular
person the judgment or order is conclusive upon the title of the thing,
the will or administration, or the condition or relation of the person:
Provided, That the probate of a will or granting of letters of
administration shall only be prima facie evidence of the death of the
testator or intestate; . . . .

Before closing, we wish to state that it is not timely to discuss herein


the validity and sufficiency of the execution of the will in question. As we
have already said, this question can no more be raised in this case on
appeal. After due hearing, the court found that the will in question was valid
and effective and the order admitting it to probate, thus promulgated, should
be accepted and respected by all. The probate of the will in question now
constitutes res judicata.

G.R. NO. L-39247 JUNE 27, 1975

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF


LEODEGARIA JULIAN. FELIX BALANAY, JR., PETITIONER, VS.
HON. ANTONIO M. MARTINEZ, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF DAVAO, BRANCH VI; AVELINA B. ANTONIO AND
DELIA B. LANABAN, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Felix Balanay, Jr. appealed by certiorari from the order of the Court of
First Instance of Davao dated February 28, 1974, declaring illegal and void
the will of his mother, Leodegaria Julian, converting the testate proceeding
into an intestate proceeding and ordering the issuance of the corresponding
notice to creditors.
80

Leodegaria Julian, a native of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, died on February


12, 1973 in Davao City at the age of sixty-seven. She was survived by her
husband, Felix Balanay, Sr., and by their six legitimate children.

In that will Leodegaria Julian declared (a) that she was the owner of the
"southern half of nine conjugal lots (par. II); (b) that she was the absolute
owner of two parcels of land which she inherited from her father (par. III), and
(c) that it was her desire that her properties should not be divided among her
heirs during her husband's lifetime and that their legitimes should be
satisfied out of the fruits of her properties (Par. IV).

Then, in paragraph V of the will she stated that after her husband's
death (he was eighty-two years old in 1973) her paraphernal lands and all
the conjugal lands (which she described as "my properties") should be
divided and distributed in the manner set forth in that part of her will. She
devised and partitioned the conjugal lands as if they were all owned by her.
She disposed of in the will her husband's one half share of the conjugal
assets.

Felix Balanay, Sr. and Avelina B. Antonio opposed the probate of the
will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence,
preterition of the husband and alleged improper partition of the conjugal
estate.

Felix Balanay, Jr., in his reply to the opposition, attached thereto an


affidavit of Felix Balanay, Sr. dated April 18, 1973 wherein he withdrew his
opposition to the probate of the will and affirmed that he was interested in its
probate. On the same date Felix Balanay, Sr. signed an instrument captioned
"Conformation (sic) of Division and Renunciation of Hereditary Rights"
wherein he manifested that out of respect for his wife's will he "waived and
renounced' his hereditary rights in her estate in favor of their six children. In
that same instrument he confirmed the agreement, which he and his wife
had perfected before her death, that their conjugal properties would be
partitioned in the manner indicated in her will.

In the meanwhile, another lawyer appeared in the case. David O.


Montaa, Sr., claiming to be the lawyer of petitioner Felix Balanay, Jr. (his
counsel of record was Atty. Cabreros), filed a motion whereby it assailed the
provision of the will which partitioned the conjugal assets or allegedly
effected a compromise of future legitimes. He prayed that the probate of the
will be withdrawn and that the proceeding be converted into an intestate
proceeding.

Felix Balanay, Jr., through a new counsel, Roberto M. Sarenas, in a


verified motion dated April 15, 1974, asked for the reconsideration of the
lower court's order of February 28, 1974 on the ground that Atty. Montaa
had no authority to withdraw the petition for the allowance of the will.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the probate court erred in passing upon the intrinsic
validity of the will, before ruling on its allowance or formal validity? No, the
trial court acted correctly in passing upon the will's intrinsic validity
even before its formal validity had been established.
81

2. Whether or not the probate court erred in in declaring it void? Yes, it


erred in declaring that the will was void and in converting the
testate proceeding into an intestate proceeding.

RULING: We are of the opinion that in view of certain unusual provisions of


the will, which are of dubious legality, and because of the motion to withdraw
the petition for probate (which the lower court assumed to have been filed
with the petitioner's authorization), the trial court acted correctly in passing
upon the will's intrinsic validity even before its formal validity had been
established. The probate of a will might become an idle ceremony if on its
face it appears to be intrinsically void. Where practical considerations
demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is
probated, the court should meet the issue.

But the probate court erred in declaring, in its order of February 28,
1974 that the will was void and in converting the testate proceeding into an
intestate proceeding notwithstanding the fact that in its order of June 18,
1973 , it gave effect to the surviving husband's conformity to the will and to
his renunciation of his hereditary rights which presumably included his one-
half share of the conjugal estate.

The rule is that "the invalidity of one of several dispositions contained


in a will does not result in the invalidity of the other dispositions, unless it is
to be presumed that the testator would not have made such other
dispositions if the first invalid disposition had not been made" (Art. 792, Civil
Code).

The statement of the testatrix that she owned the "southern half of the
conjugal lands is contrary to law because, although she was a coowner
thereof, her share was inchoate and proindiviso (Art. 143, Civil Code;
Madrigal and Paterno vs. Rafferty and Concepcion, 38 Phil. 414). But That
illegal declaration does not nullify the entire will. It may be disregarded.

The provision of the will that the properties of the testatrix should not
be divided among her heirs during her husband's lifetime but should be kept
intact and that the legitimes should be paid in cash is contrary to article
1080 of the Civil Code which reads:

ART. 1080. Should a person make a partition of his estate by an act


inter vivos, or by will, such partition shall be respected, insofar as it
does not prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs.

A parent who, in the interest of his or her family, to keep any


agricultural, industrial, or manufacturing enterprise intact, may avail
himself of the right granted him in this article, by ordering that the
legitime of the other children to whom the property is not assigned be
paid in cash. (1056a)

The testatrix in her will made a partition of the entire conjugal estate
among her six children (her husband had renounced his hereditary rights and
his one-half conjugal share). She did not assign the whole estate to one or
more children as envisaged in article 1080. Hence, she had no right to
require that the legitimes be paid in cash. On the other hand, her estate may
remain undivided only for a period of twenty years. So, the provision that the
82

estate should not be divided during her husband's lifetime would at most be
effective only for twenty years from the date of her death unless there are
compelling reasons for terminating the coownership (Art. 1083, Civil Code).

Subject to the foregoing observations and the rules on collation, the


will is intrinsically valid and the partition therein may be given effect if it
does not prejudice the creditors and impair the legitimes. The distribution
and partition would become effective upon the death of Felix Balanay, Sr. In
the meantime, the net income should be equitably divided among the
children and the surviving spouse.

It should be stressed that by reason of the surviving husband's


conformity to his wife's will and his renunciation of his hereditary rights, his
one-half conjugal share became a part of his deceased wife's estate. His
conformity had the effect of validating the partition made in paragraph V of
the will without prejudice, of course, to the rights of the creditors and the
legitimes of the compulsory heirs.

Article 793 of the Civil Code provides that "property acquired after the
making of a will shall only pass thereby, as if the testator had it at the time
of making the will, should it expressly appear by the will that such was his
intention". Under article 930 of the Civil Code "the legacy or devise of a thing
belonging to another person is void, if the testator erroneously believed that
the thing pertained to him. But if the thing bequeathed, though not
belonging to the testator when he made the will, afterwards becomes his, by
whatever title, the disposition shall take effect."

In the instant case there is no doubt that the testatrix and her husband
intended to partition the conjugal estate in the manner set forth in
paragraph V of her will. It is true that she could dispose of by will only her
half of the conjugal estate (Art. 170, Civil Code) but since the husband, after
the dissolution of the conjugal partnership, had assented to her
testamentary partition of the conjugal estate, such partition has become
valid, assuming that the will may be probated.

In the instant case, the preterited heir was the surviving spouse. His
preterition did not produce intestacy. Moreover, he signified his conformity to
his wife's will and renounced his hereditary rights. .

It results that the lower court erred in not proceeding with the probate
of the will. Save in an extreme case where the will on its face is intrinsically
void, it is the probate court's duty to pass first upon the formal validity of the
will. Generally, the probate of the will is mandatory (Art. 838, Civil Code.)

G.R. NO. L-23638 OCTOBER 12, 1967

DIONISIO FERNANDEZ, EUSEBIO REYES AND LUISA REYES,


PETITIONERS, VS. ISMAELA DIMAGIBA, RESPONDENT.

----------------------------------------

G.R. NO. L-23662 OCTOBER 12, 1967


83

MARIANO REYES, CESAR REYES, LEONOR REYES AND


PACIENCIA REYES, PETITIONERS, VS. ISMAELA DIMAGIBA,
RESPONDENT.

FACTS: On January 19, 1955, Ismaela Dimagiba, now respondent, submitted


to the Court of First Instance a petition for the probate of the purported will
of the late Benedicta de los Reyes, executed on October 22, 1930, and
annexed to the petition. The will instituted the petitioner as the sole heir of
the estate of the deceased. The petition was set for hearing, and in due time,
petitioners all surnamed Reyes, all claiming to be heirs intestate of the
decedent, filed oppositions to the probate asked. Grounds advanced for the
opposition were forgery, vices of consent of the testatrix, estoppel by laches
of the proponent and revocation of the will by two deeds of conveyance of
the major portion of the estate made by the testatrix in favor of the
proponent in 1943 and 1944, but which conveyances were finally set aside
by this Supreme Court in a decision promulgated on August 3, 1954, in cases
G.R. Nos. L-5618 and L-5620 (unpublished).

The Court of First Instance, by decision of June 20, 1958, found that the
will was genuine and properly executed; but deferred resolution on the
questions of estoppel and revocation "until such time when we shall pass
upon the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will or when the question of
adjudication of the properties is opportunely presented."

Later, the trial Court resolved against the oppositors and held the will
of the late Benedicta de los Reyes "unaffected and unrevoked by the deeds
of sale." Whereupon, the oppositors elevated the case to the Court of
Appeals.

The appellate Court held that the decree of June 20, 1958, admitting
the will to probate, had become final for lack of opportune appeal; that the
same was appealable independently of the issue of implied revocation; that
contrary to the claim of oppositors-appellants, there had been no legal
revocation by the execution of the 1943 and 1944 deeds of sale, because the
latter had been made in favor of the legatee herself, and affirmed the
decision of the Court of First Instance.

ISSUES:

(a) Whether or not the decree of the Court of First Instance allowing the will
to probate had become final for lack of appeal? Yes, it had become final
and executory.

(b) Whether or not the order of the Court of origin dated July 27, 1959,
overruling the estoppel invoked by oppositors-appellants had likewise
become final. Yes, it had become final.

(c) Whether or not the 1930 will of Benedicta de los Reyes had been
impliedly revoked by her execution of deeds of conveyance in favor of the
proponent on March 26, 1943 and April 3, 1944. No, it had not been
revoked.

RULING: It is elementary that a probate decree finally and definitively


settles all questions concerning capacity of the testator and the proper
84

execution and witnessing of his last will and testament, irrespective of


whether its provisions are valid and enforceable or otherwise.

As such, the probate order is final and appealable; and it is so


recognized by express provisions of Section 1 of Rule 109, that specifically
prescribes that "any interested person may appeal in special proceedings
from an order or judgment . . . where such order or judgment: (a) allows or
disallows a will."

Appellants argue that they were entitled to await the trial Court's
resolution on the other grounds of their opposition before taking an appeal,
as otherwise there would be a multiplicity of recourses to the higher Courts.
This contention is without weight, since Rule 109, section 1, expressly
enumerates six different instances when appeal may be taken in special
proceedings.

There being no controversy that the probate decree of the Court below
was not appealed on time, the same had become final and conclusive.
Hence, the appellate courts may no longer revoke said decree nor review the
evidence upon which it is made to rest. Thus, the appeal belatedly lodged
against the decree was correctly dismissed.

As to the issue of estoppel, we have already ruled in Guevara vs.


Guevara, 98 Phil. 249, that the presentation and probate of a will are
requirements of public policy, being primarily designed to protect the
testator's, expressed wishes, which are entitled to respect as a consequence
of the decedent's ownership and right of disposition within legal limits.
Evidence of it is the duty imposed on a custodian of a will to deliver the same
to the Court, and the fine and imprisonment prescribed for its violation
(Revised Rule 75). It would be a non sequitur to allow public policy to be
evaded on the pretext of estoppel. Whether or not the order overruling the
allegation of estoppel is still appealable or not, the defense is patently
unmeritorious and the Court of Appeals correctly so ruled.

The last issue of revocation, is predicated on paragraph 2 of Article 957


of the Civil Code of 1950 (Art. 869 of the Code of 1889), which recites:

Art. 957. The legacy or devise shall be without effect:

(2) If the testator by any title or for any cause alienates the thing
bequeathed or any part thereof, it being understood that in the latter
case the legacy or devise shall be without effect only with respect to
the part thus alienated. If after the alienation the thing should again
belong to the testator, even if it be by reason of nullity of the contract,
the legacy or devise shall not thereafter be valid, unless the
reacquisition shall have been effected by virtue of the exercise of the
right of repurchase;

As observed by the Court of Appeals, the existence of any such change


or departure from the original intent of the testatrix, expressed in her 1930
testament, is rendered doubtful by the circumstance that the subsequent
alienations in 1943 and 1944 were executed in favor of the legatee herself,
appellee Dimagiba.

Not only that, but even if it were applicable, the annulment of the
conveyances would not necessarily result in the revocation of the legacies. If
85

the annulment was due to undue influence, as the quoted passage implies,
then the transferor was not expressing her own free will and intent in making
the conveyances. Hence, it can not be concluded, either, that such
conveyances established a decision on her part to abandon the original
legacy.

G.R. NO. L-24742 OCTOBER 26, 1973

ROSA CAYETANO CUENCO, PETITIONERS, VS. THE HONORABLE


COURT OF APPEALS, THIRD DIVISION, MANUEL CUENCO,
LOURDES CUENCO, CONCEPCION CUENCO MANGUERRA,
CARMEN CUENCO, CONSUELO CUENCO REYES, AND TERESITA
CUENCO GONZALEZ, RESPONDENTS

FACTS: On 25 February 1964 Senator Mariano Jesus Cuenco died at the


Manila Doctors' Hospital, Manila. He was survived by his widow, the herein
petitioner, and their two (2) minor sons, all residing at Sta. Mesa Heights,
Quezon City, and by his children of the first marriage, respondents herein, all
of legal age and residing in Cebu.

On 5 March 1964, (the 9th day after the death of the late Senator)
respondent filed a Petition for Letters of Administration with the court of first
instance of Cebu.

The aforesaid order, however, was later suspended and cancelled


stating that respondent Lourdes Cuenco's petition for the appointment of a
special administrator dated 4 March 1964 was not yet ready for the
consideration of the said court, giving as reasons the following:

It will be premature for this Court to act thereon, it not having yet
regularly acquired jurisdiction to try this proceeding, the requisite publication
of the notice of hearing not yet having been complied with. Moreover, copies
of the petition have not been served on all of the heirs specified in the basic
petition for the issuance of letters of administration.

In the meantime, or specifically on 12 March 1964, (a week after the


filing of the Cebu petition) herein petitioner filed a petition with the court of
first instance of Rizal (Quezon City) for the probate of the deceased's last will
and testament and for the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor, as
the surviving widow and executrix in the said last will and testament.

Having learned of the intestate proceeding in the Cebu court,


petitioner filed in said Cebu court an Opposition and Motion to Dismiss, dated
30 March 1964, as well as an Opposition to Petition for Appointment of
Special Administrator.

Instead, respondents filed in the Quezon City court an Opposition and


Motion to Dismiss, dated 10 April 1964, opposing probate of the will and
assailing the jurisdiction of the said Quezon City court to entertain
petitioner's petition for probate and for appointment as executrix in view of
86

the alleged exclusive jurisdiction vested by her petition in the Cebu court to
which however, the Quezon City court denied the motion to dismiss.

Notwithstanding due notification, none of the oppositors appeared and


the Quezon City court proceeded at 9:00 a.m. with the hearing in their
absence.

Instead of appealing from the Quezon City court's said order admitting
the will to probate and naming petitioner-widow as executrix thereof,
respondents filed a special civil action of certiorari and prohibition with
preliminary injunction with respondent Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals rendered a decision in favor of respondents


(petitioners therein) and against the herein petitioner, holding that:

Section 1, Rule 73, which fixes the venue in proceedings for the
settlement of the estate of a deceased person, covers both testate and
intestate proceedings. Sp. Proc. 2433-R of the Cebu CFI having been
filed ahead, it is that court whose jurisdiction was first invoked and
which first attached. It is that court which can properly and exclusively
pass upon the factual issues of (1) whether the decedent left or did not
leave a valid will, and (2) whether or not the decedent was a resident
of Cebu at the time of his death.

The dispositive part of respondent appellate court's judgment provided as


follows:

ACCORDINGLY, the writ of prohibition will issue, commanding and


directing the respondent Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IX,
Quezon City, and the respondent Judge Damaso B. Tengco to refrain
perpetually from proceeding and taking any action in Special
Proceeding Q-7898 pending before the said respondent court.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the appellate court erred in law in issuing the writ of
prohibition against the Quezon City court? Yes, CA erred in issuing
the order.

2. Whether or not the Quezon City court acted without jurisdiction or with
grave abuse of discretion in taking cognizance and assuming exclusive
jurisdiction over the probate proceedings filed with it, in pursuance of
the Cebu court's order of 10 April 1964 expressly consenting in
deference to the precedence of probate over intestate proceedings?
No, the QC court did not act with GAD.

RULING: The Court finds under the above-cited facts that the appellate court
erred in law in issuing the writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court
from proceeding with the testate proceedings and annulling and setting
aside all its orders and actions, particularly its admission to probate of the
deceased's last will and testament and appointing petitioner-widow as
executrix thereof without bond pursuant to the deceased testator's express
wish, for the following considerations:
87

1. The Judiciary Act 7 concededly confers original jurisdiction upon


all Courts of First Instance over "all matter of probate, both of testate and
intestate estates." On the other hand, Rule 73, section of the Rules of Court
lays down the rule of venue, as the very caption of the Rule indicates, and in
order to prevent conflict among the different courts which otherwise may
properly assume jurisdiction from doing so, the Rule specifies that "the court
first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall
exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts."

It is equally conceded that the residence of the deceased or the


location of his estate is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject matter
but merely of venue.

A fair reading of the Rule since it deals with venue and comity
between courts of equal and co-ordinate jurisdiction indicates that the
court with whom the petition is first filed, must also first take cognizance of
the settlement of the estate in order to exercise jurisdiction over it to the
exclusion of all other courts.

Conversely, such court, may upon learning that a petition for probate
of the decedent's last will has been presented in another court where the
decedent obviously had his conjugal domicile and resided with his surviving
widow and their minor children, and that the allegation of the intestate
petition before it stating that the decedent died intestate may be actually
false, may decline to take cognizance of the petition and hold the petition
before it in abeyance, and instead defer to the second court which has
before it the petition for probate of the decedent's alleged last will.

2. This exactly what the Cebu court did. Upon petitioner-widow's


filing with it a motion to dismiss Lourdes' intestate petition, it issued its order
holding in abeyance its action on the dismissal motion and deferred to the
Quezon City court, awaiting its action on the petition for probate before that
court. Implicit in the Cebu court's order was that if the will was duly admitted
to probate, by the Quezon City court, then it would definitely decline to take
cognizance of Lourdes' intestate petition which would thereby be shown to
be false and improper, and leave the exercise of jurisdiction to the Quezon
City court, to the exclusion of all other courts.

3. Under these facts, the Cebu court could not be held to have
acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of jurisdiction in declining to
take cognizance of the intestate petition and deferring to the Quezon City
court.

Furthermore, as is undisputed, said rule only lays down a rule of venue


and the Quezon City court indisputably had at least equal and coordinate
jurisdiction over the estate.

Since the Quezon City court took cognizance over the probate petition
before it and assumed jurisdiction over the estate, with the consent and
deference of the Cebu court, the Quezon City court should be left now, by
the same rule of venue of said Rule 73, to exercise jurisdiction to the
exclusion of all other courts.

Under the facts of the case and where respondents submitted to the
Quezon City court their opposition to probate of the will, but failed to appear
at the scheduled hearing despite due notice, the Quezon City court cannot
88

be declared, as the appellate court did, to have acted without jurisdiction in


admitting to probate the decedent's will and appointing petitioner-widow as
executrix thereof in accordance with the testator's testamentary disposition.

4. The relatively recent case of Uriarte vs. Court of First Instance of


Negros Occidental with facts analogous to the present case is authority
against respondent appellate court's questioned decision.

In said case, the Court upheld the doctrine of precedence of probate


proceedings over intestate proceedings.

5. Under Rule 73, section 1 itself, the Quezon City court's


assumption of jurisdiction over the decedent's estate on the basis of the will
duly presented for probate by petitioner-widow and finding that Quezon City
was the first choice of residence of the decedent, who had his conjugal home
and domicile therein with the deference in comity duly given by the Cebu
court could not be contested except by appeal from said court in the
original case. The last paragraph of said Rule expressly provides:

... The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the


place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not
be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in
the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.
(Rule 73)

6. On the question that Quezon City established to be the residence


of the late senator:

In the case at bar, however, the Cebu court declined to take


cognizance of the intestate petition first filed with it and deferred to the
testate proceedings filed with the Quezon City court and in effect asked the
Quezon City court to determine the residence of the decedent and whether
he did leave a last will and testament upon which would depend the proper
venue of the estate proceedings, Cebu or Quezon City. The Quezon City court
having thus determined in effect for both courts at the behest and with
the deference and consent of the Cebu court that Quezon City was the
actual residence of the decedent who died testate and therefore the proper
venue.

7. With more reason should the Quezon City proceedings be upheld


when it is taken into consideration that Rule 76, section 2 requires that the
petition for allowance of a will must show: "(a) the jurisdictional facts." Such
"jurisdictional facts" in probate proceedings, as held by the Court in Fernando
vs. Crisostomo are the death of the decedent, his residence at the time of
his death in the province where the probate court is sitting, or if he is an
inhabitant of a foreign country, his having left his estate in such province."

The probate of a will by a court having jurisdiction thereof is conclusive


as to its due execution and validity." The Quezon City court acted regularly
within its jurisdiction (even if it were to be conceded that Quezon City was
not the proper venue notwithstanding the Cebu court's giving way and
deferring to it,) in admitting the decedent's last will to probate and naming
petitioner-widow as executrix thereof. Hence, the Quezon city court's action
should not be set aside by a writ of prohibition for supposed lack of
jurisdiction as per the appellate court's appealed decision, and should
instead be sustained in line with Uriarte, supra, where the Court, in
89

dismissing the certiorari petition challenging the Manila court's action


admitting the decedent's will to probate and distributing the estate in
accordance therewith in the second proceeding, held that "it must be
remembered that this Court is not inclined to annul proceedings regularly
had in a lower court even if the latter was not the proper venue therefor, if
the net result would be to have the same proceedings repeated in some
other court of similar jurisdiction."

G.R. NO. 168156 DECEMBER 6, 2006

HEIRS OF ROSENDO LASAM, REPRESENTED BY ROGELIO LASAM


AND ATTY. EDWARD P. LLONILLO, PETITIONERS, VS VICENTA
UMENGAN, RESPONDENT.
FACTS: The lot subject of the unlawful detainer case is situated in
Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. It is the eastern half portion of Lot No. 5427 and
Lot No. 990. These lots are registered in the names of the original owners,
spouses Pedro Cuntapay and Leona Bunagan.

The heirs of the said spouses conveyed the ownership of Lots Nos. 990
and 5427 in favor of their two children, Irene Cuntapay and Isabel Cuntapay.
In another instrument entitled Partition Agreement and acknowledged before
a notary public on December 28, 1979, it was agreed that the eastern half
portion (subject lot) of Lots Nos. 990 and 5427 shall belong to the heirs of
Isabel Cuntapay. On the other hand, the remaining portion thereof (the west
portion) shall belong to the heirs of Irene Cuntapay.

Isabel Cuntapay had four children by her first husband, Domingo


Turingan. When he passed away, Isabel remarried and she had two other
children by him.

Sometime in January 2001, the heirs of Rosendo Lasam (son of Isabel


Cuntapay by her second husband) filed with the MTCC a complaint for
unlawful detainer against Vicenta Umengan, who was then occupying the
subject lot. Vicenta Umengan is the daughter of Abdon Turingan (son of
Isabel Cuntapay by her first husband).

In their complaint, the heirs of Rosendo Lasam alleged that they are
the owners of the subject lot, having inherited it from their father, that
during his lifetime, Rosendo Lasam allegedly temporarily allowed Vicenta
Umengan to occupy the subject lot sometime in 1955.

In her Answer with Counterclaim, Vicenta Umengan specifically denied


the material allegations in the complaint. She countered that when Isabel
Cuntapay passed away, the subject lot was inherited by her six children by
her first and second marriages through intestate succession. Each of the six
children allegedly had a pro indiviso share of 1/6 of the subject lot.

It was further alleged by Vicenta Umengan that her father, Abdon


Turingan, purchased the respective 1/6 shares in the subject lot of his
siblings Maria and Sado. These conveyances were allegedly evidenced by the
Deed of Sale.

The MTCC rendered judgment in favor of the heirs of Rosendo Lasam


and directed the ejectment of Vicenta Umengan. In so ruling, the MTCC gave
credence to the newly discovered last will and testament (entitled
90

Testamento Abierto) purportedly executed by Isabel Cuntapay where she


bequeathed the subject lot to her son, Rosendo Lasam.

On appeal, the RTC affirmed in toto the decision of the MTCC.

The CA reversed and set aside the decision of the RTC. It declared that
the RTC, as well as the MTCC, erred in ruling that, by virtue of the purported
last will and testament of Isabel Cuntapay, the heirs of Rosendo Lasam have
a better right to the subject lot over Vicenta Umengan. The CA explained that
the said last will and testament did not comply with the formal requirements
of the law on wills.

Specifically, the CA found that the pages of the purported last will and
testament were not numbered in accordance with the law. Neither did it
contain the requisite attestation clause. Isabel Cuntapay as testator and the
witnesses to the will did not affix their respective signatures on the second
page thereof. The said instrument was likewise not acknowledged before a
notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The CA even raised doubts
as to its authenticity, noting that while Isabel Cuntapay died in 1947 and the
heirs of Rosendo Lasam claimed that they discovered the same only in 1997,
a date May 19, 1956 appears on the last page of the purported will.

It was observed by the CA that as against these infirmities in the claim


of the heirs of Rosendo Lasam, Vicenta Umengan presented a Deed of Sale
and a Deed of Donation to justify her possession of the subject lot. The CA
noted that she has also possessed the subject property since 1955. Such
prior possession, the CA held, gave Vicente Umengan the right to remain in
the subject lot until a person with a better right lawfully ejects her.

ISSUE: Who among the parties is entitled to the physical or material


possession of the property in dispute? Respondent herein, Vicenta Umengan.
(Subject to the probate of the will)

RULING: The CA correctly held that, as between the respective claims of


petitioners and respondent, the latter has a better right to possess the
subject lot.

As earlier stated, petitioners rely on the last will and testament of


Isabel Cuntapay that they had allegedly newly discovered. On the basis of
this instrument, the MTCC and RTC ruled that petitioners have a better right
to the possession of the subject lot because, following the law on succession,
it should be respected and should prevail over intestate succession.

However, contrary to the ruling of the MTCC and RTC, the purported
last will and testament of Isabel Cuntapay could not properly be relied upon
to establish petitioners right to possess the subject lot because, without
having been probated, the said last will and testament could not be the
source of any right.

Article 838 of the Civil Code is instructive:

Art. 838. No will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is
proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court.

The testator himself may, during his lifetime, petition the court having
jurisdiction for the allowance of his will. In such case, the pertinent provisions
of the Rules of Court for the allowance of wills after the testators death shall
govern.
91

Dr. Tolentino, an eminent authority on civil law, also explained that


[b]efore any will can have force or validity it must be probated. To probate a
will means to prove before some officer or tribunal, vested by law with
authority for that purpose, that the instrument offered to be proved is the
last will and testament of the deceased person whose testamentary act it is
alleged to be, and that it has been executed, attested and published as
required by law, and that the testator was of sound and disposing mind. It is
a proceeding to establish the validity of the will. Moreover, the presentation
of the will for probate is mandatory and is a matter of public policy.

Hence, the CA correctly held that, as against petitioners claim,


respondent has shown a better right of possession over the subject lot as
evidenced by the deeds of conveyances executed in her favor by the children
of Isabel Cuntapay by her first marriage.

It appears, however, that the last will and testament of the late Isabel
Cuntapay has not yet been allowed in probate, hence, there is an imperative
need to petition the court for the allowance of said will to determine once
and for all the proper legitimes of legatees and devisees before any partition
of the property may be judicially adjudicated.

In conclusion, it is well to stress the CAs admonition that:

x x x our ruling on the issue of physical possession does not affect title
to the property nor constitute a binding and conclusive adjudication on the
merits on the issue of ownership. The parties are not precluded from filing
the appropriate action directly contesting the ownership of or the title to the
property.

Likewise, it is therefore in this context that the CAs finding on the validity of
Isabel Cuntapays last will and testament must be considered. Such is merely
a provisional ruling thereon for the sole purpose of determining who is
entitled to possession de facto.

G.R. NO. L-5405 JANUARY 31, 1956

ERNESTO M. GUEVARA, PETITIONER, VS. ROSARIO GUEVARA


AND PEDRO C. QUINTO, RESPONDENTS.
FACTS: On August 26, 1931, Victorino L. Guevara, a resident of Bayambang,
Pangasinan, executed a will (Exhibit A) making several dispositions,
allocating it with his heirs and payment of debts and expenses.

On July 12, 1933, the same testator executed a deed of sale in favor of
Ernesto Guevara, conveying to the latter the southern half of the 259-hectare
lot of which already disposed in the will mentioned, and expressly recognized
Ernesto as owner of the northern half.

On September 27, 1933, Victorino died, but his will was not filed for
probate. About four years later, Rosario Guevara, claiming to be a recognized
natural child of the deceased Victorino, and on the assumption that he had
died intestate, brought suit against Ernesto Guevara to recover 423,492
square meters of the tract as the portion that should correspond to her
(Rosario) by way of legitime.
92

The case reached the former CA and was decided in Rosarios


favor; but upon certiorari, the SC modified the judgment.

Claiming to act pursuant to the foregoing decision, Rosario commenced


special proceedings No. 2646 in the CFI of Pangasinan for the probate of the
will of Victorino Guevara.

Notice of the petition having been duly published pursuant to Rule of


Court 77, section 4, Ernesto Guevara appeared and opposed the probate and
asserted that whatever right to probate the parties may have has already
prescribed.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petition for probate of the will of Victorino L.
Guevara is barred by the statute of limitations, considering that the testator
died on September 27, 1933, and that the petition for probate of said will
was filed twelve (12) years later, or, to be exact, on October 5, 1945.

RULING: The Court of Appeals resolved the question in the negative, upon
the following grounds:

We are of the opinion that the Court below was in error when it
declared that the petition for probate of the will of Victorino Guevara was
barred by prescription. The provision of Article 756 of the old Civil Code
(1042 of the New) and of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court, reiterating those of
the old Code of Civil Procedure (Act 190), point out that the presentation of a
decedents will to the competent court has always been deemed by our law
as more of a duty than a right, and the neglect of such obligation carries with
it the corresponding penalty and it is inconsistent with that policy that the
court should refuse to admit wills to probate, without inquiry into their
validity. The authority given to testators to dispose freely of a portion of their
estate would be imperfectly safeguarded, unless adequate measures were
provided by the state to assure that the wishes of the deceased would be
carried out. Because the decedent may no longer act to have his
testamentary dispositions duly executed, the state authority must take over
the opposite vigilance and supervision, so that free testamentary disposition
does not remain a delusion and a dream. This was expressly recognized by
the Supreme Court in its previous decision, when it said:

We hold that under section 1 of Rule 74, in relation to Rule 76, if the
decedent left a will and no debts and the heirs and legatees desire to make
an extrajudicial partition of the estate, they must first present that will to the
court for probate and divide the estate in accordance with the will. They may
not disregard the provisions of the will unless those provisions are contrary
to law. Neither may they do away with the presentation of the will to the
court for probate, because such suppression of the will is contrary to law and
public policy. The law enjoins the probate of the will and public policy
requires it, because unless the 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, as is attempted to be done in the instant case. Absent
legatees and devisees, or such of them as may have no knowledge of the
will, could be cheated of their inheritance thru the collusion of some of the
heirs who might agree to the partition of the estate among themselves to the
exclusion of others.

In holding the statute of limitations applicable to the probate of wills,


the court below failed to notice that its doctrine was destructive of the right
of testamentary disposition and violative of the owners right to control his
93

property within the legal limits. The appealed order in fact leaves wills at the
mercy and whim of custodians and heirs interested in their suppression.

It is not without purpose that Rule of Court 77 prescribes that any


person interested in the estate may, at any time after the death of the
testator, petition the court having jurisdiction to have the will allowed. Taken
from the Code of Procedure of California, this provision has been interpreted
as meaning that the statute of limitations has no application to probate of
wills.

As additional reasons, the same Court stated:

Section 1317 declares: If the court is satisfied, upon the proof taken or
from the facts found by the jury that the will was duly executed and that the
will testator at the time of its execution was of sound and disposing mind and
not acting under duress menace fraud, or undue influence, a certificate of
the proof and the facts found, signed by the judge and attested by the seal
of the court, must be attached to the will.

This excludes the bar of the statute of limitation from consideration as


one of the matters which may be shown in opposition to the probate. This is
further emphasized by section 1341, which, in substance, declares that, if
upon the verdict of the jury the facts mentioned in section 1317 as aforesaid
appear to be established, the court must admit the will to probate. Section
1314 thus makes it imperative that the court shall admit the will to probate if
the execution is proven and the grounds of opposition authorized by section
1312 are not established. This clearly implies that no grounds of opposition
other than those enumerated in section 1312 may be set up, and it leaves no
place for the application of the statute of limitations.

It is further to be observed that, notwithstanding the positive and


comprehensive language of sections 343 and 369, if taken literally, there can
be no doubt that they cannot apply to all special proceedings of a civil
nature. Proceedings for a change of name, or in arbitration, or for voluntary
dissolution of a corporation, or for guardianship, or for a married woman to
become a sole trader, are all within the definition of the phrase, and each is
enumerated, classed, and defined as such proceeding by the Code. If the
statute of limitations applied, it would begin to run against such proceedings
as soon as the right to institute them accrued. Yet from the very nature of
these proceedings it is obvious that neither of them could be subject to such
limitation.

This construction of these Code provisions is confirmed by the long-


continued and uniform practice and the universal understanding of the
bench and bar of the state on the subject.

xxx xxx xxx

Action to quiet title frequently involve wills of persons who have died
many years before the action was begun. The section contemplates that
such a will, although not yet probated, may be construed in the action and
may be afterwards probated, and it clearly shows that the Legislature did not
understand that the right to probate such will would be barred if the testator
had died more than four years before the petition for probate was filed.

This uniform practice and understanding of the bench and bar, and of
the legislative department of the state also, is a strong argument to the
effect that the statute of limitations does not apply to such proceedings. The
authorities on the effect of such long acquiescence are numerous.
94

The Statute of Limitations upon which the court below has relied,
sections 38 to 50 of the old Code of Civil Procedure, Act 190, undertakes to
fix limits for the filing of civil actions, but none for special proceedings of
which probate is admittedly one. The distinction is not purely verbal, but
based on differences that make the limitation to actions inapplicable to
special proceedings.

The primary purpose of the proceeding is not to establish the


existence of the right of any living person, but to determine whether or not
the decedent has performed the acts specified by the pertinent statutes
which are the essential prerequisites to personal direction of the mode of
devolution of his property on death. There is no legal but merely a moral
duty resting upon a proponent to attempt to validate the wishes of the
departed, and he may and frequently does receive no personal benefit from
the performance of the act.

One of the most fundamental conceptions of probate law, is that it is


the duty of the court to effectuate, in so far as may be compatible with the
public interest, the devolutionary wishes of a deceased person. To that end,
the court is, in effect, an additional party to every litigation affecting the
disposal of the assets of the deceased. A determination, therefore, that the
mere non-action of a person upon whom no legal duty rested in this regard,
could have the effect of subverting the wishes of one who was no longer able
to protect his own unquestionable rights, would strike at the very foundation
of all conceptions of justice as administered in probate courts.
It is true, as ruled by the trial court, that the rights of parties should
not be left hanging in uncertainty for periods of time far in excess of the
maximum period of ten years allowed by law; but the obvious remedy is for
the other interested persons to petition for the production of the will and for
its probate, or to inflict upon the guilty party the penalties prescribed by Rule
76 or declare the unworthiness of the heir under the Civil Code for
concealing or suppressing the testament; but not to dismiss the petition for
probate, however belatedly submitted, and thereby refuse sanction to
testamentary dispositions executed with all the formalities prescribed by law,
incidentally prejudicing also those testamentary heirs who do not happen to
be successors ab intestato.

It is likewise reasonable to assume that if the Supreme Court had


considered the ten-year limitation applicable to probate proceedings, it
would not have ordered the parties on December 29, 1943 to present the
document Exhibit A to the proper court for probate in accordance with law,
because the ten years from the death of the testator expired in September of
that same year, two months before the decision. It is safe to assume that the
high Court would not order a useless step. The reasoning that the phrase in
accordance with law was a qualification signifying if still legally possible,
appears to be far-fetched and unjustified. The plain import of the words
employed by the high Court is that the probate should follow the procedure
provided for the purpose.

xxx xxx xxx

(2) The other reasons advanced by the court a quo in support of its
order dismissing the petition are also untenable. The allegation contained in
paragraph 10 of the original petition, that the will, or its testamentary
dispositions, had been de jure revoked in so far as the parcel of 259 hectares
described in said will is concerned, does not justify the finding that the
probate would be pointless. What is alleged is a partial revocation, only as to
95

the parcel of land affected; but as previously shown, the will disposed of
other property besides that one. And even granting that the next allegation
to the effect that Plaintiff sought to probate only for the purposes of her
acknowledgment as natural child in said will, constitutes an averment that
the will had been fully revoked, the same would at the most constitute a
conclusion or inference that the lower court was not bound to admit.
Because the Appellant claimed or believed that the revocation of the will as
to the large parcel of land, constituted a total revocation of the testament is
no reason why the court should concur in the same belief or conclusion,
especially when the will itself, appended to the petition, showed that there
were other properties and other heirs or legatees, and the trial court had
before it the decision of the Supreme Court ordering the filing of the will for
its probate because, as stated in its decision, such a step was enjoined by
law and public policy. Moreover, the defect, if any, incurred in failing to ask
for the probate in toto of the will, was subsequently cured and corrected in
the amended petition, where not only the objectionable statements were
eliminated, but others added indicating the existence of a partible estate.

Assuming that the original petition violated the order of the Supreme
Court in so far as it did not ask for the allowance of the entire will, the court
below erred in dismissing the petition, for it thereby sanctioned further
disobedience to the order of the superior court. Once again, it must be
repeated that the order of dismissal failed to take into account that the case
involved not only the interests of Rosario Guevara, and those of
the Appellee Ernesto Guevara and the other legatees, but specially the
express desires of the testator; and that the protection and defense of the
latter developed upon the court itself, since no one else made any move to
enforce them.

Even if the other heirs had failed to show interest in the case (a fact
not properly inferable from their non-intervention in the case, because the
order of publication of the petition only called for those interested to appear
to contest the allowance and not to support it), and even if the other heirs
had already received their shares, the order refusing the probate remains
indefensible. If the other heirs were not interested, there remained the
wishes of the testator to be supported and protected, if validly expressed. If
the heirs had distributed the estate, the distribution was illegal and improper
unless the will be first probated.

(3) Even if the decedent left no debts and nobody raises any question
as to the authenticity and due execution of the will, none of the heirs may
sue for the partition of the estate in accordance with that will without first
securing its allowance or probate by the court:first, because the law
expressly provides that no will shall pass either real or personal estate
unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court; and, second, because the
probate of a will, which is a proceeding in rem, cannot be dispensed with and
substituted by any other proceeding, judicial or extrajudicial, without
offending against public policy designed to effectuate the testators right to
dispose of his property by will in accordance with law and to protect the
rights of the heirs and legatees under the will thru the means provided by
law, among which are the publication and the personal notices to each and
all of said heirs and legatees. Nor may the court approve and allow the will
presented in evidence in such an action for partition, which is one in
personam, any more than it could decree the registration under the Torrens
system of the land involved in an ordinary action for revindicacion or
partition.
96

G.R. NO. L-23372 JUNE 14, 1967

IN RE: INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE PIO DURAN. CIPRIANO


DURAN AND MIGUEL DURAN, PETITIONERS-APPELLANTS, VS.
JOSEFINA B. DURAN, MOVANT-OPPOSITOR AND APPELLEE.
FACTS: Pio Duran died without testament on February 28, 1961 in
Guinobatan Albay. Among his alleged heirs are Josefina Duran, as surviving
spouse; several brothers and sisters; nephews and nieces.

Subsequent to his death, Cipriano Duran, one of the surviving brothers,


executed a public instrument assigning and renouncing his hereditary rights
to the decedent's estate in favor of Josefina Duran, for the consideration of
P2,500.00.

Then Cipriano Duran filed in the Court a petition for intestate


proceedings to settle Pio Duran's estate, further asking that he be named the
administrator. An ex parte motion to be appointed special administrator was
also filed by him.

Against said petition, Josefina Duran filed an opposition, praying for its
dismissal upon the ground that the petitioner is not an "interested person" in
the estate, in view of the deed of transfer and renunciation the estate, and
she asked to be appointed administratrix.

Cipriano alleged that Josefina Duran was not the decedent's wife.
Anent the deed of assignment, he contended that the same was procured
thru fraud, with gross inadequacy of price and vitiated by lesion.

Still later, another brother of the decedent, Miguel Duran, filed a


petition to be joined as co-petitioner of Cipriano. Josefina Duran moved to
strike out said petition as an improper attempt to intervene in the case.

The Court issued an order dismissing the petition of Cipriano for his
lack of interest in the estate. Said lack of interest was premised on the deed
of transfer executed by Cipriano, regarding which the court declared itself
without power to examine in said proceedings, collaterally, the alleged fraud,
inadequacy of price and lesion that would render it rescissible or voidable.
Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner is not an interested person in the estate


due to the said renunciation.

RULING: YES. The Rules of Court provides that a petition for administration
and settlement of an estate must be filed by an "interested person" (See. 2,
Rule 79). Appellants contend that the deed of assignment executed by
Cipriano did not operate to render him a person without interest in the
estate. Relying on In re Irene Santos, they argue that an assignment by one
heir of his share in the estate to a co-heir amounts to a partition needing
approval by the settlement court to be effective; and that the assigning heir
does not lose his status as a person interested in the estate, even after said
assignment is approved by the court.

The situation in the Santos case involves an assignment between co-


heirs pendente lite, during the course of settlement proceedings, properly
and validly commenced. At the time of said assignment, therefore, the
97

settlement court had already acquired jurisdiction over the properties of


estate. As a result, any assignment regarding the same had to be approved
by said court. And since the approval the court is not deemed final until the
estate is closed the assigning heir remains an interested person in
proceedings even after said approval, which can be vacated is given.

In the present case, however, the assignment took place when no


settlement proceedings was pending. The properties subject matter of the
assignment were not under the jurisdiction of a settlement court. Allowing
that the assignment must be deemed a partition as between the assignor
and assignee, the same does not need court approval to be effective as
between the parties. An extrajudicial partition is valid as between the
participants even if the requisites of Sec. 1, Rule 74 for extrajudicial partition
are not followed, since said requisites are for purposes of binding creditors
and non-participating heirs only (Hernandez v. Andal). Should it be
contended that said partition was attended with fraud, lesion or inadequacy
of price, the remedy is to rescind or to annul the same in an action for that
purpose. And in the meanwhile, assigning heir cannot initiate a settlement
proceedings, for until the deed of assignment is annulled or rescinded, it is
deemed valid and effective against him, so that he is left without that
"interest" in the estate required to petite for settlement proceedings.

G.R. NO. 45642 SEPTEMBER 25, 1937

FRANCISCO SALAZAR, PETITIONER, VS. THE COURT OF FIRST


INSTANCE OF LAGUNA AND SABINA RIVERA, RESPONDENTS.
FACTS: Petitioner filed a petition for the probate of the will allegedly made
on May 13, 1924, by his deceased mother Damiana Capistrano, who died in
the municipality of Pagsanjan, Laguna, on December 21, 1936. The petition
was opposed by the respondent Sabina Rivera, wo prayed for the probate of
the will of the deceased allegedly made on May 11, 1930. The court issued
an order directing that the will presented by the respondent be set for
hearing, that the publications required by law be made and that said will be
heard jointly with the will presented by the petitioner in the same proceeding
instituted by the latter. Sometime later, the court ordered that the expenses
for the publications made in the newspapers be defrayed by the respondent.
The petitioner filed two motions for reconsideration which were denied and,
finally, instituted this certiorari proceeding. In order that the hearing and
publications ordered by the court may be carried out, the respondent, on July
20, 1937, deposited P24 and filed the original of the will the probate of which
had been sought by her.

ISSUE: Whether or not the court acquired no jurisdiction to take cognizance


of the counter-petition for the probate of the second will, or to set the same
for hearing of said will to be held in the same proceeding jointly with the first
will, on the ground that the respondent had not previously filed her pleading
nor paid the fees of the clerk of court fixed by section 788 of the Code of Civil
Procedure, as amended by Act No. 3395.

RULING: NO. (1) The pertinent part of said section, as amended, reads as
follows:
98

SEC. 788. Fees of clerks of Court of First Instance. Fees shall


assessed in accordance with the following schedule:

xxx xxx xxx

(g) For all clerical services in the allowance of wills, granting letters of
administration, appointment of guardians, trustees, settlement of the
accounts of executors, administrators, guardians, trustees, and
recording final and interlocutory orders, judgment, and decrees
therein, filing all inventories and appraisements, and for all other work
as clerk pertaining to any one estate, fees payable out of the estate
shall be collected in accordance with the value of the property involved
in each proceeding, as follows:

xxx xxx xxx

The jurisdiction of the Courts of First Instance in probate matters is


determined in the following sections of the above-cited Code:

SEC. 599. Jurisdiction. Courts of First Instance shall have jurisdiction


in all matters relating to the settlement of estate and probate of wills
of deceased persons, the appointment and removal of guardians and
trustees, and the powers, duties, and rights of guardians and wards,
trustees, and cestuis que trust. This jurisdiction shall be called probate
jurisdicton.

SEC. 600. Where resident's estate settled. If an inhabitant of the


Philippine Islands dies, whether a citizen or alien, his will shall be
proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in
the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resided at the
time of his death.

SEC. 601. Where nonresident's estate settled. If a person resided out


of the Philippine Islands at the time of his death, his will shall be
allowed and recorded, and letters testamentary or of administration
shall be granted in the Court of First Instance of any province in which
he had estate.

xxx xxx xxx

SEC. 626. Custodian of will to deliver. The person who has the
custody of a will shall, within thirty days after he knows of the death of
the testator, deliver the will into the court which has jurisdiction, or to
the executor named in the will.

SEC. 627. Executor to present will and accept or refuse trust. A


person named as executor in a will, shall within thirty days after he
knows of the death of the testator, or within thirty days after he knows
that he is named executor, if he obtained such knowledge after
knowing of the death of the testator, present such will to the court
which has jurisdiction, unless the will has been otherwise returned to
said court, and shall, within such period, signify to the court his
acceptance of the trust, or make known in writing his refusal to accept
it.

xxx xxx xxx

SEC. 630. Court to appoint hearing on will. When a will is delivered


to a court having jurisdiction of the same, the court shall appoint a
time and place when all concerned may appear to contest the
99

allowance of the will, and shall cause public notice thereof to be given
by publication in such newspapers as the court directs general
circulation in the province, three weeks successively, previous to the
time appointed, and no will shall be allowed until such notice has been
given. At the hearing all testimony shall be taken under oath, reduced
to writing and signed by the witnesses.

Under the foregoing provisions, a CFI acquires jurisdiction to probate a


will when it is shown by evidence before it: (1) That a person has died
leaving a will; (2) in the case of a resident of this country, that he died in the
province where the court exercises territorial jurisdiction; (3) in the case of a
nonresident, that he has left a estate in the province where the court is
situated, and (4) that the testament or last will of the deceased has been
delivered to the court and is in the possession thereof.

In here, it is evident that the court has acquired jurisdiction to probate


the second will. The respondent's counter-petition should, in this case, be
considered as a petition for the probate of the second will, the original of
which was filed by her on July 20, 1937.

The payment of the fees of the clerk of court for all services to be
rendered by him in connection with the probate of the second will and for the
successive proceedings to be conducted and others to be issued, in
accordance with section 788, as amended, is not jurisdiction in the sense
that its omission does not deprive the court of its authority to proceed with
the probate of a will, as expressly provided for by section 630. It is the
inevitable duty of the court, when a will is presented to it, to appoint hearing
for its allowance and to cause notice thereof to be given by publication. The
duty imposed by said section is imperative and noncompliance therewith
would be a mockery at the law and at last will of the testator. Section 785 (a)
of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended recently by Act No. 3250, permits
the remission or postponement of the payment of the clerk's fees in cases of
poverty, at the discretion of the court, and if this were done in one case and
the payment of the fees for filing the application were jurisdictional, is
claimed, then the court, in admitting the will to probate and in allowing it,
would have acted entirely without jurisdiction. Finally, it should be taken into
consideration that the court, in this case, did not exempt the respondents
from paying the fees in question but merely failed to make provision therefor.

(2) When the court ordered that the second will be set for hearing that
publication be made thereof and that said will be heard in the same
proceeding jointly with the first will, it merely ordered the consolidation of
the two applications and the two hearing on the probate of both wills, instead
of conducting separate hearing, undoubtedly because it understood that the
form so chosen was the most convenient for the parties.

G.R. NOS. L-3087 AND L-3088 JULY 31, 1954

IN RE: TESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED JOSE B. SUNTAY.


SILVINO SUNTAY, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, VS. IN RE:
INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED JOSE B.
SUNTAY, FEDERICO C. SUNTAY, ADMINISTRATOR-APPELLEE.
100

FACTS: This is an appeal from a decree of the CFI of Bulacan disallowing the
alleged will and testament executed in Manila on November 1929, and the
alleged last will and testament executed in Kulangsu, Amoy, China, on 4
January 1931, by Jose B. Suntay (Suntay).

On 14 May 1934 Jose B. Suntay, a Filipino citizen and resident of the


Philippines, died in the city of Amoy, Fookien province, Republic of China,
leaving properties in the Philippines and in China. Intestate proceedings were
instituted (special proceedings No. 4892) and after hearing letters of
administration were issued to Apolonio Suntay (one of the children). After the
latter's death, Federico C. Suntay was appointed administrator of the estate.
On 15 October 1934 the surviving widow filed a petition for the probate of a
last will and testament claimed to have been executed and signed in the
Philippines on November 1929 by the deceased. This petition was denied
because of the loss of said will after the filing of the petition and before the
hearing thereof and of the insufficiency of the evidence to establish the loss
of the said will. An appeal was taken and this Court held the evidence before
the probate court sufficient to prove the loss of the will and remanded the
case to the CFI for further proceedings.

In spite of the fact that a commission from the probate court was
issued on 24 April 1937 for the taking of the deposition of Go Toh, an
attesting witness to the will, on 7 February 1938 the probate court denied a
motion for continuance of the hearing sent by cablegram from China by the
surviving widow and dismissed the petition.
In the meantime the Pacific War supervened. After liberation, claiming
that he had found among the files, records and documents of his late father
a will and testament in Chinese characters executed and signed by the
deceased on 4 January 1931 and that the same was filed, recorded and
probated in China, Silvino Suntay filed a petition in the intestate proceedings
praying for the probate of the will executed in the Philippines on November
1929 (Exhibit B) or of the will executed in China, on 4 January 1931.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not the lost will can be probated; and


2. Whether or not a will probated in China can be acknowledged in the
Philippines.

RULING: (1) NO. As to the lost will, section 6, Rule 77, provides:

No will shall be proved as a lost or destroyed will unless the execution


and validity of the same be established, and the will is proved to have been
in existence at the time of the death of the testator, or is shown to have
been fraudulently or accidentally destroyed in the lifetime of the testator
without his knowledge, nor unless its provisions are clearly and distinctly
proved by at least two credible witnesses. When a lost will is proved, the
provisions thereof must be distinctly stated and certified by the judge, under
the seal of the court, and the certificate must be filed and recorded as other
wills are filed and recorded.

The witnesses who testified to the provisions of the lost will are Go Toh,
an attesting witness, Anastacio Teodoro and Ana Suntay. Manuel Lopez, who
was an attesting witness to the lost will, was dead at the time of the hearing
of this petition. In his deposition Go Toh testifies that he was one of the
witnesses to the lost will consisting of twenty-three sheets signed by Jose B.
Suntay at the bottom of the will and each and every page thereof in the
101

presence of Alberto Barretto, Manuel Lopez and himself and underneath the
testator's signature the attesting witnesses signed and each of them signed
the attestation clause and each and every page of the will in the presence of
the testator and of the other witnesses, but did not take part in the drafting
thereof; that he knew the contents of the will written in Spanish although he
knew very little of that language and all he knows about the contends of the
lost will was revealed to him by Suntay at the time it was executed; that
Suntay told him that the contents thereof are the same as those of the draft
which he saw in the office of Alberto Barretto in November 1929 when the
will was signed; that Alberto Barretto handed the draft and said to Jose B.
Suntay: "You had better see if you want any correction"; that "after checking
Suntay put the "Exhibit B" in his pocket and had the original signed and
executed"; that Mrs. Suntay had the draft of the will (Exhibit B) translated
into Chinese and he read the translation; that he did not read the will and did
not compare it (check it up) with the draft (Exhibit B).

Ana Suntay testifies that sometime in September 1934 in the house of


her brother Apolonio Suntay she learned that her father left a will "because
of the arrival of my brother Manuel Suntay, who was bringing along with him
certain document and he told us that it was the will of our father Jose B.
Suntay which was taken from Go Toh. ..."; that she saw her brother read the
document in her presence and of Manuel and learned of the adjudication
made in the will by her father of his estate; that "after Apolonio read that
portion, then he turned over the document to Manuel, and he went away."
On cross-examination, she testifies that she read the part of the will on
adjudication to know what was the share of each heir and on redirect she
testifies that she saw the signature of her father, Go Toh, Manuel Lopez and
Alberto Barretto.

Anastacio Teodoro testifies that in November 1934, before the last


postponement of the hearing granted by the Court, Go Toh arrived at his law
office in the De los Reyes Building and left an envelope wrapped in red
handkerchief; that he checked up the signatures on the envelope with those
on the will placed in the envelope; that the will was exactly the same as the
draft Exhibit B.

Although Ana Suntay would be a good witness because she was


testifying against her own interest, still the fact remains that she did not read
the whole will but only the adjudication and saw only the signature, of her
father and of the witnesses Go Toh, Manuel Lopez and Alberto Barretto. But
her testimony on cross-examination that she read the part of the will on
adjudication is inconsistent with her testimony in chief that after Apolonio
had read that part of the will he turned over or handed the document to
Manuel who went away.

And granting that there was a will duly executed by the deceased
placed in the envelope and that it was in existence at the time of, and not
revoked before, his death, still the testimony of Anastacio Teodoro alone falls
short of the legal requirement that the provisions of the lost will must be
"clearly and distinctly proved by at least two credible witnesses." Credible
witnesses mean competent witnesses and those who testify to facts from or
upon hearsay are neither competent nor credible witnesses.

(2) As to the will claimed to have been executed on 4 January 1931 in


Amoy, China, the law on the point in Rule 78.
102

Section 1 of the rule provides that Wills proved and allowed in a


foreign country, according to the laws of such country, may be allowed, filed,
and recorded by the proper Court of First Instance in the Philippines.

Section 2 provides that When a copy of such will and the allowance
thereof, duly authenticated, is filed with a petition for allowance in the
Philippines, by the executor or other person interested, in the court having
jurisdiction, such court shall fix a time and place for the hearing, and cause
notice thereof to be given as in case of an original will presented for
allowance.

Section 3 provides that If it appears at the hearing that the will should
be allowed in the Philippines, the court shall so allow it, and a certificate of
its allowance, signed by the Judge, and attested by the seal of the courts, to
which shall be attached a copy of the will, shall be filed and recorded by the
clerk, and the will shall have the same effect as if originally proved and
allowed in such court.

The fact that the municipal district court of Amoy, China, is a probate
court must be proved. The law of China on procedure in the probate or
allowance of wills must also be proved. The legal requirements for the
execution of a valid will in China in 1931 should also be established by
competent evidence. There is no proof on these points. The unverified
answers to the questions propounded by counsel for the appellant to the
Consul General of the Republic of China, objected to by counsel for the
appellee, are inadmissible, because apart from the fact that the office of
Consul General does not qualify and make the person who holds it an expert
on the Chinese law on procedure in probate matters, if the same be
admitted, the adverse party would be deprived of his right to confront and
cross-examine the witness. Consuls are appointed to attend to trade matters.

Moreover, it appears that all the proceedings had in the municipal


district court of Amoy were for the purpose of taking the testimony of two
attesting witnesses to the will and that the order of the municipal district
court of Amoy does not purport to probate the will. In the absence of proof
that the municipal district court of Amoy is a probate court and on the
Chinese law of procedure in probate matters, it may be presumed that the
proceedings in the matter of probating or allowing a will in the Chinese
courts are the a deposition or to a perpetuation of testimony, and even if it
were so it does not measure same as those provided for in our laws on the
subject. It is a proceedings in rem and for the validity of such proceedings
personal notice or by publication or both to all interested parties must be
made. The interested parties in the case were known to reside in the
Philippines. The evidence shows that no such notice was received by the
interested parties residing in the Philippines. The proceedings had in the
municipal district court of Amoy, China, may be likened toe or come up to
the standard of such proceedings in the Philippines for lack of notice to all
interested parties and the proceedings were held at the back of such
interested parties.

The order of the municipal district court of Amoy, China does not
purport to probate or allow the will which was the subject of the proceedings.
In view thereof, the will and the alleged probate thereof cannot be said to
have been done in accordance with the accepted basic and fundamental
concepts and principles followed in the probate and allowance of wills.
Consequently, the authenticated transcript of proceedings held in the
municipal district court of Amoy, China, cannot be deemed and accepted as
proceedings leading to the probate or allowance of a will and, therefore, the
103

will referred to therein cannot be allowed, filed and recorded by a competent


court of this country.

G.R. NO. L-26743 MAY 31, 1972

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF


CIPRIANO ABUT, DECEASED. GENEROSO ABUT, PETITIONER,
GAVINA ABUT, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, VS. FELIPE ABUT,
PRESENTACION DE RODRIGUEZ AND ABSOLUTO
ABUT, OPPOSITORS-APPELLEES.

FACTS: On August 4, 1965, Generoso Abut, one of the children of the


deceased Cipriano Abut by his second marriage and the person named as
executor in a will allegedly executed by the said deceased, filed a petition
before the court a quo praying that the said will be approved and allowed
and that letters testamentary issue in his favor. The court a quo motu
proprio set the petition for hearing and further directed compliance with
Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court. These procedural steps
admittedly took place.

Opposition to the petition was filed by the children of Cipriano Abut by


his first marriage, namely, Felipe Abut, Presentacion de Rodriguez and
Absoluto Abut, now appellees here.

During the pendency of the case below but before the court a
quo could even start the formal hearing of the petition, which had been
delayed by several postponements, Generoso Abut, the original petitioner
who initiated the probate proceeding, died on January 10, 1966. This
eventuality prompted Gavina Abut, a sister of Generoso and an heir and
devisee under the will of the testator Cipriano, to ask the court a quo to
substitute her in lieu of Generoso and to admit an amended petition wherein
she prayed that the probate of the will be allowed and that letters of
administration with the will annexed be issued in her favor. The
court dismissed the petition originally brought by the deceased Generoso,
"without prejudice to the filing of another petition pursuant to the
requirements of the Rules of Court."

ISSUE: Did the demise of the original petitioner during the pendency of the
proceeding divest the court of such jurisdiction and preclude the continuation
of the case on the theory that the amended petition filed by herein
petitioner, who admittedly was a person having an interest in the estate,
seeking to substitute her in place of the original petitioner, but with a similar
prayer for the allowance of the same will, required a new publication in order
to invest the court with jurisdiction?

RULING: NO. The jurisdiction of the court became vested upon the filing of
the original petition and upon compliance with Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 76.

A proceeding for the probate of a will is one in rem, such that with the
corresponding publication of the petition the court's jurisdiction extends to all
104

persons interested in said will or in the settlement of the estate of the


deceased. The fact that the amended petition named additional heirs not
included in the original petition did not require that notice of the amended
petition be published anew. All that Section 4 of Rule 76 provides is that
those heirs be notified of the hearing for the probate of the will, either by
mail or personally. In the case of Perez vs. Perez this Court explained:

Thus it appears that such "no notice" argument has no legal


foundation. At any rate the omission, if any, did not affect the jurisdiction of
the court; it constituted a mere procedural error that may or may not be the
basis of reversal (Jocson vs. Nable). Indeed, this Tribunal has ruled that the
court acquires jurisdiction over all persons interested in the estate through
the publication of the petition in the newspapers (In re Estate of Johnson;
Jocson vs. Nable) which in this case admittedly took place.

Service of notice on individual heirs or legatees or devisees is a matter


of procedural convenience, not jurisdictional requisite. So much so that even
if the names of some legatees or heirs had been omitted from the petition for
allowance of the will and therefore were not advised the decree
allowing the will does not ipso facto become void for want of jurisdiction ...

Jurisdiction of the court once acquired continues until the termination


of the case, and remains unaffected by subsequent events. The court below
erred in holding that it was divested of jurisdiction just because the original
petitioner died before the petition could be formally heard. Parties who could
have come in and opposed the original petition, as herein appellees did,
could still come in and oppose the amended petition, having already been
notified of the pendency of the proceeding by the publication of the notice
thereof.

The admission of the amended petition, of course, does not mean that
Gavina Abut's prayer that she be appointed administratrix with the will
annexed is necessarily meritorious. It simply recognizes that since the lower
court has acquired jurisdiction over the res, such jurisdiction continues until
the termination of the case. The first question that the lower court should
hear and decide is the probate of the will; and the question of w/n Gavina
Abut should be appointed administratrix must be decided on the basis of the
facts to be presented and after the will is proved and allowed, as provided in
Section 6 of Rule 78.

G.R. NO. L-42226 JULY 26, 1935

IN RE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED INES BASA DE


MERCADO. JOAQUINA BASA, ET AL., PETITIONERS-
APPELLANTS, VS. ATILANO G. MERCADO, RESPONDENT-
APPELLEE.

FACTS: By virtue of an order dated June 27, 1931, the Judge of the CFI of
Pampanga, allowed and probated the last will and testament of Ines Basa,
deceased. On January 30, 1932, the same judge approved the account of the
administrator of the estate, declared him the only heir of the deceased under
the will and closed the administration proceedings. On April 11, 1934, the
105

herein petitioners-appellants filed a motion in which they prayed that said


proceedings be reopened and alleged that the court lacked jurisdiction to act
in the matter because there was a failure to comply with requirements as to
the publication of the notice of hearing prescribed in Section 630 of the Code
of Civil Procedure.

ISSUE: Whether or not there was a failure to comply with requirements as to


the publication of the notice of hearing prescribed in Section 630 of the Code
of Civil Procedure.

RULING: NO. 1) SEC. 630. Court to appoint hearing on will. When a will is
delivered to a court having jurisdiction of the same, the court shall appoint a
time and place when all concerned may appear to contest the allowance of
the will, and shall cause public notice thereof to be given by publication in
such newspaper or newspapers as the court directs of general circulation in
the province, three weeks successively, previous to the time appointed, and
no will shall be allowed until such notice has been given. At the hearing all
testimony shall be taken under oath, reduced to writing and signed by the
witnesses.

In this motion the appellants claim that the provisions of section 630 of
the Code of Civil Procedure have not been complied with in view of the fact
that although the trial judge, on May 29, 1931, ordered the publication of the
required notice for "three weeks successively" previous to the time
appointed for the hearing on the will, the first publication was on June 6,
1931, the third on June 20, 1931, and the hearing took place on the 27th of
that month, only twenty-one days after the date of the first publication
instead of three full weeks before the day set for the hearing.

Section 630 of our Code of Civil Procedure is taken from the Code of
Civil Procedure of the State of Vermont. The Supreme Court of that State,
commenting on the phrase "three weeks successively", held:

The date of examining and allowing P.A. Barlett's final account of


administration, and for decreeing the residue of the estate to the lawful
claimants of the same, was set by the probate court for December 19, 1919,
at the probate office in Brighton, and an order was made to this effect on
November 28, 1919. The order provided also that notice should be given by
publication for three weeks successively in the Essex County Herald. In
accordance with this order, the notice was published in the issues for
December 4, 11 and 18, respectively. This was "public notice" to all persons
interested of the time and place of examining and allowing said account and
making decree of distribution, and was sufficient under the provisions of G.L.
3276. (Lenehen vs. Spaulding) "The proceeding was according to law in all
respects, and being in the nature of a proceeding in rem, it binds everybody
by its legal effect." (Burbeck vs. Little) At the time and place set for the
hearing none of the petitioners or other legatees under the will of Nickerson
Warner appeared. Thereupon the judge of probate then and there continued
the hearing until April 6, 1920, at which time the final account of P.A .Barlett
as administrator de bonis non with will annexed was filed and, no one
appearing to object, the same was allowed, and the decree of distribution
was entered. (In re Warner's Estate)
106

It will be noted that in the above cited case the last of the three
publications was on December 18, 1919, and the hearing on the
administrators's final account was set for December 19 of that year, only
fifteen days after the date of the first publication.

In view of the foregoing, it is held that the language used in section


630 of the Code of Civil Procedure does not mean that the notice, referred to
therein, should be published for three full weeks before the date set for the
hearing on the will. In other words the first publication of the notice need not
be made twenty-one days before the day appointed for the hearing.

2) The appellants also contend that the trial court erred in ruling that
the weekly newspaper, Ing Katipunan, in which the notice of hearing was
published, was a newspaper of general circulation in the Province of
Pampanga.

The record shows that Ing Katipunan is a newspaper of general


circulation in view of the fact that it is published for the dissemination of
local news and general information; that it has a bona fide subscription list of
paying subscribers; that it is published at regular intervals and that the trial
court ordered the publication to be made in Ing Katipunan precisely because
it was a "newspaper of general circulation in the Province of Pampanga."

Furthermore no attempt has been made to prove that it was a


newspaper devoted to the interests or published for the entertainment of a
particular class, profession, trade, calling, race or religious denomination.
The fact that there is another paper published in Pampanga that has a few
more subscribers (72 to be exact) and that certain Manila dailies also have a
larger circulation in that province is unimportant. The law does not require
that publication of the notice, referred to in the Code of Civil Procedure,
should be made in the newspaper with the largest numbers is necessary to
constitute a newspaper of general circulation.

G.R. NO. 25489 SEPTEMBER 8, 1926

ESTATE OF THE DECEASED BASILIA TANTOCO. VICENTE


FERNANDEZ, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, VS. DOMINGO TANTOCO,
ET AL., OPPONENTS-APPELLEES.

FACTS: Basilia Tantoco executed an instrument purporting to be her will, she


being at the time a patient in the San Juan de Dios Hospital in the City of
107

Manila. She died a few days after the will executed, and application for
probate was made by father Vicente Fernandez, parish priest of Malolos.
Opposition to probate was made by three brothers and a nephew of the
deceased.

At the time set for the submission of proof with respect to the
execution of the will, the proponent introduced the three attesting witnesses
to the instrument, namely, Vicente Platon, Fidel Macapugay, and Placido
Suarez, as well as Aurea Gaspar, sister-in-law of the deceased who had been
in attendance upon her at the hospital.

The instrument shows every external requisite of proper execution, but


the trial judge refused to allow it to be probated, for the reason that the
three attesting witnesses are not in harmony upon the point whether all
three of said witnesses were present together at the time and place when
the testatrix and the witnesses affixed their signatures to the document.

No testimony was submitted by the opposition, and the criticisms made by


the trial judge with respect to the sufficiency of the proof of execution arise
exclusively upon the testimony of the witnesses for the proponent.

ISSUE: Whether or not the will is valid and should be admitted to probate.

RULING: YES. For many years Vicente Platon, an attorney of Malolos, has
from to time done legal services for the testatrix; he wrote a will for her and
a codicil to the same will was on a later occasion executed by the testratix
with the assistance and on the advice of Sr. Platon.

Sr. Platon also redrafted the entire document and carried it to the
hospital for execution by her. Sr. Platon, as of the officiating attorney, was
naturally charged with the duties incident to procuring the execution of the
will, and he at first invited the Attending physician, Dr. Nicanor Jacinto to act
as one of the subscribing witnesses but the latter feared that it would be
prejudicial to him as a physician. He brought in Doctor Fidel Macapugay, who
took his place. The other intending witness was one Placido Suarez.

The testimony of Sr. Platon, is in our opinion in every effect respect


worthy of credit, and he gives a detailed account of the incidents connected
with the execution, which could in our opinion have been only by a person
who had his attention fixed upon the occurrences connected therewith. He
shows that the testatrix understood the contents of the instrument and that
its provisions were found to be in conformity with her wishes. At the time of
the execution of the instrument she was sitting up in her bed and was able to
affix her signature in a clear and legible hand at the close of the will and
upon each of its pages, as the law requires.

Macapugay testified somewhat vaguely and evasively; and although he


admitted having been the testatrix sign and the fact that all the signatures of
himself are genuine, he exhibited a weak memory with respect to other
things that occurred. In particular he suggests that he left the room before
Sr. Platon had finished signing all of the sheets, and he does not remember
seeing Placido Suarez in the room at all.

Placido Suarez, pretended that Macapugay was not present when


Suarez signed; and, while admitting his own signature, he claims not to be
108

able to recognize the other signatures appearing on the sheets. We have no


hesitancy in saying that the testimony of this witness shows a manifest and
deliberate departure from the truth.

In weighing the testimony of the attesting witnesses to a will, the


statements of a competent attorney, who has been charged with the
responsibility of seeing to the proper execution of the instrument, is entitled
to greater weight than the testimony of a person casually called to
participate in the act, supposing of course that no motive is revealed that
should induce the attorney to prevaricate. The reason is that the mind of the
attorney, being conversant with the requisites of the proper execution of the
instrument, is more likely to become fixed on details; and he is more likely
than other persons to retain those incidents in his memory.

It is admitted by all of the witnesses that Aurea Gaspar was present in


the room at the time the will was executed, and she corroborates Sr. Platon
upon the point that all of the witnesses were present throughout the
ceremonies attending the execution of the will. This witness speaks with
apparent frankness, and we believe her testimony to be true,
notwithstanding the fact that she possibly has a minor interest in the
establishment of the will.

In case of opposition to the probate of the will the proponent is legally


bound to introduce all of the subscribing witnesses, if available. They are
therefore forced witnesses so far as the proponent is concerned, and he is
not bound by their testimony to the same extent that a litigant is bound by
the testimony of witnesses introduced in ordinary course. It follows that the
proponent of a will may avail himself of other proof to establish the
instrument, even contrary to the testimony of some of the subscribing
witnesses, or all of them.

These facts raise a presumption of regularity; and upon those facts


alone the will should, be admitted to probate in the absence of proof showing
that some fatal irregularity occurred. And such irregularity must be proved by
a preponderance of the evidence before probate can be denied.

G.R. NO. L-14003 AUGUST 5, 1960

FEDERICO AZAOLA, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, VS. CESARIO


SINGSON, OPPOSITOR-APPELLEE.

FACTS: Fortunata S. Vda. De Yance died in Quezon City on September 9,


1957. Petitioner submitted for probate her holographic will. Only one witness,
Francisoco Azaola, was presented to testify on the handwriting of the
testatrix. He testified that he had seen it one month, more or less, before the
109

death of the testatrix, as it was given to him and his wife; and that it was in
the testatrixs handwriting. He presented the mortgage, the special power of
the attorney, and the general power of attorney, and the deeds of sale
including an affidavit to reinforce his statement. Two residence certificates
showing the testatrixs signature were also exhibited for comparison
purposes.

The probate was opposed on the ground that (1) the execution of the
will was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part
of the petitioner and his wife, and (2) that the testatrix did not seriously
intend the instrument to be her last will, and that the same
was actually written either on the 5th or 6th day of August 1957 and not on
November 20, 1956 as appears on the will.

The probate was denied on the ground that under Article 811 of the
Civil Code, the proponent must present three witnesses who could declare
that the will and the signature are in the writing of the testatrix, the probate
being contested; and because the lone witness presented did not prove
sufficiently that the body of the will was written in the handwriting of the
testatrix.

Petitioner appealed, urging: first, that he was not bound to produce


more than one witness because the wills authenticity was not questioned;
and second, that Article 811 does not mandatorily require the production of
three witnesses to identify the handwriting and signature of
a holographic will, even if its authenticity should be denied by the adverse
party.

ISSUE: Whether or not Article 811 of the Civil Code is mandatory or


permissive.

RULING: Article 811 of the Civil Code provides:

ART. 811. In the probate of a holographic will, it shall be necessary that


at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the
testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the
handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three of
such witnesses shall be required.

In the absence of any competent witnesses referred to in the preceding


paragraph, and if the court deems it necessary, expert testimony may be
resorted to.

Article 811 is merely permissive and not mandatory. Since the


authenticity of the will was not contested, petitioner was not required to
produce more than one witness; but even if the genuineness of
the holographic will were contested, Article 811 cannot be interpreted to
require the compulsory presentation of three witnesses to identify the
handwriting of the testator, under penalty of having the probate denied.
Since no witness may have been present at the execution of
a holographic will, none being required by law (Art. 810, new Civil Code), it
becomes obvious that the existence of witness possessing the
requisite qualifications is a matter beyond the control of the proponent. For it
is not merely a question of finding and producing any three witnesses; they
must be witnesses who know the handwriting and signature of the testator
110

and who can declare (truthfully, of course, even if the law does not
so express) that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the
testator. There may be no available witness of the testators hand; or even
if so familiarized, the witnesses may be unwilling to give a positive opinion.
Compliance with the rule of paragraph 1 of Article 811 may thus become an
impossibility.

It may be true that the rule of this article (requiring that three
witnesses be presented if the will is contested and only one if no contest is
had) was derived from the rule established for ordinary testaments. But it
cannot be ignored that the requirement can be considered mandatory only in
the case of ordinary testaments, precisely because the presence of at least
three witnesses at the execution of ordinary wills is made by law essential to
their validity (Art. 805). Where the will is holographic, no witness need be
present (Art. 10), and the rule requiring production of three witnesses must
be deemed merely permissive if absurd results are to be avoided.

This is the reason why the 2nd paragraph of Article 811 allows
the court to resort to expert evidence. The law foresees the possibility that
no qualified witness may be found (or what amounts to the same thing, that
no competent witness may be willing to testify to the authenticity of the will),
and provides for resort to expert evidence to supply the deficiency.

What the law deems essential is that the court should be convinced of
the wills authenticity. Where the prescribed number of witnesses is produced
and the court is convinced by their testimony that the will is genuine, it may
consider it unnecessary to call for expert evidence. On the other hand, if no
competent witness is available, or none of those produced is convincing,
the Court may still, and in fact it should, resort to handwriting experts. The
duty of the Court, in fine, is to exhaust all available lines of inquiry, for the
state is as much interested as the proponent that the true intention of the
testator be carried into effect.

And because the law leaves it to the trial court if experts are still
needed, no unfavourable inference can be drawn from a party's failure to
offer expert evidence, until and unless the court expresses dissatisfaction
with the testimony of the lay witnesses.

Considering, however, that this is the first occasion in which this Court
has been called upon to construe the import of said article, the interest of
justice would be better served, in our opinion, by giving the parties ample
opportunity to adduce additional evidence, including expert witnesses,
should the Court deem them necessary.

In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is set aside, and
the records ordered remanded to the Court of origin, with instructions to hold
a new trial in conformity with this opinion. But evidence already on record
shall not be retaken.

G.R. NO. L-12190 AUGUST 30, 1958

TESTATE ESTATE OF FELICIDAD ESGUERRA ALTO-YAP


DECEASED. FAUSTO E. GAN, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, VS.
ILDEFONSO YAP, OPPOSITOR-APPELLEE.
111

FACTS: Felicidad Yap died of a heart failure, leaving properties in Pulilan,


Bulacan, and in Manila. Fausto E. Gan, her nephew, initiated the proceedings
in the Manila CFI with a petition for the probate of a holographic will allegedly
executed by the deceased.

The will was not presented because Felicidads husband, Ildefonso,


supposedly took it. What was presented were witness accounts of relatives
who knew of her intention to make a will and allegedly saw it as well.
According to the witnesses, Felicidad did not want her husband to know
about it, but she had made known to her other relatives that she made a will.

The testimonies of her relatives may be summarized as follows:

Sometime in 1950 after her last trip abroad, Felicidad Esguerra


mentioned to her first cousin, Vicente Esguerra, her desire to make a will.
She confided however that it would be useless if her husband discovered or
knew about it. Vicente consulted with Fausto E. Gan, nephew of Felicidad,
who was then preparing for the bar examinations. The latter replied it could
be done without any witness, provided the document was entirely in her
handwriting, signed and dated by her. Vicente Esguerra lost no time in
transmitting the information, and on the strength of it, in the morning of
November 5, 1951, in her residence at Juan Luna Street, Manila, Felicidad
wrote, signed and dated a holographic will substantially of the tenor above
transcribed, in the presence of her niece, Felina Esguerra (daughter of
Vicente), who was invited to read it. In the afternoon of that day, Felicidad
was visited by a distant relative, Primitivo Reyes, and she allowed him to
read the will in the presence of Felina Esguerra, who again read it.

Nine days later, he had other visitors: Socorro Olarte a cousin, and
Rosario Gan Jimenez, a niece. To these she showed the will, again in the
presence of Felina Esguerra, who read it for the third time.

When on November 19, 1951, Felicidad was confined at the U.S.T.


Hospital for her last illness, she entrusted the said will, which was contained
in a purse, to Felina Esguerra. But a few hours later, Ildefonso Yap, her
husband, asked Felina for the purse: and being afraid of him by reason of his
well-known violent temper, she delivered it to him. Thereafter, in the same
day, Ildefonso Yap returned the purse to Felina, only to demand it the next
day shortly before the death of Felicidad. Again, Felina handed it to him but
not before she had taken the purse to the toilet, opened it and read the will
for the last time.

Opposing the petition, her surviving husband Ildefonso Yap asserted


that the deceased had not left any will, nor executed any testament during
her lifetime.

After hearing the parties and considering their evidence, the Judge
refused to probate the alleged will on account of the discrepancies arising
from the facts. For one thing, it is strange that Felicidad made her will known
to so many of her relatives when she wanted to keep it a secret and she
would not have carried it in her purse in the hospital, knowing that her
husband may have access to it. There was also no evidence presented that
her niece was her confidant.

In the face of these improbabilities, the trial judge had to accept the
oppositors evidence that Felicidad did not and could not have executed such
holographic will.
112

ISSUE: Whether or not a holographic will be probated upon the testimony of


witnesses who have allegedly seen it and who declare that it was in the
handwriting of the testator?

RULING: No. The will must be presented.

The New Civil Code effective in 1950 revived holographic wills in its
arts. 810-814. A person may execute a holographic will which must be
entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is
subject to no other form and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and
need not be witnessed.

This is a radical departure from the form and solemnities provided for
wills under Act 190, which for fifty years (from 1901 to 1950) required wills to
be subscribed by the testator and three credible witnesses in each and every
page; such witnesses to attest to the number of sheets used and to the fact
that the testator signed in their presence and that they signed in the
presence of the testator and of each other. Authenticity and due execution is
the dominant requirements to be fulfilled when such will is submitted to the
courts for allowance. For that purpose the testimony of one of the
subscribing witnesses would be sufficient if there is no opposition (Sec. 5,
Rule 77). If there is, the three must testify, if available. From the testimony of
such witnesses (and of other additional witnesses) the court may form its
opinion as to the genuineness and authenticity of the testament, and the
circumstances its due execution.

With regard to holographic wills, no such guaranties of truth and


veracity are demanded, since as stated, they need no witnesses; provided
however, that they are entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of
the testator himself.

In the probate of a holographic will says the New Civil Code, it shall
be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and
signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are
in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three such
witnesses shall be required. In the absence of any such witnesses, (familiar
with decedents handwriting) and if the court deem it necessary, expert
testimony may be resorted to.

The witnesses need not have seen the execution of the holographic
will, but they must be familiar with the decedents handwriting. Obviously,
when the will itself is not submitted, these means of opposition, and of
assessing the evidence are not available. And then the only guaranty of
authenticity the testators handwriting has disappeared.

The Rules of Court, (Rule 77) approved in 1940 allow proof (and
probate) of a lost or destroyed will by secondary evidence the testimony
of witnesses, in lieu of the original document. Yet such Rules could not have
contemplated holographic wills which could not then be validly made here.
Could Rule 77 be extended, by analogy, to holographic wills? (NO)

Spanish commentators agree that one of the greatest objections to the


holographic will is that it may be lost or stolen an implied admission that
such loss or theft renders it useless.

As it is universally admitted that the holographic will is usually done by


the testator and by himself alone, to prevent others from knowing either its
113

execution or its contents, the above article 692 could not have the idea of
simply permitting such relatives to state whether they know of the will, but
whether in the face of the document itself they think the testator wrote it.
Obviously, this they cant do unless the will itself is presented to the Court
and to them.

This holding aligns with the ideas on holographic wills in the Fuero
Juzgo, admittedly the basis of the Spanish Civil Code provisions on the
matter.(According to the Fuero, the will itself must be compared with
specimens of the testators handwriting.)

All of which can only mean: the courts will not distribute the property
of the deceased in accordance with his holographic will, unless they are
shown his handwriting and signature.

Taking all the above circumstances together, we reach the conclusion


that the execution and the contents of a lost or destroyed holographic will
may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have seen and/or
read such will.

At this point, before proceeding further, it might be convenient to


explain why, unlike holographic wills, ordinary wills may be proved by
testimonial evidence when lost or destroyed. The difference lies in the nature
of the wills. In the first, the only guarantee of authenticity is the handwriting
itself; in the second, the testimony of the subscribing or instrumental
witnesses (and of the notary, now). The loss of the holographic will entails
the loss of the only medium of proof; if the ordinary will is lost, the
subscribing witnesses are available to authenticate.

In the case of ordinary wills, it is quite hard to convince three witnesses


(four with the notary) deliberately to lie. And then their lies could be checked
and exposed, their whereabouts and acts on the particular day, the likelihood
that they would be called by the testator, their intimacy with the testator,
etc. And if they were intimates or trusted friends of the testator they are not
likely to end themselves to any fraudulent scheme to distort his wishes. Last
but not least, they can not receive anything on account of the will.

Whereas in the case of holographic wills, if oral testimony were


admissible only one man could engineer the fraud this way: after making a
clever or passable imitation of the handwriting and signature of the
deceased, he may contrive to let three honest and credible witnesses see
and read the forgery; and the latter, having no interest, could easily fall for it,
and in court they would in all good faith affirm its genuineness and
authenticity. The will having been lost the forger may have purposely
destroyed it in an accident the oppositors have no way to expose the
trick and the error, because the document itself is not at hand. And
considering that the holographic will may consist of two or three pages, and
only one of them need be signed, the substitution of the unsigned pages,
which may be the most important ones, may go undetected.

If testimonial evidence of holographic wills be permitted, one more


objectionable feature feasibility of forgery would be added to the
several objections to this kind of wills listed by Castan, Sanchez Roman and
Valverde and other well-known Spanish Commentators and teachers of Civil
Law.

One more fundamental difference: in the case of a lost will, the three
subscribing witnesses would be testifying to a fact which they saw, namely
114

the act of the testator of subscribing the will; whereas in the case of a lost
holographic will, the witnesses would testify as to their opinion of the
handwriting which they allegedly saw, an opinion which cannot be tested in
court, nor directly contradicted by the oppositors, because the handwriting
itself is not at hand.

In fine, even if oral testimony were admissible to establish and probate


a lost holographic will, we think the evidence submitted by herein petitioner
is so tainted with improbabilities and inconsistencies that it fails to measure
up to that clear and distinct proof required by Rule 77, sec. 6.

G.R. NO. 160530 NOVEMBER 20, 2007

CYNTHIA V. NITTSCHER, PETITIONER, VS. DR. WERNER KARL


JOHANN NITTSCHER (DECEASED), ATTY. ROGELIO P. NOGALES
AND THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MAKATI (BRANCH 59),
RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: On January 31, 1990, Dr. Werner Karl Johann Nittscher filed with the
RTC of Makati City a petition for the probate of his holographic will and for
the issuance of letters testamentary to herein respondent Atty. Rogelio P.
Nogales.

The probate court issued an order allowing the said holographic will.

On September 26, 1994, Dr. Nittscher died. Hence, Atty. Nogales filed a
petition for letters testamentary for the administration of the estate of the
deceased. Dr. Nittschers surviving spouse, herein petitioner Cynthia V.
Nittscher, moved for the dismissal of the said petition which was denied and
granted respondents petition for the issuance of letters testamentary.

On May 9, 1996, Atty. Nogales was issued letters testamentary and


was sworn in as executor.

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which was denied for lack
of merit. Hence, the present petition.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the letters of testamentary filed by Atty. Nogales


was in violation of REVISED CIRCULAR NO. 28-91 AND
ADMINISTRATIVE CIRCULAR NO. 04-94. NO

2. Whether or not the lower court has jurisdiction over the subject
matter of the case. YES

3. Whether or not summons were properly issued to the parties and all
persons interested in the probate of the holographic will. YES

4. Whether or not petitioner was deprived of due process of law by the


lower court. NO
115

RULING: (1)Revised Circular No. 28-91 and Administrative Circular No. 04-
94of the Court require a certification against forum-shopping for all initiatory
pleadings filed in court. However, in this case, the petition for the issuance of
letters testamentary is not an initiatory pleading, but a mere continuation of
the original petition for the probate of Dr. Nittschers will. Hence,
respondents failure to include a certification against forum-shopping in his
petition for the issuance of letters testamentary is not a ground for outright
dismissal of the said petition.

(2)Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court provides:

SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the


decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death,
whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of
administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First
Instance (now Regional Trial Court) in the province in which he resides
at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country,
the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of any province in
which he had estate. (Emphasis supplied.)

In this case, the RTC and the Court of Appeals are one in their finding
that Dr. Nittscher was a resident of Las Pias, Metro Manila at the time of his
death. Such factual finding, which we find supported by evidence on record,
should no longer be disturbed. Time and again we have said that reviews on
certiorari are limited to errors of law. Unless there is a showing that the
findings of the lower court are totally devoid of support or are glaringly
erroneous, this Court will not analyze or weigh evidence all over again.

Hence, applying the aforequoted rule, Dr. Nittscher correctly filed in the
RTC of Makati City, which then covered Las Pias, Metro Manila, the petition
for the probate of his will and for the issuance of letters testamentary to
respondent.

(3) and (4) The court note that Dr. Nittscher asked for the allowance of
his own will. In this connection, Section 4, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court
states:

SEC. 4. Heirs, devisees, legatees, and executors to be notified by mail


or personally.

If the testator asks for the allowance of his own will, notice shall be
sent only to his compulsory heirs.

In this case, records show that petitioner, with whom Dr. Nittscher had
no child, and Dr. Nittschers children from his previous marriage were all duly
notified, by registered mail, of the probate proceedings. Petitioner even
appeared in court to oppose respondents petition for the issuance of letters
testamentary and she also filed a motion to dismiss the said petition. She
likewise filed a motion for reconsideration of the issuance of the letters
testamentary and of the denial of her motion to dismiss. We are convinced
petitioner was accorded every opportunity to defend her cause. Therefore,
petitioners allegation that she was denied due process in the probate
proceedings is without basis.

As a final word, petitioner should realize that the allowance of her


husbands will is conclusive only as to its due execution. The authority of the
probate court is limited to ascertaining whether the testator, being of sound
mind, freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed
by law. Thus, petitioners claim of title to the properties forming part of her
116

husbands estate should be settled in an ordinary action before the regular


courts.

G.R. NO. 122880 APRIL 12, 2006

FELIX AZUELA, PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF APPEALS, GERALDA


AIDA CASTILLO SUBSTITUTED BY ERNESTO G. CASTILLO,
RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Felix Azuela filed a petition with the trial court for the probate of a
notarial will purportedly executed by Eugenia E. Igsolo on June 10, 1981 and
notarized on the same day.

The will consisted of two (2) pages and was written in Filipino. The
attestation clause did not state the number of pages and it was not signed
by the attesting witnesses at the bottom thereof. The said witnesses affixed
their signatures on the left-hand margin of both pages of the will though.

Geralda Castillo opposed the petition, claiming that the will was a
forgery. She also argued that the will was not executed and attested to in
accordance with law. She pointed out that the decedents signature did not
appear on the second page of the will, and the will was not properly
acknowledged.

The trial court held the will to be authentic and to have been executed
in accordance with law and, thus, admitted it to probate, calling to fore the
modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a willwith
the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last
wishes.

On the issue of lack of acknowledgement, this Court has noted that at


the end of the will after the signature of the testatrix, the following
statement is made under the sub-title, "Patunay Ng Mga Saksi":

"Ang kasulatang ito, na binubuo ng _____ dahon pati ang huling dahong
ito, na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia N. Igsolo, tagapagmana na siya
niyang Huling Habilin, ngayong ika-10 ng Hunyo 1981, ay nilagdaan ng
nasabing tagapagmana sa ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at sa
kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon, sa harap ng lahat at bawat
sa amin, at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing
tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, sa ilalim ng
nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon ng
kasulatan ito."

The aforequoted declaration comprises the attestation clause and the


acknowledgement and is considered by this Court as a substantial
compliance with the requirements of the law.

It also held that the signing by the subscribing witnesses on the left
margin of the second page of the will containing the attestation clause and
acknowledgment, instead of at the bottom thereof, substantially satisfied the
purpose of identification and attestation of the will.

The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the trial courts decision and
ordered the dismissal of the petition for probate. It noted that the attestation
117

clause failed to state the number of pages used in the will, thus rendering
the will void and undeserving of probate.

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

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

RULING: NO. The solution to this case calls for the application of Articles
805 and 806 of the Civil Code, which we replicate in full:

Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed
at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name
written by some other person in his presence, and by his express
direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible
witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the
instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each
and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the
pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper
part of each page.
The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the
will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every
page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under
his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses,
and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages
thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it


shall be interpreted to them.

Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by


the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required
to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of
Court.

The appellate court, in its Decision, considered only one defect, the
failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages of the will. But
an examination of the will itself reveals several more deficiencies.

As admitted by petitioner himself, the attestation clause fails to state


the number of pages of the will.

There was an incomplete attempt to comply with this requisite, a space


having been allotted for the insertion of the number of pages in the
attestation clause. Yet the blank was never filled in; hence, the requisite was
left uncomplied with.

The Court of Appeals pounced on this defect in reversing the trial


court, citing in the process Uy Coque v. Navas L. Sioca and In re: Will of
Andrada. In Uy Coque, the Court noted that among the defects of the will in
question was the failure of the attestation clause to state the number of
pages contained in the will. In ruling that the will could not be admitted to
118

probate, the Court made the following consideration which remains highly
relevant to this day: "The purpose of requiring the number of sheets to be
stated in the attestation clause is obvious; the document might easily be so
prepared that the removal of a sheet would completely change the
testamentary dispositions of the will and in the absence of a statement of
the total number of sheets such removal might be effected by taking out the
sheet and changing the numbers at the top of the following sheets or pages.
If, on the other hand, the total number of sheets is stated in the attestation
clause the falsification of the document will involve the inserting of new
pages and the forging of the signatures of the testator and witnesses in the
margin, a matter attended with much greater difficulty."

The will does not even contain any notarial acknowledgment wherein
the number of pages of the will should be stated.

The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on


which the will was written remains a fatal flaw, despite Article 809. The
purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on
which the will is written is to safeguard against possible interpolation or
omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any increase or
decrease in the pages. The failure to state the number of pages equates with
the absence of an averment on the part of the instrumental witnesses as to
how many pages consisted the will, the execution of which they had
ostensibly just witnessed and subscribed to. Following Caneda, there is
substantial compliance with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it
how many pages it is comprised of, as was the situation in Singson and
Taboada. However, in this case, there could have been no substantial
compliance with the requirements under Article 805 since there is no
statement in the attestation clause or anywhere in the will itself as to the
number of pages which comprise the will.

The Court could thus end here and affirm the Court of Appeals.
However, an examination of the will itself reveals a couple of even more
critical defects that should necessarily lead to its rejection.

For one, the attestation clause was not signed by the instrumental
witnesses. While the signatures of the instrumental witnesses appear on the
left-hand margin of the will, they do not appear at the bottom of the
attestation clause which after all consists of their averments before the
notary public.

Cagro v. Cagro is material on this point. As in this case, "the signatures


of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the
attestation clause, although the page containing the same is signed by the
witnesses on the left-hand margin." While three (3) Justices considered the
signature requirement had been substantially complied with, a majority of six
(6), speaking through Chief Justice Paras, ruled that the attestation clause
had not been duly signed, rendering the will fatally defective.

There is no question that the signatures of the three witnesses to the


will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, although the page
containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin.

We are of the opinion that the position taken by the appellant is


correct. The attestation clause is "a memorandum of the facts attending the
execution of the will" required by law to be made by the attesting witnesses,
and it must necessarily bear their signatures. An unsigned attestation clause
119

cannot be considered as an act of the witnesses, since the omission of their


signatures at the bottom thereof negatives their participation.

The petitioner and appellee contends that signatures of the three


witnesses on the left-hand margin conform substantially to the law and may
be deemed as their signatures to the attestation clause. This is untenable,
because said signatures are in compliance with the legal mandate that the
will be signed on the left-hand margin of all its pages. If an attestation clause
not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom thereof, be admitted as
sufficient, it would be easy to add such clause to a will on a subsequent
occasion and in the absence of the testator and any or all of the witnesses.

The Court today reiterates the continued efficacy of Cagro. Article 805
particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign
each page of the will, from the requisite that the will be "attested and
subscribed by [the instrumental witnesses]." The respective intents behind
these two classes of signature are distinct from each other. The signatures on
the left-hand corner of every page signify, among others, that the witnesses
are aware that the page they are signing forms part of the will. On the other
hand, the signatures to the attestation clause establish that the witnesses
are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself.
Indeed, the attestation clause is separate and apart from the disposition of
the will. An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested will. Even if
the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page
containing the unsigned attestation clause, such signatures cannot
demonstrate these witnesses undertakings in the clause, since the
signatures that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly
different avowal.

The Court may be more charitably disposed had the witnesses in this
case signed the attestation clause itself, but not the left-hand margin of the
page containing such clause. Without diminishing the value of the
instrumental witnesses signatures on each and every page, the fact must be
noted that it is the attestation clause which contains the utterances reduced
into writing of the testamentary witnesses themselves. It is the witnesses,
and not the testator, who are required under Article 805 to state the number
of pages used upon which the will is written; the fact that the testator had
signed the will and every page thereof; and that they witnessed and signed
the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one
another. The only proof in the will that the witnesses have stated these
elemental facts would be their signatures on the attestation clause.

Thus, the subject will cannot be considered to have been validly


attested to by the instrumental witnesses, as they failed to sign the
attestation clause.

Yet, there is another fatal defect to the will on which the denial of this
petition should also hinge. The requirement under Article 806 that "every will
must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the
witnesses" has also not been complied with. The importance of this
requirement is highlighted by the fact that it had been segregated from the
other requirements under Article 805 and entrusted into a separate
provision, Article 806. The non-observance of Article 806 in this case is
equally as critical as the other cited flaws in compliance with Article 805, and
should be treated as of equivalent import.

In lieu of an acknowledgment, the notary public, Petronio Y. Bautista,


wrote "Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic), 1981 dito
120

sa Lungsod ng Maynila." By no manner of contemplation can those words be


construed as an acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the act of one who
has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and
declaring it to be his act or deed. It involves an extra step undertaken
whereby the signor actually declares to the notary that the executor of a
document has attested to the notary that the same is his/her own free act
and deed.

It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat, even though it


does not hew to the usual language thereof. A jurat is that part of an affidavit
where the notary certifies that before him/her, the document was subscribed
and sworn to by the executor. Ordinarily, the language of the jurat should
avow that the document was subscribed and sworn before the notary public,
while in this case, the notary public averred that he himself "signed and
notarized" the document. Possibly though, the word "ninotario" or
"notarized" encompasses the signing of and swearing in of the executors of
the document, which in this case would involve the decedent and the
instrumental witnesses.

Yet even if we consider what was affixed by the notary public as a


jurat, the will would nonetheless remain invalid, as the express requirement
of Article 806 is that the will be "acknowledged", and not merely subscribed
and sworn to. The will does not present any textual proof, much less one
under oath, that the decedent and the instrumental witnesses executed or
signed the will as their own free act or deed. The acknowledgment made in a
will provides for another all-important legal safeguard against spurious wills
or those made beyond the free consent of the testator. An acknowledgement
is not an empty meaningless act. The acknowledgment coerces the testator
and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that
they had executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed.
Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury, thus allowing for
the criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of
spurious wills, or those executed without the free consent of the testator. It
also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is of certain
mindset in making the testamentary dispositions to those persons he/she
had designated in the will.

It may not have been said before, but we can assert the rule, self-
evident as it is under Article 806. A notarial will that is not acknowledged
before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective,
even if it is subscribed and sworn to before a notary public.

There are two other requirements under Article 805 which were not
fully satisfied by the will in question. We need not discuss them at length, as
they are no longer material to the disposition of this case. The provision
requires that the testator and the instrumental witnesses sign each and
every page of the will on the left margin, except the last; and that all the
pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of
each page. In this case, the decedent, unlike the witnesses, failed to sign
both pages of the will on the left margin, her only signature appearing at the
so-called "logical end" of the will on its first page. Also, the will itself is not
numbered correlatively in letters on each page, but instead numbered with
Arabic numerals. There is a line of thought that has disabused the notion that
these two requirements be construed as mandatory. Taken in isolation, these
omissions, by themselves, may not be sufficient to deny probate to a will. Yet
even as these omissions are not decisive to the adjudication of this case,
they need not be dwelt on, though indicative as they may be of a general
121

lack of due regard for the requirements under Article 805 by whoever
executed the will.

G.R. NO. 139868 JUNE 8, 2006

ALONZO Q. ANCHETA, PETITIONER, VS. CANDELARIA GUERSEY-


DALAYGON, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: Spouses Audrey and Richard Guersey (Richard) were American


citizens who have resided in the Philippines for 30 years. They have an
adopted daughter, Kyle Guersey Hill (Kyle).

On July 29, 1979, Audrey died, leaving a will. In it, she bequeathed her
entire estate to Richard. The will was admitted to probate before the
Orphans Court of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A, which named James N. Phillips
as executor due to Richards renunciation of his appointment. The court also
named Atty. Alonzo Q. Ancheta (petitioner) of the Quasha Asperilla Ancheta
Pena & Nolasco Law Offices as ancillary administrator.

In 1981, Richard married Candelaria Guersey-Dalaygon (respondent)


with whom he has two children.
On October 12, 1982, Audreys will was also admitted to probate by
the then Court of First Instance of Rizal. As administrator of Audreys estate
in the Philippines, petitioner filed an inventory and appraisal of the following
properties: (1) Audreys conjugal share in real estate with improvements
(Makati property); (2) a current account in Audreys name with a cash
balance of P12,417.97; and (3) 64,444 shares of stock in A/G Interiors, Inc.
worth P64,444.00.

On July 20, 1984, Richard died, leaving a will, wherein he bequeathed


his entire estate to respondent, save for his rights and interests over the A/G
Interiors, Inc. shares, which he left to Kyle. The will was also admitted to
probate by the Orphans Court of Ann Arundel, Maryland, U.S.A, and James N.
Phillips was likewise appointed as executor, who in turn, designated Atty.
William Quasha or any member of the Quasha Asperilla Ancheta Pena &
Nolasco Law Offices, as ancillary administrator.

Richards will was then submitted for probate before the Regional Trial
Court of Makati, Branch 138, docketed as Special Proceeding No. M-888.

On October 19, 1987, petitioner filed in Special Proceeding No. 9625, a


motion to declare Richard and Kyle as heirs of Audrey. Petitioner also filed on
October 23, 1987, a project of partition of Audreys estate, with Richard
being apportioned the undivided interest and Kyle, the undivided
interest in the Makati property.

The motion and project of partition was granted and approved by the
trial court in its Order dated February 12, 1988.The trial court also issued an
Order on April 7, 1988, directing the Register of Deeds of Makati to cancel
TCT No. 69792 in the name of Richard and to issue a new title in the joint
names of the Estate of W. Richard Guersey ( undivided interest) and Kyle
( undivided interest);
122

On October 20, 1993, respondent filed with the CA for the annulment
of the trial courts Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, issued
in Special Proceeding No. 9625. Respondent contended that petitioner
willfully breached his fiduciary duty when he disregarded the laws of the
State of Maryland on the distribution of Audreys estate in accordance with
her will. Respondent argued that since Audrey devised her entire estate to
Richard, then the Makati property should be wholly adjudicated to him, and
not merely thereof, and since Richard left his entire estate, except for his
rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc., to respondent, then the
entire Makati property should now pertain to respondent.

Petitioner filed his Answer denying respondents allegations. Petitioner


contended that he acted in good faith in submitting the project of partition
before the trial court in Special Proceeding No. 9625, as he had no
knowledge of the State of Marylands laws on testate and intestate
succession. Petitioner alleged that he believed that it is to the "best interests
of the surviving children that Philippine law be applied as they would receive
their just shares." Petitioner also alleged that the orders sought to be
annulled are already final and executory, and cannot be set aside.

CA rendered the assailed Decision annulling the trial courts Orders


dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, in Special Proceeding No. 9625.
Hence this present petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the orders of 12 february 1988 and 07 april 1988 in
special proceedings no. 9625 are valid and binding and have long become
final and have been fully implemented and executed and can no longer be
annulled. NO

Whether or not the ancillary administrator having acted in good faith, did not
commit fraud, either extrinsic or intrinsic, in the performance of his duties as
ancillary administrator of audrey oneil guerseys estate in the philippines.
NO

RULING:

(1) A decree of distribution of the estate of a deceased person vests


the title to the land of the estate in the distributees, which, if erroneous may
be corrected by a timely appeal. Once it becomes final, its binding effect is
like any other judgment in rem. However, in exceptional cases, a final decree
of distribution of the estate may be set aside for lack of jurisdiction or fraud.

The petition for annulment was filed before the CA on October 20,
1993, before the issuance of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; hence, the
applicable law is Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (B.P. 129) or the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980. An annulment of judgment filed under B.P. 129
may be based on the ground that a judgment is void for want of jurisdiction
or that the judgment was obtained by extrinsic fraud. For fraud to become a
basis for annulment of judgment, it has to be extrinsic or actual, and must be
brought within four years from the discovery of the fraud.

In the present case, respondent alleged extrinsic fraud as basis for the
annulment of the RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988. The
CA found merit in respondents cause and found that petitioners failure to
follow the terms of Audreys will, despite the latters declaration of good
123

faith, amounted to extrinsic fraud. The CA ruled that under Article 16 of the
Civil Code, it is the national law of the decedent that is applicable, hence,
petitioner should have distributed Aubreys estate in accordance with the
terms of her will. The CA also found that petitioner was prompted to
distribute Audreys estate in accordance with Philippine laws in order to
equally benefit Audrey and Richard Guerseys adopted daughter, Kyle
Guersey Hill.

It should be pointed out that the prescriptive period for annulment of


judgment based on extrinsic fraud commences to run from the discovery of
the fraud or fraudulent act/s. Respondents knowledge of the terms of
Audreys will is immaterial in this case since it is not the fraud complained of.
Rather, it is petitioners failure to introduce in evidence the pertinent law of
the State of Maryland that is the fraudulent act, or in this case, omission,
alleged to have been committed against respondent, and therefore, the four-
year period should be counted from the time of respondents discovery
thereof.

Records bear the fact that the filing of the project of partition of
Richards estate, the opposition thereto, and the order of the trial court
disallowing the project of partition in Special Proceeding No. M-888 were all
done in 1991. Respondent cannot be faulted for letting the assailed orders to
lapse into finality since it was only through Special Proceeding No. M-888
that she came to comprehend the ramifications of petitioners acts.
Obviously, respondent had no other recourse under the circumstances but to
file the annulment case. Since the action for annulment was filed in 1993,
clearly, the same has not yet prescribed.

Fraud takes on different shapes and faces.There is extrinsic fraud


within the meaning of Sec. 9 par. (2), of B.P. Blg. 129, where it is one the
effect of which prevents a party from hearing a trial, or real contest, or from
presenting all of his case to the court, or where it operates upon matters, not
pertaining to the judgment itself, but to the manner in which it was procured
so that there is not a fair submission of the controversy. The overriding
consideration when extrinsic fraud is alleged is that the fraudulent scheme of
the prevailing litigant prevented a party from having his day in court.

Petitioner is the ancillary administrator of Audreys estate. As such, he


occupies a position of the highest trust and confidence, and he is required to
exercise reasonable diligence and act in entire good faith in the performance
of that trust. Although he is not a guarantor or insurer of the safety of the
estate nor is he expected to be infallible, yet the same degree of prudence,
care and judgment which a person of a fair average capacity and ability
exercises in similar transactions of his own, serves as the standard by which
his conduct is to be judged.

Petitioners failure to proficiently manage the distribution of Audreys


estate according to the terms of her will and as dictated by the applicable
law amounted to extrinsic fraud. Hence the CA Decision annulling the RTC
Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, must be upheld.

It is undisputed that Audrey Guersey was an American citizen


domiciled in Maryland, U.S.A. During the reprobate of her will in Special
Proceeding No. 9625, it was shown, among others, that at the time of
Audreys death, she was residing in the Philippines but is domiciled in
Maryland, U.S.A.; her Last Will and Testament dated August 18, 1972 was
executed and probated before the Orphans Court in Baltimore, Maryland,
U.S.A., which was duly authenticated and certified by the Register of Wills of
124

Baltimore City and attested by the Chief Judge of said court; the will was
admitted by the Orphans Court of Baltimore City on September 7, 1979; and
the will was authenticated by the Secretary of State of Maryland and the Vice
Consul of the Philippine Embassy.

Being a foreign national, the intrinsic validity of Audreys will,


especially with regard as to who are her heirs, is governed by her national
law, i.e., the law of the State of Maryland, as provided in Article 16 and
Article 1039 of the Civil Code further provides that "capacity to succeed is
governed by the law of the nation of the decedent."

As a corollary rule, Section 4, Rule 77 of the Rules of Court on


Allowance of Will Proved Outside the Philippines and Administration of Estate
Thereunder, states:

SEC. 4. Estate, how administered.When a will is thus allowed, the


court shall grant letters testamentary, or letters of administration with
the will annexed, and such letters testamentary or of administration,
shall extend to all the estate of the testator in the Philippines. Such
estate, after the payment of just debts and expenses of administration,
shall be disposed of according to such will, so far as such will may
operate upon it; and the residue, if any, shall be disposed of as is
provided by law in cases of estates in the Philippines belonging to
persons who are inhabitants of another state or country. (Emphasis
supplied)
While foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our
courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of them; however, petitioner,
as ancillary administrator of Audreys estate, was duty-bound to introduce in
evidence the pertinent law of the State of Maryland.

Petitioner insists that his application of Philippine laws was made in


good faith. The Court cannot accept petitioners protestation. How can
petitioner honestly presume that Philippine laws apply when as early as the
reprobate of Audreys will before the trial court in 1982, it was already
brought to fore that Audrey was a U.S. citizen, domiciled in the State of
Maryland. As asserted by respondent, petitioner is a senior partner in a
prestigious law firm, with a "big legal staff and a large library." He had all the
legal resources to determine the applicable law. It was incumbent upon him
to exercise his functions as ancillary administrator with reasonable diligence,
and to discharge the trust reposed on him faithfully. Unfortunately, petitioner
failed to perform his fiduciary duties.

The records reveal, however, that no clear effort was made to prove
the national law of Audrey O'Neill guersey during the proceeding before the
court a quo. Moreover, whether his omission was intentional or not, the fact
remains that the trial court failed to consider said law when it issued the
assailed RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, declaring
Richard and Kyle as Audreys heirs, and distributing Audreys estate
according to the project of partition submitted by petitioner. This eventually
prejudiced respondent and deprived her of her full successional right to the
Makati property.

The CA aptly noted that petitioner was remiss in his responsibilities as


ancillary administrator of Audreys estate. The CA likewise observed that the
distribution made by petitioner was prompted by his concern over Kyle,
whom petitioner believed should equally benefit from the Makati property.
125

Well-intentioned though it may be, defendant Alonzo H. Anchetas


action appears to have breached his duties and responsibilities as ancillary
administrator of the subject estate. While such breach of duty admittedly
cannot be considered extrinsic fraud under ordinary circumstances, the
fiduciary nature of the said defendants position, as well as the resultant
frustration of the decedents last will, combine to create a circumstance that
is tantamount to extrinsic fraud. Defendant Alonzo H. Anchetas omission to
prove the national laws of the decedent and to follow the latters last will, in
sum, resulted in the procurement of the subject orders without a fair
submission of the real issues involved in the case.

Before concluding, the Court notes the fact that Audrey and Richard
Guersey were American citizens who owned real property in the Philippines,
although records do not show when and how the Guerseys acquired the
Makati property.

Under Article XII, Sections 7 and 8 of the 1986 Constitution explicitly


prohibits non-Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to private lands or to
lands of the public domain, except only by way of legal succession or if the
acquisition was made by a former natural-born citizen.

In any case, the Court has also ruled that if land is invalidly transferred
to an alien who subsequently becomes a citizen or transfers it to a citizen,
the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and the title of the
transferee is rendered valid. In this case, since the Makati property had
already passed on to respondent who is a Filipino, then whatever flaw, if any,
that attended the acquisition by the Guerseys of the Makati property is now
inconsequential, as the objective of the constitutional provision to keep our
lands in Filipino hands has been achieved

TOPIC: 2.3 LETTERS TESTAMENTARY AND OF


ADMINITSRATION (RULES 78-79)
126

G.R. NO. L-17633 OCTOBER 19, 1966

CIRILO LIM, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, VS. BASILISA DIAZ-


MILLAREZ, OPPOSITOR-APPELLEE.

FACTS: Cirilo Lim, claiming to be a nephew of the late Jose Millarez who died
intestate on October 22, 1953, filed with the Court of First Instance of Negros
Occidental a petition for his appointment as judicial administrator of the
estate of the deceased. The petition alleged that the deceased left no
relatives.

To the said petition, Basilisa Diaz-Millarez, claiming to be a widow of


the late Jose Millarez, filed an opposition on two grounds: that the petitioner
has an adverse interest in the estate; and that the properties of the estate
are the subject matter of a litigation between her as plaintiff and Cirilo Lim as
defendant in civil case.

The civil case between the parties which was also elevated to the
Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. 24561-R) was decided on February 18, 1965. From
the body of the decision, it appears that Basilisa Diaz-Millarez sought to
recover from Cirilo Lim one-half of the total amount of P22,000 allegedly
delivered to him by her and the deceased Jose Millarez on various occasions
and to declare her as the owner of of the profits and gains derived
therefrom, on the ground that Jose Millarez and she used to live as husband
and wife for about 23 years and as such she is entitled to of the property
held in common by them. She asserted further that since she contributed
capital and labor to the tobacco business in which she and the deceased
were engaged and from which they gave P22,000 in cash to Cirilo Lim, she
would be entitled to of the capital and of the proceeds and profits
derived from such capital. In answer, Cirilo Lim alleged that the money he
received from Jose Millarez on various occasions was handed to one Tan
Suaco for investment in the tobacco business.

ISSUE: Whether or not Cirilo Lim may be appointed as an administrator of


the estate of the deceased Jose Millarez?

RULING: NO.

From what appears above, the claim which Basilisa has against Cirilo in
the civil case supposed to be now again pending in the trial court, is based
on her declared right to one-half of the estate of the deceased. It cannot,
therefore, be denied that Cirilo Lim, as a relative of the deceased, has some
interest adverse to that of Basilisa. Shown to have some liabilities to Basilisa
and to the estate as a whole, Cirilo can not compatibly perform the duties of
an administrator. In this jurisdiction, one is considered to be unsuitable for
appointment as administrator when he has adverse interest of some kind or
hostility to those immediately interested in the estate. (Sioca v. Garcia, 44
Phil. 711; Arevalo v. Bustamante, 69 Phil. 656).

The determination of a person's suitability for the office of judicial


administrator rests, to a great extent, in the sound judgment of the court
127

exercising the power of appointment and said judgment is not to be


interfered with on appeal unless the said court is clearly in error. (Sioca v.
Garcia, supra).

G.R. NO. L-34760 SEPTEMBER 28, 1973

SERAFIN MEDINA AND ROSALIA M. DEL CARMEN, ASSISTED BY


DOMINADOR DEL CARMEN, PETITIONERS, VS. THE HONORABLE
COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF ZAMBALES AND BEDA
GONZALES, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: From the papers submitted with the petition, it appears that as
noted by respondent court of first instance of Zambales, presided by Judge
Augusto M. Amores in an order dated March 6, 1970, wherein it approved
and confirmed the deed of sale executed on May 8, 1969 by then special
administrator Demetrio Encarnacion of the intestate estate of the decedent
Agustin Medina covering the sale of its property known as "Bitukang Manok"
for P24,000.00 to petitioner Rosalia M. del Carmen, a daughter-heir of the
decedent, the said intestate proceedings have "already lasted for over ten
(10) years now contrary to the spirit of the law in the settlement of estates
the most expeditious way", and the said court expressed its "desire ... to
terminate the proceedings once and for all."

Respondent lower court, through its said order, overruled the


opposition of therein oppositor-heir Uldarico S. Medina and of assignee Beda
J. Gonzales, private respondent herein, who claimed therein "to have an
interest over the estate on the ground that certain heirs have already sold
their shares and/or interest over the same in his favor" as being "without
merit." It found Uldarico's interest as "confined solely to his desire to partake
of whatever share he has in the estate in the same way with that of the rest
of the heirs." It further held that respondent Beda J. Gonzales "could not ...
claim a better right over that of the herein vendee Rosalia Medina del
Carmen in the deed of sale because the said Beda J. Gonzales is merely
subrogated, if at all, to the interests of the heirs concerned who according to
the records, have received more benefits from the estate even before its
distribution as against that of the vendee, who according to the records has
never received anything yet from the estate."

In the same order, upon "suggestion and agreement of the parties"


which the lower court "considered to be well taken for the speedy
termination of the instant proceedings," it designated its clerk of court, Atty.
Pastor de Castro, Jr. as "special administrator and to qualify immediately as
such in lieu of special administrator Demetrio Encarnacion."

No regular administrator to settle the estate once and for all appears
to have ever been appointed by respondent lower court during the period of
over thirteen years that the estate has been pending settlement.

Respondent Gonzales appealed respondent court's order of approval


and confirmation of the sale of the "Bitukang Manok" property as an
interested party-assignee opposed to the sale executed by the estate of the
deceased Agustin Medina through its then special administrator Demetrio
128

Encarnacion, later replaced by the clerk of court, Atty. Pastor de Castro, Jr., as
above stated, on his assertion that he had bought the rights of the other
heirs of the estate those of a majority of the heirs, according to his answer
at bar. The appeal is now pending in the Court of Appeals.

Almost a year later, in an order dated February 11, 1971, acting on the
motion dated October 5, 1970 of respondent Gonzales for appointment as
regular administrator of the estate, respondent lower court appointed him
"not as a regular administrator but only as special administrator for the
intestate estate of the deceased Agustin Medina" and he qualified as such
upon posting of the bond fixed in the amount of P5,000.00 and replaced
"judicial administrator Pastor de Castro, Jr."

An urgent motion dated March 22, 1971 to revoke Gonzales'


appointment as special administrator on the ground that "by said order,
Beda Gonzales is now assuming the inconsistent positions of administering
the estate especially the Bitukang Manok property and at the same
time appealing from the order approving the sale of that property only for
the purpose of enabling himself to buy and acquire that property to the loss
and prejudice of the estate contrary to law" was denied by respondent lower
court in its order dated July 21, 1971.

In the same order of July 21, 1971, said court also rejected the
petitioner Rosalia's petition dated May 5, 1971, for the appointment of a
regular administrator as "very urgent and necessary" and proposing that co-
petitioner Serafin Medina, as heir and son and next of kin of the decedent,
who has no adverse interests in his favor and against the estate and is a
qualified and competent resident of Olongapo City.

ISSUE: Whether or not the appointment of respondent Gonzales as a special


administration is valid?

RULING: NO.

With specific reference to the Bitukang Manok property as sold by the


estate through Gonzales' predecessor as special administrator and confirmed
by the lower court, the same has passed to petitioner Rosalia's ownership
and possession since the court's confirmation of the sale on March 6,
1970 and the estate makes no further claim against the same but on the
contrary has defended the sale and Rosalia's title thereto as the vendee
thereof as against Gonzales' adverse opposition in the appeal brought by
Gonzales in his personal capacity. Yet now, as complained of by Rosalia,
Gonzales by virtue of his appointment, as special administrator a year
later seeks in such other capacity to interfere with her in the harvests of the
property purportedly on behalf of the estate when in fact he is
going against the official stand of the estate which upholds the sale.

It is readily seen thereby that Gonzales has been placed in an unduly


favored position where he may use his position as special administrator to
favor his personal interests as one interested in the purchase of the property
for himself, although he denies obliquely in his brief such personal interest
with the statement that "there is no evidence or pleading of record that (he)
is interested in the acquisition for himself of the Bitukang Manok property ...
and it is a matter of record that having acquired the rights and interests of
the majority of the heirs, he had stepped into the shoes of such heirs, hence,
129

his concern and interest to protect the estate, as special administrator"


which is to say, to protect his claimed majority interest in the estate, hence
his insistence on opposing the sale.

Grave prejudice may thus be inflicted by him on petitioner Rosalia's as


an heir as well as the other heirs such as petitioner Serafin Medina because
of the further delay (13 years now) in their receiving their distributive shares
of their father's estate (as against their co-heirs who have sold and assigned
their rights and shares in the estate to Gonzales) as well as to Rosalia
as buyer because of Gonzales' interference with her enjoyment of the
property paid for in full by her since 1970.

Hence, the established doctrine that an administrator is deemed


unsuitable and should be removed where his personal interests conflict with
his official duties, by virtue of the equally established principle that an
administrator is a quasi trustee, disqualified from acquiring properties of the
estate, and who should be indifferent between the estate and claimants of
the property except to preserve it for due administration, and who should be
removed when his interest conflicts with such right and duly.

As restated by the Court in Lim vs. Dias-Millares, "(I)n this jurisdiction,


one is considered to be unsuitable for appointment as administrator when he
has adverse interest of some kind of hostility to those immediately interested
in the estate.".

On this consideration (the replacement of the clerk of court) and on the


further consideration of the specific and limited powers of special
administrators and that their appointment merely temporary and subsists
only until a regular administrator is duly appointed (since Rule 80, section 1
provides for the appointment of a special administrator as a caretaker only
"when there is delay in granting letters testamentary or of administration by
any cause") 15 the Court has resolved to allow the appointment of
respondent Gonzales as special administrator to stand, insofar as taking care
of the other properties of the estate are concerned, to the exclusion of the
Bitukang Manok property already sold by the estate to petitioner Rosalia del
Carmen.

As in the cited jurisprudence, therefore, respondent lower court is


directed to name a suitable person or entity, who is competent and qualified
and doesnot suffer from any proscribed conflict of interest, (and preferably
upon the common agreement of the heirs, to avoid any further bickerings)
as regular administrator charged with the task of accomplishing and
terminating the administration of the estate with the utmost reasonable
dispatch, with a view to an early distribution of the net estate among the
heirs and persons entitled thereto.

G.R. NO. 129505 JANUARY 31, 2000

OCTAVIO S. MALOLES II, PETITIONER, VS. PACITA DE LOS


REYES PHILLIPS, RESPONDENT .
130

FACTS: On July 20, 1995, Dr. Arturo de Santos, Filipino and a resident of
Makati City, filed a petition for probate of his will in the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 61, Makati. In his petition, Dr. De Santos alleged that he had no
compulsory heirs; that he had named in his will as sole legatee and devisee
the Arturo de Santos Foundation, Inc.; that he disposed by his will his
properties with an approximate value of not less than P2,000,000.00; and
that copies of said will were in the custody of the named executrix, private
respondent Pacita de los Reyes Phillips.

Shortly after the probate of his will, Dr. De Santos died on February 26,
1996.

On April 3, 1996, petitioner Octavio S. Maloles II filed a motion for


intervention claiming that, as the only child of Alicia de Santos (testator's
sister) and Octavio L. Maloles, Sr., he was the sole full-blooded nephew and
nearest of kin of Dr. De Santos. He likewise alleged that he was a creditor of
the testator. Petitioner thus prayed for the reconsideration of the order
allowing the will and the issuance of letters of administration in his name.

On the other hand, private respondent Pacita de los Reyes Phillips, the
designated executrix of the will, filed a motion for the issuance of letters
testamentary with Branch 61. Later, however, private respondent moved to
withdraw her motion. This was granted, while petitioner was required to file a
memorandum of authorities in support of his claim that said court (Branch
61) still had jurisdiction to allow his intervention.

Petitioner filed his memorandum of authorities on May 13, 1996. On


the other hand, private respondent, who earlier withdrew her motion for the
issuance of letters testamentary in Branch 61, refiled a petition for the same
purpose with the Regional Trial Court, Makati, which was docketed as Sp.
Proc. No. M-4343 and assigned to Branch 65.

Upon private respondent's motion, Judge Salvador Abad Santos of


Branch 65 issued an order appointing her as special administrator of Dr. De
Santos's estate.

On July 29, 1996, petitioner sought to intervene in Sp. Proc. No. M-4343
and to set aside the appointment of private respondent as special
administrator. He reiterated that he was the sole and full blooded nephew
and nearest of kin of the testator.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioner, being a creditor of the late Dr. Arturo
de Santos, has a right to intervene and oppose the petition for issuance of
letters testamentary filed by the respondent.

RULING: NO.

Rule 79, Section 1 provides:

Opposition to issuance of letters testamentary. Simultaneous petition


for administration. Any person interested in a will may state in
writing the grounds why letters testamentary should not issue to the
persons named therein as executors, or any of them, and the court,
after hearing upon notice, shall pass upon the sufficiency of such
131

grounds. A petition may, at the same time, be filed for letters of


administration with the will annexed.

Under this provision, it has been held that an "interested person" is


one who would be benefited by the estate, such as an heir, or one who has a
claim against the estate, such as a creditor, and whose interest is material
and direct, not merely incidental or contingent.

Even if petitioner is the nearest next of kin of Dr. De Santos, he cannot


be considered an "heir" of the testator. It is a fundamental rule of
testamentary succession that one who has no compulsory or forced heirs
may dispose of his entire estate by will. Thus, Art. 842 of the Civil Code
provides:

One who has no compulsory heirs may dispose by will of all his estate
or any part of it in favor of any person having capacity to succeed.

One who has compulsory heirs may dispose of his estate provided he
does not contravene the provisions of this Code with regard to the legitimate
of said heirs.

Compulsory heirs are limited to the testator's

(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their


legitimate parents and ascendants;

(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with


respect to their legitimate children and descendants;

(3) The widow or widower;

(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal


fiction;

(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 of the Civil


Code.

Petitioner, as nephew of the testator, is not a compulsory heir who may


have been preterited in the testator's will.

Nor does he have any right to intervene in the settlement proceedings


based on his allegation that he is a creditor of the deceased. Since the
testator instituted or named an executor in his will, it is incumbent upon the
Court to respect the desires of the testator.

Only if the appointed executor is incompetent, refuses the trust, or fails


to give bond may the court appoint other persons to administer the
estate. None of these circumstances is present in this case.

G.R. NO. L-6704 MARCH 26, 1956


132

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF MARGARITA


DAVID. CARLOS MORAN SISON, JUDICIAL
ADMINISTRATOR, PETITIONER-APPELLEE. NATIVIDAD SIDECO,
ET AL., CLAIMANTS-APPELLEES, VS. NARCISA F. DE TEODORO,
HEIRESS, OPPOSITOR-APPELLANT.

FACTS: On December 21, 1951, this Court rendered a decision in G. R. No. L-


3846 ordering the Testate Estate of Margarita David to pay the claim of the
Testate Estate of Crispulo Sideco in the sum of P17,010.43, with legal interest
at the rate of 6 per cent per annum from March 11, 1945, until the same is
fully paid.

To falicitate the payment of this claim, Priscilla F. Sison, an heiress of


the estate, delivered to its administrator the amount of P12,128.44 to cover
the payment of her one half share in the Sideco claim. The other heiress,
herein Appellant Narcisa F. Teodoro, was unwilling to do the same,
contending that the Estate has real properties which could be sold and with
its proceeds pay the Sideco claim; hence, on January 23, 1952, the
administrator filed a petition with the lower court to compel Narcisa F.
Teodoro to deliver to him her share in the payment of the aforementioned
Sideco claim.

While this motion was pending hearing because of the opposition


thereto filed by Appellant, on March 5, 1952, the Co-Administratrix of the
Estate of Crispulo Sideco filed a petition in the Court of First Instance of
Manila to secure an order directing the Administrator of the Testate Estate of
Margarita David to pay the aforementioned claim of P17,010.43 plus the
legal interest accrued thereon.

ISSUE: Whether or not an executor or judicial administrator is entitled to


charge an expense of administration the premiums paid on his bond.

RULING: NO.

We agree with the view of the lower court that the residuary funds in
the hands of the heiresses of this estate should be applied to the payment of
the Sideco claim, for it is more advantageous to use that fund to pay the
claim in question than selling the real properties of the estate for that
purpose. Besides, section 3 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court provides:

The personal estate of the deceased shall be first chargeable with the
payment of debts and expenses and if the personal estate is not
sufficient for that purpose, or its sale would redound to the detriment
of the participants in the estate, the whole of the real estate, or so
much thereof as is necessary, may be sold, mortgaged, or otherwise
encumbered for that purpose by the executor or administrator, after
obtaining the authority of the court therefor.

And according to section 6 of Rule 89, the Court has authority to fix the
contributive shares of the devisees, legatees or heirs for the payment of a
claim if they have entered into possession of portions of the estate before
the debts and expenses thereof have been settled and
paid. Appellant argues, however, that section 3 of Rule 89, Rules of Court, is
133

not applicable to the instant case on the ground that it refers to the personal
and real properties of the deceased which are in the hands of the
administrator, and not to the properties of the estate which are already in
the hands of the heiresses. This contention is likewise untenable. The
residuary funds in the hands of the Appellant are funds of the estate and the
Court has jurisdiction over them and, therefore, it could compel
the Appellant to deliver to the administrator of this estate the necessary
portion of such fund for the payment of the Sideco claim.

G.R. NO. 26751 JANUARY 31, 1969

JOSE S. MATUTE, PETITIONER, VS. THE COURT OF APPEALS


(THIRD DIVISION) AND MATIAS S. MATUTE, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: On August 20, 1965 when Carlos S. Matute, one of the Matute heirs
and a full-blood brother of both the petitioner and the herein respondent
Matias S. Matute, filed in Special Proceeding (settlement of the Matute
estate) a petition praying for the removal of Matias as co-administrator and
his appointment in such capacity.

Carlos alleged that for a period of more than two years from the date
of his appointment, said Matias S. Matute has neglected to render a true, just
and complete account of his administration and that he is not only
incompetent but also negligent in his management of the estate under his
charge consisting of five haciendas.

The respondent Matias opposed the allegation that it is completely


without basis and false. Records show that he made an accounting and the
same was submitted to the court. That his competence to act as
administrator has been established to the satisfaction of the court.

It appears that during the reception of evidence conducted on


December 29, 1965 by the probate court, Carlos S. Matute and the other
heirs submitted their respective lists of exhibits in support of their motion to
ousts Matias. On January 8, 1966 Matias filed a written objection to the
admission of the movants exhibits on the ground that the same were
hearsay, self-serving, irrelevant and/or mere photostatic copies of supposed
originals which never properly identified nor shown in court. four days later,
the Counsel for Matias filed with leave of Court a Motion to Dismiss and/or
Demurrer to Evidence which avers that there is no sufficient evidence on
record to justify and support the motions for the removal of the herein co-
administrator Matias S. Matute.

The probate court issued an order removing Matias S. Matute as co-


administrator. Hence, the certiorari. The respondent contends that the
disputed order removing him as co-administrator is a patent nullity. Upon the
other hand, the petitioner advances the reason in support of the order
of removal that the probate judge accorded the respondent all the
opportunity to adduce his evidence but the latter resorted to dilatory tactics
such as filing a motion to dismiss or demurrer to evidence.
134

ISSUE: Whether or not the removal of the respondent as co-administrator


valid?

RULING: NO.

In fine, the pith of the controversy is the right to co-administer the


entire estate. In this regard, the ruling in Fernandez, et al. vs. Maravilla is
determinative of the jurisdictional issue posed here. In said case, this Court
ruled that in a contest for the administration of an estate, the amount
incontroversy is deemed to be the value of the whole estate, which total
value should be the proper basis of the jurisdictional amount. Consequently
the Court proceeded to conclude that the Court of Appeals does not have
jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari and preliminary injunction prayed for in
a petition concerning a conflict over administration arising as an incident in
the main probate or settlement proceeding if in the first place the principal
case or proceeding falls outside its appelate jurisdiction considering the total
value of the subject estate.

The settled rule is that the removal of an administrator under section 2


of Rule 82 lies within the discretion of the court appointing him. As aptly
expressed in one case, "The sufficiency of any ground for removal should
thus be determined by the said court, whose sensibilities are, in the first
place, affected by any act or omission on the part of the administrator not
conformable to or in disregard of the rules or the orders of the court."
Consequently, appellate tribunals are disinclined to interfere with the action
taken by a probate court in the matter of the removal of an executor or
administrator unless positive error or gross abuse of discretion is shown.

In the case at bar, we are constrained, however to nullify the disputed


order of removal because it is indubitable that the probate judge ousted the
respondent from his trust without affording him the full benefit of a day in
court, thus denying him his cardinal right to due process.

It appears that shortly after the reception of evidence for the movants
Carlos Matute and the Candelario-Matute heirs, the respondent filed on
January 8, 1966a verified objection to the admission in evidence of the
movants' exhibits on the ground that the same were hearsay, self-serving,
irrelevant and/or mere photostatic copies of supposed originals which were
never properly identified nor produced in court. Four days later, or on January
12, 1966, the respondent filed with leave of court a "Motion to Dismiss
and/or Demurrer to Evidence".

Instead of resolving the foregoing motion, the probate judge issued the
controverted order removing the respondent as co-administrator without
giving him the opportunity to adduce his own evidence despite his explicit
reservation that he be afforded the chance to introduce evidence in his
behalf in the event of denial of his motion to dismiss and/or demurrer to
evidence. We are of the view that the above actuation of the probate judge
constituted grave abuse of discretion which dooms his improvident order as
a nullity. In fact, even without the respondent's reservation, it was the
bounden duty of the probate judge to schedule the presentation and
reception of the respondent's evidence before disposing of the case on the
merits because only the movants at that time had presented their evidence.
This duty is projected into bolder relief if we consider, which we must, that
the aforesaid motion is in form as well as in substance a demurrer to
135

evidence allowed by Rule 35, by virtue of which the defendant does not lose
his right to offer evidence in the event that his motion is denied.

The application of the abovecited Rule in special proceedings, like the


case at bar, is authorized by section 2 of Rule 72 which direct that in the
"absence of special provisions, the rules provided for in ordinary civil actions
shall be, as far as practicable, applicable in special proceedings."

But what is patently censurable is the actuation of the probate judge in


removing the respondent, not on the strength of the evidence adduced by
the movants (not a single exhibit or document introduced by the movants
was specifically cited in the disputed order as a justification of the
respondent's ouster), but on the basis of his (judge's) findings, which
he motu propio gleaned from the records of special proceeding 25876,
without affording the respondent an opportunity to controvert said findings
or in the very least to explain why he should not be removed on the basis
thereof.

G.R. NO. L-42088 MAY 7, 1976

ALFREDO G. BALUYUT, PETITIONER, VS. HON. ERNANI CRUZ


PAO, ENCARNACION LOPEZ VDA. DE BALUYUT, JOSE ESPINO
AND CORAZON ESPINO, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Sotero Baluyut died in Manila on January 6, 1975 at the age of


eighty-six, leaving an estate allegedly valued at not less than two million
pesos.
A few weeks later, his nephew, Alfredo G. Baluyut, filed in the Court of
First Instance of Quezon City a verified petition for letters of administration.
He alleged that the deceased was survived by his widow, Encarnacion Lopez,
who was mentally incapable of acting as administratrix of the decedent's
estate. Alfredo surmised that the decedent had executed a will. He prayed
that he be appointed regular administrator and in the meantime as special
administrator.

The lower court in its order appointed Alfredo G. Baluyut as special


administrator with a bond of P100,000.

Mrs. Baluyut in her verified opposition alleged that she was unaware
that her deceased husband executed a will. She characterized as libelous the
allegation as to her mental incapacity. She prayed that she be named
administratrix and that the appointment of Alfredo G. Baluyut as special
administrator be set aside.

The lower court in its order cancelled Baluyut's appointment as special


administrator. In that same order the lower court noted that after asking Mrs.
Baluyut a series of questions while on the witness stand, it found that she "is
healthy and mentally qualified".

Alfredo G. Baluyut moved for the reconsideration of that order. Acting


on that motion, the lower court in its order of March 31, 1975 appointed
Baluyut and Jose Espino as special administrators.
136

Mrs. Baluyut in her verified amended opposition of September 2, 1975


asked that Espino, former governor of Nueva Vizcaya and an alleged
acknowledged natural child of Sotero Baluyut, be appointed administrator
should she not be named administratrix.

The probate court in its order terminated the appointments of Espino


and Alfredo G. Baluyut as special administrators and appointed Mrs. Baluyut
as regular administratrix with a bond of P20,000. The order was based on the
fact that as surviving spouse she has a preferential right to be appointed as
administratrix of her deceased husband's estate and that she is entitled to
three-fourths of the conjugal estate: one-half in her own right and one-fourth
as heir of the deceased. The lower court said it was convinced of the widow's
capacity and that her "sufficient understanding" justified her appointment.

ISSUE: Whether or not the appointment of Mrs. Baluyut as regular


administratrix is valid?

RULING: NO.

We hold that while the probate court correctly assumed that Mrs.
Baluyut as surviving spouse enjoys preference in the granting of letters of
administration (Sec. 6[a), Rule 78, Rules of Court), it does not follow that she
should be named administratrix without conducting a full-dress hearing on
her competency to discharge that trust.

Even the directive of the testator in his will designating that a certain
person should act as executor is not binding on the probate court and does
not automatically entitle him to the issuance of letters testamentary. A
hearing has to be held in order to ascertain his fitness to act as executor. He
might have been fit to act as executor when the will was executed but
supervening circumstances might have rendered him unfit for that position.

Thus, it was held that a hearing is necessary in order to determine the


suitability of the person to be appointed administrator by giving him the
opportunity to prove his qualifications and affording oppositors a chance to
contest the petition (Matute vs. Court of Appeals, L-26106, January 31, 1969,
26 SCRA 768, 791).

In this case the probate court briefly and perfunctorily interrogated


Mrs. Baluyut in order to satisfy itself on her mental capacity. The court did
not give Alfredo G. Baluyut a chance to contest her qualifications. He had
squarely raised the issue as to her competency. The probate court assumed
that

Alfredo G. Baluyut had no interest in the decedent's estate. As it now


turned out, he is one of the legatees named in the decedent's alleged will.

Moreover, it is necessary to convert the proceeding in the lower court


into a testamentary proceeding. The probate of the will cannot be dispensed
with and is a matter of public policy (Art. 838, Civil Code; See. 1, Rule 75,
Rules of Court; Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phil. 479 and 98 Phil. 249).

After the will is probated, the prior letters of administration should be


revoked and proceedings for the issuance of letters testamentary or of
administration under the will should be conducted (Sec. 1, Rule 82, Rules of
137

Court; Cartajena vs. Lijauco and Zaballa, 38 Phil. 620; Rodriguez vs. De Borja,
L-21993, 64 O.G. 754, 17 SCRA 418).

G.R. NO. 18754 SEPTEMBER 26, 1922

GUILLERMA CAPISTRANO, ET AL., PETITIONERS-


APPELLEES, VS. LEON NADURATA, ET AL., OPPONENTS-
APPELLANTS.

FACTS: Appellees filed an application for the appointment of Justo Buera as


administrator of the estate of Petra delos Santos, however, it was opposed
by the appellants Pedro and Juan delos Santos who prayed that the first of
them be appointed administrator. Leon Nadurata intervened, asserting to be
the surviving spouse of the intestate Petra delos Santos and praying that the
letters of administration be issued to him.

The court appointed Justo Buera as special administrator and declared


Leon Nadurata as not the surviving spouse of Petra delos Santos and further
declared opponents Pedro delos Santos and Juan delos Santos as not the
deceased nearest relatives who alleged to be the latter's brothers, but
applicants Capistrano as her true brothers by the same mother.

ISSUE: Whether or not Leon Justo Buera should be appointed as special


administrator. Premature.

RULING: The selection of an administrator of the estate of a deceased lies


within the discretion of the court (sec. 642, subsec. 1, Code of Civil
Procedure). And the record does not contain anything tending to show an
abuse of discretion on the part of the lower court. On the contrary, the act of
the lower court in overruling the objection of the opponents and confirming
the appointment as administrator of the person proposed by the applicants is
not only indicative of sound discretion, but is right and just; for the evidence
shows that Leon Nadurata is not surviving spouse of Petra de los Santos, who
died widow and not twice widow, and that the opponents Pedro de los Santos
and Juan de los Santos are not, as they pretend to be, brother of the
aforesaid deceased.

However, the declaration of heirs made by the lower court is


premature, although the evidence sufficiently shows who are entitled to
succeed the deceased. The estate had hardly been judicially opened, and the
proceeding has not as yet reached the stage of distribution of the estate
which must come after the inheritance is liquidated (sec. 753, Code of Civil
Procedure).
138

G. R. NO. 47098 APRIL 2, 1940

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF RUFINA AREVALO. ARISTON


BUSTAMANTE, ADMINISTRATOR-APPELLANT, VS. PETRONA
AREVALO, ET AL., OPPOSITORS-APPELLEES.

FACTS: Rufina Arevalo executed two wills. In her first will, she gave to her
nephew Ariston certain lots and the building thereon. She further devised a
parcel of land and houses to her cousin, Petrona, and to her niece, Carmen.
Moreover, she disposed in favor of Amando, of a piece of land and her
undivided interest in the two parcels of land and improvements, which
belonged to the conjugal partnership making Amando the residuary legatee.

In her second will, which consists of 2 pages, Rufina designates Ariston


Bustamante as her only heir. Appellees alleged forgery even before seeing
the document.

The Court of First Instance held that it was a forged document, and
allowed an earlier will, whose authenticity was unquestioned. The value of
the estate is over P50,000.

One of the principal reasons of the court for believing Exhibit C to be a


forgery is that in the genuine signatures the terminal stroke of the capital "R"
in "Rufina" is not joined with the letter "u," while in Exhibit C such ending is
united with the letter "u" in the two marginal signatures, although in the
central signature appearing on page 2, the two letters are separated.

The probate court believes that this difference between the marginal
and the central signatures is due to the fact that the forger first used the
check of "La Previsora" (Exhibit I) as the model in falsifying the marginal
signatures, but having been shown another signature with the characteristic
already mentioned separation of the two letters he tried to imitate said
peculiarity in making central signature.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not Exhibit C, presented by appellant for allowance as the


last will and testament of Rufina Arevalo is a forgery;
2. Whether or not the later will (Exhibit C) dated October 2, 1937, whose
probate is herein approved, has entirely revoked the earlier will, Exhibit
6, dated January 9, 1936

RULING: The SC believes that the probate court overlooked the well-
established principle that in passing upon questioned documents, the TEST is
the general character of the writing rather than any minute and precise
comparison of individual letters or lines.
139

There are general characteristics resemblance, coupled with specific


differences, such as naturally result from the infinite variety of conditions
controlling the muscles of the writer at each separate effort in forming his
signature.

There are certain natural variations in the details of the writing.

A careful scrutiny of all the questioned and the standard signatures has
convinced us that they have been written by the same person because they
show the same general type, quality and characteristics, with natural
variations.

Moreover, a forger who has to make two or more signatures usually


sees to it that all the signatures are uniform for fear that any difference
might arouse suspicion. In this case, however, in some questioned signatures
the letters "R" and "u" are separated, but in others, they are united.

As to the second issue, the undivided interest of Rufina Arevalo in two


parcels of land and the improvements thereon which belonged to the
conjugal partnership between Bernabe Bustamante, who had died before the
making of the two wills, and Rufina Arevalo, was expressly devised to
Amando Clemente in the earlier will but was not specifically mentioned in the
later will.

Her undivided interest in the two pieces of land of the conjugal


partnership, devised to Amando Clemente in the earlier will, is not
specifically mentioned in Will 2. Moreover, the second will has no revocation
clause.

At first sight, it would seem that Will 1 can stand with respect to Rufina
Arevalo's share in said two parcels of land belonging to the conjugal
partnership. But a closer examination of Will 2 counter-acts such initial
reaction.

As she had no forcible heirs, she was absolutely free to give her estate
to whomsoever she choose, subject of course to the payment of her debts.
The only function of the courts in these cases is to carry out the intention of
the deceased as manifested in the will. Once that intention has been
determined through a careful reading of the will or wills, and provided the
law on legitimes has not been violated, it is beyond the pale of judicial
cognizance to inquire into the fairness or unfairness of any devise or
bequest.

G.R. NO. 101512 AUGUST 7, 1992

NILDA GABRIEL, EVA GABRIEL, EDGAR GABRIEL, GEORGE


GABRIEL, ROSEMARIE GABRIEL, MARIBEL GABRIEL, CYNTHIA
GABRIEL, RENATO GABRIEL, GERARDO GABRIEL, JOJI ZORAYDA
GABRIEL, DANIEL GABRIEL AND FELICITAS JOSE-GABRIEL,
PETITIONERS, VS. HON COURT OF APPEALS, HON. MANUEL E.
YUZON, JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, BRANCH
XI, AND ROBERTO DINDO GABRIEL, RESPONDENTS.
140

FACTS: Months after Domingo Gabriel died, private respondent Roberto filed
a petition for letters of administration alleging that he is the son of the
decedent and is fully capable of administering the estate of the late Domingo
Gabriel. The probate court issued an order appointing Roberto as
administrator.

A notice to creditors for the filing of claims against the estate was
published. Aida Valencia, mother of Roberto, filed a "Motion to File Claim of
the Intestate Estate of Domingo P. Gabriel" alleging that the decision in a civil
case between her and the deceased remained unsatisfied and that she
thereby had an interest in said estate.

Petitioners filed their "Opposition and Motion" praying for the recall of
the letters of administration issued to Roberto and the issuance of such
letters instead to petitioner Nilda Gabriel, as the legitimate daughter of the
deceased, or any of the other oppositors who are the herein petitioners. They
alleged that (1) they were not duly informed by personal notice of the
petition for administration; (2) petitioner Nilda Gabriel, as the legitimate
daughter, should be preferred over private respondent; (3) private
respondent has a conflicting and/or adverse interest against the estate
because he might prefer the claims of his mother and (4) most of the
properties of the decedent have already been relinquished by way of transfer
of ownership to petitioners and should not be included in the value of the
estate sought to be administered by private respondent.

The probate court issued an order denying the opposition of petitioners


on the ground that (1) no evidence was submitted by oppositor to prove that
she is a legitimate daughter of the deceased; and (2) there is no proof to
show that the person who was appointed administrator is unworthy,
incapacitated or unsuitable to perform the trust as to make his appointment
inadvisable under these circumstances. The motion for reconsideration filed
by petitioners was likewise denied.

The petitioners thereafter filed a special civil action for certiorari before
the CA. The CA rendered judgment dismissing that petition for certiorari on
the ground that the appointment of an administrator is left entirely to the
sound discretion of the trial court which may not be interfered with unless
abused; that the fact that there was no personal notice served on petitioners
is not a denial of due process as such service is not a jurisdictional requisite
and petitioners were heard on their opposition; and that the alleged violation
of the order of preference, if any, is an error of fact or law which is a mistake
of judgment, correctible by appeal and not by the special civil action of
certiorari.

In the petition for review on certiorari, petitioners aver that (1) under
Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court, it is the surviving spouse who is first
in the order of preference for the appointment of an administrator. Petitioner
Felicitas Jose-Gabriel is the widow and legal surviving spouse of the
deceased Domingo Gabriel and should, therefore, be preferred over private
respondent who is one of the illegitimate children of the decedent by
claimant, Aida Valencia. (2) Assuming that the widow is incompetent, the
next of kin must be appointed. As between a legitimate and an illegitimate
child, the former is preferred, hence petitioner Nilda Gabriel, as the
legitimate daughter, must be preferred over private respondent who is an
illegitimate son. (3) The non-observance or violation per se of the order of
preference already constitutes a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
of jurisdiction.
141

ISSUE: Whether or not the appointment of Roberto as administrator of the


estate of Domingo Gabriel should be revoked.

RULING: NO. The Supreme Court held that there was no sufficient ground to
revoke the appointment of Roberto but nevertheless appointed Felicitas as
co-administrator of the estate.

The principal consideration in the appointment of an administrator is the


interest in said estate of the one sought to be appointed. This is the same
consideration behind the order of preference in the appointment of
administrators for the estate. The underlying assumption is that those who
will reap the benefit of a wise, speedy and economical administration of the
estate, or, on the other hand, suffer the consequences of waste,
improvidence or mismanagement, have the highest interest and most
influential motive to administer the estate correctly.

The widow has the right of succession over a portion of the exclusive
property of the decedent, aside from her share in the conjugal partnership.
For such reason, she would have as much, if not more, interest in
administering the entire estate correctly than any other next of kin. On this
ground alone, petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel, the widow of the deceased
Domingo Gabriel, has every right and is very much entitled to the
administration of the estate of her husband since one who has greater
interest in the estate is preferred to another who has less.

While it is true that Section 6(b) of Rule 78 provides that the


preference may be disregarded by the court where said persons neglect to
apply for letters of administration for 30 days after the decedent's death,
such failure is not sufficient to exclude the widow from the administration of
the estate of her husband. There must be a very strong case to justify the
exclusion of the widow from the administration.

In the case at bar, there is no compelling reason sufficient to disqualify


Felicitas Jose-Gabriel from appointment as administratrix of the estate. Just
as the order of preference is not absolute and may be disregarded for valid
cause, so may the 30-day period be likewise waived since the rule merely
provides that said letters, as an alternative, "may be granted to one or more
of the principal creditors."

On the other hand, the appointment of Roberto as administrator should


not be nullified. The determination of a person's suitability as administrator
rests, to a great extent, in the sound judgment of the court exercising the
power of appointment and said judgment is not to be interfered with on
appeal unless the said court is clearly in error. Administrators can only be
removed for just cause. Thus, Section 2 of Rule 82 provides the legal and
specific causes authorizing the probate court to remove an administrator.
While the court has ample discretion in the removal of an administrator, it
must, however, have some fact legally before it in order to justify such
removal. A mere importunity by some of the heirs of the deceased, there
being no factual and substantial bases therefor, is not adequate ratiocination
for the removal of private respondent.

Under the circumstances obtaining herein, we deem it just, equitable


and advisable that there be a co-administration of the estate of the deceased
by petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel and private respondent Roberto Dindo
142

Gabriel. The purpose of having co-administrators is to have the benefit of


their judgment and perhaps at all times to have different interests
represented, especially considering that in this proceeding they will
respectively represent the legitimate and illegitimate groups of heirs to the
estate. Thereby, it may reasonably be expected that all interested persons
will be satisfied, with the representatives working in harmony under the
direction and supervision of the probate court.

The appointment of co-administrators has been upheld for various


reasons, viz: (1) to have the benefit of their judgment and perhaps at all
times to have different interests represented; (2) where justice and equity
demand that opposing parties or factions be represented in the management
of the estate of the deceased; (3) where the estate is large or, from any
cause, an intricate and perplexing one to settle; (4) to have all interested
persons satisfied and the representatives to work in harmony for the best
interests of the estate; and (5) when a person entitled to the administration
of an estate desires to have another competent person associated with him
in the office.

G.R. NOS. L-27860 AND L-27896 MARCH 29, 1974

PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BANK,


ADMINISTRATOR OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF CHARLES
NEWTON HODGES (SP. PROC. NO. 1672 OF THE COURT OF
FIRST INSTANCE OF ILOILO), PETITIONER, VS. THE HONORABLE
VENICIO ESCOLIN, PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF ILOILO, BRANCH II, AND AVELINA A. MAGNO,
RESPONDENTS.

G.R. NOS. L-27936 & L-27937 MARCH 29, 1974

TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE LINNIE JANE HODGES (SP. PROC.


NO. 1307). TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE CHARLES NEWTON
HODGES (SP. PROC. NO. 1672). PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND
INDUSTRIAL BANK, ADMINISTRATOR-APPELLANT, VS. LORENZO
CARLES, JOSE PABLICO, ALFREDO CATEDRAL, SALVADOR
GUZMAN, BELCESAR CAUSING, FLORENIA BARRIDO,
PURIFICACION CORONADO, GRACIANO LUCERO, ARITEO
THOMAS JAMIR, MELQUIADES BATISANAN, PEPITO IYULORES,
ESPERIDION PARTISALA, WINIFREDO ESPADA, ROSARIO
ALINGASA, ADELFA PREMAYLON, SANTIAGO PACAONSIS, AND
AVELINA A. MAGNO, THE LAST AS ADMINISTRATRIX IN SP.
PROC. NO. 1307, APPELLEES, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF
TECHNOLOGY, INC., MOVANT-APPELLEE.

FACTS: Charles Newton Hodges and Linnie Jane Hodges were originally from
Texas, USA. During their marriage, they had acquired and accumulated
considerable assets and properties in the Philippines and in Oklahoma and
Texas in the US. They both lived, worked and were domiciled in Iloilo City for
around 50 years. Before her death, Linnie Jane executed a will leaving her
143

estate, less her debts and funeral expenses, to her husband Charles. Should
Charles die, the will provided that the remainder of her estate go to her
brothers and sisters, share and share alike. Should any of the brothers and
sisters die before the husband, Linnie willed that the heirs of the said sibling
be substituted in the deceaseds siblings place.

When Linnie died, Charles took the will to probate court, and was
appointed Executor, then later, Special Administrator. He moved to be
allowed to continue administering the family business, as per Linnie Janes
wishes, and to engage in sales, conveyances, leases, mortgages and other
necessary transactions. He also filed the necessary and appurtenant
administration/accounting records, and income tax returns for the estate.
Charles named seven brothers and sisters of Linnie Jane as her heirs (Esta,
Emma, Leonard, Aline, David, Sadie, Era and Nimroy), but the order
admitting the will to probate unfortunately omitted one of the heirs, Roy
(Nimroy?) Higdon, so Charles filed a verified motion to have Roys name
included.

As an executor, he was bound to file tax returns for the estate he was
administering under American law. He did file such as estate tax return on
August 8, 1958. In Schedule "M" of such return, he answered "Yes" to the
question as to whether he was contemplating "renouncing the will". On the
question as to what property interests passed to him as the surviving
spouse, he answered:

None, except for purposes of administering the Estate, paying debts, taxes
and other legal charges. It is the intention of the surviving husband of
deceased to distribute the remaining property and interests of the deceased
in their Community estate to the devisees and legatees named in the will
when the debts, liabilities, taxes and expenses of administration are finally
determined and paid.

Charles died in Iloilo in December 1962 without having liquidated


Linnies estate, which includes her share in the conjugal partnership. A
longtime employee of the Hodges, Avelina Magno, was appointed
Administratrix (for Linnies estate) and a Special Administratrix (for Charles).
Magno was appointed, but later Harold Davies (representative of Charles
heirs in the US) was designated Co-Special Administrator, who was then
replaced by one Joe Hodges, Charles nephew. One Atty. Mirasol was also
appointed as co-administrator, and an order of probate and letters of
administration were issued to Hodges and Mirasol.

At this point, the SC was already very much confused about the gaps in
the facts, convinced that the parties representing both estates had cooked
up a modus operandi to settle money matters (a settlement with records the
Court never saw)which, however, went awry, with more and more heirs
from the US flocking to the Iloilo shores, and lawyers (Ozaetas! Mabantas!
Manglapuses!) filing their respective claims for retainer fees. Much much
later, PCIB became the administrator of Charles estate, asserting a claim to
all of his estate, including those properties/assets that passed to him upon
Linnie Janes death. Avelina naturally opposed this, as Linnie Janes other
heirs (the HIGDONS) would be prejudiced, so she continued acting in her
capacity as administrator (entering into sales and other such conveyances).
For these acts, the PCIB dismissed her as an employee of Charles estate, to
which she responded by locking up the premises being used by PCIB as
offices, which were among the estates properties.
144

ISSUE: Whether or not Special Proceeding for settlement of Mrs. Hodges


estate should already be closed, based on the December 1957 court order
allegedly adjudicating Mr. Hodges as sole heirs.

RULING: The parties were in disagreement as to how Article 16 of the Civil


Code should be applied. On the one hand, PCIB claimed that inasmuch as
Linnie was a resident of the Philippines at the time of her death, under said
Article 16, construed in relation to the pertinent laws of Texas and the
principle of renvoi, what should be applied here should be the rules of
succession under the Civil Code, and, therefore, her estate could consist of
no more than one-fourth of the said conjugal properties, the other fourth
being, as already explained, the legitime of her husband (Art. 900) which she
could not have disposed of nor burdened with any condition (Art. 872). On
the other hand, Avelina denied that Linnie died a resident of the Philippines,
since allegedly she never changed nor intended to change her original
residence of birth in Texas, United States of America, and contends that,
anyway, regardless of the question of her residence, she being indisputably a
citizen of Texas, under said Article 16 of the Civil Code, the distribution of her
estate is subject to the laws of said State which, according to her, do not
provide for any legitime, hence, Linnies brothers and sisters are entitled to
the remainder of the whole of her share of the conjugal partnership
properties consisting of one-half thereof. Avelina further maintained that, in
any event, Charles had renounced his rights under the will in favor of his co-
heirs, as allegedly proven by the documents touching on the point already
mentioned earlier, the genuineness and legal significance of which PCIB
questioned.

The Court cannot decide on the claims, though, for neither the
evidence submitted by the parties appeared to be adequate enough for it to
render an intelligent comprehensive and just resolution. No clear and reliable
proof of what in fact the possibly applicable laws of Texas are, was presented
(Remember judicial notice in case of foreign laws?). Then also, the
genuineness of documents relied upon by Avelina is disputed. In Justice,
therefore, to all the parties concerned, these and all other relevant matters
should first be threshed out fully in the trial court in the proceedings
thereafter to be held for the purpose of ascertaining and adjudicating and/or
distributing the estate of Mrs. Hodges to her heirs in accordance with her
duly probated will.

Linnies estate is the remainder of 1/4 of the conjugal partnership


properties, considering that even PCIB did not maintain that the application
of the laws of Texas would result in the other heirs of Mrs. Hodges not
inheriting anything under her will. And since PCIB's representations in regard
to the laws of Texas virtually constitute admissions of fact which the other
parties and the Court are being made to rely and act upon, PCIB is not
permitted to contradict them or subsequently take a position contradictory to
or inconsistent with them.

The only question that remains to be settled in the remand to the court
below are:

(1) whether or not the applicable laws of Texas do provide in effect for more,
such as, when there is no legitime provided therein

(2) whether or not Hodges has validly waived his whole inheritance from Mrs.
Hodges.
145

In the course of the deliberations, it was brought out by some


members of the Court that to avoid or, at least, minimize further protracted
legal controversies between the respective heirs of the Hodges spouses, it is
imperative to elucidate on the possible consequences of dispositions made
by Charles after Linnies death, from the mass of the unpartitioned estates
without any express indication in the pertinent documents as to whether his
intention is to dispose of part of his inheritance from his wife or part of his
own share of the conjugal estate as well as of those made by PCIB after the
death of Hodges. After a long discussion, the consensus arrived at was as
follows:

(1) any such dispositions made gratuitously in favor of third parties,


whether these be individuals, corporations or foundations, shall be
considered as intended to be of properties constituting part of Hodges'
inheritance from his wife, it appearing from the tenor of his motions of
May 27 and December 11, 1957 that in asking for general authority to
make sales or other disposals of properties under the jurisdiction of the
court, which include his own share of the conjugal estate, he was not
invoking particularly his right over his own share, but rather his right to
dispose of any part of his inheritance pursuant to the will of his wife;

(2) as regards sales, exchanges or other remunerative transfers, the


proceeds of such sales or the properties taken in by virtue of such
exchanges, shall be considered as merely the products of "physical
changes" of the properties of her estate which the will expressly
authorizes Hodges to make, provided that whatever of said products
should remain with the estate at the time of the death of Hodges
should go to her brothers and sisters;

(3) The dispositions made by PCIB after the death of Hodges must
naturally be deemed as covering only the properties belonging to his
estate considering that being only the administrator of the estate of
Hodges, PCIB could not have disposed of properties belonging to the
estate of his wife. Neither could such dispositions be considered as
involving conjugal properties, for the simple reason that the conjugal
partnership automatically ceased when Linnie died, and by the peculiar
provision of her will, under discussion, the remainder of her share
descended also automatically upon the death of Hodges to her
brothers and sisters, thus outside of the scope of PCIB's administration.
Accordingly, these constructions of Linnies will should be adhered to
by the trial court in its final order of adjudication and distribution
and/or partition of the two estates in question

G.R. NO. 174689 OCTOBER 22, 2007

ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, PETITIONER, VS.


REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: On November 26, 2002, Silverio field a petition for the change of his
first name Rommel Jacinto to Mely and his sex from male to female in his
birth certificate for reason of his sex reassignment. He alleged that he is a
male transsexual, he is anatomically male but thinks and acts like a female.
146

The court ruled in favor of him, explaining that it is consonance with the
principle of justice and equality.

The Office of the Solicitor General filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of
Appeals alleging that there is no law allowing change of name by reason of
sex alteration. Petitioner filed a reconsideration but was denied.

ISSUE: Whether or not change in name and sex in birth certificate are
allowed by reason of sex reassignment.

RULING: NO.

The court denied the petition.

A change of name is a privilege and not a right. It may be allowed in


cases where the name is ridiculous, tainted with dishonor, or difficult to
pronounce or write; a nickname is habitually used; or if the change will avoid
confusion. The petitioners basis of the change of his name is that he intends
his first name compatible with the sex he thought he transformed himself
into thru surgery. The Court says that his true name does not prejudice him
at all, and no law allows the change of entry in the birth certificate as to sex
on the ground of sex reassignment.

G.R. 133743 FEBRUARY 6, 2007

SAN LUIS, PETITIONER, VS. FELICIDAD SAN


LUIS, RESPONDENT.

G.R. NO. 134029 FEBRUARY 6, 2007

RODOLFO SAN LUIS, PETITIONER, VS. FELICIDAD SAGALONGOS


ALIAS FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: During his lifetime, Felicisimo contracted three marriages. His first
marriage was with Virginia Sulit out of which were born six children, namely:
Rodolfo, Mila, Edgar, Linda, Emilita and Manuel. On August 11, 1963, Virginia
predeceased Felicisimo.

Five years later, Felicisimo married Merry Lee Corwin, with whom he
had a son, Tobias. However, on October 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an American
citizen, filed a Complaint for Divorce before the Family Court of the First
Circuit, State of Hawaii, United States of America (U.S.A.), which issued a
Decree Granting Absolute Divorce and Awarding Child Custody on December
14, 1973. On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent Felicidad San
Luis, then surnamed Sagalongos, before Rev. Fr. William Meyer, Minister of
the United Presbyterian at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California,
U.S.A. He had no children with respondent but lived with her for 18 years
from the time of their marriage up to his death on December 18, 1992.

Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of their conjugal


partnership assets and the settlement of Felicisimos estate. She filed a
petition for letters of administration before the Regional Trial Court.
147

Rodolfo San Luis, one of the children of Felicisimo by his first marriage,
filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds of improper venue and failure to
state a cause of action. Rodolfo claimed that the petition for letters of
administration should have been filed in the Province of Laguna because this
was Felicisimos place of residence prior to his death. He further claimed that
respondent has no legal personality to file the petition because she was only
a mistress of Felicisimo since the latter, at the time of his death, was still
legally married to Merry Lee.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent has legal capacity to file the subject
petition for letters of administration.

RULING: NO. The divorce decree allegedly obtained by Merry Lee which
absolutely allowed Felicisimo to remarry, would have vested Felicidad with
the legal personality to file the present petition as Felicisimos surviving
spouse. However, the records show that there is insufficient evidence to
prove the validity of the divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well as the
marriage of respondent and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A.

With regard to respondents marriage to Felicisimo allegedly


solemnized in California, U.S.A., she submitted photocopies of the Marriage
Certificate and the annotated text of the Family Law Act of California which
purportedly show that their marriage was done in accordance with the said
law. As stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial notice of
foreign laws as they must be alleged and proved.

Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for further
reception of evidence on the divorce decree obtained by Merry Lee and the
marriage of respondent and Felicisimo.

Respondents legal capacity to file the subject petition for letters of


administration may arise from her status as the surviving wife of Felicisimo
or as his co-owner under Article 144 of the Civil Code or Article 148 of the
Family Code.

Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to marry


respondent in 1974, nevertheless, we find that the latter has the legal
personality to file the subject petition for letters of administration, as she
may be considered the co-owner of Felicisimo as regards the properties that
were acquired through their joint efforts during their cohabitation.

G.R. NO. L-3378 AUGUST 22, 1951

TESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED DAMASA CRISOSTOMO.


NAZARIO TRILLANA, ADMINISTRATOR-APPELLEE, VS.
CONSORCIA P. CRISOSTOMO, ET ALS, PETITIONERS-
APPELLANTS.NOTE: RULE 79, PARTIES IN INTEREST IN SPECIAL
PROCEEDINGS
148

FACTS: The deceased, Damasa Crisostomo, allegedly made two wills: one
will was made on August 16, 1948 and the other will was executed on
October 19, 1948. Trillana, the administrator of the estate presented the
subsequent will executed on October 19 for probate and was granted by the
court. Crisostomo and others, claiming to be nephews and nieces of the
deceased, filed a petition for relief of the judgment rendered by the probate
court to disallow the subsequent will and allow the former will executed on
August 16, alleging that the proceedings during the probate of the
subsequent will was attended by fraud.

Contention of the Appellants (Crisostomo et al):

Appellants argue that they are interested parties and therefore may
appeal in the present case, because in the event the will of October 19 is
disallowed and that of August 16 is allowed and the legacies in the latter are
declared invalid or the legatees incapable to inherit, the legacies will go to
the appellants.

Contention of the Appellee (Trillana):

The will of August 16, 1948 was expressly and absolutely revoked by
the will of October 19, 1948, executed by the same executrix or deceased.
The probate of the subsequent will was not attended by fraud and the
appellants show no proof of the alleged fraud committed in the probate of
the subsequent will.

ISSUE:

1. Whether a revoked will must be included in the probate of the


subsequent will.
2. Are the appellants parties in interest in the present case and therefore
entitled to appeal the decision of the lower court?

RULING: No, a revoked will may no longer be presented in the probate of


the subsequent will. If two wills are presented for allowance but one of them
was a revoked will, it cannot be included in the probate of the latter
subsequent will because it would be a waste of time to allow the revoked will
if the subsequent revoking will is allowed. The revoked will may be probated
and allowed only if the subsequent revoking will is disallowed.

No, the appellants are not considered as interested parties in the


probate proceedings of the will of the deceased Damasa Crisostomo and
therefore, are not entitled to appeal the decision of the lower court.

In civil actions and special proceedings, unless otherwise provided by


law, the interest in order that a person may be a party on appeal must be
material and direct, so that he will be materially and directly benefited or
injured by the courts order, decree or judgment: and not indirect or
contingent.

The appellants in the present case merely allege in their petition for
relief that they are nephews and nieces and therefore legal heirs of the
deceased Damasa Crisostomo, without specifying the degree of relationship
they had to the latter. They contend that if the will made on October 19,
1948, be disallowed, they will inherit the estate left by the testatrix. The
interest claimed by the appellants is purely contingent or dependent upon
149

several uncertain and future events to (1) the disallowance of the will of
October 19, 1948 (2) the allowance of the will of August 16, 1948 and (3)
invalidation of certain legacies left in said will on August 16, 1948.

G.R. NO. L-23372 JUNE 14, 1967

IN RE: INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE PIO DURAN. CIPRIANO


DURAN AND MIGUEL DURAN, PETITIONERS-APPELLANTS, VS.
JOSEFINA B. DURAN, MOVANT-OPPOSITOR AND APPELLEE.

FACTS: Pio Duran died intestate. Among his alleged heirs are Josefina Duran,
as surviving spouse; several brothers and sisters; nephews and nieces.
Subsequent to his death, Cipriano Duran, one of the surviving brothers,
executed a public instrument assigning and renouncing his hereditary rights
to the decedents estate in favor of Josefina Duran, for the consideration of
P2, 500.00. A year later, Cipriano filed in the CFI of Albay a petition for
intestate proceedings to settle Pio Durans estate. Against said petition,
Josefina Duran filed an opposition, praying for its dismissal upon the ground
that the petitioner is not an interested person in the estate, in view of the
deed of transfer and renunciation the estate, in view of the afore-stated,
attaching a copy of the same; in the alternative, she asked to be appointed
administratix.

ISSUE: whether or not Cipriano loses his right as interested person in the
estate after said assignment is approved by the court.

RULING: The court ruled in the negative. The Rules of Court provides that a
petition for administration and settlement of an estate must be filed by an
interested person (Rule 79, 2). The situation in the Santos case involves an
assignment between co-heirs pendent lite, during the course of settlement
proceedings properly and validly commenced. At the time of said
assignment, therefore, the settlement court had already acquired jurisdiction
over the properties of estate. As a result, any assignment regarding the
same had to be approved by said court. Since the approval of the court is not
deemed final until the estate is closed, the assigning heir remains an
interested person in proceedings even after said approval which can be
vacated is given.

In the present case, however, the assignment took place when no


settlement proceedings was pending. The properties subject matter of the
assignment were not under the jurisdiction of a settlement court. Allowing
that the assignment must be deemed a partition as between the assignor
and assignee, the same does not need court approval to be effective as
between parties.

An extrajudicial partition is valid as between the participants even if


the requisites of Sec. 1, Rule 74 for extrajudicial partition are not followed
since said requisites are for purposes of binding creditors and non-
participating heirs only. Should it be contended that said partition was
150

attended with fraud, lesion or inadequacy of price, the remedy is to rescind


or to annul the same in an action for that purpose.

G.R. NO. L-17117 JULY 31, 1963

ADELA SANTOS GUTIERREZ, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, VS. JOSE


D. VILLEGAS AND RIZALINA SANTOS RIVERA, DEFENDANTS-
APPELLANTS.

FACTS: On November 11, 1954, Irene Santos died intestate, leaving as her
only heirs her surviving spouse Jose D. Villegas and two nieces --- daughters
of a deceased brother, Rizalina Santos Rivera and Adela Santos Gutierrez.
Thereafter, the surviving spouse filed with the Rizal CFI, Pasay City Branch, a
petition for Letters of Administration and was appointed administrator of the
estate. Respondent presented in the probate court an unverified
manifestation signed by Adela Gutierrez, accompanied by a public
instrument entitled Kasulatan ng Bilihan at Salinan. The said kasulatan
states that all her rights, interests and participation in the estate subject of
this proceeding now belong to her sister, Rizalina Santos Rivera and that
hereafter she will not take part in the above-entitled proceedings and is not
entitled to the service of any pleadings, motion, order or decision filed or
promulgated therein.

In a verified manifestation presented before the probate court on


January 25, 1955, Adela averred that the deed of assignment of her rights,
participation and interest in the estate of Irene Santos and the first
manifestation were obtained thru fraud practiced by the administrator upon
her and were vitiated by mistake or undue influence. Alleging that she was
made to sign said documents without knowing the contents thereof. Adela
sought for the nullity of the deed of assignment and asked the court to
furnish her all copies of pleadings filed or to be filed in the intestate
proceedings, it appearing that the administrator presented pleadings in
Court without serving her copies thereof. An opposition was interposed by
the administrator, who alleged that the movant although originally a party to
the probate proceeding, has voluntarily and expressly desisted from being
so, and that having assigned by sale, all her rights, interests and
participations in the estate, she has no longer any legal standing in the case.

ISSUE: Whether or not Adela Santos Gutierrez has a right in this probate
proceeding.

RULING: It cannot be successfully denied that Adela Santos Gutierrez is an


indispensable party to the proceedings in question. Her interest in the estate
is not inchoate, while it is true that she executed a deed of assignment, it is
also a fact that she asked the same to be annulled. Although Adela had filed
a manifestation dropping herself from the proceedings and presenting
therewith the supposed Deed of Assignment, the record, nevertheless fails to
show that action thereon had been taken by the probate court.
151

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 (Art. 1082,
NCC). No serious argument can be offered to deny the co-heirship of
appellee in the estate under probate. It appearing (if we assume the due
execution of the Deed of Assignment), that the transaction is in the nature of
extrajudicial partition, court approval is imperative and the heirs cannot just
divest the court of its jurisdiction over the estate and over their persons, by
the mere act of assignment and desistance.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, We find the Order appealed from to be in


conformity with the law and jurisprudence. The same should be, as it is
hereby affirmed, in all respects, with costs against the appellants Jose D.
Villegas and Rizalina Santos Rivera, in both instances.

G.R. NO. 115181 MARCH 31, 2000

MARIA SOCORRO AVELINO, PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF


APPEALS, ANGELINA AVELINO, SHARON AVELINO, ANTONIO
AVELINO, JR., TRACY AVELINO, PATRICK MICHAEL AVELINO AND
MARK ANTHONY AVELINO, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Petitioner Maria Socorro Avelino is a daughter and compulsory heir of


the late Antonio Avelino, Sr., and his first wife private respondent Angelina
Avelino. Respondents are likewise compulsory heirs. The other private
respondents are siblings of petitioner Maria Socorro.

Petitioner filed before the RTC of Quezon City Branch 78, a petition for
the issuance of letters of administration of the estate of Antonio Avelino, Sr.,
who died intestate on April 10, 1989. She asked that she be appointed the
administrator of the estate. In return, the respondents filed their opposition.
The trial court converted petitioners action for letters of administration into
a suit for judicial partition, upon motion of the private respondents. CA
affirmed the lower courts ruling. Petitioner submits that no partition of the
estate is possible in the instant case as no determination has yet been made
of the character and extent of the decedents estate. She insists that the
Rules of Court does not provide for conversion of a motion for the issuance of
letters of administration to an action for judicial partition. The conversion of
the motion was, thus, procedurally inappropriate and should be struck down
for lack of legal basis.

ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred in upholding the lower courts finding.
152

RULING:

When a person dies intestate or if the testate failed to name an


executor in his will or the executor so named is incompetent or refuses the
trust or fails to furnish the bond required by the Rules of Court, then the
decedents estate shall be judicially administered and the competent court
shall appoint a qualified administrator in the order established in Section 6 of
Rule 78. The exception to this rule are found in Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 74.

Hence, the CA committed no reversible error when it ruled that the


lower court did not err in converting petitioners action for letters of
administration into an action for judicial partition. Nor can we sustain
petitioners argument that the order of the trial court converting an action for
letters of administration to one for judicial partition has no basis in the rules
of court, hence procedurally infirm. The basis for the trial courts order is
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court. It provides that in cases where the
heirs disagree as to the partition of the estate and no extrajudicial
settlement is possible, then an ordinary action for partition may be resorted
to, as in this case. The trial court appropriately converted petitioners action
for letters of administration into a suit for judicial partition, upon motion of
the private respondents. No reversible error may be attributed to the CA
when it found the trial courts action procedurally in order.

TOPIC: 2.4 SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR (RULE 80)

G.R. NO. L-2211 DECEMBER 20, 1948

NATIVIDAD I. VDA. DE ROXAS, PETITIONER, VS. POTENCIANO


PECSON, JUDGE OF FIRST INSTANCE OF BULACAN, MARIA ROXAS
AND PEDRO ROXAS, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Pablo Roxas died, thus his sister and brother, Maria and Pedro the
respondents herein filed petition for intestate proceeding and be appointed
as administrator. But later on dismissed, as petitioner Natividad Roxas, the
surviving spouse file petition for probate of the last will where she was
named as executrix and half of the property bequeathed to her and the other
half to Pablos adulterous child. Later on, the will was denied probate
technically for lack of signatures. Petitioner spouse appealed and pray she be
appointed as special administrator. So Maria and Pedro petitioned the court
to be appointed as special administrators. The judge ordered the
appointment of Natividad as special administrator but only for the conjugal
property of the deceased and appoint at the same time Maria to administer
the exclusive property of the deceased. Hence this petition by the surviving
spouse.

ISSUE: Whether or not the judge committed grave abuse of discretion in


appointing 2 separate special administrator of the decedent.
153

RULING: The SC held in the affirmative. The judge erred in appointing 2


independent special administrators. It finds no reason to do especially if the
estate to be settled is that of the deceased husband since marriage is
dissolved upon death of husband or wife, it follows then that the community
property shall be inventoried, administered and liquidated and the person to
do this shall also be the one to administer, distribute and liquidate the
exclusive property of the deceased spouse. The widow, who still has a
beneficial interest even after the will was disapproved since pending appeal,
has the right of usufruct over the of the exclusive property of decedent
besides her share in the conjugal partnership and has more interest in the
entire estate correctly.

The beneficial interest required as qualification for appointment of


administrator is the interest in the whole estate and not only in some part
thereof. Lastly, since under the law, only one general administrator may be
appointed to administer, liquidate and distribute the estate of the deceased,
it follows then that only one special administrator maybe appointed in lieu of
the former until question causing delay are decided.

G.R. NO. L-10907 JUNE 29, 1957

AUREA MATIAS, PETITIONER, VS. HON. PRIMITIVO L.


GONZALEZ, ETC., ET AL., RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Aurea Matias, being the universal heiress and named executrix in
the purported will of her Aunt Gabina Raquel who died single, instituted
probate proceeding. However, Basilia, cousin of the deceased and was over
80y/o, totally blind opposed its probate and pray for the appointment of her
niece Victorina, a pharmacist, as special administrator. Opposition was
sustained by the lower court. So Matias appealed and while pending appeal,
it was Horacio Rodriguez, a practicing lawyer, former prosecutor and Mayor
of Cavite who was appointed special administrator. Basilia opposed again
and insist his removal and pray that special administration be issued to
Ramon Plata.

The lower court under the respondent judge granted the opposition
and appoint Basilia, Victorina and Ramon Plata as special administrator and
remove Horacio. Matias questioned the order and insist that PNB or BPI be
appointed should the court refused her qualification, but was denied. Later
on, due to inability to perform duties, Basilia withdrew. Hence this petition by
Matias against the judge, Victorina and Plata.

ISSUE: whether or not the judge commit grave abuse of discretion for not
appointing the named executrix and the propriety of appointing more than
one special administrator.
154

RULING: The SC found the actions of respondent judge cannot be supported


with. While the probate of the will was denied, the order to this effect is not
yet final and executory. Matias being universal heiress and executrix still has
special interest to protect. While generally, there should only be one special
administrator maybe appointed, probate court in its discretion, when it
deems best and whenever there are at least two factions among heirs, may
appoint more than one special administrator or a special co-administrator
but to administer the whole single estate exercising jointly powers of
administration temporarily and not independently.

On technical side, there was late notice of hearing for the removal of
Horacio Rodriguez as special administrator and lack of notice that Basilia and
Victorina be appointed as special administrator while in their motion, it only
seek removal of Rodriguez and appointment of Plata.

G.R. NO. L-30289 MARCH 26, 1929

SERAPIA DE GALA, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, VS. APOLINARIO


GONZALES AND SINFOROSO ONA, OPPONENTS-APPELLANTS.

FACTS: Severina Gonzales executed a will in which Serapia de Gala, a niece


of Severina, was designated executrix. The testatrix died in November, 1926,
leaving no heirs by force of law, and on December 2, 1926, Serapia, through
her counsel, presented the will for probate. Apolinario Gonzales, a nephew of
the deceased, filed an opposition to the will on the ground that it had not
been executed in conformity with the provisions of section 618 of the Code of
Civil Procedure. On April 2, 1927, Serapia de Gala was appointed special
administratrix of the estate of the deceased. She returned an inventory of
the estate, and made several demands upon Sinforoso Ona, the surviving
husband of the deceased, for the delivery to her of the property inventoried
and of which he was in possession.

The CFI ordered Sinforoso Ona to deliver to Serapia de Gala all the
property left by the deceased. Instead of delivering the property as ordered,
Sinforoso filed a motion asking the appointment of Serapia de Gala as special
administratrix be cancelled and that he, Sinforoso, be appointed in her stead.
The motion was opposed by both Apolinario Gonzales and by Serapia de
Gala, but, it was nevertheless granted, Serapia was removed, and Sinforoso
was appointed special administrator in her place, principally on the ground
that he had possession of the property in question and that his appointment
would simplify the proceedings.

Serapia appealed the order of the court. She argued that a special
administrator cannot be removed except for one or more of the causes
stated in section 653 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

ISSUE: Whether or not Serapia can be removed as special administratrix.


155

RULING: AFFIRMATIVE.

It is true that Section 653 of the Civil procedure provides that a special
administrator cannot be removed except for one or more of the causes
stated therein. However,that section can only apply to executors and regular
administrators, and the office of a special administrator is quite different
from that of regular administrator. The appointment of a special
administrator lies entirely in the sound discretion of the court; the function of
such an administrator is only to collect and preserve the property of the
deceased and to return an inventory thereof; he cannot be sued by a creditor
and cannot pay any debts of the deceased.

The fact that no appeal can be taken from the appointment of a special
administrator indicates that both his appointment and his removal are purely
discretionary, and we cannot find that the court below abused its discretion
in the present case. In removing Serapia de Gala and appointing the present
possessor of the property pending the final determination of the validity of
the will, the court probably prevented useless litigation.

G.R. NO. L-20735 AUGUST 14, 1965

GLICERIA C. LIWANAG, SPECIAL ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE


ESTATE OF PIO D. LIWANAG, PETITIONER, VS. HON. COURT OF
APPEALS, HON. JESUS DE VEYRA, AS JUDGE OF THE COURT OF
FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA, AND MANUEL AGREGADO,
RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Gliceria C. Liwanag is the special administratrix of the estate of Pio


D. Liwanag. On 1962, Manuel Agregado sued the administratrix, for the
foreclosure of a real estate mortgage constituted in his favor by said Pio D.
Liwanag during his lifetime. Petitioner moved to dismiss Agregado's
complaint, upon the ground that as special administratrix, she cannot be
sued by a creditor of the deceased pursuant to Section 2, Rule 81 of the (old)
Rules of Court, "a special administrator shall not be liable to pay any debts of
the deceased," and that, accordingly, Agregado has no cause of action
against her as a special administratrix.

ISSUE: Whether or not a creditor may sue a special administrator for a claim
of money or debt.

RULING: AFFIRMATIVE.

Section 7 of Rule 86 of the New Rules of Court provides that a creditor


holding a claim against the deceased, secured by a mortgage or other
collateral security, may pursue any of these remedies:

(1) abandon his security and prosecute his claim and share in the
general distribution of the assets of the estate;

(2) foreclose his mortgage or realize upon his security by an action in


court, making the executor or administrator a party defendant, and if
156

there is a deficiency after the sale of the mortgaged property, he may


prove the same in the testate or intestate proceedings; and

(3) rely exclusively upon his mortgage and foreclose it any time within
the ordinary period of limitations, and if he relies exclusively upon the
mortgage, he shall not...share in the distribution of the assets.
Obviously, the herein respondent has chosen the second remedy,
having filed his action for foreclosure against the administratrix of the
property. Now the question arises as to whether the petitioner herein
can be sued as special administratrix.

The Rules of Court do not expressly prohibit making the special


administratrix a defendant in a suit against the estate. Otherwise, creditors
would find the adverse effects of the statute of limitations running against
them in cases where the appointment of a regular administrator is delayed.
So that if We are not to deny the present action on this technical ground
alone, and the appointment of a regular administrator will be delayed, the
very purpose for which the mortgage was constituted will be defeated.

G.R. NO. L-15388 JANUARY 31, 1961

DORA PERKINS ANDERSON, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, VS.


IDONAH SLADE PERKINS, OPPOSITOR-APPELLANT.

FACTS: Dora Perkin Anderson filed a petition for the probate of the
supposed last will and testament of the late Eugene Arthur Perkins. On the
same date of the filing of the aforesaid petition, petitioner Dora Perkins
Anderson also filed an urgent petition for the appointment of Alfonso Ponce
Enrile as special administrator of the estate, and on the same day, the court
issued an order appointing Alfonso Ponce Enrile as such special administrator
upon his posting of a bond. Idonah Slade Perkins, surviving spouse of the
deceased entered an opposition to the probate of the will presented by
petitioner Dora Perkins Anderson. The special administrator submitted an
inventory of all the assets which have come to his knowledge as belonging to
the deceased Eugene Arthur Perkins at the time of his death.

Alfonso submitted to the court a petition seeking authority to sell, or


give away to some charitable or educational institution or institutions, certain
personal effects left by the deceased, such as clothes, books, gadgets,
electrical appliances, etc., which were allegedly deteriorating both physically
and in value, in order to avoid their further deterioration and to save
whatever value might be obtained in their disposition. When the motion was
heard the court required the administrator to submit a specification of the
properties sought to be sold, and in compliance therewith, the special
administrator, submitted to the court, in place of a specification, a copy of
the inventory of the personal properties belonging to the estate with the
items sought to be sold marked with a check in red pencil, with the
statement that said items were too voluminous to enumerate.
157

The Court granted the motion. Oppositor moved to reconsider this


order on the grounds (1) that said order in effect authorized the special
administrator to sell the entire personal estate of the deceased, contrary to
Rule 81, section 2. Rules of Court; (2) that said order was issued without a
showing that the goods and chattels sought to be sold were perishable,
pursuant to Rule 81, section 2, Rules of Court; (3) that the personalty sought
to be sold represented the lifetime savings and collections of oppositor; (4)
that there is evidence on record showing unauthorized withdrawals from the
properties of the estate, and the sale of the inventoried lot would prevent
identification and recovery of the articles removed; and (5) that there is also
evidence showing oppositor's separate rights to a substantial part of the
personal estate.

ISSUE: WON THE SPECIAL ADMINISTARTOR HAS THE LEGAL AUTHORITY TO


SELL THE SUBJECT PROPERTIES.

RULING: YES, BUT ONLY CERTAIN PROPERTIES.

Section 2, Rule 81, of the Rules of Court, specifically provides that the
special administrator "may sell such perishable and other property as the
court orders sold", which shows that the special administrator's power to sell
is not limited to "perishable" property only.
It is true that the function of a special administrator is only to collect
and preserve the property of the deceased until a regular administrator is
appointed. But it is not alone the specific property of the estate which is to
be preserved, but its value as well, as shown by the legal provision for the
sale by a special administrator of perishable property. It is in line with this
general power of the special administrator to preserve not only the property
of the estate but also its value, that section 2, Rule 81, also empowers such
administrator to sell "other property as the court ordered sold".

There is, however, a serious obstacle to the proposed sale, namely, the
vigorous opposition presented thereto the appellant, the surviving spouse of
the deceased, on the ground that she is allegedly entitled to a large portion
of the personal properties in question, either because the were conjugal
property of herself and the deceased, or because they are her own,
exclusive, personal property.

Indeed the records show that up to the time the propose sale was
asked for and judicially approved, no proceeding had as yet been taken, or
even started, to segregate the alleged exclusive property of the oppositor-
appellant from the mass of the estate supposedly left by the deceased or to
liquidate the conjugal partnership property of the oppositor-appellant and the
deceased.

Until, therefore the issue of the ownership of the properties sought to


be sold is heard and decided, and the conjugal partnership liquidated; or, at
least, an agreement be reached with a appellant as to which properties of
the conjugal partnership she would not mind being sold to preserve their
value the proposed sale is clearly premature. After all, most of the items
sought to be sold pieces of furniture, kitchen and dinner ware, electrical
appliances, various gadget and books can easily be protected and
preserved with proper care and storage measures in either or both of two
residential houses (in Manila and in Baguio City left by the deceased, so that
158

no reasons of extreme urgency justify the proposed sale at this time over the
strong opposition and objection of oppositor-appellant who may later be
adjudged owner of a substantial portion of the personal estate in question.

G.R. NO. 109979 MARCH 11, 1999

RICARDO C. SILVERIO, SR., PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF


APPEALS, SPECIAL SEVENTH DIVISION, HON. FRANCISCO X.
VELEZ, PRESIDING JUDGE, RTC, MAKATI, BRANCH 57 AND
EDGARDO S. SILVERIO, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Beatriz Silverio died intestate. Her conjugal property was not settled.
Hence, her son EDGARDO sought to be appointed as an administrator by
filing a petition for letters of administration. He was appointed special, and
later regular administrator. Beatrizs husband RICARDO SR. opposed this,
claiming that the RTC should respect the order of preference in Rule 78, 6.

EDGARDO raised Ricardo Sr.s moral unfitness to be an administrator,


since he (1) used funds of the conjugal partnership to buy three properties in
Forbes and Bel Air (Makati), and (2) fraudulently caused these to be
registered in the names of his 3 illegitimate children with his admitted
mistress Carmen Zuniga.

During the pendency of the SC proceedings, Judge Velez allowed


EDGARDOs petition to allow the attorneys lien of his counsel (Atty. Uy) on
1/3 of the FMV of the properties allegedly recovered in the lower court
proceedings.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the order of preference in Rule 78, Section 6 was


violated.
2. Whether or not the order allowing the annotation of the lawyers lien
was proper.

RULING: 1. NO.

Section 6, Rule 78 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that the order
of preference in the appointment of an administrator depends on the
attendant facts and circumstances.

A probate court cannot arbitrarily disregard the preferential rights of


the surviving spouse to the administration of the estate of a deceased
person; but if the person enjoying such preferential rights is unsuitable the
court may appoint another person.

The determination of a person's suitability for the office of


administrator rests, to a great extent, in the sound judgment of the court
exercising the power of appointment and such judgment will not be
interfered with on appeal unless it appears affirmatively that the court below
was in error. Unsuitableness for appointment as administrator may consist in
159

adverse interest of some kind or hostility to those immediately interested in


the estate.

As there are no ground to disregard the finding of the respondent judge


and the respondent court on the competence of the decedent's son, Edgardo
S. Silverio, to act as administrator. His appointment as special, and later, as
the regular administrator is sanctioned by law.

2. NO.
The respondent court is not vested with the power to order the special
administrator to sell real properties of the estate pending determination of
the validity of the regular administrator's appointment. The powers of a
special administrator are set out in Rule 80, 2. Sales are limited for the
purpose of selling perishable and other property as the court orders. As a
matter of courtesy and respect, the RTC should await the decision of the SC
on the propriety of appointment of the regular administrator. However, the
issue has become moot in view of the finding that the appointment of the
regular administrator was proper.

G.R. NO. 162934, NOVEMBER 11, 2005

HEIRS OF BELINDA DAHLIA A. CASTILLO, NAMELY, BENAV JEAN,


DANIEL, MELCHOR, MICHAEL AND DANIBEL, ALL SURNAMED
CASTILLO, PETITIONERS, VS. DOLORES LACUATA-GABRIEL,
RESPONDENT.

FACTS: Crisanta Yanga-Gabriel, wife of Lorenzo B. Almoradie, died in


Malabon City, Metro Manila, leaving behind a sizable inheritance consisting
mostly of real estate and shares of stock.

A little over a month after Crisantas death, her mother, Crisanta


Santiago Vda. de Yanga, commenced an intestate proceeding. She alleged,
among others, that to her knowledge, her daughter died intestate leaving an
estate with an estimated net value of P1,500,000.00 and that such estate
was being managed by her wastrel and incompetent son-in-law, Lorenzo, and
by two other equally incompetent persons. She prayed that letters of
administration be issued to her son, Mariano Yanga, Jr., also the brother of
the deceased, and that she be awarded her share of the estate of her
daughter after due hearing. However, the RTC appointed Lorenzo as
administrator.

Meantime, the marriage between Crisanta Yanga-Gabriel and Lorenzo


Almora was declared void for being bigamous. The RTC then removed
Lorenzo as administrator and appointed Mariano, Jr. in his stead.
160

Belinda Dahlia Y. Almoradie Castillo, claiming to be the only legitimate


child of Lorenzo and Crisanta, filed a motion for intervention. Resolution on
this motion was, however, held in abeyance pending some incidents in the
CA.

Roberto Y. Gabriel, the legally adopted son of Crisanta Y. Gabriel, filed


before the RTC of Malabon City a petition for probate of an alleged will and
for the issuance of letters testamentary in his favor. He alleged that he
discovered his mothers will on October 25, 1989 in which he was instituted
as the sole heir of the testatrix, and designated as alternate executor for the
named executor therein, Francisco S. Yanga, a brother of Crisanta, who had
predeceased the latter sometime in 1985 or 1986.

Belinda Castillo died. The probate court then appointed Roberto Gabriel
as special administrator of his mothers estate. The heirs of Belinda filed a
Motion praying that they be substituted as party-litigants in lieu of their late
mother. Subsequently, Roberto Gabriel died. His widow Dolores filed a
Manifestation and Motion where she informed the probate court of her
husbands death and prayed that she be admitted as substitute in place of
her late husband, and be appointed as administratrix of the estate of
Crisanta Gabriel as well. She alleged that she had a bachelors degree in law
and had worked for several years in a law office.

The heirs of Belinda opposed Dolores manifestation and motion.

The petitioners argue that since the respondent does not have any
right to inherit from their grandmother, either by her own right or by the
right of representation, she is not qualified to be appointed as administratrix
of the estate; in contrast, they are Crisanta Gabriels only compulsory heirs.
They insist that the respondents late husband, Roberto, was just a nephew
of the decedent and not a legally adopted son as he claimed to be. Even
assuming this claim was true, the fact that the respondent is not naturally
related to the decedent by blood in the direct descending line makes it unfair
to appoint her as the special administratrix. Citing jurisprudence, the
petitioners explain that the principal consideration in the appointment of
administrator of a deceased persons estate is the applicants interest
therein. This is the same consideration which Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules
of Court takes into account in establishing the order of preference in the
appointment of such administrators. The underlying assumption behind this
rule, the petitioners insist, is that those who will reap the benefit of a wise,
speedy, economical administration of the estate, or suffer the consequences
of waste, improvidence or mismanagement, have the highest interest and
most influential motive to administer the estate correctly.

ISSUE: WON THE APPOINTMENT OF DOLORES AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIX


PROPER.

RULING: YES.

The SC affirmed the findings of the CA which states that:

The appointment of a special administrator lies entirely in the


discretion of the probate court. The order of preference in the appointment of
a regular administrator under Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court does
not apply to the selection of a special administrator. In the issuance of such
appointment, which is but temporary and subsists only until a regular
161

administrator is appointed, the court determines who is entitled to the


administration of the estate of the decedent.

On this point, we hold that the preference of private respondent


Dolores Gabriel is with sufficient reason. While it is true, as petitioners
submit, that private respondent is neither a compulsory nor a legal heir of
Crisanta Yanga-Gabriel and is considered a third person to the estate of
Crisanta, nonetheless, private respondent is undeniably entitled to the
administration of the said estate because she is an heir of her husband
Roberto, whose estate is the former estate of his adopting mother Crisanta.

A special administrator is a representative of a decedent appointed by


the probate court to care for and preserve his estate until an executor or
general administrator is appointed. When appointed, a special administrator
is regarded not as a representative of the agent of the parties suggesting the
appointment, but as the administrator in charge of the estate, and, in fact, as
an officer of the court. As such officer, he is subject to the supervision and
control of the probate court and is expected to work for the best interests of
the entire estate, especially its smooth administration and earliest
settlement.

The principal object of appointment of temporary administrator is to


preserve the estate until it can pass into hands of person fully authorized to
administer it for the benefit of creditors and heirs. In many instances, the
appointment of administrators for the estates of decedents frequently
become involved in protracted litigations, thereby exposing such estates to
great waste and losses unless an authorized agent to collect the debts and
preserve the assets in the interim is appointed. The occasion for such an
appointment, likewise, arises where, for some cause, such as a pendency of
a suit concerning the proof of the will, regular administration is delayed.

TOPIC: 2.5 EXECUTORS AND ADMINISTRATORS (RULE 81-85)

G.R. NO. 43351 FEBRUARY 26, 1937

INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED BALDOMERO COSME.

ROSARIO COSME DE MENDOZA, ADMINISTRATRIX-APPELLEE, VS.


JANUARIO PACHECO AND RAYMUNDO CORDERO, SURETIES-
APPELLANTS.

FACTS: Manuel Soriano was the administrator of the estate of Baldomero


Cosme. He filed a bond with Pacheco and Cordero as sureties. Upon approval
of his account, it turned out that he was indebted to the estate in the sum of
P23, 603.21. Unfortunately, he failed to return the amount after demand by
the new administatrix, Rosario Cosme was made. Thus the trial court ordered
the execution of the bond.

ISSUE: Whether the probate court has jurisdiction to order the execution of
the bond

RULING: AFFIRMATIVE.
162

It is true that the law does not say expressly or in so many words that
such court has the power to execute the bond of an administrator, but by
necessary and logical implication, the power is there as eloquently as if it
were phrased in unequivocal term.

It is thus clear that a Court of First Instance, exercising probate


jurisdiction, is empowered to require the filing of the administrator's bond, to
fix the amount thereof, and to hold it accountable for any breach of the
administrator's duty. Possessed, as it is, with an all-embracing power over
the administrator's bond and over administration proceedings, a Court of
First Instance in a probate proceeding cannot be devoid of legal authority to
execute and make that bond answerable for the very purpose for which it
was filed.

It should be observed that section 683 of the Code of Civil Procedure


provides that "Upon the settlement of the account of an executor or
administrator, trustee, or guardians, a person liable as surety in respect to
such amount may, upon application, be admitted as a party to such
accounting, and may have the right to appeal as hereinafter provided." There
is here afforded to a person who may be held liable as surety in respect to an
administrator's account the right, upon application, to be admitted as a party
to their accounting, from which we may not unreasonably infer that a surety,
like the appellants in the case before us, may be charged with liability upon
the bond during the process of accounting, that is, within the recognized
confines of probate proceedings, and not in an action apart and distinct from
such proceedings.

We take the view, however, that the execution of an administrator's


bond, unlike the questions involved in the cited cases, clearly stands upon a
different footing, and is as necessary a part and incident of the
administration proceeding as the filing of such bond or the fixing of its
amount. Particularly is this true in the present case where Soriano's
indebtedness to the state in the amount of P23,603.21, subsequently
reduced to P5,000, is conceded on all sides, and all that the trial court had to
do was to see that said amount was turned over to the estate.

G.R. NO. L-23419 JUNE 27, 1975

INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED GELACIO SEBIAL.


BENJAMINA SEBIAL, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, VS. ROBERTA
SEBIAL, JULIANO SEBIAL AND HEIRS OF BALBINA SEBIAL,
OPPOSITORS-APPELLANTS.

P.S. This case is remanded to the lower court for further proceedings in
accordance with the guidelines laid down in this decision.

FACTS: Gelacio Sebial died intestate in 1943 in Cebu. Gelacio, by his first
wife Leoncia Manikis, who allegedly died in 1919, begot three children
named Roberta, Balbina and Juliano. By his second wife, Dolores Enad, whom
163

he allegedly married in 1927, he supposedly begot six children named


Benjamina, Valentina, Ciriaco, Gregoria, Esperanza and Luciano.

On June 17, 1960 Benjamina Sebial filed in the CFI of Cebu a verified
petition for the settlement of Gelacio Sebial's estate. She prayed that she be
appointed administratrix thereof.

Roberta Sebial opposed the petition on the ground that the estate of
Gelacio Sebial had already been partitioned among his children and that, if
an administration proceeding was necessary, she, Roberta Sebial, a resident
of Guimbawian, a remote mountain barrio of Pinamungajan, where the
decedent's estate was supposedly located, should be the one appointed
administratrix and not Benjamina Sebial, a housemaid working at Talisay
which is far from where tha land is situated.

CFI: appointed Benjamina Sebial as administratrix. It found that the


decedent left an estate consisting of lands with an area of 22, valued at more
than P6,000, and that the alleged partition of the decedent's estate was
invalid and ineffective.

On 1961 Benjamina Sebial filed an inventory and appraisal of the


decedent's estate allegedly consisting of 7 unregistered parcels of land. The
oppositors registered their opposition to the inventory on the ground that the
seven parcels of land enumerated in the inventory no longer formed part of
the decedent's estate.
The administratrix filed a motion to require Lorenzo Rematado,
Demetrio Camillo and the spouses Roberta Sebial and Lazaro Recuelo to
deliver to her the parcels of land.

The probate court issued an order suspending action on the pending


incidents in view of the possibility of an amicable settlement.

The lower court ordered and approved the second inventory because
there was allegedly a "prima facie evidence to show that" the seven parcels
of land and two houses listed belonged to the decedent's estate. In another
order, the lower court granted the motion of the administratrix for the
delivery to her of certain parcels of land and it directed that the heirs of
Gelacio Sebial, who are in possession of the parcels of land, should deliver
those properties to the administratrix and should not disturb her in her
possession and administration of the same.

Roberta Sebial moved for the reconsideration.

ISSUE: Whether or not the probate court failed to receive evidence as to the
ownership of the said parcels of land.

RULING: YES. The probate court failed to receive evidence as to the


ownership of the said parcels of land. The general rule is that questions of
title to property cannot be passed upon in a testate or intestate proceeding.
However, when the parties are all heirs of the decedent, it is optional upon
them to submit to the probate court the question of title to property and,
when so submitted, the probate court may definitely pass judgment thereon.

Lorenzo Rematado and Lazaro Recuelo are not heirs of the decedent.
They are third persons. The rule is that matters affecting property under
164

administration may be taken cognizance of by the probate court in the


course of the intestate proceedings provided that the interests of third
persons are not prejudiced.

However, third persons to whom the decedent's assets had been


fraudulently conveyed may be cited to appear in court and be examined
under oath as to how they came into the possession of the decedent's assets
but a separate action would be necessary to recover the said assets.

The probate court should receive evidence on the discordant


contentions of the parties as to the assets of decedent's estate, the
valuations thereof and the rights of the transferees of some of the assets.
The issue of prescription should also be considered Generally prescription
does not run in favor of a coheir as long as he expressly or impliedly
recognizes the coownership. But from the moment that a coheir claims
absolute and exclusive ownership of the hereditary properties and denies the
others any share therein, the question involved is no longer one of partition
but that of ownership.

At the hearing of the petition for letters of administration some


evidence was already introduced on the assets constituting the estate of
Gelacio Sebial. The oppositor also testified and presented exhibits.The
stenographic notes for the said hearing should be transcribed. In addition to
that evidence. The probate court should require the parties to present further
proofs on the ownership of the seven parcels of land and the materials of the
two houses enumerated in the amended inventory of November 17, 1961, on
the alleged partition effected in 1945 and on the allegations in oppositors'
inventory dated November 7, 1961.After receiving evidence, the probate
court should decide once and for all whether there are still any assets of the
estate that can be partitioned and, if so, to effect the requisite partition and
distribution. If the estate has no more assets and if a partition had really
been made or the action to recover the lands transferred to third person had
prescribed, it should dismiss the intestate proceeding.

G.R. NO. L-8981 OCTOBER 23, 1956

VDA. DE PAZ VS. VDA. DE MADRIGAL

This case involves reserva troncal:


165

FACTS: Madrigal (R) died. She was survived by her husband Antero
Madrigal (A), her two sons, Romeo (Ro) and Salvador (S), and her two
sisters Maria Mondoedo Vda. de Paz (M) and Josefa Mondoedo Vda. de
Roque (J).

At the time of Rs death, she left intestate some real properties, titles
to which have passed to her two sons Ro and S from the moment of her
death, although the usufruct and administration thereof remained with her
surviving spouse A. These properties are 7 parcels of land in CamSur, 1
parcel of land in Marinduque and 1house/lot in Manila.

Later, S died without issue. By right of succession, A, father of S,


acquired title and ownership of Ss share in the estate of R. As acquisition of
said estate of S, however, is subject to the provisions of Art. 811 of the
Spanish Civil Code (reserva troncal), which obliges him (A) to reserve the
properties in favor of relatives within the 3rd degree belonging to the line
from which the property came.

From 1926 (time of Rs death) up to the time of his death in 1949, A


has been in possession of the estate in litigation, and upon his death,
defendants herein, who are the widow (Asuncion Buag Vda. de Madrigal,
As) and their children, took possession thereof by hereditary succession.

Upon the death of A, his widow As filed a petition for the probate of As
will and the settlement of As estate in the CFI Manila.
In the same proceedings, plaintiffs herein (J, M, MR and PE) filed an
opposition to the probate of the will and the approval of the inventory of the
estate of A, claiming that certain properties described and included in said
inventory are reservable in their favor, they being the only relatives within
the 3rd degree belonging to the line from which the estate came from. They
prayed that As executrix be ordered to deliver to them possession of the
estate.

To further their claim, the plaintiffs filed a reconveyance case at the


same CFI Manila to recover the possession and ownership of the estate in
litigation.

In the reconveyance case, the defendants (As and children) moved for
dismissal on the grounds that (1) there is another action pending between
the same partiesinvolving the same cause, i.e. litis pendentia; and (2) that
the court has no jurisdiction over the case because the properties involved
are situated in CamSur.

CFI Manila granted the motion and dismissed the case. Plaintiffs filed
MR, but the same was also dismissed. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE: WON the dismissal of the reconveyance case was proper.

RULING: NO. One of the grounds on which the lower court dismissed the
complaint for reconveyance is that the properties which the plaintiffs desire
to recover form part of the estate of the deceased (A) which is the subject of
testate proceedings pending in the same court wherein the plaintiffs
intervened as claimants/oppositors. Therefore, the court ruled that the 2nd
case is unnecessary for the questions raised therein can be threshed out in
the testate proceedings UNTENABLE.
166

While it is true that probate courts have jurisdiction to determine


claims involving title to, or right of possession of, properties made by heirs or
other interested parties, such determination is merely for the purpose of
inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of the properties composing the
estate of the deceased. This determination is ONLY PRIMA FACIE, not final or
ultimate in nature, and is without prejudice to the rights of the interested
parties to raise the question of ownership in a proper action.

Claims other than for money, debt or interest in the estate of the
deceased cannot be presented in the testate or intestate proceedings. Thus,
claims for title to, or the right of possession of, personal or real property,
made by the heirs themselves, by title adverse to that of the deceased, or
that made by third persons, cannot be entertained by the probate court.
ONLY for the purpose of inclusion in or exclusion from the inventory of the
deceaseds estate may the probate court pass upon a question of title on
real or personal property, BUT this is without prejudice to a final, separate
action for the determination of the question of title.

There is, therefore, no reason why the action for reconveyance of


ownership and possession of the real properties in question cannot be
maintained simply because the plaintiffs also appeared as
claimants/oppositors in the testate proceedings of A. The appearance in the
probate court is merely a precautionary measure on the part of plaintiffs. It is
but an assertion of their right to some of the properties which have been
included in the inventory as As property. The jurisdiction of a probate court
is limited in character for it cannot definitively pass upon a question of title
or ownership even if the property has been included in the inventory. This
matter should be threshed out in a separate action.

G.R. NO. L-46249 OCTOBER 18, 1939

INTESTATE ESTATE OF RAFAEL JOCSON DECEASED.

CONCEPTION JOCSON DE HILADO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS.


JESUS R. NAVA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

FACTS: On 1935, the administatrix Estefania Fenix of the intestate of the


deceased Rafael Jocson, executed in favor of appellant Jesus R. Nava a
contract of lease period of five crop years, over certain properties of the
estate, at a stipulated rental of P1,000 a year.

The contract was entered into without the intervention of the court
acting in the intestate proceedings.

On 1936, appellee herein, Conception Jocson de Hillado, filed a motion


in said proceedings, praying that the administratix be required to explain
certain details in the matter of said lease; and in reply to the answer filed by
said administratrix to lease the lands compromised in the contract to the
highest bidder at public auction.

Jesus R. Nava, the lessee, filed a motion asking that the order be set
aside, it having been issued without jurisdiction. The motion was denied, and
he appealed.
167

ISSUE: WON the lower court has the power to annul, in the intestate
proceedings, a contract of lease executed by the administratrix without its
intervention.

RULING: NO. Appellant maintains that it has no such power, and that the
contract can only be annulled in a separate, independent proceeding.

The contract here in question being a mere act of administration, could


validy be entered into by the administratrix within her powers of
administration, even without the court's previous authority. And the court
had no power to annul or invalidate the contract in the intestate proceedings
wherein it had no jurisdiction over the person of the lessee. A separate
ordinary action is necessary to that effect.

G.R. NO. L-6704 MARCH 26, 1956.

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF MARGARITA


DAVID. CARLOS MORAN SISON, JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATOR,
NATIVIDAD SIDECO, ET AL., VS. NARCISA F. DE TEODORO

FACTS: On 1951, this Court rendered a decision ordering the Testate Estate
of Margarita David to pay the claim of the Testate Estate of Crispulo Sideco in
the sum of P17,010.43, with legal interest at the rate of 6 per cent per
annum from March 11, 1945, until the same is fully paid.

To falicitate the payment of this claim, Priscilla F. Sison, an heiress of


the estate, delivered to its administrator the amount of P12,128.44 to cover
the payment of her one half share in the Sideco claim.

The other heiress, herein Appellant Narcisa F. Teodoro, was unwilling to


do the same, contending that the Estate has real properties which could be
sold and with its proceeds pay the Sideco claim hence, the administrator
filed a petition with the lower court to compel Narcisa F. Teodoro to deliver to
him her share in the payment of the aforementioned Sideco claim.

While this motion was pending hearing because of the opposition


thereto filed by Appellant, the Co-Administratrix of the Estate of Crispulo
Sideco filed a petition in the CFI of Manila to secure an order directing the
Administrator of the Testate Estate of Margarita David to pay the
aforementioned claim of P17.010.43 plus the legal interest accrued thereon.
168

Both the petition of the Administrator of the Testate Estate of Margarita


David and that of the Administratrix of the Sideco Testate Estate were heard
and held that it isa residuary cash within this testate proceeding and that
the same was equally divided between the two heiresses herein, Narcisa de
la Fuente and Priscilla de la Fuente.

On 1952, heiress Narcisa F. de Teodoro filed a motion for


reconsideration of the aforequoted order on the ground that (1) it is against
section 1 of Rule 89, Rules of Court; (2) that thereunder the executor of the
testate estate, and not the heiresses, should be ordered to pay the claim of
Sideco; (3) that although the sum of P272,000 was held by the lower court
and, on appeal, by the Court of Appeals to be residuary cash within this
estate, the same was divided and has been in the possession of the universal
heiresses since 1941 and therefore, not liable to pay any claim against the
estate so long as there are sufficient assets in the hands of the Judicial
Administrator to pay them; (4) that it would be more beneficial to the
heiresses that the real properties in the hands of the Judicial Administrator
be sold by him and out of its proceeds the Sideco claim be paid, because
such sale would hasten the early termination of these testate proceedings.
Hence this, appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not the lowered court erred in its ruling that the residuary
funds in the hands of the heiresses of this estate should be applied to the
payment of the Sideco claim.

RULING: NO. We agree with the view of the lower court that the residuary
funds in the hands of the heiresses of this estate should be applied to the
payment of the Sideco claim, for it is more advantageous to use that fund to
pay the claim in question than selling the real properties of the estate for
that purpose. Besides, section 3 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court provides:

The personal estate of the deceased shall be first chargeable with the
payment of debts and expenses; and if the personal estate is not
sufficient for that purpose, or its sale would redound to the detriment
of the participants in the estate, the whole of the real estate, or so
much thereof as is necessary, may be sold, mortgaged, or otherwise
encumbered for that purpose by the executor or administrator, after
obtaining the authority of the court therefor.

And according to section 6 of Rule 89, the Court has authority to fix the
contributive shares of the devisees, legatees or heirs for the payment of a
claim if they have entered into possession of portions of the estate before
the debts and expenses thereof have been settled and
paid. Appellant argues, however, that section 3 of Rule 89, Rules of Court, is
not applicable to the instant case on the ground that it refers to the personal
and real properties of the deceased which are in the hands of the
administrator, and not to the properties of the estate which are already in
the hands of the heiresses. This contention is untenable. The residuary funds
in the hands of the Appellant are funds of the estate and the Court has
jurisdiction over them and, therefore, it could compel the Appellant to deliver
to the administrator of this estate the necessary portion of such fund for the
payment of the Sideco claim.
169

G.R. NO. L-6476 NOVEMBER 18, 1955

FRANCISCO DE BORJA AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF THE


DECEASED JOSEFA TANGCO VS. BIENVENIDO A. TAN, AS JUDGE
OF THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF RIZAL, AND JOSE DE
BORJA

FACTS: On October 25, 1940, petitioner Francisco de Borja filed a petition in


the lower court for the probate of the Last Will and Testament of his
deceased wife Josefa Tangco.

The will was probated and named Francisco de Borja as executor


thereof. One of the heirs who is now one of the respondents herein Jose de
Borja appealed the case to the CA but later his motion for dismissal of the
appeal as granted.

All the records of the case were destroyed or lost during the last Pacific
war but were on January 1, 1946, reconstituted.

On March 26 of that year Francisco de Borja qualified as executor and


administrator. Due to the physical inability of Francisco to fully administer the
estate he being quite weak and unable to see, on August 25, 1951, on
petition of Matilde de Borja, one of the heirs, the lower court appointed
Crisanto de Borja, another heir, as co-administrator. Crisanto qualified as co-
administrator.

On April 9, 1952, the trial court according to petitioner, without petition


of or notice to anyone appointed respondent Jose de Borja as co-
administrator, this, after holding in abeyance consideration of Francisco de
Borja's amended account.

Francisco, Matilde and Crisanto moved for reconsideration of the


appointment of Jose but by order of respondent Judge indirectly denied the
motion for reconsideration, and acting upon an alleged ex-parte petition of
the heirs Jose, Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde, all surnamed De Borja,
revoked the appointment of Crisanto as co-administrator and directed
administrator Jose de Borja to comment on the amended account filed by
Francisco de Borja.

Francisco, Matilde and Crisanto filed a notice of appeal from such


appointment but respondent Judge Tan disapproved the record on appeal and
refused to give due course to the appeal on the ground that the appointment
of Jose de Borja as co-administrator was interlocutory in nature and so was
not appealable.

Hence, this petition for mandamus to compel respondent Judge to


approve the record on appeal and to give due course to the appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not the appointment of a co-administrator is appealable.


170

RULING: YES. The respondent Judge is hereby directed to approve the


record on appeal and to give due course to the appeal

The powers and functions of a special administrator are quite limited.


Under Rule 81, section 1, a special administrator is appointed only when
there is a delay in granting letters testamentary or of administration
occasioned by an appeal from allowance or disallowance of a will or from any
other cause, and such special administrator is authorized to collect and take
charge of the estate until the questions causing the delay are decided and an
executor or administrator thereon appointed.

Under Rule 87 section 8, a special administrator is also appointed when


the regular executor or administrator has a claim against the estate he
represents and said special administrator shall have the same power and
subject to the same liability as a regular executor or administrator. In other
words, a special administrator is appointed only for a limited time and for a
specific purpose. Naturally, because of the temporary and special character
of his appointment, it was deemed by the law not advisable for any party to
appeal from said temporary appointment. On the other hand, a co-
administrator performs all the functions and duties and exercises all the
powers of a regular administrator, only that he is not alone in the
administration.

Further taking into consideration the circumstances obtaining in this


case, that petitioner Francisco de Borja though originally designated
administrator, is and has for several years been one only in name due to his
physical and mental disability, as a result of which respondent Jose de Borja
is now practically the sole administrator there is no question that for all
practical and legal purposes the appointment of Jose de Borja as co-
administrator is equivalent to and has the same effect as a sole regular or
general administrator.

G.R. NO. L-29414 JULY 17, 1928

TEODORICO UY TIOCO, VS. CARLOS IMPERIAL, JUDGE OF FIRST


INSTANCE OF MANILA, AND ALEJANDRO M. PANIS

FACTS: This is a petition for a writ of prohibition to restrain the respondent


judge from compelling the petitioner to pay the sum of P11,250 to the other
respondent, Alejandro Panis, out of the funds of the estate of the deceased
Basilisa Yangco, of which estate said petitioner is the administrator.

It appears from the record that the respondent Panis was counsel for
the administration of said estate and that he on October 31, 1927, before the
final settlement of accounts, presented a motion in the probate proceedings
for the allowance of attorney's fees in the sum of P15,000.

The respondent judge, over the objections in writing presented by the


administrator, granted the motion and allowed the fees claimed by Panis.

The administrator, the herein petitioner, did not appeal from the order
of the court, but Jacinto Yangco, in his capacity as guardian ad litem of the
minors Pedro and Bruno Uy Tioco, the sons and then the only heirs of the
deceased, presented a MR under section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure
on the grounds that he was not notified of the motion for the allowance of
fees and had no knowledge thereof or of the order granting the motion until
171

a few days before the filing of there motion for reconsideration; that the fees
allowed Panis were excessive and prejudicial to the interest of the estate;
and that considering the nature of the work performed, the services rendered
with him did not warrant the payment of the sum claimed.

This motion was denied, the respondent judge holding that while the
heirs of the deceased were not notified by the hearing of the motion for
allowance of attorney's fees, such notice was duly served upon the
administrator; that was a sufficient compliance with the law; that curador ad
litem might have the right to intervene in the case but have no absolute right
to be notified of the motion; that the provisions of section 113 of the Code of
Civil Procedure were not applicable to the case; and that, in any event, the
motion for reconsideration is entirely without merit. Hence, his appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent judge is correct from compelling the
petitioner to pay the sum of P11,250 to the other respondent out of the
funds of the estate of the deceased Yangco, of which estate said petitioner is
the administrator.

RULING: NO. The petition must be granted. The orders of March 6th and 7th
for a partial payment of the fees claimed were issued after an appeal had
been taken and perfected by the filing of an appeal bond approved by the
court. The appeal was taken from the order of February 15 denying the
motion for reopening and reconsideration of the allowance for attorney's fees
and involves the validity of that order and the finality of the order of
December 5, 1927. Whether this orders were valid and final need not be here
determined, but they are appealable, and we are not aware of any provision
of law authorizing the lower court to enforce the immediate execution of
such orders and probate proceedings after an appeal has been perfected.
The interest of the appellee are supposed to be sufficiently protected by an
adequate bond.

The arguments submitted indicate a misconception of the character of


the liability for the attorney's fees are claimed are supposed to have been
rendered to the executor or administrator to assist him in the execution of
his trust. The attorney can therefore not hold the estate directly liable for his
fees; such fees are allowed to the executor or administrator and not to the
attorney. The liability for the payment rests on the executor or administrator,
but if the fees paid are beneficial to the estate and reasonable, he is entitled
to the reimbursement from the estate. Such payment should be included in
his accounts and the reimbursement therefore settled upon the notice
prescribed in section 682 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

G.R. NOS. L-8290/8291 NOVEMBER 18, 1955

RODRIGUEZ VS YNZA
(unreported case)

FACTS: The CFI of Iloilo authorized the payment for Atty Tirol's legal
services. Ynza opposed and appealed arguing that Atty Tirol's service was
rendered to a trustee and administrative of the estate and NOT the estate
itself.
172

ISSUE: Whether or not the payment for Atty Tirol's services is chargeable to
the estate?

RULING: YES. In this case, Atty Tirol was counsel for the trustee in 8 cases
all of which involved estate property. Atty Tirol's success in those 8 cases
undoubtedly benefited the estate.

G.R. NO. L-50277 FEBRUARY 14, 1980

TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE DOMINADOR TUMANG,


MAGDALENA A. TUMANG, ADMINISTRATRIX-APPELLEE, VS.
GUIA T. LAGUIO AND HER MINOR CHILDREN, MOVANTS-
APPELLANTS.

FACTS: The widow of the deceased Dominador Tumang, namely Magdalena


A. Tumang, administratrix and executrix of the will, filed a petition to declare
the testate proceedings definitely terminated and closed with respect to
herself and two of her children Melba Tumang Ticzon and Nestor A.
Tumang.

The petition was premised on the fact that the aforesaid heirs had
already acknowledged receipt of the properties adjudicated to them, and in
order for such properties to be transferred in their names, there was need for
an order of the court declaring the proceedings closed with respect to the
aforesaid heirs.

The petition was opposed by appenee's daughter, Guia T. Laguio and


her children on the ground that appellee, as administratrix and executrix,
had not yet delivered all properties adjudicated to them.

It was noted that the administratix received cash and stock dividends
after the approval of her final accounting. And she also distributed the same
to the compulsory heir including the respondent.

Moreover, the oppositors contended that there could be no partial


termination of the proceedings.

Thereafter, the administratrix withdrew the aforementioned petition.

The court a quo ruled that rendering an accounting is untenable


because the final accounting of the administratix was already approved.
Subsequent motion for reconsideration was also denied.

ISSUE: Whether or not the court should have required the executrix to
render an accounting of the cash and stock dividends received after the
approval of her final accounts.

A corollary issue is whether or not petitioners have waived their right to


demand such accounting.
173

RULING: Section 8 of Rule 85 provides that the "executor or administrator


shall render an account of his administration within one (1) year from the
time of receiving letters testamentary or of administration ..., and he shall
render such further accounts as the court may require until the estate is
wholly settled."

It appears that the interests of all the parties will be better served and
the conflict between petitioners and respondent will be resolved if such
additional accounting is made. Further, "it has been held that an executor or
administrator who receives assets of the estate after he has filed an account
should file a supplementary account thereof, and may be compelled to do so,
but that it is only with respect to matters occurring after the settlement of
final account that representatives will be compelled to file supplementary
account."

She must, therefore, account for the same, in consonance with her
duty to account for all the assets of the decedent's estate which have come
into her possession by virtue of her office.

An executor should account for all his receipts and disbursements


since his last accounting.

The duty of an executor or administrator to render an account is not a


mere incident of an administration proceeding which can be waived or
disregarded.
It is a duty that has to be performed and duly acted upon by the court
before the administration is finally ordered closed and terminated, to the end
that no part of the decedent's estate be left unaccounted for.

The fact that the final accounts had been approved does not divest the
court of jurisdiction to require supplemental accounting for, aside from the
initial accounting, the Rules provide that "he shall render such further
accounts as the court may require until the estate is wholly settled."

TOPIC: 2.6 CLAIMS AGAINST THE ESTATE (RULE 86)

G.R. NO. L-8235 MARCH 19, 1914

ISIDRO SANTOS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, VS. LEANDRA


MANARANG, ADMINISTRATRIX, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

FACTS: Don Lucas de Ocampo died on November 18, 1906, possessed of


certain real and personal property which, by his last will and testament, he
left to his three children.

The fourth clause of his will reads as follows:

I also declare that I have contracted the debts detailed below, and it is
my desire that they may be religiously paid by my wife and executors
in the form and at the time agreed upon with my creditors.

Among the debts mentioned in the list referred to are two in favor of
the plaintiff, Isidro Santos;
174

The court appointed a committee to hear and decide claims and Isidro
Santos did not submit to the said committee his claim, believing that since
the decedent mentioned the debt in his will there is no need for the process
in his case.

The committee did not include the claim of Isidro, thus He compelled
the administratix to pay him.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioners claim is within the purview of the


committees jurisdiction.

RULING: Yes. The petition of the plaintiff filed on November 21, 1910,
wherein he asks that the administratrix be compelled to pay over to him the
amounts mentioned in the will as debts due him appears to be nothing more
nor less than a complaint instituting an action against the administratrix for
the recovery of the sum of money.

Obviously, the plaintiff is not seeking possession of or title to


real property or specific articles of personal property.

When a committee is appointed as herein provided, no action or suit


shall be commenced or prosecute against the executor or administrator upon
a claim against the estate to recover a debt due from the state; but actions
to recover the seizing and possession of real estate and personal chattels
claimed by the estate may be commenced against him. (Sec. 699, Code Civ.
Proc.

It is evident from the brief outline of the sections referred to above that
the Code of Civil Procedure has established a system for the allowance of
claims against the estates of decedents. Those are at least two restrictions
imposed by law upon the power of the testator to dispose of his property,
and which pro tanto restrict the maxim that "the will of the testator law: (1)
His estate is liable for alllegal obligations incurred by him; and (2) he can not
dispose of or encumber the legal portion duehis heirs by force of law.

The former take precedence over the latter. (Sec. 640, Code Civ, Proc.)
Incase his estate is sufficient they must be paid. (Sec, 734,id .)

In case the estate is insolvent they must be paid in the order named in
section 735. It is hardly necessary to say that a provision in an insolvent's
will that a certain debt be paid would not entitle it to preference over other
debts. But, if the express mention of a debt in the will requires the
administrator to pay it without reference to the committee, what assurance
is there, in the case of an insolvent estate, that it will not take precedence
over preferred debts?

If it is unnecessary to present such claim to the committee, the source


of nonclaims is not applicable. It is not barred until from four to ten years,
according to its classification in chapter 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure,
establishing questions upon actions. Under such circumstances, when then
the legal portion is determined? If, in the meantime the estate has been
distributed, what security have the differences against the interruption of
their possession? Is the administrator required to pay the amount stipulated
in the will regardless of its correctness? And, if not, what authority has he to
vise the claim?
175

Section 706 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that an executor


may, with the approval of the court, compound with a debtor of deceased for
a debt due the estate, But he is nowhere permitted or directed to deal with a
creditor of the estate.

On the contrary, he is the advocate of the estate before an impartial


committee with quasi-judicial power to determine the amount of the claims
against the estate, and, in certain cases, to equitably adjust the amounts
due.

The administrator, representing the debtor estate, and the creditor


appear before this body as parties litigant and, if either is dissatisfied with its
decision, an appeal to the court is their remedy.

To allow the administrator to examine and approve a claim against the


estate would put him in the dual role of a claimant and a judge. The law in
this jurisdiction has been so framed that this may not occur.

The most important restriction, in this jurisdiction, on the disposition


of property by will are those provisions of the Civil Code providing for the
preservation of the legal portions due to heirs by force of law, and expressly
recognized and continued in force by sections614, 684, and 753 of the Code
of Civil Procedure.

But if a debt is expressly recognized in the will must be paid without its
being verified, there is nothing to prevent a partial or total alienation of the
legal portion by means of a bequest under a guise of a debt, since all of the
latter must be paid before the amount of the legal portion can be
determined.

Plaintiff's argument at this point becomes obviously inconsistent.


Under his first assignment of error he alleges that the committee on claims
should have been reconvened to pass upon his claim against the estate.

It is clear that this committee has nothing to do with legacies. It is true


that a debt may be left as a legacy, either to the debtor (in which case it
virtually amounts to a release), or to a third person. But this case can only
arise when the debt is an asset of the estate. It would be absurd to speak of
a testator's leaving a bare legacy of his own debt. (Arts. 866, 878, Civil
Code.)

The creation of a legacy depends upon the will of the testator, is an act
of pure beneficence, has no binding force until his death, and may be
avoided in whole or in part by the mere with whim of the testator, prior to
that time. A debt arises from an obligation recognized by law (art. 1089, Civil
Code) and once established, can only be extinguished in a lawful manner.
(Art. 1156,id .) Debts are demandable and must be paid in legal tender.
Legacies may, and often do, consist of specific articles of personal property
and must be satisfied accordingly. In order to collect as legacy the sum
mentioned in the will as due him, the plaintiff must show that it is in fact a
legacy and not a debt.

As he has already attempted to show that this sum represents a debt,


it is an anomaly to urge now itis a legacy. But it is said that the plaintiff's
claims should be considered as partaking of the nature of a legacy and
disposed of accordingly. If this be perfect then the plaintiff would receive
nothing until after all debts had been paid and the heirs by force of law had
received their shares. From any point of view the inevitable result is that
176

there must be a hearing sometime before some tribunal to determine the


correctness of the debts recognized in the wills of deceased persons.

This hearing, in the first instance, cannot be had before the court
because the law does not authorize it. Such debtors must present their
claims to the committee, otherwise their claims will be forever barred.

G.R. NO. L-22451 DECEMBER 22, 1924

TAN SEN GUAN, SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE INTESTATE


ESTATE OF TAN PENG SUE, (ALIAS TAN PENG CHO), (ALIAS
CHAN BAI CHOO), PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. GO SUI SAN,
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF ANTONIO
TAMPOCO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

FACTS: Petitioner is administrator of the intestate estate of Tan Peng Sue


and the defendant is the administrator in the testamentary proceeding for
the settlement of the estate of Antonio Tampoco. Antonio Tampoco owed Tan
Peng Sue, about the month of January, 1920, the sum of P25,802.60.

Upon the death of Antonio Tampoco on February 5, 1920, proceeding


was instituted in the CFI Manila for the settlement of his estate.

On December 14 of that year commissioners were appointed to hear


and decide whatever claim might be presented against the estate, and
rendered their final report on June 27, 1921, which was approved by the
court below on July 14 of said year.

About August 30, 1922, the plaintiff, in his capacity as administrator of


the estate of Tan Peng Sue, moved the court that the committee on claims
be again authorized, or a new committee appointed, to hear and decide a
claim that he had and which he was to present against the estate.

On September 21, 1922, Geo. R. Harvey, judge, appointed new


commissioners and the latter recommend payment by the defendant
administrator, which was by agreement of the parties estimated at
P30,272.89 at the end of the year 1922.

On December 22, 1923, the court presided over by Judge Diaz


rendered decision, absolving the defendant administrator of the estate of
Tampoco from the complaint, holding that the commissioners appointed on
September 21, 1922, had no authority under the law to hear and decide said
claim, because the court that had appointed them had on the said date no
jurisdiction to appoint them in view of the fact that more than fourteen
months have elapsed since their final report was submitted by the former
committee on claims in the aforesaid testamentary proceeding and approved
by the court.

To this decision the plaintiff excepted on the 29th day of the same
month, and moved for the new trial on January 9, 1924, on the ground that
said decision was against the law and the facts proven at the trial.

On March 27, 1924, the lower court presided over by the Honorable
Geo. R. Harvey, judge, after considering the motion for new trial, rendered a
177

new decision, setting aside that of December 22, 1923, and ordering the
administrator of the estate of Antonio Tampoco to pay the administrator of
the estate of Tan Peng Sue the sum of P28,802.60, with interest thereon at
the rate of 9 6/10 per cent annum from March 28, 1920.

ISSUES:

2. Whether or not notice to the creditors was done in the proper manner.
Yes
Motion for new trial is proper. Yes

3. Whether or not action for new trial had already prescribed. Yes

RULING: The failure of Tan Chu Lay, heir of Tan Peng Sue, to present his
claim was an omission committed by an heir who had knowledge of the
existence of the credit of his deceased father. The fact that Tan Chu Lay
might have been induced by fraudulent machinations and unlawful influence
of the defendant administrator cannot affect the legal consequences of said
act. And even if it be admitted that the widow of Tan Peng Sue was in China
while the committee on claims was acting in the proceeding for the
settlement of Antonio Tampoco's estate, still the result would be the same.
The law does not make any reservation or exception whatever, and this court
cannot make either.

The pertinent part of section 695 of the Code of Civil Procedure


provides: A person having a claim against a deceased person proper to be
allowed by the committee, who does not, after publication of the required
notice, exhibit his claim to the committee as provided in this chapter, shall
be barred from recovering such demand or from pleading the same in offset
to any action, except as hereinafter provided.

Under section 690, a creditor who has failed to present his claim within
the period fixed by the committee on claims may apply to the court, within
six months after the period previously fixed, for the renewal of the
commission for the purpose of examining his claim. Also a creditor may
make such application even after six months from the expiration of the
period formerly fixed and before the final settlement of the estate, if the
committee shall have failed to give the notice required by section 687.

The application of the plaintiff was presented fourteen months after


the expiration of the period fixed for the filing of claims. And while it was
presented before the final settlement of the estate of Antonio Tampoco, yet,
it having been proved that the committee had published in the newspaper La
Nacion the notice required by law, there was no possible ground for granting
said application. Even considering this application under section 113 of the
Code of Civil Procedure, we believe that the lapse of fourteen months is an
unsurmountable barrier opposing the granting of said application.

Before a credit may be held barred by our procedural statutes relative


to liquidation of inheritance, it must appear, among other things, that the
committee have designated convenient hours and places for the holding of
their meetings for the examination and admission of claims, and that they
have published this fact in the manner provided by the law. Unless this is
done, the right of a creditor cannot prescribe, and he who claims the benefit
of prescription has the burden of proof.
178

The committee on claims in the aforesaid proceeding had published for


three consecutive weeks a notice to claimants, stating that they might
present their claims within the period of six months, the committee to hold
meetings at the office of Attorney M.G. Goyena, room No. 1, 34, Escolta, on
the last Wednesday of each month at 3:30 p. m. for the purpose of hearing
and deciding claims, notwithstanding the appointment issued by the court, in
which the places are designated where the notice should be posted, and the
newspaper in which it should be published for three weeks, giving the
creditors the period of six months to present their claims.

For the foregoing the judgment appealed from is reversed, and it is


hereby declared that the plaintiff appellee has lost his right to enforce his
claim in this proceeding, without pronouncement as to costs.

G.R. NO. L-17863 NOVEMBER 28, 1962

MANUEL H. BARREDO, ET AL., PETITIONERS, VS. THE COURT


OF APPEALS, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: The present appeal by the heirs of the late Fausto Barredo involves a
tardy claim to collect the face value of a promissory note with 12 % interest
per annum from the intestate estate of the late Charles A. McDonough.
The promissory note was secured by a mortgage executed on 31
December 1940 in favor of Fausto Barredo over the leasehold rights of
McDonough on the greater portion of a parcel of registered land located at
Dongalo Paraaque, Rizal, owned by Constantino Factor, and over four (4)
houses which McDonough had constructed on the leased land.

The lease contract between Factor and McDonough provided for a term
of 10 years from 1 September 1936; but on December 1940, the parties
extended the term up to 31 August 1961. The original lease, the extension of
its term, and the mortgage were all inscribed at the back of certificate of title
of the land.

Upon Fausto Barredo's death on 8 October 1942, his heirs, in a deed of


extrajudicial partition, adjudicated unto themselves the secured credit of the
deceased, and had the same recorded on the aforesaid certificate of title.

On 22 October 1947, the heirs of Fausto Barredo filed their belated


claim against the estate of McDonough. This claim was opposed by the
administrator. After hearing the lower court allowed the claim, but the Court
of Appeals reversed the order of allowance; hence, the Barredo heirs
appealed to this Court.

ISSUE: Whether or not the "one month" period referred to in Section 2 of


Rule 87 of Rules of Court is to be counted from and after the expiration of the
six-month period fixed in the published notice to claims?

RULING: Section 2, Rule 87, of the Rules of Court reads:


179

SEC. 2. Time within which claims shall be filed. In the notice


provided in section 1, the court shall state the time for the filing of
claims against the estate, which shall not be more than twelve nor less
than six months after the date of the first publication of the notice.
However, at any time before an order of distribution is entered, on
application of a creditor who has failed to file his claim within the time
previously limited, the court may, for cause shown and on such terms
as are equitable, allow such claim to be filed within a time not
exceeding one month.

The probate court previously fixed the period for filing claims at six (6)
months reckoned from the date of first publication, and the said notice to
creditors was first published on 23 August 1945. The present claim was filed
on 22 October 1947.

There is no doubt, therefore, that the claim was filed outside of the
period previously fixed.

But a tardy claim may be allowed, at the discretion of the court, upon
showing of cause for failure to present said claim on time.

The true ruling appears in the case of Paulin vs. Aquino, L-11267,
March 20, 1958, wherein the controverted one month period was clarified as
follows:
The one-month period specified in this section is the time granted
claimants, and the same is to begin from the order authorizing the
filing of the claims. It does not mean that the extension of one month
starts from the expiration of the original period fixed by the court for
the presentation of claims. (Emphasis supplied)

However, the probate court's discretion in allowing a claim after the


regular period for filing claims but before entry of an order of distribution
presupposes not only claim for apparent merit but also that cause existed to
justify the tardiness in filing the claim.

Here, petitioners alleged as excuse for their tardiness the recent


recovery of the papers of the late Fausto Barredo from the possession of his
lawyer who is now deceased. This ground insufficient, due to the availability,
and knowledge by the petitioners, of the annotation at the back of the
certificate of title of the mortgage embodying the instant claim.

The order of the trial court allowing the late claim without justification,
because under Section 2, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court, said court has no
authority to admit a belated claim for no cause or for an insufficient cause.

G.R. NO. L-18403 SEPTEMBER 30, 1961

IN RE ADMINISTRATION OF THE ESTATE OF PASCUAL


VILLANUEVA. MAURICIA G. DE VILLANUEVA, PETITIONER, VS.
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
SETTLEMENT OF ESTATE OF DECEASED PERSONS; CLAIMS AGAINST ESTATE;
TIME WITHIN WHICH CLAIMS SHALL BE FIXED; EXTENSION AFTER PERIOD
LIMITED HAS ELAPSED GRANTED ONLY UNDER SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES.
180

It is quite true that the Courts can extend the period within which to present
claims against the estate, even after the period limited has elapsed; but such
extension should only be granted under special circumstances. In the case at
bar, where the claim was filed outside of the period provided for in the order
of the lower court within which to present claims against the estate, despite
the due publication of the petition for letter of administration and notice to
creditors in the Manila Daily Bulletin and the fact that the Agusan agency
had actual knowledge of the proceedings for the settlement of the estate
because of a previous deposit of an amount of money by the administrator of
the estate with appellant Bank (Agusan Agency), it is held that the finding of
the lower court, that there is no justifiable reason to give the extension, is
correct; and, moreover, there was no period to extend, since the same had
lapsed.

FACTS: For the administration of the estate of her deceased husband,


Pascual Villanueva, the widow Mauricia G. de Villanueva, on December 19,
1949, petitioned the Court of First Instance of Agusan, for letters of
Administration

At the hearing, the other heirs while agreeing to the placing of the
estate under administration, opposed the appointment of the widow.

On July 20, 1953, the defendant-appellant Philippine National Bank


filed in the administration proceedings a Creditor's Claim

The administrator, on November 5, 1954, opposed the claim, alleging


that he had no knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the
truth of the allegations therein.

The appellant PNB, on November 14, 1958, more than four (4) years
after the opposition of the claim presented by the administrator, filed a
pleading captioned "Petition for an Extension of time within which to File the
Claim of Philippine National Bank", alleging, among others, that Sec. 2, Rule
87 of the Rules, allows the filing of claims even if the period stated in the
notice to creditors had elapsed, upon cause shown and on such terms as are
equitable; that its failure to present the claim within the period stated in the
notice, was its lack of knowledge of the administration proceedings, for while
said bank maintains a branch office in Agusan, the employees there did not
come to know of the proceedings, the notice having been published in the
Morning Times, a newspaper of a very limited circulation.

CFI order that the claim of PNB was already barred barred by the
statute of limitations because the claim was due and demandable since
December 20, 1940, but was filed on July 20, 1953, after the expiration of
ten years, and considering that said filing was furthermore not presented in
court within the period fixed by Sec. 2, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court, and no
reason having been shown to justify the extension of time for its filing, the
Court resolves to deny as it hereby denies the petition for an extension of
time for the filing of the claim by the Philippine National Bank. The failure of
the Bank to present on time the claim was due to its own fault and can
hardly be considered excusable negligence.

PNB filed a Motion for Reconsideration - Appellant Bank moved to


reconsider the above Order, arguing that the statute of limitations had been
suspended by the Moratorium Law, and that the courts can extend the period
limited in the notice, under special circumstances, and on grounds of equity
(Velasquez vs. Teodoro, 46 Phil. 757).
181

The PNB listed five incidents, which it considered special circumstances


to warrant the granting of the extension to present claim, among which are
the lack of knowledge of the pendency of the administration proceedings;
the legitimacy of the loan secured by the deceased; that when it filed the
claim, it did not know that the period stated in the notice had already
expired.

Decision of the lower court. "The Court believes that the filing of
money claim on July 20, 1953 in the Office of the Clerk of Court did not
suspend the running of the period of prescription because said claim was
filed out of time and therefore invalid for all legal purposes. A careful revision
of the record shows that the Philippine National Bank, contrary to the
pretension of its counsel, had knowledge of the present administration
proceedings long before July 20, 1953, because the second payment of the
claim due to the deceased Pascual Villanueva from the Philippine War
Damage Commission in the amount of P6,441.30, was deposited in the
Agusan Agency of the Bank in June, 1951.

ISSUE: whether or not the claim in question is already barred.

RULING: The decision of the lower court is AFFIRMED.

Admittedly, the claim was filed outside of the period provided for in the
Order of the lower court, within which to present claims against the estate.
The period fixed in the notice lapsed on November 16, 1951 and the claim
was filed on July 20, 1953 or about 1 year and 8 months late.

It is to be noted that the petition for Letters of Administration and the


Notice to Creditors were duly published in the Manila Daily Bulletin and in the
Morning Times, respectively, which was a full compliance with the
requirements of the Rules. Moreover, the supposed lack of knowledge of the
proceedings on the part of appellant and its employees had been belied by
uncontested and eloquent evidence, consisting of a deposit of an amount of
money by the administrator of the estate in said Bank (Agusan Agency).

It is quite true that the Courts can extend the period within which to
present claims against the estate, even after the period limited has elapsed;
but such extension should only be granted under special circumstances. The
lower court did not find any justifiable reason to give the extension and for
one thing, there was no period to extend, since the same had lapsed.

Having reached the above conclusions, we deem it unnecessary to


determine the question as to whether or not the Moratorium Law had
suspended the prescriptive period for filing of the claim under consideration.

G.R. NO. L-41036 SEPTEMBER 5, 1975

IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE


PORFIRIO VILLARIN, DECEASED. PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK,
PETITIONER-CLAIMANT-APPELLANT, VS. PURIFICACION VDA. DE
VILLARIN, PORFIRIO VILLARIN, JR., ASSISTED BY HER MOTHER
182

PURIFICACION VDA. DE VILLARIN, ADMINISTRATRIX-


OPPOSITOR-APPELLEE.

FACTS: PNB obtain a money judgment in its favor and against Porfirio Villarin
which became final and executor on August 11, 1955; Porfirio died on
January 1961; PNB then filed a petition for the issuance of letters of
administration for the intestate estate of Prfirio on July 13, 1965; On
September 24, 1965, letters of administration were issued in favor of the
widow; On March 9, 1966, PNB filed with the CFI its claims against the
Intestate Estate of the deceased Porfirio; The heirs oppose contending that
the claim has already prescribed since 10 years has already passed (Article
1144 of Civil Code).

ISSUE: Whether or not the claims against the estate was filed out of time.

RULING: NO. When appellant Bank filed a petition for the issuance of letters
of administration stating therein that it was one of the creditors of the estate
of the deceased, it can be considered for all legal intents and purposes that
appellant Bank has made known its claim against it and since the aforesaid
petition was filed within the 10-year prescriptive period for the revival of the
money judgment in question, appellant Bank may be deemed to have filed
its claim on time. In effect, the filing of the petition for the issuance of letters
of administration is the first concrete step to take so that the creditors of the
estate of the deceased may be known and recognized. Once a creditor has
filed a petition for the issuance of letters of administration, the court shall
issue letters of administration to a qualified person.

At first blush it, would appear that the filing of the claim on March 9,
1966 was already out of time because it was filed more than seven months
after the ten-year prescriptive period for reviving the money judgment has
prescribed.

However, considering that the appellant Bank has already filed a


petition for the issuance of letters of administration in the settlement of the
intestate estate of the decedent on July 13, 1965, which is within the 10-year
period, the filing of the formal claim on March 9, 1966 can be made to
retroact to the date when the petition for letters of administration was filed
with the lower court because that was actually the time the appellant bank
had made known to the court that it has a claim against the estate of the
deceased. And thus having made known on time its claim against the estate
of the deceased by means of its petition for the issuance of letters of
administration in the settlement of the intestate estate of Porfirio Villarin,
this, We believe, has given appellant Bank sufficient cause of action to assert
its claim against the estate of the deceased.

G.R. NO. L-18107 AUGUST 30, 1962

MARIA G. AGUAS, FELIX GUARDINO AND FRANCISCO SALINAS,


PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, VS. HERMOGENES LLEMOS,
DECEASED DEFENDANT SUBSTITUTED BY HIS
183

REPRESENTATIVES, PERPETUA YERRO-LLEMOS, HERMENEGILDO


LLEMOS, FELINO LLEMOS AND AMADO LLEMOS, DEFENDANTS-
APPELLEES.

FACTS: Francisco Salinas and the spouses Felix Guardino and Maria Aguas
jointly filed before the CFI of Catbalogan, Samar an action for damages
against Hermogenes Llemos

Plaintiffs averred that:

Llemos had served them by registered mail with a copy of a petition for
a writ of possession, with notice that the same would be submitted to the
said CFI.

In view of the copy and notice served, plaintiffs went all the way from
Manila to Samar accompanied by their lawyers, only to discover that no such
petition had been filed.

Llemos maliciously failed to appear in court, rendering plaintiff's


expenses and trouble all in vain, causing them mental anguish and undue
embarrassment. He died before he could answer the complaint.

Upon leave of court, plaintiffs amended their complaint to include


Llemos' heirs. The heirs filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted on the
following grounds:
The legal representative, not the heirs, should have been made the
party defendant.

The action being for recovery of money, testate/intestate proceedings


should be initiated and the claim filed therein. The MR was denied. Thus, this
case.

ISSUE: whether or not the action filed by plaintiff-appellants one that is


abated by the death of the defendant?

RULING: NO. Plaintiffs argue that when a comparison is made between


those provisions of the Rules of Court concerning claims that are barred if not
filed in the estate settlement proceedings (Rule 86 [then Rule 87], Sec. 5)
and those defining actions that survive and may be prosecuted against the
executor or administrator (Rule 87 [then Rule 88], Sec. 1), actions for
damages caused by tortious conduct of a defendant (as in the case at bar)
survive the death of the latter.

However, Rule 86, Sec. 5 enumerates the actions that are abated by
death which are:

1. Claims for funeral expenses and those for the last sickness of the
decedent;
2. Judgments for money;
3. All claims for money against the decedent, arising from contract
express or implied.
None of which include that of the plaintiffs, for it is not enough that the
claim against the deceased party be for money, but it must arise from
184

"contract express or implied", i.e. all purely personal obligations other than
those which have their source in delict or tort.

G.R. NO. L-31364 MARCH 30, 1979

MISAEL P. VERA, AS COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE,


AND JAIME ARANETA, AS REGIONAL DIRECTOR, REVENUE
REGION NO. 14, BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE,
PETITIONERS, VS. HON. JOSE F. FERNANDEZ, JUDGE OF THE
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, BRANCH
V, AND FRANCIS A. TONGOY, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE
OF THE LATE LUIS D. TONGOY RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: A motion for allowance of claim and for payment of taxes dated May
28, 1969 was filed on June 3, 1969 for the collection of the indebtedness to
the government of the late Luis D. Tongoy for deficiency income taxes in the
total sum of P3,254.80. The administrator opposed the motion solely on the
ground that the claim was barred under Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of
Court. Jose Fernandez dismissed the motion for allowance of claim filed by
the Regional director of the BIR, being the judge of the Court of First
Instance.

ISSUE: Whether the statute of non-claims Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rule of


Court bars claim of the government for unpaid taxes, still within the period of
limitation prescribed in Section 331 and 332 of the National Internal Revenue
Code

RULING: No. Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Curt makes no mention of


claims for monetary obligation of the decedent created by law, such as taxes
which is entirely of different character from the claims enumerated, such as
all claims for money against the decedent arising from contract, express or
implied, whether the same be due, or contingent, all claim for funeral
expenses and expenses for the last sickness of the decedent and judgment
for money against the decedent. Under the familiar rule of statutory
construction, the mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another thing
not mentioned.

G.R. NO. L-22737 NOVEMBER 28, 1924

ESTATE OF THE DECEASED ANTONIO TANPOCO. VICENTE


GOTAMCO, ADMINISTRATOR, VS. CHAN SENG, GUARDIAN OF
TAN KIM CHOO, OPPONENT-APPELLEE;

JOSE RAZON, GUARDIAN AD LITEM OF THE MINOR TAN KIM


HONG, APPELLANT .
185

FACTS: Antonio Tanpoco died in the year 1920 and left a will dividing his
estate of over P300,000 among four sons, one-half of which he bequeathed
to Tan Kim Hong, the claimant, whom he described in his will as his
legitimate son, and the other half he left in equal shares to his three adopted
sons; Two Chinese named Tan Kim Lay and Te Sue, one of Tarlac and the
other of Manila, were appointed and qualified as commissioners, and later
they published the usual notice to creditors to present their claims within six
months at the office of Attorney M. G. Goyena, of Manila; June 29, 1921, the
commissioners presented their report to the court in which, among others,
they reported the allowance of the claim here in question; At the time all of
the heirs, including Tan Kim Hong, were minors and had lived in China since
the death of Antonio Tanpoco, as also had the widow of the deceased; On
June 29, 1921, the date the commissioners' report was filed, the executed
filed a motion asking for the appointment of an attorney of his own choice as
curador ad litem for the minor heirs; The court ignored request of the
executor, and on July 2, 1921, upon its own motion, appointed Mr. Felipe
Canillas, who treated his appointed as a formality and did not make any
investigation of the facts, and hence the report of the commissioners was
approved on July 14, 1922.

In September, 1922, they arrived in Manila and employed counsel to


represent and protect their interest, and it was then that Chan Seng learned
for the first time of the allowance of the claim in favor of Tan Kim Hong. Upon
her motion, on November 27, 1922, Judge Harvey ordered an investigation of
the administration of Go Siu San as executor, which was made by Mr. Felipe
Canillas, who still held the position of curador ad litem of all the minor heirs,
including the claimant, who made a written report.

For his part, appellant avers that the report of the committee allowing
the claim was made and filed on June 29, 1921, and contends that it became
automatically final on July 14, 1921; that the opponent should have made
her opposition within the time specified in the Code, and that her failure to
take the statutory appeal is a bar to all defenses, citing and relying upon the
case of De los Santos vs. Reyes (37 Phil. 104) that there was a substantial
compliance with all of the statutory requirements, and the decision in that
case was based upon that fact (res judicata).

ISSUE: Whether or not res juriscata applies.

RULING: No. A judgment is the law's last word in a judicial controversy. It


may therefore be defined as the final consideration and determination of a
court of competent jurisdiction upon the matters submitted to it in an action
or proceeding. A more precise definition is that a judgment is the conclusion
of the law upon the matters contained in the record, or the application of the
law to the pleadings and to the facts, as found by the court or admitted by
the parties, or deemed to exist upon their default in a course of judicial
proceedings. It should be noted that only is a judgment which is pronounced
between the parties to an action upon the matters submitted to the court for
decision.

In the instant case there was not claim made, filed or presented by
anyone. Legally speaking, the allowance of the claim would be like rendering
a judgment without the filing of a complaint, or even the making or
presentment of a claim.
186

Upon the facts shown, to legalize the allowance of the claim with all of
the formalities and requisites of a final judgment, would be a travesty upon
justice. It appears from the record before us that the commissioners did not
have any jurisdiction to allow the claim; that as to the claim in question their
proceedings were null and void ab initio, and hence they were not res
judicata, and in addition to that, it clearly appears that the allowance of the
claim was a fraud upon the appellee.

G.R. NO. L-38051 DECEMBER 26, 1974

SEVERINO PAREDES, AND VICTORIO G. IGNACIO, PETITIONERS,


VS. THE HON. JOSE L. MOYA, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF MANILA, BRANCH IX AND CARMENCITA NAVARRO-
ADMINISTRATRIX (SUBSTITUTED FOR DECEASED AUGUST
KUNTZE), RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Parades commenced a suit for the collection of separation and


overtime pays against his employer, Kuntze, to which the CFI ruled in his
favor.

Kuntze appealed to the CA. While the case was pending appeal in the said
Court, Kuntze died.

Paredes filed a motion for execution. The Administratix of the estate filed a
motion to quash. CFI ruled in favor of Paderes.

Being the highest bidder, the properties in the public auction was sold to
Paderes which in turn he sold to a certain Ignacio.

ISSUE: Whether or not the issuance of the Writ of Execution was proper.

RULING: No. We hold that in the case of a money claim, where the
defendant dies during the pendency of his appeal from the judgment
rendered against him, the appeal should not be dismissed; it should
continue, but the deceased defendant should be substituted by his legal
representative, namely, the executor or administrator of the estate. If the
judgment of the lower court is affirmed, the plaintiff must afterwards go to
the probate court for an order directing the executor or administrator to
satisfy the judgment. The Court of First Instance that originally rendered the
judgment has no power to order its execution and a levy on the properties of
the deceased because the same are already in custodia legis in the probate
court where administration proceedings for the settlement of the estate of
the deceased defendant are already pending.

G.R. NO. L-18936 MAY 23, 1967

INTESTATE ESTATE OF ENCARNACION ELCHICO VDA. DE


FERNANDO, DECEASED.
187

NATIVIDAD E. IGNACIO AND LEONOR E. ALMAZAN,


ADMINISTRATRICES-APPELLANTS, VS. PAMPANGA BUS
COMPANY, INC., CLAIMANT APPELLEE.

FACTS: Pambusco lodged a complaint for collection of money with the CFI
Manila against two (2) defendants Valentin Fernando and Encarnacion Elchico
Vda. de Fernando.

January 23, 1955. Encarnacion Elchico Vda. de Fernando died. By this


time, Pambusco in the foregoing civil case had already presented its
evidence and submitted its case.

March 23, 1955. Intestate proceedings were filed.2 Notice to the


estate's creditors was given for them to file their claims within six (6) months
from this date, the first publication of the notice.

Pambusco filed a motion in the civil case to order the then


administrator, to substitute for the deceased as one of the defendants. No
objection to this order was registered.

The judgment in the civil case having reached finality, Pambusco


moved in the intestate proceedings that the heirs and/or the present joint
administratrices, Natividad E. Ignacio and Leonor E. Almazan, be ordered to
pay the share of the deceased in the judgment debt.
The administratrices opposed. Ground: Pambusco's claim is time-
barred.

ISSUE: Whether or not the claim of Pambusco is barred.

RULING: No. As a general rule, it should be dismissed.

Rule 3, SEC. 21. Where claim does not survive. When the action is
for recovery of money, debt or interest thereon, and the defendant dies
before final judgment in the Court of First Instance, it shall be dismissed to
be prosecuted in the manner especially provided in these rules.

However, at the time of the death of defendant Encarnacion Elchico


Vda. de Fernando, plaintiff Pambusco had already closed its evidence and
submitted its case. Her administrator substituted. By this substitution, the
estate had notice of the claim. The estate was thus represented. The
administrator did not complain of the substitution. At no time did the estate
of the deceased impugn the authority of the regular courts to determine the
civil case much less did it seek abatement of the civil suit. On the contrary,
its administrator took active steps to protect the interests of the estate.

G.R. NO. L-45350 MAY 29, 1939


188

BACHRACH MOTOR CO., INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, VS.


ESTEBAN ICARAGAL AND ORIENTAL COMMERCIAL CO.,
INC., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.

FACTS: On June 11, 1930, defendant herein, Esteban Icaragal, with one
Jacinto Figueroa, for value received, executed in favor of the plaintiff,
Bachrach Motor Co., Inc., a promissory note for one thousand six hundred
fourteen pesos (P1,614), and in security for its payment, said Esteban
Icaragal executed a real estate mortgage on a parcel of land in Pagil,
Laguna, which was duly registered on August 5, 1931, in the registry of
deeds of the Province of Laguna. Thereafter, promissors defaulted in the
payment of the agreed monthly installments; wherefore, plaintiff instituted in
the Court of First Instance of Manila an action for the collection of the
amount due on the note. Judgment was there rendered for the plaintiff.

A writ of execution was subsequently issued and, in pursuance thereof,


the provincial sheriff of Laguna, at the indication of the plaintiff, levied on the
properties of the defendants, including that which has been mortgaged by
Esteban Icaragal in favor of the plaintiff. The other defendant herein,
Oriental Commercial Co., Inc., interposed a third-party claim, alleging that by
virtue of a writ of execution issued in civil case No. 88253 of the municipal
court of the City of Manila, the property which was the subject of the
mortgage and which has been levied upon by the sheriff, had already been
acquired by it at the public auction on May 12, 1933.

By reason of this third-party claim, the sheriff desisted from the sale of
the property and, in consequence thereof, the judgment rendered in favor of
the plaintiff remained unsatisfied. Whereupon, plaintiff instituted an action to
foreclose the mortgage. The trial court dismissed the complaint and, from
the judgment thus rendered plaintiff took the present appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not Bachrach Motor is barred from foreclosing the real
estate mortgage after it has elected to sue and obtain a personal judgment
against Esteban on the promissory note for the payment of which the
mortgage was constituted as a security.

RULING: YES. The party can avail of two remedies, either to file an action
for payment of the debt or to foreclose the mortgage securing the debt. If
the party elects one of the remedies, then he waives his right to avail of the
other remedy. He cannot avail of both remedy.

The rule has always been, and still is, that a party who sues and
obtains a personal judgment against a defendant upon a note, waives
thereby his right to foreclose the mortgage securing it. The rule against
splitting a single cause of action is intended "to prevent repeated litigation
between the same parties in regard to the same subject of controversy; to
protect defendant from unnecessary vexation; and to avoid the costs and
expenses incident to numerous suits."

For non-payment of a note secured by mortgage, the creditor has a


single cause of action against the debtor. This single cause of action consists
in the recovery of the credit with execution of the security. In other words,
the creditor in his action may make two demands, the payment of the debt
189

and the foreclosure of his mortgage. But both demands arise from the same
cause, the non-payment of the debt, and, for that reason, they constitute a
single cause of action. Though the debt and the mortgage constitute
separate agreements, the latter is subsidiary to the former, and both refer to
one and the same obligation. Consequently, there exists only one cause of
action for a single breach of that obligation. Plaintiff, then, by applying the
rule above stated, cannot split up his single cause of action by filing a
complaint for payment of the debt, and thereafter another complaint for
foreclosure of the mortgage. If he does so, the filing of the first complaint will
bar the subsequent complaint. By allowing the creditor to file two separate
complaints simultaneously or successively, one to recover his credit and
another to foreclose his mortgage, we will, in effect, be authorizing him
plural redress for a single breach of contract at so much cost to the courts
and with so much vexation and oppression to the debtor.

We hold, therefore, that, in the absence of express statutory provisions,


a mortgage creditor may institute against the mortgage debtor either a
personal action for debt or real action to foreclose the mortgage. In other
words, he may pursue either of the two remedies, but not both. By such
election, his cause of action can by no means be impaired, for each of the
two remedies is complete in itself.

Thus, an election to bring personal action will leave open to him all the
properties of the debtor for attachment and execution, even including the
mortgaged property itself. And, if he waives such personal action and
pursues his remedy against the mortgaged property, an unsatisfied
judgment thereon would still give him the right to sue for a deficiency
judgment, in which case, all the properties of the defendant, other than the
mortgaged property, are again open to him for the satisfaction of the
deficiency. In either case, his remedy is complete, his cause of action
undiminished, and any advantages attendant to the pursuit of one or the
other remedy are purely accidental and are all under his right of election. On
the other hand, a rule that would authorize the plaintiff to bring a personal
action against the debtor and simultaneously or successively another action
against the mortgaged property, would result not only in multiplicity of suits
so offensive to justice (Soriano vs. Enriquez, 24 Phil., 584) and obnoxious to
law and equity (Osorio vs. San Agustin, 25 Phil., 404), but also in subjecting
the defendant to the vexation of being sued in the place of his residence of
the plaintiff, and then again in the place where the property lies.

G.R. NO. L-24008. AUGUST 31, 1970.

QUIRINO SORIANO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, V. PARSONS


HARDWARE CO., INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.

FACTS: The defendant Parsons Hardware Company, Inc. (hereinafter referred


to as the Company) was the holder of two mortgage deeds over four parcels
of registered land, all located in the province of Cavite, executed in 1955 by
the spouses Claro Soriano and Irene Quilao. After Sorianos death, Quirino
Soriano was appointed administrator of the formers estate in special
proceeding 6107 of the same court. (The date of death of Claro Soriano and
190

the date of appointment of Quirino Soriano as administrator are nowhere to


be found in the record.)

On January 14, 1958 the Company filed a "Contingent Claim Against


the Estate" on the basis of various debts owing to it by the Soriano spouses,
including the ones covered by the two aforementioned real state mortgage
deeds. Paragraph 5 of the said pleading recites: "That the herein creditor-
claimant relies upon the above mentioned mortgages for the satisfaction of
its claims against the defendant Claro Soriano, but nevertheless reserves its
right to file, as it hereby files, a Contingent Claim for whatever amount that
may be left unsatisfied after full exhaustion of all of the above-mentioned
securities or for whatever deficiency judgment that may accrue in favor of
creditor-claimant arising from the non-satisfaction of the above referred to
claims after judicial foreclosure of the above mortgages." In the same
pleading, the Company prayed that its "contingent claim . . . be approved,
and upon verification of the amount of the said claim to direct the
administrator to pay the same."

Four years later, or more precisely on February 23, 1962, the Company
sent a letter to the provincial sheriff of Cavite, requesting him to foreclose
the mortgages extrajudicially, pursuant to the terms of the mortgage deeds.
Acting on this letter, the sheriff scheduled the public auction sale of the
encumbered properties for November 12, 1962.

On November 9, 1962, three days prior to the scheduled date of the


sale, a "Joint Request For Transfer Of Extrajudicial Sale," executed by the
Company, by the plaintiff administrator, and by Irene Quilao Vda. de Soriano,
was filed with the sheriff. The burden of this joint request was the
postponement of the auction sale to December 20, 1962. This request was
granted.

Thereafter the public sale was held as scheduled, and to the Company, which
was the only bidder, were sold the mortgaged properties in the amount of
P62,624.36.

One year after the public sale, or more precisely on December 20,
1963, the plaintiff, in his capacity as administrator of the intestate estate of
Claro Soriano, lodged the present complaint, claiming that the foreclosure
sale was void as the Company, having priorly elected to pursue its claim in
the intestate proceedings, could not in law be permitted to turn around and
instead pursue the remedy of extrajudicial foreclosure. He therefore asked
that the foreclosure sale be annulled and the properties object thereof be
ordered reverted to the estate of Claro Soriano.

ISSUE: Whether under Section 7 of Rule 86 of the Rules of Court the filing of
the Contingent Claim by the Company in the intestate proceeding
constituted a bar to the extrajudicial foreclosure sale. NO. The purpose of
filing of the Contingent Claim is to notify the intestate court to take
191

appropriate action. The company can still drop the option chosen and avail of
the other remaining options.

RULING: Section 7 of Rule 87 (now section * 86) enumerates three distinct,


independent and mutually exclusive remedies available to a mortgage
creditor for the satisfaction of his credit. He may (a) "abandon the security
and Prosecute his claim in the manner provided in this rule, and share in the
general distribution of the assets of the estate;" or (b) "foreclose his
mortgage or realize upon his security, by ordinary action in court, making the
executor or administrator a party defendant, and if there is a judgment for a
deficiency, after the sale of the mortgaged premises, or the property
pledged, in the foreclosure or other proceeding to realize upon the security.
he may claim his deficiency judgment in the manner provided in the
preceding section;" or (c) "rely upon his mortgage or other security alone,
and foreclose the same at any time within the period of the statute of
limitations, and in that event he shall not be admitted as a creditor and shall
receive no share in the distribution of the other assets of the estate."

It seems rather clear, in this case before us, that the Company never
intended to abandon its securities because by the very terms of its
"Contingent Claim" it explicitly and unequivocally indicated that it would rely,
basically, upon the mortgages, reserving its right to ask for a deficiency
judgment, if, after a judicial foreclosure of its securities, a portion of the loan
remained unsatisfied. No doubt, the Company elected the second remedy.
But election by the creditor of any of the three options is not jurisdictional,
and as long as no positive forward step has been taken by him in pursuance
of the option selected, he is not precluded from dropping the option already
chosen and resorting to any of the two other options available to him.

It is also obvious that the primary objective of the Company in filing its
"Contingent Claim" was to serve notice to the intestate court before such
notice be came time-barred that it might have to ask the court to have its
remaining receivables satisfied in the intestate proceeding. Such notice was
indubitably necessary to enable the intestate court, at the proper time, to
take appropriate action thereon.

Section 7 of Rule 87 (now Rule 86) does no more than provide the
mortgage-creditor, in the interest of speedy, orderly and inexpensive
settlement of the estate of a decedent, a choice of one of three courses of
action for the satisfaction of its loan portfolio. An entirely distinct and
independent act, to be performed in conformity with procedures laid down by
the Legislature or by this Court, is still necessary to effectuate and achieve
the remedy elected. Thus, in this case, the mere fact that the Company
formally informed the intestate court that it was electing to foreclose
judicially its mortgages did not automatically operate as authority for the
court motu propio to put into motion the machinery necessary for the judicial
foreclosure of the said securities. It was indispensable for the Company to file
an independent complaint for that specific purpose. The Company did no
more than signify its election of an option.

The plaintiff, upon the other hand, even after the Company turned
around and actually announced an extrajudicial foreclosure of the properties,
did nothing to prevent or impede the foreclosure. In fact, in a positive way,
he even encouraged the sheriff to proceed with the auction sale, by
expressly requesting the latter to re schedule the date of the sale. And after
192

the sale had taken place, the plaintiff slumbered at a distance, until the very
last day allowed him for redemption of the properties sold.

From February 28, 1962 when the extrajudicial foreclosure of the


mortgages was commenced, up to December 23, 1963, the last day of the
period for redemption a total period of one year, nine months and twenty-
two days the plaintiff administrator never lifted a finger to question the
validity of the foreclosure proceedings. In point of fact, as has already been
stated, he even consented to the extrajudicial foreclosure by seeking the
postponement of the sale. It is now too late in the day for the plaintiff to
assert that the indelible taint of estoppel that has irretrievably and
unmistakably stained the totality of his actuations may still be erased.

G.R. NO. L-34450 DECEMBER 13, 1930

BENITO DE LOS REYES, ET AL., PETITIONERS, VS. COURT OF


FIRST INSTANCE OF BATANGAS AND CHUA PUA
HERMANOS, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: This is an original petition for the writ of certiorari filed in this court
by Benito de los Reyes and wife, for the purpose of quashing an order of the
Court of First Instance of Batangas granting an attachment of property
belonging to the plaintiffs, in an action instituted in the Court of First
Instance of the Province of Batangas, wherein the respondents Chua Pua
Hermanos are plaintiffs and the petitioners defendants. The cause has been
here submitted upon the answer of the defendants.

ISSUE: Whether in a proceeding to foreclose a mortgage upon land, the


court entertaining such proceeding can issue an attachment against other
property of the defendants than such as is included in the mortgage, upon a
showing, by affidavit, that the mortgage property is in sufficient to pay the
mortgage debt and that the defendants are attempting to alienate their
unmortgaged property to other persons with intent to defraud the plaintiff.
YES. An action for attachment may be obtained after the
commencement of the action.

RULING: We are of the opinion that the court has such authority. The
affidavit accompanying the application for attachment shows, in conformity
with the requirement of section 426 of the Code of Civil Procedure, that the
value of the mortgaged property is not sufficient to satisfy the debt. In
addition to this it is alleged in the affidavit that the defendants are
attempting to dispose of their other property, meaning property not
mortgaged to the plaintiff, with intent to defraud the plaintiff. This is in
conformity with the requirement of subsection 5 of section 412 of the Code
of Civil Procedure.

Under section 424 of the Code of Civil Procedure, an attachment may


be obtained at or after the commencement of the plaintiff's "action." The
word "action," as used in this provision, includes in our opinion a proceeding
for the foreclosure of a mortgage. This is of course directed primarily to the
193

property covered by the mortgage, but under section 260 of the Code of Civil
Procedure, the mortgage creditor is entitled to judgment for any excess
remaining due upon the mortgage debt after the mortgaged property shall
have been sold; and this judgment for the balance due is entered upon
motion in the foreclosure proceeding itself. This fact, taken in connection
with the statement of the affidavit to the effect that the mortgaged property
was insufficient in value to cover the indebtedness due to the plaintiff, made
a case where it was proper to grant an attachment upon the facts stated.

G.R. NO. 167321 JULY 31, 2006

EPIFANIO SAN JUAN, JR., PETITIONER, VS. JUDGE RAMON A.


CRUZ, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 224, QUEZON CITY
AND ATTY. TEODORICO A. AQUINO, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Loreto Samia San Juan executed a Last Will and Testament naming
Oscar Casa as one of the devisees therein. Upon Loreto's death on October
25, 1988, Atty. Teodorico A. Aquino filed a petition for the probate of the will
in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City. The case was raffled to
Branch 224 of the court and was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 98-
36118.

While the petition was pending, Oscar Casa died intestate on May 24,
1999. The firm of Aquino, Galang, Lucas, Espinoza, Miranda & Associates
entered their appearance as counsel of Federico Casa, Jr., who claimed to be
one of the heirs of Oscar Casa and their representative.

On August 14, 2002, the probate court issued an Order denying the
entry of appearance of said law firm, considering that Federico Casa, Jr. was
not the executor or administrator of the estate of the devisee, hence, cannot
be substituted for the deceased as his representative as required by Section
16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. On November 22, 2002, the court issued an
order directing Aquino to secure the appointment of an administrator or
executor of the estate of Oscar Casa in order that the appointee be
substituted in lieu of the said deceased.

On February 26, 2003, Aquino filed a pleading entitled "Appointment of


Administrator" signed by Candelaria, Jesus, Arlyn, Nestor, Edna, Benhur,
Federico, Rafael and Ma. Eden, all surnamed Casa, on February 24, 2003,
praying that one of them, Federico Casa, Jr., be designated as administrator
of the estate of the deceased and that he be substituted for the deceased.

NOW THEREFORE, in compliance with the ORDER of the Probate


Court, cited above, we, the legal heirs of the deceased OSCAR CASA,
unanimously designate and appoint FEDERICO CASA, JR., as the
ADMINISTRATOR of the property to be inherited by the deceased
OSCAR CASA, in the WILL of the late LORETO SAMIA SAN
JUAN, considering that FEDERICO CASA, JR., is the nearest accessible
heir to attend the hearing of the probate of the will and is most
competent to assume the responsibilities and the duties of the
ADMINISTRATOR. We authorize him to represent us the heirs of the
deceased OSCAR CASA, on the hearing of the probate of the will of the
testatrix and to perform such duties as might be required by the
194

Probate Court; to take possession of the properties designated in the


WILL upon distribution by the appointed ADMINISTRATOR of the Estate
of LORETO SAMIA SAN JUAN. (emphasis supplied)

In compliance with the order of the court, Epifanio San Juan filed a
"Motion to Declare Appointment of Administrator As Inadequate or
Insufficient." He maintained that the heirs should present an administrator of
the estate of Oscar Casa as the representative of the estate in the case.

In his reply, Aquino stated that, under Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of
Court, the heirs of Oscar Casa may be substituted for the deceased without
need for appointment of an administrator or executor of the estate. He also
claimed that the court is enjoined to require the representative to appear
before the court and be substituted within the prescribed period.

ISSUE: Whether there is a need for the appointment of an administrator of


the estate of Oscar Casa, or whether it is enough that he be substituted by
his heirs. NO. There is no need for the appointment of the administrator or
the executor, the heirs may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased.

RULING: Section 16, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure reads:

Sec. 16. Death of party; duty of counsel. Whenever a party to a


pending action dies, and the claim is not thereby extinguished, it shall
be the duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) days
after such death of the fact thereof, and to give the name and address
of his legal representative or representatives. Failure of counsel to
comply with this duty shall be a ground for disciplinary action.

The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the


deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or
administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the
minor heirs.

The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or


representatives to appear and be substituted within a period of thirty
(30) days from notice.

If no legal representative is named by the counsel for the deceased


party, or if the one so named shall fail to appear within the specified
period, the court may order the opposing party, within a specified time,
to procure the appointment of an executor or administrator for the
estate of the deceased and the latter shall immediately appear for and
on behalf of the deceased. The court charges in procuring such
appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as
costs.

The rule is a revision of Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court which reads:

Death of party. 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 to be substituted for the
deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days, or within such time as
may be granted. If the legal representative fails to appear within said
time, the court may order the opposing party to procure the
appointment of a legal representative of the deceased within a time to
195

be specified by the court, and the representative shall immediately


appear for and on behalf of the interest of the deceased. The court
charges involved in procuring such appointment, if defrayed by the
opposing party, may be recovered as costs. The heirs of the deceased
may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased, without requiring
the appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may
appoint guardian ad litem for the minor heirs.

The second paragraph of the rule is plain and explicit: the heirs may be
allowed to be substituted for the deceased without requiring the
appointment of an administrator or executor. However, if within the specified
period a legal representative fails to appear, the court may order the
opposing counsel, within a specified period, to process the appointment of an
administrator or executor who shall immediately appear for the estate of the
deceased. The pronouncement of this Court in Lawas v. Court of Appeals
(relied upon by petitioner), that priority is given to the legal representative of
the deceased (the executor or administrator) and that it is only in case of
unreasonable delay in the appointment of an executor or administrator, or in
cases where the heirs resort to an extrajudicial settlement of the estate that
the court may adopt the alternative of allowing the heirs of the deceased to
be substituted for the deceased, is no longer true. In Gochan v. Young, a case
of fairly recent vintage, the Court ruled as follows:

The above-quoted rules, while permitting an executor or


administrator to represent or to bring suits on behalf of the deceased,
do not prohibit the heirs from representing the deceased. These rules
are easily applicable to cases in which an administrator has already
been appointed. But no rule categorically addresses the situation in
which special proceedings for the settlement of an estate have already
been instituted, yet no administrator has been appointed. In such
instances, the heirs cannot be expected to wait for the appointment of
an administrator; then wait further to see if the administrator
appointed would care enough to file a suit to protect the rights and the
interests of the deceased; and in the meantime do nothing while the
rights and the properties of the decedent are violated or dissipated.

The Rules are to be interpreted liberally in order to promote their


objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of
every action and proceeding. They cannot be interpreted in such a way
as to unnecessarily put undue hardships on litigants. For the protection
of the interests of the decedent, this Court has in previous instances
recognized the heirs as proper representatives of the decedent, even
when there is already an administrator appointed by the court. When
no administrator has been appointed, as in this case, there is all the
more reason to recognize the heirs as the proper representatives of the
deceased. Since the Rules do not specifically prohibit them from
representing the deceased, and since no administrator had as yet been
appointed at the time of the institution of the Complaint with the SEC,
we see nothing wrong with the fact that it was the heirs of John D.
Young, Sr. who represented his estate in the case filed before the SEC.
(Emphasis supplied)

The heirs of the estate of Oscar Casa do not need to first secure the
appointment of an administrator of his estate, because from the very
moment of his death, they stepped into his shoes and acquired his rights as
devisee/legatee of the deceased Loreto San Juan. Thus, a prior appointment
of an administrator or executor of the estate of Oscar Casa is not necessary
196

for his heirs to acquire legal capacity to be substituted as representatives of


the estate. Said heirs may designate one or some of them as their
representative before the trial court.

G.R. NO. 157483 JUNE 21, 2007

SPOUSES CARLOS AND JUANITA SURIA, PETITIONERS, VS.


HEIRS OF BRIGIDO M. TOMOLIN, NAMELY: DAMIANA T. PEREZ
AND LUCRESIA T. DECLARO, RESPONDENTS.
Note: There is no mention of Rule 86 but it is related to Sec. 16 of Rule 3 of
the Rules of Procedure, regarding claims against estate for deceased
persons.

FACTS: Brigido M. Tomolin was the owner of a certain lot which he later sold
to Carlos Suria, petitioner. Later, Tomolin filed a Complaint for Annulment of
the Deed of Absolute Sale of a Parcel of Land. The complaint alleges, among
others, that Tomolin, then seriously ill, was inveigled by petitioners into
signing the contract of sale and that they did not pay him.

When Tomolin died, he was survived by his nieces, namely: Damiana


Tomolin Perez, Caridad Tomolin Soria, Lucresia Tomolin Declaro, and Lolita
Tomolin Espina.

Then, the counsel for Tomolin filed a Notice of Substitution of a


Party pursuant to Section 16, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, as amended.

(Section 16. Death of party; duty of counsel. Whenever a party to a


pending action dies, and the claim is not thereby extinguished, it shall
be the duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) days
after such death of the fact thereof, and to give the name and address
of his legal representative or representatives. Failure of counsel to
comply with this duty shall be a ground for disciplinary action.

The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the


deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or
administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the
minor heirs.

The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or


representatives to appear and be substituted within a period of thirty
(30) days from notice.

If no legal representative is named by the counsel for the deceased


party, or if the one so named shall fail to appear within the specified
period, the court may order the opposing party, within a specified time,
to procure the appointment of an executor or administrator for the
estate of the deceased and the latter shall immediately appear for and
on behalf of the deceased. The court charges in procuring such
appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as
costs.)
197

Petitioners contend that the action to annul the Deed of Absolute Sale
and to cancel TCT filed by Tomolin did not survive after his death. Hence, his
heirs cannot continue to prosecute the action.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the action survives Tomolins death. Yes.


2. Whether or not the heirs may substitute for the deceased. Yes.

RULING: Yes. The question as to whether an action survives or not depends


on the nature of the action and the damage sued for. In the causes of action
which survive, the wrong complained of 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.

In his complaint and amended complaint filed with the trial court, Tomolin
prayed for the (1) annulment of the Deed of Absolute Sale of a Parcel of Land
(2) reconveyance (3) cancellation of the TCTs in the names of petitioners.

There can be no dispute that Tomolins complaint affects primarily and


principally property and property rights. Clearly, the action survives his
death. Thus, the Court of Appeals did not err in affirming the trial courts
judgment allowing the substitution of the late Tomolin.

G.R. NO. 147561 JUNE 22, 2006

STRONGHOLD INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., PETITIONER, VS.


REPUBLIC-ASAHI GLASS CORPORATION, RESPONDENT.
Obligations and Contracts; Death of a Party As a general rule, the death of
either the creditor or the debtor does not extinguish the obligation.
Obligations are transmissible to the heirs, except when the transmission is
prevented by the law, the stipulations of the parties, or the nature of the
obligation. Only obligations that are personal or are identified with the
persons themselves are extinguished by death. Section 5 of Rule 86 of the
Rules of Court expressly allows the prosecution of money claims arising from
a contract against the estate of a deceased debtor. Evidently, those claims
198

are not actually extinguished. What is extinguished is only the obligees


action or suit filed before the court, which is not then acting as a probate
court.

FACTS: In 1989, respondent Republic-Asahi Glass Corporation entered into a


contract with Jose D. Santos, Jr., the proprietor of JDS Construction (JDS), for
the construction of roadways and a drainage system in Republic-Asahis
compound, where respondent was to pay JDS P5,300,000.00, which was
supposed to be completed within a period of 240 days beginning May 8,
1989. In order to guarantee the faithful and satisfactory performance of its
undertakings, JDS shall post a performance bond of 795,000.00. JDS
executed, jointly and severally with [petitioner] Stronghold Insurance Co.,
Inc. (SICI).

Respondent alleged that, as a result of JDSs failure to comply with the


provisions of the contract, which resulted in the said contracts rescission, it
had to hire another contractor to finish the project, for which it incurred an
additional expense. Thus, respondent filed a complaint against JDS and SICI.

Petitioner SICI filed its answer, alleging that the respondents money
claims against petitioner and JDS have been extinguished by the death of
Jose D. Santos

ISSUE: Whether petitioners liability under the performance bond was


automatically extinguished by the death of Santos, the principal.

RULING: No.

Petitioner contends that the death of Santos, the bond principal,


extinguished his liability under the surety bond. Consequently, it says, it is
automatically released from any liability under the bond.

As a general rule, the death of either the creditor or the debtor does
not extinguish the obligation. Obligations are transmissible to the heirs,
except when the transmission is prevented by the law, the stipulations of the
parties, or the nature of the obligation. Only obligations that are personal or
are identified with the persons themselves are extinguished by death.

Section 5 of Rule 86 of the Rules of Court expressly allows the


prosecution of money claims arising from a contract against the estate of a
deceased debtor. Evidently, those claims are not actually extinguished. What
is extinguished is only the obligees action or suit filed before the court,
which is not then acting as a probate court.

In the present case, whatever monetary liabilities or obligations Santos


had under his contracts with respondent were not intransmissible by their
nature, by stipulation, or by provision of law. Hence, his death did not result
in the extinguishment of those obligations or liabilities, which merely passed
on to his estate. Death is not a defense that he or his estate can set up to
wipe out the obligations under the performance bond. Consequently,
petitioner as surety cannot use his death to escape its monetary obligation
under its performance bond.
199

The liability of petitioner is contractual in nature, because it executed a


performance bond.

As a surety, petitioner is solidarily liable with Santos in accordance with the


Civil Code, which provides as follows:

"Art. 2047. By guaranty a person, called the guarantor, binds himself


to the creditor to fulfill the obligation of the principal debtor in case the
latter should fail to do so.

"If a person binds himself solidarily with the principal debtor, the
provisions of Section 4, Chapter 3, Title I of this Book shall be
observed. In such case the contract is called a suretyship."

"Art. 1216. The creditor may proceed against any one of the solidary
debtors or some or all of them simultaneously. The demand made
against one of them shall not be an obstacle to those which may
subsequently be directed against the others, so long as the debt has
not been fully collected."

TOPIC: 2.7 ACTIONS BY AND AGAINST EXECUTORS AND


ADMINISTRATORS (RULE 87)

G.R. NO. L-48140 MAY 4, 1942

SINFOROSO PASCUAL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, VS. PONCIANO S.


PASCUAL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.

FACTS: September 14, 1940, while the proceedings for the probate of the
will of the deceased Eduarda de los Santos were pending in the CFI of Rizal
200

plaintiff, Sinforoso Pascual, instituted in the CFI of Pampanga against


Ponciano S. Pascual and others, an action for the annulment of a contract of
sale of a fishpond situated in Lubao, Pampanga, supposedly executed
without consideration by said deceased in her lifetime in favor of the
defendants. The complaint alleges that plaintiff and defendants are all
residents of Malabon, Rizal, and are legitimate children of the testratix,
Eduarda de los Santos.

Defendants filed of a motion to dismiss, alleging want of cause of


action, limitation of action, wrong venue and pendency of another action.
The trial court granted the motion on the ground that the action should have
been brought by the executor or administrator of the estate left by the
deceased, and directed the plaintiff to amend his complaint within five days.

ISSUE: Whether the action should have been brought by an executor or


administrator, instead of the petitioner.

RULING: No.

While the General Rule is:

Under Rule 87, section 2, of the Rules of Court, actions for the recovery
or protection of the property or rights of the deceased for causes which
survive may be prosecuted or defended by his executor or
administrator. Upon the commencement of the testate or intestate
proceedings the heirs have no standing in court in actions of the above
character, except when the executor or administrator is unwilling or
fails or refuses to act, in which event to heirs may act in his place.

But there is an Exception. Here, the fictitious sale is alleged to have


been made to the defendants, one of them, Miguel S. Pascual, being the
executor appointed by the probate court. Such executor naturally would not
bring an action against himself for recovery of the fishpond. His refusal to act
may, therefore, be implied. And this brings the case under the exception. It
should be noted that in the complaint the prayer is that the fishpond be
delivered not to the plaintiff but to the executor, thus indicating that the
action is brought in behalf of the estate of the deceased.

G.R. NO. L-5480 MARCH 21, 1910

RICARDO LOPEZ, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, VS.


ADOLFO OLBES, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF MARTINA
LOPEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

FACTS: October 13, 1908, Ricardo Lopez, in his own behalf Josefina Lopez y
Jaucian and her husband, Ceferino M. Villareal, and Encarnacion, Jose, and
Amparo Lopez y Jaucian brought suit against Adolfo Olbes, the testamentary
executor of the deceased Martina Lopez, alleging in their complaint that the
latter executed a public instrument before the notary whereby she donated
to the plaintiffs a parcel of hemp land; that this property was inscribed in the
registry of property of Albay in the name of the deceased Antonio Lopez, the
201

predecessor in interest of the said Martina Lopez, also deceased; that, by


virtue of the said donation, Ricardo Lopez was entitled to the usufruct of the
real property concerned, and that the other plaintiffs, Josefina, Encarnacion,
Jose, and Amparo, all surnamed Lopez y Jaucian, were the equal owners
thereof in fee simple; that on the same date, May 14, 1907, the said
donation was accepted by Ricardo Lopez on his own behalf and in
representation of the minor children above designated, and the donor,
Martina Lopez, on the same date, was duly notified of the said acceptance;
that the said Martina Lopez was the legitimate mother of the plaintiff Ricardo
Lopez, and the other plaintiffs, Josefina, Encarnacion, Jose, and Amparo, the
legitimate children of Ricardo Lopez, were her ligitimate grandchildren; that
Adolfo Olbes was the testamentary executor duly appointed by order issued
by the CFI.

The defendant, allege that the facts set forth in the complaint did not
constitute a right of action, inasmuch as the plaintiffs, as the heirs or donees,
could not maintain any suit against the testamentary executor to recover the
title or possession of the land so long as the court had not adjudicated the
estate to them or until the time allowed for paying the debts should have
expired, unless they be given possession of the said land by the executor.

This is question of maintaining the rights acquired by the plaintiffs by


virtue of a donation of land against the claims of the testamentary
administrator of the property left by the late Martina Lopez, who was the
donor of the said land.

ISSUE: Whether or not the heirs or donees could maintain a suit against the
testamentary executor to recover the title or possession of the subject land.

Ruling: Yes.

Editors note: While we have Sec. 3 of Rule 87:

Section 3. Heir may not sue until shall assigned When an executor or
administrator is appointed and assumes the trust, no action to recover
the title or possession of lands or for damages done to such lands shall
be maintained against him by an heir or devisee until there is an order
of the court assigning such lands to such heir or devisee or until the
time allowed for paying debts has expired.

The same is not applicable in the instant case, the reason being that
the subject land does not form part of the property of the estate of the
deceased. The subject land being validly donated to the heir/donees during
the lifetime of Martina Lopez.

The action exercised by Ricardo Lopez in his own behalf and as


guardian of his minor children, and by Josefina Lopez, assisted by her
husband Ceferino M. Villareal, in their character of donees, is based on the
rights which as such donees they had acquired by virtue of the donation inter
vivos made by Martina Lopez during her lifetime in favor of the plaintiffs, a
donation expressly accepted by the donees and of which acceptance the
donor was also informed; wherefore, these requirements of the law having
been complied with, it is unquestionable that the dominion over the land
donated was property transmitted to the donees who in fact and by
202

operation of the law acquired the ownership of the property, as customarily


occurs in all contracts of transfer of dominion.

Property of the testate estate of the deceased Martina Lopez is not


here concerned. During her lifetime she gave away the land mentioned, in
the exercise of a right that pertained to her as owner thereof. By virtue of the
said donation the sole and true owners of the land donated are the plaintiffs,
so long as the said donation is not proven to be null, inefficacious, or
irregular. All the questions which by reason of the same are raised by the
interested parties must be heard in a regular trial and decided by a final
judgment absolutely independent of the probate proceedings concerning the
estate of the deceased, who was the previous owner of the land concerned;
and therefore the complaint of the donees should not have been dismissed,
but the trial should have been proceeded with to final judgment.

The prima facie donation inter vivos and its acceptance by the donees
having been proved by means of a public instrument, and the donor having
been duly notified of said acceptance, the contract is perfect and obligatory
and its perfectly in order to demand its fulfillment, unless an exception is
proved which is based on some legal reason opportunely alleged by the
donor or her heirs.

So long as the donation in question has not been judicially and


declared to be null, the land donated is of the absolute ownership of the
donees and, consequently, does not form a part of the property of the estate
of the deceased Martina Lopez.

TOPIC: 2.8 RULES OF SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (RULE 88-90)

G.R. NO. 41354 SEPTEMBER 13, 1934

IN RE INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED GREGORIO DE LA


CRUZ. IGNACIO DE LA CRUZ, ADMINISTRATOR-APPELLEE, VS.
IGMIDIO DE LA CRUZ AND PEDRO DE LA CRUZ, OPPOSITORS-
APPELLANTS.

FACTS: Administrator filed a petition before the court, for authority to sell
two parcels of land for a price not less than 600 pesos. The request was
based on the fact that the present administration has no intestate funds. The
sum of 600 as the selling price shows that it was advantageous for the
203

administration, taking into account the present economic depression. That it


was necessary to sell the two parcels of land all together, for nobody would
want to buy them separately.

Later, the lower court authorized the sale of two parcels of land, and
subsequently executed a sale in favor of de Guzman and dela Roma.

Thereafter, Igmidio and Pedro both surname Dela cruz, the legitimate
sons of Gregorio Dela cruz the deceased, filed a petition, in which they
prayed that the said authority to sell be declared null and void.

Their petition espouses mainly, that the lower court has no jurisdiction
to order the sale of real estate without complying with the provision of sec.
714 and 718 of the code of civil procedure, more particularly, that it was not
specified in the application or petition the value of the personal property of
the estate.

Hence this case.

ISSUE: Won the averment of the value of the estate, in a petition for
authority to sell by an administrator can be dispensed with.

Ruling: NO

Section 722, provides, among other things, that when an executor or


administrator considers it necessary or beneficial to sell real or personal
estate . . . he may make application to the court having jurisdiction of the
estate, and such court may grant license . . . under the following regulations:

1. The executor or administrator shall present to the court his petition


in writing, setting forth the amount of debts due from the deceased,
with charges of administration, the value of the personal estate,
situation of the estate to be sold, or such other facts as show that the
sale is necessary or beneficial;

The petition of the administrator in this case does not set forth the
value of the personal estate nor does it allege that there is no personal
estate nor that if there be such its sale would redound to the detriment of
the interests of the participants therein.

The requirement in regulation No. 1 of section 722 as to the setting


forth of the value of the personal estate of the deceased is just as important
as the others mentioned in the case cited above. This conclusion is inevitable
if regulation No. 7 of section 722 means anything. This regulation provides
that "The record of the order of sale in the court, and the copy or the
certificate of such order furnished the executor or administrator, shall state
that such of the requisites prescribed in the first four subdivisions of this
section, as are required in the case, are complied with.

In view of the provisions of our Code of Civil Procedure, the holding of


this court and the jurisprudence quoted from Ruling Case Law, it is held that
the averment as to the value of the personal estate of a deceased person, in
204

a probate proceeding, is an essential and necessary requisite to a petition for


the sale of real estate and that a Court of First Instance acquires no
jurisdiction to order such sale if that averment does not appear in the
petition; that such an order is void and that a sale of real estate by virtue of
such an order is null and void.

G.R. NO. L-16584 NOVEMBER 17, 1921

EUSEBIO A. GODOY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. GUILLERMO


ORELLANO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. FELISA PAGILINAN, PAZ
ORELLANO ASSISTED BY HER HUSBAND FRANCISCO MARTINEZ,
JOSE ORELLANO, AND DEMETRIO ORELLANO, DEFENDANTS-
APPELLANTS.

FACTS: Felisa is the administratrix of the property of the intestate estate of


Julio Orellano. The rest of the defendants are the heirs of Julio Orellano. The
heirs executed power of attorney in favor of Felisa to sell the dredge to
Eusebio. An option to buy within 20 days was then made for P10,000. The
dredge belongs to the intestate estate of Julio Orellano under the
administration of Felisa which was pending in court and all parties were
aware of this.

Eusebio first paid P1,000 when the option contract was executed.
Later on, he was ready to make complete payment of the price, but the
Felisa failed to deliver the dredge. Then the appellee brought suit in the
Court of First Instance against Felisa and the heirs.

In her defense, Felisa alleged that Eusebio, as well as the heirs, and the
notary who prepared the aforesaid option sale, were all aware of these facts,
and they led her to believe that she had the authority to dispose of the
dredge in her name and by themselves. And that she did refuse to make
delivery of the dredge to the plaintiff, but that it was the court that would not
give her the authority to do so.

RTC dismissed the complaint but ordered the defendants to pay


Eusebio 2,000 and the cost of suit.

ISSUE: May an administrator sell the property under the intestate


proceeding pending in court without authority of the court?

RULING: No.

In the sale of the property of an intestate estate for the benefit of the
heirs, the court has exclusive jurisdiction to authorize the sale of properties
like the one under consideration and the power of attorney executed by the
heirs of Orellano in favor of the administratrix, without authority of court, has
no legal effect, and this is the more so, since two of the said heirs are under
age, and the others did not ratify the option contract, as provided in the
aforesaid power of attorney.
205

In view of the foregoing, we are of the opinion, and so hold, that Felisa
was not, in her capacity as judicial administratrix of the intestate estate of
Julio Orellano, legally authorized to sell, or contract to sell, any property
belonging to said estate without the authority of the court, and the contract
entered into by her with Eusebio, without this authority, is null and void.

The judgment appealed from is reversed and the complaint against the
appellant Felisa Pagilinan is hereby dismissed, without special finding as to
costs. So ordered.

G.R. NO. L-35367 APRIL 9, 1987

MANOTOK REALTY, INC., VS. THE HONORABLE COURT OF


APPEALS AND APOLONIO SIOJO

FACTS: The Court of First Instance of Manila, acting as a probate court in the
special proceedings of the testate estate of Clara Tambunting de Legarda,
authorized Vicente Legarda, as special co-administrator, to sell the Legarda
Tambunting Subdivision.

Vicente Legarda as co-administrator allegedly sold an area of the


subdivision denominated to Abelardo Lucero. Lucero later on leased the lot to
six persons, one of whom is herein private respondent, Apolonio Siojo.

The probate court issued another order authorizing the Philippine Trust
Company as administrator, to sell the subdivision at the earliest possible
time at the best obtainable price.

The lessees of Lucero, including Siojo, defaulted in their payment of


rentals. Separate actions for ejectment were filed against them. However, a
compromise agreement was concluded and the tenants resumed the
payment of rentals to Lucero.

In the meantime, Lucero accordingly awaited the sending by Vicente


Legarda of the formal contract but as none came, he could not make further
payments. He therefore, went to the Philippine Trust Company to make
further payments, showing it the receipt evidencing the down payment but
the latter refused either to receive payment or to issue a formal contract
because the Legarda-Tambunting Subdivision was involved in a litigation.

Manotok Realty, Inc. was subsequently awarded the sale of the entire
subdivision. The deed of sale was executed by and between Manotok Realty,
Inc. and Philippine Trust Company and the same was approved by the
probate court. Manotok Realty, Inc. obtained Transfer Certificate of Title
Numbers which covered the whole Legarda-Tambunting estate including the
lot sold to Lucero.

Manotok Realty, Inc. caused to be published notices addressed to "all


squatter-occupants" of the subdivision advising them to surrender the
material and actual possession of the portions occupied by them otherwise
judicial action would be taken. Despite this, Lucero executed a deed of
206

assignment of the lot in question in favor of his lessees, including the private
respondent Siojo.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) decided in favor of Manotok Realty, Inc.
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the RTC and held that the sale
made by Vicente Legarda to Lucero was valid because the former acted
within his authority as special co-administrator and that there was no need
for the approval of the probate court of such sale. It further held that where
the co-administrator sold the estate pursuant to an authority granted him by
the probate court, and where, the administrator acted in obedience to the
court's directive and within the scope of his authority, the sale could well be
considered the act of the probate court itself. Therefore, the approval of the
probate court, if wanting, cannot affect the validity of the administrator's act.

ISSUE: Whether or not the approval of the probate court is necessary for the
validity of the sale made by special co-administrator Vicente Legarda of the
decedents estate?

RULING: Yes. Although the Rules of Court do not specifically state that the
sale of an immovable property belonging to an estate of a decedent, in a
special proceeding, should be made with the approval of the court, this
authority is necessarily included in its capacity as a probate court.

An administrator under the circumstances of this case cannot enjoy


blanket authority to dispose of real estate as he pleases, especially where he
ignores specific directives to execute proper documents and get court
approval for the sale's validity.

In the case of Estate of Olave v. Reyes (123 SCRA 767, 772), the Court
ruled:

Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, expressly provides that


"the court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a
decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other
courts." The law is clear that where the estate of the deceased person
is already the subject of a testate or intestate proceeding, the
administrator cannot enter into any transaction involving it without
prior approval of the probate court.

The sale made by Legarda to Lucero, having been done without the
approval of the probate court and without the execution of the necessary
documents did not bind the Legarda-Tambunting estate and could not have
affected the rights of the petitioner Manotok Realty, Inc. over the disputed
lot. Furthermore, the private respondent Siojo is only a transferee of Lucero.
At the time of the transfer of rights, the private respondent already had
notice of the petitioner's ownership because he was served with a summons
in the ejectment case filed against him by the petitioner.

Therefore, the alleged sale made by Vicente Legarda to Lucero did not
bind the Legarda-Tambunting estate, for aside from the fact that no formal
deed of sale was executed by him specifying the terms thereof, it was never
approved by the Court. Sales of immovable properties by the administrators
207

do not bind the estate and have no validity unless they are approved by the
Court.

G.R. NO. 158566 SEPTEMBER 20, 2005

JOSEPHINE OROLA, MYRNA OROLA, ANGELINE OROLA, MANUEL


OROLA, ANTONIO OROLA AND ALTHEA OROLA, PETITIONERS,
VS. THE RURAL BANK OF PONTEVEDRA (CAPIZ), INC., EMILIO
Q. OROLA, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF CAPIZ AND THE EX-
OFFICIO PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF CAPIZ, RESPONDENT.

FACTS: Trinidad Laserna Orola died intestate, she was survived by her
husband Emilio Orola and their six minor childrenLater, Emilio Orola executed
a waiver of all his rights and interests over the said property in favor of his
children by Trinidad Laserna. His petition for appointment as guardian over
the persons and property of his minor children was granted. He was
appointed guardian not only over the persons of his minor children but also
over their property. Also, his petition for the settlement of the estate of his
deceased spouse and his appointment as administrator of her estate was
also granted.

As such administrator of the estate, Emilio took possession of the said


parcels of land and embarked on a massive sugar production and, with prior
approval of the court, negotiated with banking institutions for financing loans
to purchase the required equipments. However, in 1976 and 1977, there was
a sudden collapse of the sugar industry. He found it necessary to develop the
swampy portion of the estate for the production of fish. To finance the
endeavor, he needed at least P600,000.00. Upon filing a motion, the court
authorized him to negotiate the loan through the Rural Bank of Capiz (Rural
Bank of Pontevedra, Capiz) and to transfer the sugar account of the estate to
the RPB in Roxas City. Emilio then obtained a financing loan with the Rural
Bank for of P600,000.00. Later, as he failed to settle his obligations, the Rural
Bank foreclosed the property. The lots were sold in a public auction where
the Rural Bank won as the highest bidder.

As a consequence, the six children of Emilio filed a Complaint against


the Rural Bank, their father Emilio and the Ex-Officio Provincial Sheriff for the
nullification of the Real Estate Mortgages and the sale of the property subject
of the said deed at public auction. They alleged that the real estate
mortgage contracts were null and void because the same were never
submitted to and approved by the RTC in Special Proceedings. In its answer
to the complaint, Rural Bank averred that the plaintiffs were estopped from
assailing the real estate mortgages and the extrajudicial foreclosure and the
sale of the lots covered by the said deeds at public auction.

ISSUE: Whether or not the subject mortgages constituted over the real
estate properties of petitioners-appellees under Section 7, Rule 89 of the
Rules of Court are void for non-compliance with the mandatory regulations of
the said provision.

RULING: Yes.
208

Section 2, Rule 89 of the Rules of Court provides that, upon application


of the administrator and on written notice to the heirs, the court may
authorize the administrator to mortgage so much as may be necessary of the
real estate for the expenses of the administrator, or if it clearly appears that
such mortgage would be beneficial to the persons interested. Section 7 of
Rule 89 provides the rules to obtain court approval for such mortgage.

After the real estate mortgage is executed in accordance with the


foregoing regulations, the said deed must be submitted for the consideration
and approval or disapproval of the court.

The records show that respondent Emilio Orola notified the petitioners
of his motion for the approval of the amended contracts of lease. Although
the motion was ex parte, nonetheless, petitioners Angeline, Myrna and
Althea Orola filed their Joint Affidavit of Conformity, in which they declared
that:

7. That on December 15, 1982, the administrator, thru counsel,


filed an ex parte motion for the admission and approval of the
amended contracts of lease in favor of our brothers and sister
changing the term from ten (10) to twelve (12) years, copy of the
amended contracts of lease [were] shown to us;

8. That we have no objection and we voluntarily conform to the


amendment of the term from ten (10) to twelve (12) years and freely
give our consent to having the Lessees execute a real estate mortgage
over the leased property in favor of the bank just to be able to avail
with the CB: IBRD financing loan to develop the property;

9. That we are jointly executing this affidavit for the purpose of


facilitating the immediate admission and approval of the amended
contracts of lease as prayed for in the ex parte motion dated
December 5, 1982.

However, the Court agrees with the petitioners contention that


respondent Orola failed to secure an order from the intestate estate court
authorizing him to mortgage the subject lots and execute a real estate
mortgage contract in favor of respondent Rural Bank. What the intestate
estate court approved in its December 17, 1982 Order was the authority
incorporated in the amended contracts of lease respondent Orola gave to
petitioners Josephine, Manuel and Antonio Orola so that the said lots could
be mortgaged to the respondent Rural Bank as security for the P600,000.00
loan under their respective names. In fine, the intestate estate court
authorized the petitioners, not respondent Orola, to mortgage the said lots to
respondent Rural Bank. Moreover, under Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of
Court, only the executor or administrator of the estate may be authorized by
the intestate estate court to mortgage real estate belonging to the estate;
hence, the order of the estate court authorizing the petitioners to mortgage
the realty of the estate to the respondent Rural Bank is a nullity.

The respondents must have realized that the order of the intestate
estate court authorizing petitioners Manuel, Antonio and Josephine Orola to
mortgage the lots was void because respondent Emilio Orola caused the real
estate mortgage contracts in favor of respondent Rural Bank to be executed
by his children, petitioners Josephine, Manuel and Antonio Orola, acting as
attorneys-in-fact of the administrator of the estate. However, the estate
209

court had not appointed petitioners Antonio, Josephine and Manuel Orola as
attorneys-in-fact of respondent Emilio Orola empowered to execute the said
contracts. Hence, they had no authority to execute the said Real Estate
Mortgage Contracts for and in behalf of respondent Orola, in the latters
capacity as administrator of the estate.

Worse, respondent Orola failed to submit the real estate mortgage


contracts to the intestate estate court for its consideration and approval. To
give approval means to confirm, ratify, or to consent to some act or thing
done by another. Unless and until the said contracts are approved by the
intestate estate court, the same cannot have any binding effect upon the
estate; nor serve as basis for any action against the estate and against the
parcels of land described in the said contracts belonging to it.

G.R. NO. L-68873 MARCH 31, 1989

LUCILDA DAEL, EVERGISTO DAEL, DOMINGO DAEL, JR.,


CONRADO DAEL, FEDERICO DURANA, JR., FREDISVINDA
DURANA, FLEURDELIZADA DURANA, FABIAN DURANA AND FE
PATRICIO DURANA, PETITIONERS, VS. INTERMEDIATE
APPELLATE COURT, CARMENCITA CABUTIHAN, NONILON
CABUTIHAN, ROMULO CABUTIHAN, LERMO CABUTIHAN, AND
BIENVENIDO CABUTIHAN, RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: It is not disputed that Victorina Durana died intestate on August 1,


1977 in Manila; she was the wife of the deceased Cesario Cabutihan who
died earlier on June 9, 1972; Cesario Cabutihan was first married to
Bienvenida Durana in February, 1942; the latter died on May 2, 1957; it was
less than a year thereafter or particularly on April 6, 1958 that Cesario
Cabutihan married Victorina Durana, sister of his first wife, Bienvenida
Durana.

The first marriage of Cesario Cabutihan produced the 3 legitimate


children who are the intervenors in this case; the second marriage of Cesario
Cabutihan with Victorina Durana did not produce any issue; however, the
latter's heirs are the children of her two sisters and a who were the
oppositors.

It is claimed by all the oppositors that they are entitled to 2/3 portion
of the estate of Victorina Durana considering that their predecessors-in-
interest are the brother and sister of Victorina Durana; while the remaining
1/3 portion should devolve to the petitioner and the intervenors who
represent their mother Bienvenida Durana and the other sister of Victorina
Durana.

Likewise established is the fact that during the second marriage of


Cesario and Victorina, they were engaged in a copra business and a public
transportation business, with Victorina managing the former. After the
demise of Cesario, Victorina and the private respondents entered into an
extra-judicial settlement of his estate on December 30, 1973. Part of the
properties adjudicated to Victorina include the copra business
210

abovementioned, as well as some of the vehicles used in the transportation


business. Subsequently, however, the vehicles were transferred to the
private respondents by virtue of a "deed of sale" dated July 24, 1978.

Meanwhile, the court below appointed Amado Zoleta as special


administrator of the estate of the late Victorina Durana on May 24, 1978.
Said special administrator, upon order of the probate court, submitted an
inventory of the properties, the total value of the properties included in this
inventory is P237,940.41.

In due course, the trial court rendered a decision holding that Victorina
Durana had no paraphernal properties brought or contributed to her
marriage with Cesario Cabutihan; that the copra business was formed in
1949 during the first marriage; that Victorina used the same facilities, credit
and capital in managing the business; and that the main source of income
not only of Cesario Cabutihan and also of Victorina during their respective
lifetimes was the copra business.

The probate court thereby disapproved both inventories and annulled


the extrajudicial settlement and deed of sale (Exhibit 1 Dael and Exhibit 3-
Dael) mentioned earlier. The latter two were annulled for being simulated or
fictitious and for involving conjugal properties of the first marriage, including
properties of Bienvenida, to which Victorina is not an heir.

As a consequence, petitioners appealed to the former Intermediate Appellate


Court on December 8, 1980. On the same day, respondent Carmencita
Cabutihan filed a "motion for authority to withdraw funds" from the estate, in
the amount of P90,000.00 to be partitioned among the heirs in accordance
with the proportion provided for in the aforesaid decision of the probate
court. On December 11, 1980, this motion was granted, despite opposition
thereto.

ISSUE: May the private respondent withdraw funds from the estate in
advance for distribution while the estate or intestate proceeding is still
pending?

RULING: YES.

Challenged by petitioners is the order of the court below, dated


December 11, 1980, allowing the withdrawal of funds for distribution to the
heirs as advance inheritance. Said order is, however, within the
contemplation and authority of Rule 109, Section 2 whereof provides that
"(n)otwithstanding a pending controversy or appeal in proceedings to settle
the estate of a decedent, the court may, in its discretion and upon such
terms as it may deem proper and just, permit that such part of the estate as
may not be affected by the controversy or appeal be distributed among the
heirs or legatees, upon compliance with the conditions set forth in Rule 90 of
these rules'. Said Rule 90, on the other hand, provides in part that "(n)o
distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations above
mentioned has been made or provided for, unless the distributees or any of
them, give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court, conditioned for the
payment of said obligations within such time as the court directs."
211

It is true that "partial distribution of the decedent's estate pending the


final termination of the testate or intestate proceedings should as much as
possible be discouraged by the courts and, unless in extreme cases, such
form of advances of inheritance should not be countenanced. The reason for
this strict rule is obvious courts should guard with utmost zeal and jealousy
the estate of the decedent to the end that the creditors thereof be
adequately protected and all the rightful heirs assured of their shares in the
inheritance."

Nevertheless, after duly considering the foregoing rules, We sustain


the validity of the questioned order. The respondent court correctly held that
"(i)f oppositors would stand to share more in the inheritance than what was
fixed for them in the appealed judgment, We believe the estate has sufficient
assets to ensure an equitable distribution of the inheritance in accordance
with law and final judgment in the proceedings." Also, it does not appear that
there are unpaid obligations, as contemplated in Rule 90, for which
provisions should have been made or a bond required. It is clear that the
provisions of the Rules of Court, as well as the jurisprudence thereon, were
followed in this particular incident.

G.R. NO. 42092 OCTOBER 28, 1936

IN RE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED ANDRES REYES. FELISA


CAMIA DE REYES VS. JUANA REYES DE ILANO

FACTS: Andres Reyes died, leaving a will which was duly probated. He was
survived by his wife, the herein executrix and appellant Felisa Camia, his
only son had with her, and his daughter by his first marriage, Juana Reyes de
Ilano.

Felisa Camia qualified as executrix of the estate left by the deceased


husband Andres Reyes.She filed her first account, as administratrix which
was opposed by the oppositor-appellee Juana Reyes de Ilano on the ground
that, according to her, it is incomplete and that certain items of expenses
and income, which are enumerated in her pleading of opposition, are vague,
unnecessary and inaccurate.

Felisa filed a project of partition, which was also opposed by Juana


Reyes de Ilano alleging that the valuation of the properties made by the
commissioners on claims and appraisal is inadequate and unjust; that said
project does not contain all the properties that should be partitioned; and
that said project is based upon the will, some of the provisions of which are
inofficious and illegal; at the same time submitting a counterproject of
partition with an appraisal of the properties therein enumerated, which
appraisal is different from that made by the commissioners on claims and
appraisal.

This counterproject of partition presented by the Juana is the one


admitted and approved by the court.
212

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not the lower court erred in rejecting certain items


contained in the two accounts of the executrix Felisa Camia de Reyes.
NO

2. Whether or not the lower court erred in accepting the counterproject of


partition presented by the oppositor-appellee Juana Reyes de Ilano. NO

RULING:

Said items refer to certain expenses for transportation and subsistence


incurred by the executrix, and her mother and minor child who accompanied
her on her trips made for the benefit of the estate during the period from the
month of May 1932 to the month of April 1933; for medicine for the minor
Bibiano Reyes; for electricity consumed in the house of the deceased
wherein his widow, the herein executrix, and her minor child continued to
live; and for the funeral and the novenary, commonly called the "vigil", for
the soul of the deceased.

The expenses for transportation and subsistence refer to the trips


made by the executrix, accompanied by her mother and son, to the CFI of
Cavite to attend the hearings in connection with the testamentary
proceedings; to the hacienda belonging to the estate under her
administration; and to Manila in order to interview her attorney also in
connection with the testamentary proceedings. All these expenses were
necessary for the care and administration of the estate and should,
therefore, be approved.

To all appearances the company of the mother of the executrix Felisa


Camia de Reyes, surviving spouse of the deceased whose testamentary
estate is under consideration, and that of her minor son were unnecessary.

Taking into consideration, however, that the executrix is only 31 years


of age and is the widow of a decedent who, in life, had been of good social
standing, Philippine idiosyncrasy and tradition demand that she be
surrounded by every protection and care needed by a widow of good
reputation, in respect of the memory of her deceased husband. For these
reasons this court is of the opinion that the company of the mother and son
of the executrix during the trips which she had to make in connection with
the affairs of the estate of which she was the testamentary executrix, is
justified and, consequently, the expenses for transportation and subsistence
incurred by her and by her companions should be approved.

However, with respect to the items which consist of transportation


expenses to Cavite of the executrix, her mother and son for the purpose of
looking for a surety, and the sum paid for certified copies of the assessed
value of the property of the sureties, they should be rejected in accordance
with the doctrine laid down in Sulit vs. Santos (56 Phil., 626).

As to the sum of P6 which the executrix paid for medicine used for her
minor child, Bibiano Reyes, while it is true that the sum of P25 a month,
chargeable to the estate, is allotted to said minor for his education and
support, this court is of the opinion that the extra payment of P6 for
medicine is not unwarranted and should, therefore, be also approved.
213

It is claimed that the lower court erred in having disapproved the sum
of P58.40 spent for electricity consumed in the house of the deceased Andres
Reyes from April 30, 1932, to the month of October, 1933, or during one year
and six months approximately.

At the time of the death of Andres Reyes, he was living with his wife by
his second marriage, Felisa Camia de Reyes, and his son also by his second
marriage, Bibiano Reyes, and it was natural that she should continue living
with her said son in said house, not only because it is their home but also to
watch over and preserve it, as testamentary executrix, and an expense of
P3.19 a month for electricity for the preservation of the house under
administration, is not excessive and should be approved.

The item of expenses for the novenary or vigil for the soul of the
deceased ceremonies enjoined by the deceased in his will to be celebrated in
accordance with his social standing, is warranted, taking into consideration
the social standing of the deceased in the Province of Cavite.

Summarizing all that has been stated, this court believes that all the
items rejected by the lower court, which are the subject matter of said
assignments of error, should be approved with the exception of those
referring to the obtainment of the bond for the executrix and amounting to
P4.20.

The lower court found that the total amount of the disbursements
made by the executrix Felisa Camia de Reyes, after deducting all the
expenses rejected by it as improper, is P2,405.42. Adding the P1,057.68,
which this court found to have been improperly rejected, to said sum, makes
P3,463.10 the total amount of the expenses for which the executrix should
be reimbursed by the estate. If the sum of P2,772.53, representing the
income, is subtracted from the above- stated amount, there is a balance of
P690.57 which the estate of Andres Reyes should pay to said executrix.
Furthermore said executrix is entitled to collect P81.94 as commission upon
the sum of P3,463.10 at the rate of 3 per cent upon the first P2,000 and 1
1/2 per cent upon the excess, as provided by section 680 of the Code of Civil
Procedure.

2. There is nothing in the law imposing upon the executor or


administrator the obligation to present a project of partition for the
distribution of the estate of a deceased person.

It is inferred from these legal provisions that it is the CFI of Cavite


alone that may make the distribution of his estate and determine the
persons entitled thereto and the parts to which each is entitled, and it may
require the executrix to present a project of partition to better inform itself of
the condition of the estate to be distributed and so facilitate the prompt
distribution thereof. The project of partition that the executor or
administrator might have presented would not be conclusive and the
interested parties could oppose the approval thereof and enter their
objections thereto, at the same time presenting their counterproject of
partition which the court might accept and approve, as it did in this case. In
adopting the project of partition of the oppositor-appellee Juana Reyes de
Ilano, said court acted within its discretionary power and committed no error
of law.
214

G.R. NO. L-17818 JANUARY 25, 1967

TIRSO T. REYES, AS GUARDIAN OF THE MINORS AZUCENA


FLORDELIS AND TIRSO, JR., ALL SURNAMED REYES Y
BARRETTO, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, VS. LUCIA MILAGROS
BARRETTO-DATU, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

FACTS: Bibiano Barretto was married to Maria Gerardo. During their lifetime
they acquired a vast estate consisting of real properties. When Bibiano
Barretto died in 1936, he left his share of these properties in a will to Salud
Barretto (Salud), mother of plaintiff's wards, and Lucia Milagros Barretto
(Milagros) and a small portion as legacies to his two sisters Rosa Barretto and
Felisa Barretto and his nephew and nieces. The usufruct of the fishpond
situated in Bulacan, however, was reserved for his widow, Maria Gerardo. In
the meantime Maria Gerardo was appointed administratrix. By virtue thereof,
she prepared a project of partition which was approved by the court in 1939.
The distribution of the estate and the delivery of the shares of the heirs
followed forthwith. As a consequence, Salud Barretto took immediate
possession of her share and secured the cancellation of the original
certificates of title and the issuance of new titles in her own name.

Everything went well since then until when Maria Gerardo died in 1948.
Upon such death, it was discovered that she had executed two wills, in the
first of which, she instituted Salud and Milagros, both surnamed Barretto, as
her heirs; and, in the second, she revoked the same and left all her
properties in favor of Milagros Barretto alone. Thus, the later will was allowed
and the first rejected. In rejecting the first will presented by Tirso Reyes, as
guardian of the children of Salud Barretto, the lower court held that Salud
was not the daughter of the decedent Maria Gerardo by her husband Bibiano
Barretto. This ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which affirmed the
same.

Having thus lost this fight for a share in the estate of Maria Gerardo, as
a legitimate heir of Maria Gerardo, plaintiff now falls back upon the remnant
of the estate of the deceased Bibiano Barretto, which was given in usufruct,
the fishpond to his widow Maria Gerardo. Hence, this action for the recovery
of one-half portion, thereof.

The defendant, Milagros Barretto, contends that the Project of Partition


from which Salud acquired the fishpond in question is void ab initio and Salud
Barretto did not acquire any valid title thereto, because the distributee, Salud
Barretto, was not a daughter of the Spouses Bibiano and Maria. The nullity of
the project was based on Art. 1081 of the Civil Code of 1889 which provided
that : A partition in which a person was believed to be an heir, without being
so, has been been included, shall be null and void.

The Court ordered the plaintiff to return the properties received under the
project of partition.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is a proper distribution of the estate


215

RULING: YES.

Appellee contends that the partition in question was void as a


compromise on the civil status of Salud in violation of Article 1814 of the old
Civil Code. This view is erroneous, since a compromise presupposes the
settlement of a controversy through mutual concessions of the parties (Civil
Code of 1889, Article 1809; Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 2028); and the
condition of Salud as daughter of the testator Bibiano Barretto, while untrue,
was at no time disputed during the settlement of the estate of the testator.
There can be no compromise over issues not in dispute. And while a
compromise over civil status is prohibited, the law nowhere forbids a
settlement by the parties over the share that should correspond to a
claimant to the estate.

At any rate, independently of a project of partition which, as its own


name implies, is merely a proposal for distribution of the estate, that the
court may accept or reject, it is the court alone that makes the distribution of
the estate and determines the persons entitled thereto and the parts to
which each is entitled (Camia vs. Reyes, 63 Phil. 629, 643; Act 190, Section
750; Rule 90, Rules of 1940; Rule 91, Revised Rules of Court), and it is that
judicial decree of distribution, once final, that vests title in the distributees. If
the decree was erroneous or not in conformity with law or the testament, the
same should have been corrected by opportune appeal; but once it had
become final, its binding effect is like that of any other judgment in rem,
unless properly set aside for lack of jurisdiction or fraud.

It is thus apparent that where a court has validly issued a decree of


distribution of the estate, and the same has become final, the validity or
invalidity of the project of partition becomes irrelevant.

G.R. NO. L-35213 AUGUST 31, 1978


216

BALDOMERA GARCIA AND JUAN GARCIA, SUBSTITUTED BY


SOLEDAD GARCIA, MARTIN GARCIA, CLEMENTINA GARCIA,
MERCEDES GARCIA AND JOSE GARCIA, PETITIONERS, VS.
SERAFIN OROZCO SUBSTITUTED BY IRENE ALBAN VDA. DE
OROZCO AND CHILDREN, ELENA A. OROZCO CORAZON A.
OROZCO TERESA A. OROZCO GRACIA A. OROZCO ANGELES A.
OROZCO LILIA A. OROZCO SERAFIN A. OROZCO JR., ALFONSO
A. OROZCO AND THE COURT OF APPEALS (SPECIAL FOURTH
DIVISION), RESPONDENTS .

FACTS: It appears that the original plaintiffs, are brothers and sisters
(Serafin, Carmen, Merced and Arsenio children from another woman) and
natural children of the deceased Epifanio Orozco (Epifanio). Meanwhile,
Epifanio married Albina Garcia, sister of the original defendants, namely,
Juan Garcia and Baldomera Garcia. The marriage was not blessed with a
child.

The property involved in the case were lands in Mataguisi and


Malobago, all in Guinobatan, Albay originally formed an integral part of a big
parcel of land owned and possess by Epifanio since the Spanish Regime.
When Epifanio died he was survived by Albina Garcia, his widow, and Serafin
Orozco, Carmen Orozco.

After the death of Epifanio Orozco, his widow, Albina Garcia, executed
the deed of sale conveying the land in Mataguisi to Baldomera Garcia (sister
of Albina) for a consideration of P4,400.00.

In the intestate estate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of


Epifanio, one of his acknowledged natural children, Serafin, was appointed as
administrator. As judicial administrator, Serafin Orozco brought an action on
July 22, 1929, for the recovery of Lots located in Mataguisi, Guinobatan, and
ocated in Malobago, same town.

Pursuant to the Convenio submitted by the parties in Civil Case No.


5127, the lower court rendered judgment among other properties,
composing the lands in Mataguisi and in Malobago, same town, to the
intestate estate of Epifanio Orozco, while the other properties involved
therein were given to Albina (widow) as her share in the conjugal
partnership. The decision expressly stated that Albina no longer had the
usufructuary right as a widow of the deceased Epifanio in view of her waiver.
The ownership of which had been adjudicated in his Epifanios favor as early
as in 1932. But the sibling of Albina the widow filed an action to recover the
property contending they owned the same by virtue of the sale.

ISSUE: WON the sale by Albina Garcia to her sibling Baldomera of the land
situated at Mataguisi after her husband's death, was valid and binding and
vested legal title upon Baldomera Garcia, insofar as share given that the
land belonged to the ganancial partnership between the spouses Albina and
Epifanio.
217

RULING: NO. The judgment rendered in Civil Case No. 5127 dated Aug. 10,
1932 based upon the convenio agreed upon and submitted by the parties,
Serafin Orozco and his co-heirs and the widow Albina Garcia, on the other,
awarded among others, the ownership of the Mataguisi and Malobago
properties to the intestate estate of Epifanio, while the other properties
involved therein were given to Albina as her share in the conjugal
partnership, the decision expressly stating that Albina Garcia no longer had
the usufructuary right as widow of the deceased Epifanio Orozco in view of
her waiver had long become final and executory.

Moreover, considering Baldomera and Juan Garcia are the sister and
brother of the widow Albina who lived with their sister, they were not
strangers to nor third parties in the proceedings against Albina. The former
are charged with knowledge of and are bound by the decision rendered in
said intestate estate proceeding.

The law then governing the dissolution and liquidation of conjugal


partnership was Section 685 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by
Act No. 3176 which provided:

Sec. 685. Community Property.When the marriage is dissolved by the


death of the husband or wife, the community property shall be
inventoried, administered and liquidated, and the debts thereof shall
be paid in the testamentary or intestate proceedings of the deceased
spouse, in accordance with the provisions of this Code relative to the
administration and liquidation of the estates of deceased persons, or in
an ordinary liquidation and partition pro, unless the parties being all of
age and legally capacitated, avail themselves of the right granted
them by this Code for proceeding to an extrajudicial partition and
liquidation of said property.

In case it is necessary to sell any portion of said community property in


order to pay the outstanding debts and obligations of the same, such sale
shall be made in the manner and with the formalities established by this
Code for the sale of the property of deceased persons. Any sale, transfer,
alienation or disposition of said property effected without said formalities
shall be null and void, except as regards the portion that belonged to the
vendor at the time the liquidation and partition was made.

Commenting on the alienation of community property by the surviving


spouse, a distinguished civil law authority writes:

After the death of one of the spouses, in case it is necessary to sell any
portion of the community property in order to pay outstanding obligations of
the partnership, such sale must be made in the manner and with the
formalities established by the Rules of Court for the sale of the property of
deceased persons. Any sale, transfer, alienation or disposition of said
property effected without d formalities shall be null and void, except as
regards the portion that belongs to the vendor as determined in the
liquidation and partition. (Act No. 3176) Pending the liquidation, the
disposition must be considered as to the only to the contingent share or
interest of the vendor in the particular property involved, but not to the
corpus of the property. Such disposition cannot include the half that may be
adjudicated to the heirs of the deceased spouse.
218

This rule applies, not only to sale, but also to mortgages. The
alienation, mortgage or disposal of the conjugal property without the
required formality, is not, however, null ab initio, for the law recognizes their
validity, so long as they do not exceed the portion which, after liquidation
and partition, should pertain to the surviving spouse who made the contract.
Of course, before liquidation and partition have been completed, such
portion cannot be determined.

Manifestly, when third persons are in connivance with the husband or


knowingly lend their aid, directly or indirectly to the commission of
fraudulent acts by the husband, the court will see to it that they do not profit
by their misconduct, and the fraud to which they are parties will vitiate and
annul all their transactions." (Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil
Code of the Philippines, by Arturo M. Tolentino, Vol. I, pp. 438-439 (1974 Ed.)

In the case at bar, the formalities required by the law were not followed
by the widow. Here the assets of the ganancial partnership between Epifanio
Orozco and Albina Garcia consisted of numerous lots and properties aside
from the Mataguisi and Malobago lands, and until a liquidation and partition
was made upon the death of the husband, Epifanio, no particular lot or
property can be said to appertain to the widow or to the heirs of the
deceased husband who are his acknowledged natural children, the
respondents herein. At the time of the sale, the rights of the widow and the
heirs were not yet fully vested in the particular lot or property in specific
metes and bounds. Since the sale executed by Albina Garcia was after the
death of her husband, Epifanio Orozco, and was prior to the liquidation and
partition of the conjugal partnership, said disposition which specifically
transferred the two lots in Mataguisi rather than the conceptual interest or
contingent share of the surviving spouse in these ganancial properties was
ineffective because the Mataguisi lots were not adjudicated to the surviving
spouse at the time the liquidation and partition was made, as provided in the
law.
219

G.R. NO. L-3430 MAY 23, 1951

PAZ E. SIGUION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. GO TECSON, ETC.,


DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.

G.R. NO. L-3431 MAY 23, 1951

ALBERTO MAXIMO TORRES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. GO


TECSON, ETC., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.

FACTS: On October 1, 1927, Paulino P. Gocheco mortgaged to Paz E. Siguion


a piece of registered real property in the City of Manila to secure a debt of
P30,000. Some ten years later, he constituted a second mortgage on the
same property in favor of Paz E. Siguion's son Alberto Maximo Torres, to
secure a debt of P20,000. Both mortgages were duly registered.

Gochecho died in 1943 without having discharged either mortgage.

Proceedings for the settlement of his estate were instituted in the


Court of First Instance of Manila, and Go Tecson was appointed judicial
administrator.

Actions were filed against the administrator Go Tecson for the


foreclosure of the two mortgages, and judgment having been rendered
against him in both.

ISSUE: WON Go Tecson could no longer be sued as administrator because


the administration proceedings had already been closed.

RULING: first error assigned deserves no serious consideration, it appearing


from the certificate of the Clerk of the Court of First Instance of Manila
(Exhibit B) that the order for the distribution of the estate among the heirs
has not yet been complied with. In fact, counsel for appellant admits in his
brief that, technically speaking, the administration proceedings are "still
pending.

The record of the administration proceedings, if already reconstituted,


has not yet been presented, and nowhere does it appear that claim for the
mortgage indebtedness was formally filed in the administration proceedings
and that it was there litigated and judicially determined. There is, for sure an
alleged order at the hearing.

The administrator has made an overture to pay the mortgage debt and
the mortgagees(or one of them) have signified willingness to accept
payment. But there is nothing in the order to show that the order to show
that the offer of payment has been preceded by the formal filing of a claim.
220

Without that formality, the mortgagees cannot be deemed to have waived


their mortgage so as to estopped from bringing foreclosure suit.

In order that the mortgage creditor may be said to have waived his
mortgage lien, he must appear to have filed formally his claim in the testate
or intestate proceeding. The fact that he requested the committee on claims
(now abolished) to take the necessary measures to have his claim paid at its
maturity, does not imply that he has presented such claim as to be estopped
from foreclosing his mortgage. So, also, the mere fact of bringing his credit
to the attention of the committee on claims for the purpose of having it
included among the debts taken into account in case the estate should be
sold, but with a statement at the same time that said claim is secured by
mortgage duly registered, is not equivalent to filing the claim and does not,
therefore, constitute a waiver of said mortgage.

G.R. NO. L-42615 AUGUST 10, 1976

SALUD DIVINAGRACIA, EMILIA DIVINAGRACIA, DOLORES


DIVINAGRACIA, ROSARIO DIVINAGRACIA AND JUANITA
DIVINAGRACIA, PETITIONERS V. JUDGE VALERIO V. ROVIRO, IN
HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH IV, COURT OF
FIRST INSTANCE, ILOILO CITY, AND CAMILLI DIVINAGRACIA,
RESPONDENTS.

FACTS: Two days after the death of Feliciano Divinagracia, a petition was
filed for the settlement of his estate. The decedent was survived by his wife
and their four children, the petitioners herein. The notice of his death was
published in two local periodicals and in Manila times. Emilia Divinagracia, as
administratix, of the estate of Feliciano paid the estate and inheritance taxes
and submitted to the court a final accounting and project of partition with a
prayer for the closure of the proceeding. This pleading contains, aside from
the accounting:

An inventory of the assets of the decedents estate;

A declaration as to who were the heirs of the decedent and their


respective shares in the estate;

A statement that the petitioners, as heirs, had received their


respective shares, each consisting of a one-fifth pro indiviso
participation in the decedents estate; and

An assumption by the heirs of the obligations of the estate.

The probate court, then, approved the final accounting and project of
partition and declared the proceeding closed and terminated, subject to the
condition that the heirs shall assume all the outstanding obligations of the
estate. The partition was duly registered. However, after the order closing
the intestate proceeding had become final, the respondent Camilo, filed a
motion to reopen it and to set aside the order. He alleged that he was an
illegitimate child of the decedent and prayed for the determination of his
221

share in the decedents estate. The administratrix in her opposition to the


motion contended that the proceeding could no longer be reopened; that its
expediente had already been archived.

Consequently, the probate court set aside its prior order of closure
because it assumed that there was no liquidation of the conjugal partnership
of the spouses Feliciano and Salud, that there was no declaration of heirs,
and that an interested party, who was left out in the partition, should be
allowed to secure relief in the intestate proceeding by filing the proper
motion within the reglementary period. The court directed the administratrix
to submit a complete liquidation of the conjugal partnership and an inventory
of the decedents estate after the payment of its debts. It further directed
that the liquidation and the inventory should be set for hearing with notice to
Camilo.

ISSUE: Whether an intestate proceeding, which had already been closed,


can still be reopened.

RULING: We hold that the probate court erred in reopening the intestate
proceeding, a proceeding in rem of which Camilo is deemed to have had
constructive notice. The order closing it was already final and executory. The
motion to reopen it was not filed within the thirty-day reglementary period
counted from the date the order of closure was served on the administratrix.
The closure order could not be disturbed anymore. Moreover, the order for
the reopening of the intestate proceeding was predicated on the false
assumption that there had been no liquidation of the conjugal partnership
and no declaration of heirs. The truth is that the project of partition and
distribution, with final accounting, which was submitted by the administratrix
and approved by the probate court, contained a liquidation of the conjugal
partnership and a statement as to who were the decedents heirs and what
were their respective hereditary shares. That project of partition was a
substantial compliance.
222

G.R. NO. 108947 SEPTEMBER 29, 1997

ROLANDO SANCHEZ, FLORIDA MIERLY SANCHEZ, ALFREDO T.


SANCHEZ AND MYRNA T. SANCHEZ, PETITIONERS, VS. THE
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, ROSALIA S. LUGOD, ARTURO
S. LUGOD, EVELYN LUGOD-RANISES AND ROBERTO S. LUGOD,
RESPONDENTS. [HEREIN PRIVATE RESPONDENT] IS THE ONLY
CHILD OF SPOUSES JUAN C. SANCHEZ AND MARIA
VILLAFRANCA.

FACTS: Herein petitioners are the illegitimate children of Juan C. Sanchez.

Following the death of her mother, [herein private respondent] filed


thru counsel, a petition for letters of administration over the estate of her
mother and the estate of her father, who was at that time in state of senility.
Private respondent as administratrix of the intestate estate of her mother,
submitted an inventory and appraisal of the real and personal estate of her
late mother. Before the administration proceedings in Special Proceedings
No. 44-M could formally be terminated and closed, Rosalias father, died.

Herein petitioners, as heirs of Juan C. Sanchez, filed a petition for letters of


administration (Special Proceedings No. 1022) over the intestate estate of
Juan C. Sanchez, which petition was opposed by private respondent.

On October 30, 1969, however, private respondent Rosalia and petitioners


assisted by their respective counsels executed a compromise agreement
wherein they agreed to divide the properties enumerated therein of the late
Juan C. Sanchez.

On January 19, 1970, herein petitioners filed a motion to require


administratrix, private respondent Rosalia, to deliver deficiency of 24
hectares and or to set aside compromise agreement. Under date of April 13,
1970, private respondent and petitioners entered into and executed a
memorandum of agreement which modified the compromise agreement. On
October 25, 1979, or nine years later, petitioners filed, thru counsel, a
motion to require herein private respondent Rosalia to submit a new
inventory and to render an accounting over properties not included in the
compromise agreement. They likewise filed a motion to defer the approval of
the compromise agreement in which they prayed for the annulment of the
compromise agreement on the ground of fraud.

Also the petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals gravely abused its
discretion in deeming Special Proceedings Nos. 44-M and 1022 CLOSED and
TERMINATED, arguing that there was as yet no order of distribution of the
estate pursuant to Rule 90 of the Rules of Court. They add that they had not
received their full share thereto.
223

ISSUE: Whether or not Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in


deeming Special Proceedings Nos. 44-M and 1022 CLOSED and TERMINATED.

RULING: We disagree. Under Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, an


order for the distribution of the estate may be made when the debts, funeral
charges, and expenses of administration, the allowance to the widow, and
inheritance tax, if any, had been paid. This order for the distribution of the
estates residue must contain the names and shares of the persons entitled
thereto.

A perusal of the whole record, particularly the trial courts conclusion, reveals
that all the foregoing requirements already concurred in this case. The
payment of the indebtedness of the estates of Juan C. Sanchez and Maria
Villafranca in the amount of P51,598.93 was shouldered by Private
Respondent Rosalia, who also absorbed or charged against her share the
advances of Rolando T. Lugod in the sum of P8,533.94, in compliance with
Article 1061 of the Civil Code on collation. Furthermore, the compromise of
the parties, which is the law between them, already contains the names and
shares of the heirs to the residual estate, which shares had also been
delivered.

G.R. NO. 144320 APRIL 26, 2006

NATIVIDAD ARIAGA VDA. DE GURREA, CARLOS GURREA,


JULIETA GURREA, TERESA GURREA-RODRIGUEZ, RICARDO
GURREA, JR., MA. VICTORIA GURREA-CANDEL, AND RAMONA
GURREA-MONTINOLA, PETITIONERS, VS. ENRIQUE SUPLICO,
RESPONDENT.

FACTS: The case involves an annulment of title over a parcel of land located
in San Juan, Metro Manila, which was originally owned by Rosalina Gurrea,
who transferred the ownership of the same to Adelina Gurrea.

The latter continued to be the owner of the lot until her death.
Thereafter Special Proceedings No. 7815 was instituted to have the will,
which she executed during her lifetime, probated for the purpose of settling
her estate. Under the said will, the San Juan lot was bequeathed to Pilar and
Luis Gurrea, while 700,000 pesetas, of the lot in Baguio City and a one-
hectare piece of land in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental were given to Ricardo
Gurrea.

Ricardo Gurrea, an heir of Adelina Gurrea, filed an opposition to the


probate of will and was duly represented by his counsel Atty. Enrique Suplico.
The Consideration for such representation involves a contingent fee of 20%
of whatever may be due the latter, be it real or personal property.

The heirs of Adelina Gurrea arrived at an amicable settlement.


Thereafter Ricardo Gurrea withdrew his opposition and the heirs drew up a
project of partition. The result of which transferred the ownership of subject
San Juan lot to Ricardo Gurrea along with several other properties.
224

As payment for his services, Atty. Suplico was offered the San Juan lot
of which the latter accepted. A deed of transfer of rights was duly executed,
notarized and was registered with the register of deeds of San Juan.

Petitioners contend that no evidence was presented to show that the


probate court issued an order declaring Special Proceedings No. 7185 closed
and terminated. In, addition, when the Transfer of Rights and Interest in favor
of respondent was notarized on August 20, 1975, the title over the subject
lot was still in the name of Adelina Gurrea and that said title was transferred
only in the name of Ricardo on October 7, 1980.

On these bases, petitioners conclude that at the time the Transfer of


Rights and Interest was notarized, there is no dispute that the subject
property still formed part of the estate of Adelina Gurrea and was, therefore,
still subject of litigation. Hence, the transfer of rights and interest over the
subject property in favor of Atty. Suplico is null and void.

ISSUES:

Whether or not the special proceedings have already been closed and
terminated when the subject lot was transferred to Atty. Suplico;

What will be the status of the transfer of rights and interest in case
probate proceeding have not yet been closed?

RULING: The rule is that as long as the order for the distribution of the
estate has not been complied with, the probate proceedings cannot be
deemed closed and terminated.

The probate court loses jurisdiction of an estate under administration


only after the payment of all debts and the remaining estate delivered to the
heirs entitled to receive the same.

In the present case, while the subject lot was assigned as Ricardo's
share in the project of partition executed by the heirs of Adelina Gurrrea, the
title over the subject lot was still in the name of the latter and was not yet
conveyed to Ricardo when the Transfer of Rights and Interest was executed.

As correctly cited by the petitioners, the Court held in Lucero v Banaga


that:

The term delivery or tradition has two aspects: 1.) The de jure
delivery or the execution of deeds of conveyance and 2.) The delivery
of the material possession.

The usual practice is that, if the land to be delivered is in the name of


the decedent, the administrator executes a deed, conveying the land
to the distributee. That deed, together with the project partition, the
order of approving it, the letters of administration and the certification
as to the payment of the estate, inheritance and realty taxes, is
registered in the corresponding Registry of Deeds. Title would then be
issued to the distributee. Thereafter, the administrator or executor
places him in material possession of the land if the same is in the
custody of the former.
225

There being no evidence to show that material possession of the


property was given to Ricardo, the special proceedings concerning Adelina's
estate cannot be deemed to have been closed and terminated and the
subject property still the object of litigation.