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SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty.

Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 1
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

PARTIES IN INTEREST litigated before the Bacolod City courts.6 Private respondent stated
that the amounts of liability corresponding to the two cases as
PROBATE PROCEEDING ₱136,045,772.50 for Civil Case No. 95-9137 and ₱35,198,697.40 for
Civil Case No. 11178.7 Thereafter, the Manila RTC required private
ACAIN v. IAC respondent to submit a complete and updated inventory and
appraisal report pertaining to the estate.8
(Refer to case digest)
On 24 September 2001, petitioners filed with the Manila RTC a
INTESTATE PROCEEDING Manifestation/Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela,9praying that they be
furnished with copies of all processes and orders pertaining to the
SAN LUIS v. SAN LUIS intestate proceedings. Private respondent opposed the
manifestation/motion, disputing the personality of petitioners to
xxx intervene in the intestate proceedings of her husband. Even before
the Manila RTC acted on the manifestation/motion, petitioners filed
HILADO v. CA an omnibus motion praying that the Manila RTC set a deadline for
the submission by private respondent of the required inventory of the
Republic of the Philippines decedent’s estate.10 Petitioners also filed other pleadings or motions
SUPREME COURT with the Manila RTC, alleging lapses on the part of private
Manila respondent in her administration of the estate, and assailing the
inventory that had been submitted thus far as unverified, incomplete
and inaccurate.
SECOND DIVISION

On 2 January 2002, the Manila RTC issued an order denying the


G.R. No. 164108 May 8, 2009 manifestation/motion, on the ground that petitioners are not
interested parties within the contemplation of the Rules of Court to
ALFREDO HILADO, LOPEZ SUGAR CORPORATION, FIRST intervene in the intestate proceedings.11 After the Manila RTC had
FARMERS HOLDING CORPORATION, Petitioners, denied petitioners’ motion for reconsideration, a petition for certiorari
vs. was filed with the Court of Appeals. The petition argued in general
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE that petitioners had the right to intervene in the intestate proceedings
AMOR A. REYES, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of of Roberto Benedicto, the latter being the defendant in the civil
Manila, Branch 21 and ADMINISTRATRIX JULITA CAMPOS cases they lodged with the Bacolod RTC.
BENEDICTO, Respondents.
On 27 February 2004, the Court of Appeals promulgated a
decision12 dismissing the petition and declaring that the Manila RTC
did not abuse its discretion in refusing to allow petitioners to
DECISION intervene in the intestate proceedings. The allowance or
disallowance of a motion to intervene, according to the appellate
court, is addressed to the sound discretion of the court. The Court of
TINGA, J.:
Appeals cited the fact that the claims of petitioners against the
decedent were in fact contingent or expectant, as these were still
The well-known sugar magnate Roberto S. Benedicto died intestate pending litigation in separate proceedings before other courts.
on 15 May 2000. He was survived by his wife, private respondent
Julita Campos Benedicto (administratrix Benedicto), and his only Hence, the present petition. In essence, petitioners argue that the
daughter, Francisca Benedicto-Paulino.1 At the time of his death,
lower courts erred in denying them the right to intervene in the
there were two pending civil cases against Benedicto involving the
intestate proceedings of the estate of Roberto Benedicto.
petitioners. The first, Civil Case No. 95-9137, was then pending with
Interestingly, the rules of procedure they cite in support of their
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City, Branch 44, with
argument is not the rule on intervention, but rather various other
petitioner Alfredo Hilado as one of the plaintiffs therein. The second, provisions of the Rules on Special Proceedings.13
Civil Case No. 11178, was then pending with the RTC of Bacolod
City, Branch 44, with petitioners Lopez Sugar Corporation and First
Farmers Holding Corporation as one of the plaintiffs therein.2 To recall, petitioners had sought three specific reliefs that were
denied by the courts a quo. First, they prayed that they be
henceforth furnished "copies of all processes and orders issued" by
On 25 May 2000, private respondent Julita Campos Benedicto filed
the intestate court as well as the pleadings filed by administratrix
with the RTC of Manila a petition for the issuance of letters of
Benedicto with the said court.14 Second, they prayed that the
administration in her favor, pursuant to Section 6, Rule 78 of the
intestate court set a deadline for the submission by administratrix
Revised Rules of Court. The petition was raffled to Branch 21,
Benedicto to submit a verified and complete inventory of the estate,
presided by respondent Judge Amor A. Reyes. Said petition and upon submission thereof, order the inheritance tax appraisers of
acknowledged the value of the assets of the decedent to be ₱5 the Bureau of Internal Revenue to assist in the appraisal of the fair
Million, "net of liabilities."3 On 2 August 2000, the Manila RTC issued market value of the same.15 Third, petitioners moved that the
an order appointing private respondent as administrator of the estate
intestate court set a deadline for the submission by the administrator
of her deceased husband, and issuing letters of administration in her
of her verified annual account, and, upon submission thereof, set the
favor.4 In January 2001, private respondent submitted an Inventory
date for her examination under oath with respect thereto, with due
of the Estate, Lists of Personal and Real Properties, and Liabilities of notice to them and other parties interested in the collation,
the Estate of her deceased husband.5 In the List of Liabilities preservation and disposition of the estate.16
attached to the inventory, private respondent included as among the
liabilities, the above-mentioned two pending claims then being
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 2
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

The Court of Appeals chose to view the matter from a perspective the estate of the decedent, after all obligations are either satisfied or
solely informed by the rule on intervention. We can readily agree provided for.
with the Court of Appeals on that point. Section 1 of Rule 19 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure requires that an intervenor "has a Had the claims of petitioners against Benedicto been based on
legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of contract, whether express or implied, then they should have filed
the parties, or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be their claim, even if contingent, under the aegis of the notice to
adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in creditors to be issued by the court immediately after granting letters
the custody of the court x x x" While the language of Section 1, Rule of administration and published by the administrator immediately
19 does not literally preclude petitioners from intervening in the after the issuance of such notice.19 However, it appears that the
intestate proceedings, case law has consistently held that the legal claims against Benedicto were based on tort, as they arose from his
interest required of an intervenor "must be actual and material, direct actions in connection with Philsucom, Nasutra and Traders Royal
and immediate, and not simply contingent and expectant."17 Bank. Civil actions for tort or quasi-delict do not fall within the class
of claims to be filed under the notice to creditors required under Rule
Nonetheless, it is not immediately evident that intervention under the 86.20 These actions, being as they are civil, survive the death of the
Rules of Civil Procedure necessarily comes into operation in special decedent and may be commenced against the administrator
proceedings. The settlement of estates of deceased persons fall pursuant to Section 1, Rule 87. Indeed, the records indicate that the
within the rules of special proceedings under the Rules of intestate estate of Benedicto, as represented by its administrator,
Court,18 not the Rules on Civil Procedure. Section 2, Rule 72 further was successfully impleaded in Civil Case No. 11178, whereas the
provides that "[i]n the absence of special provisions, the rules other civil case21 was already pending review before this Court at the
provided for in ordinary actions shall be, as far as practicable, time of Benedicto’s death.
applicable to special proceedings."
Evidently, the merits of petitioners’ claims against Benedicto are to
We can readily conclude that notwithstanding Section 2 of Rule 72, be settled in the civil cases where they were raised, and not in the
intervention as set forth under Rule 19 does not extend to creditors intestate proceedings. In the event the claims for damages of
of a decedent whose credit is based on a contingent claim. The petitioners are granted, they would have the right to enforce the
definition of "intervention" under Rule 19 simply does not judgment against the estate. Yet until such time, to what extent may
accommodate contingent claims. they be allowed to participate in the intestate proceedings?

Yet, even as petitioners now contend before us that they have the Petitioners place heavy reliance on our ruling in Dinglasan v. Ang
right to intervene in the intestate proceedings of Roberto Benedicto, Chia,22 and it does provide us with guidance on how to proceed. A
the reliefs they had sought then before the RTC, and also now brief narration of the facts therein is in order. Dinglasan had filed an
before us, do not square with their recognition as intervenors. In action for reconveyance and damages against respondents, and
short, even if it were declared that petitioners have no right to during a hearing of the case, learned that the same trial court was
intervene in accordance with Rule 19, it would not necessarily mean hearing the intestate proceedings of Lee Liong to whom Dinglasan
the disallowance of the reliefs they had sought before the RTC since had sold the property years earlier. Dinglasan thus amended his
the right to intervene is not one of those reliefs. complaint to implead Ang Chia, administrator of the estate of her late
husband. He likewise filed a verified claim-in-intervention,
To better put across what the ultimate disposition of this petition manifesting the pendency of the civil case, praying that a co-
should be, let us now turn our focus to the Rules on Special administrator be appointed, the bond of the administrator be
Proceedings. increased, and that the intestate proceedings not be closed until the
civil case had been terminated. When the trial court ordered the
increase of the bond and took cognizance of the pending civil case,
In several instances, the Rules on Special Proceedings entitle "any the administrator moved to close the intestate proceedings, on the
interested persons" or "any persons interested in the estate" to ground that the heirs had already entered into an extrajudicial
participate in varying capacities in the testate or intestate partition of the estate. The trial court refused to close the intestate
proceedings. Petitioners cite these provisions before us, namely: (1) proceedings pending the termination of the civil case, and the Court
Section 1, Rule 79, which recognizes the right of "any person affirmed such action.
interested" to oppose the issuance of letters testamentary and to file
a petition for administration;" (2) Section 3, Rule 79, which mandates
the giving of notice of hearing on the petition for letters of If the appellants filed a claim in intervention in the intestate
administration to the known heirs, creditors, and "to any other proceedings it was only pursuant to their desire to protect their
persons believed to have interest in the estate;" (3) Section 1, Rule interests it appearing that the property in litigation is involved in said
76, which allows a "person interested in the estate" to petition for the proceedings and in fact is the only property of the estate left subject
allowance of a will; (4) Section 6 of Rule 87, which allows an of administration and distribution; and the court is justified in taking
individual interested in the estate of the deceased "to complain to cognizance of said civil case because of the unavoidable fact that
the court of the concealment, embezzlement, or conveyance of any whatever is determined in said civil case will necessarily reflect and
asset of the decedent, or of evidence of the decedent’s title or have a far reaching consequence in the determination and
interest therein;" (5) Section 10 of Rule 85, which requires notice of distribution of the estate. In so taking cognizance of civil case No. V-
the time and place of the examination and allowance of the 331 the court does not assume general jurisdiction over the case but
Administrator’s account "to persons interested;" (6) Section 7(b) of merely makes of record its existence because of the close
Rule 89, which requires the court to give notice "to the persons interrelation of the two cases and cannot therefore be branded as
interested" before it may hear and grant a petition seeking the having acted in excess of its jurisdiction.
disposition or encumbrance of the properties of the estate; and (7)
Section 1, Rule 90, which allows "any person interested in the Appellants' claim that the lower court erred in holding in abeyance
estate" to petition for an order for the distribution of the residue of the closing of the intestate proceedings pending determination of the
separate civil action for the reason that there is no rule or authority
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 3
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

justifying the extension of administration proceedings until after the At the same time, the fact that petitioners’ interests remain inchoate
separate action pertaining to its general jurisdiction has been and contingent counterbalances their ability to participate in the
terminated, cannot be entertained. Section 1, Rule 88, of the Rules intestate proceedings. We are mindful of respondent’s submission
of Court, expressly provides that "action to recover real or personal that if the Court were to entitle petitioners with service of all
property from the estate or to enforce a lien thereon, and actions to processes and pleadings of the intestate court, then anybody
recover damages for an injury to person or property, real or claiming to be a creditor, whether contingent or otherwise, would
personal, may be commenced against the executor or have the right to be furnished such pleadings, no matter how
administrator." What practical value would this provision have if the wanting of merit the claim may be. Indeed, to impose a precedent
action against the administrator cannot be prosecuted to its that would mandate the service of all court processes and pleadings
termination simply because the heirs desire to close the intestate to anybody posing a claim to the estate, much less contingent
proceedings without first taking any step to settle the ordinary civil claims, would unduly complicate and burden the intestate
case? This rule is but a corollary to the ruling which declares that proceedings, and would ultimately offend the guiding principle of
questions concerning ownership of property alleged to be part of the speedy and orderly disposition of cases.
estate but claimed by another person should be determined in a
separate action and should be submitted to the court in the exercise Fortunately, there is a median that not only exists, but also has been
of its general jurisdiction. These rules would be rendered nugatory if recognized by this Court, with respect to the petitioners herein, that
we are to hold that an intestate proceedings can be closed by any addresses the core concern of petitioners to be apprised of
time at the whim and caprice of the heirs x x x23(Emphasis supplied) developments in the intestate proceedings. In Hilado v. Judge
[Citations omitted] Reyes,25 the Court heard a petition for mandamus filed by the same
petitioners herein against the RTC judge, praying that they be
It is not clear whether the claim-in-intervention filed by Dinglasan allowed access to the records of the intestate proceedings, which
conformed to an action-in-intervention under the Rules of Civil the respondent judge had denied from them. Section 2 of Rule 135
Procedure, but we can partake of the spirit behind such came to fore, the provision stating that "the records of every court of
pronouncement. Indeed, a few years later, the Court, citing justice shall be public records and shall be available for the
Dinglasan, stated: "[t]he rulings of this court have always been to the inspection of any interested person x x x." The Court ruled that
effect that in the special proceeding for the settlement of the estate petitioners were "interested persons" entitled to access the court
of a deceased person, persons not heirs, intervening therein to records in the intestate proceedings. We said:
protect their interests are allowed to do so to protect the same, but
not for a decision on their action."24 Petitioners' stated main purpose for accessing the records to—
monitor prompt compliance with the Rules governing the
Petitioners’ interests in the estate of Benedicto may be inchoate preservation and proper disposition of the assets of the estate, e.g.,
interests, but they are viable interests nonetheless. We are mindful the completion and appraisal of the Inventory and the submission by
that the Rules of Special Proceedings allows not just creditors, but the Administratrix of an annual accounting—appears legitimate, for,
also "any person interested" or "persons interested in the estate" as the plaintiffs in the complaints for sum of money against Roberto
various specified capacities to protect their respective interests in Benedicto, et al., they have an interest over the outcome of the
the estate. Anybody with a contingent claim based on a pending settlement of his estate. They are in fact "interested persons" under
action for quasi-delict against a decedent may be reasonably Rule 135, Sec. 2 of the Rules of Court x x x26
concerned that by the time judgment is rendered in their favor, the
estate of the decedent would have already been distributed, or Allowing creditors, contingent or otherwise, access to the records of
diminished to the extent that the judgment could no longer be the intestate proceedings is an eminently preferable precedent than
enforced against it. mandating the service of court processes and pleadings upon them.
In either case, the interest of the creditor in seeing to it that the
In the same manner that the Rules on Special Proceedings do not assets are being preserved and disposed of in accordance with the
provide a creditor or any person interested in the estate, the right to rules will be duly satisfied. Acknowledging their right to access the
participate in every aspect of the testate or intestate proceedings, records, rather than entitling them to the service of every court order
but instead provides for specific instances when such persons may or pleading no matter how relevant to their individual claim, will be
accordingly act in those proceedings, we deem that while there is no less cumbersome on the intestate court, the administrator and the
general right to intervene on the part of the petitioners, they may be heirs of the decedent, while providing a viable means by which the
allowed to seek certain prayers or reliefs from the intestate court not interests of the creditors in the estate are preserved.1awphi1
explicitly provided for under the Rules, if the prayer or relief sought is
necessary to protect their interest in the estate, and there is no other Nonetheless, in the instances that the Rules on Special Proceedings
modality under the Rules by which such interests can be protected. do require notice to any or all "interested parties" the petitioners as
It is under this standard that we assess the three prayers sought by "interested parties" will be entitled to such notice. The instances
petitioners. when notice has to be given to interested parties are provided in: (1)
Sec. 10, Rule 85 in reference to the time and place of examining and
The first is that petitioners be furnished with copies of all processes allowing the account of the executor or administrator; (2) Sec. 7(b) of
and orders issued in connection with the intestate proceedings, as Rule 89 concerning the petition to authorize the executor or
well as the pleadings filed by the administrator of the estate. There is administrator to sell personal estate, or to sell, mortgage or
no questioning as to the utility of such relief for the petitioners. They otherwise encumber real estates; and; (3) Sec. 1, Rule 90 regarding
would be duly alerted of the developments in the intestate the hearing for the application for an order for distribution of the
proceedings, including the status of the assets of the estate. Such a estate residue. After all, even the administratrix has acknowledged
running account would allow them to pursue the appropriate in her submitted inventory, the existence of the pending cases filed
remedies should their interests be compromised, such as the right, by the petitioners.
under Section 6, Rule 87, to complain to the intestate court if
property of the estate concealed, embezzled, or fraudulently
conveyed.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 4
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We now turn to the remaining reliefs sought by petitioners; that a TAYAG v. TAYAG-GALLOR
deadline be set for the submission by administratrix Benedicto to
submit a verified and complete inventory of the estate, and upon
Republic of the Philippines
submission thereof: the inheritance tax appraisers of the Bureau of
SUPREME COURT
Internal Revenue be required to assist in the appraisal of the fair
Manila
market value of the same; and that the intestate court set a deadline
for the submission by the administratrix of her verified annual
account, and, upon submission thereof, set the date for her SECOND DIVISION
examination under oath with respect thereto, with due notice to them
and other parties interested in the collation, preservation and G.R. No. 174680 March 24, 2008
disposition of the estate. We cannot grant said reliefs.

VICTORIA C. TAYAG, Petitioner,


Section 1 of Rule 83 requires the administrator to return to the court vs.
a true inventory and appraisal of all the real and personal estate of FELICIDAD A. TAYAG-GALLOR, Respondent.
the deceased within three (3) months from appointment, while
Section 8 of Rule 85 requires the administrator to render an account
of his administration within one (1) year from receipt of the letters
testamentary or of administration. We do not doubt that there are
reliefs available to compel an administrator to perform either duty, DECISION
but a person whose claim against the estate is still contingent is not
the party entitled to do so. Still, even if the administrator did delay in TINGA, J.:
the performance of these duties in the context of dissipating the
assets of the estate, there are protections enforced and available
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the
under Rule 88 to protect the interests of those with contingent claims
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated 29 May 2006, and its
against the estate.
Resolution2 dated 28 August 2006 in CA-G.R. SP No. 79205.

Concerning complaints against the general competence of the


The antecedents are as follows:
administrator, the proper remedy is to seek the removal of the
administrator in accordance with Section 2, Rule 82. While the
provision is silent as to who may seek with the court the removal of On 15 January 2001, respondent herein, Felicidad A. Tayag-Gallor,
the administrator, we do not doubt that a creditor, even a contingent filed a petition for the issuance of letters of administration over the
one, would have the personality to seek such relief. After all, the estate of Ismael Tayag.3 Respondent alleged in the petition,
interest of the creditor in the estate relates to the preservation of docketed as Special Proceeding No. 5994 (SP 5994), that she is
sufficient assets to answer for the debt, and the general competence one of the three (3) illegitimate children of the late Ismael Tayag and
or good faith of the administrator is necessary to fulfill such purpose. Ester C. Angeles. The decedent was married to petitioner herein,
Victoria C. Tayag, but the two allegedly did not have any children of
their own.
All told, the ultimate disposition of the RTC and the Court of Appeals
is correct. Nonetheless, as we have explained, petitioners should not
be deprived of their prerogatives under the Rules on Special On 7 September 2000, Ismael Tayag died intestate, leaving behind
Proceedings as enunciated in this decision. two (2) real properties both of which are in the possession of
petitioner, and a motor vehicle which the latter sold on 10 October
2000 preparatory to the settlement of the decedent’s estate.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, subject to the qualification
Petitioner allegedly promised to give respondent and her brothers
that petitioners, as persons interested in the intestate estate of
₱100,000.00 each as their share in the proceeds of the sale.
Roberto Benedicto, are entitled to such notices and rights as
However, petitioner only gave each of them half the amount she
provided for such interested persons in the Rules on Settlement of
promised.
Estates of Deceased Persons under the Rules on Special
Proceedings. No pronouncements as to costs.
Respondent further averred that on 20 November 2000, petitioner
has caused the annotation of 5 September 1984 affidavit executed
SO ORDERED.
by Ismael Tayag declaring the properties to be the paraphernal
properties of petitioner. The latter allegedly intends to dispose of
these properties to the respondent’s and her brothers’ prejudice.

Petitioner opposed the petition, asserting that she purchased the


properties subject of the petition using her own money. She claimed
that she and Ismael Tayag got married in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
on 25 October 1973, and that they have an adopted daughter,
Carmela Tayag, who is presently residing in the USA. It is allegedly
not true that she is planning to sell the properties. Petitioner prayed
for the dismissal of the suit because respondent failed to state a
cause of action.4

In a Motion5 dated 31 August 2001, petitioner reiterated her sole


ownership of the properties and presented the transfer certificates of
title thereof in her name. She also averred that it is necessary to
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 5
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

allege that respondent was acknowledged and recognized by Ismael Essentially, the petition for the issuance of letters of administration is
Tayag as his illegitimate child. There being no such allegation, the a suit for the settlement of the intestate estate of Ismael Tayag. The
action becomes one to compel recognition which cannot be brought right of respondent to maintain such a suit is dependent on whether
after the death of the putative father. To prevent further she is entitled to successional rights as an illegitimate child of the
encroachment upon the court’s time, petitioner moved for a hearing decedent which, in turn, may be established through voluntary or
on her affirmative defenses. compulsory recognition.

The Motion was denied in an Order6 dated 3 April 2003. Petitioner’s Voluntary recognition must be express such as that in a record of
motion for reconsideration was likewise denied in an Order7 dated birth appearing in the civil register, a final judgment, a public
16 July 2003. instrument or private handwritten instrument signed by the parent
concerned.15 The voluntary recognition of an illegitimate child by his
The appellate court, in a Decision8 dated 29 May 2006, upheld the or her parent needs no further court action and is, therefore, not
denial of petitioner’s motion and directed the trial court to proceed subject to the limitation that the action for recognition be brought
with the case with dispatch. The Court of Appeals ruled, in essence, during the lifetime of the putative parent.16 Judicial or compulsory
that the allegation that respondent is an illegitimate child suffices for recognition, on the other hand, may be demanded by the illegitimate
a cause of action, without need to state that she had been child of his parents and must be brought during the lifetime of the
recognized and acknowledged as such. However, respondent still presumed parents.17
has to prove her allegation and, correspondingly, petitioner has the
right to refute the allegation in the course of the settlement Petitioner’s thesis is essentially based on her contention that by
proceedings. Ismael Tayag’s death, respondent’s illegitimate filiation and
necessarily, her interest in the decedent’s estate which the Rules
The Court of Appeals denied reconsideration in a Resolution9 dated require to be material and direct, may no longer be established.
28 August 2006. Petitioner, however, overlooks the fact that respondent’s
successional rights may be established not just by a judicial action to
compel recognition but also by proof that she had been voluntarily
In her Petition10 17 dated September 2006, petitioner asserts that acknowledged and recognized as an illegitimate child.
respondent should not be allowed to prove her filiation in the
settlement of Ismael Tayag’s estate. If, following the case
of Uyguanco v. Court of Appeals,11 the claim of filiation may no In Uyguangco v. Court of Appeals, supra, Graciano Uyguangco,
longer be proved in an action for recognition, with more reason that claiming to be an illegitimate child of the decedent, filed a complaint
it should not be allowed to be proved in an action for the settlement for partition against the latter’s wife and legitimate children.
of the decedent’s estate. Thus, petitioner claims, respondent may no However, an admission was elicited from him in the course of his
longer maintain an action to prove that she is the illegitimate child of presentation of evidence at the trial that he had none of the
the decedent after the latter’s death. documents mentioned in Article 27818 of the 1950 Civil Code to show
that he was the illegitimate son of the decedent. The wife and
legitimate children of the decedent thereupon moved for the
Unfortunately, the two-page Comment,12 dated 17 April 2007, fails to dismissal of the case on the ground that he could no longer prove
shed any more light on the present controversy. his alleged filiation under the applicable provision of the Civil Code.

The Reply13 dated 3 September 2007 reiterates the arguments in the The Court, applying the provisions of the Family Code which had
petition. then already taken effect, ruled that since Graciano was claiming
illegitimate filiation under the second paragraph of Article 172 of the
The main issue in this case is deceptively simple. As crafted by the Family Code, i.e., open and continuous possession of the status of
Court of Appeals, it is whether respondent’s petition for the issuance an illegitimate child, the action was already barred by the death of
of letters of administration sufficiently states a cause of action the alleged father.
considering that respondent merely alleged therein that she is an
illegitimate child of the decedent, without stating that she had been In contrast, respondent in this case had not been given the
acknowledged or recognized as such by the latter. The appellate opportunity to present evidence to show whether she had been
court held that the mere allegation that respondent is an illegitimate voluntarily recognized and acknowledged by her deceased father
child suffices. because of petitioner’s opposition to her petition and motion for
hearing on affirmative defenses. There is, as yet, no way to
Rule 79 of the Rules of Court provides that a petition for the determine if her petition is actually one to compel recognition which
issuance of letters of administration must be filed by an interested had already been foreclosed by the death of her father, or whether
person. In Saguinsin v. Lindayag,14 the Court defined an interested indeed she has a material and direct interest to maintain the suit by
party as one who would be benefited by the estate, such as an heir, reason of the decedent’s voluntary acknowledgment or recognition
or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor. This of her illegitimate filiation.
interest, furthermore, must be material and direct, not merely indirect
or contingent. We find, therefore, that the allegation that respondent is an
illegitimate child of the decedent suffices even without further stating
Hence, where the right of the person filing a petition for the issuance that she has been so recognized or acknowledged. A motion to
of letters of administration is dependent on a fact which has not dismiss on the ground of failure to state a cause of action in the
been established or worse, can no longer be established, such complaint hypothetically admits the truth of the facts alleged
contingent interest does not make her an interested party. Here lies therein.19 Assuming the fact alleged to be true, i.e., that respondent
the complication in the case which the appellate court had not is the
discussed, although its disposition of the case is correct.1avvphi1
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decedent’s illegitimate child, her interest in the estate as such would On February 26, 2003, Aquino filed a pleading entitled "Appointment
definitely be material and direct. The appellate court was, therefore, of Administrator" signed by Candelaria, Jesus, Arlyn, Nestor, Edna,
correct in allowing the proceedings to continue, ruling that, Benhur, Federico, Rafael and Ma. Eden, all surnamed Casa, on
"respondent still has the duty to prove the allegation (that she is an February 24, 2003, praying that one of them, Federico Casa, Jr., be
illegitimate child of the decedent), just as the petitioner has the right designated as administrator of the estate of the deceased and that
to disprove it, in the course of the settlement proceedings." he be substituted for the deceased.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision of the NOW THEREFORE, in compliance with the ORDER of the Probate
Court of Appeals dated 29 May 2006 and its Resolution dated 28 Court, cited above, we, the legal heirs of the deceased OSCAR
August 2006 are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. CASA, unanimously designate and appoint FEDERICO CASA, JR.,
as the ADMINISTRATOR of the property to be inherited by the
SO ORDERED. 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
SAN JUAN v. CRUZ most competent to assume the responsibilities and the duties of the
ADMINISTRATOR. We authorize him to represent us the heirs of the
FIRST DIVISION 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
Probate Court; to take possession of the properties designated in
G.R. No. 167321 July 31, 2006
the WILL upon distribution by the appointed ADMINISTRATOR of
the Estate of LORETO SAMIA SAN JUAN. (emphasis supplied)3
EPIFANIO SAN JUAN, JR., petitioner,
vs.
In compliance with the order of the court, Epifanio San Juan filed a
JUDGE RAMON A. CRUZ, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH
"Motion to Declare Appointment of Administrator As Inadequate or
224, QUEZON CITY and ATTY. TEODORICO A.
Insufficient."4 He maintained that the heirs should present an
AQUINO, respondents.
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
DECISION Rules of Court, the heirs of Oscar Casa may be substituted for the
deceased without need for appointment of an administrator or
CALLEJO, SR., J.: 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.
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the
Resolution1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 87458
dismissing the Petition for Certiorari with Prayer for Issuance of a On December 2, 2003, the RTC issued an Order denying the motion
Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction of of San Juan. Contrary to its Order dated November 22, 2002, the
petitioner Epifanio San Juan, Jr., as well as its Resolution 2 denying court held that there was, after all, no need for the appointment of an
the motion for reconsideration thereof. administrator or executor as substitute for the deceased devisee. It
is enough, the court declared, that a representative be appointed as
provided in Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court.5
The Antecedents

San Juan received a copy of the December 2, 2003 Order on


Loreto Samia San Juan executed a Last Will and Testament naming
December 15, 2003 and filed, on December 30, 2003, a motion for
Oscar Casa as one of the devisees therein. Upon Loreto's death on
reconsideration thereof. Citing the ruling of this Court in Lawas v.
October 25, 1988, Atty. Teodorico A. Aquino filed a petition for the
Court of Appeals,6 he averred that, under Section 16, Rule 3 of the
probate of the will in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City.
Rules of Court, while the court may allow the heirs of the deceased
The case was raffled to Branch 224 of the court and was docketed
to be substituted in cases of unreasonable delay in the appointment
as Special Proceedings No. 98-36118.
of an executor or administrator, or where the heirs resort to an
extrajudicial settlement of the estate, priority is still given to the legal
While the petition was pending, Oscar Casa died intestate on May representative of the deceased, that is, the executor or administrator
24, 1999. The firm of Aquino, Galang, Lucas, Espinoza, Miranda & of the estate. Moreover, in case the heirs of the deceased will be
Associates entered their appearance as counsel of Federico Casa, substituted, there must be a prior determination by the probate court
Jr., who claimed to be one of the heirs of Oscar Casa and their of who the rightful heirs are. He opined that this doctrine is in line
representative. with Article 1058 of the New Civil Code, and the provisions of
Section 6, Rule 78 and Section 2, Rule 79 of the Rules of Court. In
On August 14, 2002, the probate court issued an Order denying the this case, however, the alleged heirs of Oscar Casa did not file any
entry of appearance of said law firm, considering that Federico petition for the appointment of an administrator of his estate; hence,
Casa, Jr. was not the executor or administrator of the estate of the Federico Casa, Jr. is not qualified to be appointed as substitute for
devisee, hence, cannot be substituted for the deceased as his the deceased devisee. San Juan pointed out that the December 2,
representative as required by Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of 2003 Order of the probate court contravened its August 14, 2002
Court. On November 22, 2002, the court issued an order directing and November 22, 2002 Orders.7
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.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 7
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

The motion for reconsideration was denied on February 27, 2004 the Montañano and Riera cases, as claiming that said rulings were
where the probate court declared that it had carefully evaluated the not relevant to the issue of the validity of the appointment of
arguments raised by the parties and found no compelling ground or Federico Casa Jr., by the alleged heirs of Oscar Casa, as
cogent reason to set aside its December 2, 2003 Order.8 Petitioner administrator and substitute for the deceased devisee. He insisted
received a copy of the Order on March 18, 2004. that the cases dealt only with the question of whether or not the
probate court can rule on the validity of the provisions of the will;
On May 7, 2004, San Juan filed a Motion to Admit his second motion they do not involve the same issue presented by the oppositor,
for reconsideration dated May 6, 2004, appending thereto the namely, whether or not a substitution of a legatee under the will who
December 2, 2003 Order of the RTC.9 He cited Torres, Jr. v. Court died during the probate proceedings may be done by simply
of Appeals,10 where it was held that the purpose behind the rule on submitting an "Appointment of Administrator," or whether or not
substitution of parties is the protection of the right of every party to there is a need for a deceased legatee to be substituted by his/her
due process, to ensure that the deceased party would continue to be duly appointed legal representative or administrator of his estate.
properly represented in the suit through the duly appointed legal
representative of his estate. The need for substitution of heirs is San Juan further posited that the estate court, sitting as a probate
based on the right to due process accruing to every party in any court, does not only decide on the questions of identity and
proceeding, and the exercise of judicial power to hear and determine testamentary capacity of the testator and the due execution of the
a cause presupposes that the trial court acquires jurisdiction over will; it is likewise charged with the settlement of the estate of the
the persons of the parties. testator after the will has been approved. Thus, the probate court
must not only determine the validity of the will, but also the rightful
San Juan emphasized that it is only in the absence of an executor or heirs, legatees and devisees for the purpose of settling the estate of
administrator that the heirs may be allowed by the court to substitute the testator.18
the deceased party. He averred that the purported heirs simply
agreed among themselves to appoint a representative to be Aquino opposed the motion, contending that it was, in fact, a third
substituted for the deceased, which is contrary to the requirement of motion for reconsideration, a prohibited pleading under Section 3,
a prior hearing for the court to ascertain who the rightful heirs are. Rule 37 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.19
The Orders of the Court dated December 2, 2003 and February 27,
2004 may be used by purported heirs in order to "inherit" properties On September 8, 2004, the probate court issued an Order sustaining
from estates of deceased parties, which will then allow the rules of Aquino's argument and denied the motion for reconsideration of San
procedure to be used as an instrument for fraud and undermining Juan.20
due process.11 San Juan reiterated the rulings of this Court in Dela
Cruz v. Court of Appeals12 and Lawas v. Court of Appeals,13 that
court proceedings conducted or continued without a valid San Juan, now petitioner, filed a petition for certiorari with the CA on
substitution of a deceased party cannot be accorded validity and November 22, 2004 for the nullification of the orders issued by the
binding effect. He prayed that the February 27, 2004 Order be probate court on the following grounds:
reconsidered and a new order be issued as follows:
A. THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON
(a) declaring the "Appointment of Administrator" dated February 14, CITY GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHICH AMOUNTS
2003 insufficient or inadequate compliance with the rules of TO LACK, OR IN EXCESS, OF JURISDICTION IN RULING THAT
procedure on substitution of a deceased party; THE "APPOINTMENT OF ADMINISTRATOR" DATED FEBRUARY
14, 2003 MADE BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS IN ACCORDANCE
WITH THE RULES ON CIVIL PROCEDURE ON PROPER
(b) directing petitioner to secure from the appropriate court the SUBSTITUTION OF PARTIES.
appointment of an administrator of the estate of the deceased Oscar
Casa; and
B. THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON
CITY GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHICH AMOUNTS
(c) directing that further proceedings in the case be deferred until TO LACK, OR IN EXCESS, OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING DUE
after the substitution of the deceased Oscar Casa by the court- COURSE TO PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
appointed administrator or executor of his estate. ON THE GROUND THAT SAID MOTION IS A THIRD MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION WHICH IS A PROHIBITED PLEADING
Oppositor prays for other and further reliefs which may be just and UNDER SEC. 5, RULE 37 OF THE RULES OF COURT.21
equitable.14
On December 1, 2004, the CA dismissed the petition on the ground
On June 11, 2004, the probate court issued an order denying the that it was filed beyond the 60-day period counted from notice to
second motion for reconsideration of San Juan. It noted that the petitioner of the trial court's February 27, 2004 Order. The appellate
motion merely reiterated the same arguments in his first motion for court declared that the May 6, 2004 motion for reconsideration of
reconsideration which had already been passed upon. Citing the petitioner was a pro forma motion because it was a second motion
rulings in Montañano v. Suesa15 and Riera v. Palmanori,16 it for reconsideration which sought the same relief as the first motion,
concluded that there was no need for the appointment of an hence, did not toll the running of the 60-day period.22 The appellate
administrator of the estate of the deceased Oscar Casa at that stage court cited the ruling of this Court in University of Immaculate
of the proceedings since a legatee is not considered either as an Concepcion v. Secretary of Labor and Employment.23
indispensable or necessary party in the probate of a will. 17
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution of the
When San Juan received a copy of the June 11, 2004 Order of the CA, contending that the orders sought to be reconsidered by him
trial court, he filed, on July 23, 2004, a motion for reconsideration were interlocutory, hence, cannot be considered pro forma or
thereof. He took exception to the probate court's reliance in forbidden by the Rules of Court. He cited the rulings of this Court
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 8
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

in Dizon v. Court of Appeals,24 Philgreen Trading Construction patently erroneous application of the law. Petitioner emphasizes that
Corporation v. Court of Appeals,25 and the cases cited in the latter he filed the petition for certiorari with the CA in view of the grave
decision.26 However, on February 24, 2005, the CA resolved to deny abuse of discretion which amounted to lack of or excess of
the motion of petitioner.27 jurisdiction committed by respondent trial court when it wrongfully
assumed in its Order denying the third motion for reconsideration
Petitioner now seeks relief from this Court, via a petition for review that the order sought to be reconsidered is a final order on the merits
on certiorari, for the reversal of the resolutions of the appellate court. of the case and that the motion for reconsideration is a third motion
He raises the following issues: for reconsideration of a final order.30

(A) WHETHER OR NOT THE SIXTY-DAY PERIOD FOR FILING A The petition is denied for lack of merit.
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI UNDER RULE 65 OF THE RULES
OF COURT IS RECKONED FROM NOTICE OF DENIAL OF THE We agree with the ruling of the CA that the petition for certiorari filed
FIRST MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF AN by petitioner in the appellate court was time-barred. However,
INTERLOCUTORY ORDER EVEN THOUGH A SECOND AND the raison d'etre for its ruling is incorrect.
THIRD MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (WHICH ARE NOT
PROHIBITED MOTIONS) OF THE SAME INTERLOCUTORY Contrary to the ruling of the CA, the proscription against a pro
ORDER HAD BEEN FILED AND WERE LATER DENIED. forma motion applies only to a final resolution or order and not to an
interlocutory one. The ruling of this Court in University of Immaculate
(B) WHETHER OR NOT A PERSON NOMINATED AS Concepcion v. Secretary of Labor and Employment 31 involved a final
"ADMINISTRATOR" BY PURPORTED HEIRS OF A DEVISEE OR order of the NLRC and not an interlocutory order.
LEGATEE IN A WILL UNDER PROBATE MAY VALIDLY
SUBSTITUTE FOR THAT DEVISEE OR LEGATEE IN THE In this case, the December 2, 2003 Order of the trial court denying
PROBATE PROCEEDINGS DESPITE THE FACT THAT SUCH the motion of petitioner to consider insufficient or inadequate
"ADMINISTRATOR" IS NOT THE COURT-APPOINTED respondent's compliance with its November 22, 2002 Order is
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED interlocutory. The order does not finally dispose of the case, and
DEVISEE OR LEGATEE.28 does not end the task of the court of adjudicating the parties'
contentions and determining their rights and liabilities as regards
On the first issue, petitioner avers that the reckoning of the 60-day each other but obviously indicates that other things remain to be
period for filing a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of done. Such order may not be questioned except only as part of an
Court from the notice of denial of the first motion for reconsideration appeal that may eventually be taken from the final judgment
is applicable only if the subject of the petition is a judgment, final rendered in the case.32 It bears stressing however that while the
resolution, or order. It does not apply if the subject of the petition is motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner assailing the December
merely an interlocutory order. He points out that the reason for this is 2, 2003 Order of the trial court based on the same grounds as those
that only one motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final order alleged in his first motion is not pro forma, such second motion for
is allowed under Section 5, Rule 37 of the Rules of Court. A second reconsideration can nevertheless be denied on the ground that it is
motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final order is a prohibited merely a rehash or a mere reiteration of grounds and arguments
pleading; hence, the period for filing a petition for certiorari may not already passed upon and resolved by the court. Such a motion
be reckoned from notice of denial of such second and prohibited cannot be rejected on the ground that a second motion for
motion for reconsideration. Petitioner asserts that a second (or even reconsideration of an interlocutory order is forbidden by law or by the
a third) motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order is not Rules of Court.33
prohibited; hence, the 60-day period for filing a petition
for certiorari may be reckoned from notice of denial of subsequent Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of Civil Procedure as amended by
motions for reconsideration. the resolution of the Court in Bar Matter No. 00-2-03-SC which took
effect on September 1, 2000, reads:
Petitioner further claims that the Orders dated December 2, 2003,
February 27, 2004, June 11, 2004 and September 8, 2004 issued by Sec. 4. Where and when petition filed. – The petition shall be filed
the RTC are only interlocutory orders. They deal solely with the not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or
issue concerning the proper substitution of the deceased Oscar resolution. In case a motion for reconsideration or new trial is timely
Casa who is one of the devisees and legatees named in the filed, whether such motion is required or not, the sixty (60) day
purported will of the testatrix, Loreto San Juan, which is the subject period shall be counted from notice of the denial of the said motion.
matter of the probate proceedings pending with the respondent
court. Said orders did not terminate or finally dispose of the case but
left something to be done by the respondent court before the case is The petition shall be filed in the Supreme Court or, if it relates to the
finally decided on the merits. The assailed orders do not go into the acts or omissions of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer
merits of the probate case, particularly on the due execution and or person, in the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the
validity of the will. It pertains only to the proper substitution of the territorial area as defined by the Supreme Court. It may also be filed
parties. Thus, the orders are not final orders from which no second in the Court of Appeals whether or not the same is in the aid of its
or third motion for reconsideration may be filed. 29 It cannot also be appellate jurisdiction, or in the Sandiganbayan if it is in aid of its
said that the second motion for reconsideration did not toll the appellate jurisdiction. If it involves the acts or omissions of a quasi-
running of the reglementary period for filing a petition for certiorari, judicial agency, unless otherwise provided by law or these rules, the
considering that there is no prohibition in the filing of a second petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the Court of Appeals.
motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order. Furthermore,
there is no intention on the part of petitioner to delay proceedings No extension of time to file the petition shall be granted except for
before the lower court when he filed the third motion for compelling reason and in no case exceeding fifteen (15) days.
reconsideration, as he only sought to correct the probate court's
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 9
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

Thus, there are three essential dates that must be stated in a for and on behalf of the deceased. The court charges in procuring
petition for certiorari brought under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for such appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be
the nullification of a judgment, resolution or order: (1) the date when recovered as costs.
notice of the judgment, resolution or order was received; (2) when a
motion for a new trial or reconsideration of the judgment, order or The rule is a revision of Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court
resolution was submitted; and (3) when notice of the denial thereof which reads:
was received by petitioner.

Death of party. – After a party dies and the claim is not thereby
The requirement of setting forth the three (3) dates in a petition extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is for the purpose representative of the deceased to appear and to be substituted for
of determining its timeliness, considering that a petition is required to the deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days, or within such time
be filed not later than 60 days from notice of the judgment, order or as may be granted. If the legal representative fails to appear within
resolution sought to be nullified.34 said time, the court may order the opposing party to procure the
appointment of a legal representative of the deceased within a time
We agree with the ruling of the CA that the petition for certiorari filed to be specified by the court, and the representative shall immediately
by petitioner with the CA on November 22, 2004 was filed beyond appear for and on behalf of the interest of the deceased. The court
the 60-day period therefor. Petitioner received, on March 18, 2004, charges involved in procuring such appointment, if defrayed by the
the February 27, 2004 Order of the court denying his motion for opposing party, may be recovered as costs. The heirs of the
reconsideration of the December 2, 2003 Order. Petitioner had 60 deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased,
days from March 18, 2004 or until May 17, 2004 within which to file without requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator
his petition for certiorari. However, petitioner filed his petition and the court may appoint guardian ad litem for the minor heirs.36
for certiorari with the CA only on November 22, 2004.
The second paragraph of the rule is plain and explicit: the heirs may
The 60-day period should not be reckoned from petitioner's receipt be allowed to be substituted for the deceased without requiring the
on June 11, 2004 of the denial of his May 7, 2004 second motion for appointment of an administrator or executor. However, if within the
reconsideration. The 60-day period shall be reckoned from the trial specified period a legal representative fails to appear, the court may
court's denial of his first motion for reconsideration, otherwise order the opposing counsel, within a specified period, to process the
indefinite delays will ensue.35 appointment of an administrator or executor who shall immediately
appear for the estate of the deceased.37 The pronouncement of this
We note that the parties articulated their stance in their respective Court in Lawas v. Court of Appeals38 (relied upon by petitioner), that
pleadings not only on the timeliness of the petition for certiorari in priority is given to the legal representative of the deceased (the
the CA but also on the validity of the assailed December 2, 2003 executor or administrator) and that it is only in case of unreasonable
Order of the trial court. Ordinarily, in view of the dismissal of the delay in the appointment of an executor or administrator, or in cases
petition because it was time-barred, the Court will no longer delve where the heirs resort to an extrajudicial settlement of the estate that
into and resolve the other issues raised in the petition. However, in the court may adopt the alternative of allowing the heirs of the
this case, we find it appropriate and necessary to resolve once and deceased to be substituted for the deceased, is no longer
for all the issue of whether there is a need for the appointment of an true.39 In Gochan v. Young,40 a case of fairly recent vintage, the
administrator of the estate of Oscar Casa, or whether it is enough Court ruled as follows:
that he be substituted by his heirs.
The above-quoted rules, while permitting an executor or
Section 16, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure reads: 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
Sec. 16. Death of party; duty of counsel. – Whenever a party to a has already been appointed. But no rule categorically addresses the
pending action dies, and the claim is not thereby extinguished, it situation in which special proceedings for the settlement of an estate
shall be the duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) have already been instituted, yet no administrator has been
days after such death of the fact thereof, and to give the name and appointed. In such instances, the heirs cannot be expected to wait
address of his legal representative or representatives. Failure of for the appointment of an administrator; then wait further to see if the
counsel to comply with this duty shall be a ground for disciplinary administrator appointed would care enough to file a suit to protect
action. the rights and the interests of the deceased; and in the meantime do
nothing while the rights and the properties of the decedent are
The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the violated or dissipated.
deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or
administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the The Rules are to be interpreted liberally in order to promote their
minor heirs. objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of
every action and proceeding. They cannot be interpreted in such a
The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or way as to unnecessarily put undue hardships on litigants. For the
representatives to appear and be substituted within a period of thirty protection of the interests of the decedent, this Court has in previous
(30) days from notice. instances recognized the heirs as proper representatives of the
decedent, even when there is already an administrator appointed by
If no legal representative is named by the counsel for the deceased the court. When no administrator has been appointed, as in this
party, or if the one so named shall fail to appear within the specified case, there is all the more reason to recognize the heirs as the
period, the court may order the opposing party, within a specified proper representatives of the deceased. Since the Rules do not
time, to procure the appointment of an executor or administrator for specifically prohibit them from representing the deceased, and since
the estate of the deceased and the latter shall immediately appear no administrator had as yet been appointed at the time of the
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 10
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

institution of the Complaint with the SEC, we see nothing wrong with Proceeding No. 6344, supra, and the order of 1 July 1963 (Annex
the fact that it was the heirs of John D. Young, Sr. who represented 'K') of respondent Manila court denying petitioner's omnibus motion
his estate in the case filed before the SEC. (Emphasis supplied)41 to intervene and to dismiss the later-instituted Special Proceeding
No. 51396, supra, both special proceedings pertaining to the
The heirs of the estate of Oscar Casa do not need to first secure the settlement of the same estate of the same deceased, and
appointment of an administrator of his estate, because from the very consequently annulling all proceedings had in Special Proceeding
moment of his death, they stepped into his shoes and acquired his No. 51396; supra, of the respondent Manila court as all taken
rights as devisee/legatee of the deceased Loreto San Juan. Thus, a without jurisdiction.
prior appointment of an administrator or executor of the estate of
Oscar Casa is not necessary for his heirs to acquire legal capacity to For the preservation of the rights of the parties pending these
be substituted as representatives of the estate. 42Said heirs may proceedings, petitioner prays for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
designate one or some of them as their representative before the injunction enjoining respondents Manila court, Juan Uriarte
trial court. Zamacona and Higinio Uriarte from proceeding with Special
Proceeding No. 51396, supra, until further orders of this Court.
Hence, even on the threshold issue raised in the RTC and in the
petition for certiorari in the CA, the assailed order of the RTC is Reasons in support of said petition are stated therein as follows:
correct.
6. Respondent Negros court erred in dismissing its Special
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. Costs Proceeding No. 6344, supra, and failing to declare itself 'the court
against petitioner. first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of' the
deceased Don Juan Uriarte y Goite as prescribed in Rule 75 section
SO ORDERED. 1 of the Rules of Court. Respondent Manila court erred in failing to
dismiss its Special Proceeding No. 51396, supra, notwithstanding
proof of prior filing of Special Proceeding No. 6344, supra, in the
REGULAR SETTLEMENT Negros court.

TESTATE PROCEEDINGS
The writ of preliminary injunction prayed for was granted and issued
URIARTE v. CFI OF NEGROS by this Court on October 24, 1963.

On April 22, 1964 petitioner filed against the same respondents a


Republic of the Philippines
pleading entitled SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION FOR MANDAMUS —
SUPREME COURT
docketed in this Court as G.R. No. L-21939 — praying, for the
Manila
reasons therein stated, that judgment be rendered annulling the
orders issued by the Negros Court on December 7, 1963 and
EN BANC February 26, 1964, the first disapproving his record on appeal and
the second denying his motion for reconsideration, and further
G.R. Nos. L-21938-39 May 29, 1970 commanding said court to approve his record on appeal and to give
due course to his appeal. On July 15, 1964 We issued a resolution
deferring action on this Supplemental Petition until the original action
VICENTE URIARTE, petitioner,
for certiorari (G.R. L-21938) is taken up on the merits.
vs.
THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL
(12th Judicial District) THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF On October 21, 1963 the respondents in G.R. L-21938 filed their
MANILA, BRANCH IV, JUAN URIARTE ZAMACONA and HIGINIO answer traversing petitioner's contention that the respondent courts
URIARTE, respondents. had committed grave abuse of discretion in relation to the matters
alleged in the petition for certiorari.
Norberto J. Quisumbing for petitioner.
It appears that on November 6, 1961 petitioner filed with the Negros
Court a petition for the settlement of the estate of the late Don Juan
Tañada, Teehankee & Carreon for respondents.
Uriarte y Goite (Special Proceeding No. 6344) alleging therein, inter
alia, that, as a natural son of the latter, he was his sole heir, and
that, during the lifetime of said decedent, petitioner had instituted
Civil Case No. 6142 in the same Court for his compulsory
DIZON, J.: acknowledgment as such natural son. Upon petitioner's motion the
Negros Court appointed the Philippine National Bank as special
administrator on November 13, 1961 and two days later it set the
On October 3, 1963 petitioner Vicente Uriarte filed an original
date for the hearing of the petition and ordered that the requisite
petition for certiorari — docketed as G.R. L-21938 — against the
notices be published in accordance with law. The record discloses,
respondents Juan Uriarte Zamacona, Higinio Uriarte, and the Courts
however, that, for one reason or another, the Philippine, National
of First Instance of Negros Occidental and of Manila, Branch IV, who
Bank never actually qualified as special administrator.
will be referred to hereinafter as the Negros Court and the Manila
Court, respectively — praying:
On December 19, 1961, Higinio Uriarte, one of the two private
respondents herein, filed an opposition to the above-mentioned
... that after due proceedings judgment be rendered annulling the
petition alleging that he was a nephew of the deceased Juan Uriarte
orders of 19 April 1963 (Annex 'H') and 11 July 1963 (Annex 'I') of
y Goite who had "executed a Last Will and Testament in Spain, a
respondent Negros court dismissing the first instituted Special
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 11
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

duly authenticated copy whereof has been requested and which filed the action, as well as when he commenced the aforesaid
shall be submitted to this Honorable Court upon receipt thereof," and special proceeding, he had not yet been acknowledged as natural
further questioning petitioner's capacity and interest to commence son of Juan Uriarte y Goite. Up to this time, no final judgment to that
the intestate proceeding. effect appears to have been rendered.

On August 28, 1962, Juan Uriarte Zamacona, the other private The record further discloses that the special proceeding before the
respondent, commenced Special Proceeding No. 51396 in the Negros Court has not gone farther than the appointment of a special
Manila Court for the probate of a document alleged to be the last will administrator in the person of the Philippine National Bank who, as
of the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite, and on the same date he filed stated heretofore, failed to qualify.
in Special Proceeding No. 6344 of the Negros Court a motion to
dismiss the same on the following grounds: (1) that, as the On the other hand, it is not disputed that, after proper proceedings
deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite had left a last will, there was no legal were had in Special Proceeding No. 51396, the Manila Court
basis to proceed with said intestate proceedings, and (2) that admitted to probate the document submitted to, it as the last will of
petitioner Vicente Uriarte had no legal personality and interest to Juan Uriarte y Goite, the petition for probate appearing not to have
initiate said intestate proceedings, he not being an acknowledged been contested. It appears further that, as stated heretofore, the
natural son of the decedent. A copy of the Petition for Probate and of order issued by the Manila Court on July 1, 1963 denied petitioner.
the alleged Will were attached to the Motion to Dismiss. Vicente Uriarte's Omnibus Motion for Intervention, Dismissal of
Petition and Annulment of said proceedings.
Petitioner opposed the aforesaid motion to dismiss contending that,
as the Negros Court was first to take cognizance of the settlement of Likewise, it is not denied that to the motion to dismiss the special
the estate of the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite, it had acquired proceeding pending before the Negros Court filed by Higinio Uriarte
exclusive jurisdiction over same pursuant to Rule 75, Section 1 of were attached a copy of the alleged last will of Juan Uriarte y Goite
the Rules of Court. and of the petition filed with the Manila Court for its probate. It is
clear, therefore, that almost from the start of Special Proceeding No.
On April 19, 1963, the Negros Court sustained Juan Uriarte 6344, the Negros Court and petitioner Vicente Uriarte knew of the
Zamacona's motion to dismiss and dismissed the Special existence of the aforesaid last will and of the proceedings for its
Proceeding No. 6344 pending before it. His motion for probate.
reconsideration of said order having been denied on July 27, 1963,
petitioner proceeded to file his notice of appeal, appeal bond and The principal legal questions raised in the petition for certiorari are
record on appeal for the purpose of appealing from said orders to (a) whether or not the Negros Court erred in dismissing Special
this court on questions of law. The administrator with the will Proceeding No. 6644, on the one hand, and on the other, (b)
annexed appointed by the Manila Court in Special Proceeding No. whether the Manila Court similarly erred in not dismissing Special
51396 objected to the approval of the record on appeal, and under Proceeding No. 51396 notwithstanding proof of the prior filing of
date of December 7, 1963 the Negros Court issued the following Special Proceeding No. 6344 in the Negros Court.
order:

Under the Judiciary Act of 1948 [Section 44, paragraph (e)], Courts
Oppositor prays that the record on appeal filed by the petitioner on of First Instance have original exclusive jurisdiction over "all matters
July 27, 1963, be dismissed for having been filed out of time and for of probate," that is, over special proceedings for the settlement of
being incomplete. In the meantime, before the said record on appeal the estate of deceased persons — whether they died testate or
was approved by this Court, the petitioner filed a petition for intestate. While their jurisdiction over such subject matter is beyond
certiorari before the Supreme Court entitled Vicente Uriarte, question, the matter of venue, or the particular Court of First
Petitioner, vs. Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, et al., Instance where the special proceeding should be commenced, is
G.R. No. L-21938, bringing this case squarely before the Supreme regulated by former Rule 75, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, now
Court on questions of law which is tantamount to petitioner's Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides
abandoning his appeal from this Court. that the estate of a decedent inhabitant of the Philippines at the time
of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, shall be in the court of first
WHEREFORE, in order to give way to the certiorari, the record on instance in the province in which he resided at the time of his death,
appeal filed by the petitioner is hereby disapproved. and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the court of first
instance of any province in which he had estate. Accordingly, when
In view of the above-quoted order, petitioner filed the supplemental the estate to be settled is that of a non-resident alien — like the
petition for mandamus mentioned heretofore. deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite — the Courts of First Instance in
provinces where the deceased left any property have concurrent
jurisdiction to take cognizance of the proper special proceeding for
On April 15, 1963 Vicente Uriarte filed an Omnibus Motion in Special the settlement of his estate. In the case before Us, these Courts of
Proceeding No. 51396 pending in the Manila Court, asking for leave First Instance are the Negros and the Manila Courts — province and
to intervene therein; for the dismissal of the petition and the city where the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite left considerable
annulment of the proceedings had in said special proceeding. This properties. From this premise petitioner argues that, as the Negros
motion was denied by said court in its order of July 1 of the same Court had first taken cognizance of the special proceeding for the
year. settlement of the estate of said decedent (Special Proceeding No.
6344), the Manila Court no longer had jurisdiction to take
It is admitted that, as alleged in the basic petition filed in Special cognizance of Special Proceeding No. 51396 intended to settle the
Proceeding No. 6344 of the Negros Court, Vicente Uriarte filed in the estate of the same decedent in accordance with his alleged will, and
same court, during the lifetime of Juan Uriarte y Goite, Civil Case that consequently, the first court erred in dismissing Special
No. 6142 to obtain judgment for his compulsory acknowledgment as Proceeding No. 6344, while the second court similarly erred in not
his natural child. Clearly inferrable from this is that at the time he dismissing Special Proceeding No. 51396.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 12
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

It can not be denied that a special proceeding intended to effect the his opposition to the initial petition filed in Special Proceeding No.
distribution of the estate of a deceased person, whether in 6344; that petitioner likewise was served with notice of the existence
accordance with the law on intestate succession or in accordance (presence) of the alleged last will in the Philippines and of the filing
with his will, is a "probate matter" or a proceeding for the settlement of the petition for its probate with the Manila Court since August 28,
of his estate. It is equally true, however, that in accordance with 1962 when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed a motion for the dismissal
settled jurisprudence in this jurisdiction, testate proceedings, for the of Special Proceeding No. 6344. All these notwithstanding, it was
settlement of the estate of a deceased person take precedence over only on April 15, 1963 that he filed with the Manila Court in Special
intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus it has been held Proceeding No. 51396 an Omnibus motion asking for leave to
repeatedly that, if in the course of intestate proceedings pending intervene and for the dismissal and annulment of all the proceedings
before a court of first instance it is found it hat the decedent had left had therein up to that date; thus enabling the Manila Court not only
a last will, proceedings for the probate of the latter should replace to appoint an administrator with the will annexed but also to admit
the intestate proceedings even if at that stage an administrator had said will to probate more than five months earlier, or more
already been appointed, the latter being required to render final specifically, on October 31, 1962. To allow him now to assail the
account and turn over the estate in his possession to the executor exercise of jurisdiction over the probate of the will by the Manila
subsequently appointed. This, however, is understood to be without Court and the validity of all the proceedings had in Special
prejudice that should the alleged last will be rejected or is Proceeding No. 51396 would put a premium on his negligence.
disapproved, the proceeding shall continue as an intestacy. As Moreover, it must be remembered that this Court is not inclined to
already adverted to, this is a clear indication that proceedings for the annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter
probate of a will enjoy priority over intestate proceedings. was not the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be to have
the same proceedings repeated in some other court of similar
Upon the facts before Us the question arises as to whether Juan jurisdiction; more so in a case like the present where the objection
Uriarte Zamacona should have filed the petition for the probate of against said proceedings is raised too late.
the last will of Juan Uriarte y Goite with the Negros Court —
particularly in Special Proceeding No. 6344 — or was entitled to In his order of April 19, 1963 dismissing Special Proceeding No.
commence the corresponding separate proceedings, as he did, in 6344, Judge Fernandez of the Negros Court said that he was "not
the Manila Court. inclined to sustain the contention of the petitioner that inasmuch as
the herein petitioner has instituted Civil Case No. 6142 for
The following considerations and the facts of record would seem to compulsory acknowledgment by the decedent such action justifies
support the view that he should have submitted said will for probate the institution by him of this proceedings. If the petitioner is to be
to the Negros Court, either in a separate special proceeding or in an consistent with the authorities cited by him in support of his
appropriate motion for said purpose filed in the already pending contention, the proper thing for him to do would be to intervene in
Special Proceeding No. 6344. In the first place, it is not in accord the testate estate proceedings entitled Special Proceedings No.
with public policy and the orderly and inexpensive administration of 51396 in the Court of First Instance of Manila instead of maintaining
justice to unnecessarily multiply litigation, especially if several courts an independent action, for indeed his supposed interest in the estate
would be involved. This, in effect, was the result of the submission of of the decedent is of his doubtful character pending the final decision
the will aforesaid to the Manila Court. In the second place, when of the action for compulsory acknowledgment."
respondent Higinio Uriarte filed an opposition to Vicente Uriarte's
petition for the issuance of letters of administration, he had already We believe in connection with the above matter that petitioner is
informed the Negros Court that the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite entitled to prosecute Civil Case No. 6142 until it is finally determined,
had left a will in Spain, of which a copy had been requested for or intervene in Special Proceeding No. 51396 of the Manila Court, if
submission to said court; and when the other respondent, Juan it is still open, or to ask for its reopening if it has already been
Uriarte Zamacona, filed his motion to dismiss Special Proceeding closed, so as to be able to submit for determination the question of
No. 6344, he had submitted to the Negros Court a copy of the his acknowledgment as natural child of the deceased testator, said
alleged will of the decedent, from which fact it may be inferred that, court having, in its capacity as a probate court, jurisdiction to declare
like Higinio Uriarte, he knew before filing the petition for probate with who are the heirs of the deceased testator and whether or not a
the Manila Court that there was already a special proceeding particular party is or should be declared his acknowledged natural
pending in the Negros Court for the settlement of the estate of the child (II Moran on Rules of Court, 1957 Ed., p. 476; Conde vs.
same deceased person. As far as Higinio Uriarte is concerned, it Abaya, 13 Phil. 249; Severino vs. Severino, 44 Phil. 343; Lopez vs.
seems quite clear that in his opposition to petitioner's petition in Lopez, 68 Phil. 227, and Jimoga-on vs. Belmonte, 47 O. G. 1119).
Special Proceeding No. 6344, he had expressly promised to submit
said will for probate to the Negros Court. Coming now to the supplemental petition for mandamus (G.R. No. L-
21939), We are of the opinion, and so hold, that in view of the
But the fact is that instead of the aforesaid will being presented for conclusions heretofore stated, the same has become moot and
probate to the Negros Court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed the academic. If the said supplemental petition is successful, it will only
petition for the purpose with the Manila Court. We can not accept result in compelling the Negros Court to give due course to the
petitioner's contention in this regard that the latter court had no appeal that petitioner was taking from the orders of said court dated
jurisdiction to consider said petition, albeit we say that it was not December 7, 1963 and February 26, 1964, the first being the order
the proper venue therefor. of said court dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, and the
second being an order denying petitioner's motion for the
It is well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely reconsideration of said order of dismissal. Said orders being, as a
a waiveable procedural defect, and, in the light of the circumstances result of what has been said heretofore beyond petitioner's power to
obtaining in the instant case, we are of the opinion, and so hold, that contest, the conclusion can not be other than that the intended
petitioner has waived the right to raise such objection or is precluded appeal would serve no useful purpose, or, worse still, would enable
from doing so by laches. It is enough to consider in this connection petitioner to circumvent our ruling that he can no longer question the
that petitioner knew of the existence of a will executed by Juan validity of said orders.
Uriarte y Goite since December 19, 1961 when Higinio Uriarte filed
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IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, judgment is The court's order of November 8, 1963, held that "the will in question
hereby rendered denying the writs prayed for and, as a result, the is a complete nullity and will perforce create intestacy of the estate
petition for certiorari filed in G.R. No. L-21938, as well as the of the deceased Rosario Nuguid" and dismissed the petition without
supplemental petition for mandamus docketed as G.R. No. L-21939, costs.
are hereby dismissed. The writ of preliminary injunction heretofore
issued is set aside. With costs against petitioner. A motion to reconsider having been thwarted below, petitioner came
to this Court on appeal.
PROBATE OF WILL
1. Right at the outset, a procedural aspect has engaged our
NUGUID v. NUGUID attention. The case is for the probate of a will. The court's area of
inquiry is limited — to an examination of, and resolution on,
Republic of the Philippines the extrinsic validity of the will. The due execution thereof, the
SUPREME COURT testatrix's testamentary capacity, and the compliance with the
Manila requisites or solemnities by law prescribed, are the
questions solely to be presented, and to be acted upon, by the court.
Said court at this stage of the proceedings — is not called upon to
EN BANC
rule on the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will,
the legality of any devise or legacy therein.1
G.R. No. L-23445 June 23, 1966

A peculiar situation is here thrust upon us. The parties shunted aside
REMEDIOS NUGUID, petitioner and appellant, the question of whether or not the will should be allowed probate.
vs. For them, the meat of the case is the intrinsic validity of the will.
FELIX NUGUID and PAZ SALONGA NUGUID, oppositors and Normally, this comes only after the court has declared that the will
appellees. has been duly authenticated.2 But petitioner and oppositors, in the
court below and here on appeal, travelled on the issue of law, to wit:
Custodio O. Partade for petitioner and appellant. Is the will intrinsically a nullity?
Beltran, Beltran and Beltran for oppositors and appellees.
We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of
the will, nothing will be gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be
protracted. And for aught that appears in the record, in the event of
probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists that the case
SANCHEZ, J.:
will come up once again before us on the same issue of the intrinsic
validity or nullity of the will. Result: waste of time, effort, expense,
Rosario Nuguid, a resident of Quezon City, died on December 30, plus added anxiety. These are the practical considerations that
1962, single, without descendants, legitimate or illegitimate. induce us to a belief that we might as well meet head-on the issue of
Surviving her were her legitimate parents, Felix Nuguid and Paz the validity of the provisions of the will in question.3 After all, there
Salonga Nuguid, and six (6) brothers and sisters, namely: Alfredo, exists a justiciable controversy crying for solution.
Federico, Remedios, Conrado, Lourdes and Alberto, all surnamed
Nuguid.
2. Petitioner's sole assignment of error challenges the correctness of
the conclusion below that the will is a complete nullity. This exacts
On May 18, 1963, petitioner Remedios Nuguid filed in the Court of from us a study of the disputed will and the applicable statute.
First Instance of Rizal a holographic will allegedly executed by
Rosario Nuguid on November 17, 1951, some 11 years before her
Reproduced hereunder is the will:
demise. Petitioner prayed that said will be admitted to probate and
that letters of administration with the will annexed be issued to her.
Nov. 17, 1951
On June 25, 1963, Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid,
concededly the legitimate father and mother of the deceased I, ROSARIO NUGUID, being of sound and disposing mind and
Rosario Nuguid, entered their opposition to the probate of her will. memory, having amassed a certain amount of property, do hereby
Ground therefor, inter alia, is that by the institution of petitioner give, devise, and bequeath all of the property which I may have
Remedios Nuguid as universal heir of the deceased, oppositors — when I die to my beloved sister Remedios Nuguid, age 34, residing
who are compulsory heirs of the deceased in the direct ascending with me at 38-B Iriga, Q.C. In witness whereof, I have signed my
line — were illegally preterited and that in consequence the name this seventh day of November, nineteen hundred and fifty-one.
institution is void.
(Sgd.) Illegible
On August 29, 1963, before a hearing was had on the petition for
probate and objection thereto, oppositors moved to dismiss on the T/ ROSARIO NUGUID
ground of absolute preterition.
The statute we are called upon to apply in Article 854 of the Civil
On September 6, 1963, petitioner registered her opposition to the Code which, in part, provides:
motion to dismiss.1äwphï1.ñët
ART. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the
compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the
execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 14
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be clear terms, Article 854 offers no leeway for inferential interpretation.
valid insofar as they are not inofficious. ... Giving it an expansive meaning will tear up by the roots the fabric of
the statute. On this point, Sanchez Roman cites the "Memoria
Except for inconsequential variation in terms, the foregoing is a annual del Tribunal Supreme, correspondiente a 1908", which in our
reproduction of Article 814 of the Civil Code of Spain of 1889, which opinion expresses the rule of interpretation, viz:
is similarly herein copied, thus —
(Deleted; In Spanish)
Art. 814. The preterition of one or all of the forced heirs in the direct
line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born 3. We should not be led astray by the statement in Article 854 that,
after the death of the testator, shall void the institution of heir; but the annullment notwithstanding, "the devises and legacies shall be valid
legacies and betterments4 shall be valid, in so far as they are not insofar as they are not inofficious". Legacies and devises merit
inofficious. ... consideration only when they are so expressly given as such in a
will. Nothing in Article 854 suggests that the mere institution of a
A comprehensive understanding of the term preterition employed in universal heir in a will — void because of preterition — would give
the law becomes a necessity. On this point Manresa comments: the heir so instituted a share in the inheritance. As to him, the will is
inexistent. There must be, in addition to such institution, a
testamentary disposition granting him bequests or legacies apart
(Deleted; In Spanish) and separate from the nullified institution of heir. Sanchez Roman,
speaking of the two component parts of Article 814, now 854, states
It may now appear trite bat nonetheless helpful in giving us a clear that preterition annuls the institution of the heir "totalmente por la
perspective of the problem before us, to have on hand a clear-cut pretericion"; but added (in reference to legacies and bequests) "pero
definition of the word annul: subsistiendo ... todas aquellas otras disposiciones que no se
refieren a la institucion de heredero ... . 13 As Manresa puts it,
To "annul" means to abrogate, to make void ... In re Morrow's annulment throws open to intestate succession the entire inheritance
Estate, 54 A. 342, 343, 204 Pa. 484.6 including "la porcion libre (que) no hubiese dispuesto en virtud de
legado, mejora o donacion. 14

The word "annul" as used in statute requiring court to annul alimony


provisions of divorce decree upon wife's remarriage means to As aforesaid, there is no other provision in the will before us except
reduce to nothing; to annihilate; obliterate; blot out; to make void or the institution of petitioner as universal heir. That institution, by itself,
of no effect; to nullify; to abolish. N.J.S.A. 2:50 — 38 (now N.J.S. is null and void. And, intestate succession ensues.
2A:34-35). Madden vs. Madden, 40 A. 2d 611, 614, 136 N..J Eq.
132.7 4. Petitioner's mainstay is that the present is "a case of ineffective
disinheritance rather than one of preterition". 15From this, petitioner
ANNUL. To reduce to nothing; annihilate; obliterate; to make void or draws the conclusion that Article 854 "does not apply to the case at
of no effect; to nullify; to abolish; to do away with. Ex parte Mitchell, bar". This argument fails to appreciate the distinction between
123 W. Va. 283, 14 S.E. 2d. 771, 774.8 pretention and disinheritance.

And now, back to the facts and the law. The deceased Rosario Preterition "consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced
Nuguid left no descendants, legitimate or illegitimate. But she left heirs or anyone of them, either because they are not mentioned
forced heirs in the direct ascending line her parents, now oppositors therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither instituted as heirs nor
Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid. And, the will completely are expressly disinherited." 16 Disinheritance, in turn, "is
omits both of them: They thus received nothing by the testament; a testamentary disposition depriving any compulsory heir of his
tacitly, they were deprived of their legitime; neither were they share in the legitime for a cause authorized by law. " 17 In Manresa's
expressly disinherited. This is a clear case of preterition. Such own words: "La privacion expresa de la legitima constituye
preterition in the words of Manresa "anulara siempre la institucion de la desheredacion. La privacion tacita de la misma se
heredero, dando caracter absoluto a este ordenamiento referring to denomina pretericion." 18 Sanchez Roman emphasizes the
the mandate of Article 814, now 854 of the Civil Code.9 The one- distinction by stating that disinheritance "es siempre voluntaria";
sentence will here institutes petitioner as the sole, universal heir — preterition, upon the other hand, is presumed to be
nothing more. No specific legacies or bequests are therein provided "involuntaria". 19 Express as disinheritance should be, the same
for. It is in this posture that we say that the nullity is complete. must be supported by a legal cause specified in the will itself. 20
Perforce, Rosario Nuguid died intestate. Says Manresa:
The will here does not explicitly disinherit the testatrix's parents, the
(Deleted; In Spanish) forced heirs. It simply omits their names altogether. Said will rather
than be labeled ineffective disinheritance is clearly one in which the
said forced heirs suffer from preterition.
The same view is expressed by Sanchez Roman: —

On top of this is the fact that the effects flowing from preterition are
(Deleted; In Spanish)
totally different from those of disinheritance. Preterition under Article
854 of the Civil Code, we repeat, "shall annul the institution of heir".
Really, as we analyze the word annul employed in the statute, there This annulment is in toto, unless in the will there are, in addition,
is no escaping the conclusion that the universal institution of testamentary dispositions in the form of devises or legacies. In
petitioner to the entire inheritance results in totally abrogating the ineffective disinheritance under Article 918 of the same Code, such
will. Because, the nullification of such institution of universal heir — disinheritance shall also "annul the institution of heirs", put only
without any other testamentary disposition in the will — amounts to a "insofar as it may prejudice the person disinherited", which last
declaration that nothing at all was written. Carefully worded and in phrase was omitted in the case of preterition. 21 Better stated yet, in
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 15
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

disinheritance the nullity is limited to that portion of the estate of NEPOMUCENO v. CA


which the disinherited heirs have been illegally deprived. Manresa's
expressive language, in commenting on the rights of the preterited
Republic of the Philippines
heirs in the case of preterition on the one hand and legal
SUPREME COURT
disinheritance on the other, runs thus: "Preteridos, adquiren el
Manila
derecho a todo; desheredados, solo les corresponde un tercio o dos
tercios, 22 el caso. 23
FIRST DIVISION
5. Petitioner insists that the compulsory heirs ineffectively
disinherited are entitled to receive their legitimes, but that the G.R. No. L-62952 October 9, 1985
institution of heir "is not invalidated," although the inheritance of the
heir so instituted is reduced to the extent of said legitimes. 24 SOFIA J. NEPOMUCENO, petitioner,
vs.
This is best answered by a reference to the opinion of Mr. Chief THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, RUFINA GOMEZ,
Justice Moran in the Neri case heretofore cited, viz: OSCAR JUGO ANG, CARMELITA JUGO, respondents.

But the theory is advanced that the bequest made by universal title
in favor of the children by the second marriage should be treated
as legado and mejora and, accordingly, it must not be entirely GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
annulled but merely reduced. This theory, if adopted, will result in a
complete abrogation of Articles 814 and 851 of the Civil Code. If
This is a petition for certiorari to set aside that portion of the decision
every case of institution of heirs may be made to fall into the concept
of the respondent Court of Appeals (now intermediate Appellate
of legacies and betterments reducing the bequest accordingly, then
Court) dated June 3, 1982, as amended by the resolution dated
the provisions of Articles 814 and 851 regarding total or partial nullity
August 10, 1982, declaring as null and void the devise in favor of the
of the institution, would. be absolutely meaningless and will never
petitioner and the resolution dated December 28, 1982 denying
have any application at all. And the remaining provisions contained
petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
in said article concerning the reduction of inofficious legacies or
betterments would be a surplusage because they would be
absorbed by Article 817. Thus, instead of construing, we would be Martin Jugo died on July 16, 1974 in Malabon, Rizal. He left a last
destroying integral provisions of the Civil Code. Will and Testament duly signed by him at the end of the Will on page
three and on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 thereof in the
presence of Celestina Alejandro, Myrna C. Cortez, and Leandro
The destructive effect of the theory thus advanced is due mainly to a
Leano, who in turn, affixed their signatures below the attestation
failure to distinguish institution of heirs from legacies and
clause and on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 of the Will in the
betterments, and a general from a special provision. With reference
presence of the testator and of each other and the Notary Public.
to article 814, which is the only provision material to the disposition
The Will was acknowledged before the Notary Public Romeo
of this case, it must be observed that the institution of heirs is therein
Escareal by the testator and his three attesting witnesses.
dealt with as a thing separate and distinct from legacies or
betterments. And they are separate and distinct not only because
they are distinctly and separately treated in said article but because In the said Will, the testator named and appointed herein petitioner
they are in themselves different. Institution of heirs is a bequest by Sofia J. Nepomuceno as his sole and only executor of his estate. It
universal title of property that is undetermined. Legacy refers to is clearly stated in the Will that the testator was legally married to a
specific property bequeathed by a particular or special title. ... But certain Rufina Gomez by whom he had two legitimate children,
again an institution of heirs cannot be taken as a legacy. 25 Oscar and Carmelita, but since 1952, he had been estranged from
his lawfully wedded wife and had been living with petitioner as
husband and wife. In fact, on December 5, 1952, the testator Martin
The disputed order, we observe, declares the will in question "a
Jugo and the petitioner herein, Sofia J. Nepomuceno were married
complete nullity". Article 854 of the Civil Code in turn merely nullifies
in Victoria, Tarlac before the Justice of the Peace. The testator
"the institution of heir". Considering, however, that the will before us
devised to his forced heirs, namely, his legal wife Rufina Gomez and
solely provides for the institution of petitioner as universal heir, and
his children Oscar and Carmelita his entire estate and the free
nothing more, the result is the same. The entire will is null.
portion thereof to herein petitioner. The Will reads in part:

Upon the view we take of this case, the order of November 8, 1963
Art. III. That I have the following legal heirs, namely: my
under review is hereby affirmed. No costs allowed. So ordered.
aforementioned legal wife, Rufina Gomez, and our son, Oscar, and
daughter Carmelita, both surnamed Jugo, whom I declare and admit
BALANAY v. MARTINEZ to be legally and properly entitled to inherit from me; that while I
have been estranged from my above-named wife for so many years,
(Refer to case digest) I cannot deny that I was legally married to her or that we have been
separated up to the present for reasons and justifications known fully
well by them:

Art. IV. That since 1952, 1 have been living, as man and wife with
one Sofia J. Nepomuceno, whom I declare and avow to be entitled
to my love and affection, for all the things which she has done for
me, now and in the past; that while Sofia J. Nepomuceno has with
my full knowledge and consent, did comport and represent myself as
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COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

her own husband, in truth and in fact, as well as in the eyes of the provisions of paragraph 1 of Article 739 of the Civil Code of the
law, I could not bind her to me in the holy bonds of matrimony Philippines were applicable, the declaration of its nullity could only
because of my aforementioned previous marriage; be made by the proper court in a separate action brought by the
legal wife for the specific purpose of obtaining a declaration of the
On August 21, 1974, the petitioner filed a petition for the probate of nullity of the testamentary provision in the Will in favor of the person
the last Will and Testament of the deceased Martin Jugo in the Court with whom the testator was allegedly guilty of adultery or
of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XXXIV, Caloocan City and asked concubinage.
for the issuance to her of letters testamentary.
The respondents on the other hand contend that the fact that the last
On May 13, 1975, the legal wife of the testator, Rufina Gomez and Will and Testament itself expressly admits indubitably on its face the
her children filed an opposition alleging inter alia that the execution meretricious relationship between the testator and the petitioner and
of the Will was procured by undue and improper influence on the the fact that petitioner herself initiated the presentation of evidence
part of the petitioner; that at the time of the execution of the Will, the on her alleged ignorance of the true civil status of the testator, which
testator was already very sick and that petitioner having admitted led private respondents to present contrary evidence, merits the
her living in concubinage with the testator, she is wanting in integrity application of the doctrine enunciated in Nuguid v. Felix Nuguid, et
and thus, letters testamentary should not be issued to her. al. (17 SCRA 449) and Felix Balanay, Jr. v. Hon. Antonio Martinez,
et al. (G.R. No. L- 39247, June 27, 1975). Respondents also submit
that the admission of the testator of the illicit relationship between
On January 6, 1976, the lower court denied the probate of the Will him and the petitioner put in issue the legality of the devise. We
on the ground that as the testator admitted in his Will to cohabiting agree with the respondents.
with the petitioner from December 1952 until his death on July 16,
1974, the Will's admission to probate will be an Idle exercise
because on the face of the Will, the invalidity of its intrinsic The respondent court acted within its jurisdiction when after
provisions is evident. declaring the Will to be validly drawn, it went on to pass upon the
intrinsic validity of the Will and declared the devise in favor of the
petitioner null and void.
The petitioner appealed to the respondent-appellate court.

The general rule is that in probate proceedings, the court's area of


On June 2, 1982, the respondent court set aside the decision of the inquiry is limited to an examination and resolution of the extrinsic
Court of First Instance of Rizal denying the probate of the will. The validity of the Will. The rule is expressed thus:
respondent court declared the Will to be valid except that the devise
in favor of the petitioner is null and void pursuant to Article 739 in
relation with Article 1028 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. The xxx xxx xxx
dispositive portion of the decision reads:
... It is elementary that a probate decree finally and definitively
WHEREFORE, the decision a quo is hereby set aside, the will in settles all questions concerning capacity of the testator and the
question declared valid except the devise in favor of the appellant proper execution and witnessing of his last Will and testament,
which is declared null and void. The properties so devised are irrespective of whether its provisions are valid and enforceable or
instead passed on in intestacy to the appellant in equal shares, otherwise. (Fernandez v. Dimagiba, 21 SCRA 428)
without pronouncement as to cost.
The petition below being for the probate of a Will, the court's area of
On June 15, 1982, oppositors Rufina Gomez and her children filed a inquiry is limited to the extrinsic validity thereof. The testators
"Motion for Correction of Clerical Error" praying that the word testamentary capacity and the compliance with the formal requisites
"appellant" in the last sentence of the dispositive portion of the or solemnities prescribed by law are the only questions presented
decision be changed to "appellees" so as to read: "The properties so for the resolution of the court. Any inquiry into the intrinsic validity or
devised are instead passed on intestacy to the appellees in equal efficacy of the provisions of the will or the legality of any devise or
shares, without pronouncement as to costs." The motion was legacy is premature.
granted by the respondent court on August 10, 1982.
xxx xxx xxx
On August 23, 1982, the petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration.
This was denied by the respondent court in a resolution dated True or not, the alleged sale is no ground for the dismissal of the
December 28, 1982. petition for probate. Probate is one thing; the validity of the
testamentary provisions is another. The first decides the execution
The main issue raised by the petitioner is whether or not the of the document and the testamentary capacity of the testator; the
respondent court acted in excess of its jurisdiction when after second relates to descent and distribution (Sumilang v.
declaring the last Will and Testament of the deceased Martin Jugo Ramagosa, 21 SCRA 1369)
validly drawn, it went on to pass upon the intrinsic validity of the
testamentary provision in favor of herein petitioner. xxx xxx xxx

The petitioner submits that the validity of the testamentary provision To establish conclusively as against everyone, and once for all, the
in her favor cannot be passed upon and decided in the probate facts that a will was executed with the formalities required by law
proceedings but in some other proceedings because the only and that the testator was in a condition to make a will, is the only
purpose of the probate of a Will is to establish conclusively as purpose of the proceedings under the new code for the probate of a
against everyone that a Will was executed with the formalities will. (Sec. 625). The judgment in such proceedings determines and
required by law and that the testator has the mental capacity to can determine nothing more. In them the court has no power to pass
execute the same. The petitioner further contends that even if the upon the validity of any provisions made in the will. It can not decide,
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for example, that a certain legacy is void and another one valid. ... We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of
(Castaneda v. Alemany, 3 Phil. 426) the will, nothing will be gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be
protracted. And for aught that appears in the record, in the record, in
The rule, however, is not inflexible and absolute. Given exceptional the event of probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists
circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the that the case will come up once again before us on the same issue
situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the will. Result, waste of time,
Will. effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical
considerations that induce us to a belief that we might as well meet
head-on the issue of the validity of the provisions of the will in
In Nuguid v. Nuguid (17 SCRA 449) cited by the trial court, the question. (Section 2, Rule 1, Rules of Court. Case, et al. v. Jugo, et
testator instituted the petitioner as universal heir and completely al., 77 Phil. 517, 522). After all, there exists a justiciable controversy
preterited her surviving forced heirs. A will of this nature, no matter crying for solution.
how valid it may appear extrinsically, would be null and void.
Separate or latter proceedings to determine the intrinsic validity of
the testamentary provisions would be superfluous. We see no useful purpose that would be served if we remand the
nullified provision to the proper court in a separate action for that
purpose simply because, in the probate of a will, the court does not
Even before establishing the formal validity of the will, the Court ordinarily look into the intrinsic validity of its provisions.
in Balanay .Jr. v. Martinez (64 SCRA 452) passed upon the validity
of its intrinsic provisions.
Article 739 of the Civil Code provides:

Invoking "practical considerations", we stated:


The following donations shall be void:

The basic issue is whether the probate court erred in passing upon
the intrinsic validity of the will, before ruling on its allowance or (1) Those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or
formal validity, and in declaring it void. concubinage at the time of the donation;

We are of the opinion that in view of certain unusual provisions of (2) Those made between persons found guilty of the same criminal
the will, which are of dubious legality, and because of the motion to offense, in consideration thereof;
withdraw the petition for probate (which the lower court assumed to
have been filed with the petitioner's authorization) the trial court (3) Those made to a public officer or his wife, descendants and
acted correctly in passing upon the will's intrinsic validity even before ascendants, by reason of his office.
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 In the case referred to in No. 1, the action for declaration of nullity
void. Where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic may be brought by the spouse of the donor or donee; and the guilt of
validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the the donor and donee may be proved by preponderance of evidence
court should meet the issue (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 64 O.G. 1527, 17 in the same action.
SCRA 449. Compare with Sumilang vs. Ramagosa L-23135,
December 26, 1967, 21 SCRA 1369; Cacho v. Udan L-19996, April
30, 1965, 13 SCRA 693). Article 1028 of the Civil Code provides:

There appears to be no more dispute at this time over the extrinsic The prohibitions mentioned in Article 739, concerning donations inter
validity of the Will. Both parties are agreed that the Will of Martin vivos shall apply to testamentary provisions.
Jugo was executed with all the formalities required by law and that
the testator had the mental capacity to execute his Will. The In Article III of the disputed Will, executed on August 15, 1968, or
petitioner states that she completely agrees with the respondent almost six years before the testator's death on July 16, 1974, Martin
court when in resolving the question of whether or not the probate Jugo stated that respondent Rufina Gomez was his legal wife from
court correctly denied the probate of Martin Jugo's last Will and whom he had been estranged "for so many years." He also declared
Testament, it ruled: that respondents Carmelita Jugo and Oscar Jugo were his legitimate
children. In Article IV, he stated that he had been living as man and
This being so, the will is declared validly drawn. (Page 4, Decision, wife with the petitioner since 1952. Testator Jugo declared that the
Annex A of Petition.) petitioner was entitled to his love and affection. He stated that
Nepomuceno represented Jugo as her own husband but "in truth
and in fact, as well as in the eyes of the law, I could not bind her to
On the other hand the respondents pray for the affirmance of the me in the holy bonds of matrimony because of my aforementioned
Court of Appeals' decision in toto. previous marriage.

The only issue, therefore, is the jurisdiction of the respondent court There is no question from the records about the fact of a prior
to declare the testamentary provision in favor of the petitioner as null existing marriage when Martin Jugo executed his Will. There is also
and void. no dispute that the petitioner and Mr. Jugo lived together in an
ostensible marital relationship for 22 years until his death.
We sustain the respondent court's jurisdiction. As stated in Nuguid v.
Nuguid, (supra): It is also a fact that on December 2, 1952, Martin Jugo and Sofia J.
Nepomuceno contracted a marriage before the Justice of the Peace
of Victoria, Tarlac. The man was then 51 years old while the woman
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COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

was 48. Nepomuceno now contends that she acted in good faith for SECOND: Petitioner was a sweetheart of the deceased testator
22 years in the belief that she was legally married to the testator. when they were still both single. That would be in 1922 as Martin
Jugo married respondent Rufina Gomez on November 29, 1923
The records do not sustain a finding of innocence or good faith. As (Exh. 3). Petitioner married the testator only on December 5, 1952.
argued by the private respondents: There was a space of about 30 years in between. During those 30
years, could it be believed that she did not even wonder why Martin
Jugo did not marry her nor contact her anymore after November,
First. The last will and testament itself expressly admits indubitably 1923 - facts that should impel her to ask her groom before she
on its face the meretricious relationship between the testator and married him in secrecy, especially so when she was already about
petitioner, the devisee. 50 years old at the time of marriage.

Second. Petitioner herself initiated the presentation of evidence on THIRD: The fact that petitioner broke off from Martin Jugo in 1923 is
her alleged ignorance of the true civil status of the testator, which led by itself conclusive demonstration that she new that the man she
private respondents to present contrary evidence. had openly lived for 22 years as man and wife was a married man
with already two children.
In short, the parties themselves dueled on the intrinsic validity of the
legacy given in the will to petitioner by the deceased testator at the FOURTH: Having admitted that she knew the children of respondent
start of the proceedings. Rufina Gomez, is it possible that she would not have asked Martin
Jugo whether or not they were his illegitimate or legitimate children
Whether or not petitioner knew that testator Martin Jugo, the man he and by whom? That is un-Filipino.
had lived with as man and wife, as already married, was an
important and specific issue brought by the parties before the trial FIFTH: Having often gone to Pasig to the residence of the parents of
court, and passed upon by the Court of Appeals. the deceased testator, is it possible that she would not have known
that the mother of private respondent Oscar Jugo and Carmelita
Instead of limiting herself to proving the extrinsic validity of the will, it Jugo was respondent Rufina Gomez, considering that the houses of
was petitioner who opted to present evidence on her alleged good the parents of Martin Jugo (where he had lived for many years) and
faith in marrying the testator. (Testimony of Petitioner, TSN of that of respondent Rufina Gomez were just a few meters away?
August 1, 1982, pp. 56-57 and pp. 62-64).
Such pretentions of petitioner Sofia Nepomuceno are unbelievable.
Private respondents, naturally, presented evidence that would refute They are, to say the least, inherently improbable, for they are
the testimony of petitioner on the point. against the experience in common life and the ordinary instincts and
promptings of human nature that a woman would not bother at all to
Sebastian Jugo, younger brother of the deceased testator, testified ask the man she was going to marry whether or not he was already
at length on the meretricious relationship of his brother and married to another, knowing that her groom had children. It would be
petitioner. (TSN of August 18,1975). a story that would strain human credulity to the limit if petitioner did
not know that Martin Jugo was already a married man in view of the
irrefutable fact that it was precisely his marriage to respondent
Clearly, the good faith of petitioner was by option of the parties
Rufina Gomez that led petitioner to break off with the deceased
made a decisive issue right at the inception of the case.
during their younger years.

Confronted by the situation, the trial court had to make a ruling on


Moreover, the prohibition in Article 739 of the Civil Code is against
the question.
the making of a donation between persons who are living in adultery
or concubinage. It is the donation which becomes void. The giver
When the court a quo held that the testator Martin Jugo and cannot give even assuming that the recipient may receive. The very
petitioner 'were deemed guilty of adultery or concubinage', it was a wordings of the Will invalidate the legacy because the testator
finding that petitioner was not the innocent woman she pretended to admitted he was disposing the properties to a person with whom he
be. had been living in concubinage.

xxx xxx xxx WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The
decision of the Court of Appeals, now Intermediate Appellate Court,
3. If a review of the evidence must be made nonetheless, then is AFFIRMED. No costs.
private respondents respectfully offer the following analysis:
SO ORDERED.
FIRST: The secrecy of the marriage of petitioner with the deceased
testator in a town in Tarlac where neither she nor the testator ever SUBJECT OF PROBATE
resided. If there was nothing to hide from, why the concealment' ? Of
course, it maybe argued that the marriage of the deceased with PALAGANAS v. PALAGANAS
private respondent Rufina Gomez was likewise done in secrecy. But
it should be remembered that Rufina Gomez was already in the (Refer to case digest)
family way at that time and it would seem that the parents of Martin
Jugo were not in favor of the marriage so much so that an action in SEANGIO v. REYES
court was brought concerning the marriage. (Testimony of Sebastian
Jugo, TSN of August 18, 1975, pp. 29-30) (Refer to case digest)
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EFFECT OF PROBATE The case involves the sixty-one parcels of land in Sorsogon left by
Florentino Hitosis, with an estimated value of P50,000, trial claims
GALANOSA v. ARCANGEL for damages exceeding one million pesos. The undisputed facts are
as follows:

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT 1. Florentino Hitosis executed a will in the Bicol dialect on June 19,
Manila 1938 when he was eighty years old. He died on May 26, 1939 at
Irosin, Sorsogon. A childless widower, he as survived by his brother,
Leon Hitosis. His other brothers, named Juan, Tito (Juancito),
SECOND DIVISION
Leoncio (Aloncio) trial Apolonio and only sister, Teodora, were all
dead.
G.R. No. L-29300 June 21, 1978

2. On June 24, 1939 a petition for the probate of his will was filed in
PEDRO D. H. GALLANOSA, CORAZON GRECIA-GALLONOSA the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon (Special Proceeding No.
and ADOLFO FORTAJADA, the deceased Pedro Gallanosa 3171). The notice of hearing was duly published. In that will,
being substituted by his legal heirs, namely his above-named Florentino bequeathed his one-half share in the conjugal estate to
widow and his children, ISIDRO GALLANOSA and LEDY his second wife, Tecla Dollentas, and, should Tecla predecease him,
GALLANOSA, and grandchildren named IMELDA TECLA as was the case, his one-half share would be assigned to the
GALLANOSA and ROSARIO BRIGIDA GALLANOSA, children of spouses Pedro Gallanosa and Corazon Grecia, the reason being
the late SIKATUNA GALLANOSA, son of Pedro D.H. that Pedro, Tecla's son by her first marriage, grew up under the care
GALLONOSA, petitioners, of Florentino; he had treated Pedro as his foster child, and Pedro
vs. has rendered services to Florentino and Tecla. Florentino likewise
HON. UBALDO Y. ARCANGEL, Judge of Branch I of the Court of bequeathed his separate properties consisting of three parcels of
First Instance of Sorsogon and FLORENTINO G. HITOSIS, abaca land and parcel of riceland to his protege (sasacuyang
CASIANO G. HITOSIS, TEOTIMO G. HITOSIS, VICTORIO G. ataman), Adolfo Fortajada, a minor.
HITOSIS, EMILIA G. HITOSIS VDA. DE CRUZ, JOAQUIN R.
HITOSIS VDA. DE CRUZ, JOAQUIN R. HITOSIS, FLORENTINO R.
3. Opposition to the probate of the will was registered by the
HITOSIS, VIRGINIA R. MITOSIS, DEBORAH R. HITOSIS,
testator's legal heirs, namely, his surviving brother, Leon, trial his
EDILBERTO R. HITOSIS, LEONOR R. HITOSIS, NORMA R.
nephews trial nieces. After a hearing, wherein the oppositors did not
HITOSIS-VILLANUEVA, LEONCIO R. HITOSIS, minors ANGEL R.
present any evidence in support of their opposition, Judge Pablo S.
HITOSIS and RODOLFO R. HITOSIS, represented by their legal
Rivera, in his decision of October 27, 1939, admitted the will to
guardian and mother LOURDES RELUCIO VDA. DE HITOSIS,
probate and appointed Gallanosa as executor. Judge Rivera
PETRONA HITOSIS-BALBIDO, MODESTO HITOSIS-GACILO,
specifically found that the testator executed his last will "gozando de
CLETO HITOSIS, AGUSTIN HITOSIS-FORTES, TOMASA
buena salud y facultades mentales y no obrando en virtud de
HITOSIS-BANARES VDA. DE BORRAS, CONRADA HITOSIS-
amenaza, fraude o influencia indebida."
BANARES FRANCHE, RESTITUTO HITOSIS-BANARES, DAMIAN
HITOSIS-BANARES, FIDEL HITOSIS-BANARES, SUSANA
HITOSIS-BANARES RODRIGUEZ, JOSE HITOSIS, LOLITA 4. On October 24, 1941, the testamentary heirs, the Gallanosa
HITOSIS-BANEGA, minors MILAGROS HITOSIS-BANEGA, spouses trial Adolfo Fortajada, submitted a project of partition
ALICIA HITOSIS-BANEGA AND ELISA HITOSIS-BANEGA, covering sixty-one parcels of land located in various parts of
represented by their legal guardian and father ERNESTO Sorsogon, large cattle trial several pieces of personal property which
BANEGA, FELICITAS HITOSIS-PENAFLOR, GENOVEVA were distributed in accordance with Florentino's will. The heirs
HITOSIS-ADRIATICO, MANUEL HITOSIS, PEDRO HITOSIS, assumed the obligations of the estate amounting to P7,129.27 in the
LIBRATA HITOSIS-BALMES, JUANITA HITOSIS-GABITO VDA. portion of P2,376.42 for Adolfo Fortajada and P4,752.85 for the
DE GABAS, MAURA HITOSIS-GABITO VDA. DE GANOLA and Gallanosa spouses. The project of partition was approved by Judge
LEONA HITOSIS-GABITO GAMBA, respondents. Doroteo Amador in his order of March 13, 1943, thus confirming the
heirs' possession of their respective shares. The testator's legal
heirs did not appeal from the decree of probate trial from the order of
Haile Frivaldo for petitioners.
partition trial distribution.

Joaquin R Mitosis for private respondents.


5. On February 20, 1952, Leon Hitosis trial the heirs of Florentino's
deceased brothers trial sisters instituted an action in the Court of
First Instance of Sorsogon against Pedro Gallanosa for the recovery
of the said sixty-one parcels of land. They alleged that they, by
AQUINO, J.: themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, had been in
continuous possession of those lands en concepto de dueño trial
that Gallanosa entered those lands in 1951 trial asserted ownership
In this special civil action of certiorari, filed on July 29, 1968, the
over the lands. They prayed that they be declared the owners of the
petitioners seek to annul the orders of respondent Judge dated May
lands trial that they be restored to the possession thereof. They also
3 trial June 17, 1968, wherein he reconsidered his order of January
claimed damages (Civil Case No. 696).
10, 1968, dismissing, on the ground of prescription, the complaint in
Civil Case No. 2233 of the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon.
6. Gallanosa moved to dismiss the above complaint for lack of cause
of action trial on the ground of bar by the prior judgment in the
probate proceeding. Judge Anatolio C. Mañalac dismiss the
complaint on the ground of res judicatain his order of August 14,
1952 wherein he said:
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It also appears that the plaintiffs and/or their predecessors-in- 696 trial that it acted with grave abuse of discretion in not dismissing
interest had intervened in the testate proceedings in Civil Case No. private respondents' 1967 complaint.
3171 of this Court for- the purpose of contesting the probate of the
will of (the) late Florentino Hitosis; trial had their opposition The issue is whether, under the facts set forth above, the private
prospered trial the will denied of probate, the proceedings would respondents have a cause of action the "annulment" of the will of
have been converted into one of intestacy (Art. 960 Civil Code) and Florentino Hitosis trial for the recovery of the sixty-one parcels of
the settlement of the estate of the said deceased would have been land adjudicated under that will to the petitioners.
made in accordance with the provisions of law governing legal or
intestate succession ... , in which case the said plaintiffs, as the
nearest of kin or legal heirs of said Florentino Mitosis, would have We hold that the lower court committed a grave abuse of discretion
succeeded to the ownership and possession of the 61 parcels of in reconsideration its order of dismissal trial in ignoring the 1939
land in question forming part of his estate (art. 1003, Civil Code). testamentary case trial the 1952 Civil Case No. 696 which is the
same as the instant 1967 case.

However, the derision of the Court was adverse to them, when it


their opposition trial ordered the probate of his will. From this A rudimentary knowledge of substantive law trial procedure is
decision (Annex K) legalizing the said will, the oppositors did not file sufficient for an ordinary lawyer to conclude upon a causal perusal of
any appeal within the period fixed by law, despite the fact that they the 1967 complaint that it is baseless trial unwarranted.
were duly notified thereof, so that the said decision had become final
trial it now constitutes a bar to any action that the plaintiffs may What the plaintiffs seek is the "annulment" of a last will trial
institute for the purpose of a redetermination of their rights to inherit testament duly probated in 1939 by the lower court itself. The
the properties of the late Florentino Hitosis. proceeding is coupled with an action to recover the lands
adjudicated to the defendants by the same court in 1943 by virtue of
In other words, the said decision of this Court in Civil Case special ) the probated will, which action is a resuscitation of The complaint of
No. 3171, in which the herein plaintiffs or their predecessors-in- the same parties that the same court dismissed in 1952.
interest had intervened as parties oppositors, constitutes a final
judicial determination of the issue that the said plaintiffs, as ordinary It is evident from the allegations of the complaint trial from
heirs, have no legal rights to succeed to any of the properties of the defendants' motion to dismiss that plaintiffs' 1967 action is barred
late Florentino Hitosis; consequently, their present claim to the by res judicata, a double-barrelled defense, trial by prescription,
ownership trial possession of the 61 parcels of land in question is acquisitive trial extinctive, or by what are known in the jus civile trial
without any legal merit or basis. the jus gentium as usucapio, longi temporis
possesio and praescriptio (See Ramos vs. Ramos, L-19872,
7. The plaintiffs did not appeal from that order of dismissal which December 3, 1974, 61 SCRA 284).
should have set the matter at rest. But the same plaintiffs or
oppositors to the probate of the will, trial their heirs, with a Our procedural law does not sanction an action for the "annulment"
persistence befitting a more meritorious case, filed on September of a will. In order that a will may take effect, it has to be probated,
21, 1967, or fifteen years after the dismissal of Civil Case No. 696 legalized or allowed in the proper testamentary proceeding. The
trial twenty-eight years after the probate of the will another action in probate of the will is mandatory (Art. 838, Civil Code; sec. 1, Rule
the same court against the Gallanosa spouses trial Adolfo Fortajada 75, formerly sec. 1, Rule 76, Rules of Court; Guevara vs. Guevara,
for the "annulment" of the will of Florentino Hitosis trial and for the 74 Phil. 479; Guevara vs. Guevara, 98 Phil. 249).
recovery of the same sixty-one parcels of land. They prayed for the
appointment of a receiver. The testamentary proceeding is a special proceeding for the
settlement of the testator's estate. A special proceeding is distinct
8. As basis of their complaint, they alleged that the Gallanosa trial different from an ordinary action (Secs. 1 trial 2, Rule 2 trial sec.
spouses, through fraud trial deceit, caused the execution trial 1, Rule 72, Rules of Court).
simulation of the document purporting to be the last will trial
testament of Florentino Hitosis. While in their 1952 complaint the We say that the defense of res judicata, as a ground for the
game plaintiffs alleged that they were in possession of the lands in dismissal of plaintiffs' 1967 complaint, is a two-pronged defense
question, in their 1967 complaint they admitted that since 1939, or because (1) the 1939 trial 1943 decrees of probate trial distribution
from the death of Florentino Hitosis, the defendants (now the in Special Proceeding No. 3171 trial (2) the 1952 order of dismissal
petitioners) have been in possession of the disputed lands (Par. XIV in Civil Case No. 696 of the lower court constitute bars by former
of the complaint, p. 70, Rollo in Civil Case No. 555, Gubat Branch, judgment, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides:
which was transferred to Branch I in Sorsogon town where Special
Proceeding No. 3171 trial Civil Case No. 696 were decided trial
which was re-docketed as Civil Case No. 2233). SEC. 49. Effect of judgments. — The effect of a judgment or final
order rendered by a court or judge of the Philippines, having
jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or order, may be as follows:
9. As already stated, that 1967 complaint, upon motion of the
defendants, now the petitioners, was dismissed by respondent
Judge. The plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration Respondent (a) In case of a judgment or order against a specific thing, or in
Judge. granted it trial set aside the order of dismissal. He denied 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
defendants' motion for the reconsideration of his order setting aside
that dismissal order. condition or status of a particular person or his relationship to
another, the judgment or order is conclusive upon the title to the
thing the will or administration, or the condition, status or relationship
The petitioners or the defendants below contend in this certiorari of the person; however, the probate of a will or granting of letters of
case that the lower court has no jurisdiction to set aside the 1939 administration shall only be prima facie evidence of the death of the
decree of probate trial the 1952 order of dismissal in Civil Case No. testator or intestate;
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(b) In other cases the judgment or order is, with respect to the matter It is not only the 1939 probate proceeding that can be interposed
directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been as res judicata with respect to private respondents' complaint, The
raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the parties trial their 1952 order of dismissal rendered by Judge Mañalac in Civil Case
successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of No. 696, a judgment in personam was an adjudication on the merits
the action or special proceeding, litigating of the same thing trial (Sec. 4, Rule 30, old Rules of Court). It constitutes a bar by former
under the same title trial in the same capacity; judgment under the aforequoted section 49(b) (Anticamara vs. Ong,
L-29689. April 14, 1978).
(c) In any other litigation between the same parties or their
successors in interest, that only is deemed to have been adjudged in The plaintiffs or private respondents did not even bother to ask for
a former judgment which appears upon its face to have been so the annulment of the testamentary proceeding trial the proceeding in
adjudged, or which was actually trial necessarily included therein or Civil Case No. 696. Obviously, they realized that the final
necessary thereto. adjudications in those cases have the binding force of res
judicata and that there is no ground, nor is it timely, to ask for the
The 1939 decree of probate is conclusive as to the due execution or nullification of the final orders trial judgments in those two cases.
formal validity of the will (Sec. 625, Act 190, sec. 1, Rule 76, now
sec. 1, Rule 75, Rules of Court; Last par. of art. 838, Civil Code). It is a fundamental concept in the organization of every jural system,
a principle of public policy, that, at the risk of occasional errors,
That means that the testator was of sound trial disposing mind at the judgments of courts should become final at some definite date fixed
time when he executed the will and was not acting under duress, by law. Interest rei publicae ut finis sit litum. "The very object for
menace, fraud, or undue influence; that the will was signed by him in which the courts were constituted was to put an end to
the presence of the required number of witnesses, and that the will controversies." (Dy Cay vs. Crossfield and O'Brien, 38 Phil. 521:
is genuine trial is not a forgery. Accordingly, these facts cannot Peñalosa vs. Tuason, 22 Phil, 303; De la Cerna vs. Potot, supra).
again be questioned in a subsequent proceeding, not even in a
criminal action for the forgery of the will. (3 Moran's Comments on After the period for seeking relief from a final order or judgment
the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, p. 395; Manahan vs. Manahan, 58 under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court has expired, a final judgment or
Phil. 448). order can be set aside only on the grounds of (a) lack of jurisdiction
or lack of due process of law or (b) that the judgment was obtained
After the finality of the allowance of a will, the issue as to the by means of extrinsic or collateral fraud. In the latter case, the period
voluntariness of its execution cannot be raised anymore (Santos vs. for annulling the judgment is four years from the discovery of the
De Buenaventura, L-22797, September 22, 1966, 18 SCRA 47). fraud (2 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, pp.
245-246; Mauricio vs. Villanueva, 106 Phil. 1159).

In Austria vs. Ventenilla, 21 Phil. 180, a "petition for annulment of a


will" was not entertained after the decree of probate had become To hurdle over the obstacle of prescription, the trial court, naively
final. That case is summarized as follows: adopting the theory of plaintiffs' counsel, held that the action for the
recovery of the lands had not prescribed because the rule in article
1410 of the Civil Code, that "the action or defense for the declaration
Wills; Probate; Alledged Fraudulent Will; Appeal.— V. died. His will of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe", applies to wills.
was admitted to probate without objection. No appeal was taken
from said order. It was admitted that due trial legal notice had been
given to all parties. Fifteen months after the date of said order, a That ruling is a glaring error. Article 1410 cannot possibly apply to
motion was presented in the lower court to have said will declared last wills trial testaments. The trial court trial plaintiffs' counsel relied
null and void, for the reason that fraud had been practised upon the upon the case of Dingle vs. Guillermo, 48 0. G. 4410, allegedly
deceased in the making of his will. decided by this Court, which cited the ruling in Tipton vs. Velasco, 6
Phil. 67, that mere lapse of time cannot give efficacy to
void contracts, a ruling elevated to the category of a codal provision
Held: That under section 625 of Act No. 190, the only time given in article 1410. The Dingle case was decided by the Court of
parties who are displeased with the order admitting to probate a will, Appeals. Even the trial court did not take pains to verify the
for an appeal is the time given for appeals in ordinary actions; but misrepresentation of plaintiffs' counsel that the Dinglecase was
without deciding whether or not an order admitting a will to probate decided by this Court. An elementary knowledge of civil law could
will be opened for fraud, after the time allowed for an appeal has have alerted the trial court to the egregious error of plaintiffs' counsel
expired, when no appeal is taken from an order probating a will, the in arguing that article 1410 applies to wills.
heirs can not, in subsequent litigation in the same proceedings, raise
questions relating to its due execution. The probate of a will is
conclusive as to its due execution trial as to the testamentary WHEREFORE, the lower court's orders of May 3 trial June 17, 1968
capacity of The testator. (See Austria vs. Heirs of Ventenilla. 99 Phil. are reversed trial set aside trial its order of dismissal dated January
1069). 10, 1968 is affirmed. Costs against the private respondents.

On the other hand, the 1943 decree of adjudication rendered by the SO ORDERED.
trial court in the testate proceeding for the settlement of the estate of
Florentino Hitosis, having been rendered in a proceeding in rem, is
under the abovequoted section 49(a), binding upon the whole world
(Manalo vs. Paredes, 47 Phil. 938; In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil.
156; De la Cerna vs. Potot, 120 Phil. 1361, 1364; McMaster vs.
Hentry Reissmann & Co., 68 Phil. 142).
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MANG-OY v. CA We who are named children and who will inherit from our father
TUMPAO: BANDO TUMPAO, LAMBIA ABITO, JOSE and LABET,
and we also whose lands are included, SUCDAD BUTIOG,
Republic of the Philippines
TULINGAN PUL-OT and ANTHONY MENECIO all of legal age and
SUPREME COURT
residing in the town of La Trinidad, Sub-Province of Benguet we say
Manila
in truth after swearing under oath in accordance to law that the
testament of our father TUMPAO who is presently ill by virtue of our
FIRST DIVISION right to inherit and also acknowledge or recognize the lands as
included in the area of said land as appearing in Title No. 416 in the
G.R. No. L-27421 September 12, 1986 name of our father TUMPAO here in La Trinidad, Barrio Pico, have
heard and understood the Will as told by him concerning our right to
the land which we will inherit and also to those whose lands which
ANITA MANG-OY, assisted by her husband, William Mang-oy;
were included in the said Title No. 416 because we were all called
LEONORA MIGUEL, assisted by her husband, Miguel Olila;
be present and hear his wilt We heard and agreed to his will as
HELENA TAYNAN, and JOSE TUMPAO, petitioners,
appearing in his testament regarding the land which we will inherit.
vs.
We also recognized and agree to the appointment of our brother
THE COURT OF APPEALS, BANDO TUMPAO, LAMBIA
BANDO to whom the parcels of land is to be delivered and he will
TUMPAO, married to Salming Pirazo, and ABITO
also be the one, to deliver to us our shares as soon as we will
TUMPAO, respondents.
demand the partition in accordance with the will of our father
TUMPAO as soon in the Testament which we saw and have heard
by all.

CRUZ, J.: It is also agreed upon among us in this confirmation that when our
brother BANDO who is appointed to distribute to us our shares we
We are back to the early 1900's in the cool regions of the Mountain affirm in this instrument that will answer for all the expenses when it
Province, setting of many legends of adventure and romance among shag be surveyed so the share of each will be segregated so also
the highlanders of the North. Our story is not as fanciful, involving as with the approval of the title, which shall appear the name of each of
it does not a rivalry for the hand of a beautiful Igorot maiden but a us and that we do not dispute the land which we are actually working
prosaic dispute over a piece of land. Even so, as in those tales of shall pertain to us as embodied in the said win of our father
old, the issue shall be decided in favor of the just and deserving TUMPAO.
albeit according to the dictates not of the heart but of the law.
We execute this deed of confirmation in the presence of the Notary
The hero of this story we shall call Old Man Tumpao although at the Public here in Baguio so that this Will, be used as our agreement so
time it all began he was still a young and vigorous man. He had a also with the wig of our father so that they be one to be followed as
first wife by whom he begot three children, who are the private regard upon by all and we affix our right thumbmark at the end of our
respondents in this case. 1Upon her death, he took to himself a written name because we do not know how to read and write this 7th
second wife, by whom he had no issue but who had two children she day of September, 1937 in the City of Baguio. 4
had "adopted" according to the practice of the Igorots then. 2 It is
their children who, with some others, are the petitioners in this case. Two days later, Old Man Tumpao died.

The facts are as simple as the ancient hills. The parties remained in possession of the lots assigned to them,
apparently in obedience to the wish of Old Man Tumpao as
On September 4, 1937, Old Man Tumpao executed what he called a expressed in his last "will" and affirmed by the other abovequoted
"last will and testament" the dispositive portion of which declared: instrument. But things changed unexpectedly in 1960, twenty three
years later, that brought this matter to the courts.
Lastly, I appoint my son BANDO TUMPAO, whom I named, that
after departing from this life, he shall be the one to carry or fulfill my On November 4, 1960, the respondents executed an extrajudicial
Testament, and that he shall have the power to see and dispose all partition in which they divided the property of Old Man Tumpao
what I have stated, he shall not change what I have already stated in among the three of them only, to the exclusion of the other persons
my Testament so that there is truth in my will. I will affix my right mentioned in the above-quoted documents. 5 By virtue of this
thumbmark at the end of my written name because I do not know partition, Old Man Tumpao's title was cancelled and another one
how to read and write, after it has been read to me and affirm all was issued in favor of the three respondents. 6
what is my Win this 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon this 4th day of
September 1937, before those who are present and have heard It is this title that is now being questioned by the petitioners, who are
what I have stated, Pico La Trinidad, Benguet, 4th September, suing for reconveyance. They had been sustained by the trial
1937. 3 court, 7 which, however, was reversed by the Court of Appeals. They
are before this Court to challenge that reversal.
The contents of this document were read to the beneficiaries named
therein who at the time were already occupying the portions In deciding against them, the Court of Appeals held that the "will"
respectively allotted to them. In implementation of this document, executed by Old Man Tumpao was null and void because it had not
they then, on September 7, 1937, executed an agreement providing been probated The agreement of partition among the supposed
as follows: beneficiaries of the will was nullified because it was a partition inter
vivos and had not been approved by the Director of the Bureau of
Non-Christian Tribes. It was likewise held that the land in dispute
was acquired during Old Man Tumpao's first marriage although it
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 23
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

was registered during his second marriage and so the petitioners (Deleted; In Spanish)
were liable in rentals for the lots occupied by them, as well as
attorney's fees. 8 That such partition is not governed by the rules of wills or
donations inter vivos is a consequence of its special nature. Says
After examining the musty records, we sustain the ruling-made both the learned Manresa on this point:
by the trial court and the Court of Appeals-that the will, not having
been probated as required by law, was inoperative as such. The (Deleted; In Spanish)
settled principle, as announced in a long line of decisions in
accordance with the Rules of Court, is that no will shall pass either
real or personal property unless it is proved or allowed in court. 9 It was sufficient, therefore, that the partition Exhibit A, should be in
writing. It does not have to be in a public document except to affect
third persons (Art. 1280), being valid between the parties who
We find, however, that the document may be sustained on the basis signed it in its present form.
of Article 1056 of the Civil Code of 1899, which was in force at the
time the said document was executed by Old Man Tumpao in 1937.
The said article reads as follows: If any invalidity could be alleged against the partition, it would lie in
the absence of a previous testament preceding it (Legasto v.
Verzosa, 54 Phil. 766). And even this may not be indispensable in
Art. 1056. If the testator should make a partition of his properties by the present case, for the testator's partition did not depart from the
an act inter vivos, or by win, such partition shall stand in so far as it shares allotted to his heirs by the law of intestacy. Nor is a prior win
does not prejudice the legitime of the forced heirs. necessary under Article 1080 of the new Civil Code, which replaced
the word 'testator' in Article 1056 of the Code of 1889 with the
On this score, we agree with the trial court. The applicable decision broader term 'person.'
is Albela vs. Albela, 10 also decided by the Court of Appeals, with
Justice J.B.L. Reyes as the ponente. Be that as it may, the nullity of the partition Exhibit A would not alter
the result. There being only two daughters surviving the deceased
In this case, Agustin Albela executed on January 19, 1935, a deed Agustin, each one of them would necessarily be entitled to one-half
of partition dividing two parcels of land between hisdaughters, of each of the two parcels he owned at his death, and Agustin's
Eduarda and Restituta, who indicated their conformity by signing the former ownership is no longer disputed by the appellants in this
instrument. The took possession of their respective shares upon his instance. In addition, since both daughters signed the partition
death, but fourteen years later, Restituta ejected Eduarda from her Exhibit A, its terms would bind both, and estop them from asserting
lot, alleging title by purchase from a third party and denying the a different interest. Appellants' act; in appropriating the whole
existence of the partition. Eduarda sued for recovery and was inheritance and its fruits can find no support in law or justice.
upheld by the trial court on the basis of the deed of partition.
There is no difference in legal effect between Agustin Albela's deed
Let Justice J.B.L. Reyes, who later became a distinguished member of partition and Old Man Tumpao's "last will and testament." Both
of this Court, take over at this point: are sustainable under Article 1056 of the Civil Code, which was in
force at the time they were executed Even as Agustin Albela's
In their argument, appellants do not question the authenticity of the partition was signed by the two daughters themselves, so was Old
above document, but argue against its validity, on the grounds Man Tumpao's "will" affirmed by the beneficiaries in their agreement
summarized in their brief (p. 7), as follows: of September 7, 1937, which reiterated and recognized the terms of
such "will." While not valid as a partition inter vivos under Articles
816 and 1271 of the old Civil Code, it was nevertheless binding on
Therefore the allegations of the plaintiff-appellee, Eduarda Albela, the parties as proof of their conformity to the dispositions made by
rest on a document which defies classification. If it is a deed of Old Man Tumpao in his "last will and testament."
partition, it is null and void because it is not embodied in a public
document; if it is a simple donation of realty, it is also null and void,
because it is not in a public document and there is no acceptance; if As the trial court put it:
it is a donation Mortis Causa, certainly it is null and void because it
does not follow the rules governing testamentary succession; and if The will alone, 'Exh. B', would be inoperative for the simple reason
ever it is to be classified as a will, more so, it is still null and void that it was not probated, However, when the persons who were
because it does not conform to the requirements of Section 618, Act named therein as heirs and beneficiaries voluntarily agreed in writing
190 as amended by Act 2645. to abide by its terms probably to save the expenses of probate. and
furthermore, carried out its terms after the death of the testator until
None of these objections is valid in law. The appellants evidently fail now, then it must be held to be binding between them.
to realize that Article 1056 of the Civil Code of 1889 authorizes a
testator to partition inter vivos his property, and distribute them Said agreement was not a disposal of inheritance by a prospective
among his heirs, and that this partition is not necessarily either a heir before the death of the testator, but an agreement to carry out
donation nor a testament, but an instrument of a special the will. It was not contested by the defendants and after the lapse of
character, sui generis, which is revocable at any time by 25 years their right, if any, to assail it has prescribed under Art. 1144
the causante during his lifetime, and does not operate as a of the Civil Code.
conveyance of title until his death. It derives its binding force on the
heirs from the respect due to the will of the owner of the property,
limited only by his creditors and the intangibility of the legitime of the
forced heirs.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 24
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

Art. 1144-The following actions must be brought ten years from the JOINT PROBATE OF WILL
time the right of action accrues:
PEREZ v. TOLETE
1) upon a written contract;
Republic of the Philippines
2) Upon an obligation created by law; SUPREME COURT
Manila
3) Upon a judgment.
FIRST DIVISION
Any formal defect of the deed, 'Exh. 'C', was cured by the lapse of
time. G.R. No. 76714 June 2, 1994

What the plaintiffs received had an aggregate area of less than 1/3 SALUD TEODORO VDA. DE PEREZ, petitioner,
of the land of Old Tumpao. It covers about 11,000 square meters vs.
while the total area was more than 35,000 square meters, Under the HON. ZOTICO A. TOLETE in his capacity as Presiding Judge,
old Civil Code, it was within the free disposable portion of ones' Branch 18, RTC, Bulacan, respondent.
estate despite the existence of any forced heirs. (See old Civil Code,
Art. 808) Natividad T. Perez for petitioner.

In view of the foregoing considerations, the defendants are ordered Benedicto T. Librojo for private respondents.
to execute a deed of conveyance in favor of the plaintiffs of the
areas respectively owned and occupied by them and to pay the
costs.

QUIASON, J.:
Sucdad Butiog is ordered to pay the defendants P160.00 more as a
reasonable amount of his additional share in the expenses of
segregating his lot but the (defendants) are ordered to execute a This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of
deed of conveyance in his favor of the said lot owned by him. Court to set aside the Order dated November 19, 1986 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Bulacan presided by respondent
Judge Zotico A. Tolete, in Special Proceedings No. 1793-M.
The expenses of Survey and segregation must be borne by the
plaintiffs.
We grant the petition.
We may add that the agreement entered into by the parties in
implementation of Old Man Tumpao's "will" did not have to be II. Dr. Jose F. Cunanan and his wife, Dr. Evelyn Perez-Cunanan,
approved by the Director of the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes who became American citizens, established a successful medical
because the Administrative Code of Mindanao and Sulu was not practice in New York, U.S.A. The Cunanans lived at No. 2896
extended to the Mountain Province. 11 Moreover, the document was Citation Drive, Pompey, Syracuse, New York, with their children,
not a conveyance of properties or property right. 12 Jocelyn, 18; Jacqueline, 16; and Josephine, 14.

It remains to state that the property in dispute having been On August 23, 1979, Dr. Cunanan executed a last will and
registered in 1917, the presumption is that it was acquired during the testament, bequeathing to his wife "all the remainder" of his real and
second marriage and so cannot be claimed by the respondents as personal property at the time of his death "wheresoever situated"
the conjugal property of their mother and Old Man Tumpao. Hence, (Rollo, p. 35). In the event he would survive his wife, he bequeathed
they are not entitled to retain the entire land as their exclusive all his property to his children and grandchildren with Dr. Rafael G.
inheritance or to collect rentals for the lots occupied by the Cunanan, Jr. as trustee. He appointed his wife as executrix of his
petitioners. last will and testament and Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. as substitute
executor. Article VIII of his will states:
The trial judge, the Hon. Feliciano Belmonte, was correct in ordering
the reconveyance to the petitioners of their respective shares. We If my wife, EVELYN PEREZ-CUNANAN, and I shall die under such
affirm his decision in toto. circumstances that there is not sufficient evidence to determine the
order of our deaths, then it shall be presumed that I predeceased
her, and my estate shall be administered and distributed, in all
How much simpler was life among the natives in the North during
respects, in accordance with such presumption (Rollo, p. 41).
the early days, when right and wrong were weighed according to the
primal code of the ancient hills. Even so, though that past is gone
forever, justice now, as it was then, is still for the deserving. Four days later, on August 27, Dr. Evelyn P. Cunanan executed her
own last will and testament containing the same provisions as that of
the will of her husband. Article VIII of her will states:
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED
and that of the trial court reinstated, with costs against the
respondents. If my husband, JOSE F. CUNANAN, and I shall die under such
circumstances that there is not sufficient evidence to determine the
order of our deaths, then it shall be presumed that he predeceased
SO ORDERED.
me, and my estate shall be administered and distributed in all
respects, in accordance with such presumption. (Rollo, p. 31).
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COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

On January 9, 1982, Dr. Cunanan and his entire family perished institution" under a will or by operation of the law of New York
when they were trapped by fire that gutted their home. Thereafter, (Records, pp. 112-113).
Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. as trustee and substitute executor of the
two wills, filed separate proceedings for the probate thereof with the On June 23, the probate court granted petitioner's motion of May 19,
Surrogate Court of the County of Onondaga, New York. On April 7, 1983. However, on July 21, the Cunanan heirs filed a motion to
these two wills were admitted to probate and letters testamentary nullify the proceedings and to set aside the appointment of, or to
were issued in his favor. disqualify, petitioner as special administratrix of the estates of Dr.
Jose F. Cunanan and Dr. Evelyn Perez-Cunanan. The motion
On February 21, 1983, Salud Teodoro Perez, the mother of Dr. stated: (1) that being the "brothers and sisters and the legal and
Evelyn P. Cunanan, and petitioner herein, filed with the Regional P. surviving heirs" of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan, they had been "deliberately
Cunanan, and petitioner herein, filed with the Regional Trial Court, excluded" in the petition for the probate of the separate wills of the
Malolos, Bulacan a petition for the reprobate of the two bills ancillary Cunanan spouses thereby misleading the Bulacan court to believe
to the probate proceedings in New York. She also asked that she be that petitioner was the sole heir of the spouses; that such
appointed the special administratrix of the estate of the deceased "misrepresentation" deprived them of their right to "due process in
couple consisting primarily of a farm land in San Miguel, Bulacan. violation of Section 4, Rule 76 of the Revised Rules of Court; (2) that
Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr., the executor of the estate of the
On March 9, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 16, Malolos, Bulacan, Cunanan spouses, was likewise not notified of the hearings in the
presided by Judge Gualberto J. de la Llana, issued an order, Bulacan court; (3) that the "misrepresentation and concealment
directing the issuance of letters of special administration in favor of committed by" petitioner rendered her unfit to be a special
petitioner upon her filing of a P10,000.00 bond. The following day, administratrix; (4) that Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. had, by virtue of a
petitioner posted the bond and took her oath as special verified power of attorney, authorized his father,
administration. Dr. Rafael Cunanan, Sr., to be his attorney-in-fact; and (5) that Dr.
Rafael Cunanan, Sr. is qualified to be a regular administrator "as
practically all of the subject estate in the Philippines belongs to their
As her first act of administration, petitioner filed a motion, praying brother, Dr. Jose F. Cunanan" (Records, pp. 118-122). Hence, they
that the Philippine Life Insurance Company be directed to deliver the prayed: (1) that the proceedings in the case be declared null and
proceeds in the amount of P50,000.00 of the life insurance policy void; (2) that the appointment of petitioner as special administratrix
taken by Dr. Jose F. Cunanan with Dr. Evelyn Perez-Cunanan and be set aside; and (3) that Dr. Rafael Cunanan, Sr. be appointed the
their daughter Jocelyn as beneficiaries. The trial court granted the regular administrator of the estate of the deceased spouses.
motion.

Thereafter, the Cunanan heirs filed a motion requiring petitioner to


Counsel for the Philippine American Life Insurance Company then submit an inventory or accounting of all monies received by her in
filed a manifestation, stating that said company then filed a trust for the estate.
manifestation, stating that said company had delivered to petitioner
the amount of P49,765.85, representing the proceeds of the life
insurance policy of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan. In her opposition, petitioner asserted: (1) that she was the "sole and
only heir" of her daughter, Dr. Evelyn Perez-Cunanan to the
exclusion of the "Cunanan collaterals"; hence they were complete
In a motion dated May 19, 1983, petitioner asked that Dr. Rafael strangers to the proceedings and were not entitled to notice; (2) that
Cunanan, Sr. be ordered to deliver to her a Philippine Trust she could not have "concealed" the name and address of Dr. Rafael
Company passbook with P25,594.00 in savings deposit, and the G. Cunanan, Jr. because his name was prominently mentioned not
Family Savings Bank time deposit certificates in the total amount of only in the two wills but also in the decrees of the American
P12,412.52. surrogate court; (3) that the rule applicable to the case is Rule 77,
not Rule 76, because it involved the allowance of wills proved
On May 31, Atty. Federico Alday filed a notice of appearance as outside of the Philippines and that nowhere in Section 2 of Rule 77
counsel for the heirs of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan, namely, Dr. Rafael is there a mention of notice being given to the executor who, by the
Cunanan, Sr., Priscilla Cunanan Bautista, Lydia Cunanan Ignacio, same provision, should himself file the necessary ancillary
Felipe F. Cunanan and Loreto Cunanan Concepcion (Cunanan proceedings in this country; (4) that even if the Bulacan estate came
heirs). He also manifested that before receiving petitioner's motion of from the "capital" of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan, he had willed all his
May 19, 1983, his clients were unaware of the filing of the testate worldly goods to his wife and nothing to his brothers and sisters; and
estate case and therefore, "in the interest of simple fair play," they (5) that Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. had unlawfully disbursed
should be notified of the proceedings (Records, p. 110). He prayed $215,000.00 to the Cunanan heirs, misappropriated $15,000.00 for
for deferment of the hearing on the motions of May 19, 1983. himself and irregularly assigned assets of the estates to his
American lawyer (Records, pp. 151-160).
Petitioner then filed a counter manifestation dated June 13, 1983,
asserting: (1) that the "Cunanan collaterals are neither heirs nor In their reply, the Cunanan heirs stressed that on November 24,
creditors of the late Dr. Jose F. Cunanan" and therefore, they had 1982, petitioner and the Cunanan heirs had entered into an
"no legal or proprietary interests to protect" and "no right to agreement in the United States "to settle and divide equally the
intervene"; (2) that the wills of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan and Dr. Evelyn estates," and that under Section 2 of Rule 77 the "court shall fix a
Perez-Cunanan, being American citizens, were executed in time and place for the hearing and cause notice thereof to be given
accordance with the solemnities and formalities of New York laws, as in case of an original will presented for allowance" (Records, pp.
and produced "effects in this jurisdiction in accordance with Art. 16 in 184-185).
relation to Art. 816 of the Civil Code"; (3) that under Article VIII of the
two wills, it was presumed that the husband predeceased the wife; Petitioner asked that Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. be cited for
and (4) that "the Cunanan collaterals are neither distributees, contempt of court for failure to comply with the Order of June 23,
legatees or beneficiaries, much less, heirs as heirship is only by 1983 and for appropriating money of the estate for his own benefit.
SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS (Atty. Geraldine Quimosing-Tiu 26
COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

She also alleged that she had impugned the agreement of same Order amended the February 21, 1984 Order by requiring
November 24, 1982 before the Surrogate Court of Onondaga, New petitioner to turn over to the estate the inventoried property. It
York which rendered a decision on April 13, 1983, finding that "all considered the proceedings for all intents and purposes, closed
assets are payable to Dr. Evelyn P. Cunanan’s executor to be then (Records,
distributed pursuant to EPTL4-1.1 subd [a] par [4]" (Rollo, p. 52). p. 302).

On their part, the Cunanan heirs replied that petitioner was estopped On August 12, petitioner filed a motion to resume proceedings on
from claiming that they were heirs by the agreement to divide account of the final settlement and termination of the probate cases
equally the estates. They asserted that by virtue of Section 2 of Rule in New York. Three days later, petitioner filed a motion praying for
77 of the Rules of Court, the provisions of Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the reconsideration of the Order of April 30, 1985 on the strength of
Rule 76 on the requirement of notice to all heirs, executors, devisees the February 21, 1984 Order granting her a period of 15 days upon
and legatees must be complied with. They reiterated their prayer: (1) arrival in the country within which to act on the denial of probate of
that the proceedings in the case be nullified; (2) that petitioner be the wills of the Cunanan spouses. On August 19, respondent Judge
disqualified as special administratrix; (3) that she be ordered to granted the motion and reconsidered the Order of April 30, 1985.
submit an inventory of all goods, chattels and monies which she had
received and to surrender the same to the court; and (4) that Dr. On August 29, counsel for petitioner, who happens to be her
Rafael Cunanan, Sr. be appointed the regular administrator. daughter, Natividad, filed a motion praying that since petitioner was
ailing in Fort Lee, New Jersey, U.S.A. and therefore incapacitated to
Petitioner filed a rejoinder, stating that in violation of the April 13, act as special administratrix, she (the counsel) should be named
1983 decision of the American court Dr. Rafael G. Cunanan, Jr. substitute special administratrix. She also filed a motion for the
made "unauthorized disbursements from the estates as early as July reconsideration of the Order of February 21, 1984, denying probate
7, 1982" (Records, p. 231). Thereafter, petitioner moved for the to the wills of the Cunanan spouses, alleging that respondent Judge
suspension of the proceedings as she had "to attend to the "failed to appreciate the significant probative value of the exhibits . . .
settlement proceedings" of the estate of the Cunanan spouses in which all refer to the offer and admission to probate of the last wills
New York (Records, p. 242). The Cunanans heirs opposed this of the Cunanan spouses including all procedures undertaken and
motion and filed a manifestation, stating that petitioner had received decrees issued in connection with the said probate" (Records, pp.
$215,000.00 "from the Surrogate’s Court as part of legacy" based on 313-323).
the aforesaid agreement of November 24, 1982 (Records, p. 248).
Thereafter, the Cunanans heirs filed a motion for reconsideration of
On February 21, 1984, Judge de la Llana issued an order, the Order of August 19, 1985, alleging lack of notice to their counsel.
disallowing the reprobate of the two wills, recalling the appointment
of petitioner as special administratrix, requiring the submission of On March 31, 1986, respondent Judge to which the case was
petitioner of an inventory of the property received by her as special reassigned denied the motion for reconsideration holding that the
administratrix and declaring all pending incidents moot and documents submitted by petitioner proved "that the wills of the
academic. Judge de la Llana reasoned out that petitioner failed to testator domiciled abroad were properly executed, genuine and
prove the law of New York on procedure and allowance of wills and sufficient to possess real and personal property; that letters
the court had no way of telling whether the wills were executed in testamentary were issued; and that proceedings were held on a
accordance with the law of New York. In the absence of such foreign tribunal and proofs taken by a competent judge who inquired
evidence, the presumption is that the law of succession of the into all the facts and circumstances and being satisfied with his
foreign country is the same as the law of the Philippines. However, findings issued a decree admitting to probate the wills in question."
he noted, that there were only two witnesses to the wills of the However, respondent Judge said that the documents did not
Cunanan spouses and the Philippine law requires three witnesses establish the law of New York on the procedure and allowance of
and that the wills were not signed on each and every page, a wills (Records, p. 381).
requirement of the Philippine law.

On April 9, 1986, petitioner filed a motion to allow her to present


On August 27, 1985, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of further evidence on the foreign law. After the hearing of the motion
the Order dated February 21, 1984, where she had sufficiently on April 25, 1986, respondent Judge issued an order wherein he
proven the applicable laws of New York governing the execution of conceded that insufficiency of evidence to prove the foreign law was
last wills and testaments. not a fatal defect and was curable by adducing additional evidence.
He granted petitioner 45 days to submit the evidence to that effect.
On the same day, Judge de la Llana issued another order, denying
the motion of petitioner for the suspension of the proceedings but However, without waiting for petitioner to adduce the additional
gave her 15 days upon arrival in the country within which to act on evidence, respondent Judge ruled in his order dated June 20, 1986
the other order issued that same day. Contending that the second that he found "no compelling reason to disturb its ruling of March 31,
portion of the second order left its finality to the discretion of counsel 1986" but allowed petitioner to "file anew the appropriate probate
for petitioner, the Cunanans filed a motion for the reconsideration of proceedings for each of the testator" (Records, p. 391).
the objectionable portion of the said order so that it would conform
with the pertinent provisions of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of
1980 and the Interim Rules of Court. The Order dated June 20, 1986 prompted petitioner to file a second
motion for reconsideration stating that she was "ready to submit
further evidence on the law obtaining in the State of New York" and
On April 30, 1985, the respondent Judge of Branch 18 of the praying that she be granted "the opportunity to present evidence on
Regional Trial Court, Malolos, to which the reprobate case was what the law of the State of New York has on the probate and
reassigned, issued an order stating that "(W)hen the last will and allowance of wills" (Records, p. 393).
testament . . . was denied probate," the case was terminated and
therefore all orders theretofore issued should be given finality. The
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COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

On July 18, respondent Judge denied the motion holding that to (f) two certificates of authentication from the Consulate General of
allow the probate of two wills in a single proceeding "would be a the Philippines in New York (Exh. "H" and "F").
departure from the typical and established mode of probate where
one petition takes care of one will." He pointed out that even in New (g) certifications from the Secretary of State that Judge Reagan is
York "where the wills in question were first submitted for probate, duly authorized to grant exemplified copies of the decree of probate,
they were dealt with in separate proceedings" (Records, p. 395). letters testamentary and all proceedings had and proofs duly taken
(Exhs. "H-1" and "I-1");
On August 13, 1986, petitioner filed a motion for the reconsideration
of the Order of July 18, 1986, citing Section 3, Rule 2 of the Rules of (h) certificates of Judge Reagan and the Chief Clerk that letters
Court, which provides that no party may institute more than one suit testamentary were issued to Rafael G. Cunanan (Exhs. "H-2" and "I-
for a single cause of action. She pointed out that separate 2");
proceedings for the wills of the spouses which contain basically the
same provisions as they even named each other as a beneficiary in
their respective wills, would go against "the grain of inexpensive, just (i) certification to the effect that it was during the term of Judge
and speedy determination of the proceedings" (Records, pp. 405- Reagan that a decree admitting the wills to probate had been issued
407). and appointing Rafael G. Cunanan as alternate executor (Exhs. "H-
3" and "I-10");

On September 11, 1986, petitioner filed a supplement to the motion


for reconsideration, citing Benigno v. De La Peña, 57 Phil. 305 (j) the decrees on probate of the two wills specifying that
(1932) (Records, p. 411), but respondent Judge found that this proceedings were held and proofs duly taken (Exhs. "H-4" and "I-5");
pleading had been filed out of time and that the adverse party had
not been furnished with a copy thereof. In her compliance, petitioner (k) decrees on probate of the two wills stating that they were
stated that she had furnished a copy of the motion to the counsel of properly executed, genuine and valid and that the said instruments
the Cunanan heirs and reiterated her motion for a "final ruling on her were admitted to probate and established as wills valid to pass real
supplemental motion" (Records, p. 421). and personal property (Exhs. "H-5" and "I-5"); and

On November 19, respondent Judge issued an order, denying the (l) certificates of Judge Reagan and the Chief Clerk on the
motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner on the grounds that "the genuineness and authenticity of each other’s signatures in the
probate of separate wills of two or more different persons even if exemplified copies of the decrees of probate, letters testamentary
they are husband and wife cannot be undertaken in a single petition" and proceedings held in their court (Exhs. "H-6" and "I-6") (Rollo, pp.
(Records, pp. 376-378). 13-16).

Hence, petitioner instituted the instant petition, arguing that the Petitioner adds that the wills had been admitted to probate in the
evidence offered at the hearing of April 11, 1983 sufficiently proved Surrogate Court’s Decision of April 13, 1983 and that the
the laws of the State of New York on the allowance of wills, and that proceedings were terminated on November 29, 1984.
the separate wills of the Cunanan spouses need not be probated in
separate proceedings. The respective wills of the Cunanan spouses, who were American
citizens, will only be effective in this country upon compliance with
II. Petitioner contends that the following pieces of evidence she had the following provision of the Civil Code of the Philippines:
submitted before respondent Judge are sufficient to warrant the
allowance of the wills: Art. 816. The will of an alien who is abroad produces effect in the
Philippines if made with the formalities prescribed by the law of the
(a) two certificates of authentication of the respective wills of Evelyn place in which he resides, or according to the formalities observed in
and Jose by the Consulate General of the Philippines (Exhs. "F" and his country, or in conformity with those which this Code prescribes.
"G");
Thus, proof that both wills conform with the formalities prescribed by
(b) two certifications from the Secretary of State of New York and New York laws or by Philippine laws is imperative.
Custodian of the Great Seal on the facts that Judge Bernard L.
Reagan is the Surrogate of the Country of Onondaga which is a The evidence necessary for the reprobate or allowance of wills
court of record, that his signature and seal of office are genuine, and which have been probated outside of the Philippines are as follows:
that the Surrogate is duly authorized to grant copy of the respective (1) the due execution of the will in accordance with the foreign laws;
wills of Evelyn and Jose (2) the testator has his domicile in the foreign country and not in the
(Exhs. "F-1" and "G-1"); Philippines; (3) the will has been admitted to probate in such
country; (4) the fact that the foreign tribunal is a probate court, and
(c) two certificates of Judge Reagan and Chief Clerk Donald E. (5) the laws of a foreign country on procedure and allowance of wills
Moore stating that they have in their records and files the said wills (III Moran Commentaries on the Rules of Court, 1970 ed., pp. 419-
which were recorded on April 7, 1982 (Exhs. "F-2" and "G-2"); 429; Suntay v. Suntay, 95 Phil. 500 [1954]; Fluemer v. Hix, 54 Phil.
610 [1930]). Except for the first and last requirements, the petitioner
(d) the respective wills of Evelyn and Jose (Exhs. "F-3", "F-6" and submitted all the needed evidence.
Exh. "G-3" — "G-6");
The necessity of presenting evidence on the foreign laws upon
(e) certificates of Judge Reagan and the Chief Clerk certifying to the which the probate in the foreign country is based is impelled by the
genuineness and authenticity of the exemplified copies of the two fact that our courts cannot take judicial notice of them (Philippine
wills (Exhs. "F-7" and "F-7"); Commercial and Industrial Bank v. Escolin, 56 SCRA 266 [1974]).
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COMPILATION OF CASES – Page 2 & 3 of 6

Petitioner must have perceived this omission as in fact she moved WHEREFORE, the questioned Order is SET ASIDE. Respondent
for more time to submit the pertinent procedural and substantive Judge shall allow petitioner reasonable time within which to submit
New York laws but which request respondent Judge just glossed evidence needed for the joint probate of the wills of the Cunanan
over. While the probate of a will is a special proceeding wherein spouses and see to it that the brothers and sisters of Dr. Jose F.
courts should relax the rules on evidence, the goal is to receive the Cunanan are given all notices and copies of all pleadings pertinent
best evidence of which the matter is susceptible before a purported to the probate proceedings.
will is probated or denied probate (Vda. de Ramos v. Court of
Appeals, 81 SCRA 393 [1978]). SO ORDERED.

There is merit in petitioner’s insistence that the separate wills of the JURISDICTION OF PROBATE COURT
Cunanan spouses should be probated jointly. Respondent Judge’s
view that the Rules on allowance of wills is couched in singular RODRIGUEZ v. DE BORJA
terms and therefore should be interpreted to mean that there should
be separate probate proceedings for the wills of the Cunanan
(Refer to case digest)
spouses is too literal and simplistic an approach. Such view
overlooks the provisions of Section 2, Rule 1 of the Revised Rules of
Court, which advise 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
proceeding."

A literal application of the Rules should be avoided if they would only


result in the delay in the administration of justice (Acain v.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 155 SCRA 100 [1987]; Roberts v.
Leonidas, 129 SCRA 33 [1984]).

What the law expressly prohibits is the making of joint wills either for
the testator’s reciprocal benefit or for the benefit of a third person
(Civil Code of the Philippines, Article 818). In the case at bench, the
Cunanan spouses executed separate wills. Since the two wills
contain essentially the same provisions and pertain to property
which in all probability are conjugal in nature, practical
considerations dictate their joint probate. As this Court has held a
number of times, it will always strive to settle the entire controversy
in a single proceeding leaving no root or branch to bear the seeds of
future litigation (Motoomull v. Dela Paz, 187 SCRA 743 [1990]).

This petition cannot be completely resolved without touching on a


very glaring fact — petitioner has always considered herself the sole
heir of Dr. Evelyn Perez Cunanan and because she does not
consider herself an heir of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan, she noticeably
failed to notify his heirs of the filing of the proceedings. Thus, even in
the instant petition, she only impleaded respondent Judge, forgetting
that a judge whose order is being assailed is merely a nominal or
formal party (Calderon v. Solicitor General, 215 SCRA 876 [1992]).

The rule that the court having jurisdiction over the reprobate of a will
shall "cause notice thereof to be given as in case of an original will
presented for allowance" (Revised Rules of Court, Rule 27, Section
2) means that with regard to notices, the will probated abroad should
be treated as if it were an "original will" or a will that is presented for
probate for the first time. Accordingly, compliance with Sections 3
and 4 of Rule 76, which require publication and notice by mail or
personally to the "known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the
testator resident in the Philippines" and to the executor, if he is not
the petitioner, are required.

The brothers and sisters of Dr. Jose F. Cunanan, contrary to


petitioner's claim, are entitled to notices of the time and place for
proving the wills. Under Section 4 of Rule 76 of the Revised Rules of
Court, the "court shall also cause copies of the notice of the time and
place fixed for proving the will to be addressed to the designated or
other known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator, . . . "