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G.R. Nos.

L-21938-39 May 29, 1970

VICENTE URIARTE, petitioner,

vs.

THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL (12th Judicial District) THE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF MANILA, BRANCH IV, JUAN URIARTE ZAMACONA and HIGINIO URIARTE, respondents.

Facts

On Nov 6, 1961, Petitioner Vicente Uriarte filed with CFI Negros petition for the settlement of
the estate of the late Don Juan (SP No. 6344) alleging that, as a natural son of the latter, he was his
sole heir. Previously, in same court, during the lifetime of Don Juan, Vicente had instituted Civil Case
No. 6142 for his compulsory acknowledgment as natural son which is still pending. PNB was
appointed as special administrator, however, record discloses, that, PNB never actually qualified.

On Dec 19, 1961, Higinio Uriarte, a nephew of decedent, filed an opposition claiming the
deceased had "executed a Last Will and Testament in Spain, and a duly authenticated copy has
already been requested tol be submitted to the Court upon receipt thereof and also questioned
Vicente's capacity and interest to commence the intestate proceeding.

On Aug 28, 1962, Juan Uriarte Zamacona, also a nephew, commenced SP No. 51396 in the
Manila CFI for the probate of alleged last will and also filed in Negros CFI, a motion to dismiss SP 6344
on the grounds that since there is a will, there was no legal basis to proceed with the intestate
proceedings, and Vicente, who is not acknowledged had no legal personality and interest to initiate
intestate proceedings. A copy of the Petition for Probate and of the alleged Will were attached to
the Motion to Dismiss.

Vicente opposed such motion, contending that, Negros CFI was first to take cognizance of the
settlement of the estate of the decedent, thus it had acquired exclusive jurisdiction over same to the
exclusion of other courts.

On Apr 15, 1963, Vicente filed an Omnibus Motion in SP No. 51396 CFI Manila, asking for leave
to intervene; dismissal of the petition and the annulment of the proceedings. This motion was denied
by said court.

On Apr 19, 1963, Negros CFI dismissed the SP No. 6344, citing that the proper thing for Vicente
to do would be to intervene in the testate estate proceedings CFI Manila, instead of maintaining an
independent action, for his supposed interest in the estate, pending the final decision of the action
for compulsory acknowledgment.

Vicente’s motion for reconsideration of said order was denied so he proceeded to file his notice
of appeal, appeal bond and record on appeal on questions of law. Before the said record on appeal
was approved, Vicente filed a petition for certiorari before the SC on Oct 3, 1963, which is tantamount
to abandoning his appeal. In order to give way to the certiorari, the record on appeal filed was
disapproved.

Issues

WON Manila CFI is the proper venue for the settlement of estate of Don Juan Uriarte.

Ruling
Don Juan is an inhabitant of a foreign country Spain, so the CFI (now RTC) in Negros or Manila
where he left property may take cognizance of settlement of his estate whether intestate or testate.
In this case, it was Negros CFI who first took cognizance of the settlement of the estate, thus should
have exercised jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts.

Zamacona should have submitted to Negros CFI probate of the will in a separate special or in an
appropriate motion for probate in the already pending intestate proceeding. Probate of the will is
mandatory, therefore takes precedence over intestate proceedings. Thus, if in the course of the
intestate proceedings, it is found out that the decedent had left a last will, proceedings for the
probate of the will should replace the intestate proceedings even if at that stage, an administrator
had already been appointed, who is then required to render a final account and turn over the estate
in his possession to the executor subsequently appointed. This, however, is understood to be without
prejudice that should the alleged last will be rejected or is disapproved, the proceeding shall continue
as an intestacy.

When Higinio filed an opposition to Vicente’s petition, Negros CFI was informed that the
decedent had left a will in Spain. When Zamacona, filed his motion to dismiss SP 6344 in Negros CFI,
he knew before filing the petition for probate with Manila CFI that there was already a special
proceeding pending in the Negros for the settlement of the estate of the same decedent.

However, It is well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely a waiveable procedural
defect, and in this case, Court held that Vicente has waived the right to raise such objection or is
precluded from doing so by laches. He knew of the existence of a will when an opposition was filed
his initial petition in 1961. But, it was only on Apr 15, 1963 that he filed with Manila CFI in SP 51396
an Omnibus motion asking for leave to intervene and for the dismissal and annulment of all the
proceedings thus enabling the Manila CFI not only to appoint an administrator with the will annexed
but also to admit said will to probate on Oct 31, 1962. Court is not inclined to annul proceedings
regularly made in a lower court even if it was not the proper venue, if the result would be be having
the same proceedings repeated in some other court of similar jurisdiction.