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Limjoco v Intestate Estate of Fragrante

April 27, 1948 | Hilado J


Commencement & Termination of Personality (Natural Persons – Death; NCC 42)

Doctrine: The estate of the deceased person is considered a "person" to avoid injustice
or prejudice resulting from the impossibility of exercising such legal rights and fulfilling
such legal obligations of the decedent as survived after his death unless the fiction is
indulged.

Case Summary: Fragante, applied for a certificate of public convenience (PC) to install
and maintain an ice plant in San Juan, Rizal. Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a
certificate of PC to Intestate Estate of deceased through its special/judicial administrator
appointed by proper court of competent jurisdiction to maintain and operate said plant.
Petitioner claims that granting of certificate applied to the estate is a contravention of
law1/. The court held that both the personality and citizenship of Fragante must be
deemed extended.

Facts:
A. Fragante, a Filipino citizen at the time of his death, applied for certificate of PC to install
and maintain an ice plant in San Juan Rizal. His intestate estate is financially capable of
maintaining the proposed service. PSC ordered "that under the provisions of Sec 15 of
Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 146, as amended, a certificate of PC be issued to the
Intestate Estate of the deceased Fragante, authorizing said Intestate Estate through its
Special/Judicial Administrator, appointed by the proper court of competent jurisdiction,
to maintain and operate an ice plant and to sell the ice produced from said plant.
B. Petioner argues that allowing the substitution of the legal representative of the estate of
Fragante for the latter as party applicant and afterwards granting the certificate applied
for is a contravention of the law – questioning WON the estate of Fragante can be
considered a "citizen of the Philippines" within the meaning of section 16 of the Public
Service Act, as amended, particularly the proviso thereof expressly and categorically
limiting the power of PSC to issue certifcates of public convenience "only to citizens of
the Philippines or of the United States or to corporations, co-partnerships, associations,
or joint-stock companies constituted and organized under the laws of the Philippines",
further requiring 60% percent Filipino/US ownership of stock or paid-up capital.

Issue: W/N the estate of Fragante may be extended an artificial judicial personality – YES

Ruling:
 Court held that within the framework of the Constitution2/, the estate of Fragante should
be considered an artificial/juridical person for the purposes of the settlement and
distribution of his estate which include exercise during the judicial administration
thereof of those rights and fulfillment of obligations which survived after his death.
 The fiction is made necessary to avoid the injustice of subjecting his estate, creditors
and heirs, solely by reason of his death, to the loss of the investment amounting to
P35,000, which he had already made in the ice plant, not counting the other expenses
occasioned by the instant proceeding, from PSC to this Court.
 If Fragrante had lived, in view of the evidence of record, would have obtained from the
commission the certificate for which he was applying. The situation has not changed
except for his death, and the economic ability of his estate to appropriately and
adequately operate and maintain the service of an ice plant was the same that it received
from the decedent himself.

Disposition: Both the personality and citizenship of Fragante must be deemed extended,
within the meaning and intent of the Public Service Act, as amended, in harmony with the
Constitution.

Notes:
1/
NCC ART. 42. Civil personality is extinguished by death. The effect of death upon the
rights and obligations of the deceased is determined by law, by contract and by will.
2/
Under the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, it seems clear that while the civil rights
guaranteed therein in the majority of cases relate to natural persons, the term “person”
must be deemed to include artificial/juridical persons. It was the intent of the framers to
include artificial or juridical, no less than natural, persons in these constitutional
immunities and in other of similar nature. Among these artificial/juridical persons figure
estates of deceased persons.