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G.R. Nos. L-21938-39 May 29, 1970 6. Respondent Negros court erred in dismissing its Special Proceeding No.

6344, supra, and failing to declare itself 'the court first taking cognizance of
VICENTE URIARTE, petitioner, the settlement of the estate of' the deceased Don Juan Uriarte y Goite as
vs. prescribed in Rule 75 section 1 of the Rules of Court. Respondent Manila
THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL (12th Judicial District) court erred in failing to dismiss its Special Proceeding No. 51396, supra,
THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA, BRANCH IV, JUAN URIARTE notwithstanding proof of prior filing of Special Proceeding No. 6344, supra, in
ZAMACONA and HIGINIO URIARTE, respondents. the Negros court.

Norberto J. Quisumbing for petitioner. The writ of preliminary injunction prayed for was granted and issued by this Court on October
24, 1963.
Taada, Teehankee & Carreon for respondents.
On April 22, 1964 petitioner filed against the same respondents a pleading entitled
SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION FOR MANDAMUS docketed in this Court as G.R. No. L-
21939 praying, for the reasons therein stated, that judgment be rendered annulling the
DIZON, J.: orders issued by the Negros Court on December 7, 1963 and February 26, 1964, the first
disapproving his record on appeal and the second denying his motion for reconsideration,
On October 3, 1963 petitioner Vicente Uriarte filed an original petition for certiorari and further commanding said court to approve his record on appeal and to give due course to
docketed as G.R. L-21938 against the respondents Juan Uriarte Zamacona, Higinio his appeal. On July 15, 1964 We issued a resolution deferring action on this Supplemental
Uriarte, and the Courts of First Instance of Negros Occidental and of Manila, Branch IV, who Petition until the original action for certiorari (G.R. L-21938) is taken up on the merits.
will be referred to hereinafter as the Negros Court and the Manila Court, respectively
praying: On October 21, 1963 the respondents in G.R. L-21938 filed their answer traversing
petitioner's contention that the respondent courts had committed grave abuse of discretion in
... that after due proceedings judgment be rendered annulling the orders of relation to the matters alleged in the petition for certiorari.
19 April 1963 (Annex 'H') and 11 July 1963 (Annex 'I') of respondent Negros
court dismissing the first instituted Special Proceeding No. 6344, supra, and It appears that on November 6, 1961 petitioner filed with the Negros Court a petition for the
the order of 1 July 1963 (Annex 'K') of respondent Manila court denying settlement of the estate of the late Don Juan Uriarte y Goite (Special Proceeding No. 6344)
petitioner's omnibus motion to intervene and to dismiss the later-instituted alleging therein, inter alia, that, as a natural son of the latter, he was his sole heir, and that,
Special Proceeding No. 51396, supra, both special proceedings pertaining to during the lifetime of said decedent, petitioner had instituted Civil Case No. 6142 in the same
the settlement of the same estate of the same deceased, and consequently Court for his compulsory acknowledgment as such natural son. Upon petitioner's motion the
annulling all proceedings had in Special Proceeding No. 51396; supra, of the Negros Court appointed the Philippine National Bank as special administrator on November
respondent Manila court as all taken without jurisdiction. 13, 1961 and two days later it set the date for the hearing of the petition and ordered that the
requisite notices be published in accordance with law. The record discloses, however, that,
For the preservation of the rights of the parties pending these proceedings, for one reason or another, the Philippine, National Bank never actually qualified as special
petitioner prays for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining administrator.
respondents Manila court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona and Higinio Uriarte from
proceeding with Special Proceeding No. 51396, supra, until further orders of On December 19, 1961, Higinio Uriarte, one of the two private respondents herein, filed an
this Court. opposition to the above-mentioned petition alleging that he was a nephew of the deceased
Juan Uriarte y Goite who had "executed a Last Will and Testament in Spain, a duly
Reasons in support of said petition are stated therein as follows: authenticated copy whereof has been requested and which shall be submitted to this

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Honorable Court upon receipt thereof," and further questioning petitioner's capacity and In view of the above-quoted order, petitioner filed the supplemental petition for mandamus
interest to commence the intestate proceeding. mentioned heretofore.

On August 28, 1962, Juan Uriarte Zamacona, the other private respondent, commenced On April 15, 1963 Vicente Uriarte filed an Omnibus Motion in Special Proceeding No. 51396
Special Proceeding No. 51396 in the Manila Court for the probate of a document alleged to pending in the Manila Court, asking for leave to intervene therein; for the dismissal of the
be the last will of the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite, and on the same date he filed in Special petition and the annulment of the proceedings had in said special proceeding. This motion
Proceeding No. 6344 of the Negros Court a motion to dismiss the same on the following was denied by said court in its order of July 1 of the same year.
grounds: (1) that, as the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite had left a last will, there was no legal
basis to proceed with said intestate proceedings, and (2) that petitioner Vicente Uriarte had It is admitted that, as alleged in the basic petition filed in Special Proceeding No. 6344 of the
no legal personality and interest to initiate said intestate proceedings, he not being an Negros Court, Vicente Uriarte filed in the same court, during the lifetime of Juan Uriarte y
acknowledged natural son of the decedent. A copy of the Petition for Probate and of the Goite, Civil Case No. 6142 to obtain judgment for his compulsory acknowledgment as his
alleged Will were attached to the Motion to Dismiss. natural child. Clearly inferrable from this is that at the time he filed the action, as well as when
he commenced the aforesaid special proceeding, he had not yet been acknowledged as
Petitioner opposed the aforesaid motion to dismiss contending that, as the Negros Court was natural son of Juan Uriarte y Goite. Up to this time, no final judgment to that effect appears to
first to take cognizance of the settlement of the estate of the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite, it have been rendered.
had acquired exclusive jurisdiction over same pursuant to Rule 75, Section 1 of the Rules of
Court. The record further discloses that the special proceeding before the Negros Court has not
gone farther than the appointment of a special administrator in the person of the Philippine
On April 19, 1963, the Negros Court sustained Juan Uriarte Zamacona's motion to dismiss National Bank who, as stated heretofore, failed to qualify.
and dismissed the Special Proceeding No. 6344 pending before it. His motion for
reconsideration of said order having been denied on July 27, 1963, petitioner proceeded to On the other hand, it is not disputed that, after proper proceedings were had in Special
file his notice of appeal, appeal bond and record on appeal for the purpose of appealing from Proceeding No. 51396, the Manila Court admitted to probate the document submitted to, it as
said orders to this court on questions of law. The administrator with the will annexed the last will of Juan Uriarte y Goite, the petition for probate appearing not to have been
appointed by the Manila Court in Special Proceeding No. 51396 objected to the approval of contested. It appears further that, as stated heretofore, the order issued by the Manila Court
the record on appeal, and under date of December 7, 1963 the Negros Court issued the on July 1, 1963 denied petitioner. Vicente Uriarte's Omnibus Motion for Intervention,
following order: Dismissal of Petition and Annulment of said proceedings.

Oppositor prays that the record on appeal filed by the petitioner on July 27, Likewise, it is not denied that to the motion to dismiss the special proceeding pending before
1963, be dismissed for having been filed out of time and for being the Negros Court filed by Higinio Uriarte were attached a copy of the alleged last will of Juan
incomplete. In the meantime, before the said record on appeal was approved Uriarte y Goite and of the petition filed with the Manila Court for its probate. It is clear,
by this Court, the petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme therefore, that almost from the start of Special Proceeding No. 6344, the Negros Court and
Court entitled Vicente Uriarte, Petitioner, vs. Court of First Instance of Negros petitioner Vicente Uriarte knew of the existence of the aforesaid last will and of the
Occidental, et al., G.R. No. L-21938, bringing this case squarely before the proceedings for its probate.
Supreme Court on questions of law which is tantamount to petitioner's
abandoning his appeal from this Court. The principal legal questions raised in the petition for certiorari are (a) whether or not the
Negros Court erred in dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6644, on the one hand, and on the
WHEREFORE, in order to give way to the certiorari, the record on appeal other, (b) whether the Manila Court similarly erred in not dismissing Special Proceeding No.
filed by the petitioner is hereby disapproved. 51396 notwithstanding proof of the prior filing of Special Proceeding No. 6344 in the Negros
Court.

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Under the Judiciary Act of 1948 [Section 44, paragraph (e)], Courts of First Instance have Court particularly in Special Proceeding No. 6344 or was entitled to commence the
original exclusive jurisdiction over "all matters of probate," that is, over special proceedings corresponding separate proceedings, as he did, in the Manila Court.
for the settlement of the estate of deceased persons whether they died testate or intestate.
While their jurisdiction over such subject matter is beyond question, the matter of venue, or The following considerations and the facts of record would seem to support the view that he
the particular Court of First Instance where the special proceeding should be commenced, is should have submitted said will for probate to the Negros Court, either in a separate special
regulated by former Rule 75, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, now Section 1, Rule 73 of the proceeding or in an appropriate motion for said purpose filed in the already pending Special
Revised Rules of Court, which provides that the estate of a decedent inhabitant of the Proceeding No. 6344. In the first place, it is not in accord with public policy and the orderly
Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, shall be in the court of first and inexpensive administration of justice to unnecessarily multiply litigation, especially if
instance in the province in which he resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant several courts would be involved. This, in effect, was the result of the submission of the will
of a foreign country, the court of first instance of any province in which he had estate . aforesaid to the Manila Court. In the second place, when respondent Higinio Uriarte filed an
Accordingly, when the estate to be settled is that of a non-resident alien like the deceased opposition to Vicente Uriarte's petition for the issuance of letters of administration, he had
Juan Uriarte y Goite the Courts of First Instance in provinces where the deceased left any already informed the Negros Court that the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite had left a will in
property have concurrent jurisdiction to take cognizance of the proper special proceeding for Spain, of which a copy had been requested for submission to said court; and when the other
the settlement of his estate. In the case before Us, these Courts of First Instance are the respondent, Juan Uriarte Zamacona, filed his motion to dismiss Special Proceeding No.
Negros and the Manila Courts province and city where the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite 6344, he had submitted to the Negros Court a copy of the alleged will of the decedent, from
left considerable properties. From this premise petitioner argues that, as the Negros Court which fact it may be inferred that, like Higinio Uriarte, he knew before filing the petition for
had first taken cognizance of the special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of said probate with the Manila Court that there was already a special proceeding pending in the
decedent (Special Proceeding No. 6344), the Manila Court no longer had jurisdiction to take Negros Court for the settlement of the estate of the same deceased person. As far as Higinio
cognizance of Special Proceeding No. 51396 intended to settle the estate of the same Uriarte is concerned, it seems quite clear that in his opposition to petitioner's petition in
decedent in accordance with his alleged will, and that consequently, the first court erred in Special Proceeding No. 6344, he had expressly promised to submit said will for probate to
dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, while the second court similarly erred in not the Negros Court.
dismissing Special Proceeding No. 51396.
But the fact is that instead of the aforesaid will being presented for probate to the Negros
It can not be denied that a special proceeding intended to effect the distribution of the estate Court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed the petition for the purpose with the Manila Court. We can
of a deceased person, whether in accordance with the law on intestate succession or in not accept petitioner's contention in this regard that the latter court had no jurisdiction to
accordance with his will, is a "probate matter" or a proceeding for the settlement of his estate. consider said petition, albeit we say that it was not the proper venue therefor.
It is equally true, however, that in accordance with settled jurisprudence in this jurisdiction,
testate proceedings, for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person take precedence It is well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely a waiveable procedural defect,
over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus it has been held repeatedly that, if in and, in the light of the circumstances obtaining in the instant case, we are of the opinion, and
the course of intestate proceedings pending before a court of first instance it is found it hat so hold, that petitioner has waived the right to raise such objection or is precluded from doing
the decedent had left a last will, proceedings for the probate of the latter should replace the so by laches. It is enough to consider in this connection that petitioner knew of the existence
intestate proceedings even if at that stage an administrator had already been appointed, the of a will executed by Juan Uriarte y Goite since December 19, 1961 when Higinio Uriarte filed
latter being required to render final account and turn over the estate in his possession to the his opposition to the initial petition filed in Special Proceeding No. 6344; that petitioner
executor subsequently appointed. This, however, is understood to be without prejudice that likewise was served with notice of the existence (presence) of the alleged last will in the
should the alleged last will be rejected or is disapproved, the proceeding shall continue as an Philippines and of the filing of the petition for its probate with the Manila Court since August
intestacy. As already adverted to, this is a clear indication that proceedings for the probate of 28, 1962 when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed a motion for the dismissal of Special Proceeding
a will enjoy priority over intestate proceedings. No. 6344. All these notwithstanding, it was only on April 15, 1963 that he filed with the Manila
Court in Special Proceeding No. 51396 an Omnibus motion asking for leave to intervene and
Upon the facts before Us the question arises as to whether Juan Uriarte Zamacona should for the dismissal and annulment of all the proceedings had therein up to that date; thus
have filed the petition for the probate of the last will of Juan Uriarte y Goite with the Negros enabling the Manila Court not only to appoint an administrator with the will annexed but also

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to admit said will to probate more than five months earlier, or more specifically, on October worse still, would enable petitioner to circumvent our ruling that he can no longer question the
31, 1962. To allow him now to assail the exercise of jurisdiction over the probate of the will by validity of said orders.
the Manila Court and the validity of all the proceedings had in Special Proceeding No. 51396
would put a premium on his negligence. Moreover, it must be remembered that this Court is IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, judgment is hereby rendered denying
not inclined to annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter was not the writs prayed for and, as a result, the petition for certiorari filed in G.R. No. L-21938, as
the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be to have the same proceedings repeated well as the supplemental petition for mandamus docketed as G.R. No. L-21939, are hereby
in some other court of similar jurisdiction; more so in a case like the present where the dismissed. The writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued is set aside. With costs against
objection against said proceedings is raised too late. petitioner.

In his order of April 19, 1963 dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, Judge Fernandez of Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Barredo and Villamor, JJ., concur.
the Negros Court said that he was "not inclined to sustain the contention of the petitioner that
inasmuch as the herein petitioner has instituted Civil Case No. 6142 for compulsory
acknowledgment by the decedent such action justifies the institution by him of this
proceedings. If the petitioner is to be consistent with the authorities cited by him in support of
his contention, the proper thing for him to do would be to intervene in the testate estate
proceedings entitled Special Proceedings No. 51396 in the Court of First Instance of Manila
instead of maintaining an independent action, for indeed his supposed interest in the estate of
the decedent is of his doubtful character pending the final decision of the action for
compulsory acknowledgment."

We believe in connection with the above matter that petitioner is entitled to prosecute Civil
Case No. 6142 until it is finally determined, or intervene in Special Proceeding No. 51396 of
the Manila Court, if it is still open, or to ask for its reopening if it has already been closed, so
as to be able to submit for determination the question of his acknowledgment as natural child
of the deceased testator, said court having, in its capacity as a probate court, jurisdiction to
declare who are the heirs of the deceased testator and whether or not a particular party is or
should be declared his acknowledged natural child (II Moran on Rules of Court, 1957 Ed., p. G.R. No. L-24742 October 26, 1973
476; Conde vs. Abaya, 13 Phil. 249; Severino vs. Severino, 44 Phil. 343; Lopez vs. Lopez, 68 ROSA CAYETANO CUENCO, petitioners,
Phil. 227, and Jimoga-on vs. Belmonte, 47 O. G. 1119). vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THIRD DIVISION, MANUEL CUENCO,
Coming now to the supplemental petition for mandamus (G.R. No. L-21939), We are of the LOURDES CUENCO, CONCEPCION CUENCO MANGUERRA, CARMEN CUENCO,
opinion, and so hold, that in view of the conclusions heretofore stated, the same has become CONSUELO CUENCO REYES, and TERESITA CUENCO GONZALEZ, respondents.
moot and academic. If the said supplemental petition is successful, it will only result in Ambrosio Padilla Law Office for petitioner.
compelling the Negros Court to give due course to the appeal that petitioner was taking from
Jalandoni and Jamir for respondents.
the orders of said court dated December 7, 1963 and February 26, 1964, the first being the
order of said court dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, and the second being an order
denying petitioner's motion for the reconsideration of said order of dismissal. Said orders TEEHANKEE, J.:
being, as a result of what has been said heretofore beyond petitioner's power to contest, the Petition for certiorari to review the decision of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No.
conclusion can not be other than that the intended appeal would serve no useful purpose, or, 34104-R, promulgated 21 November 1964, and its subsequent Resolution promulgated 8
July 1964 denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.

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The pertinent facts which gave rise to the herein petition follow: the probateproceedings in the Quezon City court was neither excepted to nor sought by
On 25 February 1964 Senator Mariano Jesus Cuenco died at the Manila Doctors' Hospital, respondents to be reconsidered or set aside by the Cebu court nor did they challenge the
Manila. He was survived by his widow, the herein petitioner, and their two (2) minor sons, same by certiorari or prohibition proceedings in the appellate courts.
Mariano Jesus, Jr. and Jesus Salvador, both surnamed Cuenco, all residing at 69 Pi y Margal Instead, respondents filed in the Quezon City court an Opposition and Motion to Dismiss,
St., Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City, and by his children of the first marriage, respondents dated 10 April 1964, opposing probate of the will and assailing the jurisdiction of the said
herein, namely, Manuel Cuenco, Lourdes Cuenco, Concepcion Cuenco Manguera, Carmen Quezon City court to entertain petitioner's petition for probate and for appointment as
Cuenco, Consuelo Cuenco Reyes and Teresita Cuenco Gonzales, all of legal age and executrix in Sp. Proc. No. Q-7898 in view of the alleged exclusive jurisdiction vested by her
residing in Cebu. petition in the Cebu court in Sp. Proc. No. 2433-R. Said respondent prayed that Sp. Proc. No.
On 5 March 1964, (the 9th day after the death of the late Senator) 1 respondent Lourdes Q-7898 be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and/or improper venue.
Cuenco filed a Petition for Letters of Administration with the court of first instance of Cebu In its order of 11 April 1964, the Quezon City court denied the motion to dismiss, giving as a
(Sp. Proc. No. 2433-R), alleging among other things, that the late senator died intestate in principal reason the "precedence of probate proceeding over an intestate proceeding." 4 The
Manila on 25 February 1964; that he was a resident of Cebu at the time of his death; and that said court further found in said order that the residence of the late senator at the time of his
he left real and personal properties in Cebu and Quezon City. On the same date, the Cebu death was at No. 69 Pi y Margal, Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City. The pertinent portion of
court issued an order setting the petition for hearing on 10 April 1964, directing that due said order follows:
notice be given to all the heirs and interested persons, and ordering the requisite publication On the question of residence of the decedent, paragraph 5 of the opposition and motion to
thereof at LA PRENSA, a newspaper of general circulation in the City and Province of Cebu. dismiss reads as follows: "that since the decedent Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco was a resident
The aforesaid order, however, was later suspended and cancelled and a new and modified of the City of Cebu at the time of his death, the aforesaid petition filed by Rosa Cayetano
one released on 13 March 1964, in view of the fact that the petition was to be heard at Cuenco on 12 March 1964 was not filed with the proper Court (wrong venue) in view of the
Branch II instead of Branch I of the said Cebu court. On the same date, a third order was provisions of Section 1 of Rule 73 of the New Rules of Court ...". From the aforequoted
further issued stating that respondent Lourdes Cuenco's petition for the appointment of a allegation, the Court is made to understand that the oppositors do not mean to say that the
special administrator dated 4 March 1964 was not yet ready for the consideration of the said decedent being a resident of Cebu City when he died, the intestate proceedings in Cebu City
court, giving as reasons the following: should prevail over the probate proceedings in Quezon City, because as stated above the
It will be premature for this Court to act thereon, it not having yet regularly acquired probate of the will should take precedence, but that the probate proceedings should be filed
jurisdiction to try this proceeding, the requisite publication of the notice of hearing not yet in the Cebu City Court of First Instance. If the last proposition is the desire of the oppositors
having been complied with. Moreover, copies of the petition have not been served on all of as understood by this Court, that could not also be entertained as proper because paragraph
the heirs specified in the basic petition for the issuance of letters of administration. 2 1 of the petition for the probate of the will indicates that Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco at the
time of his death was a resident of Quezon City at 69 Pi y Margal . Annex A (Last Will and
In the meantime, or specifically on 12 March 1964, (a week after the filing of the Cebu
Testament of Mariano Jesus Cuenco) of the petition for probate of the will shows that the
petition) herein petitioner Rosa Cayetano Cuenco filed a petition with the court of first
decedent at the time when he executed his Last Will clearly stated that he is a resident of 69
instance of Rizal (Quezon City) for the probate of the deceased's last will and testament and
Pi y Margal, Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City, and also of the City of Cebu. He made the
for the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor, as the surviving widow and executrix in
former as his first choice and the latter as his second choice of residence." If a party has two
the said last will and testament. The said proceeding was docketed as Special Proceeding
residences, the one will be deemed or presumed to his domicile which he himself selects or
No. Q-7898.
considers to be his home or which appears to be the center of his affairs. The petitioner, in
Having learned of the intestate proceeding in the Cebu court, petitioner Rosa Cayetano thus filing the instant petition before this Court, follows the first choice of residence of the
Cuenco filed in said Cebu court an Opposition and Motion to Dismiss, dated 30 March 1964, decedent and once this court acquires jurisdiction of the probate proceeding it is to the
as well as an Opposition to Petition for Appointment of Special Administrator, dated 8 April exclusion of all others. 5
1964. On 10 April 1964, the Cebu court issued an order holding in abeyance its resolution on
Respondent Lourdes Cuenco's motion for reconsideration of the Quezon City court's said
petitioner's motion to dismiss "until after the Court of First Instance of Quezon City shall have
order of 11 April 1964 asserting its exclusive jurisdiction over the probate proceeding as
acted on the petition for probate of that document purporting to be the last will and testament
deferred to by the Cebu court was denied on 27 April 1964 and a second motion for
of the deceased Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco." 3 Such order of the Cebu court deferring to
reconsideration dated 20 May 1964 was likewise denied.

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On 11 May 1964, pursuant to its earlier order of 11 April 1964, the hearing for probate of the Considering therefore that the first proceeding was instituted in the Cebu CFI (Special
last will of the decedent was called three times at half-hour intervals, but notwithstanding due Proceeding 2433-R), it follows that the said court must exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of
notification none of the oppositors appeared and the Quezon City court proceeded at 9:00 the Rizal CFI, in which the petition for probate was filed by the respondent Rosa Cayetano
a.m. with the hearing in their absence. Cuenco (Special Proceeding Q-7898). The said respondent should assert her rights within
As per the order issued by it subsequently on 15 May 1964, the Quezon City court noted that the framework of the proceeding in the Cebu CFI, instead of invoking the jurisdiction of
respondents-oppositors had opposed probate under their opposition and motion to dismiss another court.
on the following grounds: The respondents try to make capital of the fact that on March 13, 1964, Judge Amador
(a) That the will was not executed and attested as required by law; Gomez of the Cebu CFI, acting in Sp. Proc. 2433-R, stated that the petition for appointment
of special administrator was "not yet ready for the consideration of the Court today. It would
(b) That the will was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of
be premature for this Court to act thereon, it not having yet regularly acquired jurisdiction to
the beneficiary or some other persons for his benefit;
try this proceeding ... . " It is sufficient to state in this connection that the said judge was
(c) That the testator's signature was procured by fraud and/or that the testator acted by certainly not referring to the court's jurisdiction over the res, not to jurisdiction itself which is
mistake and did not intend that the instrument he signed should be his will at the time he acquired from the moment a petition is filed, but only to the exercise of jurisdiction in relation
affixed his signature thereto. 6 to the stage of the proceedings. At all events, jurisdiction is conferred and determined by law
The Quezon City court further noted that the requisite publication of the notice of the hearing and does not depend on the pronouncements of a trial judge.
had been duly complied with and that all the heirs had been duly notified of the hearing, and The dispositive part of respondent appellate court's judgment provided as follows:
after receiving the testimony of the three instrumental witnesses to the decedent's last will,
ACCORDINGLY, the writ of prohibition will issue, commanding and directing the respondent
namely Atty. Florencio Albino, Dr. Guillermo A. Picache and Dr. Jose P. Ojeda, and of the
Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IX, Quezon City, and the respondent Judge Damaso
notary public, Atty. Braulio A. Arriola, Jr., who ratified the said last will, and the documentary
B. Tengco to refrain perpetually from proceeding and taking any action in Special Proceeding
evidence (such as the decedent's residence certificates, income tax return, diplomatic
Q-7898 pending before the said respondent court. All orders heretofore issued and actions
passport, deed of donation) all indicating that the decedent was a resident of 69 Pi y Margal
heretofore taken by said respondent court and respondent Judge, therein and connected
St., Quezon City, as also affirmed by him in his last will, the Quezon City court in its
therewith, are hereby annulled. The writ of injunction heretofore issued is hereby made
said order of 15 May 1964 admitted to probate the late senator's last will and testament as
permanent. No pronouncement as to costs.
having been "freely and voluntarily executed by the testator" and "with all formalities of the
law" and appointed petitioner-widow as executrix of his estate without bond "following the Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a resolution of respondent Court of
desire of the testator" in his will as probated. Appeals, dated 8 July 1965; hence the herein petition for review on certiorari.
Instead of appealing from the Quezon City court's said order admitting the will to probate and The principal and decisive issue at bar is, theretofore, whether the appellate court erred in
naming petitioner-widow as executrix thereof, respondents filed a special civil action law in issuing the writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court ordering it to refrain
of certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction with respondent Court of Appeals perpetually from proceeding with the testateproceedings and annulling and setting aside all
(docketed as case CA-G.R. No. 34104-R) to bar the Rizal court from proceeding with case its orders and actions, particularly its admission to probate of the decedent's last will and
No. Q-7898. testament and appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof without bond in compliance
with the testator's express wish in his testament. This issue is tied up with the issue submitted
On 21 November 1964, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision in favor of respondents
to the appellate court, to wit, whether the Quezon City court acted without jurisdiction or with
(petitioners therein) and against the herein petitioner, holding that:
grave abuse of discretion in taking cognizance and assuming exclusive jurisdiction over the
Section 1, Rule 73, which fixes the venue in proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a probate proceedings filed with it, in pursuance of the Cebu court's order of 10 April 1964
deceased person, covers both testate and intestate proceedings. Sp. Proc. 2433-R of the expressly consenting in deference to the precedence of probate over intestate proceedings
Cebu CFI having been filed ahead, it is that court whose jurisdiction was first invoked and that it (the Quezon City court) should first act "on the petition for probate of the document
which first attached. It is that court which can properly and exclusively pass upon the factual purporting to be the last will and testament of the deceased Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco" -
issues of (1) whether the decedent left or did not leave a valid will, and (2) whether or not the which order of the Cebu court respondents never questioned nor challenged by prohibition
decedent was a resident of Cebu at the time of his death. or certiorari proceedings and thus enabled the Quezon City court to proceed without any

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impediment or obstruction, once it denied respondent Lourdes Cuenco's motion to dismiss consider such question of residence as one affecting the jurisdiction of the trial court over the
the probate proceeding for alleged lack of jurisdiction or improper venue, toproceed with the subject-matter, the effect shall be that the whole proceedings including all decisions on the
hearing of the petition and to admit the will to probate upon having been satisfied as to its due different incidents which have arisen in court will have to be annulled and the same case will
execution and authenticity. have to be commenced anew before another court of the same rank in another province. That
The Court finds under the above-cited facts that the appellate court erred in law in issuing the this is of mischievous effect in the prompt administration of justice is too obvious to require
writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court from proceeding with the testate proceedings comment. (Cf. Tanunchuan vs. Dy Buncio & Co., G.R. No. 48206, December 31, 1942)
and annulling and setting aside all its orders and actions, particularly its admission to probate Furthermore, section 600 of Act No. 190, 10 providing that the estate of a deceased person
of the deceased's last will and testament and appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof shall be settled in the province where he had last resided, could not have been intended as
without bond pursuant to the deceased testator's express wish, for the following defining the jurisdiction of the probate court over the subject-matter, because such legal
considerations: provision is contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with procedural matters, and, as
we have said time and again, procedure is one thing and jurisdiction over the subject matter
1. The Judiciary Act 7 concededly confers original jurisdiction upon all Courts of First Instance
is another. (Attorney-General vs. Manila Railroad Company, 20 Phil. 523.) The law of
over "all matter of probate, both of testate and intestate estates." On the other hand, Rule 73,
jurisdiction Act No. 136, 11 Section 56, No. 5 confers upon Courts of First Instance
section of the Rules of Court lays down the rule of venue, as the very caption of the Rule
jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of the place of residence of the deceased.
indicates, and in order to prevent conflict among the different courts which otherwise may
Since, however, there are many courts of First Instance in the Philippines, the Law of
properly assume jurisdiction from doing so, the Rule specifies that "the court first taking
Procedure, Act No. 190, section 600, fixes the venue or the place where each case shall be
cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the
brought. Thus, the place of residence of the deceased is not an element of jurisdiction over
exclusion of all other courts." The cited Rule provides:
the subject-matter but merely of venue. And it is upon this ground that in the new Rules of
Section 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of the Court the province where the estate of a deceased person shall be settled is properly called
Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or "venue".
letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the
It should be noted that the Rule on venue does not state that the court with whom the estate
Province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign
or intestate petition is first filed acquires exclusive jurisdiction.
country, the Court of First Instance of the province in which he had estate. The court first
taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to The Rule precisely and deliberately provides that "the court first taking cognizance of the
the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on settlement of the estateof a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other
the place of residence, of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested courts."
in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when A fair reading of the Rule since it deals with venue and comity between courts of equal and
the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. (Rule 73) 8 co-ordinate jurisdiction indicates that the court with whom the petition is first filed, must
It is equally conceded that the residence of the deceased or the location of his estate also first take cognizance of the settlement of the estate in order to exercise jurisdiction over
is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue. This was lucidly it to the exclusion of all other courts.
stated by the late Chief Justice Moran in Sy Oa vs. Co Ho 9 as follows: Conversely, such court, may upon learning that a petition for probate of the decedent's last
We are not unaware of existing decisions to the effect that in probate cases the place of will has been presented in another court where the decedent obviously had his conjugal
residence of the deceased is regarded as a question of jurisdiction over the subject-matter. domicile and resided with his surviving widow and their minor children, and that the allegation
But we decline to follow this view because of its mischievous consequences. For instance, a of the intestate petition before it stating that the decedent died intestate may be actually false,
probate case has been submitted in good faith to the Court of First Instance of a province may decline to take cognizance of the petition and hold the petition before it in abeyance, and
where the deceased had not resided. All the parties, however, including all the creditors, have instead defer to the second court which has before it the petition for probate of the decedent's
submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the court and the case is therein completely alleged last will.
finished except for a claim of a creditor who also voluntarily filed it with said court but on 2. This exactly what the Cebu court did. Upon petitioner-widow's filing with it a motion to
appeal from an adverse decision raises for the first time in this Court the question of dismiss Lourdes' intestate petition, it issued its order holding in abeyance its action on the
jurisdiction of the trial court for lack of residence of the deceased in the province. If we dismissal motion and deferred to the Quezon City court, awaiting its action on the petition

Page 7 of 85
for probate before that court. Implicit in the Cebu court's order was that if the will was duly jurisdiction, testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person take
admitted to probate, by the Quezon City court, then it would definitely decline to take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus it has been held
cognizance of Lourdes' intestate petition which would thereby be shown to be false and repeatedly that, if in the course of intestate proceedings pending before a court of first
improper, and leave the exercise of jurisdiction to the Quezon City court, to the exclusion of instance it is found that the decedent had left a last will, proceedings for the probate of the
all other courts. Likewise by its act of deference, the Cebu court left it to the Quezon City latter should replace the intestate proceedings even if at that state an administrator had
court to resolve the question between the parties whether the decedent's residence at the already been appointed, the latter being required to render final account and turn over the
time of his death was in Quezon City where he had his conjugal domicile rather than in Cebu estate in his possession to the executor subsequently appointed. This however, is
City as claimed by respondents. The Cebu court thus indicated that it would decline to take understood to be without prejudice that should the alleged last will be rejected or is
cognizance of the intestate petition before it and instead defer to the Quezon City disapproved, the proceeding shall continue as an intestacy. As already adverted to, this is a
court, unless the latter would make a negative finding as to the probate petition and the clear indication that proceedings for the probate of a will enjoy priority over intestate
residence of the decedent within its territory and venue. proceedings. 14
3. Under these facts, the Cebu court could not be held to have acted without jurisdiction or The Court likewise therein upheld the jurisdiction of the second court, (in this case, the
with grave abuse of jurisdiction in declining to take cognizance of the intestate petition and Quezon City court) although opining that certain considerations therein "would seem to
deferring to the Quezon City court. support the view that [therein respondent] should have submitted said will for probate to the
Necessarily, neither could the Quezon City court be deemed to have acted without jurisdiction Negros Court, [in this case, the Cebu court] either in a separate special proceeding or in an
in taking cognizance of and acting on the probate petition since under Rule 73, section 1, the appropriate motion for said purpose filed in the already pending Special Proceeding No.
Cebu court must first take cognizance over the estate of the decedent and must exercise 6344," 15 thus:
jurisdiction to exclude all other courts, which the Cebu court declined to do. Furthermore, as But the fact is that instead of the aforesaid will being presented for probate to the Negros
is undisputed, said rule only lays down a rule of venue and the Quezon City court Court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed the petition for the purpose with the Manila Court. We can
indisputably had at least equal and coordinate jurisdiction over the estate. not accept petitioner's contention in this regard that the latter court had no jurisdiction to
Since the Quezon City court took cognizance over the probate petition before it and assumed consider said petition, albeit we say that it was not the proper venue therefor.
jurisdiction over the estate, with the consent and deference of the Cebu court, the Quezon It is well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely a waivable procedural defect,
City court should be left now, by the same rule of venue of said Rule 73, to exercise and, in the light of the circumstances obtaining in the instant case, we are of the opinion, and
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. so hold, that petitioner has waived the right to raise such objection or is precluded from doing
Under the facts of the case and where respondents submitted to the Quezon City court so by laches. It is enough to consider in this connection that petitioner knew of the existence
their opposition to probate of the will, but failed to appear at the scheduled hearing of a will executed by Juan Uriarte y Goite since December 19, 1961 when Higinio Uriarte filed
despite due notice, the Quezon City court cannot be declared, as the appellate court did, to his opposition to the initial petition filed in Special Proceeding No. 6344; that petitioner
have acted without jurisdiction in admitting to probate the decedent's will and appointing likewise was served with notice of the existence (presence) of the alleged last will in the
petitioner-widow as executrix thereof in accordance with the Philippines and of the filing of the petition for its probate with the Manila Court since August
testator's testamentary disposition. 28, 1962 when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed a motion for the dismissal of Special Proceeding
No. 6344. All these notwithstanding, it was only on April 15, 1963 that he filed with the Manila
4. The relatively recent case of Uriarte vs. Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental 12 with
Court in Special Proceeding No. 51396 an Omnibus motion asking for leave to intervene and
facts analogous to the present case 13 is authority against respondent appellate court's
for the dismissal and annulment of all the proceedings had therein up to that date; thus
questioned decision.
enabling the Manila Court not only to appoint an administrator with the will annexed but also
In said case, the Court upheld the doctrine of precedence of probate proceedings over to admit said will to probate more than five months earlier, or more specifically, on October
intestate proceedings in this wise: 31, 1962. To allow him now to assail the exercise of jurisdiction over the probate of the will by
It can not be denied that a special proceeding intended to effect the distribution of the estate the Manila Court and the validity of all the proceedings had in Special Proceeding No. 51396
of a deceased person, whether in accordance with the law on intestate succession or in would put a premium on his negligence. Moreover, it must be remembered that this Court is
accordance with his will, is a "probate matter" or a proceeding for the settlement of his not inclined to annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter was not
estate. It is equally true, however, that in accordance with settled jurisprudence in this the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be to have the same proceedings repeated

Page 8 of 85
in some other court of similar jurisdiction; more so in a case like the present where the already so determined Quezon City as the actual residence at the Cebu court's behest and
objection against said proceedings is raised too late. 16 respondents have not seriously questioned this factual finding based on documentary
5. Under Rule 73, section 1 itself, the Quezon City court's assumption of jurisdiction over the evidence) and if the Cebu court should likewise determine Quezon City as the actual
decedent's estate on the basis of the will duly presented for probate by petitioner-widow and residence, or its contrary finding reversed on appeal, only then to allow petitioner-widow after
finding that Quezon City was the first choice of residence of the decedent, who had his years of waiting and inaction to institute the corresponding proceedings in Quezon City.
conjugal home and domicile therein with the deference in comity duly given by the Cebu 7. With more reason should the Quezon City proceedings be upheld when it is taken into
court could not be contested except by appeal from said court in the original case. The last consideration that Rule 76, section 2 requires that the petition for allowance of a will must
paragraph of said Rule expressly provides: show: "(a) the jurisdictional facts." Such "jurisdictional facts" in probate proceedings, as held
... The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the by the Court in Fernando vs. Crisostomo 18 " are the death of the decedent, his residence at
decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or the time of his death in the province where the probate court is sitting, or if he is an inhabitant
proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of of a foreign country, his having left his estate in such province."
jurisdiction appears on the record. (Rule 73) This tallies with the established legal concept as restated by Moran that "(T)he probate of a
The exception therein given, viz, "when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record" could will is a proceeding in rem. The notice by publication as a pre-requisite to the allowance of a
probably be properly invoked, had such deference in comity of the Cebu court to the Quezon will, is a constructive notice to the whole world, and when probate is granted, the judgment of
City court not appeared in the record, or had the record otherwise shown that the Cebu court the court is binding upon everybody, even against the State. The probate of a will by a court
had taken cognizance of the petition before it and assumed jurisdiction. having jurisdiction thereof is conclusive as to its due execution and validity." 19 The Quezon
City court acted regularly within its jurisdiction (even if it were to be conceded that Quezon
6. On the question that Quezon City established to be the residence of the late senator, the
City was not the proper venue notwithstanding the Cebu court's giving way and deferring to
appellate court while recognizing that "the issue is a legitimate one" held in reliance on Borja
it,) in admitting the decedent's last will to probate and naming petitioner-widow as executrix
vs. Tan 17 that.
thereof. Hence, the Quezon city court's action should not be set aside by a writ of prohibition
... The issue of residence comes within the competence of whichever court is considered to for supposed lack of jurisdiction as per the appellate court's appealed decision, and should
prevail in the exercise jurisdiction - in this case, the Court of First Instance of Cebu as held by instead be sustained in line with Uriarte, supra, where the Court, in dismissing
this Court. Parenthetically, we note that the question of the residence of the deceased is a the certiorari petition challenging the Manila court's action admitting the decedent's will to
serious one, requiring both factual and legal resolution on the basis of ample evidence to be probate and distributing the estate in accordance therewith in the second proceeding, held
submitted in the ordinary course of procedure in the first instance, particularly in view of the that "it must be remembered that this Court is not inclined to annul proceedings regularly had
fact that the deceased was better known as the Senator from Cebu and the will purporting to in a lower court even if the latter was not the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be
be his also gives Cebu, besides Quezon City, as his residence. We reiterate that this matter to have the same proceedings repeated in some other court of similar jurisdiction." As
requires airing in the proper court, as so indicated in the leading and controlling case of Borja stressed by Chief Justice Moran in Sy Oa, supra, "the mischievous effect in the
vs. Hon. Bienvenido Tan, et al., G.R. L-7792, July 27, 1955. administration of justice" of considering the question of residence as affecting the jurisdiction
In the case at bar, however, the Cebu court declined to take cognizance of of the trial court and annulling the whole proceedings only to start all over again the same
the intestate petition first filed with it and deferred to the testate proceedings filed with the proceedings before another court of the same rank in another province "is too obvious to
Quezon City court and in effect asked the Quezon City court to determine the residence of require comment."
the decedent and whether he did leave a last will and testament upon which would depend 8. If the question of jurisdiction were to be made to depend only on who of the decedent's
the proper venue of the estate proceedings, Cebu or Quezon City. The Quezon City court relatives gets first to file a petition for settlement of the decedent's estate, then the
having thus determined in effect for both courts at the behest and with the deference and established jurisprudence of the Court that Rule 73, section 1 provides only a rule of venue in
consent of the Cebu court that Quezon City was the actual residence of the decedent who order to preclude different courts which may properly assume jurisdiction from doing so and
died testate and therefore the proper venue, the Borja ruling would seem to have no creating conflicts between them to the detriment of the administration of justice, and that
applicability. It would not serve the practical ends of justice to still require the Cebu court, if venue is waivable, would be set at naught. As between relatives who unfortunately do not see
the Borja ruling is to be held applicable and as indicated in the decision under review, to eye to eye, it would be converted into a race as to who can file the petition faster in the court
determine for itself the actual residence of the decedent (when the Quezon City court had of his/her choice regardless of whether the decedent is still in cuerpo presente and in

Page 9 of 85
disregard of the decedent's actual last domicile, the fact that he left a last will and testament thus leaving the latter free (pursuant to the Cebu court's order of deference) to exercise
and the right of his surviving widow named as executrix thereof. Such dire consequences jurisdiction and admit the decedent's will to probate.
were certainly not intended by the Rule nor would they be in consonance with public policy For the same reasons, neither could the Quezon City court be held to have acted without
and the orderly administration of justice. jurisdiction nor with grave abuse of discretion in admitting the decedent's will to probate and
9. It would finally be unjust and inequitable that petitioner-widow, who under all the applicable appointing petitioner as executrix in accordance with its testamentary disposition, in the light
rules of venue, and despite the fact that the Cebu court (where respondent Lourdes Cuenco of the settled doctrine that the provisions of Rule 73, section 1 lay down only a rule of venue,
had filed an intestate petition in the Cebu court earlier by a week's time on 5 March not of jurisdiction.
1964) deferred to the Quezon City court where petitioner had within fifteen days (on March Since respondents undisputedly failed to appeal from the Quezon City court's order of May
12, 1964) after the decedent's death (on February 25, 1964) timely filed the decedent's last 15, 1964 admitting the will to probate and appointing petitioner as executrix thereof, and said
will and petitioned for letters testamentary and is admittedly entitled to preference in the court concededly has jurisdiction to issue said order, the said order of probate has long since
administration of her husband's estate, 20 would be compelled under the appealed decision to become final and can not be overturned in a special civic action of prohibition.
have to go all the way to Cebu and submit anew the decedent's will there for probate either in
11. Finally, it should be noted that in the Supreme Court's exercise of its supervisory authority
a new proceeding or by asking that the intestate proceedings be converted into
over all inferior courts, 22 it may properly determine, as it has done in the case at bar,
a testate proceeding when under the Rules, the proper venue for the testate proceedings,
that venue was properly assumed by and transferredto the Quezon City court and that it is
as per the facts of record and as already affirmed by the Quezon City court is Quezon City,
the interest of justice and in avoidance of needless delay that the Quezon City court's
where the decedent and petitioner-widow had their conjugal domicile.
exercise of jurisdiction over the testate estate of the decedent (with the due deference and
It would be an unfair imposition upon petitioner as the one named and entitled to be executrix consent of the Cebu court) and its admission to probate of his last will and testament and
of the decedent's last will and settle his estate in accordance therewith, and a disregard of appointment of petitioner-widow as administratrix without bond in pursuance of the
her rights under the rule on venue and the law on jurisdiction to require her to spend much decedent's express will and all its orders and actions taken in the testate proceedings before
more time, money and effort to have to go from Quezon City to the Cebu court everytime she it be approved and authorized rather than to annul all such proceedings regularly had and to
has an important matter of the estate to take up with the probate court. repeat and duplicate the same proceedings before the Cebu court only to revert once more to
It would doubly be an unfair imposition when it is considered that under Rule 73, section the Quezon City court should the Cebu court find that indeed and in fact, as already
2, 21 since petitioner's marriage has been dissolved with the death of her husband, their determined by the Quezon City court on the strength of incontrovertible documentary
community property and conjugal estate have to be administered and liquidated in the estate evidence of record, Quezon City was the conjugal residence of the decedent.
proceedings of the deceased spouse. Under the appealed decision, notwithstanding that ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered reversing the appealed decision and resolution
petitioner resides in Quezon City, and the proper venue of the testate proceeding was in of the Court of Appeals and the petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary
Quezon City and the Quezon City court properly took cognizance and exercised exclusive injunction originally filed by respondents with the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 34104-R) is
jurisdiction with the deference in comity and consent of the Cebu court, such proper exercise ordered dismissed. No costs.
of jurisdiction would be nullified and petitioner would have to continually leave her residence
Makalintal, C.J., Zaldivar, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.
in Quezon City and go to Cebu to settle and liquidate even her own community property and
conjugal estate with the decedent. Fernando and Castro, JJ., took no part.

10. The Court therefore holds under the facts of record that the Cebu court did not act without
jurisdiction nor with grave abuse of discretion in declining to take cognizance of
the intestate petition and instead deferring to the testate proceedings filed just a week later by
petitioner as surviving widow and designated executrix of the decedent's last will, since the
record before it (the petitioner's opposition and motion to dismiss) showed the falsityof the
allegation in the intestate petition that the decedent had died without a will. It is noteworthy
that respondents never challenged by certiorari or prohibition proceedings the Cebu court's
order of 10 April 1964 deferring to the probate proceedings before the Quezon City court,

Page 10 of 85
G.R. No. L-44888 February 7, 1992
PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM CORPORATION, petitioner,
vs.
FIDEL P. DUMLAO, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Agusan Del Norte and
Butuan City, BONIFACIO CANONOY, Judicial Administrator of the Estate of Regino
Canonoy, CARMEN VDA. DE CANONOY, TEODULO CANONOY, REGINO CANONOY,
JR., MARIANITA CANONOY GUINTO and GLORIA CANONOY BASA, respondents.
Dominguez & Paderna Law Offices Co. for petitioner.
Wenceslao B. Rosales for private respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


Brought to focus in this petition are the following issues: (a) whether the jurisdictional facts
that need to be stated in a petition for letters of administration under Section 2(a), Rule 79 of

Page 11 of 85
the Rules of Court include the specific assertion that the petitioner therein is an "interested estate. 5 On 12 May 1975, the administrator filed his Reply to the Opposition to Motion to
person," and (b) whether the administration court may properly and validly dismiss a petition Dismiss. 6 On 25 May 1975, he filed an Answer to the amended claim filed by Shell. 7 In the
for letters of administration filed by one who is not an "interested person" after having said Answer, he interposes compulsory counterclaims for the estate in the amount of
appointed an heir of the decedent as administrator of the latter's intestate estate and set for P659,423.49 representing rentals for land occupied by the Shell Service Station, lighting
pre-trial a claim against the said estate allowances, allowances for salaries and wages of service attendants, sales commission due
Ricardo M. Gonzalez, District Manager of Shell Philippines, Inc. for Mindanao (hereinafter the deceased Regino Canonoy and reasonable attorney's fees. Petitioner filed an answer to
referred to as Shell), filed on 8 January 1973 a petition entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate the Counterclaim.
Estate of the Deceased Regino Canonoy, Petition for Letters of Administration, Ricardo M. Upon joinder of the issues on Shell's claim, the trial court, this time presided over by
Gonzalez, Petitioner" with the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of respondent Judge Fidel P. Dumlao, set the pre-trial for 15 August 1975. 8 This was later re-
Agusan del Norte and Butuan City, praying therein that he be appointed judicial administrator set to 23 September 1975. 9
of the estate of the deceased Regino Canonoy. The case was docketed as SP PROC. No. On 18 August 1975, petitioner filed a motion to require the judicial administrator to file an
343 and was raffled to Branch II of the trial court. inventory of the properties of the deceased. 10
On 27 January 1973, Judge Vicente B. Echavez, Jr. of Branch II issued an Order (1) setting At the pre-trial held on 23 September 1975, counsel for the administrator requested for time
the hearing on the petition for 23 March 1973 at 8:30 a.m.; (2) directing that the order be to file a Motion to Dismiss the case. In an Order issued on that date, the court granted him
published, at petitioner's expense, once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a ten (10) days to file the motion; opposing counsel was likewise given ten (10) days from
newspaper with a nationwide circulation published regularly by a government agency or receipt of the same to file whatever pleading he may deem proper to file, after which the
entity, or in any newspaper published and edited in any part of the country which is in motion shall be deemed submitted for resolution. 11 The motion was filed on 30 September
operation during the existence of the present national emergency and of general circulation in 1975. It alleges that the court did not acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter and nature
the province of Agusan del Norte and in Butuan City, if any there be; and (3) ordering that thereof because the petitioner therein, Mr. Gonzalez, is not the "interested person"
copies of the order be sent by registered mail or personal delivery, at the petitioner's expense, contemplated by Section 2, Rule 79 of the Rules of Court. 12 Shell filed its Opposition to the
to each of all the known heirs of the deceased Regino Canonoy, within the periods prescribed Motion on 16 October 1975 13 on the ground that the trial court had acquired jurisdiction over
by Section 4, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court. 1 the case to issue letters of administration as the interest of Gonzalez in the estate is not a
In their Opposition to the issuance of letters of administration to Gonzalez filed on 21 March jurisdictional fact that needs to be alleged in the petition. If at all, Gonzalez' lack of interest in
1973, 2 private respondents, who are heirs of Regino Canonoy, allege that: Gonzalez "is a the estate of the deceased only affected his competence to be appointed administrator. In an
complete stranger to the intestate estate" of Regino Canonoy; he is "not even a creditor" of Order dated 8 November 1975, respondent Judge, finding the motion to be well-taken and
the estate; he is a resident of Davao City and thus if appointed as administrator of the estate, meritorious, dismissed the case. 14 The motion for its reconsideration having been denied by
the bulk of which is located in Butuan City, "he would not be able to perform his duties the trial court on 23 January
efficiently;" and he is an employee of Shell Philippines, Inc., an alleged creditor of the estate, 1976, 15 Shell filed the instant petition which it denominated as a petition for review
and so "he would not be able to properly and effectively protect the interest of the estate in on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
case of conflicts." They, however, "propose" and pray that since Bonifacio Canonoy, one of In the Resolution dated 6 December 1976, this Court required the respondents to comment
Regino's sons, enjoys preference in appointment pursuant to Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules on the petition; 16 the latter complied with the same on 31 January 1977. 17 Thereafter, on 7
of Court, he should "be appointed administrator of the said intestate estate and the February 1977, this Court resolved, inter alia, to treat the petition for review as a special civil
corresponding letters of administration be issued in his favor." action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court and require the parties to submit their respective
On 25 July 1973, after due hearing, the trial court appointed Bonifacio Canonoy as Memoranda; 18 petitioner filed its Memorandum on 4 April 1977 19 while the respondents filed
administrator of the intestate estate of Regino Canonoy, 3 having found him competent to act theirs on 3 June 1977. 20
as such. None of the parties moved to reconsider this order or appealed therefrom. On 23 The petition is impressed with merit; it must perforce be granted.
November 1973, herein petitioner Shell, then known as Shell Philippines, Inc., filed its claim
Under the peculiar circumstances of the case, the trial court clearly acted with grave abuse of
against the estate of the deceased Regino Canonoy. The duly appointed administrator,
discretion when it dismissed SP PROC. No. 343 after having set for pre-trial petitioner's
Bonifacio Canonoy, filed on 9 October 1974 a Motion to Dismiss the claim of Shell 4 which the
amended claim against the estate. That said dismissal was predicated solely on the ground
latter contested by filing an Opposition. Shell likewise filed an amended claim against the

Page 12 of 85
that petitioner therein, Ricardo Gonzalez, is not an "interested person," and that, since such did not ask for the dismissal of the petition but merely opposed the issuance of letters of
interest is a jurisdictional requirement, the trial court acquired no jurisdiction over the case, administration in favor of Gonzalez because, among other reasons, he is a stranger to the
serves only to compound the error. estate. The Opposition also proposed that Bonifacio Canonoy, one of the children of the
1. Section 2, Rule 79 of the Rules of Court provides: deceased Regino Canonoy, be appointed administrator of the latter's intestate estate. The
failure to move for a dismissal amounted to a waiver of the above-mentioned ground. Section
xxx xxx xxx
8, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court provides that:
Sec. 2. Contents of petition of letters of administration. A petition for letters of
A motion attacking a pleading or a proceeding shall include all objections then available, and
administration must be filed by an interested person and must show, so far as known to the
all objections not so included shall be deemed waived.
petitioner:
However, if a motion to dismiss is not filed, as what obtains in this case, any of the grounds
(a) The jurisdictional facts;
available for such a motion, except for improper venue, may be pleaded as an affirmative
(b) The names, ages, and residences of the heirs, and the names and residences of the defense, and a preliminary hearing thereon may be had as if a motion to dismiss had been
creditors, of the decedent; filed. 28 Excepted from the above rules are the following grounds: (a) failure to state a cause
(c) The probable value and character of the property of the estate; of action which may be alleged in a later pleading if one is permitted, or by a motion for
(d) The name of the person for whom letters of administration are prayed. judgment on the pleadings, or at the trial on the merits; and (b) lack of jurisdiction over the
But no defect in the petition shall render void the issuance of letters of administration. subject matter of the action, 29 subject to the exception as hereinafter discussed.

xxx xxx xxx In Insurance Company of North America vs. C.F. Sharp & Co., Inc., 30 this Court ruled:

The jurisdictional facts alluded to are: the death of the testator, his residence at the time of his Finally, appellant would contend that plaintiff has no capacity to sue and is not the real party
death in the province where the probate court is sitting or, if he is an inhabitant of a foreign in interest. It is now too late to raise these objections here. These should have been asserted
country, his having left his estate in such province. 21 These facts are amply enumerated in in the motion to dismiss filed by defendant below. Not having been included therein, they are
the petition filed by Gonzalez. 22 The fact of death of the intestate and of his residence within now barred by the rule on omnibus motion.
the country are foundation facts upon which all the subsequent proceedings in the By proposing that Bonifacio Canonoy be appointed as administrator instead of Mr. Gonzalez,
administration of the estate rest, and that if the intestate was not an inhabitant of the state at private respondents have in fact approved or ratified the filing of the petition by the latter.
the time of his death, and left no assets in the state, and none came into it afterwards, no In Eusebio vs. Valmores, 31 We held that:
jurisdiction is conferred on the court to grant letters of administration in any county. 23 Clearly, xxx xxx xxx
the allegation that a petitioner seeking letters of administration is an interested person, does
The evidence submitted in the hearing does not satisfactorily prove that the petitioner was
not fall within the enumeration of jurisdictional facts. Of course, since the opening sentence of
legally adopted; hence, he did not have any interest in the properties of the deceased Rosalia
the section requires that the petition must be filed by an interested person, it goes without
Saquitan. Under ordinary circumstances, such defect would authorize the dismissal of the
saying that a motion to dismiss may lie not on the basis of lack of jurisdiction on the part of
proceedings especially in view of the fact that the surviving spouse of Rosalia Saquitan had
the court, but rather on the ground of lack of legal capacity to institute the proceedings.
filed an affidavit of adjudication under the provisions of Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Rules.
This is precisely what happened in Saguinsin vs. Lindayag, 24 where the dismissal of a Counsel for Domingo Valmores, however, had not objected to the application for the
petition for letters of administration was affirmed because the petitioner "is not an heir of her appointment of an administrator; he only objected to the appointment of the said stranger
deceased sister and, therefore, has no material and direct interest in her estate." 25 In the said Eulogio Eusebio as administrator, claiming to have the right as surviving spouse to be
case, this Court defined an interested party as one who would be benefited by the estate, appointed as such administrator. By this act of Domingo Valmores, surviving spouse of the
such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor; this interest deceased, therefore, the fatal defect in the petition may be considered, as cured. In other
must be material and direct, not merely indirect or contingent. 26 words, the filing of the petition for the appointment of an administrator may be considered as
The Saguinsin doctrine is not, however, without exception. An objection to a petition for letters having been ratified by the surviving husband, Domingo Valmores, and for this reason the
of administration on that ground may be barred by waiver or estoppel. proceedings may not be dismissed.
Private respondents herein did not file a motion to dismiss the petition filed by Gonzalez on
the ground of lack of capacity to sue; 27 they instead filed an Opposition which, unfortunately,

Page 13 of 85
2. There can be no dispute that the trial court had acquired jurisdiction over SP PROC. No. court had jurisdiction either of the subject-matter of the action or of the parties was not
343. Immediately after the filing of the case, the trial court complied with Section 3, Rule 79 of important in such cases because the party is barred from such conduct not because the
the Rules of Court by issuing the Order dated 27 January 1973. At the initial hearing on 25 judgment or order of the court is valid and conclusive as an adjudication, but for the reason
July 1973, petitioner Gonzalez established the jurisdictional requirements by submitting in that such a practice can not be tolerated obviously for reasons of public policy.
evidence proof of publication and service of notices of the petition. Thereafter, it heard the Furthermore, it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting a cause and encountering
evidence on the qualifications and competence of Bonifacio Canonoy, then appointed him as an adverse decision on the merits, it is too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or
the administrator and finally directed that letters of administration be issued to him, and that power of the court (Pease vs. Rathbun-Jones etc., 243 U.S. 273, 61 L. Ed. 715, 37 S. Ct.
he takes his oath of office after putting up a surety or property bond in the amount of 283; St. Louis etc. vs. McBride, 141 U.S. 127, 35 L. Ed. 659). And in Littleton vs. Burgess, 16
P5,000.00. 32 Wyo. 58, the Court said that it is not right for a party who has affirmed and invoked the
It is be presumed that Bonifacio Canonoy immediately qualified as administrator because in jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to secure an affirmative relief, to afterwards deny
that capacity, he filed a motion to dismiss petitioner's claim against the estate, 33 a Reply to that same jurisdiction to escape a penalty.
the Opposition to the motion to dismiss 34 and an Answer to the petitioner's amended claim The respondent Judge should have lent his ears to Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy instead of
against the estate wherein he interposed a counterclaim, 35 praying thus: peremptorily granting the motion to dismiss in an Order which does not even care to expound
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court to dismiss the above- on why the court found the said motion to be meritorious. He exhibited undue haste in
mentioned "Amended Claim Against the Estate" and to order the claimant to pay into the removing the case from his docket and in abdicating judicial authority and responsibility.
intestate estate of Regino Canonoy the said sum of P659,423.49, together with the interest Howsoever viewed, he committed grave abuse of discretion.
thereon at the legal rate beginning from the date hereof, the reasonable attorney's fees for WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED and the Order of respondent Judge
the prosecution of this counterclaim, and costs; of 8 November 1975 in SP PROC. No. 343 is hereby SET ASIDE. The court below is further
OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, in the event that any sum is found due from and payable by the ordered to hear and decide petitioner's claim against the estate in said case, unless
said intestate estate of Regino Canonoy in favor of the said claimant, the said amount be supervening events had occurred making it unnecessary, and to conduct therein further
deducted from the above-mentioned sum and, thereafter, to order the claimant to pay the proceedings pursuant to the Rules of Court until the case is closed and terminated.
balance remaining unto the said intestate estate of Regino Canonoy, together with interest Costs against private respondents.
thereon at the legal rate beginning from date hereof, the reasonable attorney's fees for the
IT IS SO ORDERED.
prosecution of this counterclaim, and costs.
Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Romero, JJ., concur.
Clearly, therefore, not only had the administrator and the rest of the private respondents
voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court, they even expressly affirmed and [G.R. No. L-9282. May 31, 1956.]
invoked such jurisdiction in praying for reliefs and remedies in their favor, namely: (a) denial EMILIO ADVINCULA, Petitioner, vs. HONORABLE JUDGE JOSE TEODORO, SR., Judge
of Gonzalez' prayer to be appointed as administrator, (b) appointment of Bonifacio Canonoy of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, and ENRIQUE A.
as administrator, (c) denial of petitioner Shell's amended claim against the estate, and (d) the LACSON, Respondents.
granting of the counterclaim. Hence, they cannot now be heard to question the jurisdiction of
the trial court. While it may be true that jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the DECISION
proceedings, a party who has affirmed and invoked it in a particular matter to secure an
CONCEPCION, J.:
affirmative relief cannot be allowed to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape
penalty. Petitioner Emilio Advincula seeks a writ of certiorari, to annul certain orders of the Court of
First Instance of Negros Occidental.
In Tijam, et al. al. vs. Sibonghanoy, et al., 36 this Court held:
Said Petitioner was, on November 22, 1954, appointed, special administrator of the estate of
It has been held that a party can not invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative
his deceased wife, Josefa Lacson Advincula, in special proceeding No. 3245 of said court. In
relief against his opponent and, after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or
due course, he was, on February 12, 1955, appointed regular administrator of said estate.
question that same jurisdiction (Dean vs. Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86 A.L.R. 79). In the case just
After Advincula had qualified as such, the brothers of the deceased, who left no issue,
cited, by way of explaining the rule, it was further said that the question whether (sic) the
submitted to the court, for allowance, a document purporting to be her last will and

Page 14 of 85
testament. Petitioner opposed the probate thereof upon the ground that it did not bear the orders of May 18 and 30, 1955, upon the ground that the same were issued with grave abuse
signature of the deceased; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat the signature thereon, if hers, was of discretion. Upon the filing of a bond by Advincula, we issued, as prayed for in his petition, a
secured through fraud and duress; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand that, the instrument had writ of preliminary injunction restraining Respondent Lacson and his agents from interfering,
not been executed with the requisite formalities. On May 4, 1955, Respondent Enrique molesting and harassing the Petitioner in the administration of the estate of the deceased,
Lacson, one of the brothers of the deceased, filed a motion praying that he be appointed during the pendency of this case.
administrator of said estate, in lieu of Petitioner herein, for the reason that said Respondent is The writ of certiorari prayed for is in order. Lacsons appointment, in lieu of Advincula, as
the executor named in the aforementioned alleged will. On or about May 16, 1955, Attys. administrator of the estate of Josefa Lacson Advincula, is predicated upon the fact that the
Jose Y. Torres and Antonio Lozada, as counsel for Advincula, filed an opposition to said former is named executor in the alleged will of said deceased. The provision therein to this
motion. When the latter was called for hearing on May 18, 1955, Atty. Lozada was served, in effect cannot be enforced, however, until after said document has been allowed to probate,
open court, copy of an amended motion, of Respondent Lacson, for change of administrator, for section 4 of Rule 79 of the Rules of Court provides:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
dated May 14, 1955. It was alleged therein, in addition to the ground set forth in the first
When a will has been proved and allowed, the court shall issue letters testamentary thereon
motion:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
to the person named as executor therein, if he is competent, accepts the trusts, and gives
5. That the present administrator is incompetent, incapable and unsuitable to the discharge bond as required by these rules. (Italics supplied.)
of the trust, he being foreign to the estate, and without changing or removing him as such
Besides, the discovery of a document purporting to be the last will and testament of a
would be disastrous to the estate and to the heirs named in the will of the decedent.
deceased, after the appointment of an administrator of the estate of the latter, upon the
Atty. Lozada asked a postponement of the hearing upon the ground that Advinculas main assumption that he or she had died intestate, does not ipso facto nullify the letters of
counsel, Atty. Torres, was in Manila, but his request was denied. Then, after hearing the administration already issued or even authorize the revocation thereof, until the alleged will
argument of opposing counsel, the court, presided over by Respondent, Honorable Jose has been proved and allowed by the court. Rule 83, section 1, of the Rules of Court, is plain
Teodoro, Sr., Judge, issued, on the same date (May 18, 1955), an order the pertinent parts of and explicit on this point.
which read:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
If after letters of administration have been granted on the estate of a decedent as if he had
The Court, after hearing the oral arguments of both parties, finds the motion for died intestate, his will is proved and allowed by the court, the letters of administration shall be
postponement not well-taken and hereby denies the same; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand revoked and all powers thereunder cease, and the administrator shall forthwith surrender the
finding the motion dated May 4, 1955 as amended by the amended motion dated May 14, letters to the court, end render his account within such time as the court directs. Proceedings
1955, well-founded and the opposition thereto dated May 16, 1955 not well-founded, said for the issuance of letters testamentary or of administration under the will shall be as
motion is hereby granted. hereinbefore provided. (Italics supplied.)
WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice and for the preservation of the property for the heirs, The amended motion for change of administrator endeavored to justify the removal of
the appointment of Emilio Advincula as administrator is hereby revoked and in his stead, Advincula by alleging that he is incompetent, incapable and unsuitable to the discharge of
the Oppositor, Enrique A. Lacson, is hereby appointed administrator of this intestate estate, the trust, he being foreign to the estate of the deceased. By holding, in its order of May 18,
and same may qualify by filing a bond in the sum of P5,000 and taking and subscribing the 1955, that said motion is well-founded with nothing, absolutely nothing else, to indicate
corresponding oath of Office. Once said Enrique A. Lacson has qualified, let letters of the basis of this conclusion Respondent Judge has impliedly adopted the line of argument
administration issue in his favor. followed in the above quoted allegation of the amended motion to change administrator. Said
The former administrator, Emilio Advincula, is hereby ordered to submit within ten (10) days argument is, however, devoid of merit.
from receipt hereof, his final account covering the entire period of his administration and It is untenable from the viewpoint of logic and experience, because a stranger to deceased
should it appear that any deficiency has been incurred by him during his incumbency, his may be competent, capable and fit to administer her estate, in much the same as a member
bond shall answer for said deficiency. of her immediate family could be incompetent, incapable and unfit to do so. At any rate,
Thereupon, Lacson gave the requisite bond, letters of administration was issued to him, and Advincula is not a stranger, either to her or to her estate, he bring her surviving spouse and,
he tried to take possession of the estate of the deceased. A reconsideration of said order of as such, one of her forced heirs (Arts. 887, 888, 892, 893, 894, 897 to 900, and 995 to 1001,
May 18, 1955, having been denied by another order, dated May 30, 1955, Petitioner instituted Civil Code of the Philippines), whether she died testate or intestate. What is more, he is prima
the present action for certiorari, against Lacson and Judge Teodoro, to annul his aforesaid facie entitled to one-half of all property subject to the authority of the administrator of said

Page 15 of 85
estate, apart from his share of the other half thereof, as heir of the deceased, for all property
of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership of which he is its
administrator (Article 165, Civil Code of the Philippines) unless it be proved that it pertains
exclusively to the husband or to the wife (See Articles 160 and 185, Civil Code of the
Philippines). Lastly, Advincula has not been found guilty of any specific act or omission
constituting one of the legal grounds, enumerated in Rule 83, section 2, of the Rules of Court,
for the removal of an executor or administrator. Hence, it is clear that Respondent Judge
exceeded his jurisdiction in removing Advincula and appointing Lacson as administrator of the
estate of the deceased Josefa Lacson Advincula.
Wherefore, the aforementioned orders of Respondent Judge, dated May 8 and 30, 1955, are
reversed, and the writ of preliminary injunction issued in this case hereby made permanent,
with costs against Respondent Enrique A. Lacson. It is SO ORDERED.
Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Jugo, Bautista Angelo, Labrador,
Reyes, J.B.L., and Endencia, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. L-33929. September 2, 1983.]

PHILIPPINE SAVINGS BANK, Petitioner, v. HON. GREGORIO T. LANTIN, Presiding


Judge, Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch VII, and CANDIDO
RAMOS, Respondents.

SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; CREDIT TRANSACTION; CONCURRENCE AND PREFERENCE OF
CREDITS; INSUFFICIENT ASSETS OF DEBTOR RAISES QUESTION OF PREFERENCE
AS WELL AS QUESTION OF CONSEQUENCE IN CONCURRENCE OF CREDITS.
Concurrence of credits occurs when the same specific property of the debtor or all of his
property is subjected to the claims of several creditors. The concurrence of credits raises no
questions of consequence were the value of the property or the value of all assets of the
debtor is sufficient to pay in fall all the creditors. However, it becomes material when said
assets are insufficient for then some creditors of necessity will not be paid or some creditors
will not obtain the full satisfaction of their claims. In this situation, the question of preference
will then arise, that is to say who of the creditors will be paid the all of the others (Caguioa,

Page 16 of 85
Comments and Cases on Civil Law, 1970 ed., Vol. VI, p. 472). annotation, as suggested above, would insure to the benefit of the public, particularly those
who may subsequently wish to buy the property in question or who have a business
2. ID.; ID.; PREFERENCE OF CREDITS; ARTICLES 2249 AND 2242 OF THE NEW CIVIL transaction in connection therewith. It would facilitate the enforcement of a legal statutory
CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES; CONSTRUED. Under the system established by Article right which cannot be barred by laches (See Manila Railroad Co. v. Luzon Stevedoring Co.,
2249 of the civil Code of the Philippines, only taxes and assessments upon immovable 100 Phil. 135).
property enjoy absolute preference. All the remaining specified classes of preferred creditors
under Article 2242 enjoy no priority among themselves. Their credits shall be satisfied pro- 7. ID.; SALE; BUYER IN GOOD FAITH OF REALTY; TAKES IT FEE FROM LIENS AND
rata, i.e., in proportion to the amount of the respective credits. ENCUMBRANCES OTHER THAN STATUTORY LIENS AND THOSE ANNOTATED IN THE
TITLE; CASE AT BAR. Since the action filed by the private respondent is not one which
3. ID.; ID.; ARTICLE 2249 AND 2242 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE; PAIL REQUISITE TO can be considered as "equivalent general liquidation" having the same import as an
THEIR FULL APPLICATION UNDER THE DE BARRETO CASE. Under the De Barreto insolvency or settlement of the decedents estate proceeding, the well established principle
decision, the full application of Articles 2242 and 2249 demands that there must first be some must be applied that a purchaser in good faith and for value takes register land free from liens
proceeding where the class of all the preferred creditors may be bindingly adjudicated, such and encumbrances other than statutory liens and those recorded in the Certificate of Title. It
as insolvency, the settlement of a decedents estate under Rule 87 of the Rules of Court, or Is an limited fact that at the time the deeds of real estate mortgage in favor of the petitioner
other liquidation proceedings of similar import. bank were constituted, the transfer certificate of title of the spouses Tabligan was free from
any recorded lien and encumbrances, so that the only registered liens in the title were deeds
4. REMEDIAL LAW; INSOLVENCY PROCEEDINGS AND SETTLEMENT OF A in favor of the petitioner.
DECEDENTS ESTATE; BOTH PROCEEDINGS IN REM, OTHER EQUIVALENT GENERAL
LIQUIDATION OF SIMILAR NATURE. Insolvency proceedings end settlement of a
decedents estate are both proceedings in rem which are binding the whole world. All persons
having interest in the subject matter involved, whether they were notified or not, are equally
bound. Consequently, a liquidation of similar import or other equivalent general liquidation
must also necessarily be a proceeding in rem so that all interested persons whether known to
the parties or not may be bound by such proceeding. DECISION

3. ID.; ACTION FOR COLLECTION OF UNPAID CONTRACTORS FEE; NOT AN ACTION IN


REM. The proceedings in the court below do not partake of the insure of insolvency GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
proceedings or settlement of a decedents estate. The action filed by Ramos was only to This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch VII,
collect the unpaid cost of the construction of the duplex apartment. It is far from being a presided over by respondent Judge Gregorio T. Lantin, in Civil Case No. 79914 entitled
general liquidation of the estate of the Tabligan spouses. Candido Ramos v. Philippine Savings Bank and of the order denying a motion for its
reconsideration. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
6. CIVIL LAW; CREDIT TRANSACTION; ANNOTATION OF CLAIMS AND CREDITS AS
STATUTORY LIENS; RELEVANCE TO THE STABILITY OF THE TORRENS SYSTEM. In "WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
the case at bar, although the lower court found that "there were no known creditors other than defendant ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P15,000.00 as his pro-rata
the plaintiff and the defendant herein," this cannot be conclusive. It will not bar other creditors share in the value of the duplex-apartment house which was built by the plaintiff for the
in the event they show up and present their claims State petitioner bank, claiming that they spouses likewise Filomeno Tabligan and Socorro Espiritu, which is now registered in the
also have preferred liens against the property involved. Consequently, Transfer Certificate of name of the defendant under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 101864 issued by the Register
Title No. 101864 issued in favor of the bank which is supposed to be indefeasible would of Deeds of the City of Manila, on August 6, 1970, with legal interest from the date of the filing
remain constantly unstable and questionable. Such could not have been the intention of of the complaint until fully paid; to pay the sum of P500.00 as attorneys fees; and to pay the
Article 2243 of the Civil Code although it considers claims and credits under Article 2242 as costs.
statutory liens. Neither does the De Barreto case sanction such instability. In fact, an

Page 17 of 85
"The counterclaim interposed by the defendant is hereby dismissed."cralaw virtua1aw library On August 26, 1968, a decision was rendered in Civil Case No. 69228 in favor of the private
respondent and against the spouses. A writ of execution was accordingly issued but was
Involved in this case is a duplex-apartment house on a lot covered by TCT No. 86195 returned unsatisfied.
situated at San Diego Street, Sampaloc, Manila, and owned by the spouses Filomeno and
Socorro Tabligan. As the spouses did not have any properties to satisfy the judgment in Civil Case No. 69228,
the private respondent addressed a letter to the petitioner for the delivery to him (private
The duplex-apartment house was built for the spouses by private respondent Candido respondent) of his pro-rata share in the value of the duplex-apartment in accordance with
Ramos, a duly licensed architect and building contractor, at a total cost of P32,927.00. The Article 2242 of the Civil Code. The petitioner refused to pay the pro-rata value prompting the
spouses paid private respondent the sum of P7,139.00 only. Hence, the latter used his own private respondent to file the instant action. As earlier stated, a decision was rendered in
money, P25,788.50 in all, to finish the construction of the duplex- favor of the private Respondent.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
apartment.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
The parties are agreed that the only issue is whether or not the private respondent is entitled
Meanwhile, on December 16, 1966, February 1, 1967, and February 28, 1967, the spouses to claim a pro-rata share in the value of the property in question. The applicable provision,
Tabligan obtained from petitioner Philippine Savings Bank three (3) loans in the total amount Article 2242 of the Civil Code, reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
of P35,000.00, the purpose of which was to complete the construction of the duplex-
apartment. To secure payment of the l2oans, the spouses executed in favor of the petitioner "ART. 2242. With reference to specific immovable property and real rights of the debtor, the
three (3) promissory notes and three (3) deeds of real estate mortgages over the property following claims, mortgages and liens shall be preferred, and shall constitute an
subject matter of this litigation. encumbrance on the immovable or real right:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

On December 19, 1966, the petitioner registered the December 16, 1966 deed of real estate "(1) Taxes due upon the land or building;
mortgage with the Register of Deeds of Manila. The subsequent mortgages of February 1,
1967, and February 28, 1967, were registered with the Register of Deeds of Manila on "(2) For the unpaid price of real property sold, upon the immovable sold;
February 2, 1967 and March 1, 1967, respectively. At the time of the registration of these
mortgages, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 86195 was free from all liens and encumbrances. "(3) Claims of laborers, masons, mechanics and other workmen, as well as of architects,
engineers and contractors, engaged in the construction, reconstruction or repair of buildings,
The spouses failed to pay their monthly amortizations. As a result thereof, the petitioner bank canals or other works, upon said buildings, canals or other works;
foreclosed the mortgages, and at the public auction held on July 23, 1969, was the highest
bidder. "(4) Claims of furnishers of materials used in the construction reconstruction, or repair of
buildings, canals or other works upon said buildings, canals or other works;
On August 5, 1969, the petitioner bank registered the certificate of sale issued in its favor. On
August 9, 1970, the bank consolidated its ownership over the property in question, and "(5) Mortgage credits recorded in the Registry of Property, upon the real estate mortgaged;
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 101864 was issued by the Register of Deeds of Manila in the
name of the petitioner bank. "(6) Expenses for the preservation or improvement of real property when the law authorizes
reimbursement, upon the immovable preserved or improved;
Upon the other hand, the private respondent filed an action against the spouses to collect the
unpaid cost of the construction of the duplex-apartment before the Court of First Instance of "(7) Credits annotated in the Registry of Property, in virtue of a judicial order, by attachments
Manila, Branch I, which case was docketed therein as Civil Case No. 69228. During its or executions, upon the property affected, and only as to later credits;
pendency, the private respondent succeeded in obtaining the issuance of a writ of preliminary
attachment, and pursuant thereto, had the property in question attached. Consequently, a "(8) Claims of co-heirs for warranty in the partition of an immovable among them, upon the
notice of adverse claim was annotated at the back of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 86195. real property thus divided;

Page 18 of 85
"(9) Claims of donors of real property for pecuniary charges or other conditions imposed upon bindingly adjudicated, such as insolvency, the settlement of a decedents estate under Rule
the donee, upon the immovable donated; 87 of the Rules of Court, or other liquidation proceedings of similar import.

"(10) Credits of insurers upon the property insured, for the insurance premium for two The pertinent ruling reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
years."cralaw virtua1aw library
"Thus, it becomes evident that one preferred creditors third-party claim to the proceeds of a
Both the petitioner bank and private respondent Ramos rely on the case of De Barreto v. foreclosure sale (as in the case now before us) is not the proceeding contemplated by law for
Villanueva (6 SCRA 928). the enforcement of preferences under Article 2242, unless the claimant were enforcing a
credit for taxes that enjoy absolute priority. If none of the claims is for taxes, a dispute
The petitioner bank would impress upon this Court that the proceedings had before the court between two creditors will not enable the Court to ascertain the pro rata dividend
below is not one of the proceedings contemplated in the De Barreto case that will sustain the corresponding to each because the rights of the other creditors likewise enjoying preference
authority of the respondent court to adjudicate the claims of all preferred creditors under under Article 2242 can not be ascertained. Wherefore, the order of the Court of First Instance
Article 2242 of the Civil Code. Petitioner argues that for Article 2242 of the Civil Code to of Manila now appealed from, decreeing that the proceeds of the foreclosure sale be
apply, there must have been an insolvency proceeding or other liquidation proceedings of apportioned only between appellant and appellee, is incorrect and must be reversed.
similar import. And under the facts then obtaining, there could have been no insolvency
proceeding as there were only two known creditors. ** Consequently, it is argued that private "In the absence of insolvency proceedings (or other equivalent general liquidation of the
respondents unpaid contractors claim did not acquire the character of a statutory lien equal debtors estate), the conflict between the parties now before us must be decided pursuant to
to the petitioners registered mortgage. the well established principle concerning registered lands; that a purchaser in good faith and
for value (as the appellant concededly is) takes registered property free from liens and
Upon the other hand, private respondent Ramos maintains that the proceedings had before encumbrances other then statutory liens and those recorded in the certificate of title. There
the court below can qualify as a general liquidation of the estate of the spouses Tabligan being no insolvency or liquidation, the claim of the appellee, as unpaid vendor, did not acquire
because the only existing property of said spouses is the property subject matter of this the character and rank of a statutory lien co-equal to the mortgagees recorded encumbrance,
litigation.chanrobles virtualawlibrary chanrobles.com:chanrobles.com.ph and must remain subordinate to the latter."cralaw virtua1aw library

Concurrence of credits occurs when the same specific property of the debtor or all of his The resolution of this petition, therefore, hinges on the determination of whether an
property is subjected to the claims of several creditors. The concurrence of credits raises no insolvency proceeding or other liquidation proceeding of similar import may be considered to
questions of consequence where the value of the property or the value of all assets of the have been conducted in the court below.
debtor is sufficient to pay in full all the creditors. However, it becomes material when said
assets are insufficient for then some creditors of necessity will not be paid or some creditors The respondent court ruled in the affirmative holding that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
will not obtain the full satisfaction of their claims. In this situation, the question of preference
will then arise, that is to say who of the creditors will be paid ahead of the others. (Caguioa, "There were no known creditors, other than the plaintiff and defendant herein, and the
Comments and Cases on Civil Law, 1970 ed., Vol. VI, p. 472.) proceedings in the present case may ascertain and bindingly adjudicate the respective claims
of the plaintiff and the defendant, serving as a substantial compliance with what the Supreme
Under the system established by Article 2249 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, only taxes Court stated:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
and assessments upon immovable property enjoy absolute preference. All the remaining
specified classes of preferred creditors under Article 2242 enjoy no priority among ". . . it is thus apparent that the full application of Articles 2242 and 2249 demands that there
themselves. Their credits shall be satisfied pro-rata, i.e., in proportion to the amount of the must be first some proceeding where the claims of all the preferred creditors may be
respective credits. bindingly adjudicated, such as insolvency, the settlement of a decedents estate under Rule
87 of the Rules of Court, or other liquidation proceedings of similar import. (de Barretto v.
Under the De Barreto decision, the full application of Articles 2242 and 2249 demands that Villanueva, Et Al., G.R. No. L-14938, December 29, 1962)."
there must first be some proceeding where the claims of all the preferred creditors may be

Page 19 of 85
A careful considering of this petition leads us to agree with the petitioner. The conclusions of they desire to protect their rights even outside of insolvency or liquidation proceedings.
the lower court are not supported by the law and the facts.
In fact, an annotation, as suggested above, would inure to the benefit of the public,
The proceedings in the court below do not partake of the nature of the insolvency particularly those who may subsequently wish to buy the property in question or who have a
proceedings or settlement of a decedents estate. The action filed by Ramos was only to business transaction in connection therewith. It would facilitate the enforcement of a legal
collect the unpaid cost of the construction of the duplex apartment. It is far from being a statutory right which cannot be barred by laches. (See Manila Railroad Co. v. Luzon
general liquidation of the estate of the Tabligan spouses. Stevedoring Co., 100 Phil. 135).chanrobles law library

Insolvency proceedings and settlement of a decedents estate are both proceedings in rem Respondent Ramos admitted in the partial stipulation of facts submitted by both parties that
which are binding against the whole world. All persons having interest in the subject matter at the time of the loans to the spouses, the petitioners bank had no actual or constructive
involved, whether they were notified or not, are equally bound. Consequently, a liquidation of knowledge of any lien against the property in question. The duplex apartment house was built
similar import or "other equivalent general liquidation must also necessarily be a proceeding for P32,927.00. The spouses Tabligan borrowed P35,000.00 for the construction of the
in rem so that all interested persons whether known to the parties or not may be bound by apartment house. The bank could not have known of any contractors lien because, as far as
such proceeding. it was concerned, it financed the entire construction even if the stated purpose of the loans
was only to "complete" the construction.
In the case at bar, although the lower court found that "there were no known creditors other
than the plaintiff and the defendant herein", this can not be conclusive. It will not bar other Since the action filed by the private respondent is not one which can be considered as
creditors in the event they show up and present their claims against the petitioner bank, "equivalent general liquidation" having the same import as an insolvency or settlement of the
claiming that they also have preferred liens against the property involved. Consequently, decedents estate proceeding, the well established principle must be applied that a purchaser
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 101864 issued in favor of the bank which is supposed to be in good faith and for value takes registered land free from liens and encumbrances other than
indefeasible would remain constantly unstable and questionable. Such could not have been statutory liens and those recorded in the Certificate of Title. It is an admitted fact that at the
the intention of Article 2243 of the Civil Code although it considers claims and credits under time the deeds of real estate mortgage in favor of the petitioner bank were constituted, the
Article 2242 as statutory liens. Neither does the De Barretto case sanction such instability. It transfer certificate of title of the spouses Tabligan was free from any recorded lien and
emphasized the following:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph encumbrances, so that the only registered liens in the title were deeds in favor of the
petitioner.
"We are understandably loath (absent a clear precept of law so commanding) to adopt a rule
that would undermine the faith and credit to be accorded to registered Torrens titles and Prescinding from the foregoing, the private respondents claim must remain subordinate to
nullify the beneficient objectives sought to be obtained by the Land Registration Act. No the petitioner banks title over the property evidenced by TCT No. 101864.
argument is needed to stress that if a person dealing with registered land were to be held to
take it in every instance subject to all the fourteen preferred claims enumerated in Article WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila,
2242 of the new Civil Code, even if the existence and import thereof can not be ascertained Branch VII is, hereby, reversed and set aside. The complaint and the counterclaim are
from the records, all confidence in Torrens titles would be destroyed, and credit transactions dismissed.
on the faith of such titles would be hampered, if not prevented, with incalculable results.
Loans on real estate security would become aleatory and risky transactions, for no SO ORDERED.
prospective lender could accurately estimate the hidden liens on the property offered as
security, unless he indulged in complicated, tedious investigations. The logical result might Teehankee, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez and Relova, JJ., concur.
well be a contraction of credit to unforeseable proportions that could lead to economic
disaster.

"Upon the other hand, it does not appear excessively burdensome to require the privileged
creditors to cause their claims to be recorded in the books of the Register of Deeds should

Page 20 of 85
G.R. No. L-18148 February 28, 1963
DEOGRACIAS BERNARDO, executor of the testate estate of the deceased EUSEBIO
CAPILI; and the instituted heirs, namely: ARMANDO CAPILI and ARTURO BERNARDO,
ET AL., petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and THE HEIRS OF THE LATE
HERMOGENA REYES, namely: FRANCISCO REYES, ET AL., and JOSE ISIDORO, ET
AL., respondents.
BARRERA, J.:
This is a petition by certiorari for the review of the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming
that of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan holding that the probate court in Special
Proceeding 1101 had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the deed of donation in question
and to pass upon the question of title or ownership of the properties mentioned therein.
The facts are briefly stated in the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals as follows:
Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes were husband and wife. The first died on July 27,
1958 and a testate proceeding for the settlement of his estate was instituted in the Court of
the Fist Instance of Bulacan. His will was admitted to probate on October 9, 1958, disposing
of his properties in favor of his widow; his cousins Armando, Ursula, and Buenaventura, all
surnamed Capili; and Arturo, Deogracias and Eduardo, all surnamed Bernardo. Hermogena
Reyes herself died on April 24, 1959. Upon petition of Deogracias Bernardo, executor of the
estate of the deceased Eusebio Capili, she was substituted by her collateral relatives and
intestate heirs, namely, Marcos, Vicente, Francisco and Dominga, all surnamed Reyes; and
Jose, Constancia, Raymunda and Elena, all surnamed Isidoro.

Page 21 of 85
On June 12, 1959, the executor filed a project of partition in the testate proceeding in the claim of the legal heirs of Hermogena Reyes involving title to the properties mentioned in
accordance with the terms of the will, adjudicating the estate of Eusebio Capili among the the will of Eusebio Capili and taking exception to the court's declaration of the nullity of the
testamentary heirs with the exception of Hermogena Reyes, whose share was alloted to her donation "without stating facts or provision of law on which it was based." The motion for new
collateral relatives aforementioned. On June 16, 1959 these relatives filed an opposition to trial was denied in an order dated October 3, 1960.
the executor's project of partition and submitted a counter-project of partition of their own, On appeal to the Court of Appeals the order appealed from being affirmed, petitioners filed
claiming 1/2 of the properties mentioned in the will of the deceased Eusebio Capili on the this present petition for review by certiorari.
theory that they belonged not to the latter alone but to the conjugal partnership of the
The petitioners-appellants contend that the appellate court erred in not declaring that the
spouses.
probate court, having limited and special jurisdiction, had generally no power to adjudicate
The probate court, in two orders dated June 24, 1959 and February 10, 1960, respectively, title and erred in applying the exception to the rule.
set the two projects of partition for hearing, at which evidence was presented by the parties,
In a line of decisions, this Court consistently held that as a general rule, question as to title to
followed by the submission of memoranda discussing certain legal issues. In the
property cannot be passed upon on testate or intestate proceedings," 1 except where one of
memorandum for the executor and the instituted heirs it was contended: (1) that the
the parties prays merely for the inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the property, in
properties disposed of in the will of the deceased Eusebio Capili belonged to him exclusively
which case the probate court may pass provisionally upon the question without prejudice to
and not to the conjugal partnership, because Hermogena Reyes had donated to him her half
its final determination in a separate action. 2 However, we have also held that when the parties
share of such partnership; (2) that the collateral heirs of Hermogena Reyes had no lawful
interested are all heirs of the deceased, it is optional to them to submit to the probate court a
standing or grounds to question the validity of the donation; and (3) that even assuming that
question as to title to property, and when so submitted, said probate court may definitely pass
they could question the validity of the donation, the same must be litigated not in the testate
judgment thereon (Pascual v. Pascual, 73 Phil. 561; Manalac v. Ocampo, et al., 73 Phil. 661);
proceeding but in a separate civil action.
and that with the consent of the parties, matters affecting property under judicial
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and administration may be taken cognizance of by the court in the course of intestate proceeding,
approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to provided interests of third persons are not prejudiced (Cunanan v. Amparo, 80 Phil. 229, 232).
prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1wph1.t
In the light of this doctrine, may it be said correctly that the trial court as well as the Court of
The oppositors and heirs of Hermogena Reyes, on their part, argued that the deed of Appeals erred in upholding the power of the probate court in this case to adjudicate in the
donation itself was determinative of the original conjugal character to the properties, aside testate proceedings, the question as to whether the properties herein involved belong to the
from the legal presumption laid down in Article 160 of the Civil Code, and that since the conjugal partnership of Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes, or to the deceased husband
donation was null and void the deceased Eusebio Capili did not become owner of the share exclusively?
of his wife and therefore could not validly dispose of it in his will.
At the outset, let it be clarified that the matter at issue is not a question of jurisdiction, in the
On September 14, 1960, the probate court, the Honorable M. Mejia presiding, issued an sense advanced by appellants that the trial court had completely no authority to pass upon
order declaring the donation void without making any specific finding as to its juridical nature, the title to the lands in dispute, and that its decision on the subject is null and void and does
that is, whether it was inter vivos or mortis causa, for the reason that, considered under the not bind even those who had invoked its authority and submitted to its decision because, it is
first category, it falls under Article 133 of the Civil Code, which prohibits donations between contended, jurisdiction is a creature of law and parties to an action can not vest, extend or
spouses during the marriage; and considered under the second category, it does not comply broaden it. If appellants' contention is correct, then there can be no exception to the no-
with the formalities of a will as required by Article 728 in relation to Article 805 of the same jurisdiction theory. But as has been stated in the case of Cunanan v. Amparo (supra) the
Code, there being no attestation clause. In the same order the court disapproved both Supreme Court speaking through Mr. Justice Pedro Tuason: "Determination of title to
projects of partition and directed the executor to file another," dividing the property mentioned property is within the jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance. The responding Soriano's
in the last will and testament of the deceased Eusebio Capili and the properties mentioned in objection (that the probate court lacked jurisdiction to order the delivery of the possession of
the deed of donation, Exhibit B, between the instituted heirs of the deceased Eusebio Capili the lots to the estate) relates exclusively to the procedure, which is distinct from jurisdiction. It
and the legal heirs of the deceased Hermogena Reyes, upon the basis that the said affects only personal rights to a mode of practice (the filing of an independent ordinary action)
properties were conjugal properties of the deceased spouses." On September 27, 1960, the which may be waived". Strictly speaking, it is more a question of jurisdiction over the person,
executor filed a motion for new trial, reiterating and emphasizing the contention previously not over the subject matter, for the jurisdiction to try controversies between heirs of a
raised in their memorandum that the probate court had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of

Page 22 of 85
deceased person regarding the ownership of properties alleged to belong to his estate, has thereto, they can not thereafter withdraw either their appearance or the issue from the
been recognized to be vested in probate courts. This is so because the purpose of an jurisdiction of the court. Certainly, there is here a waiver where the parties who raise the
administration proceeding is the liquidation of the estate and distribution of the residue among objection are the ones who set the court in motion. 5 They can not be permitted to complain if
the heirs and legatees. Liquidation means determination of all the assets of the estate and the court, after due hearing, adjudges question against them. 6
payment of all the debts and expenses. 3 Thereafter, distribution is made of the decedent's Finally, petitioners-appellants claim that appellees are estopped to raise the question of
liquidated estate among the persons entitled to succeed him. The proceeding is in the nature ownership of the properties involved because the widow herself, during her lifetime, not only
of an action of partition, in which each party is required to bring into the mass whatever did not object to the inclusion of these properties in the inventory of the assets of her
community property he has in his possession. To this end, and as a necessary corollary, the deceased husband, but also signed an extra-judicial partition of those inventoried properties.
interested parties may introduce proofs relative to the ownership of the properties in dispute. But the very authorities cited by appellants require that to constitute estoppel, the actor must
All the heirs who take part in the distribution of the decedent's estate are before the court, have knowledge of the facts and be appraised of his rights at the time he performs the act
and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, in all matters and incidents necessary to the complete constituting estoppel, because silence without knowledge works no estoppel. 7 In the present
settlement of such estate, so long as no interests of third parties are affected. 4 case, the deceased widow acted as she did because of the deed of donation she executed in
In the case now before us, the matter in controversy is the question of ownership of certain of favor of her husband not knowing that such deed was illegal, if inter-vivos, and ineffectual if
the properties involved whether they belong to the conjugal partnership or to the husband mortis-causa, as it has not been executed with the required formalities similar to a will.
exclusively. This is a matter properly within the jurisdiction of the probate court which WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals being in accordance with law, the same
necessarily has to liquidate the conjugal partnership in order to determine the estate of the is hereby affirmed with costs against appellants. So ordered.
decedent which is to be distributed among his heirs who are all parties to the proceedings,
G.R. No. L-3342 April 18, 1951
including, of course, the widow, now represented because of her death, by her heirs who
have been substituted upon petition of the executor himself and who have appeared Intestate Estate of the deceased Lee Liong. RAFAEL A. DINGLASAN, ET
voluntarily. There are no third parties whose rights may be affected. It is true that the heirs of ALS., petitioners-appellees,
the deceased widow are not heirs of the testator-husband, but the widow is, in addition to her vs.
own right to the conjugal property. And it is this right that is being sought to be enforced by ANG CHIA, as Administratrix of the above intestate, LEE BING HOO alias CLARO LEE,
her substitutes. Therefore, the claim that is being asserted is one belonging to an heir to the and LEE BUN TING,respondents-appellants.
testator and, consequently, it complies with the requirement of the exception that the parties Quisumbing, Sycip, Quisumbing and Zalazar for appellants.
interested (the petitioners and the widow, represented by dents) are all heirs claiming title Hector Bisnar and Rafael Dinglasan for appellees.
under the testator. BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:
Petitioners contend additionally that they have never submitted themselves to the jurisdiction This is an appeal by Ang Chia, her son Claro Lee, and Lee Bun Ting from an order of the
of the probate court, for the purpose of the determination of the question of ownership of the Court of First Instance of Capiz, issued in the intestate estate proceedings of the deceased
disputed properties. This is not borne by the admitted facts. On the contrary, it is undisputed Lee Liong, holding in abeyance the approval of their petition for an extrajudicial partition and
that they were the ones who presented the project of partition claiming the questioned the closing of said proceedings until after the final termination of Civil Case No. V-331 of the
properties as part of the testator's asset. The respondents, as representatives or substitutes same court, entitled Rafael Dinglasan, et al., vs. Lee Bun Ting, Claro Lee and Ang Chia, in
of the deceased widow opposed the project of partition and submitted another. As the Court her personal capacity and as administratrix of the estate of Lee Liong.
of Appeals said, "In doing so all of them must be deemed to have submitted the issue for Rafael Dinglasan et al. filed a case in the Court of First Instance of Capiz on February 16,
resolution in the same proceeding. Certainly, the petitioners can not be heard to insist, as 1948, against Ang Chia, her son Claro Lee and one Lee Bun Ting to recover the ownership
they do, on the approval of their project of partition and, thus, have the court take it for and possession of a parcel of land located at Capiz, Capiz, and damages in the amount of
granted that their theory as to the character of the properties is correct, entirely without regard P1,000 a month. Subsequently, the plaintiffs filed a motion for the appointment of a receiver
to the opposition of the respondents". In other words, by presenting their project of partition to which counsel for the defendants objected, and it was only at the hearing of said motion
including therein the disputed lands (upon the claim that they were donated by the wife to her when plaintiffs discovered that there was pending in the same court a case concerning the
husband), petitioners themselves put in issue the question of ownership of the properties intestate estate of Lee Liong. In view thereof, the motion for the appointment of a receiver
which is well within the competence of the probate court and just because of an opposition was withdrawn and the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint seeking the inclusion as party-

Page 23 of 85
defendant of the administratrix of the estate, who is the same widow Ang Chia, who was appeal, as no appeal has been taken by the appellants from said order and the same has
already a party-defendant in her personal capacity. In order to protect their interests, the long become final; so that the present appeal is only from the order of the lower court dated
plaintiffs also filed in the intestate proceedings a verified claim in intervention and a motion July 15, 1949, which denies the motion of the appellees to terminate the intestate
praying that a co-administrator of the estate be appointed and the bond of the administratrix proceedings on the ground that they have already agreed on the extrajudicial settlement of
in the amount of P500 be increased to P20,000. By their claim in intervention, the plaintiffs the estate and to relieve the administratrix of the obligation of filing an increased bond.
made of record the pendency of the aforesaid civil case No. V-331 and prayed that the There is merit in the claim of the appellees. It really appears from the record that the order
intestate proceedings be not closed until said civil case shall have been terminated. increasing the bond of the administratrix to P5,000 was issued on August 4, 1948, and from
On June 21, 1948, the administratrix filed a motion to dismiss the claim in intervention and said order no appeal has been taken by the appellants which has become final long ago and
objected to the motion for the increase of her bond and for the appointment of a co- that the present appeal is only from the order of the lower court dated July 15, 1949. It is true
administrator. On August 4, 1948, the court issued an order denying the petition for a co- that the lower court in its later order of July 15, 1949, reiterated its order to the administratrix
administrator but increasing the bond to P5,000, and as regards the petition not to close the to file a new bond in the amount of P5,000 within 30 days after receipt thereof, but this cannot
intestate proceedings until after civil case No. V-331 shall have been decided, the court have the effect of receiving the former order of August 4, 1948, nor does it give the appellants
stated that it would act thereon if a motion to close the proceedings is presented in due time the right to question in this instance the validity of said order, which has long become final.
and is objected to by petitioners. The court however took cognizance of the pendency of said Moreover, an order requiring the filing of a new bond by the administratrix is interlocutory in
civil case No. V-331. The administratrix did not appeal from said order nor file a new bond nature and is solely addressed to the sound discretion of the court.
and instead moved for the closing of the proceedings and her discharge as administratrix on The act of the lower court in taking cognizance of civil case No. V-331 is not tantamount to
the ground that the heirs had already entered into an extrajudicial partition of the estate. To assuming jurisdiction over said case nor does it violate the ruling of this court which says that
this motion the petitioners objected, whereupon the court issued on July 15, 1949, an order "when questions arise as to the ownership of property, alleged to be part of the estate of a
holding in abeyance the approval of the partition and the closing of the proceedings until after deceased person, but claimed by some other person to be his property, not by virtue of any
the decision in said civil case has been rendered. From this order the administratrix and the right of inheritance from the deceased, but by title adverse to that of the deceased and his
heirs appealed and now assign the following errors: estate, such questions cannot be determined in the course of administration proceedings.
I The Court of First Instance, acting as probate court, has no jurisdiction to adjudicate such
The lower court erred in taking cognizance of and being guided by the supposed "claim" of contentions, which must be submitted to the court in the exercise of its general jurisdiction as
petitioners-appellees. a Court of First Instance to try and determine ordinary actions. . . ." (Guzman vs. Anog and
Anog, 37 Phil., 61, 62-63.)
II
If the appellants filed a claim in intervention in the intestate proceedings it was only pursuant
The lower court erred in holding in abeyance the closing of the intestate proceedings pending
to their desire to protect their interests it appearing that the property in litigation is involved in
the termination of the separate civil action filed by the petitioners-appellees.
said proceedings and in fact is the only property of the estate left subject of administration
III and distribution; and the court is justified in taking cognizance of said civil case because of
The lower court erred in ordering the administratrix to file an increased bond of P5,000. the unavoidable fact that whatever is determined in said civil case will necessarily reflect and
Under the first assignment of error, the appellants question the validity of the order of the have a far reaching consequence in the determination and distribution of the estate. In so
lower court of August 4, 1948, whereby the court took cognizance of the civil case filed by the taking cognizance of civil case No. V-331 the court does not assume general jurisdiction over
appellees against the administratrix to recover possession of lot No. 398 and damages, and the case but merely makes of record its existence because of the close interrelation of the
required the administratrix to file a new bond of P5,000, contending that by taking such action two cases and cannot therefore be branded as having acted in excess of its jurisdiction.
the court assumed jurisdiction over the case which it cannot do because its jurisdiction as Appellants' claim that the lower court erred in holding in abeyance the closing of the intestate
probate court is limited and especial (Guzman vs. Anog and Anog, 37 Phil. 61). They claim proceedings pending determination of the separate civil action for the reason that there is no
further that probate proceedings are purely statutory and their functions are limited to the rule or authority justifying the extension of administration proceedings until after the separate
control of the property upon the death of its owner and cannot extend to the adjudication of action pertaining to its general jurisdiction has been terminated, cannot entertained. Section
collateral questions. (I Woermer, The American Law of Administration, 514, 662-663.) 1, Rule 88, of the Rules of Court, expressly provides that "action to recover real or personal
Appellees on the other hand claim that said order of August 4, 1948, is not the subject of this property from the estate or to enforce a lien thereon, and actions to recover damages for an

Page 24 of 85
injury to person or property, real or personal, may be commenced against the executor or
administrator". What practical value would this provision have if the action against the
administrator cannot be prosecuted to its termination simply because the heirs desire to close
the intestate proceedings without first taking any step to settle the ordinary civil case? This
rule is but a corollary to the ruling which declares that questions concerning ownership of
property alleged to be part of the estate but claimed by another person should be determined
in a separate action and should be submitted to the court in the exercise of its general
jurisdiction. (Guzman vs. Anog and Anog, supra). These rules would be rendered nugatory if
we are to hold that an intestate proceedings can be closed by any time at the whim and
caprice of the heirs. Another rule of court provides that "after a party dies and the claim is not
thereby extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the
deceased to appear and to be substituted for the deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days,
or within such time as may be granted. If the legal representative fails to appear within said
time, the court may order the opposing party to procure the appointment of a legal
representative of the deceased within a time to be specified by the court, and the
representative shall immediately appear for and on behalf of the interest of the deceased."
(Section 17, Rule 3.) This rule also implies that a probate case may be held in abeyance G.R. No. L-40804 January 31, 1978
pending determination of an ordinary case wherein an administrator is made a party. To hold ROSARIO FELICIANO VDA. DE RAMOS, MIGUEL DANILA, RAYMUNDO A. DANILA,
otherwise would be also to render said rule nugatory. CONSOLACION SANTOS, MIGUEL G. DANILA, AMOR DANILA, MOISES MARTINEZ,
Wherefore, the Court affirms the order appealed from, with costs against appellants. MIGUELA GAVINO, MELITON NISTA, PRIMITIVA NISTA, HEIRS OF DANIEL NISTA,
Paras, C.J., Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Tuason, Montemayor and Jugo, JJ., concur. MOISES NISTA, DOMINGO NISTA and ADELAIDA NISTA,petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, MARCELINA (MARTINA) GUERRA and THE HEIRS OF
BUENAVENTURA GUERRA,respondents.
Ernesto C. Hidalgo for petitioners.
Romulo S. Brion & Florentino M. Poonin for private respondents.

GUERRERO, J.:
Appeal by way of certiorari of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 49915-R,
entitled "Adelaida Nista Petitioner-appellee, versus Buenaventura Guerra, et al., Oppositors
-Appellants, " denying and disallowing the probate of the second last will and codicil of the
late Eugenia Danila previously probated by the Court of First Instance of Laguna Branch III at
San Pablo City.
The facts are rotated in the appealed decision. the pertinent portions of which state:
It appears that on June 2, 1966, Adelaida Nista who claimed to be one of the instituted heirs,
filed a petition for the probate of the alleged will and testament dated March 9, 1963 (Exhibit
H) and codicil dated April 18, 1963 (Exhibit L) of the late Eugenia Danila who died on May 21,
1966. The petitioner prayed that after due notice and proper hearing, the alleged will and
codicil be probates and allowed and that she or any other person be appointed as

Page 25 of 85
administrator of the testatrix's estate. She also prayed that in case no opposition thereto be Martina Guerra over the said parcel; that as a matter of fact Whatever rights and interests
interposed and the value of the estate be less than P10,000.00, said estate be summarily Adelaida Nista has or may still have thereon are already considered waived and renounced in
settled in accordance with the Rules. favor of Marcelina Martina Guerra;
Buenaventura and Marcelina (Martina) both surnamed Guerra filed an opposition on July 18, 5. That in view of the fact that the riceland mentioned in paragraph 3 of the foregoing appears
1966 and an amended opposition on August 19, 1967, to the petition alleging among others to have already been disposed of by Eugenia Danila in favor of petitioner Adelaida Nista
that they are the legally adopted son and daughter of the late spouses Florentino Guerra and which the parties hereto do not now contest, there is therefore no more estate left by the said
Eugenia Danila (Exhibit 1); that the purported will and codicil subject of the petition (Exhibits deceased Eugenia Danila to he disposed of by the will sought to be probated in this
H and L) were procured through fraud and undue influence; that the formalities requited by proceedings; that consequently, and for the sake of peace and harmony money among the
law for the execution of a will and codicil have not been complied with as the same were not relations and kins and adopted children of the deceased Eugenia Danila and with the further
properly attested to or executed and not expressing the free will and deed of the purported aim of settling differences among themselves, the will and codicil of Eugenia Danila submitted
testatrix; that the late Eugenia Danila had already executed on November 5, 1951 her last will to this Honorable Court by the petitioner for probate, are considered abrogated and set aside;
and testament (Exhibit 3) which was duly probated (Exhibit 4) and not revoked or annulled 6. That as the late Eugenia Danila has incurred debts to private persons during her lifetime,
during the lifetime of the testatrix, and that the petitioner is not competent and qualified to act which in addition to the burial and incidental expenses amounts to SIX THOUSAND EIGHT
as administration of the estate. HUNDRED PESOS (P6,800.00) her adopted daughter, Marcelina (Martina) Guerra is now
On November 4, 1968, the petitioner and the oppositors, assisted by their respective determined to settle the same, but herein petitioner Adelaida Nista hereby agrees to
counsels, entered into a Compromise Agreement with the following terms and conditions, contribute to Marcelina (Martina) Guerra for the settlement of the said indebtedness in the
thus: amount of THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED PESOS (P3,400.00), Philippine Currency,
1. That oppositors Buenaventura Guerra and Marcelina (Martina) Guerra are the legally the same to be delivered by Adelaida Nista to Marcelina (Martina) Guerra at the latter's
adopted son and daughter, respectively, of the deceased spouses, Florentino Guerra and residence at Rizal Avenue, San Pablo City, on or about February 28, 1969;
Eugenia Manila; 7. That should there be any other property of the deceased Eugenia Danila that may later on
2. That Florentino Guerra pre-deceased Eugenia Danila that Eugenia Danila died on May 21, be discovered to be undisposed of as yet by Eugenia Danila during her lifetime, the same
1966, at San Pablo City, but during her lifetime, she had already sold, donated or disposed of should be considered as exclusive property of her adopted children and heirs, Buenaventura
all her properties, some of which to Marcelina Martina Guerra, as indicated and confirmed in Guerra and Marcelina (Martina) Guerra and any right of the petitioner and signatories hereto,
paragraph 13 of the Complaint in Civil Case No. SP620, entitled Marcelina Guerra versus with respect to said property or properties, shall be deemed waived and renounced in favor of
Adelaida Nista, et al., and Which We hereby 'likewise admit and confirm; said Buenaventura and Marcelina (Martina) Guerra; and
3. That, however, with respect to the parcel of riceland covered by TCT No. T-5559 of the 8. That with the exception of the foregoing agreement, parties hereto waived and renounce
Register of Deeds of San Pablo City, which oppositors believe to be the estate left and further claim against each other, and the above-entitled case. (Exh. 6)
undisposed of at the time of the death of the owner thereof, Eugenia Danila it now appears This Agreement was approved by the lower court in a judgment readings as follows:
that there is a Deed of Donation covering the same together with another parcel of coconut WHEREFORE, said compromise agreement, being not contrary to public policy, law and
land situated at Barrio San Ignacio, San Pablo City, with an area of 19,905 sq.m., and moral, the same is hereby approved and judgment is hereby rendered in accordance with the
covered by Tax Declaration No. 31286, executed by the late Eugenia Danila in favor of terms and conditions set forth in the above- quoted compromise agreement, which is hereby
Adelaida Nista, as per Doc. No. 406, Page No. 83, Series of 1966 under Notarial Register III made an integral part of the dispositive portion of this decision, and the parties are strictly
of Notary Public Pio Aquino of San Pablo city; enjoined to comply with the same. (Exh. 7)
4. That inasmuch as the above-mentioned parcel of coconut and has been earlier donated On November 16, 1968, Rosario de Ramos, Miguel Danila Felix Danila Miguel Gavino Amor
inter vivos and validly conveyed on November 15, 1965 by the late Eugenia Danila to Danila Consolacion Santos and Miguel Danila son of the late Fortunato Danila filed a motion
Marcelina (Martina) Guerra as shown by Doc. No. 237, Page No. 49, Series of 1965, under for leave to intervene as co-petitioners alleging that being instituted heirs or devisees, they
Notarial Register XV of Notary Public Atty. Romulo S. Brion of San Pablo City, the inclusion of have rights and interests to protect in the estate of the late Eugenia Danila They also filed a
said parcel in the subsequent donation to Adelaida Nista is admittedly considered a mistake reply partly admitting and denying the material allegations in the opposition to the petition and
and of no force and effect and will in no way prejudice the ownership and right of Marcelina alleging among other things, that oppositors repudiated their institution as heirs and

Page 26 of 85
executors when they failed to cause the recording in the Register of Deeds of San Pablo City court gave more weight and ment to the .'straight-forward and candid" testimony of Atty.
the will and testament dated November 5, 1951 (Exhibit 3) in accordance with the Rules and Ricardo Barcenas, the Notary Public who assisted in the execution of the wilt that the testatrix
committed acts of ingratitude when they abandoned the testatrix and denied her support after and the three (3) instrumental witnesses signed the will in the presence of each other, and
they managed, through fraud and undue influence, to secure the schedule of partition dated that with respect to the codicil the same manner was likewise observed as corroborated to by
January 15, 1962. The Intervenors prayed for the probate and/or allowance of the will and the testimony of another lawyer, Atty. Manuel Alvero who was also present during the
codicil (Exhibits H and L), respectively and the appointment of any of them in as administrator execution of the codicil.
of said estate. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
On December 6, 1968, the intervenors also filed a motion for new trial and/or re-hearing WHEREFORE, it appearing that the late Eugenia Danila had testamentary capacity when she
and/or relief from judgment and to set aside the judgment based on compromise dated executed the will, Exh. H., and the codicil Exh. L, and that said will and codicil were duly
November 5, 1968. The oppositors interposed an opposition to the motion to which the signed by her and the three attesting witnesses and acknowledged before a Notary Public in
intervenors filed their reply. accordance with the formalities prescribed by law, the said will and codicil are hereby
The lower court resolved the motions in an order the dispositive portion reading, thus: declared probated. No evidence having been adduced regarding the qualification and fitness
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING the Court hereby makes the following dispositions of any of the intervenors- co-petitioners to act as executors, the appointment of executors of
the will and codicil is held pending until after due hearing on the matter.
(1) Movants Rosario de Ramos, Miguel C. Danila Miguela Gavino Amor Danila Consolacion
Santos, Miguel A. Danila and Raymundo Danila are allowed and admitted to intervene to this SO ORDERED.
proceeding as Party Petitioners; and likewise admitted in their reply to the amended Oppositors Marcelina Guam and the heirs of Buenaventura Guam appealed the foregoing
opposition of November 11, 1968; decision to the Court of Appeals The latter court, in its derision dated May 12, 1975 ruled that
(2) The compromise agreement dated October 15, 1968 by and between Petitioner Adelaida the lower court acted correctly in setting aside its judgment approving the Compromise
Nista and oppositors Buenaventura Guerra and Marcelina Guerra Martina is disapproved, Agreement and in allowing the intervenor petitioners to participate in the instant probate
except as regards their respective lawful rights in the subject estate; and, accordingly, the proceedings; however, it disallowed the probate of the will on the that the evidence failed to
judgment on compromise rendered by this Court on November 5, 1968 is reconsidered and establish that the testatrix Eugenia Danila signed her will in the presence of the instrumental
set aside; and witness in accordance with Article 805 of the Civil Code, as testified to by the two surviving
instrumental witnesses.
(3) The original Petition and amended opposition to probate of the alleged will and codicil
stand. In this present appeal petitioners vigorously insists on constitutional grounds the nullity of the
decision of respondent court but We deem it needless to consider the same as it is not
xxx xxx xxx
necessary in resolving this appeal on the following assigned errors:
The lower court also denied the motion for the appointment of a special administrator filed by
(A) THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED GRAVELY IN NOT HAVING GIVEN WEIGHT TO
the intervenors.
THE MANIFESTATION CLAUSES IN THE TESTAMENT AND CODICIL ANNEX B
xxx xxx xxx (PETITION) AND INSTEAD IT GAVE CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OR BIASED
A motion for reconsideration of the foregoing order was filed by the intervenors co-petitioners WITNESSES OVER THEIR OWN ATTESTATION CLAUSES AND THE TESTIMONIAL
but the motion was denied. EVIDENCE AND NOTARIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE NOTARY PUBLIC; AND
xxx xxx xxx (B) THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HAVING DENIED THE PROBATE OF THE
On February 9, 1971, a motion for the substitution of Irene, Crispina, Cristina Casiano, WILL AND CODICIL DESPITE CONVINCING EVIDENCE FOR THEIR ALLOWANCE.
Edilberto Felisa, Guerra in place of their father, the oppositor Buenaventura Guerra who died We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and restore the decision of the trial court
on January 23, 1971, was filed and granted by the lower court. allowing probate of the will and codicil in question.
After trial on the merits, the lower court rendered its decision dated July 6, 1971 allowing the The main point in controversy here is whether or not the last testament and its accompanying
probate of the wilt In that decision, although two of the attesting witness Odon Sarmiento and codicil were executed in accordance with the formalities of the law, considering the
Rosendo Paz, testified that they did not see the testatrix Eugenia Danila sign the will but that
the same was already signed by her when they affixed their own signatures thereon, the trial

Page 27 of 85
complicated circumstances that two of the attesting witnesses testified against their due The presumption of regularity can of course be overcome by clear and convincing evidence
execution while other non-subscribing witnesses testified to the contrary. to the contrary, but not easily by the mere expediency of the negative testimony of Odon
Petitioners argue that the attestation clauses of the win and codicil which were signed by the Sarmiento and Rosendo Paz that they did not see the testatrix sign the will. A negative
instrumental witnesses are admissions of due execution of the deeds, thus, preventing the testimony does not enjoy equal standing with a positive assertion, and faced with the
said witnesses from prevaricating later on by testifying against due execution. Petitioners convincing appearance of the will, such negative statement must be examined with extra
further maintain that it is error for respondent court to give credence to the testimony of the care. For in this regard
biased witnesses as against their own attestation to the fact of due execution and over the It has also been held that the condition and physical appearance of a questioned document
testimonial account of the Notary Public who was also present during the execution and constitute a valuable factor which, if correctly evaluated in the light of surrounding
before whom right after, the deeds were acknowledged. circumstances, may help in determining whether it is genuine or forged. Subscribing
Private respondents, on the other hand reiterate in their contention the declaration of the two witnesses may forget or exaggerating what they really know, saw, heard or did; they may be
surviving witnesses, Odon Sarmiento and Rosendo Paz, that the win was not signed by the biased and, therefore, tell only half-truths to mislead the court or favor one party to the
testatrix before their presence, which is strengthened by two photographic evidence showing prejudice of the others. This cannot be said of the condition and Physical appearance of the
only the two witnesses in the act of signing, there being no picture of the same occasion questioned document. Both, albeit silent, will reveal the naked truth, hiding nothing, forgetting
showing the testatrix signing the will. Respondent court holds the view that where there was nothing, and exaggerating nothing. 3
an opportunity to take pictures it is not understandable why pictures were taken of the Unlike other deeds, ordinary wills by necessity of law must contain an attestation clause
witnesses and not of the testatrix. It concludes that the absence of the latter's picture to Which, significantly is a separate memorandum or record of the facts surrounding that the
complete the evidence belies the testimony of Atty. Barcenas that the testatrix and the conduct of execution. Once signed by the attesting witnesses, it that compliance with the
witnesses did sign the will and the codicil in the presence of each other. indispensable legal formalities had been observed. This Court had previously hold that the
The oppositors' argument is untenable. There is ample and satisfactory evidence to convince attestation clause basically contracts the pretense of undue ex execution which later on may
us that the will and codicil were executed in accordance with the formalities required by law. It be made by the attesting witnesses. 4 In the attestation clause, the witnesses do not merely
appears positively and convincingly that the documents were prepared by a lawyer, Atty. attest to the signature of the testatrix but also to the proper execution of the will, and their
Manuel Alvero The execution of the same was evidently supervised by his associate, Atty. signature following that of the testatrix show that they have in fact at not only to the
Ricardo Barcenas and before whom the deeds were also acknowledged. The solemnity genuineness of the testatrix's signature but also to the due execution of the will as embodied
surrounding the execution of a will is attended by some intricacies not usually within the in the attention clause. 5 By signing the wilt the witnesses impliedly to the truth of the facts
comprehension of an ordinary layman. The object is to close the door against bad faith and which admit to probate, including the sufficiency of execution, the capacity of the testatrix, the
fraud, to avoid substitution of the will and testament, and to guarantee their truth and absence of undue influence, and the like. 6
authenticity. 2 If there should be any stress on the participation of lawyers in the execution of In this jurisdiction, all the attesting witness to a will if available, must be called to prove the
a wig, other than an interested party, it cannot be less than the exercise of their primary duty wilt Under this circumstance, they become "forced witnesses" " and their declaration
as members of the Bar to uphold the lofty purpose of the law. There is no showing that the derogatory to the probate of the will need not bind the proponent hence, the latter may
above-named lawyers had been remiss in their sworn duty. Consequently, respondent court present other proof of due exemption even if contrary to the testimony of or all of the at,
failed to consider the presumption of ty in the execution of the questioned documents. There testing witness. 7 As a rule, if any or all of the submitting witness testify against the due
were no incidents brought to the attention of the trial court to arouse suspicion of anomaly. execution of the will, or do not remember having attested to it, or are otherwise of doubtful
While the opposition alleged fraud and undue influence, no evidence was presented to prove ability, the will may, nevertheless, be allowed if the court is satisfied from the testimony of
their occurrence. There is no question that each and every page of the will and codicil carry other witness and from all the evidence presented that the will was executed and attested in
the authentic signatures of Eugenia Danila and the three (3) attesting witnesses. Similarly, the the manner by law. 8 Accordingly, although the subscribing witnesses to a contested will are
attestation claim far from being deficient, were properly signed by the attesting witnesses. the best witness in connection with its due execution, to deserve full credit, their testimony
Neither is it disputed that these witnesses took turns in signing the will and codicil in the must be reasonable, and unbiased; if otherwise it may be overcome by any competent
presence of each other and the testatrix. Both instruments were duly acknowledged before a evidence, direct or circubstantial. 9
Notary Public who was all the time present during the execution. In the case at bar, the s bear a disparity in the quality of the testimonies of Odon Sarmiento
and Rosendo Paz on one hand, and the Notary Public, Atty. Ricardo A. Barcenas, on the

Page 28 of 85
other. The testimony of Odon Sarmiento was contradicted by his own admission. Though his We find here that the failure to imprint in photographs all the stages in the execution of the
admission to the effect that "when Eugenia Danila signed the testament (he) and the two win does not serve any persuasive effect nor have any evidentiary value to prove that one
other attesting witnesses Rosendo Paz and Calixto Azusada were present" (t.s.n., Feb. 12, vital and indispensable requisite has not been acted on. Much less can it defeat, by any
1970, p. 115) was made extrajudicially, it was not squarely refuted when inquired upon during ordinary or special reason, the presentation of other competent evidence intended to confirm
the trial. a fact otherwise existent but not confirmed by the photographic evidence. The probate court
With respect to the testimony of Rosendo Paz, it had been refuted by the declaration of Atty. having satisfied itself that the win and codicil were executed in accordance with the
Ricardo A. Barcenas. The records show that this attesting witness was fetched by Felix formalities required by law, and there being no indication of abuse of discretion on its part,
Danila from his place of work in order to act as witness to a wilt Rosendo Paz did not know We find no error committed or any exceptional circumstance warranting the subsequent
what the document he signed was all about. Although he performed his function as an reversal of its decision allowing the probate of the deeds in question.
attesting witness, his participation was rather passive. We do not expect, therefore, that his WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Court of Appeals is hereby reversed in so far its it
testimony, "half-hearted" as that of Odon Sarmiento, be as candid and complete as one disallowed the probate of the will and codicil. With costs against respondents.
proceeding from a keen mind fully attentive to the details of the execution of the deeds. Quite SO ORDERED.
differently, Atty. Ricardo A. Barcenas, more than a direct witness himself, was Purposely there
Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Muoz Palma and Fernandez, JJ., concur.
to oversee the accomplishment of the will and codicil. His testimony is an account of what he
actually heard and saw during the conduct of his profession. There is no evidence to show
that this lawyer was motivated by any material interest to take sides or that his statement is G.R. No. 153820 October 16, 2009
truth perverted. DELFIN TAN, Petitioner,
It has been regarded that the function of the Notary Public is, among others, to guard against vs.
any illegal or immoral arrangements in the execution of a will. 10 In the absence of any ERLINDA C. BENOLIRAO, ANDREW C. BENOLIRAO, ROMANO C. BENOLIRAO, DION
showing of self-interest that might possibly have warped his judgment and twisted his C. BENOLIRAO, SPS. REYNALDO TANINGCO and NORMA D. BENOLIRAO, EVELYN T.
declaration, the intervention of a Notary Public, in his professional capacity, in the execution MONREAL, and ANN KARINA TANINGCO,Respondents.
of a will deserves grave consideration. 11 An appraise of a lawyer's participation has been DECISION
succinctly stated by the Court in Fernandez v. Tantoco, supra, this wise: Is an annotation made pursuant to Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court (Rules) on a
In weighing the testimony of the attesting witnesses to a will, his statements of a competent certificate of title covering real property considered an encumbrance on the property? We
attorney, who has been charged with the responsibility of seeing to the proper execution of resolve this question in the petition for review on certiorari 1 filed by Delfin Tan (Tan) to assail
the instrument, is entitled to greater weight than the testimony of a person casually called to the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 52033 2and the decision of the
anticipate in the act, supposing of course that no motive is revealed that should induce the Regional Trial Court (RTC)3 that commonly declared the forfeiture of his P200,000.00 down
attorney to prevaricate. The reason is that the mind of the attorney being conversant of the payment as proper, pursuant to the terms of his contract with the respondents.
instrument, is more likely to become fixed on details, and he is more likely than other persons THE ANTECEDENTS
to retain those incidents in his memory.
The facts are not disputed. Spouses Lamberto and Erlinda Benolirao and the Spouses
One final point, the absence of a photograph of the testator Eugenia Danila in the act of Reynaldo and Norma Taningco were the co-owners of a 689-square meter parcel of land
signing her will. The fact that the only pictures available are those which show the Witnesses (property) located in Tagaytay City and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
signing the will in the presence of the testatrix and of each other does not belie the probability 26423. On October 6, 1992, the co-owners executed a Deed of Conditional Sale over the
that the testatrix also signed the will before the presence of the witnesses. We must stress property in favor of Tan for the price of P1,378,000.00. The deed stated:
that the pictures are worthy only of what they show and prove and not of what they did not
a) An initial down-payment of TWO HUNDRED (P200,000.00) THOUSAND PESOS,
speak of including the events they failed to capture. The probate of a will is a proceeding not
Philippine Currency, upon signing of this contract; then the remaining balance of ONE
embued with adverse character, wherein courts should relax the rules on evidence "to the
MILLION ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND (P1,178,000.00) PESOS, shall be
end that nothing less than the best evidence of which the matter is susceptible" should be
payable within a period of one hundred fifty (150) days from date hereof without interest;
presented to the court before a reported will may be probated or denied probate. 12

Page 29 of 85
b) That for any reason, BUYER fails to pay the remaining balance within above mentioned Dion Benolirao as heirs of Lamberto Benolirao, together with Evelyn Monreal and Ann Karina
period, the BUYER shall have a grace period of sixty (60) days within which to make the Taningco (collectively, the respondents). In his complaint, Tan alleged that there was a
payment, provided that there shall be an interest of 15% per annum on the balance amount novation of the Deed of Conditional Sale done without his consent since the annotation on
due from the SELLERS; the title created an encumbrance over the property. Tan prayed for the refund of the down
c) That should in case (sic) the BUYER fails to comply with the terms and conditions within payment and the rescission of the contract.
the above stated grace period, then the SELLERS shall have the right to forfeit the down On August 9, 1993, Tan amended his Complaint, contending that if the respondents insist on
payment, and to rescind this conditional sale without need of judicial action; forfeiting the down payment, he would be willing to pay the balance of the purchase price
d) That in case, BUYER have complied with the terms and conditions of this contract, then provided there is reformation of the Deed of Conditional Sale. In the meantime, Tan caused
the SELLERS shall execute and deliver to the BUYER the appropriate Deed of Absolute Sale; the annotation on the title of a notice of lis pendens.
Pursuant to the Deed of Conditional Sale, Tan issued and delivered to the co-owners/vendors On August 21, 1993, the respondents executed a Deed of Absolute Sale over the property in
Metrobank Check No. 904407 for P200,000.00 as down payment for the property, for which favor of Hector de Guzman (de Guzman) for the price of P689,000.00.
the vendors issued a corresponding receipt. Thereafter, the respondents moved for the cancellation of the notice of lis pendens on the
On November 6, 1992, Lamberto Benolirao died intestate. Erlinda Benolirao (his widow and ground that it was inappropriate since the case that Tan filed was a personal action which did
one of the vendors of the property) and her children, as heirs of the deceased, executed an not involve either title to, or possession of, real property. The RTC issued an order dated
extrajudicial settlement of Lambertos estate on January 20, 1993. On the basis of the October 22, 1993 granting the respondents motion to cancel the lis pendens annotation on
extrajudicial settlement, a new certificate of title over the property, TCT No. 27335, was the title.
issued on March 26, 1993 in the names of the Spouses Reynaldo and Norma Taningco and Meanwhile, based on the Deed of Absolute Sale in his favor, de Guzman registered the
Erlinda Benolirao and her children. Pursuant to Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules, the following property and TCT No. 28104 was issued in his name. Tan then filed a motion to carry over the
annotation was made on TCT No. 27335: lis pendens annotation to TCT No. 28104 registered in de Guzmans name, but the RTC
x x x any liability to credirots (sic), excluded heirs and other persons having right to the denied the motion.
property, for a period of two (2) years, with respect only to the share of Erlinda, Andrew, On September 8, 1995, after due proceedings, the RTC rendered judgment ruling that the
Romano and Dion, all surnamed Benolirao respondents forfeiture of Tans down payment was proper in accordance with the terms and
As stated in the Deed of Conditional Sale, Tan had until March 15, 1993 to pay the balance of conditions of the contract between the parties. 4 The RTC ordered Tan to pay the respondents
the purchase price. By agreement of the parties, this period was extended by two months, so the amount of P30,000.00, plus P1,000.00 per court appearance, as attorneys fees, and to
Tan had until May 15, 1993 to pay the balance. Tan failed to pay and asked for another pay the cost of suit.
extension, which the vendors again granted. Notwithstanding this second extension, Tan still On appeal, the CA dismissed the petition and affirmed the ruling of the trial court in toto.
failed to pay the remaining balance due on May 21, 1993. The vendors thus wrote him a letter Hence, the present petition.
demanding payment of the balance of the purchase price within five (5) days from notice; THE ISSUES
otherwise, they would declare the rescission of the conditional sale and the forfeiture of his
Tan argues that the CA erred in affirming the RTCs ruling to cancel the lis pendens
down payment based on the terms of the contract.
annotation on TCT No. 27335. Due to the unauthorized novation of the agreement, Tan
Tan refused to comply with the vendors demand and instead wrote them a letter (dated May presented before the trial court two alternative remedies in his complaint either the
28, 1993) claiming that the annotation on the title, made pursuant to Section 4, Rule 74 of the rescission of the contract and the return of the down payment, or the reformation of the
Rules, constituted an encumbrance on the property that would prevent the vendors from contract to adjust the payment period, so that Tan will pay the remaining balance of the
delivering a clean title to him. Thus, he alleged that he could no longer be required to pay the purchase price only after the lapse of the required two-year encumbrance on the title. Tan
balance of the purchase price and demanded the return of his down payment. posits that the CA erroneously disregarded the alternative remedy of reformation of contract
When the vendors refused to refund the down payment, Tan, through counsel, sent another when it affirmed the removal of the lis pendens annotation on the title.
demand letter to the vendors on June 18, 1993. The vendors still refused to heed Tans Tan further contends that the CA erred when it recognized the validity of the forfeiture of the
demand, prompting Tan to file on June 19, 1993 a complaint with the RTC of Pasay City for down payment in favor of the vendors. While admitting that the Deed of Conditional Sale
specific performance against the vendors, including Andrew Benolirao, Romano Benolirao,

Page 30 of 85
contained a forfeiture clause, he insists that this clause applies only if the failure to pay the Section 14, Rule 13 of the Rules enumerates the instances when a notice of lis pendens can
balance of the purchase price was through his own fault or negligence. In the present case, be validly annotated on the title to real property:
Tan claims that he was justified in refusing to pay the balance price since the vendors would Sec. 14. Notice of lis pendens.
not have been able to comply with their obligation to deliver a "clean" title covering the
In an action affecting the title or the right of possession of real property, the plaintiff and
property.
the defendant, when affirmative relief is claimed in his answer, may record in the office of the
Lastly, Tan maintains that the CA erred in ordering him to pay the respondents P30,000.00, registry of deeds of the province in which the property is situated a notice of the pendency of
plus P1,000.00 per court appearance as attorneys fees, since he filed the foregoing action in the action. Said notice shall contain the names of the parties and the object of the action or
good faith, believing that he is in the right. defense, and a description of the property in that province affected thereby. Only from the
The respondents, on the other hand, assert that the petition should be dismissed for raising time of filing such notice for record shall a purchaser, or encumbrancer of the property
pure questions of fact, in contravention of the provisions of Rule 45 of the Rules which affected thereby, be deemed to have constructive notice of the pendency of the action, and
provides that only questions of law can be raised in petitions for review on certiorari. only of its pendency against the parties designated by their real names.
THE COURTS RULING The notice of lis pendens hereinabove mentioned may be cancelled only upon order of the
The petition is granted. court, after proper showing that the notice is for the purpose of molesting the adverse party,
or that it is not necessary to protect the rights of the party who caused it to be recorded.
No new issues can be raised in the Memorandum
The litigation subject of the notice of lis pendens must directly involve a specific property
At the onset, we note that Tan raised the following additional assignment of errors in his
which is necessarily affected by the judgment.6
Memorandum: (a) the CA erred in holding that the petitioner could seek reformation of the
Deed of Conditional Sale only if he paid the balance of the purchase price and if the vendors Tans complaint prayed for either the rescission or the reformation of the Deed of Conditional
refused to execute the deed of absolute sale; and (b) the CA erred in holding that the Sale. While the Deed does have real property for its object, we find that Tans complaint is an
petitioner was estopped from asking for the reformation of the contract or for specific in personam action, as Tan asked the court to compel the respondents to do something
performance. either to rescind the contract and return the down payment, or to reform the contract by
extending the period given to pay the remaining balance of the purchase price. Either way,
The Courts September 27, 2004 Resolution expressly stated that "No new issues may be
Tan wants to enforce his personal rights against the respondents, not against the property
raised by a party in his/its Memorandum." Explaining the reason for this rule, we said that:
subject of the Deed. As we explained in Domagas v. Jensen: 7
The raising of additional issues in a memorandum before the Supreme Court is irregular,
The settled rule is that the aim and object of an action determine its character. Whether a
because said memorandum is supposed to be in support merely of the position taken by the
proceeding is in rem, or in personam, or quasi in rem for that matter, is determined by its
party concerned in his petition, and the raising of new issues amounts to the filing of a petition
nature and purpose, and by these only. A proceeding in personam is a proceeding to enforce
beyond the reglementary period. The purpose of this rule is to provide all parties to a case a
personal rights and obligations brought against the person and is based on the jurisdiction of
fair opportunity to be heard. No new points of law, theories, issues or arguments may be
the person, although it may involve his right to, or the exercise of ownership of, specific
raised by a party in the Memorandum for the reason that to permit these would be offensive
property, or seek to compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance with the mandate of
to the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process. 5
the court. The purpose of a proceeding in personam is to impose, through the judgment of a
Tan contravened the Courts explicit instructions by raising these additional errors. Hence, we court, some responsibility or liability directly upon the person of the defendant. Of this
disregard them and focus instead on the issues previously raised in the petition and properly character are suits to compel a defendant to specifically perform some act or actions to fasten
included in the Memorandum. a pecuniary liability on him.
Petition raises a question of law Furthermore, as will be explained in detail below, the contract between the parties was merely
Contrary to the respondents claim, the issue raised in the present petition defined in the a contract to sell where the vendors retained title and ownership to the property until Tan had
opening paragraph of this Decision is a pure question of law. Hence, the petition and the fully paid the purchase price. Since Tan had no claim of ownership or title to the property yet,
issue it presents are properly cognizable by this Court. he obviously had no right to ask for the annotation of a lis pendens notice on the title of the
Lis pendens annotation not proper in personal actions property.
Contract is a mere contract to sell

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A contract is what the law defines it to be, taking into consideration its essential elements, x x x any liability to credirots (sic), excluded heirs and other persons having right to the
and not what the contracting parties call it. 8 Article 1485 of the Civil Code defines a contract property, for a period of two (2) years, with respect only to the share of Erlinda, Andrew,
of sale as follows: Romano and Dion, all surnamed Benolirao [Emphasis supplied.]
Art. 1458. By the contract of sale one of the contracting parties obligates himself to transfer This annotation was placed on the title pursuant to Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules, which
the ownership and to deliver a determinate thing, and the other to pay therefor a price certain reads:
in money or its equivalent. Sec. 4. Liability of distributees and estate. - If it shall appear at any time within two (2) years
A contract of sale may be absolute or conditional. after the settlement and distribution of an estate in accordance with the provisions of either of
The very essence of a contract of sale is the transfer of ownership in exchange for a price the first two sections of this rule, that an heir or other person has been unduly deprived of his
paid or promised.9 lawful participation in the estate, such heir or such other person may compel the settlement of
the estate in the courts in the manner hereinafter provided for the purpose of satisfying such
In contrast, a contract to sell is defined as a bilateral contract whereby the prospective seller,
lawful participation. And if withinthe same time of two (2) years, it shall appear that there
while expressly reserving the ownership of the property despite delivery thereof to the
are debts outstanding against the estate which have not been paid, or that an heir or
prospective buyer, binds himself to sell the property exclusively to the prospective buyer upon
other person has been unduly deprived of his lawful participation payable in money,
fulfillment of the condition agreed, i.e., full payment of the purchase price. 10 A contract to sell
the court having jurisdiction of the estate may, by order for that purpose, after
may not even be considered as a conditional contract of sale where the seller may likewise
hearing, settle the amount of such debts or lawful participation and order how much
reserve title to the property subject of the sale until the fulfillment of a suspensive condition,
and in what manner each distributee shall contribute in the payment thereof, and may
because in a conditional contract of sale, the first element of consent is present, although it is
issue execution, if circumstances require, against the bond provided in the preceding
conditioned upon the happening of a contingent event which may or may not occur.11
section or against the real estate belonging to the deceased, or both. Such bond and
In the present case, the true nature of the contract is revealed by paragraph D thereof, which such real estate shall remain charged with a liability to creditors, heirs, or other persons for
states: the full period of two (2) years after such distribution, notwithstanding any transfers of real
xxx estate that may have been made. [Emphasis supplied.]
d) That in case, BUYER has complied with the terms and conditions of this contract, then the Senator Vicente Francisco discusses this provision in his book The Revised Rules of Court in
SELLERS shall execute and deliver to the BUYER the appropriate Deed of Absolute Sale; the Philippines,13where he states:
xxx The provision of Section 4, Rule 74 prescribes the procedure to be followed if within two
Jurisprudence has established that where the seller promises to execute a deed of absolute years after an extrajudicial partition or summary distribution is made, an heir or other person
sale upon the completion by the buyer of the payment of the price, the contract is only a appears to have been deprived of his lawful participation in the estate, or some outstanding
contract to sell.12 Thus, while the contract is denominated as a Deed of Conditional Sale, the debts which have not been paid are discovered. When the lawful participation of the heir is
presence of the above-quoted provision identifies the contract as being a mere contract to not payable in money, because, for instance, he is entitled to a part of the real property that
sell. has been partitioned, there can be no other procedure than to cancel the partition so made
A Section 4, Rule 74 annotation is an encumbrance on the property and make a new division, unless, of course, the heir agrees to be paid the value of his
participation with interest. But in case the lawful participation of the heir consists in his share
While Tan admits that he refused to pay the balance of the purchase price, he claims that he
in personal property of money left by the decedent, or in case unpaid debts are discovered
had valid reason to do so the sudden appearance of an annotation on the title pursuant to
within the said period of two years, the procedure is not to cancel the partition, nor to appoint
Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules, which Tan considered an encumbrance on the property.
an administrator to re-assemble the assets, as was allowed under the old Code, but the court,
We find Tans argument meritorious. after hearing, shall fix the amount of such debts or lawful participation in proportion to or to
The annotation placed on TCT No. 27335, the new title issued to reflect the extrajudicial the extent of the assets they have respectively received and, if circumstances require, it may
partition of Lamberto Benoliraos estate among his heirs, states: issue execution against the real estate belonging to the decedent, or both. The present
procedure is more expedient and less expensive in that it dispenses with the appointment of
an administrator and does not disturb the possession enjoyed by the
distributees.14 [Emphasis supplied.]

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An annotation is placed on new certificates of title issued pursuant to the distribution and We have held in numerous cases18 that the remedy of rescission under Article 1191 cannot
partition of a decedents real properties to warn third persons on the possible interests of apply to mere contracts to sell. We explained the reason for this in Santos v. Court of
excluded heirs or unpaid creditors in these properties. The annotation, therefore, creates a Appeals,19 where we said:
legal encumbrance or lien on the real property in favor of the excluded heirs or creditors. [I]n a contract to sell, title remains with the vendor and does not pass on to the vendee until
Where a buyer purchases the real property despite the annotation, he must be ready for the the purchase price is paid in full. Thus, in a contract to sell, the payment of the purchase price
possibility that the title could be subject to the rights of excluded parties. The cancellation of is a positive suspensive condition. Failure to pay the price agreed upon is not a mere
the sale would be the logical consequence where: (a) the annotation clearly appears on the breach, casual or serious, but a situation that prevents the obligation of the vendor to
title, warning all would-be buyers; (b) the sale unlawfully interferes with the rights of heirs; and convey title from acquiring an obligatory force. This is entirely different from the situation
(c) the rightful heirs bring an action to question the transfer within the two-year period in a contract of sale, where non-payment of the price is a negative resolutory condition. The
provided by law. effects in law are not identical. In a contract of sale, the vendor has lost ownership of the
As we held in Vda. de Francisco v. Carreon:15 thing sold and cannot recover it, unless the contract of sale is rescinded and set aside. In a
And Section 4, Rule 74 xxx expressly authorizes the court to give to every heir his lawful contract to sell, however, the vendor remains the owner for as long as the vendee has not
participation in the real estate "notwithstanding any transfers of such real estate" and to complied fully with the condition of paying the purchase price. If the vendor should eject the
"issue execution" thereon. All this implies that, when within the amendatory period the realty vendee for failure to meet the condition precedent, he is enforcing the contract and not
has been alienated, the court in re-dividing it among the heirs has the authority to direct rescinding it. x x x Article 1592 speaks of non-payment of the purchase price as a resolutory
cancellation of such alienation in the same estate proceedings, whenever it becomes condition. It does not apply to a contract to sell. As to Article 1191, it is subordinated to the
necessary to do so. To require the institution of a separate action for such annulment would provisions of Article 1592 when applied to sales of immovable property. Neither provision is
run counter to the letter of the above rule and the spirit of these summary settlements. applicable [to a contract to sell]. [Emphasis supplied.]
[Emphasis supplied.] We, therefore, hold that the contract to sell was terminated when the vendors could no longer
16
Similarly, in Sps. Domingo v. Roces, we said: legally compel Tan to pay the balance of the purchase price as a result of the legal
encumbrance which attached to the title of the property. Since Tans refusal to pay was due to
The foregoing rule clearly covers transfers of real property to any person, as long as the
the supervening event of a legal encumbrance on the property and not through his own fault
deprived heir or creditor vindicates his rights within two years from the date of the settlement
or negligence, we find and so hold that the forfeiture of Tans down payment was clearly
and distribution of estate. Contrary to petitioners contention, the effects of this provision are
unwarranted.
not limited to the heirs or original distributees of the estate properties, but shall
affect any transferee of the properties. [Emphasis supplied.] Award of Attorneys fees
Indeed, in David v. Malay,17 although the title of the property had already been registered in As evident from our previous discussion, Tan had a valid reason for refusing to pay the
the name of the third party buyers, we cancelled the sale and ordered the reconveyance of balance of the purchase price for the property. Consequently, there is no basis for the award
the property to the estate of the deceased for proper disposal among his rightful heirs. of attorneys fees in favor of the respondents.
By the time Tans obligation to pay the balance of the purchase price arose on May 21, 1993 On the other hand, we award attorneys fees in favor of Tan, since he was compelled to
(on account of the extensions granted by the respondents), a new certificate of title covering litigate due to the respondents refusal to return his down payment despite the fact that they
the property had already been issued on March 26, 1993, which contained the encumbrance could no longer comply with their obligation under the contract to sell, i.e., to convey a clean
on the property; the encumbrance would remain so attached until the expiration of the two- title. Given the facts of this case, we find the award of P50,000.00 as attorneys fees proper.
year period. Clearly, at this time, the vendors could no longer compel Tan to pay the balance Monetary award is subject to legal interest
of the purchase since considering they themselves could not fulfill their obligation to transfer a Undoubtedly, Tan made a clear and unequivocal demand on the vendors to return his down
clean title over the property to Tan. payment as early as May 28, 1993. Pursuant to our definitive ruling in Eastern Shipping
Contract to sell is not rescinded but terminated Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,20 we hold that the vendors should return the P200,000.00
What then happens to the contract? down payment to Tan, subject to the legal interest of 6% per annum computed from May 28,
1993, the date of the first demand letter.1avvphi1

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Furthermore, after a judgment has become final and executory, the rate of legal interest,
whether the obligation was in the form of a loan or forbearance of money or otherwise, shall
be 12% per annum from such finality until its satisfaction. Accordingly, the principal obligation
of P200,000.00 shall bear 6% interest from the date of first demand or from May 28, 1993.
From the date the liability for the principal obligation and attorneys fees has become final and
executory, an annual interest of 12% shall be imposed on these obligations until their final
satisfaction, this interim period being deemed to be by then an equivalent to a forbearance of
credit.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby GRANT the petition and, accordingly,
ANNUL and SET ASIDE the May 30, 2002 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 52033. Another judgment is rendered declaring the Deed of Conditional Sale terminated
and ordering the respondents to return the P200,000.00 down payment to petitioner Delfin
Tan, subject to legal interest of 6% per annum, computed from May 28, 1993. The
respondents are also ordered to pay, jointly and severally, petitioner Delfin Tan the amount
of P50,000.00 as and by way of attorneys fees. Once this decision becomes final and
executory, respondents are ordered to pay interest at 12% per annum on the principal
obligation as well as the attorneys fees, until full payment of these amounts. Costs against G.R. No. 194366 October 10, 2012
the respondents. NAPOLEON D. NERI, ALICIA D. NERI-MONDEJAR, VISMINDA D. NERI-CHAMBERS,
SO ORDERED. ROSA D. NERI-MILLAN, DOUGLAS D. NERI, EUTROPIA D. ILLUT-COCKINOS AND
VICTORIA D. ILLUT-PIALA, Petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF HADJI YUSOP UY AND JULPHA* IBRAHIM UY, Respondents.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari 1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioners
Napoleon D. Neri (Napoleon), Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar (Alicia), Visminda D. Neri-Chambers
(Visminda), Rosa D. Neri-Millan (Rosa), Douglas D. Neri (Douglas), Eutropia D. Illut-Cockinos
(Eutropia), and Victoria D. Illut-Piala (Victoria) seek to reverse and set aside the April 27,
2010 Decision2 and October 18, 2010 Resolution 3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
CV No. 01031-MIN which annulled the October 25, 2004 Decision 4 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Panabo City, Davao del Norte and instead, entered a new one dismissing
petitioners complaint for annulment of sale, damages and attorneys feesagainst herein
respondents heirs of spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy (heirs of Uy).
The Facts
During her lifetime, Anunciacion Neri (Anunciacion) had seven children, two (2) from her first
marriage with Gonzalo Illut (Gonzalo), namely: Eutropia and Victoria, and five (5) from her
second marriage with Enrique Neri (Enrique), namely: Napoleon, Alicia, Visminda, Douglas
and Rosa. Throughout the marriage of spouses Enrique and Anunciacion, they acquired
several homestead properties with a total area of 296,555 square meters located in Samal,

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Davao del Norte, embraced by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) Nos. (P-7998) P-2128 5, (P- Similarly, the CA declared the extrajudicial settlement and the subsequent saleas valid and
14608) P-51536 and P-20551 (P-8348)7issued on February 15, 1957, August 27, 1962 and binding with respect to Enrique and hischildren, holding that as co-owners, they have the right
July 7, 1967, respectively. to dispose of their respective shares as they consider necessary or fit.While recognizing Rosa
On September 21, 1977, Anunciacion died intestate. Her husband, Enrique, in his personal and Douglas to be minors at that time, they were deemed to have ratified the sale whenthey
capacity and as natural guardian of his minor children Rosa and Douglas, together with failed to question it upon reaching the age of majority.Italso found laches to have set in
Napoleon, Alicia, and Vismindaexecuted an Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with because of their inaction for a long period of time.
Absolute Deed of Sale8 on July 7, 1979, adjudicating among themselves the said homestead The Issues
properties, and thereafter, conveying themto the late spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha In this petition, petitioners imputeto the CA the following errors:
Ibrahim Uy (spouses Uy)for a consideration of P 80,000.00.
I. WHEN IT UPHELDTHE VALIDITY OF THE "EXTRA JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE
On June 11, 1996, the children of Enrique filed a complaint for annulment of saleof the said ESTATE WITH ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE" AS FAR AS THE SHARES OF EUTROPIA AND
homestead properties against spouses Uy (later substituted by their heirs)before the RTC, VICTORIA WERE CONCERNED, THEREBY DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR INHERITANCE;
docketed as Civil Case No.96-28, assailing the validity of the sale for having been sold within
II. WHEN IT DID NOT NULLIFY OR ANNUL THE "EXTRA JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE
the prohibited period. Thecomplaint was later amended to include Eutropia and Victoriaas
ESTATE WITH ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE" WITH RESPECT TO THE SHARESOF ROSA
additional plaintiffs for having been excluded and deprived of their legitimes as childrenof
AND DOUGLAS, THEREBY DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR INHERITANCE; and
Anunciacion from her first marriage.
III. WHEN IT FOUND THAT LACHES OR PRESCRIPTION HAS SET IN.
In their amended answer with counterclaim, the heirs of Uy countered that the sale took place
beyond the 5-year prohibitory period from the issuance of the homestead patents. They also The Ruling of the Court
denied knowledge of Eutropia and Victorias exclusionfrom the extrajudicial settlement and The petitionis meritorious.
sale of the subject properties, and interposed further the defenses of prescription and laches. It bears to stress that all the petitioners herein are indisputably legitimate children of
The RTC Ruling Anunciacion from her first and second marriages with Gonzalo and Enrique, respectively, and
On October 25, 2004, the RTC rendered a decision ordering, among others, the annulment of consequently, are entitled to inherit from her in equal shares, pursuant to Articles 979 and 980
the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale. It ruled that while the of the Civil Code which read:
sale occurred beyond the 5-year prohibitory period, the sale is still void because Eutropia and ART. 979. Legitimate children and their descendants succeed the parents and other
Victoria were deprived of their hereditary rights and that Enrique had no judicial authority to ascendants, without distinction as to sex or age, and even if they should come from different
sell the shares of his minor children, Rosa and Douglas. marriages.
Consequently, it rejected the defenses of laches and prescription raised by spouses Uy, who xxx
claimed possession of the subject properties for 17 years, holding that co-ownership rights ART. 980. The children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own right,
are imprescriptible. dividing the inheritance in equal shares.
The CA Ruling As such, upon the death of Anunciacion on September 21, 1977, her children and Enrique
On appeal, the CAreversed and set aside the ruling of the RTC in its April 27, 2010 Decision acquired their respective inheritances, 9 entitling them to their pro indiviso shares in her whole
and dismissed the complaint of the petitioners. It held that, while Eutropia and Victoria had no estate, as follows:
knowledge of the extrajudicial settlement and sale of the subject properties and as such, were
Enrique 9/16 (1/2 of the conjugal assets + 1/16)
not bound by it, the CA found it unconscionable to permit the annulment of the sale
considering spouses Uys possession thereof for 17 years, and thatEutropia and Eutropia 1/16
Victoriabelatedlyfiled their actionin 1997, ormore than two years fromknowledge of their
exclusion as heirs in 1994 when their stepfather died. It, however, did not preclude the Victoria 1/16
excluded heirs from recovering their legitimes from their co-heirs.
Napoleon 1/16

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Articles 320 and 326 of the Civil Code, the laws in force at the time of the execution of the
Alicia 1/16
settlement and sale, provide:
Visminda 1/16 ART. 320. The father, or in his absence the mother, is the legal administrator of the property
pertaining to the child under parental authority. If the property is worth more than two
Rosa 1/16
thousand pesos, the father or mother shall give a bond subject to the approval of the Court of
Douglas 1/16 First Instance.
ART. 326. When the property of the child is worth more than two thousand pesos, the father
Hence, in the execution of the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of
or mother shall be considered a guardian of the childs property, subject to the duties and
Sale in favor of spouses Uy, all the heirs of Anunciacionshould have participated. Considering
obligations of guardians under the Rules of Court.
that Eutropia and Victoria were admittedly excluded and that then minors Rosa and Douglas
were not properly represented therein, the settlement was not valid and binding uponthem Corollarily, Section 7, Rule 93 of the Rules of Court also provides:
and consequently, a total nullity. SEC. 7. Parents as Guardians. When the property of the child under parental authority is
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court provides: worth two thousand pesos or less, the father or the mother, without the necessity of court
appointment, shall be his legal guardian. When the property of the child is worth more than
SECTION 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. x x x
two thousand pesos, the father or the mother shall be considered guardian of the childs
The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published in a newspaper of property, with the duties and obligations of guardians under these Rules, and shall file the
general circulation in the manner provided in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial petition required by Section 2 hereof. For good reasons, the court may, however, appoint
settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no another suitable persons.
notice thereof. (Underscoring added)
Administration includes all acts for the preservation of the property and the receipt of fruits
The effect of excluding the heirs in the settlement of estate was further elucidated in Segura according to the natural purpose of the thing. Any act of disposition or alienation, or any
v. Segura,10 thus: reduction in the substance of the patrimony of child, exceeds the limits of
It is clear that Section 1 of Rule 74 does not apply to the partition in question which was null administration.13 Thus, a father or mother, as the natural guardian of the minor under parental
and void as far as the plaintiffs were concerned. The rule covers only valid partitions. The authority, does not have the power to dispose or encumber the property of the latter. Such
partition in the present case was invalid because it excluded six of the nine heirs who were power is granted by law only to a judicial guardian of the wards property and even then only
entitled to equal shares in the partitioned property. Under the rule "no extrajudicial settlement with courts prior approval secured in accordance with the proceedings set forth by the Rules
shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice thereof." of Court.14
As the partition was a total nullity and did not affect the excluded heirs, it was not correct for Consequently, the disputed sale entered into by Enrique in behalf of his minor children
the trial court to hold that their right to challenge the partition had prescribed after two years without the proper judicial authority, unless ratified by them upon reaching the age of
from its execution majority,15 is unenforceable in accordance with Articles 1317 and 1403(1) of the Civil Code
However, while the settlement of the estate is null and void, the subsequent sale of the which provide:
subject propertiesmade by Enrique and his children, Napoleon, Alicia and Visminda, in favor ART. 1317. No one may contract in the name of another without being authorized by the latter
of the respondents isvalid but only with respect to their proportionate shares therein.It cannot or unless he has by law a right to represent him.
be denied that these heirs have acquired their respective shares in the properties of
A contract entered into in the name of another by one who has no authority or legal
Anunciacion from the moment of her death 11and that, as owners thereof, they can very well
representation, or who has acted beyond his powers, shall be unenforceable, unless it is
sell their undivided share in the estate.12
ratified, expressly or impliedly, by the person on whose behalf it has been executed, before it
With respect to Rosa and Douglas who were minors at the time of the execution of the is revoked by the other contracting party.
settlement and sale, their natural guardian and father, Enrique, represented them in the
ART. 1403. The following contracts are unenforceable, unless they are ratified:
transaction. However, on the basis of the laws prevailing at that time, Enrique was merely
clothed with powers of administration and bereft of any authority to dispose of their 2/16 (1) Those entered into the name of another person by one who has been given no authority
shares in the estate of their mother, Anunciacion. or legal representation, or who has acted beyond his powers;

Page 36 of 85
xxx Consequently, spouses Uy or their substituted heirs became pro indiviso co-owners of the
Ratification means that one under no disability voluntarily adopts and gives sanction to some homestead properties with Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, who retained title to their
unauthorized act or defective proceeding, which without his sanction would not be binding on respective 1/16 shares. They were deemed to be holding the 3/16 shares of Eutropia, Victoria
him. It is this voluntary choice, knowingly made, which amounts to a ratification of what was and Douglas under an implied constructive trust for the latters benefit, conformably with
theretofore unauthorized, and becomes the authorized act of the party so making the Article 1456 of the Civil Code which states:"if property is acquired through mistake or fraud,
ratification.16 Once ratified, expressly or impliedly such as when the person knowingly the person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the
received benefits from it, the contract is cleansed from all its defects from the moment it was benefit of the person from whom the property comes." As such, it is only fair, just and
constituted,17 as it has a retroactive effect. equitable that the amount paid for their shares equivalent to P 5,000.0021 each or a total
of P 15,000.00 be returned to spouses Uy with legal interest.
Records, however, show that Rosa had ratified the extrajudicial settlement of the estate with
absolute deed of sale. In Napoleon and Rosas Manifestation 18 before the RTC dated July 11, On the issue of prescription, the Court agrees with petitioners that the present action has not
1997,they stated: prescribed in so far as it seeks to annul the extrajudicial settlement of the estate. Contrary to
the ruling of the CA, the prescriptive period of 2 years provided in Section 1 Rule 74 of the
"Concerning the sale of our parcel of land executed by our father, Enrique Neri concurred in
Rules of
and conformed to by us and our other two sisters and brother (the other plaintiffs), in favor of
Hadji Yusop Uy and his spouse Hadja Julpa Uy on July 7, 1979, we both confirmed that the Court reckoned from the execution of the extrajudicial settlement finds no application to
same was voluntary and freely made by all of us and therefore the sale was absolutely valid petitioners Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, who were deprived of their lawful participation in
and enforceable as far as we all plaintiffs in this case are concerned;" (Underscoring the subject estate. Besides, an "action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a
supplied) contract does not prescribe" in accordance with Article 1410 of the Civil Code.
In their June 30, 1997 Joint-Affidavit,19 Napoleon and Rosa also alleged: However, the action to recover property held in trust prescribes after 10 years from the time
the cause of action accrues,22 which is from the time of actual notice in case of unregistered
"That we are surprised that our names are included in this case since we do not have any
deed.23 In this case, Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas claimed to have knowledge of the
intention to file a case against Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy and their family and we
extrajudicial settlement with sale after the death of their father, Enrique, in 1994 which
respect and acknowledge the validity of the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with
spouses Uy failed to refute. Hence, the complaint filed in 1997 was well within the prescriptive
Absolute Deed of Sale dated July 7, 1979;" (Underscoring supplied)
period of 10 years.
Clearly, the foregoing statements constitutedratification of the settlement of the estate and the
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The April 27, 2010 Decision and October
subsequent sale, thus, purging all the defects existing at the time of its execution and
18, 2010 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new
legitimizing the conveyance of Rosas 1/16 share in the estate of Anunciacion to spouses Uy.
judgment is entered:
The same, however, is not true with respect to Douglas for lack of evidence showing
ratification. 1. Declaring the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate of Anunciacion Neri NULL and VOID;
Considering, thus, that the extrajudicial settlement with sale is invalid and therefore, not 2. Declaring the Absolute Deed of Sale in favor of the late spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and
binding on Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, only the shares ofEnrique, Napoleon, Alicia, Julpha Ibrahim Uy as regards the 13/16 total shares of the late Enrique Neri, Napoleon Neri,
Visminda and Rosa in the homestead properties have effectivelybeen disposed in favor of Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar, Visminda D. Neri-Chambers and Rosa D. Neri-Millan VALID;
spouses Uy. "A person can only sell what he owns, or is authorized to sell and the buyer can 3. Declaring Eutropia D. Illut-Cockinos, Victoria D. Illut-Piala and Douglas D. Neri as
as a consequence acquire no more than what the sellercan legally transfer." 20 On this score, the LAWFUL OWNERSof the 3/16 portions of the subject homestead properties, covered by
Article 493 of the Civil Codeis relevant, which provides: Original Certificate of Title Nos. (P-7998) P-2128, (P-14608) P-5153 and P-20551 (P-8348);
Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits and benefits and
pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute 4. Ordering the estate of the late Enrique Neri, as well as Napoleon Neri, Alicia D. Neri-
another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are involved. But the effect of Mondejar, Visminda D. Neri-Chambers and Rosa D. Neri-Millan to return to the respondents
the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion jointly and solidarily the amount paid corresponding to the 3/16 shares of Eutropia, Victoria
which may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership. and Douglas in the total amount of P 15,000.00, with legal interest at 6% per annum

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computed from the time of payment until finality of this decision and 12% per annum
thereafter until fully paid.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice

G.R. No. 147468 April 9, 2003


SPOUSES EDUARDO ARENAS DOMINGO & JOSEFINA CHAVEZ DOMINGO, petitioners,
vs.
LILIA MONTINOLA ROCES, CESAR ROBERTO M. ROCES, ANA INES MAGDALENA
ROCES TOLENTINO, LUIS MIGUEL M. ROCES, JOSE ANTONIO M. ROCES and MARIA
VIDA PRESENTACION ROCES,respondents.
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated
November 22, 2000 in CA-G.R. CV No. 62473, 1 as well as the resolution dated March 15,
2001, denying petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration. 2
The facts are not in dispute.
The spouses Cesar and Lilia Roces were the owners of two contiguous parcels of land
located on Arayat Street, Mandaluyong, covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 57217
and 57218.3 On November 13, 1962, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS)
caused the annotation of an affidavit of adverse claim on the titles alleging that the spouses
have mortgaged the same to it.4
Subsequently, GSIS wrote a letter to Cesar Roces demanding the surrender of the owner's
duplicates of titles. When Roces failed to comply, GSIS filed a petition with the then Court of
First Instance of Rizal, docketed as Civil Case No. R-1359, praying that the owner's
duplicates in Roces' possession be declared null and void and that the Register of Deeds of
Pasig be directed to issue new owner's duplicates to GSIS. 5 On September 5, 1977, the
Court of First Instance issued an order granting the petition. 6 The order became final and

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executory, and TCT Nos. 57217 (11663) and 57218 (11664) were issued in the name of After trial, the court a quo rendered judgment in favor of respondents, the dispositive portion
GSIS.7 of which reads:
Cesar Roces died intestate on January 26, 1980. 8 He was survived by his widow, Lilia Roces, WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs against the defendant
and their children: Cesar Roberto Roces, Ana Ines Magdalena Roces Tolentino, Luis Miguel Reynaldo L. Montinola who is hereby ordered to pay to the plaintiffs the following sums:
M. Roces, Jose Antonio Roces and Maria Vida Presentacion Roces, all of whom are the a) P1,200,000.00 as actual damages, with interest thereon at the legal rate of six (6) per
respondents in this case. centum per annum until fully paid;
On July 22, 1992, Reynaldo L. Montinola, a nephew of Lilia Roces, executed an affidavit of b) Moral damages in the sum of P100,000.00;
self-adjudication over the Arayat properties. He alleged that the properties were owned by the
c) Exemplary damages in the sum of P50,000.00;
spouses Cesar and Lilia Roces, both of whom died intestate, on September 13, 1987 and
June 27, 1989, respectively; that the properties were acquired during the existence of their d) Attorney's fees in the reasonable amount of P30,000.00; and costs.
marriage; that the spouses left no heirs except the brother of Lilia Roces, who was his father; The counterclaim of defendant spouses Eduardo and Josefina Domingo is dismissed and the
that neither of the spouses left any will nor any debts; and that he was the sole heir of the complaint against the Register of Deeds is likewise dismissed without costs.
Roces spouses.9 SO ORDERED.17
On January 5, 1993, Montinola filed a petition against GSIS with the Regional Trial Court of Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals, reiterating the reliefs prayed for in their
Pasig, docketed as Civil Case No. R-4743, praying for the cancellation of TCT Nos. 57217 complaint below.18 On November 22, 2000, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed
(11663) and 57218 (11664).10 During the trial, GSIS failed to produce any document Decision, the decretal portion of which reads:
evidencing the alleged real estate mortgage by Roces of the properties. Hence, the trial court IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision of the
rendered judgment in favor of Montinola, declaring the owner's duplicates of TCT No. 57217 Court a quoappealed from is SET ASIDE AND REVERSED. Another Decision is hereby
(11663) and 57218 (11664) as null and void and ordering the Registry of Deeds of rendered in favor of the Appellants as follows:
Mandaluyong to issue new owner's duplicates of the said titles. 11
1. The "Affidavit of Self-Adjudication" (Exhibit "G"), Transfer Certificate of Title No. 7299
GSIS did not appeal the aforesaid judgment; thus, the same became final and executory. (Exhibits "N" and "22", Domingo), the "Deed of Absolute Sale" (Exhibit "20") and Transfer
Accordingly, the Registry of Deeds of Mandaluyong issued TCT No. 7299 in the name of Certificate of Title No. 7673 (Exhibit "21") are hereby declared null and void.
Montinola in lieu of TCT No. 57218 (11664).12
2. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 57218 (11664), under the names of Cesar P. Roces and
Sometime in July 1993, Montinola executed a deed of absolute sale of the property covered Lilia Montinola, is hereby reinstated.
by TCT No. 7299 in favor of petitioner spouses Eduardo and Josefina Domingo. 13 Thereafter,
3. The Appellees are hereby ordered to pay, jointly and severally, to the Appellants the
TCT No. 7673 was issued in the names of petitioners.
amount of P50,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees.
Both TCT Nos. 7299 and 7673 contained the following annotation:
4. Appellants' claims for actual, moral and exemplary damages are dismissed.
Subject to the provision of Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court with respect to the
5. The Appellee Reynaldo Montinola is hereby ordered to pay to the Appellees Spouses
inheritance left by the deceased SPS. CESAR ROCES & LILIA MONTINOLA. 14
Domingo the amount of P1,800,000.00, with interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum
When respondents learned of the sale of the property to petitioners, they filed a complaint from the date of the Decision of this Court until the said amount is paid in full by the said
against Montinola and petitioners with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig. They argued that the Appellee, the other cross-claims of the Appellees, inter se, are dismissed.
affidavit of self-adjudication was fraudulent because Montinola was not an heir of the Roces
SO ORDERED.19
spouses and it was not true that Lilia Roces was dead. Therefore, the affidavit of self-
adjudication, as well as the deed of absolute sale, TCT No. 7299, and TCT No. 7673, all Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, 20 which was denied in a Resolution dated
covering the subject property, were null and void.15 March 15, 2000.21Hence this petition, raising the following errors:
In their answer, petitioners alleged that they were buyers in good faith and that their action 1. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ANNOTATION IN THE
was barred by estoppel and laches.16 TITLE REGARDING SEC. 4, RULE 74 IS AN ENCUMBRANCE WHICH DISQUALIFIES
PETITIONERS FROM BEING INNOCENT PURCHASERS FOR VALUE;

Page 39 of 85
2. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT IT WAS RESPONDENTS not limited to the heirs or original distributees of the estate properties, but shall
WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR REYNALDO MONTINOLA TO PERPETUATE THE FRAUD affect any transferee of the properties.
AND, THEREFORE, THEY SHOULD BE THE ONE TO BEAR RESULTING DAMAGE; In David v. Malay,25 it was held that the buyer of real property the title of which contain an
3. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT RESPONDENTS HAVE NO annotation pursuant to Rule 74, Section 4 of the Rules of Court cannot be considered
EXISTING INTEREST IN THE PROPERTY SINCE IT WAS PREVIOUSLY MORTGAGED innocent purchasers for value. In the same vein, the annotation at the back of TCT No. 7299
AND FORECLOSED BY THE G.S.I.S.; AND in this case referring to Rule 74, Section 4 of the Rules of Court was sufficient notice to
4. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING PETITIONERS LIABLE TO petitioners of the limitation on Montinola's right to dispose of the property. The presence of an
RESPONDENTS FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES, THEREBY ADDING MORE INJURY TO THEIR irregularity which excites or arouses suspicion should prompt the vendee to look beyond the
MISFORTUNE.22 certificate and investigate the title of the vendor appearing on the face thereof. 26 Purchasers
of registered land are bound by the annotations found at the back of the certificate of title. 27
The petition lacks merit.
Hence, petitioners cannot be considered buyers in good faith and cannot now avoid the
It is true that one who deals with property registered under the Torrens system need not go
consequences brought about by the application of Rule 74, Section 4 of the Rules of Court.
beyond the same, but only has to rely on the title. He is charged with notice only of such
burdens and claims as are annotated on the title. However, this principle does not apply when Petitioner's claim that respondents were guilty of laches and estoppel is likewise untenable.
the party has actual knowledge of facts and circumstances that would impel a reasonably Laches is the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do
cautious man to make such inquiry or when the purchaser has knowledge of a defect or the that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier. The essential
lack of title in his vendor or of sufficient facts to induce a reasonably prudent man to inquire elements of laches are: (1) conduct on the part of defendant or one under whom he claims,
into the status of the title of the property in litigation. One who falls within the exception can giving rise to the situation complained of; (2) delay in asserting complainant's right after he
neither be denominated an innocent purchaser for value nor a purchaser in good faith. 23 had knowledge of the defendant's conduct and after he has an opportunity to sue; (3) lack of
knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right
As stated above, the titles, namely, TCT Nos. 7299 and 7673, contained annotations which
on which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is
made reference to the provisions of Rule 74, Section 4 of the Rules of Court, viz:
accorded to the complainant.28
SEC. 4. Liability of distributees and estate. If it shall appear at any time within two (2)
On the other hand, estoppel by laches arises from the negligence or omission to assert a
years after the settlement and distribution of an estate in accordance with the provisions of
right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it
either of the first two sections of this rule, that an heir or other person has been unduly
either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.29
deprived of his lawful participation in the estate, such heir or such other person may compel
the settlement of the estate in the courts in the manner hereinafter provided for the purpose In the case at bar, only four months elapsed from the time respondents discovered
of satisfying such lawful participation. And if within the same time of two (2) years, it shall Montinola's fraudulent acts, sometime in May 1993, to the time they filed their complaint on
appear that there are debts outstanding against the estate which have not been paid, or that September 6, 1993. This relatively short span of time can hardly be called unreasonable,
an heir or other person has been unduly deprived of his lawful participation payable in money, especially considering that respondents used this period of time to investigate the transfers of
the court having jurisdiction of the estate may, by order for that purpose, after hearing, settle the property.30 Delay is an indispensable requisite for a finding of estoppel by laches, but to
the amount of such debts or lawful participation and order how much and in what manner be barred from bringing suit on grounds of estoppel and laches, the delay must be lengthy
each distributee shall contribute in the payment thereof, and may issue execution, if and unreasonable.31 No unreasonable delay can be attributed to respondents in this case.
circumstances require, against the bond provided in the preceding section or against the real WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The
estate belonging to the deceased, or both. Such bond and such real estate shall remain decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV No. 62473 are
charged with a liability to creditors, heirs, or other persons for the full period of two (2) years AFFIRMED in toto.
after such distribution, notwithstanding any transfers of real estate that may have been SO ORDERED.
made.24
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
The foregoing rule clearly covers transfers of real property to any person, as long as the
deprived heir or creditor vindicates his rights within two years from the date of the settlement
and distribution of estate. Contrary to petitioners' contention, the effects of this provision are

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G.R. No. 132644 November 19, 1999
ERNESTO DAVID, RICARDO DAVID, NELIA DAVID, EMILIA DAVID, LOLITA DAVID,
BASILIO LEMQUE, NICANOR LEMQUE, FELIX LEMQUE, NORMA LEMQUE, WILFREDO
LEMQUE, RODOLFO LEMQUE, ROGELIO LEMQUE, VICTORIA LEMQUE, ESTATE OF
MARIA ESPIRITU and ANDRES ADONA, MILAGROS DE UBAGO-UMALI, FELISA
GUBALLA DE UBAGO, VANESSA DE UBAGO-UMALI, ANTONIO DE UBAGO, JR.,
JOSEPH GUBALLA DE UBAGO, MARIETTA DE UBAGO-TAN, and REGISTER OF
DEEDS OF ZAMBALES, petitioners,
vs.
CRISTITO MALAY and NORA MALAY, DIONISIO MALAY, FRANCISCA T. CAPACILLO,
PEPITO ALCANTARA, NICOLAS SORIANO and JUAN MORA, respondents.

VITUG, J.:
The instant case is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals reversing that of the
Regional Trial Court on an action for reconveyance of property. The issues submitted by the
parties may not really be all that novel.
The spouses Andres Adona and Leoncia Abad, husband and wife for a good number of
years, were blessed with five children among them being Carmen Adona. Carmen married
Filomeno Malay; three children were begotten by the marriage, namely, Cristito, Nora and
Dionisio (among the herein private respondents). Following the death of Leoncia Abad in
1923, Andres Adona cohabited with Maria Espiritu, herself a widow, apparently without the
benefit of marriage. Andres and Maria sired two children, Esperanza, represented herein by

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her heirs all surnamed David, and Vicente Adona. Maria Espiritu likewise had a child by her The evidence on record shows that OCT No. 398 issued in favor of Maria Espiritu was
previous marriage, Fulgencio Lemque, now herein represented also by his own heirs. obtained by her fraudulent concealment of the existence of Adona's first marriage to Leoncia
During his lifetime, Andres Adona applied for a homestead patent over a parcel of agricultural Abad, as shown by the affidavit she executed on September 21, 1928 and filed with the
land located at Dirita, Iba, Zambales, containing an area of 22.5776 hectares. After Andres Director of Lands.
Adona had died, Maria Espiritu, predecessor-in-interest of herein petitioners, succeeded in Consequently, Maria Espiritu's fraudulent concealment of material facts created an implied or
obtaining Original Certificate of Title No. 398 over the land in her name. After Maria Espiritu constructive trust in favor of the plaintiffs, the excluded co-heirs and actual possessors of the
had died in 1945, the children, as well as descendants, of Andres Adona by his marriage with subject land. Article 1456 of the Civil Code reads:
Leoncia Abad, continued to be in peaceful and quiet possession of the subject land. If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it is by force of law,
Sometime in 1989 petitioners executed a deed of "Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale" over the considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property
subject property in favor of Mrs. Venancia Ungson. Private respondents protested the sale comes.
claiming that they were the true owners of the land. Ultimately, in any event, the sale in favor Although it is true that after the lapse of one year, a decree of registration is no longer open to
of Mrs. Ungson was rescinded in view of the latter's failure to pay in full the consideration review or attack, although its issuance was tainted with fraud; however, the aggrieved party is
agreed upon. Subsequently petitioners executed another deed of Extrajudicial Settlement not without a remedy at law. Notwithstanding the irrevocability of the Torrens Title already
with Sale. In this new instrument, dated 15 December 1990, petitioners divided the land issued in favor of Maria Espiritu, she and her successors-in-interest, although the registered
equally among themselves and sold their respective shares to their co-petitioners herein. owner under the Torrens system, may still be compelled under the law to reconvey the
Antonio de Ubago, Jr., Milagros de Ubago-Umali, Felisa Guballa de Ubago, Vanessa de subject property to the real owners. The Torrens system was not designed to shield and
Ubago-Umali and Marietta de Ubago-Tan and Joseph Guballa de Ubago. On 27 November protect one who had committed fraud or misrepresentation and thus holds title in bad faith
1992 Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-42320 was issued in favor of the de Ubagos. (Amerol vs. Bagumbaran, 154 SCRA 396, 404 [1987]);
Less than a month later or on 07 December 1992 private respondents filed a complaint In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible.
docketed Civil Case No. RTC-905-1 for "Annulment of Sale with Restraining Order Injunction What is sought instead is the transfer of the property, which has been wrongfully or
and Damages" against petitioners before Branch 71 of the Regional Trial Court of Zambales. erroneously registered in another person's name, to its rightful and legal owner, or to one with
In their complaint private respondents averred that the disputed land sold by the heirs of a better right. (Amerol, supra.)
Maria Espiritu to the de Ubagos was the subject of a homestead application by their great
However, the right to seek reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust is not
grandfather. Andres Adona, but that Original Certificate of Title No. 398 was instead
absolute. It is subject to existence prescription. (Amerol, supra.; Caro vs. Court of Appeals,
fraudulently issued to Maria Espiritu, on 04 December 1933, upon her false representation
180 SCRA 401, 405-407 [1989]; Ramos vs. Court of Appeals, 112 SCRA 542, 550 [1982];
that she was the widow of Andres Adona.
Ramos vs. Ramos, 61 SCRA 284, 299-300 [19741])
In its decision of 25 July 1995 after a hearing on the merits of the case, the trial court
An action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based on an implied trust prescribes in ten
dismissed the complaint for lack of cause of action and on the ground of prescription. It
years, the point of reference being the date of registration of the deed or the date of the
opined that the action being one for annulment of sale anchored on a fraudulent titling of the
issuance of the certificate of title over the property. (Amerol, supra., Caro, supra., Casipit vs.
subject property, the cause of action constituted a collateral attack on the Torrens Certificate
Court of Appeals, 204 SCRA 684, 694 [1991]). This rule applies only when the plaintiff or the
of Title. The court a quo added that even if the action were to be treated as being one for
person enforcing the trust is not in possession of the property. If a person claiming to be the
reconveyance, the suit would still have to fail since an action for reconveyance could only be
owner thereof is in actual possession of the property, the right to seek reconveyance does not
brought within ten (10) years counted from the date of issuance of the certificate of title (in
prescribe. The reason for this is one who is in actual possession of a piece of land claiming to
1933).
be the owner thereof may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked before
On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in its judgment of 11 February 1998, 1 set aside the order of taking steps to vindicate his right. His undisturbed possession gives him the continuing right
dismissal of the case decreed by the trial court and directed the cancellation of Transfer to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain the nature of the adverse claim of third party
Certificate of Title No. T-42320 in the name of the de Ubagos and the reconveyance of the and its effect on his title, which right can be claimed only by one who is in possession. (Vda.
property to the estate of Andres Adona. Petitioners were additionally ordered to pay damages de Cabrera vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. 108547, February 3, 1997).
and attorney's fees to private respondents. The appellate court, more particularly, ruled.

Page 42 of 85
Hence, the undisturbed possession by plaintiffs and their predecessors-in-interest gave them respondents and gave them the right of action to seek the remedy of reconveyance of the
the continuing right to resort to judicial intervention once their claim to ownership was property wrongfully obtained. 6 In Javier vs. Court of Appeals 7 this Court ruled:
challenged. It was therefore the defendant. Heirs act of executing the "Extrajudicial . . . The basic rule is that after the lapse of one (1) year, a decree of registration is no longer
Settlement of Estate with Sale" which constituted the express act of repudiation of the open to review or attack although its issuance is attended with actual fraud. This does not
constructive trust which gave rise to plaintiffs cause of action. 2 mean however that the aggrieved party is without a remedy at law. If the property has not yet
Aggrieved, petitioners have come to this Court and seek to dispute the judgment of the Court passed to an innocent purchaser for value, an action for reconveyance is still available. The
of Appeals ordering the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. 398 issued on 16 decree becomes incontrovertible and can no longer be reviewed after one (1) year from the
November 1933. It is the contention of petitioners that to allow private respondents to date of the decree so that the only remedy of the landowner whose property has been
question Original Certificate of Title No. 398 fifty-nine years after its issuance would wrongfully or erroneously registered in another's name is to bring an ordinary action in court
undermine the Torrens system and sanctity of the certificate of title. for reconveyance, which is an action in personam and is always available as long as the
Private respondents, upon the other hand, ask this Court to sustain the decision of the Court property has not passed to an innocent third party for value. If the property has passed into
of Appeals on the thesis that the property in question indubitably belongs to the estate of the hands of an innocent purchaser for value, the remedy is an action for damages. 8
Andres Adona whose incontestable right to it is derived from the perfected homestead The caption of the case before the court a quo while denominated as being one for
application two years prior to his death as so admitted by Maria Espiritu herself in her affidavit "Annulment of Sale with Damages" is in reality an action for reconveyance since the ultimate
submitted to the Director of Lands. relief sought by private respondents would be for the property covered by Original Certificate
The Court rules for the affirmance of the challenged decision. of Title No. 398 to be reconveyed to the estate of Andres Adona. In this jurisdiction,
the dictum adhered to is that the nature of an action is determined, more importantly, by the
A certificate of title issued under an administrative proceeding pursuant to a homestead
body of the pleading or complaint itself than by its title or heading. The Court of Appeals did
patent covering a disposable public land within the contemplation of the Public Land Law or
not err in treating the action brought by private respondents as one for reconveyance or as
Commonwealth Act No. 141 is as indefeasible as a certificate of title issued under a judicial
one that seeks the transfer of the property, wrongfully registered by another, to its rightful and
registration proceeding. Under the Land Registration Act, title to the property covered by a
legal owner. 10 It would seem that Andres Adona did perfect his homestead application prior to
Torrens certificate becomes indefeasible after the expiration of one year from the entry of the
his death, 11 the right to the issuance of the patent on which vests after complying with all the
decree of registration. Such decree of registration is incontrovertible and becomes binding on
requirements of the law. 12
all persons whether or not they were notified of, or participated in, the in rem registration
process. 3 There is no specific provision in the Public Land Law or the Land Registration Act The next crucial issue focuses on the ruling of the Court of Appeals to the effect that if a
(Act 496), now Presidential Decree 1529, fixing a similar one-year period within which a person who claims to be the owner of the property is in actual possession thereof, the right to
public land patent can be considered open to review on the ground of actual fraud, such as seek reconveyance does not prescribe.
that provided for in Section 38 of the Land Registration Act, and now Section 32 of There is no doubt about the fact that an action for reconveyance based on an implied trust
Presidential Decree 1529, and clothing a public land patent certificate of title with ordinarily prescribes in ten years. 13 This rule assumes, however, that there is an actual need
indefeasibility. Nevertheless, this Court has repeatedly applied Section 32 of Presidential to initiate that action, for when the right of the true and real owner is recognized, expressly or
Decree 1529 to a patent issued in accordance with the law by the Director of Lands, implicitly such as when he remains undisturbed in his possession, the statute of limitation
approved by the Secretary of Natural Resources, under the signature of the President of the would yet be irrelevant. An action for reconveyance, if nonetheless brought, would be in the
Philippines. 4 The date of the issuance of the patent corresponds to the date of the issuance nature of a suit for quieting of title, or its equivalent, an action that is imprescriptible. In Faja
of the decree in ordinary cases. Just as the decree finally awards the land applied for vs. Court of Appeals, 14 the Court has held that a person in actual possession of a piece of
registration to the party entitled to it, so also, the patent issued by the Director of Lands land under claim of ownership may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is
equally and finally grants and conveys the land applied for to the applicant. 5 attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right, and that his undisturbed possession gives
Original Certificate of Title No. 398 was issued in the name of Maria Espiritu on 04 December him the continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and determine the
1933 and would have become indefeasible a year thereafter had not its issuance been nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his title. In the words of the Court
attended with fraud. The attendance of fraud created an implied trust in favor of private

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. . . There is settled jurisprudence that one who is in actual possession of a piece of land facts to induce a reasonably prudent man to inquire into the status of the title of the property
claiming to be owner thereof may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked in litigation. The presence of anything which excites or arouses suspicion should then prompt
before taking steps to vindicate his right, the reason for the rule being, that his undisturbed the vendee to look beyond the certificate and investigate the title of the vendor appearing on
possession gives him a continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and the face of said certificate. One who falls within the exception can neither be denominated an
determine the nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his own title, which innocent purchaser for value nor a purchaser in good faith and hence does not merit the
right can be claimed only by one who is in possession. No better situation can be conceived protection of the law. (Sandoval, supra.) (Emphasis supplied)
at the moment for Us to apply this rule on equity than that of herein petitioners whose mother, Applying the aforequoted jurisprudence, the defendant buyers can not be considered as
Felipa Faja, was in possession of the litigated property for no less than 30 years and was innocent purchasers for value. A perusal of defendant buyers' TCT No. 42320 reveals that it
suddenly confronted with a claim that the land she had been occupying and cultivating all contains an entry by the Register of Deeds which provides that their ownership over the land
these years, was titled in the name of a third person. We hold that in such a situation the right is subject to prospective claims by any possible heirs and creditors who might have been
to quiet title to the property, to seek its reconveyance and annul any certificate of title deprived of their lawful participation in the estate. The said entry reads as follows:
covering it, accrued only from the time the one in possession was made aware of a claim
Entry No. 102385 Section 4 The property described in this certificate of title is subject to
adverse to his own and it is only then that the statutory period of prescription commences to
the provisions of Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court for the period of two years in favor
run against such possessor. 15
of in any other possible heir or heirs and creditors who might have been deprived of his or
The same dictum is reiterated in Heirs of Jose Olviga vs. Court of Appeals; 16 thus their lawful participations in the said estate.
With regard to the issue of prescription, this Court has ruled a number of times before that an Date of Instrument December 15, 1990
action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based on implied or constructive trust prescribes
Date of Inscription November 27, 1992 at 2:00 p.m. (Exh. "E"; Rollo, p. 137)
in ten years, the point of reference being the date of registration of the deed or the date of the
issuance of the certificate of title over the property (Vda. de Portugal vs. IAC, 159 SCRA 178). Sec. 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court reads, in part, as follows:
But this rule applies only when the plaintiff is not in possession of the property, since if a Sec. 4. Liability of distributees and estate. If it shall appear at any time within (2) years
person claiming to be the owner thereof is in actual possession of the property, the right to after the settlement and distribution of an estate in accordance with the provisions of either of
seek reconveyance, which in effect seeks to quiet title to the property, does not prescribe. 17 the first two sections of this rule, that an heir or other person has been unduly deprived of his
Finally, this Court sees no cogent reasons to disturb the finding of the Court of Appeals that lawful participation in the estate, such heir or such other person may compel the settlement of
the de Ubagos may not be considered buyers in good faith. Said the Appellate Court: the estate in the courts in the manner hereinafter provided for the purpose of satisfying such
lawful participation . . .
. . . An innocent purchaser for value is one who buys property of another, without notice that
some other person has a right to, or interest in, such property and pays a full and fair price for The record shows that the "Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Sale" was executed on
the same, at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claim or interest of December 15, 1990. Plaintiffs' complaint for Reconveyance was filed on December 7, 1992.
some other persons in the property. He buys the property with the belief that the person from Hence, the two-year period has not yet elapsed.
whom he receives the thing was the owner and could convey title to the property. A purchaser It likewise appears that the subject land was the object of a sale between the defendant Heirs
can not close his eyes to facts which should put a reasonable man on his guard and still claim and one Mrs. Venancia Ungson which was subsequently aborted due to the intervention of
he acted in good faith (Sandoval vs. Court of Appeals, 260 SCRA 283, 296 [1996]). defendant Vicente Adona and plaintiff Cristito Malay. (Exhs. "K", "K-1" and "L") However,
It is well settled that one who deals with property registered under the Torrens system need defendant Heirs nevertheless executed another sale in favor of defendant buyers who are
not go beyond the same, but only has to rely on the title. He is charged with notice only of admittedly relatives of Mrs. Venancia Ungson. (TSN, January 23, 1995, p. 14) Plaintiff Cristito
such burdens and claims as are annotated on the title. (Sandoval, supra., at p. 295). Malay's intervention in the previous sale should have put defendant buyers on their guard.

The aforestated principle admits of an unchallenged exception: that a person dealing with Moreover, it is unbelievable that the defendant buyers would not have noticed the plaintiffs
registered land has a right to rely on the Torrens certificate of title and to dispense with the who were in possession of the land when the defendant buyers inspected the same. Had they
need of inquiring further except when the party has actual knowledge of facts and made further investigations, they would have discovered that plaintiffs were in possession of
circumstances that would impel a reasonably cautious man to make such inquiry or when the the land under a claim of ownership.
purchaser has some knowledge of a defect or the lack of title in his vendor or of sufficient

Page 44 of 85
The rule is settled that a buyer of real property which is in the possession of persons other
than the seller must be wary and should investigate the rights of those in possession.
Otherwise, without such inquiry, the buyer can hardly be regarded as a buyer in good faith.
The buyer who has failed to know or discover that the land sold to him is in the adverse
possession of another buyer in bad faith. (Embrado vs. Court of Appeals, 233 SCRA 335, 347
[1994]). 18
Altogether, the Court sees no reversible error on the part of the Court of Appeals in its
assailed decision.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, Panganiban, Purisima and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 115925 August 15, 2003


SPOUSES RICARDO PASCUAL and CONSOLACION SIOSON, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and REMEDIOS S. EUGENIO-GINO, respondents.
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition for review of the Decision 1 dated 31 January 1994 of the Court of Appeals
ordering the Register of Deeds of Metro Manila, District III, to place TCT No. (232252) 1321
in the name of respondent Remedios S. Eugenio-Gino. The Decision ordered the Register of
Deeds to cancel the names of petitioners Ricardo Pascual and Consolacion Sioson
("petitioners") in TCT No. (232252) 1321. The Decision also directed petitioners to pay
respondent moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees.
The Facts
Petitioner Consolacion Sioson ("CONSOLACION") and respondent Remedios S. Eugenio-
Gino ("REMEDIOS") are the niece and granddaughter, respectively, of the late Canuto Sioson
("CANUTO"). CANUTO and 11 other individuals, including his sister Catalina Sioson
("CATALINA") and his brother Victoriano Sioson ("VICTORIANO"), were co-owners of a
parcel of land in Tanza, Navotas, Metro Manila. The property, known as Lot 2 of Plan Psu
13245, had an area of 9,347 square meters and was covered by Original Certificate of Title

Page 45 of 85
No. 4207 issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal. CATALINA, CANUTO, and VICTORIANO Malabon, lalawigan ng Rizal, sa ilalim ng isang ganap na panunumpa alinsunod sa batas, ay
each owned an aliquot 10/70 share or 1,335 square meters of Lot 2. 2 malayang nagsasalaysay ng mga sumusunod:
On 20 November 1951, CANUTO had Lot 2 surveyed and subdivided into eight lots (Lot Nos. Na kami ang mga buhay na anak na naiwan ni CANUTO SIOSON na nagmamay-ari ng
2-A to 2-H) through Subdivision Plan Psd 34713 which the Director of Lands approved on 30 10/70 bahaging hindi hati (10/70 porcion pro-indiviso) ng isang lagay na lupa (Lote No. 2,
May 1952. Lot No. 2-A, with an area of 670 square meters, and Lot No. 2-E, with an area of plano Psu-13245), na nasa Nayon ng Tanza, Navotas, Rizal, at ang mga palatandaan nito ay
2,000 square meters, were placed under CANUTOs name. Three other individuals took the nasasaad sa Certificado Original de Titulo No. 4207 ng Tanggapan ng Registrador de Titulos
remaining lots.3 ng Rizal;
On 26 September 1956, CANUTO and CONSOLACION executed a Kasulatan ng Bilihang Na sa lubos naming kaalaman, ay ipinagbili ng aming Ama na si Canuto Sioson ang kaniyang
Tuluyan4("KASULATAN"). Under the KASULATAN, CANUTO sold his 10/70 share in Lot 2 in buong bahagi na 10/70 sa nasabing Lote No. 2, kay CONSOLACION SIOSON, may-bahay ni
favor of CONSOLACION for P2,250.00. The KASULATAN, notarized by Notary Public Jose T. Ricardo S. Pascual, na taga Dampalit, Malabon, Rizal, sa halagang P2,250.00, salaping
de los Santos of Navotas, provides: pilipino, noong ika 16 [sic] ng Septiembre, 1956, sa pamamagitan ng isang KASULATAN NG
Na ako, CANUTO SIOSON, mamamayang Pilipino, may katampatang gulang, kasal kay BILIHANG TULUYAN na pinagtibay sa harap ng Notario Publico Jose T. de los Santos nang
Raymunda San Diego, at naninirahan sa Tanza, Navotas, Rizal, sa bisa at pamamagitan ng pechang nabanggit, sa Navotas, Rizal, (Doc. No. 194, Page No. 84; Book No. IV; Series of
kasulatang ito ay nagpapatunay at nagpapatibay: 1956);
1. Na ako ang lubos at tunay na may-ari ng 10/70 bahaging hindi hati (10/70 porcion pro- Na ang nasabing lupa na ipinagbili ng aming Ama kay Consolacion Sioson ni Pascual, ay
indiviso) ng isang lagay na lupa (Lote No. 2, Plano Psu-13245), na nasa sa nayon ng Tanza, nakikilala ngayong mga Lote No. 2-A at Lote 2-E ng Plano de Subdivision Psd-34713; na
Municipio ng Navotas, Provincia ng Rizal, at ang descripcion o pagkakakilanlan ng nasabing pinagtibay ng Assistant Director of Lands noong Mayo 30, 1952;
lote ay nakasaad sa Certificado Original, de Titulo No. 4207 ng Oficina ng Registrador de Na aming ngayong pinatitibayan ang pagka-pagbili ng bahagi ng aming Ama kay
Titulos ng Rizal, gaya ng sumusunod: Consolacion Sioson ni Pascual ng ngayoy nakikilalang Lote No. 2-A at Lote No. 2-E ng Plano
xxxx de Subdivision Psd-34713. (Emphasis supplied)
2. Na dahil at alang-alang sa halagang Dalawang Libo Dalawang Daan at Limampung Piso On 28 October 1968, CONSOLACION registered the KASULATAN and the JOINT
(P2,250.00), salaping Pilipino, na sa akin ay ibinayad ni CONSOLACION SIOSON, kasal kay AFFIDAVIT with the Office of the Register of Deeds of Rizal ("Register of Deeds"). Based on
Ricardo S. Pascual, may sapat na gulang, mamamayang Pilipino, at naninirahan sa these documents, the Register of Deeds issued to CONSOLACION Transfer Certificate of
Dampalit, Malabon, Rizal at ang pagkakatanggap ng nasabing halaga ay aking inaamin at Title No. (232252) 1321 covering Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E of Subdivision Plan Psd 34713 with a
pinatutunayan, ay aking ipinagbili, inilipat at isinalin, sa pamamagitan ng bilihang tuluyan at total area of 2,670 square meters.
walang pasubali a favor [sic] sa nasabing si CONSOLACION SIOSON, sa kanyang On 4 February 1988, REMEDIOS filed a complaint against CONSOLACION and her spouse
tagapagmana at mapaglilipatan ang lahat ng aking titulo, karapatan at kaparti na binubuo ng Ricardo Pascual in the Regional Trial Court of Malabon, Branch 165, for "Annulment or
10/70 bahaging hindi hati (10/70 porcion pro-indiviso) ng loteng descrito or tinutukoy sa itaas Cancellation of Transfer Certificate [of Title] and Damages." REMEDIOS claimed that she is
nito. (Emphasis supplied) the owner of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E because CATALINA devised these lots to her in
CONSOLACION immediately took possession of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E. She later declared CATALINAs last will and testament 7 ("LAST WILL") dated 29 May 1964. REMEDIOS added
the land for taxation purposes and paid the corresponding real estate taxes. 5 that CONSOLACION obtained title to these lots through fraudulent means since the area
covered by TCT (232252) 1321 is twice the size of CANUTOs share in Lot 2. REMEDIOS
On 23 October 1968, the surviving children of CANUTO, namely, Felicidad and Beatriz,
prayed for the cancellation of CONSOLACIONs title, the issuance of another title in her
executed a joint affidavit6("JOINT AFFIDAVIT") affirming the KASULATAN in favor of
name, and the payment to her of damages.
CONSOLACION. They also attested that the lots their father had sold to CONSOLACION
were Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E of Subdivision Plan Psd 34713. The JOINT AFFIDAVIT reads: Petitioners sought to dismiss the complaint on the ground of prescription. Petitioners claimed
that the basis of the action is fraud, and REMEDIOS should have filed the action within four
KAMING sina FELICIDAD SIOSON at BEATRIZ SIOSON, pawang mga Pilipino, kapuwa may
years from the registration of CONSOLACIONs title on 28 October 1968 and not some 19
sapat na gulang at naninirahan, ang una sa Tanza, Navotas at ang ikalawa sa Concepcion,
years later on 4 February 1988. REMEDIOS opposed the motion, claiming that she became

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aware of CONSOLACIONs adverse title only in February 1987. CONSOLACION maintained subsequently be admitted to probate. The dispositive portion of the appellate courts ruling
that she had timely filed her complaint within the four-year prescriptive on 4 February 1988. provides:
In its order of 28 April 1988, the trial court denied petitioners motion to dismiss. The trial court WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Registry of
held that the reckoning of the prescriptive period for filing REMEDIOS complaint is Deeds of Rizal or Metro Manila, District III, is ordered to place Transfer Certificate of Title No.
evidentiary in nature and must await the presentation of the parties evidence during the trial. (232252) 1321 under the name of Remedios S. Eugenio-Gino as executor of the will of
During the pre-trial stage, REMEDIOS clarified that she was claiming only CATALINAs 10/70 Catalina Sioson and cancel the names of the Spouses Ricardo Pascual and Consolacion
share in Lot 2, or 1,335 square meters, which constitute of the area of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2- Sioson inscribed over said title as owners of the covered lot. Defendants-appellees spouses
E.8 The trial of the case then ensued. Ricardo Pascual and Consolacion Sioson are ordered to pay plaintiff-appellant Remedios S.
The Ruling of the Trial Court Eugenio-Gino moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00, exemplary damages
of P20,000[.00] and attorneys fees of P20,000.00 and P500.00 per appearance.10
On 26 November 1990, the trial court rendered judgment dismissing the case and ordering
REMEDIOS to pay petitioners P10,000 as attorneys fees and the cost of suit. The trial court Petitioners sought reconsideration of the ruling. However, the Court of Appeals denied their
held that the action filed by REMEDIOS is based on fraud, covered by the four-year motion in its order dated 15 June 1994.
prescriptive period. The trial court also held that REMEDIOS knew of petitioners adverse title Hence, this petition.
on 19 November 1982 when REMEDIOS testified against petitioners in an ejectment suit The Issues
petitioners had filed against their tenants in Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E. Thus, the complaint of
Petitioners allege the following assignment of errors:
REMEDIOS had already prescribed when she filed it on 4 February 1988.
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS
The trial court further ruled that REMEDIOS has no right of action against petitioners because
CAUSE OF ACTION IS NOT BARRED BY PRESCRIPTION WHICH FINDING IS
CATALINAs LAST WILL from which REMEDIOS claims to derive her title has not been
MANIFESTLY CONTRARY TO LAW AND THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS
admitted to probate. Under Article 838 of the Civil Code, no will passes real or personal
HONORABLE COURT.
property unless it is allowed in probate in accordance with the Rules of Court. The dispositive
portion of the trial courts decision provides: II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT
DOES NOT HAVE ANY TITLE AND HAS UTTERLY FAILED TO PROVE ANY TITLE TO THE
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the defendants and against plaintiff,
LOTS INVOLVED IN THIS CASE, AND IN ORDERING THE CANCELLATION OF THE
ordering:
CERTIFICATE OF TITLE OF PETITIONERS.
1. The dismissal of this case;
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
2. The plaintiff to pay the defendants the sum of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos as and AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION AND IN GROSS VIOLATION OF THE RULES
for attorneys fees; and OF COURT IN ORDERING THE ENTIRE PROPERTY COVERED BY TRANSFER
3. The plaintiff to pay the costs of suit.9 CERTIFICATE OF TITLE NO. (232252) 1321 TO BE PLACED IN THE NAME OF PRIVATE
REMEDIOS appealed to the Court of Appeals. RESPONDENT, BECAUSE THE CLAIM OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS LIMITED ONLY TO
ONE-HALF (1/2) PORTION OF THE PROPERTY, AND THE OTHER HALF THEREOF
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
UNQUESTIONABLY BELONGS TO PETITIONERS.
On 31 January 1994, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment reversing the decision of the
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS ACTED
trial court. The appellate court held that what REMEDIOS filed was a suit to enforce an
FRAUDULENTLY AND IN BAD FAITH IN SECURING THEIR CERTIFICATE OF TITLE TO
implied trust allegedly created in her favor when CONSOLACION fraudulently registered her
THE PROPERTY INVOLVED IN THIS CASE, AND IN ORDERING PETITIONERS TO PAY
title over Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E. Consequently, the prescriptive period for filing the complaint is
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS MORAL DAMAGES, EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND
ten years, not four. The Court of Appeals counted this ten-year period from 19 November
ATTORNEYS FEES.11
1982. Thus, when REMEDIOS filed her complaint on 4 February 1988, the ten-year
prescriptive period had not yet expired. The pivotal questions are: (1) whether prescription bars the action filed by REMEDIOS, and
(2) whether REMEDIOS is a real party-in-interest.
The appellate court held that CATALINAs unprobated LAST WILL does not preclude
REMEDIOS from seeking reconveyance of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E as the LAST WILL may The Ruling of the Court

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The petition has merit. pursuant to Article 1144.16 This ten-year prescriptive period begins to run from the date the
The Action is Barred by Prescription adverse party repudiates the implied trust, which repudiation takes place when the adverse
party registers the land.17
The trial court held that the action filed by REMEDIOS is one based on fraud. REMEDIOS
action seeks to recover real property that petitioners allegedly acquired through fraud. REMEDIOS filed her complaint on 4 February 1988 or more than 19 years after
Consequently, the trial court held that the action prescribes in four years counted from CONSOLACION registered her title over Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E on 28 October 1968.
REMEDIOS actual discovery of petitioners adverse title. The trial court concluded that Unquestionably, REMEDIOS filed the complaint late thus warranting its dismissal. As the
REMEDIOS belatedly filed her suit on 4 February 1988 because she actually knew of Court recently declared in Spouses Alfredo v. Spouses Borras, 18
petitioners adverse title since 19 November 1982. Following Caro,19 we have consistently held that an action for reconveyance based on an
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals held that what REMEDIOS filed was a suit to enforce implied trust prescribes in ten years. We went further by specifying the reference point of the
an implied trust. REMEDIOS had ten years counted from actual notice of the breach of trust, ten-year prescriptive period as the date of the registration of the deed or the issuance of the
that is, the assertion of adverse title, within which to bring her action. The appellate court held title.
that REMEDIOS seasonably filed her complaint on 4 February 1988 because she allegedly The Court of Appeals Reckoning of
discovered petitioners adverse title only on 19 November 1982. Prescriptive Period from Actual Notice
What REMEDIOS filed was an action to enforce an implied trust but the same is already of Adverse Title Not Justified
barred by prescription.
In holding that the action filed by REMEDIOS has not prescribed, the Court of Appeals
Prescriptive Period is 10 Years Counted invoked this Courts ruling in Adille v. Court of Appeals. 20 In Adille, the Court reckoned the ten-
From Registration of Adverse Title year prescriptive period for enforcing implied trusts not from registration of the adverse title
The four-year prescriptive period relied upon by the trial court applies only if the fraud does but from actual notice of the adverse title by the cestui que trust. However, the Court, in
not give rise to an implied trust, and the action is to annul a voidable contract under Article justifying its deviation from the general rule, explained:
139012 of the Civil Code. In such a case, the four-year prescriptive period under Article [W]hile actions to enforce a constructive trust prescribes (sic) in ten years, reckoned from the
139113 begins to run from the time of discovery of the mistake, violence, intimidation, undue date of the registration of the property, we x x x are not prepared to count the period from
influence or fraud. such date in this case. We note the petitioners sub rosa efforts to get hold of the property
In the present case, REMEDIOS does not seek to annul the KASULATAN. REMEDIOS does exclusively for himself beginning with his fraudulent misrepresentation in his unilateral
not assail the KASULATAN as a voidable contract. In fact, REMEDIOS admits the validity of affidavit of extrajudicial settlement that he is "the only heir and child of his mother Feliza["]
the sale of 1,335 square meters of land under the KASULATAN. However, REMEDIOS with the consequence that he was able to secure title in his name also. (Emphasis supplied)
alleges that the excess area of 1,335 meters is not part of the sale under the KASULATAN. Such commission of specific fraudulent conduct is absent in the present case. Other than
REMEDIOS seeks the removal of this excess area from TCT No. (232252) 1321 that was asserting that petitioners are guilty of fraud because they secured title to Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-
issued to CONSOLACION. Consequently, REMEDIOS action is for "Annulment or E with an area twice bigger than what CANUTO allegedly sold to CONSOLACION,
Cancellation of Transfer Certificate [of Title] and Damages." 14 REMEDIOS did not present any other proof of petitioners fraudulent conduct akin to Adille.
REMEDIOS action is based on an implied trust under Article 1456 since she claims that the CONSOLACION obtained title to Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E through the KASULATAN executed by
inclusion of the additional 1,335 square meters in TCT No. (232252) 1321 was without basis. CANUTO and the JOINT AFFIDAVIT executed by his surviving children, one of whom,
In effect, REMEDIOS asserts that CONSOLACION acquired the additional 1,335 square Felicidad, is the mother of REMEDIOS. The KASULATAN referred to the sale of CANUTOs
meters through mistake or fraud and thus CONSOLACION should be considered a trustee of 10/70 share in Lot 2 without specifying the area of the lot sold. The JOINT AFFIDAVIT
an implied trust for the benefit of the rightful owner of the property. Clearly, the applicable referred to the "Plano de Subdivision Psd-34713" without also specifying the area of the lot
prescriptive period is ten years under Article 1144 and not four years under Articles 1389 and sold. However, Subdivision Plan Psd 34713, as certified by the Assistant Director of Lands on
1391. 30 May 1952, showed an area of 2,670 square meters in the name of CANUTO. Based on
It is now well-settled that the prescriptive period to recover property obtained by fraud or these documents, the Register of Deeds issued TCT No. (232252) 1321 to CONSOLACION
mistake, giving rise to an implied trust under Article 145615 of the Civil Code, is ten years covering an area of 2,670 square meters.

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REMEDIOS does not assail the KASULATAN or the JOINT AFFIDAVIT as fictitious or forged. and no right can be claimed thereunder." 28 REMEDIOS anchors her right in filing this suit on
REMEDIOS even admits the authenticity of Subdivision Plan Psd 34713 as certified by the her being a devisee of CATALINAs LAST WILL. However, since the probate court has not
Assistant Director of Lands.21 Moreover, REMEDIOS has not contested petitioners claim that admitted CATALINAs LAST WILL, REMEDIOS has not acquired any right under the LAST
CANUTO doubled his share in Lot 2 by acquiring VICTORIANOs share. 22 WILL. REMEDIOS is thus without any cause of action either to seek reconveyance of Lot
Plainly, the increase in the area sold from 1,335 square meters to 2,670 square meters is a Nos. 2-A and 2-E or to enforce an implied trust over these lots.
glaring mistake. There is, however, no proof whatsoever that this increase in area was the The appellate court tried to go around this deficiency by ordering the reconveyance of Lot
result of fraud. Allegations of fraud in actions to enforce implied trusts must be proved by Nos. 2-A and 2-E to REMEDIOS in her capacity as executrix of CATALINAs LAST WILL. This
clear and convincing evidence.23 Adille, which is anchored on fraud, 24 cannot apply to the is inappropriate because REMEDIOS sued petitioners not in such capacity but as the alleged
present case. owner of the disputed lots. Thus, REMEDIOS alleged in her complaint:
At any rate, even if we apply Adille to this case, prescription still bars REMEDIOS complaint. 3. The plaintiff is a niece and compulsory heir of the late CATALINA SIOSON who died single
As executrix of CATALINAs LAST WILL, REMEDIOS submitted to the then Court of First and without any child of her own and who, during her lifetime, was the owner of those two (2)
Instance of Caloocan in Special Proceedings Case No. C-208 the inventory of all the property parcels of land located at Tanza, Navotas, Rizal (now Metro Manila), formerly covered by
comprising CATALINAs estate, which included Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E. In a motion dated 7 Original Certificate of Title No. 4207 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Rizal, x x x.
November 1977, CONSOLACION sought the exclusion of these lots from the inventory, 4. The plaintiff, aside from being the compulsory heir of the deceased CATALINA SIOSON,
invoking her title over them. REMEDIOS was served a copy of the motion on 8 November has sole and exclusive claim of ownership over the above-mentioned two (2) parcels of land
1977 against which she filed an opposition. Nevertheless, the trial court overruled by virtue of a will or "Huling Habilin at Pagpapasiya" executed by Catalina Sioson on May 19,
REMEDIOS objection. In its order of 3 January 1978, the trial court granted 1964 before Notary Public Efren Y. Angeles at Navotas, Rizal, in which document the
CONSOLACIONs motion and ordered the exclusion of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E from the estate deceased Catalina Sioson specifically and exclusively bequeathed to the plaintiff the above-
of CATALINA. REMEDIOS did not appeal from this ruling. mentioned Lots 2-A and 2-E of Psd-34713 approved by the Bureau of Lands on May 30,
REMEDIOS thus had actual notice of petitioners adverse title on 8 November 1977. Even if, 1952. Copy of the "Huling Habilin at Pagpapasiya" consisting of four (4) pages is hereto
for the sake of argument, the ten-year prescriptive period begins to run upon actual notice of attached and forms an integral part hereof as Annex "A;"
the adverse title, still REMEDIOS right to file this suit has prescribed. REMEDIOS had until 5. Sometime on or about February, 1987, plaintiff discovered that the above-mentioned Lots
11 November 1987 within which to file her complaint. When she did so on 4 February 1988, 2-A and 2-E of subdivision plan Psd-34713 are now registered or titled in the name of the
the prescriptive period had already lapsed. defendants under Transfer Certificate of Title No. (232252) 1321 of the Registry of Deeds of
Respondent is Not a Real Party-in-Interest Rizal, now Metro-Manila District III. Copy of the title is hereto attached and forms an integral
Not only does prescription bar REMEDIOS complaint. REMEDIOS is also not a real party-in- part hereof as Annex "B;"
interest who can file the complaint, as the trial court correctly ruled. 6. Upon further inquiry and investigation, plaintiff discovered that the defendants were able to
The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure require that every action must be prosecuted or defended obtain title in their name of the said parcels of land by virtue of a "Kasulatan ng Bilihang
in the name of the real party-in-interest who is the party who stands to benefit or suffer from Tuluyan" allegedly executed by Canuto Sioson on September 26, 1956 before Notary Public
the judgment in the suit.25 If one who is not a real party-in-interest brings the action, the suit is Jose [T.] de los Santos of Navotas, Metro-Manila. Copy of the said document is hereto
dismissible for lack of cause of action.26 attached and forms an integral part hereof as Annex "C;"
REMEDIOS anchored her claim over Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E (or over its one-half portion) on 7. The plaintiff also discovered that although x x x the original sale did not specify the parcels
the devise of these lots to her under CATALINAs LAST WILL. However, the trial court found of land sold by Canuto Sioson, the defendants submitted an alleged Affidavit executed by
that the probate court did not issue any order admitting the LAST WILL to probate. Felicidad Sioson and Beatriz Sioson identifying the lots sold by Canuto Sioson to the
REMEDIOS does not contest this finding. Indeed, during the trial, REMEDIOS admitted that defendants as Lots 2-A and 2-E of subdivision plan Psd-34713. Copy of the Affidavit dated
Special Proceedings Case No. C-208 is still pending.27 October 3, 1968 on the basis of which the present Transfer Certificate of Title No. (232252)
1321 was issued to the defendants is hereto attached and forms an integral part hereof as
Article 838 of the Civil Code states that "[N]o will shall pass either real or personal property
Annex "D;"
unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court." This Court has
interpreted this provision to mean, "until admitted to probate, [a will] has no effect whatever

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8. The defendants are clearly guilty of fraud in presenting the aforementioned Affidavit (Annex
"D") to the Register of Deeds as the basis of their claim to Lots 2-A and 2-E in view of the fact
that the parcels sold to them by Canuto Sioson, assuming there was such a sale, were
different parcels of land, Lots 2-A and 2-E being the properties of the late Catalina Sioson
who bequeathed the same to the plaintiff.
xxxx
12. Because of the defendants fraudulent actuations on this matter, plaintiff suffered and
continious [sic] to suffer moral damages arising from anxiety, shock and wounded feelings .
Defendants should also be assessed exemplary damages by way of a lesson to deter them
from again committing the fraudulent acts, or acts of similar nature, by virtue of which they
were able to obtain title to the parcels of land involved in this case x x x. 29(Emphasis supplied)
Indeed, all throughout the proceedings below and even in her Comment to this petition,
REMEDIOS continued to pursue her claim as the alleged owner of one-half of the disputed
lots.
Other Matters Raised in the Petition
The Court deems it unnecessary to pass upon the other errors petitioners assigned
concerning the award of damages and attorneys fees to REMEDIOS. Such award assumes
that REMEDIOS is a real party-in-interest and that she timely filed her complaint. As earlier G.R. No. L-56340 June 24, 1983
shown, this is not the case.
SPOUSES ALVARO PASTOR, JR. and MA. ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR, petitioners,
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31 vs.
January 1994 and its Resolution dated 15 June 1994 are SET ASIDE. The complaint filed by THE COURT OF APPEALS, JUAN Y. REYES, JUDGE OF BRANCH I, COURT OF FIRST
respondent Remedios Eugenio-Gino, dated 2 February 1988 is DISMISSED. INSTANCE OF CEBU and LEWELLYN BARLITO QUEMADA, respondents.
SO ORDERED. Pelaez, Pelaez, & Pelaez Law Office for petitioners.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Vitug, Ynares-Santiago and Azcuna, JJ., concur. Ceniza, Rama & Associates for private respondents.

PLANA, J.:
I. FACTS:
This is a case of hereditary succession.
Alvaro Pastor, Sr. (PASTOR, SR.), a Spanish subject, died in Cebu City on June 5, 1966,
survived by his Spanish wife Sofia Bossio (who also died on October 21, 1966), their two
legitimate children Alvaro Pastor, Jr. (PASTOR, JR.) and Sofia Pastor de Midgely (SOFIA),
and an illegitimate child, not natural, by the name of Lewellyn Barlito Quemada QUEMADA
PASTOR, JR. is a Philippine citizen, having been naturalized in 1936. SOFIA is a Spanish
subject. QUEMADA is a Filipino by his mother's citizenship.
On November 13, 1970, QUEMADA filed a petition for the probate and allowance of an
alleged holographic will of PASTOR, SR. with the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch I
(PROBATE COURT), docketed as SP No. 3128-R. The will contained only one testamentary

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disposition: a legacy in favor of QUEMADA consisting of 30% of PASTOR, SR.'s 42% share 3. B. Quemada .......................................4.5%
in the operation by Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation (ATLAS) of On August 20, 1980, while the reconveyance suit was still being litigated in Branch IX of the
some mining claims in Pina-Barot, Cebu. Court of First Instance of Cebu, the PROBATE COURT issued the now assailed Order of
On November 21, 1970, the PROBATE COURT, upon motion of QUEMADA and after an ex Execution and Garnishment, resolving the question of ownership of the royalties payable by
parte hearing, appointed him special administrator of the entire estate of PASTOR, SR., ATLAS and ruling in effect that the legacy to QUEMADA was not inofficious. [There was
whether or not covered or affected by the holographic will. He assumed office as such on absolutely no statement or claim in the Order that the Probate Order of December 5, 1972
December 4, 1970 after filing a bond of P 5,000.00. had previously resolved the issue of ownership of the mining rights of royalties thereon, nor
On December 7, 1970, QUEMADA as special administrator, instituted against PASTOR, JR. the intrinsic validity of the holographic will.]
and his wife an action for reconveyance of alleged properties of the estate, which included The order of August 20, 1980 found that as per the holographic will and a written
the properties subject of the legacy and which were in the names of the spouses PASTOR, acknowledgment of PASTOR, JR. dated June 17, 1962, of the above 60% interest in the
JR. and his wife, Maria Elena Achaval de Pastor, who claimed to be the owners thereof in mining claims belonging to the Pastor Group, 42% belonged to PASTOR, SR. and only 33%
their own rights, and not by inheritance. The action, docketed as Civil Case No. 274-R, was belonged to PASTOR, JR. The remaining 25% belonged to E. Pelaez, also of the Pastor
filed with the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch IX. Group. The PROBATE COURT thus directed ATLAS to remit directly to QUEMADA the 42%
On February 2, 1971, PASTOR, JR. and his sister SOFIA filed their opposition to the petition royalties due decedent's estate, of which QUEMADA was authorized to retain 75% for himself
for probate and the order appointing QUEMADA as special administrator. as legatee and to deposit 25% with a reputable banking institution for payment of the estate
taxes and other obligations of the estate. The 33% share of PASTOR, JR. and/or his
On December 5, 1972, the PROBATE COURT issued an order allowing the will to probate.
assignees was ordered garnished to answer for the accumulated legacy of QUEMADA from
Appealed to the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 52961- R, the order was affirmed in a
the time of PASTOR, SR.'s death, which amounted to over two million pesos.
decision dated May 9, 1977. On petition for review, the Supreme Court in G.R. No. L-46645
dismissed the petition in a minute resolution dated November 1, 1977 and remanded the The order being "immediately executory", QUEMADA succeeded in obtaining a Writ of
same to the PROBATE COURT after denying reconsideration on January 11, 1978. Execution and Garnishment on September 4, 1980, and in serving the same on ATLAS on
the same day. Notified of the Order on September 6, 1980, the oppositors sought
For two years after remand of the case to the PROBATE COURT, QUEMADA filed pleading
reconsideration thereof on the same date primarily on the ground that the PROBATE COURT
after pleading asking for payment of his legacy and seizure of the properties subject of said
gravely abused its discretion when it resolved the question of ownership of the royalties and
legacy. PASTOR, JR. and SOFIA opposed these pleadings on the ground of pendency of the
ordered the payment of QUEMADA's legacy after prematurely passing upon the intrinsic
reconveyance suit with another branch of the Cebu Court of First Instance. All pleadings
validity of the will. In the meantime, the PROBATE COURT ordered suspension of payment of
remained unacted upon by the PROBATE COURT.
all royalties due PASTOR, JR. and/or his assignees until after resolution of oppositors' motion
On March 5, 1980, the PROBATE COURT set the hearing on the intrinsic validity of the will for reconsideration.
for March 25, 1980, but upon objection of PASTOR, JR. and SOFIA on the e ground of
Before the Motion for Reconsideration could be resolved, however, PASTOR, JR., this time
pendency of the reconveyance suit, no hearing was held on March 25. Instead, the
joined by his wife Ma. ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR, filed with the Court of Appeals a
PROBATE COURT required the parties to submit their respective position papers as to how
Petition for certiorari and Prohibition with a prayer for writ of preliminary injunction (CA-G.R.
much inheritance QUEMADA was entitled to receive under the wig. Pursuant thereto,
No. SP- 11373-R). They assailed the Order dated August 20, 1980 and the writ of execution
PASTOR. JR. and SOFIA submitted their Memorandum of authorities dated April 10, which in
and garnishment issued pursuant thereto. The petition was denied on November 18, 1980 on
effect showed that determination of how much QUEMADA should receive was still premature.
the grounds (1) that its filing was premature because the Motion for Reconsideration of the
QUEMADA submitted his Position paper dated April 20, 1980. ATLAS, upon order of the
questioned Order was still pending determination by the PROBATE COURT; and (2) that
Court, submitted a sworn statement of royalties paid to the Pastor Group of tsn from June
although "the rule that a motion for reconsideration is prerequisite for an action for certiorari is
1966 (when Pastor, Sr. died) to February 1980. The statement revealed that of the mining
never an absolute rule," the Order assailed is "legally valid. "
claims being operated by ATLAS, 60% pertained to the Pastor Group distributed as follows:
On December 9, 1980, PASTOR, JR. and his wife moved for reconsideration of the Court of
1. A. Pastor, Jr. ...................................40.5%
Appeal's decision of November 18, 1980, calling the attention of the appellate court to
2. E. Pelaez, Sr. ...................................15.0% another order of the Probate Court dated November 11, 1980 (i.e., while their petition for

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certiorari was pending decision in the appellate court), by which the oppositors' motion for intrinsic validity of the will, and reiterating the Order of Execution dated August 20, 1980; and
reconsideration of the Probate Court's Order of August 20, 1980 was denied. [The November the Order of December 17, 1980 reducing to P2,251,516.74 the amount payable to
11 Order declared that the questions of intrinsic validity of the will and of ownership over the QUEMADA representing the royalties he should have received from the death of PASTOR,
mining claims (not the royalties alone) had been finally adjudicated by the final and executory SR. in 1966 up to February 1980.
Order of December 5, 1972, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, The Probate Order itself, insofar as it merely allowed the holographic will in probate, is not
thereby rendering moot and academic the suit for reconveyance then pending in the Court of questioned. But petitioners denounce the Probate Court for having acted beyond its
First Instance of Cebu, Branch IX. It clarified that only the 33% share of PASTOR, JR. in the jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion when it issued the assailed Orders. Their
royalties (less than 7.5% share which he had assigned to QUEMADA before PASTOR, SR. argument runs this way: Before the provisions of the holographic win can be implemented,
died) was to be garnished and that as regards PASTOR, SR.'s 42% share, what was ordered the questions of ownership of the mining properties and the intrinsic validity of the
was just the transfer of its possession to the custody of the PROBATE COURT through the holographic will must first be resolved with finality. Now, contrary to the position taken by the
special administrator. Further, the Order granted QUEMADA 6% interest on his unpaid legacy Probate Court in 1980 i.e., almost eight years after the probate of the will in 1972 the
from August 1980 until fully paid.] Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals denied reconsideration. Probate Order did not resolve the two said issues. Therefore, the Probate Order could not
Hence, this Petition for Review by certiorari with prayer for a writ of pre y injunction, assailing have resolved and actually did not decide QUEMADA's entitlement to the legacy. This being
the decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 18, 1980 as well as the orders of the so, the Orders for the payment of the legacy in alleged implementation of the Probate Order
Probate Court dated August 20, 1980, November 11, 1980 and December 17, 1980, Med by of 1972 are unwarranted for lack of basis.
petitioners on March 26, 1981, followed by a Supplemental Petition with Urgent Prayer for Closely related to the foregoing is the issue raised by QUEMADA The Probate Order of 1972
Restraining Order. having become final and executory, how can its implementation (payment of legacy) be
In April 1981, the Court (First Division) issued a writ of preliminary injunction, the lifting of restrained? Of course, the question assumes that QUEMADA's entitlement to the legacy was
which was denied in the Resolution of the same Division dated October 18, 1982, although finally adjudged in the Probate Order.
the bond of petitioners was increased from P50,000.00 to P100,000.00. On the merits, therefore, the basic issue is whether the Probate Order of December 5, 1972
Between December 21, 1981 and October 12, 1982, private respondent filed seven resolved with finality the questions of ownership and intrinsic validity. A negative finding will
successive motions for early resolution. Five of these motions expressly prayed for the necessarily render moot and academic the other issues raised by the parties, such as the
resolution of the question as to whether or not the petition should be given due course. jurisdiction of the Probate Court to conclusively resolve title to property, and the
On October 18, 1982, the Court (First Division) adopted a resolution stating that "the petition constitutionality and repercussions of a ruling that the mining properties in dispute, although
in fact and in effect was given due course when this case was heard on the merits on in the name of PASTOR, JR. and his wife, really belonged to the decedent despite the latter's
September 7, (should be October 21, 1981) and concise memoranda in amplification of their constitutional disqualification as an alien.
oral arguments on the merits of the case were filed by the parties pursuant to the resolution of On the procedural aspect, placed in issue is the propriety of certiorari as a means to assail
October 21, 1981 . . . " and denied in a resolution dated December 13, 1982, private the validity of the order of execution and the implementing writ.
respondent's "Omnibus motion to set aside resolution dated October 18, 1982 and to submit III. DISCUSSION:
the matter of due course to the present membership of the Division; and to reassign the case
1. Issue of Ownership
to another ponente."
(a) In a special proceeding for the probate of a will, the issue by and large is restricted to the
Upon Motion for Reconsideration of the October 18, 1982 and December 13, 1982
extrinsic validity of the will, i.e., whether the testator, being of sound mind, freely executed the
Resolutions, the Court en banc resolved to CONFIRM the questioned resolutions insofar as
will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. (Rules of Court, Rule 75, Section 1;
hey resolved that the petition in fact and in effect had been given due course.
Rule 76, Section 9.) As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the
II. ISSUES: Probate Court cannot resolve with finality. Thus, for the purpose of determining whether a
Assailed by the petitioners in these proceedings is the validity of the Order of execution and certain property should or should not be included in the inventory of estate properties, the
garnishment dated August 20, 1980 as well as the Orders subsequently issued allegedly to Probate Court may pass upon the title thereto, but such determination is provisional, not
implement the Probate Order of December 5, 1972, to wit: the Order of November 11, 1980 conclusive, and is subject to the final decision in a separate action to resolve title. [3 Moran,
declaring that the Probate Order of 1972 indeed resolved the issues of ownership and

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Comments on the Rules of Court (1980 ed.), p. 458; Valero Vda. de Rodriguez vs. Court of Goodrich Bldg., Cebu City, and the Register of Deeds of Cebu or of Toledo City, as the case
Appeals, 91 SCRA 540.] may be, for recording.
(b) The rule is that execution of a judgment must conform to that decreed in the dispositive (b) There was a delay in the granting of the letters testamentary or of administration for as a
part of the decision. (Philippine-American Insurance Co. vs. Honorable Flores, 97 SCRA 811.) matter of fact, no regular executor and/or administrator has been appointed up to this time
However, in case of ambiguity or uncertainty, the body of the decision may be scanned for and - the appointment of a special administrator was, and still is, justified under the
guidance in construing the judgment. (Heirs of Presto vs. Galang, 78 SCRA 534; Fabular vs. circumstances to take possession and charge of the estate of the deceased in the Philippines
Court of Appeals, 119 SCRA 329; Robles vs. Timario. 107 Phil. 809.) (particularly in Cebu) until the problems causing the delay are decided and the regular
The Order sought to be executed by the assailed Order of execution is the Probate Order of executor and/or administrator appointed.
December 5, 1972 which allegedly resolved the question of ownership of the disputed mining (c) There is a necessity and propriety of a special administrator and later on an executor
properties. The said Probate Order enumerated the issues before the Probate Court, thus: and/or administrator in these proceedings, in spite of this Court's declaration that the
Unmistakably, there are three aspects in these proceedings: (1) the probate of the oppositors are the forced heirs and the petitioner is merely vested with the character of a
holographic will (2) the intestate estate aspect; and (3) the administration proceedings for the voluntary heir to the extent of the bounty given to him (under) the will insofar as the same will
purported estate of the decedent in the Philippines. not prejudice the legitimes of the oppositor for the following reasons:
In its broad and total perspective the whole proceedings are being impugned by the 1. To submit a complete inventory of the estate of the decedent-testator Alvaro Pastor, Sr.
oppositors on jurisdictional grounds, i.e., that the fact of the decedent's residence and 2. To administer and to continue to put to prolific utilization of the properties of the decedent;
existence of properties in the Philippines have not been established. 3. To keep and maintain the houses and other structures and belonging to the estate, since
Specifically placed in issue with respect to the probate proceedings are: (a) whether or not the forced heirs are residing in Spain, and prepare them for delivery to the heirs in good order
the holographic will (Exhibit "J") has lost its efficacy as the last will and testament upon the after partition and when directed by the Court, but only after the payment of estate and
death of Alvaro Pastor, Sr. on June 5, 1966, in Cebu City, Philippines; (b) Whether or not the inheritance taxes;
said will has been executed with all the formalities required by law; and (c) Did the late (d) Subject to the outcome of the suit for reconveyance of ownership and possession of real
presentation of the holographic will affect the validity of the same? and personal properties in Civil Case No. 274-T before Branch IX of the Court of First
Issues In the Administration Proceedings are as follows: (1) Was the ex- parte appointment of Instance of Cebu, the intestate estate administration aspect must proceed, unless, however, it
the petitioner as special administrator valid and proper? (2) Is there any indispensable is duly proven by the oppositors that debts of the decedent have already been paid, that there
necessity for the estate of the decedent to be placed under administration? (3) Whether or had been an extrajudicial partition or summary one between the forced heirs, that the legacy
not petition is qualified to be a special administrator of the estate; and (4) Whether or not the to be given and delivered to the petitioner does not exceed the free portion of the estate of
properties listed in the inventory (submitted by the special administrator but not approved by the testator, that the respective shares of the forced heirs have been fairly apportioned,
the Probate Court) are to be excluded. distributed and delivered to the two forced heirs of Alvaro Pastor, Sr., after deducting the
Then came what purports to be the dispositive portion: property willed to the petitioner, and the estate and inheritance taxes have already been paid
to the Government thru the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Upon the foregoing premises, this Court rules on and resolves some of the problems and
issues presented in these proceedings, as follows: The suitability and propriety of allowing petitioner to remain as special administrator or
administrator of the other properties of the estate of the decedent, which properties are not
(a) The Court has acquired jurisdiction over the probate proceedings as it hereby allows and
directly or indirectly affected by the provisions of the holographic will (such as bank deposits,
approves the so-called holographic will of testator Alvaro Pastor, Sr., executed on July 31,
land in Mactan etc.), will be resolved in another order as separate incident, considering that
1961 with respect to its extrinsic validity, the same having been duly authenticated pursuant
this order should have been properly issued solely as a resolution on the issue of whether or
to the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. Let, therefore, a certificate of its allowance
not to allow and approve the aforestated will. (Emphasis supplied.)
be prepared by the Branch Clerk of this Court to be signed by this Presiding Judge, and
attested by the seal of the Court, and thereafter attached to the will, and the will and Nowhere in the dispositive portion is there a declaration of ownership of specific properties.
certificate filed and recorded by the clerk. Let attested copies of the will and of the certificate On the contrary, it is manifest therein that ownership was not resolved. For it confined itself to
of allowance thereof be sent to Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corporation, the question of extrinsic validity of the win, and the need for and propriety of appointing a
special administrator. Thus it allowed and approved the holographic win "with respect to its

Page 53 of 85
extrinsic validity, the same having been duly authenticated pursuant to the requisites or partnership and set apart the share of PASTOR, SR.'s wife in the conjugal partnership
solemnities prescribed by law." It declared that the intestate estate administration aspect preparatory to the administration and liquidation of the estate of PASTOR, SR. which will
must proceed " subject to the outcome of the suit for reconveyance of ownership and include, among others, the determination of the extent of the statutory usufructuary right of
possession of real and personal properties in Civil Case 274-T before Branch IX of the CFI of his wife until her death. * When the disputed Probate order was issued on December 5, 1972,
Cebu." [Parenthetically, although the statement refers only to the "intestate" aspect, it defies there had been no liquidation of the community properties of PASTOR, SR. and his wife.
understanding how ownership by the estate of some properties could be deemed finally (b) So, also, as of the same date, there had been no prior definitive determination of the
resolved for purposes of testate administration, but not so for intestate purposes. Can the assets of the estate of PASTOR, SR. There was an inventory of his properties presumably
estate be the owner of a property for testate but not for intestate purposes?] Then again, the prepared by the special administrator, but it does not appear that it was ever the subject of a
Probate Order (while indeed it does not direct the implementation of the legacy) conditionally hearing or that it was judicially approved. The reconveyance or recovery of properties
stated that the intestate administration aspect must proceed "unless . . . it is proven . . . that allegedly owned but not in the name of PASTOR, SR. was still being litigated in another court.
the legacy to be given and delivered to the petitioner does not exceed the free portion of the
(c) There was no appropriate determination, much less payment, of the debts of the decedent
estate of the testator," which clearly implies that the issue of impairment of legitime (an
and his estate. Indeed, it was only in the Probate Order of December 5, 1972 where the
aspect of intrinsic validity) was in fact not resolved. Finally, the Probate Order did not rule on
Probate Court ordered that-
the propriety of allowing QUEMADA to remain as special administrator of estate properties
not covered by the holographic will, "considering that this (Probate) Order should have been ... a notice be issued and published pursuant to the provisions of Rule 86 of the Rules of
properly issued solely as a resolution on the issue of whether or not to allow and approve the Court, requiring all persons having money claims against the decedent to file them in the
aforestated will. " office of the Branch Clerk of this Court."

(c) That the Probate Order did not resolve the question of ownership of the properties listed in (d) Nor had the estate tax been determined and paid, or at least provided for, as of December
the estate inventory was appropriate, considering that the issue of ownership was the very 5, 1972.
subject of controversy in the reconveyance suit that was still pending in Branch IX of the (e) The net assets of the estate not having been determined, the legitime of the forced heirs
Court of First Instance of Cebu. in concrete figures could not be ascertained.
(d) What, therefore, the Court of Appeals and, in effect, the Supreme Court affirmed en (f) All the foregoing deficiencies considered, it was not possible to determine whether the
toto when they reviewed the Probable Order were only the matters properly adjudged in the legacy of QUEMADA - a fixed share in a specific property rather than an aliquot part of the
said Order. entire net estate of the deceased - would produce an impairment of the legitime of the
(e) In an attempt to justify the issuance of the Order of execution dated August 20, 1980, the compulsory heirs.
Probate Court in its Order of November 11, 1980 explained that the basis for its conclusion (g) Finally, there actually was no determination of the intrinsic validity of the will in other
that the question of ownership had been formally resolved by the Probate Order of 1972 are respects. It was obviously for this reason that as late as March 5, 1980 - more than 7 years
the findings in the latter Order that (1) during the lifetime of the decedent, he was receiving after the Probate Order was issued the Probate Court scheduled on March 25, 1980 a
royalties from ATLAS; (2) he had resided in the Philippines since pre-war days and was hearing on the intrinsic validity of the will.
engaged in the mine prospecting business since 1937 particularly in the City of Toledo; and 3. Propriety of certiorari
(3) PASTOR, JR. was only acting as dummy for his father because the latter was a Spaniard. Private respondent challenges the propriety of certiorari as a means to assail the validity of
Based on the premises laid, the conclusion is obviously far-fetched. the disputed Order of execution. He contends that the error, if any, is one of judgment, not
(f) It was, therefore, error for the assailed implementing Orders to conclude that the Probate jurisdiction, and properly correctible only by appeal, not certiorari.
Order adjudged with finality the question of ownership of the mining properties and royalties, Under the circumstances of the case at bar, the challenge must be rejected. Grave abuse of
and that, premised on this conclusion, the dispositive portion of the said Probate Order discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction is much too evident in the actuations of the probate
directed the special administrator to pay the legacy in dispute. court to be overlooked or condoned.
2. Issue of Intrinsic Validity of the Holographic Will - (a) Without a final, authoritative adjudication of the issue as to what properties compose the
(a) When PASTOR, SR. died in 1966, he was survived by his wife, aside from his two estate of PASTOR, SR. in the face of conflicting claims made by heirs and a non-heir (MA.
legitimate children and one illegitimate son. There is therefore a need to liquidate the conjugal ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR) involving properties not in the name of the decedent, and in

Page 54 of 85
the absence of a resolution on the intrinsic validity of the will here in question, there was no (d) It is within a court's competence to order the execution of a final judgment; but to order the
basis for the Probate Court to hold in its Probate Order of 1972, which it did not, that private execution of a final order (which is not even meant to be executed) by reading into it terms
respondent is entitled to the payment of the questioned legacy. Therefore, the Order of that are not there and in utter disregard of existing rules and law, is manifest grave abuse of
Execution of August 20, 1980 and the subsequent implementing orders for the payment of discretion tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. Consequently, the rule that certiorari may not be
QUEMADA's legacy, in alleged implementation of the dispositive part of the Probate Order of invoked to defeat the right of a prevailing party to the execution of a valid and final judgment,
December 5, 1972, must fall for lack of basis. is inapplicable. For when an order of execution is issued with grave abuse of discretion or is
(b) The ordered payment of legacy would be violative of the rule requiring prior liquidation of at variance with the judgment sought to be enforced (PVTA vs. Honorable Gonzales, 92
the estate of the deceased, i.e., the determination of the assets of the estate and payment of SCRA 172), certiorari will lie to abate the order of execution.
all debts and expenses, before apportionment and distribution of the residue among the heirs (e) Aside from the propriety of resorting to certiorari to assail an order of execution which
and legatees. (Bernardo vs. Court of Appeals, 7 SCRA 367.) varies the terms of the judgment sought to be executed or does not find support in the
(c) Neither has the estate tax been paid on the estate of PASTOR, SR. Payment therefore of dispositive part of the latter, there are circumstances in the instant case which justify the
the legacy to QUEMADA would collide with the provision of the National Internal Revenue remedy applied for.
Code requiring payment of estate tax before delivery to any beneficiary of his distributive Petitioner MA. ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR, wife of PASTOR, JR., is the holder in her own
share of the estate (Section 107 [c]) right of three mining claims which are one of the objects of conflicting claims of ownership.
(d) The assailed order of execution was unauthorized, having been issued purportedly under She is not an heir of PASTOR, SR. and was not a party to the probate proceedings.
Rule 88, Section 6 of the Rules of Court which reads: Therefore, she could not appeal from the Order of execution issued by the Probate Court. On
the other hand, after the issuance of the execution order, the urgency of the relief she and her
Sec. 6. Court to fix contributive shares where devisees, legatees, or heirs have been in
co-petitioner husband seek in the petition for certiorari states against requiring her to go
possession. Where devisees, legatees, or heirs have entered into possession of portions
through the cumbersome procedure of asking for leave to intervene in the probate
of the estate before the debts and expenses have been settled and paid and have become
proceedings to enable her, if leave is granted, to appeal from the challenged order of
liable to contribute for the payment of such debts and expenses, the court having jurisdiction
execution which has ordered the immediate transfer and/or garnishment of the royalties
of the estate may, by order for that purpose, after hearing, settle the amount of their several
derived from mineral properties of which she is the duly registered owner and/or grantee
liabilities, and order how much and in what manner each person shall contribute, and may
together with her husband. She could not have intervened before the issuance of the assailed
issue execution as circumstances require.
orders because she had no valid ground to intervene. The matter of ownership over the
The above provision clearly authorizes execution to enforce payment of debts of estate. A properties subject of the execution was then still being litigated in another court in a
legacy is not a debt of the estate; indeed, legatees are among those against whom execution reconveyance suit filed by the special administrator of the estate of PASTOR, SR.
is authorized to be issued.
Likewise, at the time petitioner PASTOR, JR. Med the petition for certiorari with the Court of
... there is merit in the petitioners' contention that the probate court generally cannot issue a Appeals, appeal was not available to him since his motion for reconsideration of the
writ of execution. It is not supposed to issue a writ of execution because its orders usually execution order was still pending resolution by the Probate Court. But in the face of actual
refer to the adjudication of claims against the estate which the executor or administrator may garnishment of their major source of income, petitioners could no longer wait for the
satisfy without the necessity of resorting to a writ of execution. The probate court, as such, resolution of their motion for reconsideration. They needed prompt relief from the injurious
does not render any judgment enforceable by execution. effects of the execution order. Under the circumstances, recourse to certiorari was the
The circumstances that the Rules of Court expressly specifies that the probate court may feasible remedy.
issue execution (a) to satisfy (debts of the estate out of) the contributive shares of devisees, WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. No. SP-11373-R is reversed.
legatees and heirs in possession of the decedent's assets (Sec. 6. Rule 88), (b) to enforce The Order of execution issued by the probate Court dated August 20, 1980, as well as all the
payment of the expenses of partition (Sec. 3, Rule 90), and (c) to satisfy the costs when a Orders issued subsequent thereto in alleged implementation of the Probate Order dated
person is cited for examination in probate proceedings (Sec. 13, Rule 142) may mean, under December 5, 1972, particularly the Orders dated November 11, 1980 and December 17,
the rule of inclusion unius est exclusion alterius, that those are the only instances when it can 1980, are hereby set aside; and this case is remanded to the appropriate Regional Trial Court
issue a writ of execution. (Vda. de Valera vs. Ofilada, 59 SCRA 96, 108.) for proper proceedings, subject to the judgment to be rendered in Civil Case No. 274-R.

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SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera Vasquez and Relova JJ., concur.
Gutierrez, J., took no part.

MIRASOL VS. MAGSUSI, L-12166, APRIL 29,1959; G.R. No. L-21993 June 21, 1966
ANGELA RODRIGUEZ, MARIA RODRIGUEZ, ET AL., petitioners,
Q : What is the nature of a probate proceeding?A : Probate of a will is proceeding in rem. Itca vs.HON. JUAN DE BORJA, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch
nnot be dispensed with and substituted byanother proceeding, judicial or extrajudicial,without III, ANATOLIA PANGILINAN and ADELAIDA JACALAN, respondents.
offending public policy. It ismandatory as no will shall pass either real orpersonal property REYES, J.B.L., J.:
unless proved and allowedin accordance with the rules of Court. It isimprescriptible, because Petitioners Angela, Maria, Abelardo and Antonio, surnamed Rodriguez, petition this Court for
it is required bypublic policy and the estate could not haveintended to defeat the same by a writ of certiorariand prohibition to the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, for its refusal to
applyingthereto the statute of limitation ofactions.(Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phil. grant their motion to dismiss its Special Proceeding No. 1331, which said Court is alleged to
479;Mirasol vs. Magsusi, L-12166, April 29,1959;Sec. 1, rule 75; Art. 838, NCC; see also have taken cognizance of without jurisdiction.
Soliviovs.CA, 129SCRA 119[1990])
The facts and issues are succinctly narrated in the order of the respondent court, dated June
13, 1963 (Petition, Annex 0), in this wise:
It is alleged in the motion to dismiss filed by Angela, Maria, Abelardo and Antonio Rodriguez,
through counsel, that this Court "has no jurisdiction to try the above-entitled case in view of
the pendency of another action for the settlement of the estate of the deceased Rev. Fr.
Celestino Rodriguez in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, namely, Sp. Proceedings No. 3907
entitled 'In the matter of the Intestate Estate of the deceased Rev. Fr. Celestino Rodriguez
which was filed ahead of the instant case".
The records show that Fr. Celestino Rodriguez died on February 12, 1963 in the City of
Manila; that on March 4, 1963, Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan delivered to the
Clerk of Court of Bulacan a purported last will and testament of Fr. Rodriguez; that on March
8, 1963, Maria Rodriguez and Angela Rodriguez, through counsel filed a petition for leave of
court to allow them to examine the alleged will; that on March 11, 1963 before the Court could
act on the petition, the same was withdrawn; that on March 12, 1963, aforementioned
petitioners filed before the Court of First Instance of Rizal a petition for the settlement of the
intestate estate of Fr. Rodriguez alleging, among other things, that Fr. Rodriguez was a
resident of Paraaque, Rizal, and died without leaving a will and praying that Maria
Rodriguez be appointed as Special Administratrix of the estate; and that on March 12, 1963
Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan filed a petition in this Court for the probation of the

Page 56 of 85
will delivered by them on March 4, 1963. It was stipulated by the parties that Fr. Rodriguez SEC. 3. Court to appoint time for proving will. Notice thereof to be published. When a will
was born in Paraaque, Rizal; that he was Parish priest of the Catholic Church of Hagonoy, is delivered to, or a petition for the allowance of a will is filed in, the Court having jurisdiction,
Bulacan, from the year 1930 up to the time of his death in 1963; that he was buried in such Court shall fix a time and place for proving the will when all concerned may appear to
Paraaque, and that he left real properties in Rizal, Cavite, Quezon City and Bulacan. contest the allowance thereof, and shall cause notice of such time and place to be published
The movants contend that since the intestate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of three (3) weeks successively, previous to the time appointed, in a newspaper of general
Rizal was filed at 8:00 A.M. on March 12, 1963 while the petition for probate was filed in the circulation in the province.
Court of First Instance of Bulacan at 11:00 A.M. on the same date, the latter Court has no But no newspaper publication shall be made where the petition for probate has been filed by
jurisdiction to entertain the petition for probate, citing as authority in support thereof the case the testator himself.
of Ongsingco Vda. de Borja vs. Tan and De Borja, G.R. No. 7792, July 27, 1955. The use of the disjunctive in the words "when a will is delivered to OR a petition for the
The petitioners Pangilinan and Jacalan, on the other hand, take the stand that the Court of allowance of a will is filed" plainly indicates that the court may act upon the mere deposit
First Instance of Bulacan acquired jurisdiction over the case upon delivery by them of the will therein of a decedent's testament, even if no petition for its allowance is as yet filed. Where
to the Clerk of Court on March 4, 1963, and that the case in this Court therefore has the petition for probate is made after the deposit of the will, the petition is deemed to relate
precedence over the case filed in Rizal on March 12, 1963. back to the time when the will was delivered. Since the testament of Fr. Rodriguez was
The Court of First Instance, as previously stated denied the motion to dismiss on the ground submitted and delivered to the Court of Bulacan on March 4, while petitioners initiated
that a difference of a few hours did not entitle one proceeding to preference over the other; intestate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Rizal only on March 12, eight days
that, as early as March 7, movants were aware of the existence of the purported will of Father later, the precedence and exclusive jurisdiction of the Bulacan court is
Rodriguez, deposited in the Court of Bulacan, since they filed a petition to examine the same, incontestable.1wph1.t
and that movants clearly filed the intestate proceedings in Rizal "for no other purpose than to But, petitioners object, section 3 of revised Rule 76 (old Rule 77) speaks of a will being
prevent this Court (of Bulacan) from exercising jurisdiction over the probate proceedings". delivered to "the Court having jurisdiction," and in the case at bar the Bulacan court did not
Reconsideration having been denied, movants, now petitioners, came to this Court, relying have it because the decedent was domiciled in Rizal province. We can not disregard Fr.
principally on Rule 73, section 1 of the Rules of Court, and invoking our ruling in Ongsingco Rodriguez's 33 years of residence as parish priest in Hagonoy, Bulacan (1930-1963); but
vs. Tan and De Borja, L-7792, July 27, 1955. even if we do so, and consider that he retained throughout some animus revertendi to the
SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of place of his birth in Paraaque, Rizal, that detail would not imply that the Bulacan court
the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, lacked jurisdiction. As ruled in previous decisions, the power to settle decedents' estates is
or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the conferred by law upon all courts of first instance, and the domicile of the testator only affects
province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign the venue but not the jurisdiction of the Court (In re Kaw Singco, 74 Phil. 239; Reyes vs. Diaz,
country, the Court of First Instance of any province which he had estate. The court first taking 73 Phil. 484; Bernabe vs. Vergara, 73 Phil. 676). Neither party denies that the late Fr.
cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the Rodriguez is deceased, or that he left personal property in Hagonoy, province of Bulacan
exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, as far as it depends on the (t.s.n. p. 46, hearing of June 11, 1963, Annex "H", Petition, Rec., p. 48). That is sufficient in
place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a the case before us.
suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want In the Kaw Singco case (ante) this Court ruled that:
of jurisdiction appears on the record. "... If we consider such question of residence as one affecting the jurisdiction of the trial court
We find this recourse to be untenable. The jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of over the subject-matter, the effect shall be that the whole proceedings including all decisions
Bulacan became vested upon the delivery thereto of the will of the late Father Rodriguez on on the different incidents which have arisen in court will have to be annulled and the same
March 4, 1963, even if no petition for its allowance was filed until later, because upon the will case will have to be commenced anew before another court of the same rank in another
being deposited the court could, motu proprio, have taken steps to fix the time and place for province. That this is of mischievous effect in the prompt administration of justice is too
proving the will, and issued the corresponding notices conformably to what is prescribed by obvious to require comment. (Cf. Tanunchuan vs. Dy Buncio & Co., G.R. No. 48206,
section 3, Rule 76, of the Revised Rules of Court (Section 3, Rule 77, of the old Rules): December 31, 1942). Furthermore, section 600 of Act No. 190, providing that the estate of a
deceased person shall be settled in the province where he had last resided, could not have

Page 57 of 85
been intended as defining the jurisdiction of the probate court over the subject matter, (4) When the heir instituted is incapable of succeeding, except in cases provided in this Code.
because such legal provision is contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with Therefore, as ruled in Castro, et al. vs. Martinez, 10 Phil. 307, "only after final decision as to
procedural matters, and, as we have said time and again, procedure is one thing and the nullity of testate succession could an intestate succession be instituted in the form of pre-
jurisdiction over the subject matter is another. (Attorney General vs. Manila Railroad established action". The institution of intestacy proceedings in Rizal may not thus proceed
Company, 20 Phil. 523.) The law of jurisdiction Act No. 136, Section 56, No. 5 confers while the probate of the purported will of Father Rodriguez is pending.
upon Courts of First Instance jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of the place of We rule that the Bulacan Court of First Instance was entitled to priority in the settlement of the
residence of the deceased.1 Since, however, there are many Courts of First Instance in the estate in question, and that in refusing to dismiss the probate. proceedings, said court did not
Philippines, the Law of Procedure, Act No. 190, section 600, fixes the venue or the place commit any abuse of discretion. It is the proceedings in the Rizal Court that should be
where each case shall be brought. Thus, the place of residence of the deceased is not an discontinued.
element of jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue. And it is upon this ground
Wherefore, the writ of certiorari applied for is denied. Costs against petitioners Rodriguez.
that in the new Rules of Court the province where the estate of a deceased person shall be
settled is properly called "venue" (Rule 75, section 1.) Motion for reconsideration is denied. G.R. No. L-58509 December 7, 1982
The estate proceedings having been initiated in the Bulacan Court of First Instance ahead of IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF RICARDO B. BONILLA
any other, that court is entitled to assume jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts, even deceased, MARCELA RODELAS, petitioner-appellant,
if it were a case of wrong venue by express provisions of Rule 73 (old Rule 75) of the Rules vs.
of Court, since the same enjoins that: AMPARO ARANZA, ET AL., oppositors-appellees, ATTY. LORENZO
SUMULONG, intervenor.
The Court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent shall exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. (Sec. 1) Luciano A. Joson for petitioner-appellant.
This disposition presupposes that two or more courts have been asked to take cognizance of Cesar Paralejo for oppositor-appellee.
the settlement of the estate. Of them only one could be of proper venue, yet the rule grants
precedence to that Court whose jurisdiction is first invoked, without taking venue into account. RELOVA, J.:
There are two other reasons that militate against the success of petitioners. One is that their This case was certified to this Tribunal by the Court of Appeals for final determination
commencing intestate proceedings in Rizal, after they learned of the delivery of the pursuant to Section 3, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court.
decedent's will to the Court of Bulacan, was in bad faith, patently done with a view to
As found by the Court of Appeals:
divesting the latter court of the precedence awarded it by the Rules. Certainly the order of
priority established in Rule 73 (old Rule 75) was not designed to convert the settlement of ... On January 11, 1977, appellant filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal for
decedent's estates into a race between applicants, with the administration of the properties the probate of the holographic will of Ricardo B. Bonilla and the issuance of letters
as the price for the fleetest. testamentary in her favor. The petition, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 8432, was opposed by the
appellees Amparo Aranza Bonilla, Wilferine Bonilla Treyes Expedita Bonilla Frias and
The other reason is that, in our system of civil law, intestate succession is only subsidiary or
Ephraim Bonilla on the following grounds:
subordinate to the testate, since intestacy only takes place in the absence of a valid operative
will. Says Article 960 of the Civil Code of the Philippines: (1) Appellant was estopped from claiming that the deceased left a will by failing to produce
the will within twenty days of the death of the testator as required by Rule 75, section 2 of the
ART. 960. Legal or intestate succession takes place:
Rules of Court;
(1) If a person dies without a will, or with a void will, or one which has subsequently lost its validity;
(2) The alleged copy of the alleged holographic will did not contain a disposition of property
(2) When the will does not institute an heir to, or dispose of all the property belonging to the testator. In
such case, legal succession shall take place only with respect to the property in which the testator has
after death and was not intended to take effect after death, and therefore it was not a will
not disposed; (3) The alleged hollographic will itself,and not an alleged copy thereof, must be produced,
(3) If the suspensive condition attached to the institution of heir does not happen or is not fulfilled, or if otherwise it would produce no effect, as held in Gam v. Yap, 104 Phil. 509; and
the heir dies before the testator, or repudiates the inheritance, there being no substitution, and no right (4 ) The deceased did not leave any will, holographic or otherwise, executed and attested as
of accretion takes place; required by law.

Page 58 of 85
The appellees likewise moved for the consolidation of the case with another case Sp. Proc. The only question here is whether a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can
No, 8275). Their motion was granted by the court in an order dated April 4, 1977. be proved by means of a photostatic copy. Pursuant to Article 811 of the Civil Code, probate
On November 13, 1978, following the consolidation of the cases, the appellees moved again of holographic wills is the allowance of the will by the court after its due execution has been
to dismiss the petition for the probate of the will. They argued that: proved. The probate may be uncontested or not. If uncontested, at least one Identifying
witness is required and, if no witness is available, experts may be resorted to. If contested, at
(1) The alleged holographic was not a last will but merely an instruction as to the
least three Identifying witnesses are required. However, if the holographic will has been lost
management and improvement of the schools and colleges founded by decedent Ricardo B.
or destroyed and no other copy is available, the will can not be probated because the best
Bonilla; and
and only evidence is the handwriting of the testator in said will. It is necessary that there be a
(2) Lost or destroyed holographic wills cannot be proved by secondary evidence unlike comparison between sample handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will.
ordinary wills. But, a photostatic copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because
Upon opposition of the appellant, the motion to dismiss was denied by the court in its order of comparison can be made with the standard writings of the testator. In the case of Gam vs.
February 23, 1979. Yap, 104 PHIL. 509, the Court ruled that "the execution and the contents of a lost or
The appellees then filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that the order was destroyed holographic will may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have
contrary to law and settled pronouncements and rulings of the Supreme Court, to which the seen and/or read such will. The will itself must be presented; otherwise, it shall produce no
appellant in turn filed an opposition. On July 23, 1979, the court set aside its order of effect. The law regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity." But, in Footnote
February 23, 1979 and dismissed the petition for the probate of the will of Ricardo B. Bonilla. 8 of said decision, it says that "Perhaps it may be proved by a photographic or photostatic
The court said: copy. Even a mimeographed or carbon copy; or by other similar means, if any, whereby the
... It is our considered opinion that once the original copy of the holographic will is lost, a copy authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the
thereof cannot stand in lieu of the original. probate court," Evidently, the photostatic or xerox copy of the lost or destroyed holographic
will may be admitted because then the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased can be
In the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 Phil. 509, 522, the Supreme Court held that 'in the matter of
determined by the probate court.
holographic wills the law, it is reasonable to suppose, regards the document itself as the
material proof of authenticity of said wills. WHEREFORE, the order of the lower court dated October 3, 1979, denying appellant's
motion for reconsideration dated August 9, 1979, of the Order dated July 23, 1979, dismissing
MOREOVER, this Court notes that the alleged holographic will was executed on January 25,
her petition to approve the will of the late Ricardo B. Bonilla, is hereby SET ASIDE.
1962 while Ricardo B. Bonilla died on May 13, 1976. In view of the lapse of more than 14
years from the time of the execution of the will to the death of the decedent, the fact that the SO ORDERED.
original of the will could not be located shows to our mind that the decedent had discarded Teehankee, Actg. C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.
before his death his allegedly missing Holographic Will.
Appellant's motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, an appeal to the Court of Appeals
in which it is contended that the dismissal of appellant's petition is contrary to law and well-
settled jurisprudence.
On July 7, 1980, appellees moved to forward the case to this Court on the ground that the
appeal does not involve question of fact and alleged that the trial court committed the
following assigned errors:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT A LOST HOLOGRAPHIC WILL MAY
NOT BE PROVED BY A COPY THEREOF;
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE DECEDENT HAS DISCARDED
BEFORE HIS DEATH THE MISSING HOLOGRAPHIC WILL;
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING APPELLANT'S WILL.

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G.R. No. L-26317 January 29, 1927
Estate of Miguel Mamuyac, deceased.
FRANCISCO GAGO, petitioner-appellant,
vs. CORNELIO MAMUYAC, AMBROSIO LARIOSA,
FELICIANA BAUZON, and CATALINA MAMUYAC, opponents-appellees.
The purpose of this action was to obtain the probation of a last will and testament of Miguel
Mamuyac, who died on the 2d day of January, 1922, in the municipality of Agoo of the
Province of La Union. It appears from the record that on or about the 27th day of July, 1918,
the said Miguel Mamuyac executed a last will and testament (Exhibit A). In the month of
January, 1922, the said Francisco Gago presented a petition in the Court of First Instance of
the Province of La Union for the probation of that will. The probation of the same was
opposed by Cornelio Mamuyac, Ambrosio Lariosa, Feliciana Bauzon, and Catalina Mamuyac
(civil cause No. 1144, Province of La Union). After hearing all of the parties the petition for the
probation of said will was denied by the Honorable C. M. Villareal on the 2d day of November,
1923, upon the ground that the deceased had on the 16th day of April, 1919, executed a new
will and testament.
On the 21st day of February, 1925, the present action was commenced. Its purpose was to
secure the probation of the said will of the 16th day of April, 1919 (Exhibit 1). To said petition
Cornelio Mamuyac, Ambrosio Lariosa, Feliciana Bauzon, and Catalina Mamuyac presented
their oppositions, alleging (a) that the said will is a copy of the second will and testament
executed by the said Miguel Mamuyac; (b) that the same had been cancelled and revoked
during the lifetime of Miguel Mamuyac and (c) that the said will was not the last will and
testament of the deceased Miguel Mamuyac.
Upon the issue thus presented, the Honorable Anastacio R. Teodoro, judge, after hearing the
respective parties, denied the probation of said will of April 16, 1919, upon the ground that the
same had been cancelled and revoked in the year 1920. Judge Teodoro, after examining the
evidence adduced, found that the following facts had been satisfactorily proved:
That Exhibit A is a mere carbon of its original which remained in the possession of the
deceased testator Miguel Mamuyac, who revoked it before his death as per testimony of
witness Jose Fenoy, who typed the will of the testator on April 16, 1919, and Carlos Bejar,
who saw on December 30, 1920, the original Exhibit A (will of 1919) actually cancelled by the

Page 60 of 85
testator Miguel Mamuyac, who assured Carlos Bejar that inasmuch as he had sold him a with great caution. When it is proven, however, by proper testimony that a will was executed
house and the land where the house was built, he had to cancel it (the will of 1919), in duplicate and each copy was executed with all the formalities and requirements of the law,
executing thereby a new testament. Narcisa Gago in a way corroborates the testimony of then the duplicate may be admitted in evidence when it is made to appear that the original
Jose Fenoy, admitting that the will executed by the deceased (Miguel Mamuyac) in 1919 was has been lost and was not cancelled or destroyed by the testator. (Borromeo vs. Casquijo,
found in the possession of father Miguel Mamuyac. The opponents have successfully G.R. No. L-26063.)1
established the fact that father Miguel Mamuyac had executed in 1920 another will. The same After a careful examination of the entire record, we are fully persuaded that the will presented
Narcisa Gago, the sister of the deceased, who was living in the house with him, when cross- for probate had been cancelled by the testator in 1920. Therefore the judgment appealed
examined by attorney for the opponents, testified that the original Exhibit A could not be from is hereby affirmed. And without any finding as to costs, it is so ordered.
found. For the foregoing consideration and for the reason that the original of Exhibit A has
G.R. No. 18600 March 9, 1922
been cancelled by the deceased father Miguel Mamuyac, the court disallows the probate of
Exhibit A for the applicant." From that order the petitioner appealed. B. E. JOHANNES, husband of Carmen Theodora Johannes, deceased, as a
administrator;
The appellant contends that the lower court committed an error in not finding from the
CARLOS D'ALMEIDA and IDA JOHANNES, with her husband, J. E.
evidence that the will in question had been executed with all the formalities required by the
JOHANNES, relators,
law; that the same had been revoked and cancelled in 1920 before his death; that the said
vs.
will was a mere carbon copy and that the oppositors were not estopped from alleging that
Honorable GEORGE R. HARVEY, as judge of First Instance of Manila, ALFREDO
fact.
D'ALMEIDA, brother of Carmen Johannes, as administrator, and PHILIPPINE TRUST
With reference to the said cancellation, it may be stated that there is positive proof, not COMPANY, as late guardian for a certain cash deposit of Carmen
denied, which was accepted by the lower court, that will in question had been cancelled in Johannes, respondent.
1920. The law does not require any evidence of the revocation or cancellation of a will to be
Amzi B. Kelly for relators.
preserved. It therefore becomes difficult at times to prove the revocation or cancellation of
Fisher & Dewitt and Francis B. Mahoney for respondents.
wills. The fact that such cancellation or revocation has taken place must either remain
unproved of be inferred from evidence showing that after due search the original will cannot MALCOLM, J.:
be found. Where a will which cannot be found is shown to have been in the possession of the The relevant facts disclosed by this petition for certiorari and the return thereto may be stated
testator, when last seen, the presumption is, in the absence of other competent evidence, that as follows:
the same was cancelled or destroyed. The same presumption arises where it is shown that Mrs. Carmen Theodora Johannes nee Carmen D'Almeida, died intestate in Singapore, Straits
the testator had ready access to the will and it cannot be found after his death. It will not be Settlements, on August 31, 1921. Of her immediate family there remained the husband, B. E.
presumed that such will has been destroyed by any other person without the knowledge or Johannes, the brothers, Frederick Charles D'Almeida and Alfred D'Almeida, and the sister,
authority of the testator. The force of the presumption of cancellation or revocation by the Ida D'Almeida Johannes. Of these, the husband, the brother Frederick, and the sister Ida,
testator, while varying greatly, being weak or strong according to the circumstances, is never were residents of Singapore, while the brother Alfred was in Manila. The Singapore heirs
conclusive, but may be overcome by proof that the will was not destroyed by the testator with apparently joined in asking that letters of administration be granted by the Supreme Court of
intent to revoke it. the Straits Settlements to B. E. Johannes, the lawful husband of the deceased. At least, on
In view of the fat that the original will of 1919 could not be found after the death of the testator September 19, 1921, the husband of the deceased. At least, on September 19, 1921, the
Miguel Mamuyac and in view of the positive proof that the same had been cancelled, we are husband was named the administrator of the property of the deceased wife, which was locally
forced to the conclusion that the conclusions of the lower court are in accordance with the situate within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements. (Under the
weight of the evidence. In a proceeding to probate a will the burden of proofs is upon the British law [22 & 23 Charles II c 10, 29 Charles II c 3, and James II c 17], it would seem that
proponent clearly to establish not only its execution but its existence. Having proved its the husband is entitled to the whole of the estate of his wife if she die intestate to the
execution by the proponents, the burden is on the contestant to show that it has been exclusive of any other next of kin.) On October 1, 1921, the brother Alfred D' Almeida was, on
revoked. In a great majority of instances in which wills are destroyed for the purpose of his petition, appointed administrator of the Manila estate of the deceased consisting of
revoking them there is no witness to the act of cancellation or destruction and all evidence of P109,732.55. This sum it appears, was on deposit in the Manila banks under and by virtue of
its cancellation perishes with the testator. Copies of wills should be admitted by the courts guardianship proceedings for the late Carmen Theodora Johannes, which were finally

Page 61 of 85
terminated by the discharge of the guardian, the Philippine Trust Company, on January 16, It is almost a universal rule to give the surviving spouse a preference when an administrator
1922. is to be appointed, unless for strong reasons it is deemed advisable to name someone else.
The burden of the relator's contention is that the Honorable George R. Harvey, as judge of This preference has particular force under Spanish law precedents. (4 Escriche, Diccionario
First Instance of the City of Manila, has acted in excess of his jurisdiction in appointing Alfred de Legislacion y Jurisprudencia, 1085.) However, the Code of Civil Procedure, in section 642,
D'Almeida administrator of the funds of the estate on deposit in the Philippines, and that an while naming the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, as one to whom
administration in the jurisdiction is unnecessary. Accordingly, relators pray the court to annul administration can be granted, leaves this to the discretion of the court to determine, for it
the appointment of Alfred D'Almeida and to issue an order directing the Judge of First may be found that the surviving spouse is unsuitable for the responsibility. Moreover,
Instance to have placed to the credit of B. E. Johannes as administrator of the estate of nonresidence is a factor to be considered in determining the propriety of the appointment,
Carmen Theodora Johannes all of the funds of the late Carmen D'Almeida Johannes, now on and in this connection, it is to be noted that the husband of the deceased, the administrator of
deposit and subject to the order of the court, with P5,000 as damages. The respondents, the principal administration, resides in Singapore. Undoubtedly, if the husband should come
Judge Harvey, and the administrator Alfred D'Almeida, in compliance with the order to show into this jurisdiction, the court would give consideration to this petition that he be named the
cause why the writ should not issue, contend that the respondent judge has not in any ancillary administrator for local purposes. Ancillary letters should ordinarily be granted to the
manner acted in excess of the jurisdiction duly conferred upon and exercised by him in the domicilliary representative, if he applies therefor, or to his nominee, or attorney; but in the
manner provided by law, and that an order appointing an administrator is a final and absence of express statutory requirement the court may in its discretion appoint some other
appealable order. person. (24 C. J., 1114.)
Certain general observations may possibly serve to clarify the situation. There is still another aspect to the case. This is that pursuant to section 783 of the Code of
Civil Procedure, an order of a Court of First Instance appointing an administration of the
It is often necessary to have more than one administration of an estate. When a person dies
estate of a deceased person constitutes a final determination of the rights of the parties
intestate owning property in the country of his domicile as well as in a foreign country,
thereunder, within the meaning of the statute, and is appealable. (Sy Hong Eng vs. Sy Lioc
administration is had in both countries. That which is granted in the jurisdiction of decedent's
Suy [1907], 8 Phil., 594.)
last domicile is termed the principal administration, while any other administration is termed
the ancillary administration. The reason for the latter is because a grant of administration As we reach the conclusion that the Court of First Instance has not acted in excess of its
does not ex proprio vigore have any effect beyond the limits of the country in which it is jurisdiction, and as there in an appeal, certiorari will not lie. Accordingly, the writ prayed for
granted. Hence, an administrator appointed in a foreign state has no authority in the United cannot be granted. Costs against the relators. So ordered.
States. The ancillary administration is proper, whenever a person dies, leaving in a country Araullo, C.J., Street, Avancea, Villamor, Ostrand, Johns and Romualdez, JJ., concur.
other than that of his las domicile, property to be administered in the nature of assets of the
decedent, liable for his individual debts or to be distributed among his heirs. (23 C. J.,
1010, et seq.; 24 C. J., 1109, et seq.; Wilkins vs. Ellett [1882], 108 U. S., 256;
Perez vs.Aguerria [1901], 1 Porto Rico Fed., 443; Vaughn vs. Barret [1833], 5 Vt., 333.)
The principal administration in this instance is that at the domicile of the late Carmen
Theodora Johannes in Singapore, Straits Settlements. What is sought in the Philippine
Islands is an ancillary administration subsidiary to the domiciliary administration, conformable
to the provisions of sections 601, 602, and 603 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The proper
course of procedure would be for the ancillary administrator to pay the claims of creditors, if
there be any, settle the accounts, and remit the surplus to the domiciliary jurisdiction, for
distribution among the next of kin. Such administration appears to be required in this
jurisdiction since the provisions of section 596 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which permit of
the settlement of certain estates without legal proceedings, have not been met. The decision
of this court in Baldemor vs. Malangyaon ([1916]), 34 Phil., 368), on which relators rely, is
then not in point because predicated directly on the provisions of the section last cited.

Page 62 of 85
G.R. No. 183053 October 10, 2012
EMILIO A.M. SUNTAY III, Petitioner,
vs.
ISABEL COJUANGCO-SUNTAY, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
PEREZ, J.:
The now overly prolonged, all-too familiar and too-much-stretched imbroglio over the estate
of Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay has continued. We issued a Decision in the dispute as in Inter
Caetera.1 We now find a need to replace the decision.
Before us is a Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay
(respondent Isabel) of our Decision2 in G.R. No. 183053 dated 16 June 2010, directing the
issuance of joint letters of administration to both petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III (Emilio III)
and respondent. The dispositive portion thereof reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 74949 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Letters of Administration over the estate of
decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay shall issue to both petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III and
respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay upon payment by each of a bond to be set by the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, Bulacan, in Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-
95. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, Bulacan is likewise directed to make a
determination and to declare the heirs of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay according to
the actual factual milieu as proven by the parties, and all other persons with legal interest in
the subject estate. It is further directed to settle the estate of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-
Suntay with dispatch. No costs.3
We are moved to trace to its roots the controversy between the parties.
The decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay (Cristina) died intestate on 4 June 1990. Cristina
was survived by her spouse, Dr. Federico Suntay (Federico) and five grandchildren: three
legitimate grandchildren, including herein respondent, Isabel; and two illegitimate
grandchildren, including petitioner Emilio III, all by Federicos and Cristinas only child, Emilio
A. Suntay (Emilio I), who predeceased his parents.

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The illegitimate grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita, were both reared from infancy by the On 26 October 1995, respondent Isabel, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Malolos,
spouses Federico and Cristina. Their legitimate grandchildren, Isabel and her siblings, Bulacan, a petition for the issuance of letters of administration over Cristinas estate docketed
Margarita and Emilio II, lived with their mother Isabel Cojuangco, following the separation of as Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. Federico, opposed the petition, pointing out that:
Isabels parents, Emilio I and Isabel Cojuangco. Isabels parents, along with her paternal (1) as the surviving spouse of the decedent, he should be appointed administrator of the
grandparents, were involved in domestic relations cases, including a case for parricide filed decedents estate; (2) as part owner of the mass of conjugal properties left by the decedent,
by Isabel Cojuangco against Emilio I. Emilio I was eventually acquitted. he must be accorded preference in the administration thereof; (3) Isabel and her siblings had
In retaliation, Emilio I filed a complaint for legal separation against his wife, charging her been alienated from their grandparents for more than thirty (30) years; (4) the enumeration of
among others with infidelity. The trial court declared as null and void and of no effect the heirs in the petition was incomplete as it did not mention the other children of his son, Emilio
marriage of Emilio I and Isabel Cojuangco on the finding that: III and Nenita; (5) even before the death of his wife, Federico had administered their conjugal
properties, and thus, is better situated to protect the integrity of the decedents estate; (6) the
From February 1965 thru December 1965 plaintiff was confined in the Veterans memorial
probable value of the estate as stated in the petition was grossly overstated; and (7) Isabels
Hospital. Although at the time of the trial of parricide case (September 8, 1967) the patient
allegation that some of the properties are in the hands of usurpers is untrue.
was already out of the hospital, he continued to be under observation and treatment.
Federico filed a Motion to Dismiss Isabels petition for letters of administration on the ground
It is the opinion of Dr. Aramil that the symptoms of the plaintiffs mental aberration classified as
that Isabel had no right of representation to the estate of Cristina, she being an illegitimate
schizophernia (sic) had made themselves manifest even as early as 1955; that the disease
grandchild of the latter as a result of Isabels parents marriage being declared null and void.
worsened with time, until 1965 when he was actually placed under expert neuro-psychiatrist
However, in Suntay v. Cojuangco-Suntay, we categorically declared that Isabel and her
(sic) treatment; that even if the subject has shown marked progress, the remains bereft of
siblings, having been born of a voidable marriage as opposed to a void marriage based on
adequate understanding of right and wrong.
paragraph 3, Article 85 of the Civil Code, were legitimate children of Emilio I, who can all
There is no controversy that the marriage between the parties was effected on July 9, 1958, represent him in the estate of their legitimate grandmother, the decedent, Cristina.
years after plaintiffs mental illness had set in. This fact would justify a declaration of nullity of
Undaunted by the set back, Federico nominated Emilio III to administer the decedents estate
the marriage under Article 85 of the Civil Code which provides:
on his behalf in the event letters of administration issues to Federico. Consequently, Emilio III
Art. 95. (sic) A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes after (sic) existing at filed an Opposition-In-Intervention, echoing the allegations in his grandfathers opposition,
the time of the marriage: alleging that Federico, or in his stead, Emilio III, was better equipped than respondent to
xxxx administer and manage the estate of the decedent, Cristina.
(3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to reason, freely On 13 November 2000, Federico died.
cohabited with the other as husband or wife. Almost a year thereafter or on 9 November 2001, the trial court rendered a decision
There is a dearth of proof at the time of the marriage defendant knew about the mental appointing Emilio III as administrator of decedent Cristinas intestate estate:
condition of plaintiff; and there is proof that plaintiff continues to be without sound reason. The WHEREFORE, the petition of Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay is DENIED and the Opposition-in-
charges in this very complaint add emphasis to the findings of the neuro-psychiatrist handling Intervention is GRANTED.
the patient, that plaintiff really lives more in fancy than in reality, a strong indication of
Accordingly, the Intervenor, Emilio A.M. Suntay, III (sic) is hereby appointed administrator of
schizophernia (sic).4
the estate of the decedent Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay, who shall enter upon the execution of
Intent on maintaining a relationship with their grandchildren, Federico and Isabel filed a his trust upon the filing of a bond in the amount of P 200,000.00, conditioned as follows:
complaint for visitation rights to spend time with Margarita, Emilio II, and Isabel in the same
(1) To make and return within three (3) months, a true and complete inventory;
special lower court. The Juvenile Domestic Relations Court in Quezon City (JDRC-QC)
granted their prayer for one hour a month of visitation rights which was subsequently reduced (2) To administer the estate and to pay and discharge all debts, legatees, and charge on the
to thirty minutes, and ultimately stopped, because of respondent Isabels testimony in court same, or dividends thereon;
that her grandparents visits caused her and her siblings stress and anxiety.5 (3) To render a true and just account within one (1) year, and at any other time when required
On 27 September 1993, more than three years after Cristinas death, Federico adopted his by the court, and
illegitimate grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita. (4) To perform all orders of the Court.

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Once the said bond is approved by the court, let Letters of Administration be issued in his Emilio IIIs actuations since his appointment as administrator by the RTC on 9 November
favor.6 2001 emphatically demonstrate the validity and wisdom of the order of preference in Section
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the decision of the RTC, revoked the 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court; and (4) there is no basis for joint administration as there are
Letters of Administration issued to Emilio III, and appointed respondent as administratrix of no "opposing parties or factions to be represented."
the subject estate: To begin with, the case at bar reached us on the issue of who, as between Emilio III and
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the assailed decision dated November 9, 2001 of Isabel, is better qualified to act as administrator of the decedents estate. We did not choose.
Branch 78, Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan in SPC No. 117-M-95 is REVERSED and Considering merely his demonstrable interest in the subject estate, we ruled that Emilio III
SET ASIDE and the letters of administration issued by the said court to Emilio A.M. Suntay III, should likewise administer the estate of his illegitimate grandmother, Cristina, as a co-
if any, are consequently revoked. Petitioner Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay is hereby appointed administrator. In the context of this case, we have to make a choice and therefore, reconsider
administratrix of the intestate estate of Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay. Let letters of administration our decision of 16 June 2010.
be issued in her favor upon her filing of a bond in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand The general rule in the appointment of administrator of the estate of a decedent is laid down
(P 200,000.00) Pesos.7 in Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court:
As previously adverted to, on appeal by certiorari, we reversed and set aside the ruling of the SEC. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. If no executor is named in the
appellate court. We decided to include Emilio III as co-administrator of Cristinas estate, will, or the executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give bond, or a
giving weight to his interest in Federicos estate. In ruling for co-administration between person dies intestate, administration shall be granted:
Emilio III and (a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or both, in the
Isabel, we considered that: discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or next of kin,
1. Emilio III was reared from infancy by the decedent, Cristina, and her husband, Federico, requests to have appointed, if competent and willing to serve;
who both acknowledged him as their grandchild; (b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or the person
2. Federico claimed half of the properties included in the estate of the decedent, Cristina, as selected by them, be incompetent or unwilling, or if the husband or widow, or next of kin,
forming part of their conjugal partnership of gains during the subsistence of their marriage; neglects for thirty (30) days after the death of the person to apply for administration or to
request that administration be granted to some other person, it may be granted to one or
3. Cristinas properties, forming part of her estate, are still commingled with those of her
more of the principal creditors, if competent and willing to serve;
husband, Federico, because her share in the conjugal partnership remains undetermined and
unliquidated; and (c) If there is not such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be granted to such other
person as the court may select.
4. Emilio III is a legally adopted child of Federico, entitled to share in the distribution of the
latters estate as a direct heir, one degree from Federico, and not simply in representation of Textually, the rule lists a sequence to be observed, an order of preference, in the appointment
his deceased illegitimate father, Emilio I. of an administrator. This order of preference, which categorically seeks out the surviving
spouse, the next of kin and the creditors in the appointment of an administrator, has been
In this motion, Isabel pleads for total affirmance of the Court of Appeals Decision in favor of
reinforced in jurisprudence.8
her sole administratorship based on her status as a legitimate grandchild of Cristina, whose
estate she seeks to administer. The paramount consideration in the appointment of an administrator over the estate of a
decedent is the prospective administrators interest in the estate. 9 This is the same
Isabel contends that the explicit provisions of Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court on the
consideration which Section 6, Rule 78 takes into account in establishing the order of
order of preference for the issuance of letters of administration cannot be ignored and that
preference in the appointment of administrator for the estate. The rationale behind the rule is
Article 992 of the Civil Code must be followed. Isabel further asserts that Emilio III had
that those who will reap the benefit of a wise, speedy and economical administration of the
demonstrated adverse interests and disloyalty to the estate, thus, he does not deserve to
estate, or, in the alternative, suffer the consequences of waste, improvidence or
become a co-administrator thereof.
mismanagement, have the highest interest and most influential motive to administer the
Specifically, Isabel bewails that: (1) Emilio III is an illegitimate grandchild and therefore, not estate correctly.10 In all, given that the rule speaks of an order of preference, the person to be
an heir of the decedent; (2) corollary thereto, Emilio III, not being a "next of kin" of the appointed administrator of a decedents estate must demonstrate not only an interest in the
decedent, has no interest in the estate to justify his appointment as administrator thereof; (3) estate, but an interest therein greater than any other candidate.

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To illustrate, the preference bestowed by law to the surviving spouse in the administration of a Hewing closely to the aforementioned cases is our ruling in Ventura v. Ventura 21 where we
decedents estate presupposes the surviving spouses interest in the conjugal partnership or allowed the appointment of the surviving spouse and legitimate children of the decedent as
community property forming part of the decedents estate. 11 Likewise, a surviving spouse is a co-administrators. However, we drew a distinction between the heirs categorized as next of
compulsory heir of a decedent12 which evinces as much, if not more, interest in administering kin, the nearest of kin in the category being preferred, thus:
the entire estate of a decedent, aside from her share in the conjugal partnership or absolute In the case at bar, the surviving spouse of the deceased Gregorio Ventura is Juana Cardona
community property. while the next of kin are: Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura and Maria and Miguel Ventura. The
It is to this requirement of observation of the order of preference in the appointment of "next of kin" has been defined as those persons who are entitled under the statute of
administrator of a decedents estate, that the appointment of co-administrators has been distribution to the decedents property (citations omitted). It is generally said that "the nearest
allowed, but as an exception. We again refer to Section 6(a) of Rule 78 of the Rules of Court of kin, whose interest in the estate is more preponderant, is preferred in the choice of
which specifically states that letters of administration may be issued to both the surviving administrator. Among members of a class the strongest ground for preference is the amount
spouse and the next of kin. In addition and impliedly, we can refer to Section 2 of Rule 82 of or preponderance of interest. As between next of kin, the nearest of kin is to be preferred."
the Rules of Court which say that "x x x when an executor or administrator dies, resigns, or is (citations omitted)
removed, the remaining executor or administrator may administer the trust alone, x x x." As decided by the lower court and sustained by the Supreme Court, Mercedes and Gregoria
In a number of cases, we have sanctioned the appointment of more than one administrator Ventura are the legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his wife, the late Paulina
for the benefit of the estate and those interested therein. 13 We recognized that the Simpliciano. Therefore, as the nearest of kin of Gregorio Ventura, they are entitled to
appointment of administrator of the estate of a decedent or the determination of a persons preference over the illegitimate children of Gregorio Ventura, namely: Maria and Miguel
suitability for the office of judicial administrator rests, to a great extent, in the sound judgment Ventura. Hence, under the aforestated preference provided in Section 6 of Rule 78, the
of the court exercising the power of appointment.14 person or persons to be appointed administrator are Juana Cardona, as the surviving spouse,
Under certain circumstances and for various reasons well-settled in Philippine and American or Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura as nearest of kin, or Juana Cardona and Mercedes and
jurisprudence, we have upheld the appointment of co-administrators: (1) to have the benefits Gregoria Ventura in the discretion of the Court, in order to represent both
of their judgment and perhaps at all times to have different interests represented; 15 (2) where interests.22 (Emphasis supplied)
justice and equity demand that opposing parties or factions be represented in the In Silverio, Sr. v. Court of Appeals, 23 we maintained that the order of preference in the
management of the estate of the deceased; (3) where the estate is large or, from any cause, appointment of an administrator depends on the attendant facts and circumstances. In that
an intricate and perplexing one to settle;16 (4) to have all interested persons satisfied and the case, we affirmed the legitimate childs appointment as special administrator, and eventually
representatives to work in harmony for the best interests of the estate; 17 and when a person as regular administrator, of the decedents estate as against the surviving spouse who the
entitled to the administration of an estate desires to have another competent person lower court found unsuitable. Reiterating Sioca v. Garcia 24 as good law, we pointed out that
associated with him in the office.18 unsuitableness for appointment as administrator may consist in adverse interest of some kind
In the frequently cited Matias v. Gonzales, we dwelt on the appointment of special co- or hostility to those immediately interested in the estate.
administrators during the pendency of the appeal for the probate of the decedents will. In Valarao v. Pascual,25 we see another story with a running theme of heirs squabbling over
Pending the probate thereof, we recognized Matias special interest in the decedents estate the estate of a decedent. We found no reason to set aside the probate courts refusal to
as universal heir and executrix designated in the instrument who should not be excluded in appoint as special co-administrator Diaz, even if he had a demonstrable interest in the estate
the administration thereof. Thus, we held that justice and equity demands that the two (2) of the decedent and represented one of the factions of heirs, because the evidence weighed
factions among the non-compulsory heirs of the decedent, consisting of an instituted heir by the probate court pointed to Diazs being remiss in his previous duty as co-administrator of
(Matias) and intestate heirs (respondents thereat), should be represented in the management the estatein the early part of his administration. Surveying the previously discussed cases of
of the decedents estate.19 Matias, Corona, and Vda. de Dayrit, we clarified, thus:
Another oft-cited case is Vda. de Dayrit v. Ramolete, where we held that "inasmuch as Respondents cannot take comfort in the cases of Matias v. Gonzales, Corona v. Court of
petitioner-wife owns one-half of the conjugal properties and that she, too, is a compulsory heir Appeals, and Vda. de Dayrit v. Ramolete, cited in the assailed Decision. Contrary to their
of her husband, to deprive her of any hand in the administration of the estate prior to the claim, these cases do not establish an absolute right demandable from the probate court to
probate of the will would be unfair to her proprietary interests." 20 appoint special co-administrators who would represent the respective interests of squabbling

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heirs. Rather, the cases constitute precedents for the authority of the probate court to In Gabriel v. Court of Appeals, we unequivocally declared the mandatory character of the rule
designate not just one but also two or more special co-administrators for a single estate. Now on the order of preference for the issuance of letters of administration:
whether the probate court exercises such prerogative when the heirs are fighting among Evidently, the foregoing provision of the Rules prescribes the order of preference in the
themselves is a matter left entirely to its sound discretion. issuance of letters of administration, it categorically seeks out the surviving spouse, the next
Furthermore, the cases of Matias, Corona and Vda. de Dayrit hinge upon factual of kin and the creditors, and requires that sequence to be observed in appointing an
circumstances other than the incompatible interests of the heirs which are glaringly absent administrator. It would be a grave abuse of discretion for the probate court to imperiously set
from the instant case. In Matias this Court ordered the appointment of a special co- aside and insouciantly ignore that directive without any valid and sufficient reason therefor.27
administrator because of the applicant's status as the universal heir and executrix designated Subsequently, in Angeles v. Angeles-Maglaya,28 we expounded on the legal contemplation of
in the will, which we considered to be a "special interest" deserving protection during the a "next of kin," thus:
pendency of the appeal. Quite significantly, since the lower court in Matias had already
Finally, it should be noted that on the matter of appointment of administrator of the estate of
deemed it best to appoint more than one special administrator, we found grave abuse of
the deceased, the surviving spouse is preferred over the next of kin of the decedent. When
discretion in the act of the lower court in ignoring the applicant's distinctive status in the
the law speaks of "next of kin," the reference is to those who are entitled, under the statute of
selection of another special administrator.
distribution, to the decedent's property; one whose relationship is such that he is entitled to
In Corona we gave "highest consideration" to the "executrix's choice of Special Administrator, share in the estate as distributed, or, in short, an heir. In resolving, therefore, the issue of
considering her own inability to serve and the wide latitude of discretion given her by the whether an applicant for letters of administration is a next of kin or an heir of the decedent,
testatrix in her will," for this Court to compel her appointment as special co-administrator. It is the probate court perforce has to determine and pass upon the issue of filiation. A separate
also manifest from the decision in Corona that the presence of conflicting interests among the action will only result in a multiplicity of suits. Upon this consideration, the trial court acted
heirs therein was not per se the key factor in the designation of a second special within bounds when it looked into and passed upon the claimed relationship of respondent to
administrator as this fact was taken into account only to disregard or, in the words of Corona, the late Francisco Angeles.29
to "overshadow" the objections to the appointment on grounds of "impracticality and lack of
Finally, in Uy v. Court of Appeals, 30 we took into consideration the size of, and benefits to, the
kinship."
estate should respondent therein be appointed as co-administrator. We emphasized that
Finally in Vda. de Dayrit we justified the designation of the wife of the decedent as special co- where the estate is large or, from any cause, an intricate and perplexing one to settle, the
administrator because it was "our considered opinion that inasmuch as petitioner-wife owns appointment of co-administrators may be sanctioned by law.
one-half of the conjugal properties and that she, too, is a compulsory heir of her husband, to
In our Decision under consideration, we zeroed in on Emilio IIIs demonstrable interest in the
deprive her of any hand in the administration of the estate prior to the probate of the will
estate and glossed over the order of preference set forth in the Rules. We gave weight to
would be unfair to her proprietary interests." The special status of a surviving spouse in the
Emilio IIIs demonstrable interest in Cristinas estate and without a closer scrutiny of the
special administration of an estate was also emphasized in Fule v. Court of Appeals where
attendant facts and circumstances, directed co-administration thereof. We are led to a review
we held that the widow would have more interest than any other next of kin in the proper
of such position by the foregoing survey of cases.
administration of the entire estate since she possesses not only the right of succession over a
portion of the exclusive property of the decedent but also a share in the conjugal partnership The collected teaching is that mere demonstration of interest in the estate to be settled does
for which the good or bad administration of the estate may affect not just the fruits but more not ipso facto entitle an interested person to co-administration thereof. Neither does
critically the naked ownership thereof. And in Gabriel v. Court of Appeals we recognized the squabbling among the heirs nor adverse interests necessitate the discounting of the order of
distinctive status of a surviving spouse applying as regular administrator of the deceased preference set forth in Section 6, Rule 78. Indeed, in the appointment of administrator of the
spouse's estate when we counseled the probate court that "there must be a very strong case estate of a deceased person, the principal consideration reckoned with is the interest in said
to justify the exclusion of the widow from the administration." estate of the one to be appointed as administrator. 31 Given Isabels unassailable interest in
the estate as one of the decedents legitimate grandchildren and undoubted nearest "next of
Clearly, the selection of a special co-administrator in Matias, Corona and Vda. de Dayrit was
kin," the appointment of Emilio III as co-administrator of the same estate, cannot be a
based upon the independent proprietary interests and moral circumstances of the appointee
demandable right. It is a matter left entirely to the sound discretion of the Court 32 and
that were not necessarily related to the demand for representation being repeatedly urged by
depends on the facts and the attendant circumstances of the case. 33
respondents.26(Emphasis supplied)

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Thus, we proceed to scrutinize the attendant facts and circumstances of this case even as we Emilio III refutes Isabels imputations that he was lackadaisical in assuming and performing
reiterate Isabels and her siblings apparent greater interest in the estate of Cristina. the functions of administrator of Cristinas estate:
These considerations do not warrant the setting aside of the order of preference mapped out 1. From the time of the RTCs Order appointing Emilio III as administrator, Isabel, in her
in Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court. They compel that a choice be made of one over pleadings before the RTC, had vigorously opposed Emilio IIIs assumption of that office,
the other. arguing that "the decision of the RTC dated 9 November 2001 is not among the judgments
1. The bitter estrangement and long-standing animosity between Isabel, on the one hand, authorized by the Rules of Court which may be immediately implemented or executed;"
and Emilio III, on the other, traced back from the time their paternal grandparents were alive, 2. The delay in Emilio IIIs filing of an inventory was due to Isabels vociferous objections to
which can be characterized as adverse interest of some kind by, or hostility of, Emilio III to Emilio IIIs attempts to act as administrator while the RTC decision was under appeal to the
Isabel who is immediately interested in the estate; Court of Appeals;
2. Corollary thereto, the seeming impossibility of Isabel and Emilio III working harmoniously 3. The complained partial inventory is only initiatory, inherent in the nature thereof, and one of
as co-administrators may result in prejudice to the decedents estate, ultimately delaying the first steps in the lengthy process of settlement of a decedents estate, such that it cannot
settlement thereof; and constitute a complete and total listing of the decedents properties; and
3. Emilio III, for all his claims of knowledge in the management of Cristinas estate, has not 4. The criminal cases adverted to are trumped-up charges where Isabel, as private
looked after the estates welfare and has acted to the damage and prejudice thereof. complainant, has been unwilling to appear and testify, leading the Judge of the Regional Trial
Contrary to the assumption made in the Decision that Emilio IIIs demonstrable interest in the Court, Branch 44 of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, to warn the prosecutor of a possible
estate makes him a suitable co-administrator thereof, the evidence reveals that Emilio III has motu propio dismissal of the cases.
turned out to be an unsuitable administrator of the estate. Respondent Isabel points out that While we can subscribe to Emilio IIIs counsels explanation for the blamed delay in the filing
after Emilio IIIs appointment as administrator of the subject estate in 2001, he has not looked of an inventory and his exposition on the nature thereof, partial as opposed to complete, in
after the welfare of the subject estate and has actually acted to the damage and prejudice the course of the settlement of a decedents estate, we do not find any clarification on Isabels
thereof as evidenced by the following: accusation that Emilio III had deliberately omitted properties in the inventory, which properties
1. Emilio III, despite several orders from the probate court for a complete inventory, omitted in of Cristina he knew existed and which he claims to be knowledgeable about.
the partial inventories34 he filed therewith properties of the estate35 including several parcels The general denial made by Emilio III does not erase his unsuitability as administrator rooted
of land, cash, bank deposits, jewelry, shares of stock, motor vehicles, and other personal in his failure to "make and return x x x a true and complete inventory" which became proven
properties, contrary to Section 1,36paragraph a, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court. fact when he actually filed partial inventories before the probate court and by his inaction on
2. Emilio III did not take action on both occasions against Federicos settlement of the two occasions of Federicos exclusion of Cristinas other compulsory heirs, herein Isabel and
decedents estate which adjudicated to himself a number of properties properly belonging to her siblings, from the list of heirs.
said estate (whether wholly or partially), and which contained a declaration that the decedent As administrator, Emilio III enters into the office, posts a bond and executes an oath to
did not leave any descendants or heirs, except for Federico, entitled to succeed to her faithfully discharge the duties of settling the decedents estate with the end in view of
estate.37 distribution to the heirs, if any. This he failed to do. The foregoing circumstances of Emilio IIIs
In compliance to our Resolution dated 18 April 2012 requiring Emilio III to respond to the omission and inaction become even more significant and speak volume of his unsuitability as
following imputations of Isabel that: administrator as it demonstrates his interest adverse to those immediately interested in the
estate of the decedent, Cristina.
1. Emilio III did not file an inventory of the assets until November 14, 2002;
In this case, palpable from the evidence on record, the pleadings, and the protracted
2. The inventory Emilio III submitted did not include several properties of the decedent;
litigation, is the inescapable fact that Emilio III and respondent Isabel have a deep aversion
3. That properties belonging to the decedent have found their way to different individuals or for each other.1awp++i1 To our mind, it becomes highly impractical, nay, improbable, for the
persons; several properties to Federico Suntay himself; and two to work as co-administrators of their grandmothers estate. The allegations of Emilio III,
4. While some properties have found their way to Emilio III, by reason of falsified the testimony of Federico and the other witnesses for Federico and Emilio III that Isabel and
documents;38 her siblings were estranged from their grandparents further drive home the point that Emilio
III bears hostility towards Isabel. More importantly, it appears detrimental to the decedents

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estate to appoint a co-administrator (Emilio III) who has shown an adverse interest of some estates of Cristina and Federico, considering that the question on who will administer the
kind or hostility to those, such as herein respondent Isabel, immediately interested in the said properties of the long deceased couple has yet to be settled.
estate. Our holding in Capistrano v. Nadurata on the same issue remains good law:
Bearing in mind that the issuance of letters of administration is simply a preliminary order to The declaration of heirs made by the lower court is premature, although the evidence
facilitate the settlement of a decedents estate, we here point out that Emilio III is not without sufficiently shows who are entitled to succeed the deceased. The estate had hardly been
remedies to protect his interests in the estate of the decedent. In Hilado v. Court of judicially opened, and the proceeding has not as yet reached the stage of distribution of the
Appeals,39 we mapped out as among the allowable participation of "any interested persons" estate which must come after the inheritance is liquidated.
or "any persons interested in the estate" in either testate or intestate proceedings:
Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court does not depart from the foregoing admonition:
xxxx
Sec. 1. When order for distribution of residue is made. - x x x. If there is a controversy before
4. Section 640 of Rule 87, which allows an individual interested in the estate of the deceased the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive
"to complain to the court of the concealment, embezzlement, or conveyance of any asset of shares to which each person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be heard and
the decedent, or of evidence of the decedents title or interest therein;" decided as in ordinary cases.
5. Section 1041 of Rule 85, which requires notice of the time and place of the examination and No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations above mentioned has
allowance of the Administrators account "to persons interested;" been made or provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them, give a bond, in a sum to
6. Section 7(b)42 of Rule 89, which requires the court to give notice "to the persons interested" be fixed by the court, conditioned for the payment of said obligations within such time as the
before it may hear and grant a petition seeking the disposition or encumbrance of the court directs.45
properties of the estate; and Lastly, we dispose of a peripheral issue raised in the Supplemental Comment 46 of Emilio III
43
7. Section 1, Rule 90, which allows "any person interested in the estate" to petition for an questioning the Special Second Division which issued the 18 April 2012 Resolution. Emilio III
order for the distribution of the residue of the estate of the decedent, after all obligations are asseverates that "the operation of the Special Second Division in Baguio is unconstitutional
either satisfied or provided for.44 and void" as the Second Division in Manila had already promulgated its Decision on 16 June
In addition to the foregoing, Emilio III may likewise avail of the remedy found in Section 2, 2010 on the petition filed by him:
Rule 82 of the Rules of Court, to wit: 7. The question is: who created the Special Second Division in Baguio, acting separately from
Sec. 2. Court may remove or accept resignation of executor or administrator. Proceedings the Second Division of the Supreme Court in Manila? There will then be two Second
upon death, resignation, or removal. If an executor or administrator neglects to render his Divisions of the Supreme Court: one acting with the Supreme Court in Manila, and another
account and settle the estate according to law, or to perform an order or judgment of the Special Second Division acting independently of the Second Division of the Supreme Court in
court, or a duty expressly provided by these rules, or absconds, or becomes insane, or Manila.47
otherwise incapable or unsuitable to discharge the trust, the court may remove him, or, in its For Emilio IIIs counsels edification, the Special Second Division in Baguio is not a different
discretion, may permit him to resign. When an executor or administrator dies, resigns, or is division created by the Supreme Court.
removed, the remaining executor or administrator may administer the trust alone, unless the The Second Division which promulgated its Decision on this case on 16 June 2010, penned
court grants letters to someone to act with him. If there is no remaining executor or by Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, now has a different composition, with the advent of
administrator, administration may be granted to any suitable person. Justice Nachuras retirement on 13 June 2011. Section 7, Rule 2 of the Internal Rules of the
Once again, as we have done in the Decision, we exercise judicial restraint: we uphold that Supreme Court provides:
the question of who are the heirs of the decedent Cristina is not yet upon us. Article 992 of Sec. 7. Resolutions of motions for reconsideration or clarification of decisions or signed
the Civil Code or the curtain bar rule is inapplicable in resolving the issue of who is better resolutions and all other motions and incidents subsequently filed; creation of a Special
qualified to administer the estate of the decedent. Division. Motions for reconsideration or clarification of a decision or of a signed resolution
Thus, our disquisition in the assailed Decision: and all other motions and incidents subsequently filed in the case shall be acted upon by the
Nonetheless, it must be pointed out that judicial restraint impels us to refrain from making a ponente and the other Members of the Division who participated in the rendition of the
final declaration of heirship and distributing the presumptive shares of the parties in the decision or signed resolution.

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If the ponente has retired, is no longer a Member of the Court, is disqualified, or has inhibited
himself or herself from acting on the motion for reconsideration or clarification, he or she shall
be replaced through raffle by a new ponente who shall be chosen among the new Members
of the Division who participated in the rendition of the decision or signed resolution and who
concurred therein. If only one Member of the Court who participated and concurred in the
rendition of the decision or signed resolution remains, he or she shall be designated as the CABANAS, ET AL. VS. ENAGE ET AL., 40 OFF. GAZ. 12 SUPPL. 227
new ponente. The "next of kin" has been defined as those persons who are entitled under the statute of
If a Member (not the ponente) of the Division which rendered the decision or signed distribution to the decedent's property (Cooper vs. Cooper, 43 Ind. A. 620, 88 NE 341). It is
resolution has retired, is no longer a Member of the Court, is disqualified, or has inhibited generally said that "the nearest of kin, whose interest in the estate is more preponderant, is
himself or herself from acting on the motion for reconsideration or clarification, he or she shall preferred in the choice of administrator. 'Among members of a class the strongest ground for
be replaced through raffle by a replacement Member who shall be chosen from the other preference is the amount or preponderance of interest. As between next of kin, the nearest of
Divisions until a new Justice is appointed as replacement for the retired Justice. Upon the kin is to be preferred." (Cabanas, et al. vs. Enage et al., 40 Off. Gaz. 12 Suppl. 227; citing
appointment of a new Justice, he or she shall replace the designated Justice as replacement 12 Am. Jur. Sec. 77, p. 416, cited in Francisco Vicente J., The Revised Rules of Court in the
Member of the Special Division. Philippines, Vol. V-B 1970 Ed., p. 23).
Any vacancy or vacancies in the Special Division shall be filled by raffle from among the other
Members of the Court to constitute a Special Division of five (5) Members. G.R. No. L-26306 April 27, 1988
If the ponente and all the Members of the Division that rendered the Decision or signed TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE GREGORIO VENTURA MARIA VENTURA, executrix-
Resolution are no longer Members of the Court, the case shall be raffled to any Member of appellant, MIGUEL VENTURA and JUANA CARDONA, heirs-appellants,
the Court and the motion shall be acted upon by him or her with the participation of the other vs.
Members of the Division to which he or she belongs. GREGORIA VENTURA and HER HUSBAND, EXEQUIEL VICTORIO, MERCEDES
If there are pleadings, motions or incidents subsequent to the denial of the motion for VENTURA and HER HUSBAND, PEDRO D. CORPUZ, oppositors-appellees.
reconsideration or clarification, the case shall be acted upon by the ponente on record with
the participation of the other Members of the Division to which he or she belongs at the time PARAS, J.:
said pleading, motion or incident is to be taken up by the Court. (Emphasis supplied)
This is an appeal from the order of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Guimba,
As regards the operation thereof in Baguio City, such is simply a change in venue for the Branch V in Special Proceedings No. 812, Testate of the late Gregorio Venture, dated
Supreme Court's summer session held last April.48 October 5, 1965, removing the appellant Maria Ventura as executrix and administratrix of the
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Our Decision in estate of the late Gregorio Ventura, and in her place appointing the appellees Mercedes
G.R. No. 183053 dated 16 June 2010 is MODIFIED. Letters of Administration over the estate Ventura and Gregoria Ventura as joint administratrices of the estate. (Record on Appeal, pp.
of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay shall solely issue to respondent Isabel Cojuangco- 120-131.)
Suntay upon payment of a bond to be set by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, Appellant Maria Ventura is the illegitimate daughter of the deceased Gregorio Ventura while
Bulacan, in Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Miguel Ventura and Juana Cardona are his son and saving spouse who are also the brother
Malolos, Bulacan is likewise directed to settle the estate of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo- and mother of Maria Ventura. On the other hand, appellees Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura
Suntay with dispatch. No costs. are the deceased's legitimate children with his former wife, the late Paulina Simpliciano
SO ORDERED. (Record on Appeal, p. 122) but the paternity of appellees was denied by the deceased in his
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ will (Record on Appeal, p. 4).
Associate Justice On December 14,1953, Gregorio Ventura filed a petition for the probate of his will which did
not include the appellees and the petition was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 812
(Record on Appeal, pp. 1-3). In the said will, the appellant Maria Ventura, although an

Page 70 of 85
illegitimate child, was named and appointed by the testator to be the executrix of his will and the estate certain excluded properties (Record on Appeal, pp. 50-53; 71). An opposition to
the administratrix of his estate (Record on Appeal, p. 7). said motions was filed by the heirs Juana Cardona and Miguel Ventura and by the executrix
In due course, said will was admitted to probate on January 14,1954 (Record on Appeal, pp. Maria Ventura herself (Record on Appeal, pp. 56-61; 61-70 and 71).
8-10). Gregorio Ventura died on September 26,1955. On October 10, 1955, the appellant On motion of counsel for Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria Ventura the joint motions to require
Maria Ventura filed a motion for her appointment as executrix and for the issuance of letters an Up-to-date Accounting and to Require Executrix Ventura to Include Excluded Properties in
testamentary in her favor (Record on Appeal, pp. 10-11). On October 17, 1955, Maria Ventura Her Inventory were ordered withdrawn (Order dated February 2, 1965, Record on Appeal, p.
was appointed executrix and the corresponding letters testamentary was issued in her favor 73). The other two motions were however set for hearing.
(Record on Appeal, pp. 11-12). The grounds of aforesaid joint motions to remove the executrix Maria Ventura are: (1) that
On or about July 26, 1956, Maria Ventura submitted an inventory of the estate of Gregorio she is grossly incompetent; (2) that she has maliciously and purposely concealed certain
Ventura (Record on Appeal, pp. 12-20). properties of the estate in the inventory; (3) that she is merely an illegitimate daughter who
On June 17,1960, she filed her accounts of administration for the years 1955 to 1960, can have no harmonious relations with the appellees; (4) that the executrix has neglected to
inclusive. (Record on Appeal, pp. 20-27). Said account of administration was opposed by the render her accounts and failed to comply with the Order of the Court of December 12, 1963,
spouses Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz on July 25, 1960 (Record on Appeal, pp. 27- requiring her to file her accounts of administration for the years 1961 to 1963 (Record on
33) and by Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria Ventura on August 5,1963 (Record on Appeal, pp. Appeal, pp. 70 and 75-76) and the Order of June 11, 1964, reiterating aforesaid Order of
46-50). Both oppositions assailed the veracity of the report as not reflecting the true income December 12, 1963 (Record on Appeal, p. 76); and (5) that she is with permanent physical
of the estate and the expenses which allegedly are not administration expenses. But on defect hindering her from efficiently performing her duties as an executrix (Record on Appeal,
January 25, 1961, Maria Ventura filed a motion to hold in abeyance the approval of the pp. 50-53 and 74-79).
accounts of administration or to have their approval without the opposition of the spouses On May 17, 1965, the executrix Maria Ventura finally submitted her accounts of
Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz and Gregoria Ventura and Exequiel Victorio on the administration covering the period 1961 to 1965 (Record on Appeal, pp. 79-84) which were
ground that the question of the paternity of Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura is still again opposed by the spouses Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria Ventura on September 21,
pending final determination before the Supreme Court and that should they be adjudged the 1965 and by the spouses Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz on September 29, 1965
adulterous children of testator, as claimed, they are not entitled to inherit nor to oppose the (Record on Appeal, pp. 106-120). On June 2, 1965, the executrix filed her supplemental
approval of the counts of administration (Record on Appeals, pp. 33-36). Spouses Mercedes opposition to the aforesaid four motions, and prayed that the joint supplemental motion to
Ventura and Pedro Corpuz filed on February 2, 1961 their opposition to the motion to hold in remove the executrix be denied or held in abeyance until after the status of Mercedes and
abeyance the approval of the accounts of administration on the ground that Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura as heirs of the testator is finally decided (Record on Appeal, pp. 85-1 01).
Gregoria Ventura had already been declared by the Court of First Instance in Civil Cases No. On June 3, 1965, the Court, finding that the estate taxes have not been paid, ordered the
1064 and 1476, which cases are supposed to be pending before the Supreme Court, as the administratrix to pay the same within thirty (30) days. On September 13, 1965, the lower court
legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura, hence, they have reason to protect their interest denied the suspension of the proceedings and deferred the resolution of the joint motion to
(Record on Appeal, pp. 36-39). On February 9,1961, the motion to hold in abeyance the remove executrix Maria Ventura until after the examination of the physical fitness of said
approval of the accounts was denied (Record on Appeal, pp. 39-40). executrix to undertake her duties as such. Also, it ordered the deposit of all palay to be
It appears that on July 12, 1963, the Court set the case for pre-trial on August 7, 1963 in harvested in the next agricultural year and subsequent years to be deposited in a bonded
connection with the accounts of the executrix Maria Ventura dated June 17, 1960 and the warehouse to be selected by the Court and the palay so deposited shall not be withdrawn
Motion to Annul Provision of Will dated July 14,1962 of Mercedes Ventura (Record on Appeal, without the express permission of the Court (Record on Appeal, pp. 103-105). On September
p. 45). 21, 1965, spouses Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria Ventura filed their opposition to the
accounts of administration of Maria Ventura dated May 17, 1965, while that of spouses
On October 22, 1963, four motions were filed by Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura,
Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz was filed on September 29, 1965, both oppositions
namely: (1) motion to remove the executrix Maria Ventura which was supplemented on April
alleging among others that said accounts do not reflect the true and actual income of the
27, 1965; (2) motion to require her to deposit the harvest of palay of the property under
estate and that the expenses reported thereunder are fake, exhorbitant and speculative
administration in a bonded warehouse; (3) motion to render an accounting of the proceeds
(Record on Appeal, pp. 106-120).
and expenses of Administration; and (4) motion to require her to include in the inventory of

Page 71 of 85
On October 5, 1965, the court a quo, finding that the executrix Maria Ventura has squandered The lower court erred in finding that the devises and bequests in favor of Maria Ventura and
the funds of the estate, was inefficient and incompetent, has failed to comply with the orders Miguel Ventura as specified in paragraph 8 of the last Will and Testament of the late Gregorio
of the Court in the matter of presenting up-to-date statements of accounts and neglected to Ventura have ipso facto been annulled.
pay the real estate taxes of the estate, rendered the questioned decision, the dispositive VII
portion of which reads:
The lower court erred in allowing the appellees Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura to
WHEREFORE, Maria Ventura is hereby removed as executrix and administratrix of the estate intervene in the hearing of the accounts of administration submitted by the executrix Maria
and in her place Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura are hereby appointed joint a Ventura and/or in not suspending the hearing of the said accounts until the said appellees
tratrices of the estate upon filing by each of them of a bond of P 7,000.00. Let letters of have finally established their status as legitimate children of the deceased Gregorio Ventura.
administration be issued to Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura upon their qualification.
VIII
IT IS SO ORDERED.
The lower court erred in appointing (even without a proper petition for appointment and much
(Record on Appeal pp. 120-131). less a hearing on the appointment of) the appellees Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura
Hence, this appeal. who have an adverse interest as joint administratrices of the estate of the deceased Gregorio
In their brief, appellants Maria Ventura and spouses Juana Cardona and Miguel Ventura Ventura.
assign the following errors allegedly committed by the probate court: IX
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS The lower court erred in not appointing the surviving widow, Juana Cardona, or Miguel
I Ventura, as administratrix of the estate of Gregorio Ventura in case the removal of Maria
Ventura as executrix and administratrix thereof is legally justified.
The lower court erred in ordering the removal of Maria Ventura as executrix and administratrix
of the will and estate of the deceased Gregorio Ventura without giving her full opportunity to X
be heard and to present all her evidence. Considering that there are in fact two (2) factions representing opposite interests in the
II estate, the lower court erred in not appointing Juana Cardona, or Miguel Ventura, as one of
the two (2) administratrices.' (Joint Brief for the Appellants, pp. 1-4)
The lower court erred in finding that the executrix Maria Ventura had squandered and
dissipated the funds of the estate under her administration. On July 19,1967, Atty. Arturo Tolentino (representing appellees Mercedes Ventura and Pedro
Corpuz) and Atty. Jose J. Francisco (representing Gregoria and Exequiel Victoria), having
III
failed to submit their respective briefs within the period for the purpose, which expired on July
The lower court erred in finding that the executrix Maria Ventura was inefficient and 2 and May 29,1967, respectively, the Supreme Court Resolved to consider this case
incompetent. submitted for decision WITHOUT SAID APPELLEES' BRIEF (Rollo, p. 152).
IV The crucial issue in this case is whether or not the removal of Maria Ventura as executrix is
That, considering the circumtances surrounding the case, the lower court erred in finding that legally justified. This issue has, however, become moot and academic in view of the decision
the failure of Maria Ventura to submit her periodical account had justified her removal as of this Court in related cases.
executrix. At the outset, it is worthy to note that aside from the instant special proceedings, there are
V two other civil cases involving the estate of the deceased Gregoria Ventura, namely, Civil
The lower court erred in considering as an established fact that the appellees Mercedes Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476. Civil Case No. 1064 was filed on December 2, 1952 by herein
Ventura and Gregoria Ventura are the legitimate daughters of the deceased Gregorio appellee Gregoria Ventura in the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch I, against the
Ventura. other appellees herein Mercedes Ventura and their father, Gregorio Ventura. Later Mercedes
VI Ventura joined cause with Gregoria Ventura. (Record on Appeal, p. 95). Gregoria and
Mercedes Ventura claimed that they are the legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his
wife Paulina Simpliciano, who died in 1943, and asked that one-half of the properties
described in the complaint be declared as the share of their mother in the conjugal

Page 72 of 85
partnership, with them as the only forced heirs of their mother Paulina (Joint Brief for the Accordingly, Maria Ventura appealed the February 26, 1964 and June 11, 1964 orders of the
Appellants, pp. 53-68). probate court in Special Proceedings No. 812 before the Supreme Court and was docketed
Subsequently, Civil Case No. 1476 was filed by Alipio, Eufracia and Juliana, all surnamed as G.R. No. L-23878. On May 27,1977, this Court, through then Associate Justice Antonio P.
Simpliciano, against Gregorio Ventura and the two sisters, Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura, Barredo, ruled, as follows:
before the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch I. They alleged that as the only And so, acting on appellees' motion to dismiss appeal, it is Our considered opinion that the
children of Modesto Simpliciano, sole brother of Paulina Simpliciano, they, instead of decision in Civil Cases Nos.1064 and 1476 declaring that appellees Mercedes and Gregoria
Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura, whom they claimed are adulterous children of Paulina with Ventura are the ligimate children of the deceased Gregorio Ventura and his wife, Paulina
another man, Teodoro Ventura and as such are not entitled to inherit from her, are the ones Simpliciano, and as such are entitled to the annulment of the institution of heirs made in the
who should inherit the share of Paulina Simpliciano in the conjugal Partnership with Gregorio probated will of said deceased became final and executory upon the finality of the order,
Ventura (Joint Brief For The Appealant,pp.69-79) approving ther partition directed in the decision in question. We need not indulge in any
It appears that on November 4, 1959, after a joint hearing of Civil Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476, discussion as to whether or not, as of the time the orders here in question were issued by the
the lower court rendered its judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: trial court said decision had the nature of an interlocutory order only. To be sure, in the case
of Miranda, aforementioned, the opinion of the majority of the Court may well be invoked
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria
against appellant's pose. In any event, even if the Court were minded to modify again
Ventura to be the ligitimate daughters of Paulina Simpliciano and Gregorio Ventura; declaring
Miranda and go back to Fuentebella and Zaldariaga and it is not, as of now there can
that as such ligitimate daughters of Paulina Simpliciano they are entitled to 1/2 of the
be no question that the approval by the trial court in Civil Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476 of the
properties described in paragraph six of the complaint; ordering the defendant Maria Ventura,
partition report of the commissioners appointed for the purpose, one of whom, Emmanuel
as administratrix of the estate of Gregorio Ventura to pay to Mercedes Ventura and Gregorio
Mariano, is the husband of appellant, put a definite end to those cases, leaving nothing else
Ventura the amount of P 19,074.09 which shall be divided equally between Mercedes and
to be done in the trial court. That order of approval is an appealable one, and inasmuch as no
Gregoria Ventura declaring Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz are the exclusive owners of
appeal has been taken from the same, it is beyond dispute that the decision in controversy
the property describe in the certificate of Title Nos. T-1102, 212, T-1213, T-1214, Exhibits 32,
has already become final and executory in all respects. Hence, the case at bar has become
33, 34 and 35, respectively; ordering Mercedes Ventura and Pedro D. Corpuz to pay to the
moot and academic. (Ventura vs. Ventura, 77 SCRA 159, May 27,1977)
conjugal partnership of Gregorio Ventura and Paulina Simpliciano the sum of P100,000.00,
one-half of which shall pertain to the estate of Gregorio Ventura and the other half to the Under Article 854 of the Civil Code, "the pretention or omission of one, some, or all of the
estate of Paulina Simpliciano to whom Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura have succeeded, to compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or
be divided between Mercedes and Gregoria in equal parts; and dismissing Civil Case No. born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and
1476. The parties are urged to arrive at an amicable partition of the properties herein legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious," and as a result, intestacy follows,
adjudicated within twenty days from receipt of this decision. Upon their failure to do so, the thereby rendering the previous appointment of Maria Ventura as executrix moot and
Court shall appoint commissioners to divide the properties in accordance with the terms of academic. This would now necessitate the appointment of another administrator, under the
the decision. Without pronouncements as to costs. (Emphasis supplied). (Joint Brief for the following provision:
Appellants, pp. 3738.) Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court:
Thereafter, on July 14, 1962, Mercedes Ventura filed a motion to annul the provisions of the When and to whom letters of administration granted.-If no executor is named in the will, or the
will of the deceased Gregorio Ventura in Special Proceedings No. 812, which motion was executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give bond, or a person dies
opposed by Miguel Ventura and Juana Cardona and later by Maria Ventura. They claimed intestate, a petition shall be granted:
that the decision dated November 4,1959 in Civil Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476 was not yet (a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be or next of kin, or both, in the
final. discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or both, in the
On February 26,1964, the court annulled the institution of the heirs in the probated will of discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or next of kin,
Gregorio Ventura. The motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid order filed by executrix requests to have appointed, if competent and willing to serve;"
Maria Ventura was denied on June 11, 1964. xxx xxx xxx

Page 73 of 85
In the case at bar, the surviving spouse of the deceased Gregorio Ventura is Juana Cardona
while the next of kin are: Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura and Maria and Miguel Ventura. The
"next of kin" has been defined as those persons who are entitled under the statute of
distribution to the decedent's property (Cooper vs. Cooper, 43 Ind. A. 620, 88 NE 341). It is
generally said that "the nearest of kin, whose interest in the estate is more preponderant, is
preferred in the choice of administrator. 'Among members of a class the strongest ground for
preference is the amount or preponderance of interest. As between next of kin, the nearest of
kin is to be preferred." (Cabanas, et al. vs. Enage et al., 40 Off. Gaz. 12 Suppl. 227; citing 12 G.R. No. L-39247 June 27, 1975
Am. Jur. Sec. 77, p. 416, cited in Francisco Vicente J., The Revised Rules of Court in the
In the Matter of the Petition to Approve the Will of Leodegaria Julian. FELIX BALANAY,
Philippines, Vol. V-B 1970 Ed., p. 23).
JR., petitioner,
As decided by the lower court and sustained by the Supreme Court, Mercedes and Gregoria vs.
Ventura are the legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his wife, the late Paulina HON. ANTONIO M. MARTINEZ, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch
Simpliciano. Therefore, as the nearest of kin of Gregorio Ventura they are entitled to VI; AVELINA B. ANTONIO and DELIA B. LANABAN, respondents.
preference over the illegitimate children of Gregorio Ventura, namely: Maria and Miguel
Roberto M. Sarenas for petitioner.
Ventura. Hence, under the aforestated preference provided in Section 6 of Rule 78, the
person or persons to be appointed administrator are Juana Cardona, as the surviving spouse, Jose B. Guyo for private respondents.
or Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura as nearest of kin, or Juana Cardona and Mercedes and
Gregoria Ventura in the discretion of the Court, in order to represent both interests. AQUINO, J.:
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the appeal interposed by appellants Maria Ventura, Juana Felix Balanay, Jr. appealed by certiorari from the order of the Court of First Instance of Davao
Cardona and Miguel Ventura is hereby DISMISSED. dated February 28, 1974, declaring illegal and void the will of his mother, Leodegaria Julian,
SO ORDERED. converting the testate proceeding into an intestate proceeding and ordering the issuance of
Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur. the corresponding notice to creditors (Special Case No. 1808). The antecedents of the appeal
are as follows:
Leodegaria Julian, a native of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, died on February 12, 1973 in Davao City
at the age of sixty-seven. She was survived by her husband, Felix Balanay, Sr., and by their
six legitimate children named Felix Balanay, Jr., Avelina B. Antonio, Beatriz B. Solamo,
Carolina B. Manguiob, Delia B. Lanaban and Emilia B. Pabaonon.
Felix J. Balanay, Jr. filed in the lower court a petition dated February 27, 1973 for the probate
of his mother's notarial will dated September 5, 1970 which is written in English. In that will
Leodegaria Julian declared (a) that she was the owner of the "southern half of nine conjugal
lots (par. II); (b) that she was the absolute owner of two parcels of land which she inherited
from her father (par. III), and (c) that it was her desire that her properties should not be
divided among her heirs during her husband's lifetime and that their legitimes should be
satisfied out of the fruits of her properties (Par. IV).
Then, in paragraph V of the will she stated that after her husband's death (he was eighty-two
years old in 1973) her paraphernal lands and all the conjugal lands (which she described as
"my properties") should be divided and distributed in the manner set forth in that part of her
will. She devised and partitioned the conjugal lands as if they were all owned by her. She
disposed of in the will her husband's one half share of the conjugal assets. *

Page 74 of 85
Felix Balanay, Sr. and Avelina B. Antonio opposed the probate of the will on the grounds of dismissed the petition for the probate, converted the testate proceeding into an intestate
lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, preterition of the husband and alleged proceeding, ordered the issuance of a notice to creditors and set the intestate proceeding for
improper partition of the conjugal estate. The oppositors claimed that Felix Balanay, Jr. hearing on April 1 and 2, 1974. The lower court did not abrogate its prior orders of June 18
should collate certain properties which he had received from the testatrix. and October 15, 1973. The notice to creditors was issued on April 1, 1974 and published on
Felix Balanay, Jr., in his reply to the opposition, attached thereto an affidavit of Felix Balanay, May 2, 9 and 16 in the Davao Star in spite of petitioner's motion of April 17, 1974 that its
Sr. dated April 18, 1973 wherein he withdrew his opposition to the probate of the will and publication be held in abeyance.
affirmed that he was interested in its probate. On the same date Felix Balanay, Sr. signed an Felix Balanay, Jr., through a new counsel, Roberto M. Sarenas, in a verified motion dated
instrument captioned "Conformation (sic) of Division and Renunciation of Hereditary Rights" April 15, 1974, asked for the reconsideration of the lower court's order of February 28, 1974
wherein he manifested that out of respect for his wife's will he "waived and renounced' his on the ground that Atty. Montaa had no authority to withdraw the petition for the allowance of
hereditary rights in her estate in favor of their six children. In that same instrument he the will. Attached to the motion was a copy of a letter dated March 27, 1974 addressed to
confirmed the agreement, which he and his wife had perfected before her death, that their Atty. Montaa and signed by Felix Balanay, Jr., Beatriz V. Solamo, Carolina B. Manguiob and
conjugal properties would be partitioned in the manner indicated in her will. Emilia B. Pabaonon, wherein they terminated Montaa's services and informed him that his
Avelina B. Antonio, an oppositor, in her rejoinder contended that the affidavit and withdrawal of the petition for the probate of the will was without their consent and was
"conformation" of Felix Balanay, Sr. were void. The lower court in its order of June 18, 1973 contrary to their repeated reminder to him that their mother's will was "very sacred" to them.
"denied" the opposition and reset for hearing the probate of the will. It gave effect to the Avelina B. Antonio and Delia B. Lanaban opposed the motion for reconsideration. The lower
affidavit and conformity of Felix Balanay, Sr. In an order dated August 28, 1973 it appointed court denied the motion in its order of June 29, 1974. It clarified that it declared the will void
its branch clerk of court as special administrator of the decedent's estate. on the basis of its own independent assessment of its provisions and not because of Atty.
Mrs. Antonio moved for the reconsideration of the lower court's order of June 18, 1973 on the Montaa's arguments.
grounds (a) that the testatrix illegally claimed that she was the owner of the southern half of The basic issue is whether the probate court erred in passing upon the intrinsic validity of the
the conjugal lots and (b) that she could not partition the conjugal estate by allocating portions will, before ruling on its allowance or formal validity, and in declaring it void.
of the nine lots to her children. Felix Balanay, Jr., through his counsel, Hermenegildo We are of the opinion that in view of certain unusual provisions of the will, which are of
Cabreros, opposed that motion. The lower court denied it in its order of October 15, 1973. dubious legality, and because of the motion to withdraw the petition for probate (which the
In the meanwhile, another lawyer appeared in the case. David O. Montaa, Sr., claiming to be lower court assumed to have been filed with the petitioner's authorization), the trial court
the lawyer of petitioner Felix Balanay, Jr. (his counsel of record was Atty. Cabreros), filed a acted correctly in passing upon the will's intrinsic validity even before its formal validity had
motion dated September 25, 1973 for "leave of court to withdraw probate of alleged will of been established. The probate of a will might become an idle ceremony if on its face it
Leodegaria Julian and requesting authority to proceed by intestate estate proceeding." In that appears to be intrinsically void. Where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic
motion Montaa claimed to be the lawyer not only of the petitioner but also of Felix Balanay, validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet the issue
Sr., Beatriz B. Solamo, Carolina B. Manguiob and Emilia B. Pabaonon. (Nuguid vs. Nuguid, 64 O.G. 1527, 17 SCRA 449. Compare with Sumilang vs. Ramagosa, L-
Montaa in his motion assailed the provision of the will which partitioned the conjugal assets 23135, December 26, 1967, 21 SCRA 1369; Cacho vs. Udan, L-19996, April 30, 1965, 13
or allegedly effected a compromise of future legitimes. He prayed that the probate of the will SCRA 693).1wph1.t
be withdrawn and that the proceeding be converted into an intestate proceeding. In another But the probate court erred in declaring, in its order of February 28, 1974 that the will was
motion of the same date he asked that the corresponding notice to creditors be issued. void and in converting the testate proceeding into an intestate proceeding notwithstanding the
Avelina B. Antonio and Delia B. Lanaban, through Atty. Jose B. Guyo, in their comments fact that in its order of June 18, 1973 , it gave effect to the surviving husband's conformity to
dated October 15, 1973 manifested their conformity with the motion for the issuance of a the will and to his renunciation of his hereditary rights which presumably included his one-half
notice to creditors. They prayed that the will be declared void for being contrary to law and share of the conjugal estate.
that an intestacy be declared. The rule is that "the invalidity of one of several dispositions contained in a will does not result
The lower court, acting on the motions of Atty. Montaa, assumed that the issuance of a in the invalidity of the other dispositions, unless it is to be presumed that the testator would
notice to creditors was in order since the parties had agreed on that point. It adopted the view not have made such other dispositions if the first invalid disposition had not been made" (Art.
of Attys. Montaa and Guyo that the will was void. So, in its order of February 28, 1974 it 792, Civil Code). "Where some of the provisions of a will are valid and others invalid, the valid

Page 75 of 85
parts will be upheld if they can be separated from the invalid without defeating the intention of paragraph V of the will without prejudice, of course, to the rights of the creditors and the
the testator or interfering with the general testamentary scheme, or doing injustice to the legitimes of the compulsory heirs.
beneficiaries" (95 C.J.S. 873). Article 793 of the Civil Code provides that "property acquired after the making of a will shall
The statement of the testatrix that she owned the "southern half of the conjugal lands is only pass thereby, as if the testator had it at the time of making the will, should it expressly
contrary to law because, although she was a coowner thereof, her share was inchoate appear by the will that such was his intention". Under article 930 of the Civil Code "the legacy
and proindiviso (Art. 143, Civil Code; Madrigal and Paterno vs. Rafferty and Concepcion, 38 or devise of a thing belonging to another person is void, if the testator erroneously believed
Phil. 414). But That illegal declaration does not nullify the entire will. It may be disregarded. that the thing pertained to him. But if the thing bequeathed, though not belonging to the
The provision of the will that the properties of the testatrix should not be divided among her testator when he made the will, afterwards becomes his, by whatever title, the disposition
heirs during her husband's lifetime but should be kept intact and that the legitimes should be shall take effect."
paid in cash is contrary to article 1080 of the Civil Code which reads: In the instant case there is no doubt that the testatrix and her husband intended to partition
ART. 1080. Should a person make a partition of his estate by an act inter vivos, or by will, the conjugal estate in the manner set forth in paragraph V of her will. It is true that she could
such partition shall be respected, insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of the dispose of by will only her half of the conjugal estate (Art. 170, Civil Code) but since the
compulsory heirs. husband, after the dissolution of the conjugal partnership, had assented to her testamentary
partition of the conjugal estate, such partition has become valid, assuming that the will may
A parent who, in the interest of his or her family, to keep any agricultural, industrial, or
be probated.
manufacturing enterprise intact, may avail himself of the right granted him in this article, by
ordering that the legitime of the other children to whom the property is not assigned be paid in The instant case is different from the Nuguid case, supra, where the testatrix instituted as heir
cash. (1056a) her sister and preterited her parents. Her will was intrinsically void because it preterited her
compulsory heirs in the direct line. Article 854 of the Civil Code provides that "the preterition
The testatrix in her will made a partition of the entire conjugal estate among her six children
or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the
(her husband had renounced his hereditary rights and his one-half conjugal share). She did
time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the
not assign the whole estate to one or more children as envisaged in article 1080. Hence, she
institution of heir; but the devises and legacies, shall be valid insofar as they are not
had no right to require that the legitimes be paid in cash. On the other hand, her estate may
inofficious." Since the preterition of the parents annulled the institution of the sister of the
remain undivided only for a period of twenty years. So, the provision that the estate should
testatrix and there were no legacies and devises, total intestacy resulted (.Art. 960[2], Civil
not be divided during her husband's lifetime would at most be effective only for twenty years
Code).1wph1.t
from the date of her death unless there are compelling reasons for terminating the
coownership (Art. 1083, Civil Code). In the instant case, the preterited heir was the surviving spouse. His preterition did not
produce intestacy. Moreover, he signified his conformity to his wife's will and renounced his
Felix Balanay, Sr. could validly renounce his hereditary rights and his one-half share of the
hereditary rights. .
conjugal partnership (Arts. 179[1] and 1041, Civil Code) but insofar as said renunciation
partakes of a donation of his hereditary rights and his one-half share in the conjugal estate It results that the lower court erred in not proceeding with the probate of the will as
(Art. 1060[1] Civil Code), it should be subject to the limitations prescribed in articles 750 and contemplated in its uncancelled order of June 18, 1973. Save in an extreme case where the
752 of the Civil Code. A portion of the estate should be adjudicated to the widower for his will on its face is intrinsically void, it is the probate court's duty to pass first upon the formal
support and maintenance. Or at least his legitime should be respected. validity of the will. Generally, the probate of the will is mandatory (Art. 838, Civil Code;
Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phil. 479 and 98 Phil. 249; Fernandez vs. Dimagiba, L-23638,
Subject to the foregoing observations and the rules on collation, the will is intrinsically valid
October 12, 1967, 21 SCRA 428).
and the partition therein may be given effect if it does not prejudice the creditors and impair
the legitimes. The distribution and partition would become effective upon the death of Felix As aptly stated by Mr. Justice Barredo, "the very existence of a purported testament is in
Balanay, Sr. In the meantime, the net income should be equitably divided among the children itself prima facie proof that the supposed testator has willed that his estate should be
and the surviving spouse. distributed in the manner therein provided, and it is incumbent upon the state that, if legally
tenable, such desire be given effect independent of the attitude of the parties affected
It should be stressed that by reason of the surviving husband's conformity to his wife's will
thereby" (Resolution, Vda. de Precilla vs. Narciso, L-27200, August 18, 1972, 46 SCRA 538,
and his renunciation of his hereditary rights, his one-half conjugal share became a part of his
565).
deceased wife's estate. His conformity had the effect of validating the partition made in

Page 76 of 85
To give effect to the intention and wishes of the testatrix is the first and principal law in the Fernando (Chairman), Barredo, Antonio and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., concur.
matter of testaments (Dizon-Rivera vs. Dizon, L-24561, June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 554, 561).
Testacy is preferable to intestacy. An interpretation that will render a testamentary disposition
operative takes precedence over a construction that will nullify a provision of the will (Arts.
788 and 791, Civil Code).
Testacy is favored. Doubts are resolved in favor of testacy especially where the will evinces G.R. No. L-23445 June 23, 1966
an intention on the part of the testator to dispose of practically his whole estate. So REMEDIOS NUGUID, petitioner and appellant,
compelling is the principle that intestacy should be avoided and that the wishes of the testator vs.
should prevail that sometimes the language of the will can be varied for the purpose of giving FELIX NUGUID and PAZ SALONGA NUGUID, oppositors and appellees.
it effect (Austria vs. Reyes, L-23079, February 27, 1970, 31 SCRA 754, 762). Custodio O. Partade for petitioner and appellant.
As far as is legally possible, the expressed desire of the testator must be followed and the Beltran, Beltran and Beltran for oppositors and appellees.
dispositions of the properties in his will should be upheld (Estorque vs. Estorque, L-19573, SANCHEZ, J.:
June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 540, 546). Rosario Nuguid, a resident of Quezon City, died on December 30, 1962, single, without
The law has a tender regard for the wishes of the testator as expressed in his will because descendants, legitimate or illegitimate. Surviving her were her legitimate parents, Felix
any disposition therein is better than that which the law can make (Castro vs. Bustos, L- Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid, and six (6) brothers and sisters, namely: Alfredo, Federico,
25913, February 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 327, 341). Remedios, Conrado, Lourdes and Alberto, all surnamed Nuguid.
Two other errors of the lower court may be noticed. It erred in issuing a notice to creditors On May 18, 1963, petitioner Remedios Nuguid filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal a
although no executor or regular administrator has been appointed. The record reveals that it holographic will allegedly executed by Rosario Nuguid on November 17, 1951, some 11 years
appointed a special administrator. A notice to creditors is not in order if only a special before her demise. Petitioner prayed that said will be admitted to probate and that letters of
administrator has been appointed. Section 1, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court, in providing that administration with the will annexed be issued to her.
"immediately after granting letters of testamentary or of administration, the court shall issue a On June 25, 1963, Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid, concededly the legitimate father
notice requiring all persons having money claims against the decedent to file them in the and mother of the deceased Rosario Nuguid, entered their opposition to the probate of her
office of the clerk of said court" clearly contemplates the appointment of an executor or will. Ground therefor, inter alia, is that by the institution of petitioner Remedios Nuguid as
regular administrator and not that of a special administrator. universal heir of the deceased, oppositors who are compulsory heirs of the deceased in
It is the executor or regular administrator who is supposed to oppose the claims against the the direct ascending line were illegally preterited and that in consequence the institution is
estate and to pay such claims when duly allowed (See. 10, Rule 86 and sec. 1, Rule 88, void.
Rules of Court). On August 29, 1963, before a hearing was had on the petition for probate and objection
We also take this occasion to point out that the probate court's appointment of its branch clerk thereto, oppositors moved to dismiss on the ground of absolute preterition.
of court as special administrator (p. 30, Rollo) is not a salutary practice because it might On September 6, 1963, petitioner registered her opposition to the motion to
engender the suspicion that the probate Judge and his clerk of court are in cahoots in milking dismiss.1wph1.t
the decedent's estate. Should the branch clerk of court commit any abuse or devastavit in the
The court's order of November 8, 1963, held that "the will in question is a complete nullity and
course of his administration, the probate Judge might find it difficult to hold him to a strict
will perforce create intestacy of the estate of the deceased Rosario Nuguid" and dismissed
accountability. A court employee should devote his official time to his official duties and should
the petition without costs.
not have as a sideline the administration of a decedent's estate.
A motion to reconsider having been thwarted below, petitioner came to this Court on appeal.
WHEREFORE, the lower court's orders of February 28, and June 29, 1974 are set aside and
its order of June 18, 1973, setting for hearing the petition for probate, is affirmed. The lower 1. Right at the outset, a procedural aspect has engaged our attention. The case is for the
court is directed to conduct further proceedings in Special Case No. 1808 in consonance with probate of a will. The court's area of inquiry is limited to an examination of, and resolution
this opinion. Costs, against the private respondents. on, the extrinsic validity of the will. The due execution thereof, the testatrix's testamentary
capacity, and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities by law prescribed, are the
SO ORDERED.

Page 77 of 85
questions solely to be presented, and to be acted upon, by the court. Said court at this stage Art. 814. The preterition of one or all of the forced heirs in the direct line, whether living at the
of the proceedings is not called upon to rule on the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall void the institution
provisions of the will, the legality of any devise or legacy therein. 1 of heir; but the legacies and betterments4 shall be valid, in so far as they are not inofficious. ...
A peculiar situation is here thrust upon us. The parties shunted aside the question of whether A comprehensive understanding of the term preterition employed in the law becomes a
or not the will should be allowed probate. For them, the meat of the case is the intrinsic necessity. On this point Manresa comments:
validity of the will. Normally, this comes only after the court has declared that the will has La pretericion consiste en omitar al heredero en el testamento. O no se le nombra siquiera o
been duly authenticated.2 But petitioner and oppositors, in the court below and here on aun nombrandole como padre, hijo, etc., no se le instituya heredero ni se le deshereda
appeal, travelled on the issue of law, to wit: Is the will intrinsically a nullity? expresamente ni se le asigna parte alguna de los bienes, resultando privado de un modo
We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of the will, nothing will be tacito de su derecho a legitima.
gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be protracted. And for aught that appears in the Para que exista pretericion, con arreglo al articulo 814, basta que en el testamento omita el
record, in the event of probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists that the case testador a uno cualquiera de aquellos a quienes por su muerte corresponda la herencia
will come up once again before us on the same issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the forzosa.
will. Result: waste of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical
Se necesita, pues, a) Que la omision se refiera a un heredero forzoso. b) Que la omision sea
considerations that induce us to a belief that we might as well meet head-on the issue of the
completa; que el heredero forzoso nada reciba en el testamento.
validity of the provisions of the will in question. 3 After all, there exists a justiciable controversy
crying for solution. It may now appear trite bat nonetheless helpful in giving us a clear perspective of the problem
before us, to have on hand a clear-cut definition of the word annul:
2. Petitioner's sole assignment of error challenges the correctness of the conclusion below
that the will is a complete nullity. This exacts from us a study of the disputed will and the To "annul" means to abrogate, to make void ... In re Morrow's Estate, 54 A. 342, 343, 204 Pa.
applicable statute. 484.6

Reproduced hereunder is the will: The word "annul" as used in statute requiring court to annul alimony provisions of divorce
decree upon wife's remarriage means to reduce to nothing; to annihilate; obliterate; blot out;
Nov. 17, 1951
to make void or of no effect; to nullify; to abolish. N.J.S.A. 2:50 38 (now N.J.S. 2A:34-35).
I, ROSARIO NUGUID, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, having amassed a Madden vs. Madden, 40 A. 2d 611, 614, 136 N..J Eq. 132. 7
certain amount of property, do hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of the property which I
ANNUL. To reduce to nothing; annihilate; obliterate; to make void or of no effect; to nullify; to
may have when I die to my beloved sister Remedios Nuguid, age 34, residing with me at 38-
abolish; to do away with. Ex parte Mitchell, 123 W. Va. 283, 14 S.E. 2d. 771, 774.8
B Iriga, Q.C. In witness whereof, I have signed my name this seventh day of November,
nineteen hundred and fifty-one. And now, back to the facts and the law. The deceased Rosario Nuguid left no descendants,
legitimate or illegitimate. But she left forced heirs in the direct ascending line her parents, now
(Sgd.) Illegible
oppositors Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid. And, the will completely omits both of
T/ ROSARIO NUGUID them: They thus received nothing by the testament; tacitly, they were deprived of their
The statute we are called upon to apply in Article 854 of the Civil Code which, in part, legitime; neither were they expressly disinherited. This is a clear case of preterition. Such
provides: preterition in the words of Manresa "anulara siempre la institucion de heredero, dando
ART. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct caracter absoluto a este ordenamiento referring to the mandate of Article 814, now 854 of the
line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the Civil Code.9 The one-sentence will here institutes petitioner as the sole, universal heir
testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar nothing more. No specific legacies or bequests are therein provided for. It is in this posture
as they are not inofficious. ... that we say that the nullity is complete. Perforce, Rosario Nuguid died intestate. Says
Manresa:
Except for inconsequential variation in terms, the foregoing is a reproduction of Article 814 of
the Civil Code of Spain of 1889, which is similarly herein copied, thus En cuanto a la institucion de heredero, se anula. Lo que se anula deja de existir, en todo o en
parte? No se aade limitacion alguna, como en el articulo 851, en el que se expresa que se
anulara la institucion de heredero en cuanto prejudique a la legitima del deseheredado Debe,

Page 78 of 85
pues, entenderse que la anulacion es completa o total, y que este articulo como especial en will. Nothing in Article 854 suggests that the mere institution of a universal heir in a will
el caso que le motiva rige con preferencia al 817. 10 void because of preterition would give the heir so instituted a share in the inheritance. As
The same view is expressed by Sanchez Roman: to him, the will is inexistent. There must be, in addition to such institution, a testamentary
disposition granting him bequests or legacies apart and separate from the nullified institution
La consecuencia de la anulacion o nulidad de la institucion de heredero por pretericion de
of heir. Sanchez Roman, speaking of the two component parts of Article 814, now 854, states
uno, varios o todos los forzosos en linea recta, es la apertura de la sucesion intestada total o
that preterition annuls the institution of the heir "totalmente por la pretericion"; but added (in
parcial. Sera total, cuando el testador que comete la pretericion, hubiese dispuesto de todos
reference to legacies and bequests) "pero subsistiendo ... todas aquellas otras disposiciones
los bienes por titulo universal de herencia en favor de los herederos instituidos, cuya
que no se refieren a la institucion de heredero ... . 13 As Manresa puts it, annulment throws
institucion se anula, porque asi lo exige la generalidad del precepto legal del art. 814, al
open to intestate succession the entire inheritance including "la porcion libre (que) no hubiese
determinar, como efecto de la pretericion, el de que "anulara la institucion de heredero." ... 11
dispuesto en virtud de legado, mejora o donacion. 14
Really, as we analyze the word annul employed in the statute, there is no escaping the
As aforesaid, there is no other provision in the will before us except the institution of petitioner
conclusion that the universal institution of petitioner to the entire inheritance results in totally
as universal heir. That institution, by itself, is null and void. And, intestate succession ensues.
abrogating the will. Because, the nullification of such institution of universal heir without
any other testamentary disposition in the will amounts to a declaration that nothing at all 4. Petitioner's mainstay is that the present is "a case of ineffective disinheritance rather than
was written. Carefully worded and in clear terms, Article 854 offers no leeway for inferential one of preterition". 15From this, petitioner draws the conclusion that Article 854 "does not
interpretation. Giving it an expansive meaning will tear up by the roots the fabric of the apply to the case at bar". This argument fails to appreciate the distinction between pretention
statute. On this point, Sanchez Roman cites the "Memoria annual del Tribunal Supreme, and disinheritance.
correspondiente a 1908", which in our opinion expresses the rule of interpretation, viz: Preterition "consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced heirs or anyone of them,
... El art. 814, que preceptua en tales casos de pretericion la nulidad de la institucion de either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither
heredero, no consiente interpretacion alguna favorable a la persona instituida en el sentido instituted as heirs nor are expressly disinherited." 16 Disinheritance, in turn, "is
antes expuesto aun cuando parezca, y en algun caso pudiera ser, mas o menos equitativa, a testamentary disposition depriving any compulsory heir of his share in the legitime for a
porque una nulidad no significa en Derecho sino la suposicion de que el hecho o el acto no cause authorized by law. " 17 In Manresa's own words: "La privacion expresa de la legitima
se ha realizado, debiendo por lo tanto procederse sobre tal base o supuesto, y constituye la desheredacion. La privacion tacita de la misma se
18
consiguientemente, en un testamento donde falte la institucion, es obligado llamar a los denomina pretericion." Sanchez Roman emphasizes the distinction by stating that
herederos forzosos en todo caso, como habria que llamar a los de otra clase, cuando el disinheritance "es siempre voluntaria"; preterition, upon the other hand, is presumed to be
testador no hubiese distribudo todos sus bienes en legados, siendo tanto mas obligada esta "involuntaria". 19 Express as disinheritance should be, the same must be supported by a legal
consecuencia legal cuanto que, en materia de testamentos, sabido es, segun tiene declarado cause specified in the will itself. 20
la jurisprudencia, con repeticion, que no basta que sea conocida la voluntad de quien testa si The will here does not explicitly disinherit the testatrix's parents, the forced heirs. It simply
esta voluntad no aparece en la forma y en las condiciones que la ley ha exigido para que sea omits their names altogether. Said will rather than be labeled ineffective disinheritance is
valido y eficaz, por lo que constituiria una interpretacion arbitraria, dentro del derecho clearly one in which the said forced heirs suffer from preterition.
positivo, reputar como legatario a un heredero cuya institucion fuese anulada con pretexto de On top of this is the fact that the effects flowing from preterition are totally different from those
que esto se acomodaba mejor a la voluntad del testador, pues aun cuando asi fuese, sera of disinheritance. Preterition under Article 854 of the Civil Code, we repeat, "shall annul the
esto razon para modificar la ley, pero no autoriza a una interpretacion contraria a sus institution of heir". This annulment is in toto, unless in the will there are, in addition,
terminos y a los principios que informan la testamentifaccion, pues no porque parezca mejor testamentary dispositions in the form of devises or legacies. In ineffective disinheritance
una cosa en el terreno del Derecho constituyente, hay razon para convereste juicio en regla under Article 918 of the same Code, such disinheritance shall also "annul the institution of
de interpretacion, desvirtuando y anulando por este procedimiento lo que el legislador quiere heirs", put only "insofar as it may prejudice the person disinherited", which last phrase was
establecer. 12 omitted in the case of preterition. 21 Better stated yet, in disinheritance the nullity is limited to
3. We should not be led astray by the statement in Article 854 that, annullment that portion of the estate of which the disinherited heirs have been illegally deprived.
notwithstanding, "the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious". Manresa's expressive language, in commenting on the rights of the preterited heirs in the
Legacies and devises merit consideration only when they are so expressly given as such in a case of preterition on the one hand and legal disinheritance on the other, runs thus:

Page 79 of 85
"Preteridos, adquiren el derecho a todo; desheredados, solo les corresponde un tercio o dos
tercios, 22 el caso. 23
5. Petitioner insists that the compulsory heirs ineffectively disinherited are entitled to receive
their legitimes, but that the institution of heir "is not invalidated," although the inheritance of
the heir so instituted is reduced to the extent of said legitimes. 24
This is best answered by a reference to the opinion of Mr. Chief Justice Moran in
the Neri case heretofore cited, viz:
But the theory is advanced that the bequest made by universal title in favor of the children by G.R. No. 72706 October 27, 1987
the second marriage should be treated as legado and mejora and, accordingly, it must not be CONSTANTINO C. ACAIN, petitioner,
entirely annulled but merely reduced. This theory, if adopted, will result in a complete vs.
abrogation of Articles 814 and 851 of the Civil Code. If every case of institution of heirs may HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT (Third Special Cases Division), VIRGINIA A.
be made to fall into the concept of legacies and betterments reducing the bequest FERNANDEZ and ROSA DIONGSON, respondents.
accordingly, then the provisions of Articles 814 and 851 regarding total or partial nullity of the
institution, would. be absolutely meaningless and will never have any application at all. And PARAS, J.:
the remaining provisions contained in said article concerning the reduction of inofficious
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision * of respondent. Court of Appeals in
legacies or betterments would be a surplusage because they would be absorbed by Article
AC-G.R. SP No. 05744 promulgated on August 30, 1985 (Rollo, p. 108) ordering the
817. Thus, instead of construing, we would be destroying integral provisions of the Civil
dismissal of the petition in Special Proceedings No, 591 ACEB and its Resolution issued on
Code.
October 23, 1985 (Rollo, p. 72) denying respondents' (petitioners herein) motion for
The destructive effect of the theory thus advanced is due mainly to a failure to distinguish reconsideration.
institution of heirs from legacies and betterments, and a general from a special provision.
The dispositive portion of the questioned decision reads as follows:
With reference to article 814, which is the only provision material to the disposition of this
case, it must be observed that the institution of heirs is therein dealt with as a thing separate WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and respondent Regional Trial Court of the
and distinct from legacies or betterments. And they are separate and distinct not only Seventh Judicial Region, Branch XIII (Cebu City), is hereby ordered to dismiss the petition in
because they are distinctly and separately treated in said article but because they are in Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB No special pronouncement is made as to costs.
themselves different. Institution of heirs is a bequest by universal title of property that is The antecedents of the case, based on the summary of the Intermediate Appellate Court,
undetermined. Legacy refers to specific property bequeathed by a particular or special title. ... now Court of Appeals, (Rollo, pp. 108-109) are as follows:
But again an institution of heirs cannot be taken as a legacy. 25 On May 29, 1984 petitioner Constantino Acain filed on the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City
The disputed order, we observe, declares the will in question "a complete nullity". Article 854 Branch XIII, a petition for the probate of the will of the late Nemesio Acain and for the
of the Civil Code in turn merely nullifies "the institution of heir". Considering, however, that the issuance to the same petitioner of letters testamentary, docketed as Special Proceedings No.
will before us solely provides for the institution of petitioner as universal heir, and nothing 591 ACEB (Rollo, p. 29), on the premise that Nemesio Acain died leaving a will in which
more, the result is the same. The entire will is null. petitioner and his brothers Antonio, Flores and Jose and his sisters Anita, Concepcion,
Upon the view we take of this case, the order of November 8, 1963 under review is hereby Quirina and Laura were instituted as heirs. The will allegedly executed by Nemesio Acain on
affirmed. No costs allowed. So ordered. February 17, 1960 was written in Bisaya (Rollo, p. 27) with a translation in English (Rollo, p.
31) submi'tted by petitioner without objection raised by private respondents. The will
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P. and
contained provisions on burial rites, payment of debts, and the appointment of a certain Atty.
Zaldivar, JJ., concur.
Ignacio G. Villagonzalo as the executor of the testament. On the disposition of the testator's
property, the will provided:
THIRD: All my shares that I may receive from our properties. house, lands and money which I
earned jointly with my wife Rosa Diongson shall all be given by me to my brother SEGUNDO

Page 80 of 85
ACAIN Filipino, widower, of legal age and presently residing at 357-C Sanciangko Street, (E) There may be nothing in Article 854 of the New Civil Code, that suggests that mere
Cebu City. In case my brother Segundo Acain pre-deceased me, all the money properties, institution of a universal heir in the will would give the heir so instituted a share in the
lands, houses there in Bantayan and here in Cebu City which constitute my share shall be inheritance but there is a definite distinct intention of the testator in the case at bar, explicitly
given to me to his children, namely: Anita, Constantino, Concepcion, Quirina, laura, Flores, expressed in his will. This is what matters and should be in violable.
Antonio and Jose, all surnamed Acain. (F) As an instituted heir, petitioner has the legal interest and standing to file the petition in Sp.
Obviously, Segundo pre-deceased Nemesio. Thus it is the children of Segundo who are Proc. No. 591 ACEB for probate of the will of Nemesio Acain and
claiming to be heirs, with Constantino as the petitioner in Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB (G) Article 854 of the New Civil Code is a bill of attainder. It is therefore unconstitutional and
After the petition was set for hearing in the lower court on June 25, 1984 the oppositors ineffectual.
(respondents herein Virginia A. Fernandez, a legally adopted daughter of tile deceased and The pivotal issue in this case is whether or not private respondents have been pretirited.
the latter's widow Rosa Diongson Vda. de Acain filed a motion to dismiss on the following
Article 854 of the Civil Code provides:
grounds for the petitioner has no legal capacity to institute these proceedings; (2) he is
merely a universal heir and (3) the widow and the adopted daughter have been pretirited. Art. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct
(Rollo, p. 158). Said motion was denied by the trial judge. line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the
testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devisees and legacies shall be valid insofar
After the denial of their subsequent motion for reconsideration in the lower court, respondents
as they are not; inofficious.
filed with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction
which was subsequently referred to the Intermediate Appellate Court by Resolution of the If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall he effectual,
Court dated March 11, 1985 (Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 3; Rollo, p. 159). without prejudice to the right of representation.

Respondent Intermediate Appellate Court granted private respondents' petition and ordered Preterition consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced heirs or anyone of them
the trial court to dismiss the petition for the probate of the will of Nemesio Acain in Special either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither
Proceedings No. 591 ACEB instituted as heirs nor are expressly disinherited (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 450 [1966];
Maninang v. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478 [1982]). Insofar as the widow is concerned,
His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner filed this present petition for the
Article 854 of the Civil Code may not apply as she does not ascend or descend from the
review of respondent Court's decision on December 18, 1985 (Rollo, p. 6). Respondents'
testator, although she is a compulsory heir. Stated otherwise, even if the surviving spouse is a
Comment was filed on June 6, 1986 (Rollo, p. 146).
compulsory heir, there is no preterition even if she is omitted from the inheritance, for she is
On August 11, 1986 the Court resolved to give due course to the petition (Rollo, p. 153). not in the direct line. (Art. 854, Civil code) however, the same thing cannot be said of the
Respondents' Memorandum was filed on September 22, 1986 (Rollo, p. 157); the other respondent Virginia A. Fernandez, whose legal adoption by the testator has not been
Memorandum for petitioner was filed on September 29, 1986 (Rollo, p. 177). questioned by petitioner (.Memorandum for the Petitioner, pp. 8-9). Under Article 39 of P.D.
Petitioner raises the following issues (Memorandum for petitioner, p. 4): No. 603, known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, adoption gives to the adopted person
(A) The petition filed in AC-G.R. No. 05744 for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary the same rights and duties as if he were a legitimate child of the adopter and makes the
injunction is not the proper remedy under the premises; adopted person a legal heir of the adopter. It cannot be denied that she has totally omitted
and preterited in the will of the testator and that both adopted child and the widow were
(B) The authority of the probate courts is limited only to inquiring into the extrinsic validity of
deprived of at least their legitime. Neither can it be denied that they were not expressly
the will sought to be probated and it cannot pass upon the intrinsic validity thereof before it is
disinherited. Hence, this is a clear case of preterition of the legally adopted child.
admitted to probate;
Pretention annuls the institution of an heir and annulment throws open to intestate succession
(C) The will of Nemesio Acain is valid and must therefore, be admitted to probate. The
the entire inheritance including "la porcion libre (que) no hubiese dispuesto en virtual de
preterition mentioned in Article 854 of the New Civil Code refers to preterition of "compulsory
legado mejora o donacion" Maniesa as cited in Nuguid v. Nuguid, supra; Maninang v. Court of
heirs in the direct line," and does not apply to private respondents who are not compulsory
Appeals, 114 SCRA [1982]). The only provisions which do not result in intestacy are the
heirs in the direct line; their omission shall not annul the institution of heirs;
legacies and devises made in the will for they should stand valid and respected, except
(D) DICAT TESTATOR ET MERIT LEX. What the testator says will be the law; insofar as the legitimes are concerned.

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The universal institution of petitioner together with his brothers and sisters to the entire intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 449
inheritance of the testator results in totally abrogating the will because the nullification of such [1966]; Sumilang v. Ramagosa, supra; Maninang v. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478 [1982];
institution of universal heirs-without any other testamentary disposition in the will-amounts to Cayetano v. Leonides, 129 SCRA 522 [1984]; and Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, 139
a declaration that nothing at all was written. Carefully worded and in clear terms, Article 854 SCRA 206 [1985]).
of the Civil Code offers no leeway for inferential interpretation (Nuguid v. Nuguid), supra. No The rule, however, is not inflexible and absolute. Under exceptional circumstances, the
legacies nor devises having been provided in the will the whole property of the deceased has probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon
been left by universal title to petitioner and his brothers and sisters. The effect of annulling the certain provisions of the will (Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, supra). In Nuguid v. Nuguid
"Institution of heirs will be, necessarily, the opening of a total intestacy (Neri v. Akutin, 74 Phil. the oppositors to the probate moved to dismiss on the ground of absolute preteriton The
185 [1943]) except that proper legacies and devises must, as already stated above, be probate court acting on the motion held that the will in question was a complete nullity and
respected. dismissed the petition without costs. On appeal the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the
We now deal with another matter. In order that a person may be allowed to intervene in a probate court, induced by practical considerations. The Court said:
probate proceeding he must have an interest iii the estate, or in the will, or in the property to We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of the will, nothing will be
be affected by it either as executor or as a claimant of the estate and an interested party is gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be protracted. And for aught that appears in the
one who would be benefited by the estate such as an heir or one who has a claim against the record, in the event of probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists that the case
estate like a creditor (Sumilang v. Ramagosa, 21 SCRA 1369/1967). Petitioner is not the will come up once again before us on the same issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the
appointed executor, neither a devisee or a legatee there being no mention in the will. Result: waste of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical
testamentary disposition of any gift of an individual item of personal or real property he is considerations that induce us to a belief that we might as well meet head-on the issue of the
called upon to receive (Article 782, Civil Code). At the outset, he appears to have an interest validity of the provisions of the will in question. After all there exists a justiciable controversy
in the will as an heir, defined under Article 782 of the Civil Code as a person called to the crying for solution.
succession either by the provision of a will or by operation of law. However, intestacy having
In Saguimsim v. Lindayag (6 SCRA 874 [1962]) the motion to dismiss the petition by the
resulted from the preterition of respondent adopted child and the universal institution of heirs,
surviving spouse was grounded on petitioner's lack of legal capacity to institute the
petitioner is in effect not an heir of the testator. He has no legal standing to petition for the
proceedings which was fully substantiated by the evidence during the hearing held in
probate of the will left by the deceased and Special Proceedings No. 591 A-CEB must be
connection with said motion. The Court upheld the probate court's order of dismissal.
dismissed.
In Cayetano v. Leonides, supra one of the issues raised in the motion to dismiss the petition
As a general rule certiorari cannot be a substitute for appeal, except when the questioned
deals with the validity of the provisions of the will. Respondent Judge allowed the probate of
order is an oppressive exercise of j judicial authority (People v. Villanueva, 110 SCRA 465
the will. The Court held that as on its face the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner
[1981]; Vda. de Caldito v. Segundo, 117 SCRA 573 [1982]; Co Chuan Seng v. Court of
the respondent judge should have denied its probate outright. Where circumstances demand
Appeals, 128 SCRA 308 [1984]; and Bautista v. Sarmiento, 138 SCRA 587 [1985]). It is
that intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions be passed upon even before the extrinsic
axiomatic that the remedies of certiorari and prohibition are not available where the petitioner
validity of the will is resolved, the probate court should meet the issue. (Nepomuceno v. Court
has the remedy of appeal or some other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of
of Appeals, supra; Nuguid v. Nuguid, supra).
law (DD Comendador Construction Corporation v. Sayo (118 SCRA 590 [1982]). They are,
however, proper remedies to correct a grave abuse of discretion of the trial court in not In the instant case private respondents filed a motion to dismiss the petition in Sp.
dismissing a case where the dismissal is founded on valid grounds (Vda. de Bacang v. Court Proceedings No. 591 ACEB of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu on the following grounds: (1)
of Appeals, 125 SCRA 137 [1983]). petitioner has no legal capacity to institute the proceedings; (2) he is merely a universal heir;
and (3) the widow and the adopted daughter have been preterited (Rollo, p. 158). It was
Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB is for the probate of a will. As stated by respondent
denied by the trial court in an order dated January 21, 1985 for the reason that "the grounds
Court, the general rule is that the probate court's authority is limited only to the extrinsic
for the motion to dismiss are matters properly to be resolved after a hearing on the issues in
validity of the will, the due execution thereof, the testator's testamentary capacity and the
the course of the trial on the merits of the case (Rollo, p. 32). A subsequent motion for
compliance with the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the
reconsideration was denied by the trial court on February 15, 1985 (Rollo, p. 109).
will normally comes only after the Court has declared that the will has been duly
authenticated. Said court at this stage of the proceedings is not called upon to rule on the

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For private respondents to have tolerated the probate of the will and allowed the case to
progress when on its face the will appears to be intrinsically void as petitioner and his
brothers and sisters were instituted as universal heirs coupled with the obvious fact that one
of the private respondents had been preterited would have been an exercise in futility. It
would have meant a waste of time, effort, expense, plus added futility. The trial court could
have denied its probate outright or could have passed upon the intrinsic validity of the
testamentary provisions before the extrinsic validity of the will was resolved (Cayetano v.
Leonides, supra; Nuquid v. Nuguid, supra. The remedies of certiorari and prohibition were
properly availed of by private respondents.
Thus, this Court ruled that where the grounds for dismissal are indubitable, the defendants
G.R. No. L-57848 June 19, 1982
had the right to resort to the more speedy, and adequate remedies of certiorari and
prohibition to correct a grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, committed RAFAEL E. MANINANG and SOLEDAD L. MANINANG, petitioners,
by the trial court in not dismissing the case, (Vda. de Bacang v. Court of Appeals, supra) and vs.
even assuming the existence of the remedy of appeal, the Court harkens to the rule that in COURT OF APPEALS, HON. RICARDO L. PRONOVE, JR., as Judge of the Court of First
the broader interests of justice, a petition for certiorari may be entertained, particularly where Instance of Rizal and BERNARDO S. ASENETA, respondents.
appeal would not afford speedy and adequate relief. (Maninang Court of Appeals, supra).
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit and the MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
questioned decision of respondent Court of Appeals promulgated on August 30, 1985 and its A Petition to Review the Decision of April 28, 1981 of respondent Appellate Court in CA-G.R.
Resolution dated October 23, 1985 are hereby AFFIRMED. No. 12032-R entitled "Rafael E. Maninang and Soledad L. Maninang vs. Hon. Ricardo
SO ORDERED. Pronove, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig, Branch XI, and Bernardo S.
Aseneta".
Pertinent to the controversy are the following antecedental facts:
On May 21, 1977, Clemencia Aseneta, single, died at the Manila Sanitarium Hospital at age
81. She left a holographic will, the pertinent portions of which are quoted hereunder:
xxx xxx xxx
It is my will that all my real properties located in Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Albay and
Legaspi City and all my personal properties shagllbe inherited upon my death by Dra.
Soledad L. Maninang with whose family I have lived continuously for around the last 30 years
now. Dra. Maninang and her husband Pamping have been kind to me. ... I have found peace
and happiness with them even during the time when my sisters were still alive and especially
now when I am now being troubled by my nephew Bernardo and niece Salvacion. I am not
incompetent as Nonoy would like me to appear. I know what is right and wrong. I can decide
for myself. I do not consider Nonoy as my adopted son. He has made me do things against
my will.
xxx xxx xxx
On June 9, 1977, petitioner Soledad Maninang filed a Petition for probate of the Will of the
decedent with the Court of First Instance-Branch IV, Quezon City (Sp. Proc. No. Q-23304,
hereinafter referred to as the Testate Case).

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On July 25, 1977, herein respondent Bernardo Aseneta, who, as the adopted son, claims to The law enjoins the probate of the Will and public policy requires it, because unless the Will is
be the sole heir of decedent Clemencia Aseneta, instituted intestate proceedings with the probated and notice thereof given to the whole world, the right of a person to dispose of his
Court of First Instance-Branch XI, Pasig, Rizal (Sp. Proc. No. 8569, called hereinafter the property by Will may be rendered nugatory. 5
Intestate Case" for brevity). Normally, the probate of a Will does not look into its intrinsic validity.
On December 23, 1977, the Testate and Intestate Cases were ordered consolidated before ... The authentication of a will decides no other question than such as touch upon the
Branch XI, presided by respondent Judge. capacity of the testator and the compliance with those requisites or solemnities which the law
Respondent Bernardo then filed a Motion to Dismiss the Testate Case on the ground that the prescribes for the validity of wills. It does not determine nor even by implication prejudge the
holographic will was null and void because he, as the only compulsory heir, was preterited validity or efficiency (sic) of the provisions, these may be impugned as being vicious or null,
and, therefore, intestacy should ensue. In support of said Motion to Dismiss, respondent notwithstanding its authentication. The que0stions relating to these points remain entirely
Bernardo cited the cases of Neri vs. Akutin (72 Phil. 322); Nuguid vs. Nuguid (17 SCRA 449), unaffected, and may be raised even after the will has been authenticated .... 6
and Ramos vs. Baldovino (2 CA Rep. 2nd, 878). 1 Opposition to the intrinsic validity or legality of the provisions of the will cannot be entertained
In her Opposition to said Motion to Dismiss, petitioner Soledad averred that it is still the rule in Probate proceeding because its only purpose is merely to determine if the will has been
that in a case for probate of a Will, the Court's area of inquiry is limited to an examination of executed in accordance with the requirements of the law. 7
and resolution on the extrinsic validity of the will; and that respondent Bernardo was Respondent Bernardo, however, relies on the pronouncement in Nuguid vs. Nuguid 8,
effectively disinherited by the decedent. 2 reading:
On September 8, 1980, the lower Court ordered the dismissal of the Testate Case in this In a proceeding for the probate of a will, the Court's area of inquiry is limited to an
wise: examination of, and resolution on, the extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution thereof,
For reasons stated in the motion to dismiss filed by petitioner Bernardo S. Aseneta which the the testatrix's testamentary capacity and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities
Court finds meritorious, the petition for probate of will filed by Soledad L. Maninang and which prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the will normally comes only after the court has
was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. Q-23304 is DISMISSED, without pronouncement as to costs. declared that the will has been duly authenticated. However, where practical considerations
On December 19, 1980, the lower Court denied reconsideration for lack of merit and in the demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the
same Order appointed Bernardo as the administrator of the intestate estate of the deceased Court should meet that issue. (Emphasis supplied)
Clemencia Aseneta "considering that he is a forced heir of said deceased while oppositor Our ruling in Balanay vs. Hon. Martinez 9 had a similar thrust:
Soledad Maninang is not, and considering further that Bernardo Aseneta has not been shown The trial court acted correctly in passing upon the will's intrinsic validity even before its formal
to be unfit to perform the duties of the trust. " validity had been established. The probate of a will might become an Idle ceremony if on its
Petitioners Maninang resorted to a certiorari Petition before respondent Court of Appeals face it appears to be intrinsically void. Where practical considerations demand that the
alleging that the lower Court exceeded its jurisdiction in issuing the Orders of dismissal of the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet
Testate Case (September 8, 1980) and denial of reconsideration (December 19, 1980). the issue.
On April 28, 1981, respondent Court 3 denied certiorari and ruled that the trial Judge's Order The Nuguid and the Balanay cases provide the exception rather than the rule. The intrinsic
of dismissal was final in nature as it finally disposed of the Testate Case and, therefore, validity of the Wills in those cases was passed upon even before probate because "practical
appeal was the proper remedy, which petitioners failed to avail of. Continuing, it said that considerations" so demanded. Moreover, for the parties in the Nuguid case, the "meat of the
even granting that the lower Court committed errors in issuing the questioned Orders, those controversy" was the intrinsic validity of the Will; in fact, the parties in that case "shunted
are errors of judgment reviewable only by appeal and not by Certiorari. 'Thus, this Petition aside the question of whether or not the Will should be allowed probate." Not so in the case
before us. before us now where the probate of the Will is insisted on by petitioners and a resolution on
We find that the Court a quo a quo acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it dismissed the the extrinsic validity of the Will demanded.
Testate Case. Generally, the probate of a Will is mandatory. Moreover, in the Nuguid case, this Court ruled that the Will was intrinsically invalid as it
No will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in completely preterited the parents of the testator. In the instant case, a crucial issue that calls
accordance with the Rules of Court. 4 for resolution is whether under the terms of the decedent's Will, private respondent had been

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preterited or disinherited, and if the latter, whether it was a valid disinheritance. Preterition its conclusion was that respondent Bernardo has been preterited We are of opinion, however,
and disinheritance are two diverse concepts. that from the face of the Will, that conclusion is not indubitable.
... Preterition "consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced heirs or anyone of As held in the case of Vda. de Precilla vs. Narciso 12
them, either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither ... it is as important a matter of public interest that a purported will is not denied legalization
instituted as heirs nor are expressly disinherited." (Neri vs. Akutin, 72 Phil. 325). on dubious grounds. Otherwise, the very institution of testamentary succession will be shaken
Disinheritance, in turn, "is a testamentary disposition depriving any compulsory heirs of his to its foundation, ...
share in the legitimate for a cause authorized by law." (Justice J.B.L. Reyes and R.C. Puno,
Coming now to the procedural aspect, suffice it to state that in view of our finding that
"An Outline of Philippine Civil Law", 1956 ed., Vol. III, p. 8, citing cases) Disinheritance is
respondent Judge had acted in excess of his jurisdiction in dismissing the Testate Case,
always "voluntary", preterition upon the other hand, is presumed to be "involuntary" (Sanchez
certiorari is a proper remedy. An act done by a Probate Court in excess of its jurisdiction may
Roman, Estudios de Derecho Civil 2nd edition, Volume 2.o p. 1131). 10
be corrected by Certiorari. 13 And even assuming the existence of the remedy of appeal, we
The effects of preterition and disinheritance are also totally different. harken to the rule that in the broader interests of justice, a petition for certiorari may be
... The effects flowing from preterition are totally different from those of disinheritance. entertained, particularly where appeal would not afford speedy and adequate relief.
Pretention under Article 854 of the New Civil Code shall annul the institution of heir. This WHEREFORE, the Decision in question is set aside and the Orders of the Court of First
annulment is in toto, unless in the wail there are, in addition, testamentary dispositions in the Instance-Branch XI, Rizal, dated September 8, 1980 and December 19, 1980, are nullified.
form of devises or legacies. In ineffective disinheritance under Article 918 of the same Code, Special Proceeding No. Q-23304 is hereby remanded to said Court of First Instance-Branch
such disinheritance shall also "annul the institution of heirs", but only "insofar as it may XI. Rizal, therein to be reinstated and consolidated with Special Proceeding No. 8569 for
prejudice the person disinherited", which last phrase was omitted in the case of preterition (III further proceedings.
Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, 1961 Edition, p. 172). Better stated yet, in
No pronouncement as to costs.
disinheritance the nullity is limited to that portion of the estate of which the disinherited heirs
have been illegally deprived. 11 SO ORDERED.

By virtue of the dismissal of the Testate Case, the determination of that controversial issue
has not been thoroughly considered. We gather from the assailed Order of the trial Court that

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