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RICARDO S. SILVERIO JR. ("SILVERIO JR.

") assails
RULE 72 - 90 the Order ofthe intestate court dated 16 June 2011 "WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
reinstating RICARDO SILVERIO SR. ("SILVERIO portions of the Omnibus Order upholding the grant of
FIRST DIVISION
SR.") as administrator to the estate of the late Beatriz letters of administration to and the taking of an oath of
Silverio. administration by Ricardo Silverio, Jr., as well as the
G.R. Nos. 208828-29 August 13, 2014
removal of Ricardo Silverio, Sr. as administrator to the
RICARDO C. SILVERIO, SR., Petitioner,
The administrator first appointed by the Court was Estate of Beatriz Silverio, are declared NULL and
vs.
EDGARDO SILVERIO ("EDGARDO"), but by virtue of VOID. The writ of preliminary injunction earlier issued
RICARDO S. SILVERIO, JR., CITRINE HOLDINGS,
a Joint Manifestation dated 3 November 1999 filed by is MADE PERMANENT in regard to the said portions.
INC., MONICA P. OCAMPO and ZEE2
the heirs of BEATRIZ D. SILVERIO, the motion to Respondent RTC is ORDERED to reinstate Ricardo
RESOURCES, INC.,Respondents.
withdraw as administrator filed by EDGARDO was Silverio, Sr. as administrator to the Estate of Beatriz
approved by the intestate court and in his stead, Silverio. Costs against the Private Respondents.
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
SILVERIO SR. was appointed as the new
Before the Court is a petition for review under Rule 45
administrator. Thereafter, an active exchange of SO ORDERED."
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, to
pleadings to remove and appoint a new administrator
reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated March 8,
ensued between SILVERIO SR. and SILVERIO JR. SILVERIO JR. filed a Petition for review on
2013 of the Court of Appeals (CA) insofar as CA-G.R.
The flip-flopping appointment of administrator is Certioraribefore the Supreme Court docketed as G.R.
SP Nos. 121173 and 122024 are concerned, and
summarized below: No. 185619 challenging the 28 Augsut 2008 decision
Resolution2 dated July 4, 2013 denying petitioner's
of the Court of Appeals. On 11 February 2009, the
Motion for Partial Reconsideration. The CA nullified
In an Order dated 3 January 2005, SILVERIO SR. Supreme Court issued a resolution denying the
the preliminary injunction issued by the Regional Trial
was removed as administrator and in his stead, petition for failure to sufficiently show any reversible
Court (RTC) of Makati City ("intestate court"), Branch
SILVERIO, JR. was designated as the new error inthe assailed judgment to warrant the exercise
57 in Sp. Proc. No. M-2629 and reversed said court's
administrator. A motion for reconsideration was by the Court of discretionary appellate jurisdiction.
Order dated August 18, 2011 declaring the sales and
separately filed by SILVERIO SR. and Nelia Silverio- Acting on SILVERIO JR.’s motion for reconsideration,
derivative titles over two properties subject of intestate
Dee ("SILVERIO-DEE") and on 31 May 2005, the the Supreme Court on 11 February 2011, denied the
proceedings as null and void.
intestate court issued an Omnibus Order affirming motion with finality. An entry of judgment was made
among others, the Order of 3 January 2005. Inthe on 29 March 2011.
The factual and procedural antecedents of the case,
same Order, the intestate court also granted the
as summarized by the CA, are as follows: The late
motion of SILVERIO JR. to take his oath as On 25 April 2011 SILVERIO SR. filed before the
Beatriz S. Silverio died without leaving a will on
administrator effective upon receipt of the order and intestate court, an urgent motion to be reinstated as
October 7, 1987. She was survived by her legal heirs,
expunged the inventory report filed by SILVERIO SR. administrator of the estate. Acting on the motion, the
namely: Ricardo C. Silverio, Sr. (husband), Edmundo
intestate court issued the now challenged Order dated
S. Silverio (son), Edgardo S. Silverio (son), Ricardo S.
On 12 December 2005 the intestate court acting on 16 June 2011, the pertinent portion of the Order
Silverio, Jr. (son), Nelia S.Silverio-Dee (daughter),
the motion filed by SILVERIO SR. recalled the Order reads:
and Ligaya S. Silverio (daughter). Subsequently, an
granting letters of administration to SILVERIO JR. and xxxx
intestate proceeding (SP PROC. NO.M-2629) for the
reinstated SILVERIO SR. as administrator. Then "WHEREFORE, upon posting of a bond in the sum of
settlement of her estate was filed by SILVERIO, SR.
again, the intestate court acting on the motion for TEN MILLION PESOS, the same to be approved by
partial consideration to the Order dated 12 December this Court, Mr. Ricardo C. Silverio, Sr. is hereby
In the course of the proceedings, the parties filed
2005 filed by SILVERIO JR. issued an Omnibus Order ordered reinstated as the Administrator to the estate
different petitions and appeal challenging several
dated 31 October 2006 upholding the grant of Letters of the late Beatriz Silverio and to immediately take his
orders ofthe intestate court that went all the way up to
of Administration to SILVERIO JR. and removed oath as such, and exercise his duties and functions as
the Supreme Court. To better understand the myriad
SILVERIO SR., ad administrator for gross violation of are incumbent under the law upon the said position.
of factual and procedural antecedents leading to the
his duties and functions under Section 1, Rule 81 of xxx."
instant consolidated case, this court will resolve the
the Rules of Court. xxxx
petitions in seriatim.
CA-G.R. SP No. 121173
SILVERIO SR. moved for reconsideration of the xxxx
The Petitions
above Order whereas SILVERIO-DEE on the other On 15 March 2011, heirs SILVERIO JR., EDMUNDO
hand, filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of and LIGAYA represented by her legal guardian
CA-G.R. SP No. 121172
Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 97196. On 28 moved for the disqualification and/or inhibition of
August 2008, the Court of Appeals (Seventh Division) JUDGE GUANLAO, JR. based on the following
The first petition of the three consolidated petitions is
rendered a decision reinstating SILVERIO, SR. as grounds: (1) Absence of the written consent of all
CA-G.R. SP No. 121172 wherein petitioner,
administrator, the decretal portion of the Order reads: parties in interest allowing JUDGE GUANLAO, JR. to
continue hearing the case considering that he by Legal Guardian Nestor S. Dela Merced II, Subpoena Duces Tecum) praying among others, that
appeared once as counsel in the intestate Edmundo S. Silverio and Nelia S. SilverioDee in a TRO be issued restraining and/or preventing
proceedings; (2) JUDGE GUANLAO, JR. has shown accordance with the law on intestacy. SO SILVERIO, JR., MONICA OCAMPO, CITRINE
bias and partiality in favor of SILVERIO SR. by ORDERED." HOLDINGS, INC. and their successors-in-interest
allowing the latter to pursue several motions and even from committing any act that would affect the titles to
issued a TRO in violation of the rules against forum By virtue of the aforesaid Order, SILVERIO, JR. on 16 the three properties.
shopping; (3) Heir LIGAYA’s Petition for Support and October 2007 executed a Deed of Absolute Salein
Release of Funds for Medical Support has not been favor of CITRINE HOLDINGS, Inc. ("CITRINE") over On 14 February 2011, SILVERIO SR. filed an Urgent
resolved; and (4) It is in the best interest of all the the property located at No. 3 Intsia Road, Forbes Omnibus Motion (a) To Declare as Null and Void the
heirs that the proceedings be presided and decided Park, Makati City. CITRINE became the registered Deed of Absolute Sale dated 16 September 2010; (b)
by the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. owner thereof on 06 September 2010 as evidenced To cancel the Transfer Certificate of Title No. 006-
by TCT No. 006-201000063. 2011000050; and (c) To reinstate the Transfer
On 23 March 2011, JUDGE GUANLAO, JR. issued an Certificate of Title No. 2236121 in the name of
order denying the Motion for Disqualification and/or A Deed of Absolute Sale was likewise executed in Ricardo C. SilverioSr. and the Intestate Estate of the
Inhibition. The movants filed a motion for favor of Monica P. Ocampo (notarized on September late Beatriz S. Silverio.
reconsideration but the same was denied in an order 16, 2010) for the lot located at No. 82 Cambridge
dated 14 June 2011. Hence, the instant petition. Circle, Forbes Park, Makati City. On 23 December On 28 February 2011 the Intestate Court issued an
2010, TCT No. 006-2011000050 was issued toMonica Order granting a Temporary Restraining Order
xxxx P. Ocampo. The latter subsequently sold said enjoining SILVERIO JR., their agent or anybody
CA-G.R. SP NO. 122024 property to ZEE2 Resources, Inc. (ZEE2) and TCT acting in their behalf from committing any act that
xxxx No. 006-2011000190 was issued on 11 February would affect the titles to the properties and enjoining
The intestate court in its Omnibus Order dated 31 2011 under its name. the Register of Deeds of Makati City from accepting,
October 2006, ordered among others, the sale of admitting, approving, registering, annotating or in any
certain properties belonging to the estate. The portion In the interim, or on 12 December 2006 SILVERIO- way giving due course to whatever deeds,
of the order which is pertinent to the present petition DEE filed a petition for certioraribefore the Court of instruments or any other documents involving
reads: Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 97196 with voluntary or involuntary dealings which may have the
prayer for injunctive relief. As prayed for, the Court of effect of transferring, conveying, encumbering,
"WHEREFORE, above premises considered, this Appeals issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) ceding, waiving, alienating, or disposing in favor of
Court for the foregoing reasons resolves to grant the on 5 February 2007. On 4 July 2007, the Court any individual or any entity of the subject properties.
following: issueda Writ of Preliminary Injunction conditioned Subpoena ad testificandumand duces tecumwas also
upon the posting of the bond in the amount of two issued by the intestate court requiring SILVERIO, JR.,
(1) xxx million pesos (Php2,000,000.00). SILVERIO-DEE MONICA OCAMPO and ALEXANDRA GARCIA of
(2) xxx posted the required bond on February 5, 2007 but in CITRINE to testify and bring with them any books and
(3) Allowing the sale of the properties located at (1) an order dated 3 January 2008, the Court ruled that documents under their control to shed light on the
No. 82 Cambridge Circle, Forbes Park, Makati City, the bond posted by SILVERIO-DEE failed to comply circumstances surrounding the transaction involving
covered by T.C.T. No. 137155 issued by Register of with A.M. No. 04-7-02-SC. The Court, however, did the properties in question.
Deeds of Makati City; (2) No. 3 Intsia Road, Forbes not reverse the ruling granting the injunction but
Park, Makati City covered by T.C.T. No. 4137154 instead ordered SILVERIO-DEE to comply with A.M. On 9 March 2011, SILVERIO Sr. filed a Supplement
issued by the Register of Deeds of Makati City; and No. 04-7-02-SC. The Court also increased the bond to the Urgent Omnibus Motion dated 14 February
(3) No. 19 Taurus St., Bel-Air Subd. Makati City from two million to ten million. On 29 February 2008, 2011. On 18 August 2011, the intestate court
covered by TCT No. 137156 issued by the Register of the Court issued a Resolution approving the ten rendered the now assailed Order the decretal portion
Deeds of Makati City to partially settle the intestate million bond and issued the Writ of Preliminary of the Order is quoted hereunder:
estate of the late Beatriz S. Silverio, and authorizing Injunction. Eventually, on 28 August 2008 the Court of
the Administrator to undertake the proper procedure Appeals (Seventh Division) issued a decision "WHEREFORE, this Court hereby orders that:
or transferring the titles involved to the name of the reinstating SILVERIO SR. as administrator and
estate; and declaring the Writ of Preliminary Injunction permanent 1. The Deed of Absolute Sale dated 16 September
in regard to the appointment of administrator. 2010 as VOID:
(4) To apply the proceeds of the sale mentioned in
Number 3 above to the payment of taxes, interests, On 04 February 2011 SILVERIO SR. filed an Urgent 2. The Transfer Certificate of Title No. 006-
penalties and other charges, if any, and todistribute Application for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining 2011000050 in the name of defendant MONICA
the residue among the heirs Ricardo C. Silverio, Sr., Order/Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction (With Motion OCAMPO or any of her successors-in-
Ricardo S. Silverio, Jr., Ligaya S. Silverio represented For the Issuance of Subpoena Ad Testificandum and
interestincluding all derivative titles, as NULL AND over the Cambridge and Intsiaproperties as null and and Intsia properties. In the alternative, should the
VOID; void. said sales be upheld, petitioner prays that this Court
(1) declare the sales to be valid only to the extent of
3. The Transfer Certificate of Title TCT No. 006- On March 8, 2013, the CA rendered its Decision, the 50% net remainder share of the late Beatriz less the
2011000190 in the name of ZEE2 RESOURCES, fallo of which reads: corresponding shares therefrom of petitioner and the
INC. or any of its successors-in-interest including all other legal compulsory heirs, and (2) order
derivative titles, as NULL AND VOID; WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing premises, the respondent Silverio, Jr. to account for the proceeds of
Court hereby disposes and orders the following: sales for distribution of the residue among the
4. (T)he Register of Deeds of Makati City to CANCEL legal/compulsory heirs.
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 006-2011000050, 1. The petition in CA G.R. SP No. 121172is
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 006-2011000190 and DENIEDfor lack of merit. Accordingly, the 16 June In their Comment, respondents Silverio, Jr., Monica
all of its derivative titles; and 5. Reinstating the 2011 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Ocampo and Citrine Holdings, Inc. argued that the
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2236121 in the name Branch 57 reinstating MR. RICARDO C. SILVERIO, intestate court should not have ruled on the validity of
of RICARDO C. SILVERIO, SR. AND THE SR. as Administrator is AFFIRMED. the sale of the subject properties to third parties after
INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE BEATRIZ it itself had authorized their disposal in partial
SILVERIO, and AS TO THE INTSIA PROPERTY: 2. The petition in CA GR. S.P. No. 121173is partly settlementof the estate, especially so when separate
DENIEDfor lack of merit insofar as it questions the 23 actions assailing the new titles issued to said third
1. The Register of Deeds ofMakati City to CANCEL March 2011 Order denying RICARDO SILVERIO, parties were already instituted by petitioner.
Transfer Certificate ofTitle No. 006-2010000063, in JR’s Motion for Disqualification and/or Inhibition of
the name of CITRINE HOLDINGS, INC. and all of its Judge Honorio E. Guanlao, Jr. The petition is partly As to the issue of alleged lack ofprior consent of
derivative titles; and GRANTEDin that the Preliminary Injunction issued by petitioner to the aforesaid sales as the surviving
the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 57 is spouses with a 50% conjugal share in the subject
2. The reinstatement of Transfer Certificate of Title herebydeclared NULL and VOID for being issued with properties, respondents point out that such is belied
No. 223612 in the name of RICARDO C. SILVERIO, grave abuse of discretion. by the October 31, 2006 Order of the intestate court,
SR. and the INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE which clearly showed that counsels of all the heirs
BEATRIZ SILVERIO. SO ORDERED." 3. The petition in CA G.R.-S.P. No. 122024is were present at the hearing of June 16, 2006 and no
GRANTED. Accordingly, the 18 August 2011 Order objection was made by them to the sale of the
x x x x3 declaring the Deed of Absolute Sale, Transfer properties and the partial settlement of the Estate of
The consolidated petitions for certiorari filed by Certificate of Title and all derivative titles over the Beatriz S. Silverio, together with the transfer of titles
respondent Ricardo S. Silverio, Jr. ("Silverio, Jr.") Cambridge and Intsia Property null and void is hereby of these properties in the name of the Estate as
before the CA questioned the following issuances of REVERSEDand SET ASIDE. SO ORDERED.4 prayed for in petitioner’s Manifestation and Motion
the intestate court: CA-G.R. SP No. 121172 – Order dated April 19, 2006. Petitioner had not challenged or
dated June 16, 2011 reinstating Silverio, Sr. as Ricardo C. Silverio, Sr. (petitioner) filed a Motion for appealed the said order authorizing the sale of the
Administrator; CA-G.R. SP No. 121173 – (1) Order Partial Reconsideration5 "insofar as its ruling in CA- subject properties. Thus, it is too late in the day for
dated March 23,2011 granting Silverio, Sr.’s G.R. SP No. 122024" praying that the August 18, petitioner to raise this factual issue before this Court,
application for preliminary injunction enjoining Silverio, 2011 Order of the intestate court be affirmed. By not to mention that it cannot be ventilated in the
Jr. or anyone acting on their behalf from committing Resolution dated July 4, 2013, the CA denied his present appeal by certiorari as thisCourt is not a trier
any act that would affect the titles to the subject motion for partial reconsideration. of facts.
properties and enjoining the Register of Deeds of
Makati City from accepting, admitting, approving, Hence, this petition contending thatthe CA committed Respondent ZEE2 Resources Corporation filed its
registering, annotating or in any way giving due a reversible error in upholding the validity of the Intsia Comment contending that the intestate court
course to whatever deeds, instruments or any other and Cambridgeproperties upon the ground that the improperly nullified the titles despite the fact that the
documents involving the Cambridge and Intsia intestate court cannotannul the sales as it has a present registered owners, who are indispensable
properties, (2) Order dated March 23, 2011 which limited jurisdiction only and which does not parties, were not impleaded. Indeed, a Torrens title
denied Silverio, Jr.’s motion or disqualification and/or includeresolving issues of ownership. It is asserted cannot be collaterally attacked and may be cancelled
inhibition of Judge Guanlao, Jr., and (3) Order dated that the CA should nothave stopped there and looked only in a direct proceeding brought for the purpose.
June 14, 2011 denying the motion for reconsideration into the nature of the properties sold, which formed Respondent points out that petitioner himself
of the March 23, 2011 Order (granting application for part of the conjugal partnership of Ricardo Silverio, Sr. recognized thata direct action is required to annul a
preliminary injunction); and in CA-G.R. SP No. and Beatriz S. Silverio. Torrens title ashe initially instituted two civil
122024 – Order dated August 18, 2011 declaring the complaints before the RTC of Makati City seeking to
Deed of Absolute Sale, TCT and all derivative titles Petitioner seeks the reinstatement of the order of the annul, among others, the TCT’s issued to respondent
intestate court annulling the sales of the Cambridge Ocampo for the Cambridge property. After failing to
secure restraining orders in these two civil cases, the grant of authority to sell is still good and valid. The
petitioner filed in the intestate court his Urgent There is hardly any doubt that the probate court can fallo of the decision reads:
OmnibusMotion dated February 14, 2011 to annul the declare null and void the disposition of the property
said titles, including that of ZEE2. In any case, under administration, made by private respondent, the "WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
respondent maintains that it is a buyer of good faith same having been effected without authority from said portions of the Omnibus Order upholding the grant of
and for value, of which the intestate court never made court. It is the probate court that has the power to letters of administration to and the taking of an oath of
a determination nor did the aforesaid Urgent Omnibus authorize and/or approve the sale (Section 4 and 7, administration by Ricardo Silverio, Jr., as well as the
Motion and Supplement to the Omnibus Motion dated Rule 89), hence, a fortiori, it is said court that can removal of Ricardo Silverio, Sr. as administrator to the
March 4, 2011 contain allegations indicating that declare it null and void for as long as the proceedings Estate of Beatriz Silverio, are declared NULL and
respondent ZEE2 was not a buyer in good faith and had not been closed or terminated. To uphold VOID. The writ of preliminary injunction earlier issued
for value. petitioner’s contention that the probate court cannot is made permanent in regard to the said portions.
annul the unauthorized sale, would render Respondent RTC is ORDERED to reinstate Ricardo
According to respondent ZEE2, petitioner’s act of meaningless the power pertaining to the said court. Silverio, Sr. as administrator of the Estate of Beatriz
filing a separate complaint with application for a (Bonga vs. Soler, 2 SCRA 755). (italics ours) Our Silverio. Costs against the Private Respondents.
temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary jurisprudence is therefore clear that (1) any
injunction on January 31, 2011 in another court (Civil disposition of estate property by an administrator or SO ORDERED."
Case Nos. 11-084 of the RTC of Makati City, Branch prospective heir pending final adjudication requires
143) constitutes willful and deliberate forum shopping court approval and (2) any unauthorized disposition of The October 31, 2006 Omnibus Order of the testate
asthe former also prayedsimilar primary reliefs and estate property can be annulled by the probate court, [sic] court in so far as it authorizes the saleof the three
setting up the alleged nullity of the subject deeds of there being no need for a separate action to annul the properties in question was not declared by the Court
absolute sale as those raised in the Urgent Omnibus unauthorized disposition. (Emphasis supplied.) of Appeals, Seventh Division as null and void.It is
Motion and Supplement to the Urgent Omnibus axiomatic that it is the dispositive portion of the
Motion filed in the intestate court. In this case, the sale of the subject properties was decision that finally invests rights upon the parties,
executed by respondent Silverio, Jr. with prior sets conditions for the exercise of those rights, and
At the outset, we emphasize that the probate court approval of the intestate court under its Omnibus imposes the corresponding duties or obligations.
having jurisdiction over properties under Order dated October 31, 2006. Subsequently,
administration has the authority not only to approve however, the sale was annulled by the said court on From all the foregoing, We declare that it was grave
any disposition or conveyance, but also to annul an motion by petitioner. abuse of discretion on the part of the intestate court
unauthorized sale by the prospective heirs or when it ordered the sale of the Cambridge Property
administrator. Thus we held in Lee v. Regional Trial In reversing the intestate court’s order annulling the and Intsia Property as NULL and VOID citing as
Court of Quezon City, Branch 856: sale of the subject properties, the CA noted that said justification the decision of the Court of Appeals,
ruling is anchored on the fact that the deeds of sale Seventh Division in CAG.R. SP No. 97196. To
Juliana Ortañez and Jose Ortañez sold specific were executed at the time when the TRO and writ of reiterate, the injunction order which was made
properties of the estate, without court approval. It is preliminary injunction issued in CA-G.R. SP No. permanent by the Court of Appeals (Seventh Division)
well-settled that court approval is necessary for the 97196 was still in effect. It then concluded that the was declared to be limited only to the portion ofthe
validity of any disposition of the decedent’s estate. In eventual decision in the latter case making the writ of Omnibus Order that upheld the grant of letters of
the early case of Godoy vs. Orellano, we laid down preliminary injunction permanent only with respect to administrationby SILVERIO, JR. and the removal of
the rule that the sale of the property of the estate by the appointment of petitioner as administrator and not SILVERIO, SR. as administrator and nothing else.
an administrator without the order of the probate court to the grant of authority to sell mooted the issue of
is void and passes no title to the purchaser. And in the whether the sale was executed at the time when the Anent the preliminary injunction issued by the
case of Dillena vs. Court of Appeals, we ruled that: x x TRO and writ of preliminary injunction were in effect. intestate court in its Order dated 23 March 2011 and
xx challenged by SILVERIO JR. in CA-G.R. SP No.
The CA’s ruling on this issue is hereunder quoted: 121173, we find that it was issued with grave abuse of
It being settled that property under administration discretion as it was directed against acts which were
needs the approval of the probate court before it can The more crucial question that needs to be addressed already [fait]accompli. The preliminary injunction
be disposed of, any unauthorized disposition does not is: Whether the authority to sell the properties in sought to: 1) restrain SILVERIO JR., their agents, or
bind the estate and is null and void. Asearly as 1921 question granted under the October 31, 2006 anybody acting in their behalf or any person from
in the case of Godoy vs. Orellano(42 Phil 347), We Omnibus Order, was nullified by the decision of the committing any act that would affect the titles to the
laid down the rule that a sale by an administrator of Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 97196. A look at subject properties belonging to the Intestate Estate of
property of the deceased, which is not authorized by the dispositive portion of the decision in CA-G.R. SP the late Beatriz Silverio and (2) enjoining the Register
the probate court is null and void and title does not No. 97196 would lead us to reasonably conclude that of Deeds of Makati City from accepting, admitting,
pass to the purchaser. approving, registering, annotating or in any giving due
course to whatever deeds, instruments or any other sale of the subject properties grounded solely on the Divorce 5 before the Family Court of the First Circuit,
documents involving voluntary or involuntary dealings injunction issued in CA-G.R. SP No. 97196. State of Hawaii, United States of America (U.S.A.),
which may have the effect of transferring, conveying, Respondents Ocampo, Citrine and ZEE2 should not which issued a Decree Granting Absolute Divorce and
encumbering, ceding, waiving, alienating or disposing be prejudiced by the flip-flopping appointment of Awarding Child Custody on December 14, 1973. 6
in favor of any individual or any entity the above- Administrator by the intestate court, having relied in
enumerated properties belonging to the Intestate good faith that the sale was authorized and with prior On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent
Estate of the late Beatriz Silverio. However, the approval of the intestate court under its Omnibus Felicidad San Luis, then surnamed Sagalongos,
records show that when the preliminary injunction was Order dated October 31, 2006 which remained valid before Rev. Fr. William Meyer, Minister of the United
issued on 23 March 2011 new titles over the disputed and subsisting insofar as it allowed the aforesaid sale. Presbyterian at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles,
properties were already issued to CITRINE California, U.S.A. 7 He had no children with
HOLDINGS, INC. and ZEE2 RESOURCES WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision respondent but lived with her for 18 years from the
INC.7 (Emphasis supplied.) dated March 8, 2013 and Resolution dated July 4, time of their marriage up to his death on December
2013 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP Nos. 18, 1992.
We affirm the CA. 121173 and 122024 are AFFIRMED. With costs
against the petitioner.SO ORDERED. Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of their
It bears to stress that the October 31, 2006 Omnibus conjugal partnership assets and the settlement of
Order was issued by the intestate court acting upon THIRD DIVISION Felicisimo’s estate. On December 17, 1993, she filed
pending motions filed by petitioner and respondent G.R. No. 133743 February 6, 2007 a petition for letters of administration 8 before the
Silverio, Jr., father and son, respectively, who are the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, docketed as SP.
central figures in the now decade-old controversy over EDGAR SAN LUIS, Petitioner, Proc. No. M-3708 which was raffled to Branch 146
the Intestate Estate of the late Beatriz S. Silverio. The vs. thereof.
intestate court flip-flopped in appointing as FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent.
administrator of the estate petitioner and respondent x ---------------------------------------------------- x Respondent alleged that she is the widow of
Silverio, Jr., their personal conflicts becoming more G.R. No. 134029 February 6, 2007 Felicisimo; that, at the time of his death, the decedent
evident to the intestate court as the proceedings RODOLFO SAN LUIS, Petitioner, was residing at 100 San Juanico Street, New Alabang
suffered delays. At the hearing of the urgent motion vs. Village, Alabang, Metro Manila; that the decedent’s
filed by Edmundo Silverio to sell the subject properties FELICIDAD SAGALONGOS alias FELICIDAD SAN surviving heirs are respondent as legal spouse, his six
and partially settle the estate, the much awaited LUIS, Respondent. children by his first marriage, and son by his second
opportunity came when the heirs represented by their marriage; that the decedent left real properties, both
respective counsels interposed no objection to the YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: conjugal and exclusive, valued at ₱30,304,178.00
same. Before us are consolidated petitions for review more or less; that the decedent does not have any
assailing the February 4, 1998 Decision 1 of the Court unpaid debts. Respondent prayed that the conjugal
While it is true that petitioner was eventually of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52647, which reversed partnership assets be liquidated and that letters of
reinstated as Administrator pursuant to the August 28, and set aside the September 12, 1995 2 and January administration be issued to her.
2008 decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 97196 (petition for 31, 1996 3Resolutions of the Regional Trial Court of
certiorari filed by Nelia Silverio-Dee), weagree with Makati City, Branch 134 in SP. Proc. No. M-3708; and On February 4, 1994, petitioner Rodolfo San Luis, one
the CA that the permanent injunction issued under the its May 15, 1998 Resolution 4 denying petitioners’ of the children of Felicisimo by his first marriage, filed
said decision, as explicitly stated in its fallo, pertained motion for reconsideration. a motion to dismiss 9 on the grounds of improper
only to the portions of the October 31, 2006 Omnibus venue and failure to state a cause of action. Rodolfo
Order upholding the grant of letters of administration The instant case involves the settlement of the estate claimed that the petition for letters of administration
to and taking of an oath of administration by of Felicisimo T. San Luis (Felicisimo), who was the should have been filed in the Province of Laguna
respondent Silverio, Jr., as otherwise the CA would former governor of the Province of Laguna. During his because this was Felicisimo’s place of residence prior
have expressly set aside as well the directive in the lifetime, Felicisimo contracted three marriages. His to his death. He further claimed that respondent has
same Omnibus Order allowing the sale of the subject first marriage was with Virginia Sulit on March 17, no legal personality to file the petition because she
properties. Moreover, the CA Decision attained finality 1942 out of which were born six children, namely: was only a mistress of Felicisimo since the latter, at
only on February 11, 2011 when this Court denied Rodolfo, Mila, Edgar, Linda, Emilita and Manuel. On the time of his death, was still legally married to Merry
with finality respondent Silverio, Jr.’s motion for August 11, 1963, Virginia predeceased Felicisimo. Lee.
reconsideration of the February 11, 2009 Resolution
denyinghis petition for review (G.R. No. 185619). Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married
Merry Lee Corwin, with whom he had a son, Tobias. On February 15, 1994, Linda invoked the same
The CA therefore did not err in reversing the August However, on October 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an grounds and joined her brother Rodolfo in seeking the
18, 2011 Order of the intestate court annulling the American citizen, filed a Complaint for dismissal 10of the petition. On February 28, 1994, the
trial court issued an Order 11 denying the two motions was re-raffled to Branch 134 presided by Judge Paul residence or domicile. It noted that although
to dismiss. T. Arcangel. Felicisimo discharged his functions as governor in
Laguna, he actually resided in Alabang, Muntinlupa.
Unaware of the denial of the motions to dismiss, On April 24, 1995, 22 the trial court required the parties Thus, the petition for letters of administration was
respondent filed on March 5, 1994 her to submit their respective position papers on the twin properly filed in Makati City.
opposition 12 thereto. She submitted documentary issues of venue and legal capacity of respondent to
evidence showing that while Felicisimo exercised the file the petition. On May 5, 1995, Edgar The Court of Appeals also held that Felicisimo had
powers of his public office in Laguna, he regularly manifested 23 that he is adopting the arguments and legal capacity to marry respondent by virtue of
went home to their house in New Alabang Village, evidence set forth in his previous motion for paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code and the
Alabang, Metro Manila which they bought sometime in reconsideration as his position paper. Respondent rulings in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 30 and Pilapil v.
1982. Further, she presented the decree of absolute and Rodolfo filed their position papers on June Ibay-Somera. 31 It found that the marriage between
divorce issued by the Family Court of the First Circuit, 14, 24 and June 20, 25 1995, respectively. Felicisimo and Merry Lee was validly dissolved by
State of Hawaii to prove that the marriage of virtue of the decree of absolute divorce issued by the
Felicisimo to Merry Lee had already been dissolved. On September 12, 1995, the trial court dismissed the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. As a
Thus, she claimed that Felicisimo had the legal petition for letters of administration. It held that, at the result, under paragraph 2, Article 26, Felicisimo was
capacity to marry her by virtue of paragraph time of his death, Felicisimo was the duly elected capacitated to contract a subsequent marriage with
2, 13 Article 26 of the Family Code and the doctrine governor and a resident of the Province of Laguna. respondent. Thus –
laid down in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 14 Hence, the petition should have been filed in Sta.
Cruz, Laguna and not in Makati City. It also ruled that With the well-known rule – express mandate of
Thereafter, Linda, Rodolfo and herein petitioner Edgar respondent was without legal capacity to file the paragraph 2, Article 26, of the Family Code of the
San Luis, separately filed motions for reconsideration petition for letters of administration because her Philippines, the doctrines in Van Dorn, Pilapil, and the
from the Order denying their motions to marriage with Felicisimo was bigamous, thus, void ab reason and philosophy behind the enactment of E.O.
dismiss. 15 They asserted that paragraph 2, Article 26 initio. It found that the decree of absolute divorce No. 227, — there is no justiciable reason to sustain
of the Family Code cannot be given retroactive effect dissolving Felicisimo’s marriage to Merry Lee was not the individual view — sweeping statement — of Judge
to validate respondent’s bigamous marriage with valid in the Philippines and did not bind Felicisimo Arc[h]angel, that "Article 26, par. 2 of the Family
Felicisimo because this would impair vested rights in who was a Filipino citizen. It also ruled that paragraph Code, contravenes the basic policy of our state
derogation of Article 256 16 of the Family Code. 2, Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be against divorce in any form whatsoever." Indeed,
retroactively applied because it would impair the courts cannot deny what the law grants. All that the
On April 21, 1994, Mila, another daughter of vested rights of Felicisimo’s legitimate children. courts should do is to give force and effect to the
Felicisimo from his first marriage, filed a motion to express mandate of the law. The foreign divorce
disqualify Acting Presiding Judge Anthony E. Santos Respondent moved for reconsideration 26 and for the having been obtained by the Foreigner on December
from hearing the case. disqualification 27 of Judge Arcangel but said motions 14, 1992, 32 the Filipino divorcee, "shall x x x have
were denied. 28 capacity to remarry under Philippine laws". For this
On October 24, 1994, the trial court issued an reason, the marriage between the deceased and
Order 17 denying the motions for reconsideration. It Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which petitioner should not be denominated as "a bigamous
ruled that respondent, as widow of the decedent, reversed and set aside the orders of the trial court in marriage.
possessed the legal standing to file the petition and its assailed Decision dated February 4, 1998, the
that venue was properly laid. Meanwhile, the motion dispositive portion of which states: Therefore, under Article 130 of the Family Code, the
for disqualification was deemed moot and petitioner as the surviving spouse can institute the
academic 18 because then Acting Presiding Judge WHEREFORE, the Orders dated September 12, 1995 judicial proceeding for the settlement of the estate of
Santos was substituted by Judge Salvador S. and January 31, 1996 are hereby REVERSED and the deceased. x x x 33
Tensuan pending the resolution of said motion. SET ASIDE; the Orders dated February 28 and
October 24, 1994 are REINSTATED; and the records Edgar, Linda, and Rodolfo filed separate motions for
Mila filed a motion for inhibition 19 against Judge of the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further reconsideration 34 which were denied by the Court of
Tensuan on November 16, 1994. On even date, proceedings. 29 Appeals.
Edgar also filed a motion for reconsideration 20 from
the Order denying their motion for reconsideration The appellante court ruled that under Section 1, Rule On July 2, 1998, Edgar appealed to this Court via the
arguing that it does not state the facts and law on 73 of the Rules of Court, the term "place of residence" instant petition for review on certiorari. 35 Rodolfo later
which it was based. of the decedent, for purposes of fixing the venue of filed a manifestation and motion to adopt the said
the settlement of his estate, refers to the personal, petition which was granted. 36
On November 25, 1994, Judge Tensuan issued an actual or physical habitation, or actual residence or
Order 21 granting the motion for inhibition. The case place of abode of a person as distinguished from legal
In the instant consolidated petitions, Edgar and where the statute uses the word "domicile" still it is December 1992 indicating the address of Felicisimo
Rodolfo insist that the venue of the subject petition for construed as meaning residence and not domicile in at "100 San Juanico, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa."
letters of administration was improperly laid because the technical sense. Some cases make a distinction Respondent also presented proof of membership of
at the time of his death, Felicisimo was a resident of between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as the deceased in the Ayala Alabang Village
Sta. Cruz, Laguna. They contend that pursuant to our generally used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are Association 46 and Ayala Country Club, Inc., 47 letter-
rulings in Nuval v. Guray 37 and Romualdez v. RTC, synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the envelopes 48 from 1988 to 1990 sent by the
Br. 7, Tacloban City, 38"residence" is synonymous term "inhabitant." In other words, "resides" should be deceased’s children to him at his Alabang address,
with "domicile" which denotes a fixed permanent viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning, and the deceased’s calling cards 49 stating that his
residence to which when absent, one intends to the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, home/city address is at "100 San Juanico, Ayala
return. They claim that a person can only have one actual residence or place of abode. It signifies Alabang Village, Muntinlupa" while his office/provincial
domicile at any given time. Since Felicisimo never physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. address is in "Provincial Capitol, Sta. Cruz, Laguna."
changed his domicile, the petition for letters of In this popular sense, the term means merely
administration should have been filed in Sta. Cruz, residence, that is, personal residence, not legal From the foregoing, we find that Felicisimo was a
Laguna. residence or domicile. Residence simply requires resident of Alabang, Muntinlupa for purposes of fixing
bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, the venue of the settlement of his estate.
Petitioners also contend that respondent’s marriage to while domicile requires bodily presence in that place Consequently, the subject petition for letters of
Felicisimo was void and bigamous because it was and also an intention to make it one’s domicile. No administration was validly filed in the Regional Trial
performed during the subsistence of the latter’s particular length of time of residence is required Court 50 which has territorial jurisdiction over Alabang,
marriage to Merry Lee. They argue that paragraph 2, though; however, the residence must be more than Muntinlupa. The subject petition was filed on
Article 26 cannot be retroactively applied because it temporary. 41 (Emphasis supplied) December 17, 1993. At that time, Muntinlupa was still
would impair vested rights and ratify the void a municipality and the branches of the Regional Trial
bigamous marriage. As such, respondent cannot be It is incorrect for petitioners to argue that "residence," Court of the National Capital Judicial Region which
considered the surviving wife of Felicisimo; hence, for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of had territorial jurisdiction over Muntinlupa were then
she has no legal capacity to file the petition for letters the estate of Felicisimo, is synonymous with seated in Makati City as per Supreme Court
of administration. "domicile." The rulings in Nuval and Romualdez are Administrative Order No. 3. 51 Thus, the subject
inapplicable to the instant case because they involve petition was validly filed before the Regional Trial
The issues for resolution: (1) whether venue was election cases. Needless to say, there is a distinction Court of Makati City.
properly laid, and (2) whether respondent has legal between "residence" for purposes of election laws and
capacity to file the subject petition for letters of "residence" for purposes of fixing the venue of Anent the issue of respondent Felicidad’s legal
administration. actions. In election cases, "residence" and "domicile" personality to file the petition for letters of
are treated as synonymous terms, that is, the fixed administration, we must first resolve the issue of
The petition lacks merit. permanent residence to which when absent, one has whether a Filipino who is divorced by his alien spouse
the intention of returning. 42 However, for purposes of abroad may validly remarry under the Civil Code,
Under Section 1, 39 Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the fixing venue under the Rules of Court, the "residence" considering that Felicidad’s marriage to Felicisimo
petition for letters of administration of the estate of of a person is his personal, actual or physical was solemnized on June 20, 1974, or before the
Felicisimo should be filed in the Regional Trial Court habitation, or actual residence or place of abode, Family Code took effect on August 3, 1988. In
of the province "in which he resides at the time of his which may not necessarily be his legal residence or resolving this issue, we need not retroactively apply
death." In the case of Garcia Fule v. Court of domicile provided he resides therein with continuity the provisions of the Family Code, particularly Art. 26,
Appeals, 40 we laid down the doctrinal rule for and consistency. 43 Hence, it is possible that a person par. (2) considering that there is sufficient
determining the residence – as contradistinguished may have his residence in one place and domicile in jurisprudential basis allowing us to rule in the
from domicile – of the decedent for purposes of fixing another. affirmative.
the venue of the settlement of his estate:
In the instant case, while petitioners established that The case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 52 involved a
[T]he term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual Felicisimo was domiciled in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, marriage between a foreigner and his Filipino wife,
residence" as distinguished from "legal residence or respondent proved that he also maintained a which marriage was subsequently dissolved through a
domicile." This term "resides," like the terms "residing" residence in Alabang, Muntinlupa from 1982 up to the divorce obtained abroad by the latter. Claiming that
and "residence," is elastic and should be interpreted time of his death. Respondent submitted in evidence the divorce was not valid under Philippine law, the
in the light of the object or purpose of the statute or the Deed of Absolute Sale 44 dated January 5, 1983 alien spouse alleged that his interest in the properties
rule in which it is employed. In the application of showing that the deceased purchased the aforesaid from their conjugal partnership should be protected.
venue statutes and rules – Section 1, Rule 73 of the property. She also presented billing The Court, however, recognized the validity of the
Revised Rules of Court is of such nature – residence statements 45 from the Philippine Heart Center and divorce and held that the alien spouse had no interest
rather than domicile is the significant factor. Even Chinese General Hospital for the period August to
in the properties acquired by the Filipino wife after the This principle was thereafter applied in Pilapil v. Ibay- On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the
divorce. Thus: Somera 55 where the Court recognized the validity of a original Family Code, Executive Order No. 227 was
divorce obtained abroad. In the said case, it was held likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36,
In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private that the alien spouse is not a proper party in filing the and 39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph was
respondent from the marriage from the standards of adultery suit against his Filipino wife. The Court stated added to Article 26. As so amended, it now provides:
American law, under which divorce dissolves the that "the severance of the marital bond had the effect
marriage. As stated by the Federal Supreme Court of of dissociating the former spouses from each ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the
the United States in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L. Ed. other, hence the actuations of one would not affect or Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the
794, 799: cast obloquy on the other." 56 country where they were solemnized, and valid there
as such, shall also be valid in this country, except
"The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from Likewise, in Quita v. Court of Appeals, 57 the Court those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6),
the bond of matrimony by a competent jurisdiction are stated that where a Filipino is divorced by his 36, 37 and 38.
to change the existing status or domestic relation of naturalized foreign spouse, the ruling in Van
husband and wife, and to free them both from the Dorn applies. 58 Although decided on December 22, Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a
bond. The marriage tie, when thus severed as to one 1998, the divorce in the said case was obtained in foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is
party, ceases to bind either. A husband without a wife, 1954 when the Civil Code provisions were still in thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse
or a wife without a husband, is unknown to the law. effect. capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse
When the law provides, in the nature of a penalty, that shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine
the guilty party shall not marry again, that party, as The significance of the Van Dorn case to the law. (Emphasis supplied)
well as the other, is still absolutely freed from the development of limited recognition of divorce in the
bond of the former marriage." Philippines cannot be denied. The ruling has long xxxx
been interpreted as severing marital ties between Legislative Intent
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent parties in a mixed marriage and capacitating the Records of the proceedings of the Family Code
is no longer the husband of petitioner. He would have Filipino spouse to remarry as a necessary deliberations showed that the intent of Paragraph 2 of
no standing to sue in the case below as petitioner’s consequence of upholding the validity of a divorce Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a
husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal obtained abroad by the alien spouse. In his treatise, member of the Civil Code Revision Committee, is to
assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino cited Van Dorn stating that "if avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse
country’s Court, which validly exercised jurisdiction the foreigner obtains a valid foreign divorce, the remains married to the alien spouse who, after
over him, and whose decision he does not repudiate, Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino
he is estopped by his own representation before said Philippine law." 59In Garcia v. Recio, 60 the Court spouse.
Court from asserting his right over the alleged likewise cited the aforementioned case in relation to
conjugal property. 53 Article 26. 61 Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its
origin to the 1985 case of Van Dorn v. Romillo,
As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the In the recent case of Republic v. Orbecido III, 62 the Jr. The Van Dorn case involved a marriage
Court ruled that she should no longer be considered historical background and legislative intent behind between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The
married to the alien spouse. Further, she should not paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code were Court held therein that a divorce decree validly
be required to perform her marital duties and discussed, to wit: obtained by the alien spouse is valid in the
obligations. It held: Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino
Brief Historical Background spouse is capacitated to remarry under Philippine
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, law. 63 (Emphasis added)
under our laws, petitioner has to be On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino
considered still marriedto private respondent and signed into law Executive Order No. 209, otherwise As such, the Van Dorn case is sufficient basis in
still subject to a wife's obligations under Article known as the "Family Code," which took effect on resolving a situation where a divorce is validly
109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states: obtained abroad by the alien spouse. With the
just. Petitioner should not be obliged to live together enactment of the Family Code and paragraph 2,
with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in Article 26 thereof, our lawmakers codified the law
to private respondent. The latter should not continue accordance with the laws in force in the country where already established through judicial precedent.
to be one of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall
property. She should not be discriminated against also be valid in this country, except those prohibited Indeed, when the object of a marriage is defeated by
in her own country if the ends of justice are to be under Articles 35, 37, and 38. rendering its continuance intolerable to one of the
served.54 (Emphasis added) parties and productive of no possible good to the
community, relief in some way should be
obtainable. 64 Marriage, being a mutual and shared this Court when it assesses the facts and the law in petition for letters of administration, as she may be
commitment between two parties, cannot possibly be every case brought to it for decision. Justice is always considered the co-owner of Felicisimo as regards the
productive of any good to the society where one is an essential ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the properties that were acquired through their joint efforts
considered released from the marital bond while the facts warrants, we interpret the law in a way that will during their cohabitation.
other remains bound to it. Such is the state of affairs render justice, presuming that it was the intention of
where the alien spouse obtains a valid divorce abroad the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law be dispensed Section 6, 74 Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that
against the Filipino spouse, as in this case. with justice. 69 letters of administration may be granted to the
surviving spouse of the decedent. However, Section
Petitioners cite Articles 15 65 and 17 66 of the Civil Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the 2, Rule 79 thereof also provides in part:
Code in stating that the divorce is void under divorce decree allegedly obtained by Merry Lee which
Philippine law insofar as Filipinos are concerned. absolutely allowed Felicisimo to remarry, would have SEC. 2.Contents of petition for letters of
However, in light of this Court’s rulings in the cases vested Felicidad with the legal personality to file the administration. – A petition for letters of administration
discussed above, the Filipino spouse should not be present petition as Felicisimo’s surviving spouse. must be filed by an interested person and must show,
discriminated against in his own country if the ends of However, the records show that there is insufficient as far as known to the petitioner: x x x.
justice are to be served. 67 In Alonzo v. Intermediate evidence to prove the validity of the divorce obtained
Appellate Court, 68 the Court stated: by Merry Lee as well as the marriage of respondent An "interested person" has been defined as one who
and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia would be benefited by the estate, such as an heir, or
But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by v. Recio, 70 the Court laid down the specific guidelines one who has a claim against the estate, such as a
its results; and likewise, we may add, by its purposes. for pleading and proving foreign law and divorce creditor. The interest must be material and direct, and
It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the judgments. It held that presentation solely of the not merely indirect or contingent. 75
law, the first concern of the judge should be to divorce decree is insufficient and that proof of its
discover in its provisions the intent of the lawmaker. authenticity and due execution must be presented. In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an
Unquestionably, the law should never be interpreted Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or interested person who has a direct interest in the
in such a way as to cause injustice as this is never document may be proven as a public or official record estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their cohabitation, the
within the legislative intent. An indispensable part of of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication existence of which was not denied by petitioners. If
that intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having she proves the validity of the divorce and Felicisimo’s
of the legislature, is to render justice. legal custody of the document. If the record is not kept capacity to remarry, but fails to prove that her
in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) marriage with him was validly performed under the
Thus, we interpret and apply the law not accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper laws of the U.S.A., then she may be considered as a
independently of but in consonance with justice. Law diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign co-owner under Article 144 76 of the Civil Code. This
and justice are inseparable, and we must keep them service stationed in the foreign country in which the provision governs the property relations between
so. To be sure, there are some laws that, while record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his parties who live together as husband and wife without
generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in a office. 71 the benefit of marriage, or their marriage is void from
particular case because of its peculiar circumstances. the beginning. It provides that the property acquired
In such a situation, we are not bound, because only of With regard to respondent’s marriage to Felicisimo by either or both of them through their work or
our nature and functions, to apply them just the same, allegedly solemnized in California, U.S.A., she industry or their wages and salaries shall be governed
in slavish obedience to their language. What we do submitted photocopies of the Marriage Certificate and by the rules on co-ownership. In a co-ownership, it is
instead is find a balance between the word and the the annotated text 72 of the Family Law Act of not necessary that the property be acquired through
will, that justice may be done even as the law is California which purportedly show that their marriage their joint labor, efforts and industry. Any property
obeyed. was done in accordance with the said law. As stated acquired during the union is prima facie presumed to
in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial have been obtained through their joint efforts. Hence,
As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and notice of foreign laws as they must be alleged and the portions belonging to the co-owners shall be
must not unfeelingly apply the law as it is worded, proved. 73 presumed equal, unless the contrary is proven. 77
yielding like robots to the literal command without
regard to its cause and consequence. "Courts are apt Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial Meanwhile, if respondent fails to prove the validity of
to err by sticking too closely to the words of a law," so court for further reception of evidence on the divorce both the divorce and the marriage, the applicable
we are warned, by Justice Holmes again, "where decree obtained by Merry Lee and the marriage of provision would be Article 148 of the Family Code
these words import a policy that goes beyond them." respondent and Felicisimo. which has filled the hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil
xxxx Code by expressly regulating the property relations of
More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to couples living together as husband and wife but are
justice "as the constant and perpetual wish to render marry respondent in 1974, nevertheless, we find that incapacitated to marry. 78 In Saguid v. Court of
every one his due." That wish continues to motivate the latter has the legal personality to file the subject Appeals, 79 we held that even if the cohabitation or the
acquisition of property occurred before the Family EDUARDO G. AGTARAP, Petitioner, possession and charge of the estate assets and their
Code took effect, Article 148 governs. 80 The Court vs. civil fruits, pending the appointment of a regular
described the property regime under this provision as SEBASTIAN AGTARAP, JOSEPH AGTARAP, administrator. In addition, he prayed that an order be
follows: TERESA AGTARAP, WALTER DE SANTOS, and issued (a) confirming and declaring the named
ABELARDO DAGORO, Respondents. compulsory heirs of Joaquin who would be entitled to
The regime of limited co-ownership of property x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x participate in the estate; (b) apportioning and
governing the union of parties who are not legally G.R. No. 177192 allocating unto the named heirs their aliquot shares in
capacitated to marry each other, but who nonetheless SEBASTIAN G. AGTARAP, Petitioner, the estate in accordance with law; and (c) entitling the
live together as husband and wife, applies to vs. distributees the right to receive and enter into
properties acquired during said cohabitation in EDUARDO G. AGTARAP, JOSEPH AGTARAP, possession those parts of the estate individually
proportion to their respective contributions. Co- TERESA AGTARAP, WALTER DE SANTOS, and awarded to them.
ownership will only be up to the extent of the proven ABELARDO DAGORO, Respondents.
actual contribution of money, property or industry. On September 26, 1994, the RTC issued an order
Absent proof of the extent thereof, their contributions NACHURA, J.: setting the petition for initial hearing and directing
and corresponding shares shall be presumed to be Before us are the consolidated petitions for review on Eduardo to cause its publication.
equal. certiorari of petitioners Sebastian G. Agtarap
(Sebastian)1 and Eduardo G. Agtarap On December 28, 1994, Sebastian filed his comment,
xxxx (Eduardo),2 assailing the Decision dated November generally admitting the allegations in the petition, and
In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. 21, 20063 and the Resolution dated March 27, conceding to the appointment of Eduardo as special
Fernandez, which involved the issue of co-ownership 20074 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV administrator.
of properties acquired by the parties to a bigamous No. 73916.
marriage and an adulterous relationship, respectively, Joseph, Gloria, and Teresa filed their
we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the The antecedent facts and proceedings— answer/opposition. They alleged that the two subject
acquisition of the property is essential. x x x lots belong to the conjugal partnership of Joaquin with
On September 15, 1994, Eduardo filed with the Lucia, and that, upon Lucia’s death in April 1924, they
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 114, Pasay City, a became the pro indiviso owners of the subject
the party who, as determined by the pleadings or the verified petition for the judicial settlement of the estate properties. They said that their residence was built
nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. of his deceased father Joaquin Agtarap (Joaquin). It with the exclusive money of their late father Jose, and
Contentions must be proved by competent evidence was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 94-4055. the expenses of the extensions to the house were
and reliance must be had on the strength of the shouldered by Gloria and Teresa, while the restaurant
party’s own evidence and not upon the weakness of The petition alleged that Joaquin died intestate on (Manong’s Restaurant) was built with the exclusive
the opponent’s defense. x x x 81 November 21, 1964 in Pasay City without any known money of Joseph and his business partner. They
debts or obligations. During his lifetime, Joaquin opposed the appointment of Eduardo as administrator
In view of the foregoing, we find that respondent’s contracted two marriages, first with Lucia Garcia on the following grounds: (1) he is not physically and
legal capacity to file the subject petition for letters of (Lucia),5 and second with Caridad Garcia (Caridad). mentally fit to do so; (2) his interest in the lots is
administration may arise from her status as the Lucia died on April 24, 1924. Joaquin and Lucia had minimal; and (3) he does not possess the desire to
surviving wife of Felicisimo or as his co-owner under three children—Jesus (died without issue), Milagros, earn. They claimed that the best interests of the
Article 144 of the Civil Code or Article 148 of the and Jose (survived by three children, namely, estate dictate that Joseph be appointed as special or
Family Code. Gloria,6 Joseph, and Teresa7). Joaquin married regular administrator.
Caridad on February 9, 1926. They also had three
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision children—Eduardo, Sebastian, and Mercedes On February 16, 1995, the RTC issued a resolution
of the Court of Appeals reinstating and affirming the (survived by her daughter Cecile). At the time of his appointing Eduardo as regular administrator of
February 28, 1994 Order of the Regional Trial Court death, Joaquin left two parcels of land with Joaquin’s estate. Consequently, it issued him letters
which denied petitioners’ motion to dismiss and its improvements in Pasay City, covered by Transfer of administration.
October 24, 1994 Order which dismissed petitioners’ Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. 873-(38254) and 874-
motion for reconsideration is AFFIRMED. Let this (38255). Joseph, a grandson of Joaquin, had been On September 16, 1995, Abelardo Dagoro filed an
case be REMANDED to the trial court for further leasing and improving the said realties and had been answer in intervention, alleging that Mercedes is
proceedings.SO ORDERED. appropriating for himself ₱26,000.00 per month since survived not only by her daughter Cecile, but also by
April 1994. him as her husband. He also averred that there is a
SECOND DIVISION need to appoint a special administrator to the estate,
G.R. No. 177099 June 8, 2011 Eduardo further alleged that there was an imperative but claimed that Eduardo is not the person best
need to appoint him as special administrator to take qualified for the task.
38255 745- 1,331 sq. ₱5,000.00 ₱6,655,00 WALTER DE SANTOS - ₱236,291.66
After the parties were given the opportunity to be B-2 m. 0.00 SEBASTIAN AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66
heard and to submit their respective proposed EDUARDO AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66
projects of partition, the RTC, on October 23, 2000, TOTAL------------------------------------------- ₱13,330,0
issued an Order of Partition,8 with the following ------------------ 00.00 Jose Agtarap died in 1967. His compulsory heirs are
disposition— as follows:
II BUILDINGS AND IMPROVEMENTS: COMPULSORY HEIRS:
In the light of the filing by the heirs of their respective
proposed projects of partition and the payment of BUILDING I (Lot # 745-B-1) ------------ ₱350,000.00 1) GLORIA – (deceased) – represented by Walter de
inheritance taxes due the estate as early as 1965, and ------------------ Santos –
there being no claim in Court against the estate of the BUILDING II (Lot # 745-B-2) ----------- 320,000.00 - ₱295,364.57
deceased, the estate of JOAQUIN AGTARAP is now ------------------ 2) JOSEPH AGTARAP - ₱295,364.57
consequently – ripe – for distribution among the heirs Building Improvements ------------------ 97,500.00 3) TERESA AGTARAP - ₱295,364.57
minus the surviving spouse Caridad Garcia who died -------------------- 4) PRISCILLA AGTARAP - ₱295,364.57
on August 25, 1999. Restaurant ---------------------------------- 80,000.00
-------------------- Hence, Priscilla Agtarap will inherit ₱295,364.57.
Considering that the bulk of the estate property were TOTAL --------------------------------------- ₱847,500.00
acquired during the existence of the second marriage ------------------ Adding their share from Milagros Agtarap, the
as shown by TCT No. (38254) and TCT No. (38255)
TOTAL NET WORTH -------------------- ₱14,177,500. following heirs of the first marriage stand to receive
which showed on its face that decedent was married --------------------- 00 the total amount of:
to Caridad Garcia, which fact oppositors failed to
contradict by evidence other than their negative
WHEREFORE, the net assets of the estate of the late HEIRS OF THE FIRST MARRIAGE:
allegations, the greater part of the estate is perforce
JOAQUIN AGTARAP with a total value of
accounted by the second marriage and the
₱14,177,500.00, together with whatever interest from 1) JOSEPH ₱236,291.66 – share from
compulsory heirs thereunder.
bank deposits and all other incomes or increments AGTARAP - Milagros Agtarap
thereof accruing after the Accounting Report of ₱295,364.57 – as compulsory
The Administrator, Eduardo Agtarap rendered a true
December 31, 1996, after deducting therefrom the heir of
and just accounting of his administration from his date
compensation of the administrator and other ₱531,656.23 Jose Agtarap
of assumption up to the year ending December 31,
1996 per Financial and Accounting Report dated June
expenses allowed by the Court, are hereby ordered 2) TERESA ₱236,291.66 – share from
distributed as follows: AGTARAP - Milagros Agtarap
2, 1997 which was approved by the Court. The
accounting report included the income earned and ₱295,364.57 – as compulsory
TOTAL ESTATE – ₱14,177,500.00 heir of
received for the period and the expenses incurred in
CARIDAD AGTARAP – ½ of the estate as her ₱531,656.23 Jose Agtarap
the administration, sustenance and allowance of the
conjugal share – ₱7,088,750.00, the other half of 3) WALTER DE ₱236,291.66 – share from
widow. In accordance with said Financial and
₱7,088,750.00 – to be divided among the compulsory SANTOS - Milagros Agtarap
Accounting Report which was duly approved by this
Court in its Resolution dated July 28, 1998 – the
heirs as follows: ₱295,364.57 – as compulsory
deceased JOAQUIN AGTARAP left real properties heir of
1) JOSE (deceased) - ₱1,181,548.30 ₱531,656.23 Jose Agtarap
consisting of the following:
2) MILAGROS (deceased) - ₱1,181,548.30
I LAND: 3) MERCEDES (deceased) - ₱1,181,548.30 HEIRS OF THE SECOND MARRIAGE:
4) SEBASTIAN - ₱1,181,548.30
Two lots and two buildings with one garage quarter 5) EDUARDO - ₱1,181,548.30 a) CARIDAD AGTARAP - died on August 25, 1999
located at #3030 Agtarap St., Pasay City, covered by 6) CARIDAD - ₱1,181,548.30 ₱7,088,750.00 - as conjugal
Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 38254 and 38255 share
and registered with the Registry of Deeds of Pasay The share of Milagros Agtarap as compulsory heir in ₱1,181,458.30 - as
City, Metro Manila, described as follows: the amount of ₱1,181,548.30 and who died in 1996 compulsory
will go to Teresa Agtarap and Joseph Agtarap, Walter heir
TCT LOT AREA/S ZONAL AMOUNT de Santos and half brothers Eduardo and Sebastian Total of ₱8,270,208.30
NO. NO. Q.M. VALUE Agtarap in equal proportions. b) SEBASTIAN ₱1,181,458.38 – as
38254 745- 1,335 sq. ₱5,000.00 ₱6,675,00 TERESA AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66 AGTARAP - compulsory
B-1 m. 0.00 JOSEPH AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66 heir
₱ 236,291.66 – share from On November 21, 2006, the CA rendered its Decision, Caridad Garcia - 1/6 of the estate. But since she died
Milagros the dispositive portion of which reads— in 1999, her share shall be inherited by her children
c) EDUARDO ₱1,181,458.38 – as namely Mercedes Agtarap (represented by her
AGTARAP - compulsory WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant husband Abelardo Dagoro and her daughter Cecilia),
heir appeals are DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Sebastian Agtarap and Eduardo Agtarap in their own
₱ 236,291.66 – share from assailed Resolution dated August 27, 2001 is right, dividing the inheritance in equal shares.
Milagros AFFIRMED and pursuant thereto, the subject
d) MERCEDES - as represented by Abelardo properties (Lot No. 745-B-1 [TCT No. 38254] and Lot Milagros Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate. But since she
Dagoro as the No. 745-B-2 [TCT No. 38255]) and the estate of the died in 1996 without issue, 5/8 of her inheritance shall
surviving spouse of a compulsory late Joaquin Agtarap are hereby partitioned as be inherited by Gloria (represented by her husband
heir follows: Walter de Santos and her daughter Samantha),
₱1,181,458.38 Joseph Agtarap and Teresa Agtarap, (in
The two (2) properties, together with their representation of Milagros’ brother Jose Agtarap) and
REMAINING HEIRS OF CARIDAD AGTARAP: improvements, embraced by TCT No. 38254 and TCT 1/8 each shall be inherited by Mercedes (represented
1) SEBASTIAN AGTARAP No. 38255, respectively, are first to be distributed by her husband Abelardo Dagoro and her daughter
2) EDUARDO AGTARAP among the following: Cecile), Sebastian and Eduardo, all surnamed
MERCEDES AGTARAP (Predeceased Caridad Agtarap.
Agtarap) Lucia Mendietta - ½ of the property. But since she is
deceased, her share shall be inherited by Joaquin, Jose Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate. But since he died in
In sum, Sebastian Agtarap and Eduardo Agtarap Jesus, Milagros and Jose in equal shares. 1967, his inheritance shall be acquired by his wife
stand to inherit: Priscilla, and children Gloria (represented by her
SEBASTIAN ₱4,135,104.10 – share from Joaquin Agtarap - ½ of the property and ¼ of the husband Walter de Santos and her daughter
– ₱1,181,458.30 Caridad Garcia other half of the property which pertains to Lucia Samantha), Joseph Agtarap and Teresa Agtarap in
₱ 236,291.66 - as compulsory heir Mendietta’s share. equal shares.
- share from
₱5,522,854.06 Milagros Jesus Agtarap - ¼ of Lucia Mendietta’s share. But Mercedes Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate. But since she
EDUARDO – ₱4,135,104.10 – share from since he is already deceased (and died without issue), died in 1984, her inheritance shall be acquired by her
₱1,181,458.30 Caridad Garcia his inheritance shall, in turn, be acquired by Joaquin husband Abelardo Dagoro and her daughter Cecile in
₱ 236,291.66 – as compulsory Agtarap. equal shares.
heir
₱5,522,854.06 – share from Milagros Agtarap - ¼ of Lucia Mendietta’s share. But Sebastian Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate.
Milagros since she died in 1996 without issue, 5/8 of her
inheritance shall be inherited by Gloria (represented Eduardo Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate.
by her husband Walter de Santos and her daughter
SO ORDERED.9
Samantha), Joseph Agtarap and Teresa Agtarap, (in SO ORDERED.11
representation of Milagros’ brother Jose Agtarap) and
Eduardo, Sebastian, and oppositors Joseph and
Teresa filed their respective motions for 1/8 each shall be inherited by Mercedes (represented Aggrieved, Sebastian and Eduardo filed their
reconsideration. by her husband Abelardo Dagoro and her daughter respective motions for reconsideration.
Cecile), Sebastian Eduardo, all surnamed Agtarap.
In its Resolution dated March 27, 2007, the CA denied
On August 27, 2001, the RTC issued a
resolution10 denying the motions for reconsideration of Jose Agtarap - ¼ of Lucia Mendietta’s share. But both motions. Hence, these petitions ascribing to the
Eduardo and Sebastian, and granting that of Joseph since he died in 1967, his inheritance shall be appellate court the following errors:
acquired by his wife Priscilla, and children Gloria
and Teresa. It also declared that the real estate
(represented by her husband Walter de Santos and G.R. No. 177192
properties belonged to the conjugal partnership of
Joaquin and Lucia. It also directed the modification of her daughter Samantha), Joseph Agtarap and Teresa
the October 23, 2000 Order of Partition to reflect the in equal shares. 1. – The Court of Appeals erred in not considering the
aforementioned important facts12 which alter its
correct sharing of the heirs. However, before the RTC
Then, Joaquin Agtarap’s estate, comprising three- Decision;
could issue a new order of partition, Eduardo and
Sebastian both appealed to the CA. fourths (3/4) of the subject properties and its
improvements, shall be distributed as follows: 2. – The Court of Appeals erred in not considering the
necessity of hearing the issue of legitimacy of
respondents as heirs;
Presentacion Garcia, while they claim that their Anent his second assignment of error, Eduardo
3. – The Court of Appeals erred in allowing violation of mother is Priscilla. He avers that the marriage contends that the CA gravely erred when it affirmed
the law and in not applying the doctrines of collateral contracts proffered by Joseph and Teresa do not that the bulk of the realties subject of this case belong
attack, estoppel, and res judicata.13 qualify as the best evidence of Jose’s marriage with to the first marriage of Joaquin to Lucia,
Priscilla, inasmuch as they were not authenticated notwithstanding that the certificates of title were
G.R. No. 177099 and formally offered in evidence. Sebastian also registered in the name of Joaquin Agtarap casado con
asseverates that he actually questioned the legitimacy ("married to") Caridad Garcia. According to him, the
THE COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER TWELFTH of Joseph and Teresa as heirs of Joaquin in his RTC, acting as an intestate court with limited
DIVISION) DID NOT ACQUIRE JURISDICTION motion to exclude them as heirs, and in his reply to jurisdiction, was not vested with the power and
OVER THE ESTATE OF MILAGROS G. AGTARAP their opposition to the said motion. He further claims authority to determine questions of ownership, which
AND ERRED IN DISTRIBUTING HER INHERITANCE that the failure of Abelardo Dagoro and Walter de properly belongs to another court with general
FROM THE ESTATE OF JOAQUIN AGTARAP Santos to oppose his motion to exclude them as heirs jurisdiction.
NOTWITHSTANDING THE EXISTENCE OF HER had the effect of admitting the allegations therein. He
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT IN VIOLATION OF points out that his motion was denied by the RTC The Court’s Ruling
THE DOCTRINE OF PRECEDENCE OF TESTATE without a hearing.
PROCEEDINGS OVER INTESTATE As to Sebastian’s and Eduardo’s common issue on
PROCEEDINGS. With respect to his third assigned error, Sebastian the ownership of the subject real properties, we hold
maintains that the certificates of title of real estate that the RTC, as an intestate court, had jurisdiction to
II. properties subject of the controversy are in the name resolve the same.
THE COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER TWELFTH of Joaquin Agtarap, married to Caridad Garcia, and as
DIVISION) ERRED IN DISMISSING THE DECISION such are conclusive proof of their ownership thereof, The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial
APPEALED FROM FOR LACK OF MERIT AND IN and thus, they are not subject to collateral attack, but court, either as a probate or an intestate court, relates
AFFIRMING THE ASSAILED RESOLUTION DATED should be threshed out in a separate proceeding for only to matters having to do with the probate of the
AUGUST 27, 2001 OF THE LOWER COURT that purpose. He likewise argues that estoppel applies will and/or settlement of the estate of deceased
HOLDING THAT THE PARCELS OF LAND against the children of the first marriage, since none persons, but does not extend to the determination of
COVERED BY TCT NO. 38254 AND TCT (NO.) of them registered any objection to the issuance of the questions of ownership that arise during the
38255 OF THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS FOR THE TCTs in the name of Caridad and Joaquin only. He proceedings.15 The patent rationale for this rule is that
CITY OF PASAY BELONG TO THE CONJUGAL avers that the estate must have already been settled such court merely exercises special and limited
PARTNERSHIP OF JOAQUIN AGTARAP MARRIED in light of the payment of the estate and inheritance jurisdiction.16 As held in several cases,17 a probate
TO LUCIA GARCIA MENDIETTA tax by Milagros, Joseph, and Teresa, resulting to the court or one in charge of estate proceedings, whether
NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR REGISTRATION issuance of TCT No. 8925 in Milagros’ name and of testate or intestate, cannot adjudicate or determine
UNDER THEIR EXISTING CERTIFICATES OF TITLE TCT No. 8026 in the names of Milagros and Jose. He title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate
AS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF JOAQUIN also alleges that res judicata is applicable as the court and which are claimed to belong to outside parties,
AGTARAP, CASADO CON CARIDAD GARCIA. order directing the deletion of the name of Lucia, and not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the
UNDER EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE, THE replacing it with the name of Caridad, in the TCTs had deceased but by title adverse to that of the deceased
PROBATE COURT HAS NO POWER TO long become final and executory. and his estate. All that the said court could do as
DETERMINE THE OWNERSHIP OF THE regards said properties is to determine whether or not
PROPERTY DESCRIBED IN THESE CERTIFICATES In his own petition, with respect to his first assignment they should be included in the inventory of properties
OF TITLE WHICH SHOULD BE RESOLVED IN AN of error, Eduardo alleges that the CA erroneously to be administered by the administrator. If there is no
APPROPRIATE SEPARATE ACTION FOR A settled, together with the settlement of the estate of dispute, there poses no problem, but if there is, then
TORRENS TITLE UNDER THE LAW IS ENDOWED Joaquin, the estates of Lucia, Jesus, Jose, Mercedes, the parties, the administrator, and the opposing
WITH INCONTESTABILITY UNTIL IT HAS BEEN Gloria, and Milagros, in contravention of the principle parties have to resort to an ordinary action before a
SET ASIDE IN THE MANNER INDICATED IN THE of settling only one estate in one proceeding. He court exercising general jurisdiction for a final
LAW ITSELF.14 particularly questions the distribution of the estate of determination of the conflicting claims of title.
Milagros in the intestate proceedings despite the fact
As regards his first and second assignments of error, that a proceeding was conducted in another court for However, this general rule is subject to exceptions as
Sebastian contends that Joseph and Teresa failed to the probate of the will of Milagros, bequeathing all to justified by expediency and convenience.
establish by competent evidence that they are the Eduardo whatever share that she would receive from
legitimate heirs of their father Jose, and thus of their Joaquin’s estate. He states that this violated the rule First, the probate court may provisionally pass upon in
grandfather Joaquin. He draws attention to the on precedence of testate over intestate proceedings. an intestate or a testate proceeding the question of
certificate of title (TCT No. 8026) they submitted, inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece
stating that the wife of their father Jose is of property without prejudice to the final determination
of ownership in a separate action.18 Second, if the The findings of the RTC and the CA show that Lucia consolidated with the settlement proceedings of
interested parties are all heirs to the estate, or the died on April 24, 1924, and subsequently, on Joaquin, being Lucia’s spouse.24 Accordingly, the CA
question is one of collation or advancement, or the February 9, 1926, Joaquin married Caridad. It is correctly distributed the estate of Lucia, with respect
parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by worthy to note that TCT No. 5577 (32184) contained to the properties covered by TCT Nos. 38254 and
the probate court and the rights of third parties are not an annotation, which reads— 38255 subject of this case, to her compulsory heirs.
impaired, then the probate court is competent to
resolve issues on ownership.19 Verily, its jurisdiction Ap-4966 – NOTA: Se ha enmendado el presente Therefore, in light of the foregoing evidence, as
extends to matters incidental or collateral to the certificado de titulo, tal como aparece, tanchando las correctly found by the RTC and the CA, the claim of
settlement and distribution of the estate, such as the palabras "con Lucia Garcia Mendiet[t]a" y poniendo Sebastian and Eduardo that TCT Nos. 38254 and
determination of the status of each heir and whether en su lugar, entre lineas y en tinta encarnada, las 38255 conclusively show that the owners of the
the property in the inventory is conjugal or exclusive palabras "en segundas nupcias con Caridad Garcia", properties covered therein were Joaquin and Caridad
property of the deceased spouse.20 en complimiento de un orden de fecha 28 de abril de by virtue of the registration in the name of Joaquin
1937, dictada por el Hon. Sixto de la Costa, juez del Agtarap casado con (married to) Caridad Garcia,
We hold that the general rule does not apply to the Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Rizal, en el deserves scant consideration. This cannot be said to
instant case considering that the parties are all heirs expediente cadastal No. 23, G.L.R.O. Cad. Record be a collateral attack on the said TCTs. Indeed,
of Joaquin and that no rights of third parties will be No. 1368; copia de cual orden has sido presentada simple possession of a certificate of title is not
impaired by the resolution of the ownership issue. con el No. 4966 del Libro Diario, Tomo 6.0 y, necessarily conclusive of a holder’s true ownership of
More importantly, the determination of whether the archivada en el Legajo T-No. 32184. property.25 A certificate of title under the Torrens
subject properties are conjugal is but collateral to the system aims to protect dominion; it cannot be used as
probate court’s jurisdiction to settle the estate of Pasig, Rizal, a 29 abril de 1937.23 an instrument for the deprivation of
Joaquin. ownership.26 Thus, the fact that the properties were
Thus, per the order dated April 28, 1937 of Hon. Sixto registered in the name of Joaquin Agtarap, married to
It should be remembered that when Eduardo filed his de la Costa, presiding judge of the Court of First Caridad Garcia, is not sufficient proof that the
verified petition for judicial settlement of Joaquin’s Instance of Rizal, the phrase con Lucia Garcia properties were acquired during the spouses’
estate, he alleged that the subject properties were Mendiet[t]a was crossed out and replaced by en coverture.27The phrase "married to Caridad Garcia" in
owned by Joaquin and Caridad since the TCTs state segundas nuptias con Caridad Garcia, referring to the the TCTs is merely descriptive of the civil status of
that the lots were registered in the name of Joaquin second marriage of Joaquin to Caridad. It cannot be Joaquin as the registered owner, and does not
Agtarap, married to Caridad Garcia. He also admitted gainsaid, therefore, that prior to the replacement of necessarily prove that the realties are their conjugal
in his petition that Joaquin, prior to contracting Caridad’s name in TCT No. 32184, Lucia, upon her properties.28
marriage with Caridad, contracted a first marriage with demise, already left, as her estate, one-half (1/2)
Lucia. Oppositors to the petition, Joseph and Teresa, conjugal share in TCT No. 32184. Lucia’s share in the Neither can Sebastian’s claim that Joaquin’s estate
however, were able to present proof before the RTC property covered by the said TCT was carried over to could have already been settled in 1965 after the
that TCT Nos. 38254 and 38255 were derived from a the properties covered by the certificates of title payment of the inheritance tax be upheld. Payment of
mother title, TCT No. 5239, dated March 17, 1920, in derivative of TCT No. 32184, now TCT Nos. 38254 the inheritance tax, per se, does not settle the estate
the name of FRANCISCO VICTOR BARNES Y and 38255. And as found by both the RTC and the of a deceased person. As provided in Section 1, Rule
JOAQUIN AGTARAP, el primero casado con Emilia CA, Lucia was survived by her compulsory heirs – 90 of the Rules of Court—
Muscat, y el Segundo con Lucia Garcia Mendietta Joaquin, Jesus, Milagros, and Jose.
(FRANCISCO VICTOR BARNES y JOAQUIN SECTION 1. When order for distribution of residue
AGTARAP, the first married to Emilia Muscat, and the Section 2, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court provides that made. -- When the debts, funeral charges, and
second married to Lucia Garcia Mendietta).21 When when the marriage is dissolved by the death of the expenses of administration, the allowance to the
TCT No. 5239 was divided between Francisco Barnes husband or the wife, the community property shall be widow, and inheritance tax, if any, chargeable to the
and Joaquin Agtarap, TCT No. 10864, in the name of inventoried, administered, and liquidated, and the estate in accordance with law, have been paid, the
Joaquin Agtarap, married to Lucia Garcia Mendietta, debts thereof paid; in the testate or intestate court, on the application of the executor or
was issued for a parcel of land, identified as Lot No. proceedings of the deceased spouse, and if both administrator, or of a person interested in the estate,
745 of the Cadastral Survey of Pasay, Cadastral Case spouses have died, the conjugal partnership shall be and after hearing upon notice, shall assign the residue
No. 23, G.L.R.O. Cadastral Record No. 1368, liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings of of the estate to the persons entitled to the same,
consisting of 8,872 square meters. This same lot was either. Thus, the RTC had jurisdiction to determine naming them and the proportions, or parts, to which
covered by TCT No. 5577 (32184)22 issued on April whether the properties are conjugal as it had to each is entitled, and such persons may demand and
23, 1937, also in the name of Joaquin Agtarap, liquidate the conjugal partnership to determine the recover their respective shares from the executor or
married to Lucia Garcia Mendietta. estate of the decedent. In fact, should Joseph and administrator, or any other person having the same in
Teresa institute a settlement proceeding for the his possession. If there is a controversy before the
intestate estate of Lucia, the same should be court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased
person or as to the distributive share to which each
person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall Indeed, this Court is not a trier of facts, and there Henceforth, in light of the foregoing, the assailed
be heard and decided as in ordinary cases. appears no compelling reason to hold that both courts November 21, 2006 Decision and the March 27, 2007
erred in ruling that Joseph, Teresa, Walter de Santos, Resolution of the CA should be affirmed with
No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of and Abelardo Dagoro rightfully participated in the modifications such that the share of Milagros shall not
the obligations above mentioned has been made or estate of Joaquin. It was incumbent upon Sebastian to yet be distributed until after the final determination of
provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them, present competent evidence to refute his and the probate of her purported will, and that Sebastian
give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court, Eduardo’s admissions that Joseph and Teresa were shall be represented by his compulsory heirs.
conditioned for the payment of said obligations within heirs of Jose, and thus rightful heirs of Joaquin, and to
such time as the court directs. timely object to the participation of Walter de Santos WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 177192 is
and Abelardo Dagoro. Unfortunately, Sebastian failed DENIED for lack of merit, while the petition in G.R.
Thus, an estate is settled and distributed among the to do so. Nevertheless, Walter de Santos and No. 177099 is PARTIALLY GRANTED, such that the
heirs only after the payment of the debts of the estate, Abelardo Dagoro had the right to participate in the Decision dated November 21, 2006 and the
funeral charges, expenses of administration, estate in representation of the Joaquin’s compulsory Resolution dated March 27, 2007 of the Court of
allowance to the widow, and inheritance tax. The heirs, Gloria and Mercedes, respectively.33 Appeals are AFFIRMED with the following
records of these cases do not show that these were MODIFICATIONS: that the share awarded in favor of
complied with in 1965. This Court also differs from Eduardo’s asseveration Milagros Agtarap shall not be distributed until the final
that the CA erred in settling, together with Joaquin’s determination of the probate of her will, and that
As regards the issue raised by Sebastian on the estate, the respective estates of Lucia, Jesus, Jose, petitioner Sebastian G. Agtarap, in view of his demise
legitimacy of Joseph and Teresa, suffice it to say that Mercedes, and Gloria. A perusal of the November 21, on January 15, 2010, shall be represented by his wife
both the RTC and the CA found them to be the 2006 CA Decision would readily show that the Teresita B. Agtarap and his children Joaquin Julian B.
legitimate children of Jose. The RTC found that disposition of the properties related only to the Agtarap and Ana Ma. Agtarap Panlilio.
Sebastian did not present clear and convincing settlement of the estate of Joaquin. Pursuant to
evidence to support his averments in his motion to Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, as cited These cases are hereby remanded to the Regional
exclude them as heirs of Joaquin, aside from his above, the RTC was specifically granted jurisdiction to Trial Court, Branch 114, Pasay City, for further
negative allegations. The RTC also noted the fact of determine who are the lawful heirs of Joaquin, as well proceedings in the settlement of the estate of Joaquin
Joseph and Teresa being the children of Jose was as their respective shares after the payment of the Agtarap. No pronouncement as to costs.SO
never questioned by Sebastian and Eduardo, and the obligations of the estate, as enumerated in the said ORDERED.
latter two even admitted this in their petitions, as well provision. The inclusion of Lucia, Jesus, Jose,
as in the stipulation of facts in the August 21, 1995 Mercedes, and Gloria in the distribution of the shares SECOND SPECIAL DIVISION
hearing.29 Furthermore, the CA affirmed this finding of was merely a necessary consequence of the G.R. No. 183053 October 10, 2012
fact in its November 21, 2006 Decision.30 settlement of Joaquin’s estate, they being his legal
heirs. EMILIO A.M. SUNTAY III, Petitioner,
Also, Sebastian’s insistence that Abelardo Dagoro vs.
and Walter de Santos are not heirs to the estate of However, we agree with Eduardo’s position that the ISABEL COJUANGCO-SUNTAY, Respondent.
Joaquin cannot be sustained. Per its October 23, CA erred in distributing Joaquin’s estate pertinent to
2000 Order of Partition, the RTC found that Gloria the share allotted in favor of Milagros. Eduardo was RESOLUTION
Agtarap de Santos died on May 4, 1995, and was able to show that a separate proceeding was PEREZ, J.:
later substituted in the proceedings below by her instituted for the probate of the will allegedly executed The now overly prolonged, all-too familiar and too-
husband Walter de Santos. Gloria begot a daughter by Milagros before the RTC, Branch 108, Pasay much-stretched imbroglio over the estate of Cristina
with Walter de Santos, Georgina Samantha de City.34 While there has been no showing that the Aguinaldo-Suntay has continued. We issued a
Santos. The RTC likewise noted that, on September alleged will of Milagros, bequeathing all of her share Decision in the dispute as in Inter Caetera.1 We now
16, 1995, Abelardo Dagoro filed a motion for leave of from Joaquin’s estate in favor of Eduardo, has already find a need to replace the decision.
court to intervene, alleging that he is the surviving been probated and approved, prudence dictates that
spouse of Mercedes Agtarap and the father of Cecilia this Court refrain from distributing Milagros’ share in Before us is a Motion for Reconsideration filed by
Agtarap Dagoro, and his answer in intervention. The Joaquin’s estate. respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay (respondent
RTC later granted the motion, thereby admitting his Isabel) of our Decision2 in G.R. No. 183053 dated 16
answer on October 18, 1995.31 The CA also noted It is also worthy to mention that Sebastian died on June 2010, directing the issuance of joint letters of
that, during the hearing of the motion to intervene on January 15, 2010, per his Certificate of Death.35 He is administration to both petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III
October 18, 1995, Sebastian and Eduardo did not survived by his wife Teresita B. Agtarap (Teresita) (Emilio III) and respondent. The dispositive portion
interpose any objection when the intervention was and his children Joaquin Julian B. Agtarap (Joaquin thereof reads:
submitted to the RTC for resolution.32 Julian) and Ana Ma. Agtarap Panlilio (Ana Ma.).
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The 1967) the patient was already out of the hospital, he On 26 October 1995, respondent Isabel, filed before
Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. continued to be under observation and treatment. the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Malolos, Bulacan, a
74949 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Letters of petition for the issuance of letters of administration
Administration over the estate of decedent Cristina It is the opinion of Dr. Aramil that the symptoms of the over Cristina’s estate docketed as Special Proceeding
Aguinaldo-Suntay shall issue to both petitioner Emilio plaintiffs mental aberration classified as schizophernia Case No. 117-M-95. Federico, opposed the petition,
A.M. Suntay III and respondent Isabel Cojuangco- (sic) had made themselves manifest even as early as pointing out that: (1) as the surviving spouse of the
Suntay upon payment by each of a bond to be set by 1955; that the disease worsened with time, until 1965 decedent, he should be appointed administrator of the
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, when he was actually placed under expert neuro- decedent’s estate; (2) as part owner of the mass of
Bulacan, in Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. psychiatrist (sic) treatment; that even if the subject conjugal properties left by the decedent, he must be
The Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, has shown marked progress, the remains bereft of accorded preference in the administration thereof; (3)
Bulacan is likewise directed to make a determination adequate understanding of right and wrong. Isabel and her siblings had been alienated from their
and to declare the heirs of decedent Cristina grandparents for more than thirty (30) years; (4) the
Aguinaldo-Suntay according to the actual factual There is no controversy that the marriage between the enumeration of heirs in the petition was incomplete as
milieu as proven by the parties, and all other persons parties was effected on July 9, 1958, years after it did not mention the other children of his son, Emilio
with legal interest in the subject estate. It is further plaintiffs mental illness had set in. This fact would III and Nenita; (5) even before the death of his wife,
directed to settle the estate of decedent Cristina justify a declaration of nullity of the marriage under Federico had administered their conjugal properties,
Aguinaldo-Suntay with dispatch. No costs.3 Article 85 of the Civil Code which provides: and thus, is better situated to protect the integrity of
the decedent’s estate; (6) the probable value of the
We are moved to trace to its roots the controversy Art. 95. (sic) A marriage may be annulled for any of estate as stated in the petition was grossly overstated;
between the parties. the following causes after (sic) existing at the time of and (7) Isabel’s allegation that some of the properties
the marriage: are in the hands of usurpers is untrue.
The decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay (Cristina)
died intestate on 4 June 1990. Cristina was survived xxxx Federico filed a Motion to Dismiss Isabel’s petition for
by her spouse, Dr. Federico Suntay (Federico) and (3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless letters of administration on the ground that Isabel had
five grandchildren: three legitimate grandchildren, such party, after coming to reason, freely cohabited no right of representation to the estate of Cristina, she
including herein respondent, Isabel; and two with the other as husband or wife. being an illegitimate grandchild of the latter as a result
illegitimate grandchildren, including petitioner Emilio of Isabel’s parents’ marriage being declared null and
III, all by Federico’s and Cristina’s only child, Emilio A. There is a dearth of proof at the time of the marriage void. However, in Suntay v. Cojuangco-Suntay, we
Suntay (Emilio I), who predeceased his parents. defendant knew about the mental condition of plaintiff; categorically declared that Isabel and her siblings,
and there is proof that plaintiff continues to be without having been born of a voidable marriage as opposed
The illegitimate grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita, sound reason. The charges in this very complaint add to a void marriage based on paragraph 3, Article 85 of
were both reared from infancy by the spouses emphasis to the findings of the neuro-psychiatrist the Civil Code, were legitimate children of Emilio I,
Federico and Cristina. Their legitimate grandchildren, handling the patient, that plaintiff really lives more in who can all represent him in the estate of their
Isabel and her siblings, Margarita and Emilio II, lived fancy than in reality, a strong indication of legitimate grandmother, the decedent, Cristina.
with their mother Isabel Cojuangco, following the schizophernia (sic).4
separation of Isabel’s parents, Emilio I and Isabel Undaunted by the set back, Federico nominated
Cojuangco. Isabel’s parents, along with her paternal Intent on maintaining a relationship with their Emilio III to administer the decedent’s estate on his
grandparents, were involved in domestic relations grandchildren, Federico and Isabel filed a complaint behalf in the event letters of administration issues to
cases, including a case for parricide filed by Isabel for visitation rights to spend time with Margarita, Federico. Consequently, Emilio III filed an Opposition-
Cojuangco against Emilio I. Emilio I was eventually Emilio II, and Isabel in the same special lower court. In-Intervention, echoing the allegations in his
acquitted. The Juvenile Domestic Relations Court in Quezon grandfather’s opposition, alleging that Federico, or in
City (JDRC-QC) granted their prayer for one hour a his stead, Emilio III, was better equipped than
In retaliation, Emilio I filed a complaint for legal month of visitation rights which was subsequently respondent to administer and manage the estate of
separation against his wife, charging her among reduced to thirty minutes, and ultimately stopped, the decedent, Cristina.
others with infidelity. The trial court declared as null because of respondent Isabel’s testimony in court that
and void and of no effect the marriage of Emilio I and her grandparents’ visits caused her and her siblings On 13 November 2000, Federico died.
Isabel Cojuangco on the finding that: stress and anxiety.5
Almost a year thereafter or on 9 November 2001, the
From February 1965 thru December 1965 plaintiff was On 27 September 1993, more than three years after trial court rendered a decision appointing Emilio III as
confined in the Veterans memorial Hospital. Although Cristina’s death, Federico adopted his illegitimate administrator of decedent Cristina’s intestate estate:
at the time of the trial of parricide case (September 8, grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Isabel Cojuangco- Isabel, we considered that: qualified to act as administrator of the decedent’s
Suntay is DENIED and the Opposition-in-Intervention estate. We did not choose. Considering merely his
is GRANTED. 1. Emilio III was reared from infancy by the decedent, demonstrable interest in the subject estate, we ruled
Cristina, and her husband, Federico, who both that Emilio III should likewise administer the estate of
Accordingly, the Intervenor, Emilio A.M. Suntay, III acknowledged him as their grandchild; his illegitimate grandmother, Cristina, as a co-
(sic) is hereby appointed administrator of the estate of administrator. In the context of this case, we have to
the decedent Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay, who shall 2. Federico claimed half of the properties included in make a choice and therefore, reconsider our decision
enter upon the execution of his trust upon the filing of the estate of the decedent, Cristina, as forming part of of 16 June 2010.
a bond in the amount of ₱ 200,000.00, conditioned as their conjugal partnership of gains during the
follows: subsistence of their marriage; The general rule in the appointment of administrator
of the estate of a decedent is laid down in Section 6,
(1) To make and return within three (3) months, a true 3. Cristina’s properties, forming part of her estate, are Rule 78 of the Rules of Court:
and complete inventory; still commingled with those of her husband, Federico,
because her share in the conjugal partnership SEC. 6. When and to whom letters of administration
(2) To administer the estate and to pay and discharge remains undetermined and unliquidated; and granted. – If no executor is named in the will, or the
all debts, legatees, and charge on the same, or executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the
dividends thereon; 4. Emilio III is a legally adopted child of Federico, trust, or fail to give bond, or a person dies intestate,
entitled to share in the distribution of the latter’s estate administration shall be granted:
(3) To render a true and just account within one (1) as a direct heir, one degree from Federico, and not
year, and at any other time when required by the simply in representation of his deceased illegitimate (a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may
court, and father, Emilio I. be, or next of kin, or both, in the discretion of the
court, or to such person as such surviving husband or
(4) To perform all orders of the Court. In this motion, Isabel pleads for total affirmance of the wife, or next of kin, requests to have appointed, if
Court of Appeals’ Decision in favor of her sole competent and willing to serve;
Once the said bond is approved by the court, let administratorship based on her status as a legitimate
Letters of Administration be issued in his favor.6 grandchild of Cristina, whose estate she seeks to (b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may
administer. be, or next of kin, or the person selected by them, be
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set incompetent or unwilling, or if the husband or widow,
aside the decision of the RTC, revoked the Letters of Isabel contends that the explicit provisions of Section or next of kin, neglects for thirty (30) days after the
Administration issued to Emilio III, and appointed 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court on the order of death of the person to apply for administration or to
respondent as administratrix of the subject estate: preference for the issuance of letters of administration request that administration be granted to some other
cannot be ignored and that Article 992 of the Civil person, it may be granted to one or more of the
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Code must be followed. Isabel further asserts that principal creditors, if competent and willing to serve;
assailed decision dated November 9, 2001 of Branch Emilio III had demonstrated adverse interests and
78, Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan in SPC disloyalty to the estate, thus, he does not deserve to (c) If there is not such creditor competent and willing
No. 117-M-95 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the become a co-administrator thereof. to serve, it may be granted to such other person as
letters of administration issued by the said court to the court may select.
Emilio A.M. Suntay III, if any, are consequently Specifically, Isabel bewails that: (1) Emilio III is an
revoked. Petitioner Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay is illegitimate grandchild and therefore, not an heir of the Textually, the rule lists a sequence to be observed, an
hereby appointed administratrix of the intestate estate decedent; (2) corollary thereto, Emilio III, not being a order of preference, in the appointment of an
of Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay. Let letters of "next of kin" of the decedent, has no interest in the administrator. This order of preference, which
administration be issued in her favor upon her filing of estate to justify his appointment as administrator categorically seeks out the surviving spouse, the next
a bond in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand (₱ thereof; (3) Emilio III’s actuations since his of kin and the creditors in the appointment of an
200,000.00) Pesos.7 appointment as administrator by the RTC on 9 administrator, has been reinforced in jurisprudence. 8
November 2001 emphatically demonstrate the validity
As previously adverted to, on appeal by certiorari, we and wisdom of the order of preference in Section 6, The paramount consideration in the appointment of an
reversed and set aside the ruling of the appellate Rule 78 of the Rules of Court; and (4) there is no administrator over the estate of a decedent is the
court. We decided to include Emilio III as co- basis for joint administration as there are no prospective administrator’s interest in the estate.9 This
administrator of Cristina’s estate, giving weight to his "opposing parties or factions to be represented." is the same consideration which Section 6, Rule 78
interest in Federico’s estate. In ruling for co- takes into account in establishing the order of
administration between Emilio III and To begin with, the case at bar reached us on the issue preference in the appointment of administrator for the
of who, as between Emilio III and Isabel, is better estate. The rationale behind the rule is that those who
will reap the benefit of a wise, speedy and economical that opposing parties or factions be represented in the preponderance of interest. As between next of kin, the
administration of the estate, or, in the alternative, management of the estate of the deceased; (3) where nearest of kin is to be preferred.’" (citations omitted)
suffer the consequences of waste, improvidence or the estate is large or, from any cause, an intricate and
mismanagement, have the highest interest and most perplexing one to settle;16 (4) to have all interested As decided by the lower court and sustained by the
influential motive to administer the estate persons satisfied and the representatives to work in Supreme Court, Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura are
correctly.10 In all, given that the rule speaks of an harmony for the best interests of the estate;17 and the legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his
order of preference, the person to be appointed when a person entitled to the administration of an wife, the late Paulina Simpliciano. Therefore, as the
administrator of a decedent’s estate must estate desires to have another competent person nearest of kin of Gregorio Ventura, they are entitled to
demonstrate not only an interest in the estate, but an associated with him in the office.18 preference over the illegitimate children of Gregorio
interest therein greater than any other candidate. Ventura, namely: Maria and Miguel Ventura. Hence,
In the frequently cited Matias v. Gonzales, we dwelt under the aforestated preference provided in Section
To illustrate, the preference bestowed by law to the on the appointment of special co-administrators 6 of Rule 78, the person or persons to be appointed
surviving spouse in the administration of a decedent’s during the pendency of the appeal for the probate of administrator are Juana Cardona, as the surviving
estate presupposes the surviving spouse’s interest in the decedent’s will. Pending the probate thereof, we spouse, or Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura as
the conjugal partnership or community property recognized Matias’ special interest in the decedent’s nearest of kin, or Juana Cardona and Mercedes and
forming part of the decedent’s estate.11 Likewise, a estate as universal heir and executrix designated in Gregoria Ventura in the discretion of the Court, in
surviving spouse is a compulsory heir of a the instrument who should not be excluded in the order to represent both interests.22 (Emphasis
decedent12 which evinces as much, if not more, administration thereof. Thus, we held that justice and supplied)
interest in administering the entire estate of a equity demands that the two (2) factions among the
decedent, aside from her share in the conjugal non-compulsory heirs of the decedent, consisting of In Silverio, Sr. v. Court of Appeals,23 we maintained
partnership or absolute community property. an instituted heir (Matias) and intestate heirs that the order of preference in the appointment of an
(respondents thereat), should be represented in the administrator depends on the attendant facts and
It is to this requirement of observation of the order of management of the decedent’s estate.19 circumstances. In that case, we affirmed the
preference in the appointment of administrator of a legitimate child’s appointment as special
decedent’s estate, that the appointment of co- Another oft-cited case is Vda. de Dayrit v. Ramolete, administrator, and eventually as regular administrator,
administrators has been allowed, but as an exception. where we held that "inasmuch as petitioner-wife owns of the decedent’s estate as against the surviving
We again refer to Section 6(a) of Rule 78 of the Rules one-half of the conjugal properties and that she, too, spouse who the lower court found unsuitable.
of Court which specifically states that letters of is a compulsory heir of her husband, to deprive her of Reiterating Sioca v. Garcia24 as good law, we pointed
administration may be issued to both the surviving any hand in the administration of the estate prior to out that unsuitableness for appointment as
spouse and the next of kin. In addition and impliedly, the probate of the will would be unfair to her administrator may consist in adverse interest of some
we can refer to Section 2 of Rule 82 of the Rules of proprietary interests."20 kind or hostility to those immediately interested in the
Court which say that "x x x when an executor or estate.
administrator dies, resigns, or is removed, the Hewing closely to the aforementioned cases is our
remaining executor or administrator may administer ruling in Ventura v. Ventura21 where we allowed the In Valarao v. Pascual,25 we see another story with a
the trust alone, x x x." appointment of the surviving spouse and legitimate running theme of heirs squabbling over the estate of a
children of the decedent as co-administrators. decedent. We found no reason to set aside the
In a number of cases, we have sanctioned the However, we drew a distinction between the heirs probate court’s refusal to appoint as special co-
appointment of more than one administrator for the categorized as next of kin, the nearest of kin in the administrator Diaz, even if he had a demonstrable
benefit of the estate and those interested category being preferred, thus: interest in the estate of the decedent and represented
therein.13 We recognized that the appointment of one of the factions of heirs, because the evidence
administrator of the estate of a decedent or the In the case at bar, the surviving spouse of the weighed by the probate court pointed to Diaz’s being
determination of a person’s suitability for the office of deceased Gregorio Ventura is Juana Cardona while remiss in his previous duty as co-administrator of the
judicial administrator rests, to a great extent, in the the next of kin are: Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura estatein the early part of his administration. Surveying
sound judgment of the court exercising the power of and Maria and Miguel Ventura. The "next of kin" has the previously discussed cases of Matias, Corona,
appointment.14 been defined as those persons who are entitled under and Vda.de Dayrit, we clarified, thus:
the statute of distribution to the decedent’s property
Under certain circumstances and for various reasons (citations omitted). It is generally said that "the nearest Respondents cannot take comfort in the cases of
well-settled in Philippine and American jurisprudence, of kin, whose interest in the estate is more Matias v. Gonzales, Corona v. Court of Appeals, and
we have upheld the appointment of co-administrators: preponderant, is preferred in the choice of Vda. de Dayrit v. Ramolete, cited in the assailed
(1) to have the benefits of their judgment and perhaps administrator. ‘Among members of a class the Decision. Contrary to their claim, these cases do not
at all times to have different interests strongest ground for preference is the amount or establish an absolute right demandable from the
represented;15 (2) where justice and equity demand probate court to appoint special co-administrators who
would represent the respective interests of squabbling since she possesses not only the right of succession court perforce has to determine and pass upon the
heirs. Rather, the cases constitute precedents for the over a portion of the exclusive property of the issue of filiation. A separate action will only result in a
authority of the probate court to designate not just one decedent but also a share in the conjugal partnership multiplicity of suits. Upon this consideration, the trial
but also two or more special co-administrators for a for which the good or bad administration of the estate court acted within bounds when it looked into and
single estate. Now whether the probate court may affect not just the fruits but more critically the passed upon the claimed relationship of respondent to
exercises such prerogative when the heirs are fighting naked ownership thereof. And in Gabriel v. Court of the late Francisco Angeles.29
among themselves is a matter left entirely to its sound Appeals we recognized the distinctive status of a
discretion. surviving spouse applying as regular administrator of Finally, in Uy v. Court of Appeals,30 we took into
the deceased spouse's estate when we counseled the consideration the size of, and benefits to, the estate
Furthermore, the cases of Matias, Corona and Vda.de probate court that "there must be a very strong case should respondent therein be appointed as co-
Dayrit hinge upon factual circumstances other than to justify the exclusion of the widow from the administrator. We emphasized that where the estate
the incompatible interests of the heirs which are administration." is large or, from any cause, an intricate and
glaringly absent from the instant case. In Matias this perplexing one to settle, the appointment of co-
Court ordered the appointment of a special co- Clearly, the selection of a special co-administrator in administrators may be sanctioned by law.
administrator because of the applicant's status as the Matias, Corona and Vda.de Dayrit was based upon
universal heir and executrix designated in the will, the independent proprietary interests and moral In our Decision under consideration, we zeroed in on
which we considered to be a "special interest" circumstances of the appointee that were not Emilio III’s demonstrable interest in the estate and
deserving protection during the pendency of the necessarily related to the demand for representation glossed over the order of preference set forth in the
appeal. Quite significantly, since the lower court in being repeatedly urged by respondents.26(Emphasis Rules. We gave weight to Emilio III’s demonstrable
Matias had already deemed it best to appoint more supplied) interest in Cristina’s estate and without a closer
than one special administrator, we found grave abuse scrutiny of the attendant facts and circumstances,
of discretion in the act of the lower court in ignoring In Gabriel v. Court of Appeals, we unequivocally directed co-administration thereof. We are led to a
the applicant's distinctive status in the selection of declared the mandatory character of the rule on the review of such position by the foregoing survey of
another special administrator. order of preference for the issuance of letters of cases.
administration:
In Corona we gave "highest consideration" to the The collected teaching is that mere demonstration of
"executrix's choice of Special Administrator, Evidently, the foregoing provision of the Rules interest in the estate to be settled does not ipso facto
considering her own inability to serve and the wide prescribes the order of preference in the issuance of entitle an interested person to co-administration
latitude of discretion given her by the testatrix in her letters of administration, it categorically seeks out the thereof. Neither does squabbling among the heirs nor
will," for this Court to compel her appointment as surviving spouse, the next of kin and the creditors, adverse interests necessitate the discounting of the
special co-administrator. It is also manifest from the and requires that sequence to be observed in order of preference set forth in Section 6, Rule 78.
decision in Corona that the presence of conflicting appointing an administrator. It would be a grave Indeed, in the appointment of administrator of the
interests among the heirs therein was not per se the abuse of discretion for the probate court to estate of a deceased person, the principal
key factor in the designation of a second special imperiously set aside and insouciantly ignore that consideration reckoned with is the interest in said
administrator as this fact was taken into account only directive without any valid and sufficient reason estate of the one to be appointed as
to disregard or, in the words of Corona, to therefor.27 administrator.31 Given Isabel’s unassailable interest in
"overshadow" the objections to the appointment on the estate as one of the decedent’s legitimate
grounds of "impracticality and lack of kinship." Subsequently, in Angeles v. Angeles-Maglaya,28 we grandchildren and undoubted nearest "next of kin,"
expounded on the legal contemplation of a "next of the appointment of Emilio III as co-administrator of the
Finally in Vda. de Dayrit we justified the designation of kin," thus: same estate, cannot be a demandable right. It is a
the wife of the decedent as special co-administrator matter left entirely to the sound discretion of the
because it was "our considered opinion that inasmuch Finally, it should be noted that on the matter of Court32 and depends on the facts and the attendant
as petitioner-wife owns one-half of the conjugal appointment of administrator of the estate of the circumstances of the case.33
properties and that she, too, is a compulsory heir of deceased, the surviving spouse is preferred over the
her husband, to deprive her of any hand in the next of kin of the decedent. When the law speaks of Thus, we proceed to scrutinize the attendant facts and
administration of the estate prior to the probate of the "next of kin," the reference is to those who are circumstances of this case even as we reiterate
will would be unfair to her proprietary interests." The entitled, under the statute of distribution, to the Isabel’s and her sibling’s apparent greater interest in
special status of a surviving spouse in the special decedent's property; one whose relationship is such the estate of Cristina.
administration of an estate was also emphasized in that he is entitled to share in the estate as distributed,
Fule v. Court of Appeals where we held that the or, in short, an heir. In resolving, therefore, the issue These considerations do not warrant the setting aside
widow would have more interest than any other next of whether an applicant for letters of administration is of the order of preference mapped out in Section 6,
of kin in the proper administration of the entire estate a next of kin or an heir of the decedent, the probate
Rule 78 of the Rules of Court. They compel that a deliberately omitted properties in the inventory, which
choice be made of one over the other. 1. Emilio III did not file an inventory of the assets until properties of Cristina he knew existed and which he
November 14, 2002; claims to be knowledgeable about.
1. The bitter estrangement and long-standing
animosity between Isabel, on the one hand, and 2. The inventory Emilio III submitted did not include The general denial made by Emilio III does not erase
Emilio III, on the other, traced back from the time their several properties of the decedent; his unsuitability as administrator rooted in his failure to
paternal grandparents were alive, which can be "make and return x x x a true and complete inventory"
characterized as adverse interest of some kind by, or 3. That properties belonging to the decedent have which became proven fact when he actually filed
hostility of, Emilio III to Isabel who is immediately found their way to different individuals or persons; partial inventories before the probate court and by his
interested in the estate; several properties to Federico Suntay himself; and inaction on two occasions of Federico’s exclusion of
Cristina’s other compulsory heirs, herein Isabel and
2. Corollary thereto, the seeming impossibility of 4. While some properties have found their way to her siblings, from the list of heirs.
Isabel and Emilio III working harmoniously as co- Emilio III, by reason of falsified documents;38
administrators may result in prejudice to the As administrator, Emilio III enters into the office, posts
decedent’s estate, ultimately delaying settlement Emilio III refutes Isabel’s imputations that he was a bond and executes an oath to faithfully discharge
thereof; and lackadaisical in assuming and performing the the duties of settling the decedent’s estate with the
functions of administrator of Cristina’s estate: end in view of distribution to the heirs, if any. This he
3. Emilio III, for all his claims of knowledge in the failed to do. The foregoing circumstances of Emilio
management of Cristina’s estate, has not looked after 1. From the time of the RTC’s Order appointing Emilio III’s omission and inaction become even more
the estate’s welfare and has acted to the damage and III as administrator, Isabel, in her pleadings before the significant and speak volume of his unsuitability as
prejudice thereof. RTC, had vigorously opposed Emilio III’s assumption administrator as it demonstrates his interest adverse
of that office, arguing that "the decision of the RTC to those immediately interested in the estate of the
Contrary to the assumption made in the Decision that dated 9 November 2001 is not among the judgments decedent, Cristina.
Emilio III’s demonstrable interest in the estate makes authorized by the Rules of Court which may be
him a suitable co-administrator thereof, the evidence immediately implemented or executed;" In this case, palpable from the evidence on record,
reveals that Emilio III has turned out to be an the pleadings, and the protracted litigation, is the
unsuitable administrator of the estate. Respondent 2. The delay in Emilio III’s filing of an inventory was inescapable fact that Emilio III and respondent Isabel
Isabel points out that after Emilio III’s appointment as due to Isabel’s vociferous objections to Emilio III’s have a deep aversion for each other. To our mind, it
administrator of the subject estate in 2001, he has not attempts to act as administrator while the RTC becomes highly impractical, nay, improbable, for the
looked after the welfare of the subject estate and has decision was under appeal to the Court of Appeals; two to work as co-administrators of their
actually acted to the damage and prejudice thereof as grandmother’s estate. The allegations of Emilio III, the
evidenced by the following: 3. The complained partial inventory is only initiatory, testimony of Federico and the other witnesses for
inherent in the nature thereof, and one of the first Federico and Emilio III that Isabel and her siblings
1. Emilio III, despite several orders from the probate steps in the lengthy process of settlement of a were estranged from their grandparents further drive
court for a complete inventory, omitted in the partial decedent’s estate, such that it cannot constitute a home the point that Emilio III bears hostility towards
inventories34 he filed therewith properties of the complete and total listing of the decedent’s properties; Isabel. More importantly, it appears detrimental to the
estate35 including several parcels of land, cash, bank and decedent’s estate to appoint a co-administrator
deposits, jewelry, shares of stock, motor vehicles, and (Emilio III) who has shown an adverse interest of
other personal properties, contrary to Section 4. The criminal cases adverted to are trumped-up some kind or hostility to those, such as herein
1,36paragraph a, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court. charges where Isabel, as private complainant, has respondent Isabel, immediately interested in the said
been unwilling to appear and testify, leading the estate.
2. Emilio III did not take action on both occasions Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 44 of
against Federico’s settlement of the decedent’s estate Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, to warn the Bearing in mind that the issuance of letters of
which adjudicated to himself a number of properties prosecutor of a possible motu propio dismissal of the administration is simply a preliminary order to facilitate
properly belonging to said estate (whether wholly or cases. the settlement of a decedent’s estate, we here point
partially), and which contained a declaration that the out that Emilio III is not without remedies to protect his
decedent did not leave any descendants or heirs, While we can subscribe to Emilio III’s counsel’s interests in the estate of the decedent. In Hilado v.
except for Federico, entitled to succeed to her explanation for the blamed delay in the filing of an Court of Appeals,39 we mapped out as among the
estate.37 inventory and his exposition on the nature thereof, allowable participation of "any interested persons" or
In compliance to our Resolution dated 18 April 2012 partial as opposed to complete, in the course of the "any persons interested in the estate" in either testate
requiring Emilio III to respond to the following settlement of a decedent’s estate, we do not find any or intestate proceedings:
imputations of Isabel that: clarification on Isabel’s accusation that Emilio III had
xxxx of the Second Division of the Supreme Court in
4. Section 640 of Rule 87, which allows an individual Nonetheless, it must be pointed out that judicial Manila.47
interested in the estate of the deceased "to complain restraint impels us to refrain from making a final
to the court of the concealment, embezzlement, or declaration of heirship and distributing the For Emilio III’s counsels’ edification, the Special
conveyance of any asset of the decedent, or of presumptive shares of the parties in the estates of Second Division in Baguio is not a different division
evidence of the decedent’s title or interest therein;" Cristina and Federico, considering that the question created by the Supreme Court.
on who will administer the properties of the long
5. Section 1041 of Rule 85, which requires notice of deceased couple has yet to be settled. The Second Division which promulgated its Decision
the time and place of the examination and allowance on this case on 16 June 2010, penned by Justice
of the Administrator’s account "to persons interested;" Our holding in Capistrano v. Nadurata on the same Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, now has a different
issue remains good law: composition, with the advent of Justice Nachura’s
6. Section 7(b)42 of Rule 89, which requires the court retirement on 13 June 2011. Section 7, Rule 2 of the
to give notice "to the persons interested" before it may The declaration of heirs made by the lower court is Internal Rules of the Supreme Court provides:
hear and grant a petition seeking the disposition or premature, although the evidence sufficiently shows
encumbrance of the properties of the estate; and who are entitled to succeed the deceased. The estate Sec. 7. Resolutions of motions for reconsideration or
had hardly been judicially opened, and the proceeding clarification of decisions or signed resolutions and all
7. Section 1,43 Rule 90, which allows "any person has not as yet reached the stage of distribution of the other motions and incidents subsequently filed;
interested in the estate" to petition for an order for the estate which must come after the inheritance is creation of a Special Division. – Motions for
distribution of the residue of the estate of the liquidated. reconsideration or clarification of a decision or of a
decedent, after all obligations are either satisfied or signed resolution and all other motions and incidents
provided for.44 Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court does not subsequently filed in the case shall be acted upon by
depart from the foregoing admonition: the ponente and the other Members of the Division
In addition to the foregoing, Emilio III may likewise who participated in the rendition of the decision or
avail of the remedy found in Section 2, Rule 82 of the Sec. 1. When order for distribution of residue is signed resolution.
Rules of Court, to wit: made. - x x x. If there is a controversy before the court
as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person If the ponente has retired, is no longer a Member of
Sec. 2. Court may remove or accept resignation of or as to the distributive shares to which each person the Court, is disqualified, or has inhibited himself or
executor or administrator. Proceedings upon death, is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be herself from acting on the motion for reconsideration
resignation, or removal. – If an executor or heard and decided as in ordinary cases. or clarification, he or she shall be replaced through
administrator neglects to render his account and settle raffle by a new ponente who shall be chosen among
the estate according to law, or to perform an order or No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the new Members of the Division who participated in
judgment of the court, or a duty expressly provided by the obligations above mentioned has been made or the rendition of the decision or signed resolution and
these rules, or absconds, or becomes insane, or provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them, who concurred therein. If only one Member of the
otherwise incapable or unsuitable to discharge the give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court, Court who participated and concurred in the rendition
trust, the court may remove him, or, in its discretion, conditioned for the payment of said obligations within of the decision or signed resolution remains, he or she
may permit him to resign. When an executor or such time as the court directs.45 shall be designated as the new ponente.
administrator dies, resigns, or is removed, the
remaining executor or administrator may administer Lastly, we dispose of a peripheral issue raised in the If a Member (not the ponente) of the Division which
the trust alone, unless the court grants letters to Supplemental Comment46 of Emilio III questioning the rendered the decision or signed resolution has retired,
someone to act with him. If there is no remaining Special Second Division which issued the 18 April is no longer a Member of the Court, is disqualified, or
executor or administrator, administration may be 2012 Resolution. Emilio III asseverates that "the has inhibited himself or herself from acting on the
granted to any suitable person. operation of the Special Second Division in Baguio is motion for reconsideration or clarification, he or she
unconstitutional and void" as the Second Division in shall be replaced through raffle by a replacement
Once again, as we have done in the Decision, we Manila had already promulgated its Decision on 16 Member who shall be chosen from the other Divisions
exercise judicial restraint: we uphold that the question June 2010 on the petition filed by him: until a new Justice is appointed as replacement for
of who are the heirs of the decedent Cristina is not yet the retired Justice. Upon the appointment of a new
upon us. Article 992 of the Civil Code or the curtain 7. The question is: who created the Special Second Justice, he or she shall replace the designated Justice
bar rule is inapplicable in resolving the issue of who is Division in Baguio, acting separately from the Second as replacement Member of the Special Division.
better qualified to administer the estate of the Division of the Supreme Court in Manila? There will
decedent. then be two Second Divisions of the Supreme Court: Any vacancy or vacancies in the Special Division shall
one acting with the Supreme Court in Manila, and be filled by raffle from among the other Members of
Thus, our disquisition in the assailed Decision: another Special Second Division acting independently
the Court to constitute a Special Division of five (5) ENDERES claiming to be Special Administratrix, As ordered by the intestate court, special
Members. and other persons/ public officers acting for and administrators Rafael and Jose Ortañez submitted an
in their behalf, respondents. inventory of the estate of their father which included,
If the ponente and all the Members of the Division that among other properties, 2,0293 shares of stock in
rendered the Decision or signed Resolution are no CORONA, J.: Philippine International Life Insurance Company
longer Members of the Court, the case shall be raffled This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules (hereafter Philinterlife), representing 50.725% of the
to any Member of the Court and the motion shall be of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the company’s outstanding capital stock.
acted upon by him or her with the participation of the decision1 of the Court of Appeals, First Division, dated
other Members of the Division to which he or she July 26, 2000, in CA G.R. 59736, which dismissed the On April 15, 1989, the decedent’s wife, Juliana S.
belongs. petition for certiorari filed by petitioners Jose C. Lee Ortañez, claiming that she owned 1,0144 Philinterlife
and Alma Aggabao (in their capacities as president shares of stock as her conjugal share in the estate,
If there are pleadings, motions or incidents and secretary, respectively, of Philippine International sold said shares with right to repurchase in favor of
subsequent to the denial of the motion for Life Insurance Company) and Filipino Loan herein petitioner Filipino Loan Assistance Group
reconsideration or clarification, the case shall be Assistance Group. (FLAG), represented by its president, herein petitioner
acted upon by the ponente on record with the Jose C. Lee. Juliana Ortañez failed to repurchase the
participation of the other Members of the Division to The antecedent facts follow. shares of stock within the stipulated period, thus
which he or she belongs at the time said pleading, ownership thereof was consolidated by petitioner
motion or incident is to be taken up by the Court. Dr. Juvencio P. Ortañez incorporated the Philippine FLAG in its name.
(Emphasis supplied) International Life Insurance Company, Inc. on July 6,
1956. At the time of the company’s incorporation, Dr. On October 30, 1991, Special Administrator Jose
As regards the operation thereof in Baguio City, such Ortañez owned ninety percent (90%) of the Ortañez, acting in his personal capacity and claiming
is simply a change in venue for the Supreme Court's subscribed capital stock. that he owned the remaining 1,0115 Philinterlife
summer session held last April.48 shares of stocks as his inheritance share in the
On July 21, 1980, Dr. Ortañez died. He left behind a estate, sold said shares with right to repurchase also
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration wife (Juliana Salgado Ortañez), three legitimate in favor of herein petitioner FLAG, represented by its
is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Our Decision in G.R. No. children (Rafael, Jose and Antonio Ortañez) and five president, herein petitioner Jose C. Lee. After one
183053 dated 16 June 2010 is MODIFIED. Letters of illegitimate children by Ligaya Novicio (herein private year, petitioner FLAG consolidated in its name the
Administration over the estate of decedent Cristina respondent Ma. Divina Ortañez-Enderes and her ownership of the Philinterlife shares of stock when
Aguinaldo-Suntay shall solely issue to respondent siblings Jose, Romeo, Enrico Manuel and Cesar, all Jose Ortañez failed to repurchase the same.
Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay upon payment of a bond to surnamed Ortañez).2
be set by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, It appears that several years before (but already
Malolos, Bulacan, in Special Proceeding Case No. On September 24, 1980, Rafael Ortañez filed before during the pendency of the intestate proceedings at
117-M-95. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 85),
Malolos, Bulacan is likewise directed to settle the Branch (now Regional Trial Court of Quezon City) a Juliana Ortañez and her two children, Special
estate of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay with petition for letters of administration of the intestate Administrators Rafael and Jose Ortañez, entered into
dispatch. No costs.SO ORDERED. estate of Dr. Ortañez, docketed as SP Proc. Q-30884 a memorandum of agreement dated March 4, 1982
(which petition to date remains pending at Branch 85 for the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of Dr.
THIRD DIVISION thereof). Juvencio Ortañez, partitioning the estate (including
G.R. No. 146006 February 23, 2004 the Philinterlife shares of stock) among themselves.
Private respondent Ma. Divina Ortañez-Enderes and This was the basis of the number of shares separately
JOSE C. LEE AND ALMA AGGABAO, in their her siblings filed an opposition to the petition for sold by Juliana Ortañez on April 15, 1989 (1,014
capacities as President and Corporate Secretary, letters of administration and, in a subsequent urgent shares) and by Jose Ortañez on October 30, 1991
respectively, of Philippines International Life motion, prayed that the intestate court appoint a (1,011 shares) in favor of herein petitioner FLAG.
Insurance Company, and FILIPINO LOAN special administrator.
ASSISTANCE GROUP, petitioners On July 12, 1995, herein private respondent Ma.
vs. On March 10, 1982, Judge Ernani Cruz Paño, then Divina Ortañez–Enderes and her siblings (hereafter
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON CITY presiding judge of Branch 85, appointed Rafael and referred to as private respondents Enderes et al.) filed
BRANCH 85 presided by JUDGE PEDRO M. Jose Ortañez joint special administrators of their a motion for appointment of special administrator of
AREOLA, BRANCH CLERK OF COURT JANICE Y. father’s estate. Hearings continued for the Philinterlife shares of stock. This move was opposed
ANTERO, DEPUTY SHERIFFS ADENAUER G. appointment of a regular administrator (up to now no by Special Administrator Jose Ortañez.
RIVERA and PEDRO L. BORJA, all of the Regional regular administrator has been appointed).
Trial Court of Quezon City Branch 85, MA. DIVINA
On November 8, 1995, the intestate court granted the In consonance with the Order of this Court dated controlling interest of the decedent, Dr. Juvencio
motion of private respondents Enderes et al. and August 11, 1997 DENYING the approval of the sale of Ortañez, in the insurance company.9 This became the
appointed private respondent Enderes special Philinterlife shares of stocks and release of Ma. Divina subject of a separate action at the Securities and
administratrix of the Philinterlife shares of stock. Ortañez-Enderes as Special Administratrix, the Exchange Commission filed by private respondent-
"Urgent Motion to Declare Void Ab Special Administratrix Enderes against petitioner Jose
On December 20, 1995, Special Administratrix Initio Memorandum of Agreement" dated December Lee and other members of the FLAG-controlled board
Enderes filed an urgent motion to declare void ab 19, 1995. . . is hereby impliedly partially resolved of Philinterlife on November 7, 1994. Thereafter,
initio the memorandum of agreement dated March 4, insofar as the transfer/waiver/renunciation of the various cases were filed by Jose Lee as president of
1982. On January 9, 1996, she filed a motion to Philinterlife shares of stock are concerned, in Philinterlife and Juliana Ortañez and her sons against
declare the partial nullity of the extrajudicial settlement particular, No. 5, 9(c), 10(b) and 11(d)(ii) of the private respondent-Special Administratrix Enderes in
of the decedent’s estate. These motions were Memorandum of Agreement. the SEC and civil courts.10 Somehow, all these cases
opposed by Special Administrator Jose Ortañez. were connected to the core dispute on the legality of
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby declares the the sale of decedent Dr. Ortañez’s Philinterlife shares
On March 22, 1996, Special Administratrix Enderes Memorandum of Agreement dated March 4, 1982 of stock to petitioner FLAG, represented by its
filed an urgent motion to declare void ab initio the executed by Juliana S. Ortañez, Rafael S. Ortañez president, herein petitioner Jose Lee who later
deeds of sale of Philinterlife shares of stock, which and Jose S. Ortañez as partially void ab initio insofar became the president of Philinterlife after the
move was again opposed by Special Administrator as the transfer/waiver/renunciation of the Philinterlife controversial sale.
Jose Ortañez. shares of stocks are concerned.7
On May 2, 2000, private respondent-Special
On February 4, 1997, Jose Ortañez filed an omnibus Aggrieved by the above-stated orders of the intestate Administratrix Enderes and her siblings filed a motion
motion for (1) the approval of the deeds of sale of the court, Jose Ortañez filed, on December 22, 1997, a for execution of the Orders of the intestate court dated
Philinterlife shares of stock and (2) the release of Ma. petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals. The August 11 and August 29, 1997 because the orders of
Divina Ortañez-Enderes as special administratrix of appellate court denied his petition, however, ruling the intestate court nullifying the sale (upheld by the
the Philinterlife shares of stock on the ground that that there was no legal justification whatsoever for the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court) had long
there were no longer any shares of stock for her to extrajudicial partition of the estate by Jose Ortañez, became final. Respondent-Special Administratrix
administer. his brother Rafael Ortañez and mother Juliana Enderes served a copy of the motion to petitioners
Ortañez during the pendency of the settlement of the Jose Lee and Alma Aggabao as president and
On August 11, 1997, the intestate court denied the estate of Dr. Ortañez, without the requisite approval of secretary, respectively, of Philinterlife,11 but
omnibus motion of Special Administrator Jose the intestate court, when it was clear that there were petitioners ignored the same.
Ortañez for the approval of the deeds of sale for the other heirs to the estate who stood to be prejudiced
reason that: thereby. Consequently, the sale made by Jose On July 6, 2000, the intestate court granted the
Ortañez and his mother Juliana Ortañez to FLAG of motion for execution, the dispositive portion of which
Under the Godoy case, supra, it was held in the shares of stock they invalidly appropriated for read:
substance that a sale of a property of the estate themselves, without approval of the intestate court,
without an Order of the probate court is void and was void.8 WHEREFORE, premises considered, let a writ of
passes no title to the purchaser. Since the sales in execution issue as follows:
question were entered into by Juliana S. Ortañez and Special Administrator Jose Ortañez filed a motion for
Jose S. Ortañez in their personal capacity without reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision but it 1. Confirming the nullity of the sale of the 2,029
prior approval of the Court, the same is not binding was denied. He elevated the case to the Supreme Philinterlife shares in the name of the Estate of Dr.
upon the Estate. Court via petition for review under Rule 45 which the Juvencio Ortañez to Filipino Loan Assistance Group
Supreme Court dismissed on October 5, 1998, on a (FLAG);
WHEREFORE, the OMNIBUS MOTION for the technicality. His motion for reconsideration was
approval of the sale of Philinterlife shares of stock and denied with finality on January 13, 1999. On February 2. Commanding the President and the Corporate
release of Ma. Divina Ortañez-Enderes as Special 23, 1999, the resolution of the Supreme Court Secretary of Philinterlife to reinstate in the stock and
Administratrix is hereby denied.6 dismissing the petition of Special Administrator Jose transfer book of Philinterlife the 2,029 Philinterlife
Ortañez became final and was subsequently recorded shares of stock in the name of the Estate of Dr.
On August 29, 1997, the intestate court issued in the book of entries of judgments. Juvencio P. Ortañez as the owner thereof without
another order granting the motion of Special prejudice to other claims for violation of pre-emptive
Administratrix Enderes for the annulment of the March Meanwhile, herein petitioners Jose Lee and Alma rights pertaining to the said 2,029 Philinterlife shares;
4, 1982 memorandum of agreement or extrajudicial Aggabao, with the rest of the FLAG-controlled board
partition of estate. The court reasoned that: of directors, increased the authorized capital stock of 3. Directing the President and the Corporate
Philinterlife, diluting in the process the 50.725% Secretary of Philinterlife to issue stock certificates of
Philinterlife for 2,029 shares in the name of the Estate However, upon motion for reconsideration filed by
of Dr. Juvencio P. Ortañez as the owner thereof We are constrained to DISMISS OUTRIGHT the petitioners Lee and Aggabao, the Supreme Court
without prejudice to other claims for violations of pre- present petition for certiorari and prohibition with granted the motion and reinstated their petition on
emptive rights pertaining to the said 2,029 Philinterlife prayer for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of September 5, 2001. The parties were then required to
shares and, preliminary injunction in the light of the following submit their respective memoranda.
considerations:
4. Confirming that only the Special Administratrix, Ma. Meanwhile, private respondent-Special Administratrix
Divina Ortañez-Enderes, has the power to exercise all 1. The assailed Order dated August 11, 1997 of the Enderes, on July 19, 2000, filed a motion to direct the
the rights appurtenant to the said shares, including respondent judge had long become final and branch clerk of court in lieu of herein petitioners Lee
the right to vote and to receive dividends. executory; and Aggabao to reinstate the name of Dr. Ortañez in
the stock and transfer book of Philinterlife and issue
5. Directing Philinterlife and/or any other person or 2. The certification on non-forum shopping is signed the corresponding stock certificate pursuant to
persons claiming to represent it or otherwise, to by only one (1) of the three (3) petitioners in violation Section 10, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which
acknowledge and allow the said Special Administratrix of the Rules; and provides that "the court may direct the act to be done
to exercise all the aforesaid rights on the said shares at the cost of the disobedient party by some other
and to refrain from resorting to any action which may 3. Except for the assailed orders and writ of person appointed by the court and the act when so
tend directly or indirectly to impede, obstruct or bar execution, deed of sale with right to repurchase, deed done shall have the effect as if done by the party."
the free exercise thereof under pain of contempt. of sale of shares of stocks and omnibus motion, the Petitioners Lee and Aggabao opposed the motion on
petition is not accompanied by such pleadings, the ground that the intestate court should refrain from
6. The President, Corporate Secretary, any documents and other material portions of the record acting on the motion because the issues raised
responsible officer/s of Philinterlife, or any other as would support the allegations therein in violation of therein were directly related to the issues raised by
person or persons claiming to represent it or the second paragraph, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of them in their petition for certiorari at the Court of
otherwise, are hereby directed to comply with this Civil Procedure, as amended. Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 59736. On
order within three (3) days from receipt hereof under October 30, 2000, the intestate court granted the
pain of contempt. Petition is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.14 motion, ruling that there was no prohibition for the
intestate court to execute its orders inasmuch as the
7. The Deputy Sheriffs Adenauer Rivera and Pedro The motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Lee appellate court did not issue any TRO or writ of
Borja are hereby directed to implement the writ of and Aggabao of the above decision was denied by the preliminary injunction.
execution with dispatch to forestall any and/or further Court of Appeals on October 30, 2000:
damage to the Estate. SO ORDERED.12 On December 3, 2000, petitioners Lee and Aggabao
This resolves the "urgent motion for reconsideration" filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals,
In the several occasions that the sheriff went to the filed by the petitioners of our resolution of July 26, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 62461, questioning this
office of petitioners to execute the writ of execution, 2000 dismissing outrightly the above-entitled petition time the October 30, 2000 order of the intestate court
he was barred by the security guard upon petitioners’ for the reason, among others, that the assailed Order directing the branch clerk of court to issue the stock
instructions. Thus, private respondent-Special dated August 11, 1997 of the respondent Judge had certificates. They also questioned in the Court of
Administratrix Enderes filed a motion to cite herein long become final and executory. Appeals the order of the intestate court nullifying the
petitioners Jose Lee and Alma Aggabao (president sale made in their favor by Juliana Ortañez and Jose
and secretary, respectively, of Philinterlife) in Dura lex, sed lex. Ortañez. On November 20, 2002, the Court of
contempt.13 Appeals denied their petition and upheld the power of
WHEREFORE, the urgent motion for reconsideration the intestate court to execute its order. Petitioners Lee
Petitioners Lee and Aggabao subsequently filed is hereby DENIED, for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.15 and Aggabao then filed motion for reconsideration
before the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, which at present is still pending resolution by the
docketed as CA G.R. SP No. 59736. Petitioners On December 4, 2000, petitioners elevated the case Court of Appeals.
alleged that the intestate court gravely abused its to the Supreme Court through a petition for review
discretion in (1) declaring that the ownership of FLAG under Rule 45 but on December 13, 2000, we denied Petitioners Jose Lee and Alma Aggabao (president
over the Philinterlife shares of stock was null and void; the petition because there was no showing that the and secretary, respectively, of Philinterlife) and FLAG
(2) ordering the execution of its order declaring such Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP No. 59736 committed now raise the following errors for our consideration:
nullity and (3) depriving the petitioners of their right to any reversible error to warrant the exercise by the
due process. Supreme Court of its discretionary appellate The Court of Appeals committed grave reversible
jurisdiction.16 ERROR:
On July 26, 2000, the Court of Appeals dismissed the
petition outright:
A. In failing to reconsider its previous resolution Philinterlife and that the intestate court in charge of Salgado know already that there was a claim for
denying the petition despite the fact that the appellate the intestate proceedings cannot adjudicate title to share in the inheritance of the children of Novicio?
court’s mistake in apprehending the facts had become properties claimed to be part of the estate and which
patent and evident from the motion for reconsideration are equally CLAIMED BY petitioner FLAG.17 ATTY. CALIMAG:
and the comment of respondent Enderes which had Your Honor please, at that time, Your Honor, it is
admitted the factual allegations of petitioners in the The petition has no merit. already known to them.
petition as well as in the motion for reconsideration.
Moreover, the resolution of the appellate court Petitioners Jose Lee and Alma Aggabao, representing JUSTICE AQUINO:
denying the motion for reconsideration was contained Philinterlife and FLAG, assail before us not only the What can be your legal justification for extrajudicial
in only one page without even touching on the validity of the writ of execution issued by the intestate settlement of a property subject of intestate
substantive merits of the exhaustive discussion of court dated July 7, 2000 but also the validity of the proceedings when there is an adverse claim of
facts and supporting law in the motion for August 11, 1997 order of the intestate court nullifying another set of heirs, alleged heirs? What would be the
reconsideration in violation of the Rule on the sale of the 2,029 Philinterlife shares of stock made legal justification for extra-judicially settling a property
administrative due process; by Juliana Ortañez and Jose Ortañez, in their under administration without the approval of the
personal capacities and without court approval, in intestate court?
B. in failing to set aside the void orders of the intestate favor of petitioner FLAG.
court on the erroneous ground that the orders were ATTY. CALIMAG:
final and executory with regard to petitioners even as We cannot allow petitioners to reopen the issue of Well, Your Honor please, in that extra-judicial
the latter were never notified of the proceedings or nullity of the sale of the Philinterlife shares of stock in settlement there is an approval of the honorable court
order canceling its ownership; their favor because this was already settled a long as to the property’s partition x x x. There were as
time ago by the Court of Appeals in its decision dated mentioned by the respondents’ counsel, Your Honor.
C. in not finding that the intestate court committed June 23, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP No. 46342. This
grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of decision was effectively upheld by us in our resolution ATTY. BUYCO:
jurisdiction (1) when it issued the Omnibus Order dated October 9, 1998 in G.R. No. 135177 dismissing No…
nullifying the ownership of petitioner FLAG over the petition for review on a technicality and thereafter
shares of stock which were alleged to be part of the denying the motion for reconsideration on January 13, JUSTICE AQUINO:
estate and (2) when it issued a void writ of execution 1999 on the ground that there was no compelling The point is, there can be no adjudication of a
against petitioner FLAG as present owner to reason to reconsider said denial.18 Our decision property under intestate proceedings without the
implement merely provisional orders, thereby violating became final on February 23, 1999 and was approval of the court. That is basic unless you can
FLAG’s constitutional right against deprivation of accordingly entered in the book of entry of judgments. present justification on that. In fact, there are two
property without due process; For all intents and purposes therefore, the nullity of steps: first, you ask leave and then execute the
the sale of the Philinterlife shares of stock made by document and then ask for approval of the document
D. In failing to declare null and void the orders of the Juliana Ortañez and Jose Ortañez in favor of executed. Now, is there any legal justification to
intestate court which nullified the sale of shares of petitioner FLAG is already a closed case. To reopen exclude this particular transaction from those steps?
stock between the legitimate heir Jose S. Ortañez and said issue would set a bad precedent, opening the
petitioner FLAG because of settled law and door wide open for dissatisfied parties to relitigate ATTY. CALIMAG:
jurisprudence, i.e., that an heir has the right to unfavorable decisions no end. This is completely None, Your Honor.
dispose of the decedent’s property even if the same is inimical to the orderly and efficient administration of
under administration pursuant to Civil Code provision justice. ATTY. BUYCO:
that possession of hereditary property is transmitted The said decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. With that admission that there is no legal justification,
to the heir the moment of death of the decedent SP No. 46342 affirming the nullity of the sale made by Your Honor, we rest the case for the private
(Acedebo vs. Abesamis, 217 SCRA 194); Jose Ortañez and his mother Juliana Ortañez of the respondent. How can the lower court be accused of
Philinterlife shares of stock read: abusing its discretion? (pages 33-35, TSN of January
E. In disregarding the final decision of the Supreme 29, 1998).
Court in G.R. No. 128525 dated December 17, 1999 Petitioner’s asseverations relative to said
involving substantially the same parties, to wit, [memorandum] agreement were scuttled during the Thus, We find merit in the following postulation by
petitioners Jose C. Lee and Alma Aggabao were hearing before this Court thus: private respondent:
respondents in that case while respondent Ma. Divina
Enderes was the petitioner therein. That decision, JUSTICE AQUINO: What we have here is a situation where some of the
which can be considered law of the case, ruled that Counsel for petitioner, when the Memorandum of heirs of the decedent without securing court approval
petitioners cannot be enjoined by respondent Enderes Agreement was executed, did the children of Juliana have appropriated as their own personal property the
from exercising their power as directors and officers of properties of [the] Estate, to the exclusion and the
extreme prejudice of the other claimant/heirs. In other (Jose, Rafael and Antonio Ortañez) was invalid, the fishponds in question, knew that the same were part
words, these heirs, without court approval, have subsequent sale thereof by Juliana and Jose to a third of the estate under administration.
distributed the asset of the estate among themselves party (FLAG), without court approval, was likewise
and proceeded to dispose the same to third parties void. xxx xxx xxx
even in the absence of an order of distribution by the The subject properties therefore are under the
Estate Court. As admitted by petitioner’s counsel, An heir can sell his right, interest, or participation in jurisdiction of the probate court which according to our
there was absolutely no legal justification for this the property under administration under Art. 533 of settled jurisprudence has the authority to approve any
action by the heirs. There being no legal justification, the Civil Code which provides that possession of disposition regarding properties under administration.
petitioner has no basis for demanding that public hereditary property is deemed transmitted to the heir . . More emphatic is the declaration We made in
respondent [the intestate court] approve the sale of without interruption from the moment of death of the Estate of Olave vs. Reyes (123 SCRA 767) where We
the Philinterlife shares of the Estate by Juliana and decedent.20 However, an heir can only alienate such stated that when the estate of the deceased person is
Jose Ortañez in favor of the Filipino Loan Assistance portion of the estate that may be allotted to him in the already the subject of a testate or intestate
Group. division of the estate by the probate or intestate court proceeding, the administrator cannot enter into any
after final adjudication, that is, after all debtors shall transaction involving it without prior approval of the
It is an undisputed fact that the parties to the have been paid or the devisees or legatees shall have probate court.
Memorandum of Agreement dated March 4, 1982 been given their shares.21 This means that an heir
(see Annex 7 of the Comment). . . are not the only may only sell his ideal or undivided share in the Only recently, in Manotok Realty, Inc. vs. Court of
heirs claiming an interest in the estate left by Dr. estate, not any specific property therein. In the Appeals (149 SCRA 174), We held that the sale of an
Juvencio P. Ortañez. The records of this case. . . present case, Juliana Ortañez and Jose Ortañez sold immovable property belonging to the estate of a
clearly show that as early as March 3, 1981 an specific properties of the estate (1,014 and 1,011 decedent, in a special proceedings, needs court
Opposition to the Application for Issuance of Letters of shares of stock in Philinterlife) in favor of petitioner approval. . . This pronouncement finds support in the
Administration was filed by the acknowledged natural FLAG. This they could not lawfully do pending the previous case of Dolores Vda. De Gil vs. Agustin
children of Dr. Juvencio P. Ortañez with Ligaya final adjudication of the estate by the intestate court Cancio (14 SCRA 797) wherein We emphasized that
Novicio. . . This claim by the acknowledged natural because of the undue prejudice it would cause the it is within the jurisdiction of a probate court to
children of Dr. Juvencio P. Ortañez is admittedly other claimants to the estate, as what happened in the approve the sale of properties of a deceased person
known to the parties to the Memorandum of present case. by his prospective heirs before final adjudication. x x x
Agreement before they executed the same. This
much was admitted by petitioner’s counsel during the Juliana Ortañez and Jose Ortañez sold specific It being settled that property under administration
oral argument. xxx properties of the estate, without court approval. It is needs the approval of the probate court before it can
well-settled that court approval is necessary for the be disposed of, any unauthorized disposition does not
Given the foregoing facts, and the applicable validity of any disposition of the decedent’s estate. In bind the estate and is null and void. As early as 1921
jurisprudence, public respondent can never be faulted the early case of Godoy vs. Orellano,22 we laid down in the case of Godoy vs. Orellano (42 Phil 347), We
for not approving. . . the subsequent sale by the the rule that the sale of the property of the estate by laid down the rule that a sale by an administrator of
petitioner [Jose Ortañez] and his mother [Juliana an administrator without the order of the probate court property of the deceased, which is not authorized by
Ortañez] of the Philinterlife shares belonging to the is void and passes no title to the purchaser. And in the the probate court is null and void and title does not
Estate of Dr. Juvencio P. Ortañez." (pages 3-4 of case of Dillena vs. Court of Appeals,23 we ruled that: pass to the purchaser.
Private Respondent’s Memorandum; pages 243-244
of the Rollo) [I]t must be emphasized that the questioned There is hardly any doubt that the probate court can
properties (fishpond) were included in the inventory of declare null and void the disposition of the property
Amidst the foregoing, We found no grave abuse of properties of the estate submitted by then under administration, made by private respondent, the
discretion amounting to excess or want of jurisdiction Administratrix Fausta Carreon Herrera on November same having been effected without authority from said
committed by respondent judge.19 14, 1974. Private respondent was appointed as court. It is the probate court that has the power to
administratrix of the estate on March 3, 1976 in lieu of authorize and/or approve the sale (Section 4 and 7,
From the above decision, it is clear that Juliana Fausta Carreon Herrera. On November 1, 1978, the Rule 89), hence, a fortiori, it is said court that can
Ortañez, and her three sons, Jose, Rafael and questioned deed of sale of the fishponds was declare it null and void for as long as the proceedings
Antonio, all surnamed Ortañez, invalidly entered into a executed between petitioner and private respondent had not been closed or terminated. To uphold
memorandum of agreement extrajudicially partitioning without notice and approval of the probate court. Even petitioner’s contention that the probate court cannot
the intestate estate among themselves, despite their after the sale, administratrix Aurora Carreon still annul the unauthorized sale, would render
knowledge that there were other heirs or claimants to included the three fishponds as among the real meaningless the power pertaining to the said court.
the estate and before final settlement of the estate by properties of the estate in her inventory submitted on (Bonga vs. Soler, 2 SCRA 755). (emphasis ours)
the intestate court. Since the appropriation of the August 13, 1981. In fact, as stated by the Court of
estate properties by Juliana Ortañez and her children Appeals, petitioner, at the time of the sale of the
Our jurisprudence is therefore clear that (1) any sale of real property under probate proceedings was
disposition of estate property by an administrator or Petitioners’ argument is misplaced. There is no made without the prior approval of the court. The
prospective heir pending final adjudication requires question, based on the facts of this case, that the dispositive portion of our decision read:
court approval and (2) any unauthorized disposition of Philinterlife shares of stock were part of the estate of
estate property can be annulled by the probate court, Dr. Juvencio Ortañez from the very start as in fact IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS,
there being no need for a separate action to annul the these shares were included in the inventory of the the assailed Order dated February 18, 1981 of the
unauthorized disposition. properties of the estate submitted by Rafael Ortañez respondent Judge approving the questioned Amicable
after he and his brother, Jose Ortañez, were Settlement is declared NULL and VOID and hereby
The question now is: can the intestate or probate appointed special administrators by the intestate SET ASIDE. Consequently, the sale in favor of Sotero
court execute its order nullifying the invalid sale? court.25 Dioniosio III and by the latter to William Go is likewise
declared NULL and VOID. The Transfer Certificate of
We see no reason why it cannot. The intestate court The controversy here actually started when, during Title issued to the latter is hereby ordered cancelled.
has the power to execute its order with regard to the the pendency of the settlement of the estate of Dr.
nullity of an unauthorized sale of estate property, Ortañez, his wife Juliana Ortañez sold the 1,014 It goes without saying that the increase in
otherwise its power to annul the unauthorized or Philinterlife shares of stock in favor petitioner FLAG Philinterlife’s authorized capital stock, approved on
fraudulent disposition of estate property would be without the approval of the intestate court. Her son the vote of petitioners’ non-existent shareholdings and
meaningless. In other words, enforcement is a Jose Ortañez later sold the remaining 1,011 obviously calculated to make it difficult for Dr.
necessary adjunct of the intestate or probate court’s Philinterlife shares also in favor of FLAG without the Ortañez’s estate to reassume its controlling interest in
power to annul unauthorized or fraudulent approval of the intestate court. Philinterlife, was likewise void ab initio.
transactions to prevent the dissipation of estate
property before final adjudication. We are not dealing here with the issue of inclusion or Petitioners next argue that they were denied due
exclusion of properties in the inventory of the estate process.
Moreover, in this case, the order of the intestate court because there is no question that, from the very start,
nullifying the sale was affirmed by the appellate courts the Philinterlife shares of stock were owned by the We do not think so.
(the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 46342 dated decedent, Dr. Juvencio Ortañez. Rather, we are
June 23, 1998 and subsequently by the Supreme concerned here with the effect of the sale made by The facts show that petitioners, for reasons known
Court in G.R. No. 135177 dated October 9, 1998). the decedent’s heirs, Juliana Ortañez and Jose only to them, did not appeal the decision of the
The finality of the decision of the Supreme Court was Ortañez, without the required approval of the intestate court nullifying the sale of shares of stock in
entered in the book of entry of judgments on February intestate court. This being so, the contention of their favor. Only the vendor, Jose Ortañez, appealed
23, 1999. Considering the finality of the order of the petitioners that the determination of the intestate court the case. A careful review of the records shows that
intestate court nullifying the sale, as affirmed by the was merely provisional and should have been petitioners had actual knowledge of the estate
appellate courts, it was correct for private respondent- threshed out in a separate proceeding is incorrect. settlement proceedings and that they knew private
Special Administratrix Enderes to thereafter move for respondent Enderes was questioning therein the sale
a writ of execution and for the intestate court to grant The petitioners Jose Lee and Alma Aggabao next to them of the Philinterlife shares of stock.
it. contend that the writ of execution should not be
executed against them because they were not It must be noted that private respondent-Special
Petitioners Jose Lee, Alma Aggabao and FLAG, notified, nor they were aware, of the proceedings Administratrix Enderes filed before the intestate court
however, contend that the probate court could not nullifying the sale of the shares of stock. (RTC of Quezon City, Branch 85) a "Motion to Declare
issue a writ of execution with regard to its order Void Ab Initio Deeds of Sale of Philinterlife Shares of
nullifying the sale because said order was merely We are not persuaded. The title of the purchaser like Stock" on March 22, 1996. But as early as 1994,
provisional: herein petitioner FLAG can be struck down by the petitioners already knew of the pending settlement
intestate court after a clear showing of the nullity of proceedings and that the shares they bought were
The only authority given by law is for respondent the alienation. This is the logical consequence of our under the administration by the intestate court
judge to determine provisionally whether said shares ruling in Godoy andin several subsequent because private respondent Ma. Divina Ortañez-
are included or excluded in the inventory… In ordering cases.26 The sale of any property of the estate by Enderes and her mother Ligaya Novicio had filed a
the execution of the orders, respondent judge acted in an administrator or prospective heir without order case against them at the Securities and Exchange
excess of his jurisdiction and grossly violated settled of the probate or intestate court is void and Commission on November 7, 1994, docketed as SEC
law and jurisprudence, i.e., that the determination by a passes no title to the purchaser. Thus, in Juan Lao No. 11-94-4909, for annulment of transfer of shares of
probate or intestate court of whether a property is et al. vs. Hon. Melencio Geneto, G.R. No. 56451, stock, annulment of sale of corporate properties,
included or excluded in the inventory of the estate June 19, 1985, we ordered the probate court to cancel annulment of subscriptions on increased capital
being provisional in nature, cannot be the subject of the transfer certificate of title issued to the vendees at stocks, accounting, inspection of corporate books and
execution.24 (emphasis ours) the instance of the administrator after finding that the records and damages with prayer for a writ of
preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining 4, 1982, the surviving spouse Juliana Ortañez, on her Considering these circumstances, we cannot accept
order.27 In said case, Enderes and her mother behalf and for her minor son Antonio, executed a petitioners’ claim of denial of due process. The
questioned the sale of the aforesaid shares of stock to Memorandum of Agreement with her other sons essence of due process is the reasonable opportunity
petitioners. The SEC hearing officer in fact, in his Rafael and Jose, both surnamed Ortañez, dividing the to be heard. Where the opportunity to be heard has
resolution dated March 24, 1995, deferred to the estate of the deceased composed of his one-half (1/2) been accorded, there is no denial of due process.32 In
jurisdiction of the intestate court to rule on the validity share in the conjugal properties; that in the said this case, petitioners knew of the pending instestate
of the sale of shares of stock sold to petitioners by Memorandum of Agreement, Jose S. Ortañez proceedings for the settlement of Dr. Juvencio
Jose Ortañez and Juliana Ortañez: acquired as his share of the estate the 1,329 shares Ortañez’s estate but for reasons they alone knew,
of stock in Philinterlife; that on March 4, 1982, Juliana they never intervened. When the court declared the
Petitioners also averred that. . . the Philinterlife shares and Rafael assigned their respective shares of stock nullity of the sale, they did not bother to appeal. And
of Dr. Juvencio Ortañez who died, in 1980, are part of in Philinterlife to Jose; that contrary to the contentions when they were notified of the motion for execution of
his estate which is presently the subject matter of an of petitioners, private respondents Jose Lee, Carlos the Orders of the intestate court, they ignored the
intestate proceeding of the RTC of Quezon City, Lee, Benjamin Lee and Alma Aggabao became same. Clearly, petitioners alone should bear the
Branch 85. Although, private respondents [Jose stockholders of Philinterlife on March 23, 1983 when blame.
Lee et al.] presented the documents of partition Jose S. Ortañez, the principal stockholder at that time,
whereby the foregoing share of stocks were allegedly executed a deed of sale of his shares of stock to Petitioners next contend that we are bound by our
partitioned and conveyed to Jose S. Ortañez who private respondents; and that the right of petitioners to ruling in G.R. No. 128525 entitled Ma. Divina Ortañez-
allegedly assigned the same to the other private question the Memorandum of Agreement and the Enderes vs. Court of Appeals, dated December 17,
respondents, approval of the Court was not acquisition of shares of stock of private respondent is 1999, where we allegedly ruled that the intestate court
presented. Thus, the assignments to the private barred by prescription.29 "may not pass upon the title to a certain property for
respondents [Jose Lee et al.] of the subject shares of the purpose of determining whether the same should
stocks are void. Also, private respondent-Special Administratrix or should not be included in the inventory but such
Enderes offered additional proof of actual knowledge determination is not conclusive and is subject to final
xxx xxx xxx of the settlement proceedings by petitioners which decision in a separate action regarding ownership
petitioners never denied: (1) that petitioners were which may be constituted by the parties."
With respect to the alleged extrajudicial partition of the represented by Atty. Ricardo Calimag previously hired
shares of stock owned by the late Dr. Juvencio by the mother of private respondent Enderes to We are not unaware of our decision in G.R. No.
Ortañez, we rule that the matter properly belongs to initiate cases against petitioners Jose Lee and Alma 128525. The issue therein was whether the Court of
the jurisdiction of the regular court where the intestate Aggabao for the nullification of the sale of the shares Appeals erred in affirming the resolution of the SEC
proceedings are currently pending.28 of stock but said counsel made a conflicting turn- that Enderes et al. were not entitled to the issuance of
around and appeared instead as counsel of the writ of preliminary injunction. We ruled that the
With this resolution of the SEC hearing officer dated petitioners, and (2) that the deeds of sale executed Court of Appeals was correct in affirming the
as early as March 24, 1995 recognizing the between petitioners and the heirs of the decedent resolution of the SEC denying the issuance of the writ
jurisdiction of the intestate court to determine the (vendors Juliana Ortañez and Jose Ortañez) were of preliminary injunction because injunction is not
validity of the extrajudicial partition of the estate of Dr. acknowledged before Atty. Ramon Carpio who, during designed to protect contingent rights. Said case
Ortañez and the subsequent sale by the heirs of the the pendency of the settlement proceedings, filed a did not rule on the issue of the validity of the sale of
decedent of the Philinterlife shares of stock to motion for the approval of the sale of Philinterlife shares of stock belonging to the decedent’s estate
petitioners, how can petitioners claim that they were shares of stock to the Knights of Columbus Fraternal without court approval nor of the validity of the writ of
not aware of the intestate proceedings? Association, Inc. (which motion was, however, later execution issued by the intestate court. G.R. No.
abandoned).30 All this sufficiently proves that 128525 clearly involved a different issue and it does
Furthermore, when the resolution of the SEC hearing petitioners, through their counsels, knew of the not therefore apply to the present case.
officer reached the Supreme Court in 1996 (docketed pending settlement proceedings.
as G.R. 128525), herein petitioners who were Petitioners and all parties claiming rights under them
respondents therein filed their answer which Finally, petitioners filed several criminal cases such as are hereby warned not to further delay the execution
contained statements showing that they knew of the libel (Criminal Case No. 97-7179-81), grave coercion of the Orders of the intestate court dated August 11
pending intestate proceedings: (Criminal Case No. 84624) and robbery (Criminal and August 29, 1997.
Case No. Q-96-67919) against private respondent’s
[T]he subject matter of the complaint is not within the mother Ligaya Novicio who was a director of WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The
jurisdiction of the SEC but with the Regional Trial Philinterlife,31 all of which criminal cases were related decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. S.P. No.
Court; Ligaya Novicio and children represented to the questionable sale to petitioners of the 59736 dated July 26, 2000, dismissing petitioners’
themselves to be the common law wife and Philinterlife shares of stock. petition for certiorari and affirming the July 6, 2000
illegitimate children of the late Ortañez; that on March order of the trial court which ordered the execution of
its (trial court’s) August 11 and 29, 1997 orders, is Verde IV, Pasig which the testator bequeathed to
hereby AFFIRMED.SO ORDERED. Maria Cathryn, Candice Albertine and Maria Petitioner moved for reconsideration alleging that he
Angeline4 — was leased out by Edmond Ruiz to third actually filed his opposition to respondent Montes's
SECOND DIVISION persons. motion for release of rent payments which opposition
G.R. No. 118671 January 29, 1996 the court failed to consider. Petitioner likewise
On January 19, 1993, the probate court ordered reiterated his previous motion for release of funds.
THE ESTATE OF HILARIO M. RUIZ, EDMOND Edmond to deposit with the Branch Clerk of Court the
RUIZ, Executor, petitioner, rental deposit and payments totalling P540,000.00 On November 23, 1993, petitioner, through counsel,
vs. representing the one-year lease of the Valle Verde manifested that he was withdrawing his motion for
THE COURT OF APPEALS (Former Special Sixth property. In compliance, on January 25, 1993, release of funds in view of the fact that the lease
Division), MARIA PILAR RUIZ-MONTES, MARIA Edmond turned over the amount of P348,583.56, contract over the Valle Verde property had been
CATHRYN RUIZ, CANDICE ALBERTINE RUIZ, representing the balance of the rent after deducting renewed for another year.7
MARIA ANGELINE RUIZ and THE PRESIDING P191,416.14 for repair and maintenance expenses on
JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF the estate.5 Despite petitioner's manifestation, the probate court,
PASIG, respondents. on December 22, 1993, ordered the release of the
In March 1993, Edmond moved for the release of funds to Edmond but only "such amount as may be
PUNO, J.: P50,000.00 to pay the real estate taxes on the real necessary to cover the expenses of administration
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to annul properties of the estate. The probate court approved and allowances for support" of the testator's three
and set aside the decision dated November 10, 1994 the release of P7,722.00.6 granddaughters subject to collation and deductible
and the resolution dated January 5, 1995 of the Court from their share in the inheritance. The court,
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 33045. On May 14, 1993, Edmond withdrew his opposition to however, held in abeyance the release of the titles to
the probate of the will. Consequently, the probate respondent Montes and the three granddaughters
The facts show that on June 27, 1987, Hilario M. court, on May 18, 1993, admitted the will to probate until the lapse of six months from the date of first
Ruiz1 executed a holographic will naming as his heirs and ordered the issuance of letters testamentary to publication of the notice to creditors.8 The court stated
his only son, Edmond Ruiz, his adopted daughter, Edmond conditioned upon the filing of a bond in the thus:
private respondent Maria Pilar Ruiz Montes, and his amount of P50,000.00. The letters testamentary were
three granddaughters, private respondents Maria issued on June 23, 1993. xxx xxx xxx
Cathryn, Candice Albertine and Maria Angeline, all After consideration of the arguments set forth thereon
children of Edmond Ruiz. The testator bequeathed to On July 28, 1993, petitioner Testate Estate of Hilario by the parties the court resolves to allow Administrator
his heirs substantial cash, personal and real Ruiz, with Edmond Ruiz as executor, filed an "Ex- Edmond M. Ruiz to take possession of the rental
properties and named Edmond Ruiz executor of his Parte Motion for Release of Funds." It prayed for the payments deposited with the Clerk of Court, Pasig
estate.2 release of the rent payments deposited with the Regional Trial Court, but only such amount as may
Branch Clerk of Court. Respondent Montes opposed be necessary to cover the expenses of administration
On April 12, 1988, Hilario Ruiz died. Immediately the motion and concurrently filed a "Motion for and allowances for support of Maria Cathryn
thereafter, the cash component of his estate was Release of Funds to Certain Heirs" and "Motion for Veronique, Candice Albertine and Maria Angeli, which
distributed among Edmond Ruiz and private Issuance of Certificate of Allowance of Probate Will." are subject to collation and deductible from the share
respondents in accordance with the decedent's will. Montes prayed for the release of the said rent in the inheritance of said heirs and insofar as they
For unbeknown reasons, Edmond, the named payments to Maria Cathryn, Candice Albertine and exceed the fruits or rents pertaining to them.
executor, did not take any action for the probate of his Maria Angeline and for the distribution of the testator's
father's holographic will. properties, specifically the Valle Verde property and As to the release of the titles bequeathed to petitioner
the Blue Ridge apartments, in accordance with the Maria Pilar Ruiz-Montes and the above-named heirs,
On June 29, 1992, four years after the testator's provisions of the holographic will. the same is hereby reconsidered and held in
death, it was private respondent Maria Pilar Ruiz abeyance until the lapse of six (6) months from the
Montes who filed before the Regional Trial Court, On August 26, 1993, the probate court denied date of first publication of Notice to Creditors.
Branch 156, Pasig, a petition for the probate and petitioner's motion for release of funds but granted
approval of Hilario Ruiz's will and for the issuance of respondent Montes' motion in view of petitioner's lack WHEREFORE, Administrator Edmond M. Ruiz is
letters testamentary to Edmond Ruiz,3 Surprisingly, of opposition. It thus ordered the release of the rent hereby ordered to submit an accounting of the
Edmond opposed the petition on the ground that the payments to the decedent's three granddaughters. It expenses necessary for administration including
will was executed under undue influence. further ordered the delivery of the titles to and provisions for the support Of Maria Cathryn Veronique
possession of the properties bequeathed to the three Ruiz, Candice Albertine Ruiz and Maria Angeli Ruiz
On November 2, 1992, one of the properties of the granddaughters and respondent Montes upon the before the amount required can be withdrawn and
estate — the house and lot at No. 2 Oliva Street, Valle filing of a bond of P50,000.00.
cause the publication of the notice to creditors with Sec. 3.Allowance to widow and family. — The widow court may, in its discretion and upon such terms as it
reasonable dispatch.9 and minor or incapacitated children of a deceased may deem proper and just, permit that such part of
person, during the settlement of the estate, shall the estate as may not be affected by the controversy
Petitioner assailed this order before the Court of receive therefrom under the direction of the court, or appeal be distributed among the heirs or legatees,
Appeals. Finding no grave abuse of discretion on the such allowance as are provided by law. upon compliance with the conditions set forth in Rule
part of respondent judge, the appellate court 90 of these Rules.17
dismissed the petition and sustained the probate Petitioner alleges that this provision only gives the
court's order in a decision dated November 10, widow and the minor or incapacitated children of the And Rule 90 provides that:
199410 and a resolution dated January 5, 1995.11 deceased the right to receive allowances for support
during the settlement of estate proceedings. He Sec. 1.When order for distribution of residue made. —
Hence, this petition. contends that the testator's three granddaughters do When the debts, funeral charges, and expenses of
not qualify for an allowance because they are not administration the allowance to the widow, and
Petitioner claims that: incapacitated and are no longer minors but of legal inheritance tax if any, chargeable to the estate in
age, married and gainfully employed. In addition, the accordance with law, have been paid, the court, on
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS provision expressly states "children" of the deceased the application of the executor or administrator, or of a
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION which excludes the latter's grandchildren. person interested in the estate, and after hearing
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF upon notice shall assign the residue of the estate to
JURISDICTION IN AFFIRMING AND CONFIRMING It is settled that allowances for support under Section the persons entitled to the same, naming them and
THE ORDER OF RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL 3 of Rule 83 should not be limited to the "minor or the proportions or parts, to which each is entitled, and
COURT OF PASIG, BRANCH 156, DATED incapacitated" children of the deceased. Article such persons may demand and recover their
DECEMBER 22, 1993, WHICH WHEN GIVEN DUE 18813 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the respective shares from the executor or administrator,
COURSE AND IS EFFECTED WOULD: substantive law in force at the time of the testator's or any other person having the same in his
death, provides that during the liquidation of the possession. If there is a controversy before the court
(1) DISALLOW THE EXECUTOR/ADMINISTRATOR conjugal partnership, the deceased's legitimate as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person
OF THE ESTATE OF THE LATE HILARIO M. RUIZ spouse and children, regardless of their age, civil or as to the distributive shares to which each person
TO TAKE POSSESSION OF ALL THE REAL AND status or gainful employment, are entitled to is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be
PERSONAL PROPERTIES OF THE ESTATE; provisional support from the funds of the estate.14 The heard and decided as in ordinary cases.
law is rooted on the fact that the right and duty to
(2) GRANT SUPPORT, DURING THE PENDENCY support, especially the right to education, subsist even No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of
OF THE SETTLEMENT OF AN ESTATE, TO beyond the age of majority.15 the obligations above-mentioned has been made or
CERTAIN PERSONS NOT ENTITLED THERETO; provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them,
AND Be that as it may, grandchildren are not entitled to give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court,
provisional support from the funds of the decedent's conditioned for the payment of said obligations within
(3) PREMATURELY PARTITION AND DISTRIBUTE estate. The law clearly limits the allowance to "widow such time as the court directs.18
THE ESTATE PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS and children" and does not extend it to the deceased's In settlement of estate proceedings, the distribution of
OF THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL EVEN BEFORE ITS grandchildren, regardless of their minority or the estate properties can only be made: (1) after all
INTRINSIC VALIDITY HAS BEEN DETERMINED, incapacity.16 It was error, therefore, for the appellate the debts, funeral charges, expenses of
AND DESPITE THE EXISTENCE OF UNPAID court to sustain the probate court's order granting an administration, allowance to the widow, and estate tax
DEBTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE ESTATE.12 allowance to the grandchildren of the testator pending have been paid; or (2) before payment of said
settlement of his estate. obligations only if the distributees or any of them gives
The issue for resolution is whether the probate court, a bond in a sum fixed by the court conditioned upon
after admitting the will to probate but before payment Respondent courts also erred when they ordered the the payment of said obligations within such time as
of the estate's debts and obligations, has the release of the titles of the bequeathed properties to the court directs, or when provision is made to meet
authority: (1) to grant an allowance from the funds of private respondents six months after the date of first those obligations.19
the estate for the support of the testator's publication of notice to creditors. An order releasing
grandchildren; (2) to order the release of the titles to titles to properties of the estate amounts to an In the case at bar, the probate court ordered the
certain heirs; and (3) to grant possession of all advance distribution of the estate which is allowed release of the titles to the Valle Verde property and
properties of the estate to the executor of the will. only under the following conditions: the Blue Ridge apartments to the private respondents
after the lapse of six months from the date of first
On the matter of allowance, Section 3 of Rule 83 of Sec. 2. Advance distribution in special proceedings. publication of the notice to creditors. The questioned
the Revised Rules of Court provides: — Nothwithstanding a pending controversy or appeal order speaks of "notice" to creditors, not payment of
in proceedings to settle the estate of a decedent, the debts and obligations. Hilario Ruiz allegedly left no
debts when he died but the taxes on his estate had right to the possession and management of the real Respondent judge is ordered to proceed with dispatch
not hitherto been paid, much less ascertained. The as well as the personal estate of the deceased so in the proceedings below.SO ORDERED.
estate tax is one of those obligations that must be long as it is necessary for the payment of the debts
paid before distribution of the estate. If not yet paid, and expenses for administration.28 SECOND DIVISION
the rule requires that the distributees post a bond or G.R. No. 149926 February 23, 2005
make such provisions as to meet the said tax When petitioner moved for further release of the funds
obligation in proportion to their respective shares in deposited with the clerk of court, he had been UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
the inheritance.20 Notably, at the time the order was previously granted by the probate court certain vs.
issued the properties of the estate had not yet been amounts for repair and maintenance expenses on the EDMUND SANTIBAÑEZ and FLORENCE
inventoried and appraised. properties of the estate, and payment of the real SANTIBAÑEZ ARIOLA, respondents.
estate taxes thereon. But petitioner moved again for
It was also too early in the day for the probate court to the release of additional funds for the same reasons CALLEJO, SR., J.:
order the release of the titles six months after he previously cited. It was correct for the probate Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under
admitting the will to probate. The probate of a will is court to require him to submit an accounting of the Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court which seeks
conclusive as to its due execution and extrinsic necessary expenses for administration before the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
validity21 and settles only the question of whether the releasing any further money in his favor. dated May 30, 2001 in CA-G.R. CV No. 48831
testator, being of sound mind, freely executed it in affirming the dismissal2 of the petitioner’s complaint in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by It was relevantly noted by the probate court that Civil Case No. 18909 by the Regional Trial Court
law.22 Questions as to the intrinsic validity and efficacy petitioner had deposited with it only a portion of the (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 63.
of the provisions of the will, the legality of any devise one-year rental income from the Valle Verde property.
or legacy may be raised even after the will has been Petitioner did not deposit its succeeding rents after The antecedent facts are as follows:
authenticated.23 renewal of the lease.29Neither did he render an
accounting of such funds. On May 31, 1980, the First Countryside Credit
The intrinsic validity of Hilario's holographic will was Corporation (FCCC) and Efraim M. Santibañez
controverted by petitioner before the probate court in Petitioner must be reminded that his right of entered into a loan agreement3 in the amount of
his Reply to Montes' Opposition to his motion for ownership over the properties of his father is merely ₱128,000.00. The amount was intended for the
release of funds24 and his motion for reconsideration inchoate as long as the estate has not been fully payment of the purchase price of one (1) unit Ford
of the August 26, 1993 order of the said settled and partitioned.30 As executor, he is a mere 6600 Agricultural All-Purpose Diesel Tractor. In view
court.25 Therein, petitioner assailed the distributive trustee of his father's estate. The funds of the estate thereof, Efraim and his son, Edmund, executed a
shares of the devisees and legatees inasmuch as his in his hands are trust funds and he is held to the promissory note in favor of the FCCC, the principal
father's will included the estate of his mother and duties and responsibilities of a trustee of the highest sum payable in five equal annual amortizations of
allegedly impaired his legitime as an intestate heir of order.31 He cannot unilaterally assign to himself and ₱43,745.96 due on May 31, 1981 and every May 31st
his mother. The Rules provide that if there is a possess all his parents' properties and the fruits thereafter up to May 31, 1985.
controversy as to who are the lawful heirs of the thereof without first submitting an inventory and
decedent and their distributive shares in his estate, appraisal of all real and personal properties of the On December 13, 1980, the FCCC and Efraim
the probate court shall proceed to hear and decide the deceased, rendering a true account of his entered into another loan agreement,4 this time in the
same as in ordinary cases.26 administration, the expenses of administration, the amount of ₱123,156.00. It was intended to pay the
amount of the obligations and estate tax, all of which balance of the purchase price of another unit of Ford
Still and all, petitioner cannot correctly claim that the are subject to a determination by the court as to their 6600 Agricultural All-Purpose Diesel Tractor, with
assailed order deprived him of his right to take veracity, propriety and justness.32 accessories, and one (1) unit Howard Rotamotor
possession of all the real and personal properties of Model AR 60K. Again, Efraim and his son, Edmund,
the estate. The right of an executor or administrator to IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision and resolution of executed a promissory note for the said amount in
the possession and management of the real and the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 33045 favor of the FCCC. Aside from such promissory note,
personal properties of the deceased is not absolute affirming the order dated December 22, 1993 of the they also signed a Continuing Guaranty
and can only be exercised "so long as it is necessary Regional Trial Court, Branch 156, Pasig in SP Proc. Agreement5 for the loan dated December 13, 1980.
for the payment of the debts and expenses of No. 10259 are affirmed with the modification that
administration,"27 Section 3 of Rule 84 of the Revised those portions of the order granting an allowance to Sometime in February 1981, Efraim died, leaving a
Rules of Court explicitly provides: the testator's grandchildren and ordering the release holographic will.6 Subsequently in March 1981, testate
of the titles to the private respondents upon notice to proceedings commenced before the RTC of Iloilo City,
Sec. 3.Executor or administrator to retain whole creditors are annulled and set aside. Branch 7, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 2706.
estate to pay debts, and to administer estate not On April 9, 1981, Edmund, as one of the heirs, was
willed. — An executor or administrator shall have the appointed as the special administrator of the estate of
the decedent.7 During the pendency of the testate The trial court found that the claim of the petitioner approval; the property partitioned in the agreement
proceedings, the surviving heirs, Edmund and his should have been filed with the probate court before was not one of those enumerated in the holographic
sister Florence Santibañez Ariola, executed a Joint which the testate estate of the late Efraim Santibañez will made by the deceased; and the active
Agreement8 dated July 22, 1981, wherein they agreed was pending, as the sum of money being claimed was participation of the heirs, particularly respondent
to divide between themselves and take possession of an obligation incurred by the said decedent. The trial Florence S. Ariola, in the present ordinary civil action
the three (3) tractors; that is, two (2) tractors for court also found that the Joint Agreement apparently was tantamount to a waiver to re-litigate the claim in
Edmund and one (1) tractor for Florence. Each of executed by his heirs, Edmund and Florence, on July the estate proceedings.
them was to assume the indebtedness of their late 22, 1981, was, in effect, a partition of the estate of the
father to FCCC, corresponding to the tractor decedent. However, the said agreement was void, On the other hand, respondent Florence S. Ariola
respectively taken by them. considering that it had not been approved by the maintained that the money claim of the petitioner
probate court, and that there can be no valid partition should have been presented before the probate
On August 20, 1981, a Deed of Assignment with until after the will has been probated. The trial court court.17
Assumption of Liabilities9 was executed by and further declared that petitioner failed to prove that it
between FCCC and Union Savings and Mortgage was the now defunct Union Savings and Mortgage The appellate court found that the appeal was not
Bank, wherein the FCCC as the assignor, among Bank to which the FCCC had assigned its assets and meritorious and held that the petitioner should have
others, assigned all its assets and liabilities to Union liabilities. The court also agreed to the contention of filed its claim with the probate court as provided under
Savings and Mortgage Bank. respondent Florence S. Ariola that the list of assets Sections 1 and 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court. It
and liabilities of the FCCC assigned to Union Savings further held that the partition made in the agreement
Demand letters10 for the settlement of his account and Mortgage Bank did not clearly refer to the was null and void, since no valid partition may be had
were sent by petitioner Union Bank of the Philippines decedent’s account. Ruling that the joint agreement until after the will has been probated. According to the
(UBP) to Edmund, but the latter failed to heed the executed by the heirs was null and void, the trial court CA, page 2, paragraph (e) of the holographic will
same and refused to pay. Thus, on February 5, 1988, held that the petitioner’s cause of action against covered the subject properties (tractors) in generic
the petitioner filed a Complaint11 for sum of money respondent Florence S. Ariola must necessarily fail. terms when the deceased referred to them as "all
against the heirs of Efraim Santibañez, Edmund and other properties." Moreover, the active participation of
Florence, before the RTC of Makati City, Branch 150, The petitioner appealed from the RTC decision and respondent Florence S. Ariola in the case did not
docketed as Civil Case No. 18909. Summonses were elevated its case to the Court of Appeals (CA), amount to a waiver. Thus, the CA affirmed the RTC
issued against both, but the one intended for Edmund assigning the following as errors of the trial court: decision, viz.:
was not served since he was in the United States and
there was no information on his address or the date of 1. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed
his return to the Philippines.12 Accordingly, the THE JOINT AGREEMENT (EXHIBIT A) SHOULD BE Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
complaint was narrowed down to respondent Florence APPROVED BY THE PROBATE COURT. Branch 63, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. SO
S. Ariola. ORDERED.18
2. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT In the present recourse, the petitioner ascribes the
On December 7, 1988, respondent Florence S. Ariola THERE CAN BE NO VALID PARTITION AMONG following errors to the CA:
filed her Answer13 and alleged that the loan THE HEIRS UNTIL AFTER THE WILL HAS BEEN
documents did not bind her since she was not a party PROBATED. I.
thereto. Considering that the joint agreement signed THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
by her and her brother Edmund was not approved by 3. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN NOT FINDING FINDING THAT THE JOINT AGREEMENT SHOULD
the probate court, it was null and void; hence, she THAT THE DEFENDANT HAD WAIVED HER RIGHT BE APPROVED BY THE PROBATE COURT.
was not liable to the petitioner under the joint TO HAVE THE CLAIM RE-LITIGATED IN THE
agreement. ESTATE PROCEEDING.16 II.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING
On January 29, 1990, the case was unloaded and re- The petitioner asserted before the CA that the THAT THERE CAN BE NO VALID PARTITION
raffled to the RTC of Makati City, Branch obligation of the deceased had passed to his AMONG THE HEIRS OF THE LATE EFRAIM
63.14 Consequently, trial on the merits ensued and a legitimate children and heirs, in this case, Edmund SANTIBAÑEZ UNTIL AFTER THE WILL HAS BEEN
decision was subsequently rendered by the court and Florence; the unconditional signing of the joint PROBATED.
dismissing the complaint for lack of merit. The agreement marked as Exhibit "A" estopped
decretal portion of the RTC decision reads: respondent Florence S. Ariola, and that she cannot III.
deny her liability under the said document; as the THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered agreement had been signed by both heirs in their FINDING THAT THE RESPONDENT HAD WAIVED
DISMISSING the complaint for lack of merit.15 personal capacity, it was no longer necessary to HER RIGHT TO HAVE THE CLAIM RE-LITIGATED
present the same before the probate court for IN THE ESTATE PROCEEDING.
respondent Florence, made the obligation solidary as At the outset, well-settled is the rule that a probate
IV. far as the said heirs are concerned. The petitioner court has the jurisdiction to determine all the
RESPONDENTS CAN, IN FACT, BE HELD JOINTLY also proffers that, considering the express provisions properties of the deceased, to determine whether they
AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH THE PRINCIPAL of the continuing guaranty agreement and the should or should not be included in the inventory or
DEBTOR THE LATE EFRAIM SANTIBAÑEZ ON THE promissory notes executed by the named list of properties to be administered.20 The said court
STRENGTH OF THE CONTINUING GUARANTY respondents, the latter must be held liable jointly and is primarily concerned with the administration,
AGREEMENT EXECUTED IN FAVOR OF severally liable thereon. Thus, there was no need for liquidation and distribution of the estate.21
PETITIONER-APPELLANT UNION BANK. the petitioner to file its money claim before the
probate court. Finally, the petitioner stresses that both In our jurisdiction, the rule is that there can be no valid
V. surviving heirs are being sued in their respective partition among the heirs until after the will has been
THE PROMISSORY NOTES DATED MAY 31, 1980 personal capacities, not as heirs of the deceased. probated:
IN THE SUM OF ₱128,000.00 AND DECEMBER 13,
1980 IN THE AMOUNT OF ₱123,000.00 In her comment to the petition, respondent Florence In testate succession, there can be no valid partition
CATEGORICALLY ESTABLISHED THE FACT THAT S. Ariola maintains that the petitioner is trying to among the heirs until after the will has been probated.
THE RESPONDENTS BOUND THEMSELVES recover a sum of money from the deceased Efraim The law enjoins the probate of a will and the public
JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH THE Santibañez; thus the claim should have been filed requires it, because unless a will is probated and
LATE DEBTOR EFRAIM SANTIBAÑEZ IN FAVOR with the probate court. She points out that at the time notice thereof given to the whole world, the right of a
OF PETITIONER UNION BANK.19 of the execution of the joint agreement there was person to dispose of his property by will may be
already an existing probate proceedings of which the rendered nugatory. The authentication of a will
The petitioner claims that the obligations of the petitioner knew about. However, to avoid a claim in decides no other question than such as touch upon
deceased were transmitted to the heirs as provided in the probate court which might delay payment of the the capacity of the testator and the compliance with
Article 774 of the Civil Code; there was thus no need obligation, the petitioner opted to require them to those requirements or solemnities which the law
for the probate court to approve the joint agreement execute the said agreement. prescribes for the validity of a will.22
where the heirs partitioned the tractors owned by the
deceased and assumed the obligations related According to the respondent, the trial court and the This, of course, presupposes that the properties to be
thereto. Since respondent Florence S. Ariola signed CA did not err in declaring that the agreement was partitioned are the same properties embraced in the
the joint agreement without any condition, she is now null and void. She asserts that even if the agreement will.23 In the present case, the deceased, Efraim
estopped from asserting any position contrary thereto. was voluntarily executed by her and her brother Santibañez, left a holographic will24 which
The petitioner also points out that the holographic will Edmund, it should still have been subjected to the contained, inter alia, the provision which reads as
of the deceased did not include nor mention any of approval of the court as it may prejudice the estate, follows:
the tractors subject of the complaint, and, as such the heirs or third parties. Furthermore, she had not
was beyond the ambit of the said will. The active waived any rights, as she even stated in her answer in (e) All other properties, real or personal, which I own
participation and resistance of respondent Florence S. the court a quo that the claim should be filed with the and may be discovered later after my demise, shall be
Ariola in the ordinary civil action against the probate court. Thus, the petitioner could not invoke or distributed in the proportion indicated in the
petitioner’s claim amounts to a waiver of the right to claim that she is in estoppel. immediately preceding paragraph in favor of Edmund
have the claim presented in the probate proceedings, and Florence, my children.
and to allow any one of the heirs who executed the Respondent Florence S. Ariola further asserts that
joint agreement to escape liability to pay the value of she had not signed any continuing guaranty We agree with the appellate court that the above-
the tractors under consideration would be equivalent agreement, nor was there any document presented as quoted is an all-encompassing provision embracing all
to allowing the said heirs to enrich themselves to the evidence to show that she had caused herself to be the properties left by the decedent which might have
damage and prejudice of the petitioner. bound by the obligation of her late father. escaped his mind at that time he was making his will,
and other properties he may acquire thereafter.
The petitioner, likewise, avers that the decisions of The petition is bereft of merit. Included therein are the three (3) subject tractors.
both the trial and appellate courts failed to consider This being so, any partition involving the said tractors
the fact that respondent Florence S. Ariola and her The Court is posed to resolve the following issues: a) among the heirs is not valid. The joint
brother Edmund executed loan documents, all whether or not the partition in the Agreement agreement25 executed by Edmund and Florence,
establishing the vinculum jurisor the legal bond executed by the heirs is valid; b) whether or not the partitioning the tractors among themselves, is invalid,
between the late Efraim Santibañez and his heirs to heirs’ assumption of the indebtedness of the specially so since at the time of its execution, there
be in the nature of a solidary obligation. Furthermore, deceased is valid; and c) whether the petitioner can was already a pending proceeding for the probate of
the Promissory Notes dated May 31, 1980 and hold the heirs liable on the obligation of the deceased. their late father’s holographic will covering the said
December 13, 1980 executed by the late Efraim tractors.
Santibañez, together with his heirs, Edmund and
It must be stressed that the probate proceeding had money claim with the probate court in accordance agreement, were executed and signed only by the late
already acquired jurisdiction over all the properties of with Section 5, Rule 86 of the Revised Rules of Court, Efraim Santibañez and his son Edmund. As the
the deceased, including the three (3) tractors. To which provides: petitioner failed to file its money claim with the probate
dispose of them in any way without the probate court, at most, it may only go after Edmund as co-
court’s approval is tantamount to divesting it with Section 5. Claims which must be filed under the maker of the decedent under the said promissory
jurisdiction which the Court cannot allow.26 Every act notice. If not filed barred; exceptions. — All claims for notes and continuing guaranty, of course, subject to
intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs money against the decedent, arising from contract, any defenses Edmund may have as against the
and legatees or devisees is deemed to be a partition, express or implied, whether the same be due, not petitioner. As the court had not acquired jurisdiction
although it should purport to be a sale, an exchange, due, or contingent, all claims for funeral expenses for over the person of Edmund, we find it unnecessary to
a compromise, or any other transaction.27 Thus, in the last sickness of the decedent, and judgment for delve into the matter further.
executing any joint agreement which appears to be in money against the decedent, must be filed within the
the nature of an extra-judicial partition, as in the case time limited in the notice; otherwise they are barred We agree with the finding of the trial court that the
at bar, court approval is imperative, and the heirs forever, except that they may be set forth as petitioner had not sufficiently shown that it is the
cannot just divest the court of its jurisdiction over that counterclaims in any action that the executor or successor-in-interest of the Union Savings and
part of the estate. Moreover, it is within the jurisdiction administrator may bring against the claimants. Where Mortgage Bank to which the FCCC assigned its
of the probate court to determine the identity of the an executor or administrator commences an action, or assets and liabilities.33 The petitioner in its complaint
heirs of the decedent.28 In the instant case, there is no prosecutes an action already commenced by the alleged that "by virtue of the Deed of Assignment
showing that the signatories in the joint agreement deceased in his lifetime, the debtor may set forth by dated August 20, 1981 executed by and between First
were the only heirs of the decedent. When it was answer the claims he has against the decedent, Countryside Credit Corporation and Union Bank of the
executed, the probate of the will was still pending instead of presenting them independently to the court Philippines…"34 However, the documentary
before the court and the latter had yet to determine as herein provided, and mutual claims may be set off evidence35 clearly reflects that the parties in the deed
who the heirs of the decedent were. Thus, for against each other in such action; and if final of assignment with assumption of liabilities were the
Edmund and respondent Florence S. Ariola to judgment is rendered in favor of the defendant, the FCCC, and the Union Savings and Mortgage Bank,
adjudicate unto themselves the three (3) tractors was amount so determined shall be considered the true with the conformity of Bancom Philippine Holdings,
a premature act, and prejudicial to the other possible balance against the estate, as though the claim had Inc. Nowhere can the petitioner’s participation therein
heirs and creditors who may have a valid claim been presented directly before the court in the as a party be found. Furthermore, no documentary or
against the estate of the deceased. administration proceedings. Claims not yet due, or testimonial evidence was presented during trial to
contingent, may be approved at their present value. show that Union Savings and Mortgage Bank is now,
The question that now comes to fore is whether the in fact, petitioner Union Bank of the Philippines. As
heirs’ assumption of the indebtedness of the decedent The filing of a money claim against the decedent’s the trial court declared in its decision:
is binding. We rule in the negative. Perusing the joint estate in the probate court is mandatory.30 As we held
agreement, it provides that the heirs as parties thereto in the vintage case of Py Eng Chong v. Herrera:31 … [T]he court also finds merit to the contention of
"have agreed to divide between themselves and take defendant that plaintiff failed to prove or did not
possession and use the above-described chattel and … This requirement is for the purpose of protecting present evidence to prove that Union Savings and
each of them to assume the indebtedness the estate of the deceased by informing the executor Mortgage Bank is now the Union Bank of the
corresponding to the chattel taken as herein after or administrator of the claims against it, thus enabling Philippines. Judicial notice does not apply here. "The
stated which is in favor of First Countryside Credit him to examine each claim and to determine whether power to take judicial notice is to [be] exercised by the
Corp."29 The assumption of liability was conditioned it is a proper one which should be allowed. The plain courts with caution; care must be taken that the
upon the happening of an event, that is, that each heir and obvious design of the rule is the speedy requisite notoriety exists; and every reasonable doubt
shall take possession and use of their respective settlement of the affairs of the deceased and the early upon the subject should be promptly resolved in the
share under the agreement. It was made dependent delivery of the property to the distributees, legatees, negative." (Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 107 SCRA
on the validity of the partition, and that they were to or heirs. `The law strictly requires the prompt 504).36
assume the indebtedness corresponding to the chattel presentation and disposition of the claims against the
that they were each to receive. The partition being decedent's estate in order to settle the affairs of the This being the case, the petitioner’s personality to file
invalid as earlier discussed, the heirs in effect did not estate as soon as possible, pay off its debts and the complaint is wanting. Consequently, it failed to
receive any such tractor. It follows then that the distribute the residue.32 establish its cause of action. Thus, the trial court did
assumption of liability cannot be given any force and not err in dismissing the complaint, and the CA in
effect. Perusing the records of the case, nothing therein affirming the same.
could hold private respondent Florence S. Ariola
The Court notes that the loan was contracted by the accountable for any liability incurred by her late father. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is
decedent. The petitioner, purportedly a creditor of the The documentary evidence presented, particularly the hereby DENIED. The assailed Court of Appeals
late Efraim Santibañez, should have thus filed its promissory notes and the continuing guaranty Decision is AFFIRMED. No costs. SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION Live Birth4 signed by Eliseo as her father. In the same decedent was a resident of Las Piñas City. The
G.R. No. 189121 July 31, 2013 petition, it was alleged that Eliseo left real properties petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration was denied by
worth ₱2,040,000.00 and personal properties worth the Court of Appeals in its Resolution11 dated 7
AMELIA GARCIA-QUIAZON, JENNETH QUIAZON ₱2,100,000.00. In order to preserve the estate of August 2009.
and MARIA JENNIFER QUIAZON, Petitioners, Eliseo and to prevent the dissipation of its value, Elise
vs. sought her appointment as administratrix of her late The Issues
MA. LOURDES BELEN, for and in behalf of MARIA father’s estate.
LOURDES ELISE QUIAZON, Respondent. The petitioners now urge Us to reverse the assailed
Claiming that the venue of the petition was improperly Court of Appeals Decision and Resolution on the
PEREZ, J.: laid, Amelia, together with her children, Jenneth and following grounds:
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed Jennifer, opposed the issuance of the letters of
pursuant to Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, administration by filing an Opposition/Motion to I. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN
primarily assailing the 28 November 2008 Decision Dismiss.5 The petitioners asserted that as shown by AFFIRMING THAT ELISEO QUIAZON WAS A
rendered by the Ninth Division of the Court of Appeals his Death Certificate, 6 Eliseo was a resident of RESIDENT OF LAS PIÑAS AND THEREFORE, THE
in CA-G.R. CV No. 88589,1the decretal portion of Capas, Tarlac and not of Las Piñas City, at the time of PETITION FOR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
which states: his death. Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 73 of the WAS PROPERLY FILED WITH THE RTC OF LAS
Revised Rules of Court,7 the petition for settlement of PIÑAS;
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is decedent’s estate should have been filed in Capas,
hereby DENIED. The assailed Decision dated March Tarlac and not in Las Piñas City. In addition to their II. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN
11, 2005, and the Order dated March 24, 2006 of the claim of improper venue, the petitioners averred that DECLARING THAT AMELIA GARCIA-QUIAZON
Regional Trial Court, Branch 275, Las Piñas City are there are no factual and legal bases for Elise to be WAS NOT LEGALLY MARRIED TO ELISEO
AFFIRMED in toto.2 appointed administratix of Eliseo’s estate. QUIAZON DUE TO PREEXISTING MARRIAGE; AND

The Facts In a Decision8 dated 11 March 2005, the RTC directed III. THE COURT OF APPEALS OVERLOOKED THE
the issuance of Letters of Administration to Elise upon FACT THAT ELISE QUIAZON HAS NOT SHOWN
This case started as a Petition for Letters of posting the necessary bond. The lower court ruled ANY INTEREST IN THE PETITION FOR LETTERS
Administration of the Estate of Eliseo Quiazon that the venue of the petition was properly laid in Las OF ADMINISTRATION.12
(Eliseo), filed by herein respondents who are Eliseo’s Piñas City, thereby discrediting the position taken by The Court’s Ruling
common-law wife and daughter. The petition was the petitioners that Eliseo’s last residence was in
opposed by herein petitioners Amelia Garcia-Quaizon Capas, Tarlac, as hearsay. The dispositive of the RTC We find the petition bereft of merit.
(Amelia) to whom Eliseo was married. Amelia was decision reads:
joined by her children, Jenneth Quiazon (Jenneth) Under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the
and Maria Jennifer Quiazon (Jennifer). Having attained legal age at this time and there being petition for letters of administration of the estate of a
no showing of any disqualification or incompetence to decedent should be filed in the RTC of the province
Eliseo died intestate on 12 December 1992. serve as administrator, let letters of administration where the decedent resides at the time of his death:
over the estate of the decedent Eliseo Quiazon,
On 12 September 1994, Maria Lourdes Elise Quiazon therefore, be issued to petitioner, Ma. Lourdes Elise Sec. 1.Where estate of deceased persons settled. – If
(Elise), represented by her mother, Ma. Lourdes Quiazon, after the approval by this Court of a bond in the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the
Belen (Lourdes), filed a Petition for Letters of the amount of ₱100,000.00 to be posted by her.9 time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will
Administration before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) shall be proved, or letters of administration granted,
of Las Piñas City.3 In her Petition docketed as SP On appeal, the decision of the trial court was affirmed and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance
Proc. No. M-3957, Elise claims that she is the natural in toto in the 28 November 2008 Decision10 rendered now Regional Trial Court in the province in which he
child of Eliseo having been conceived and born at the by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.CV No. 88589. In resides at the time of his death, and if he is an
time when her parents were both capacitated to marry validating the findings of the RTC, the Court of inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First
each other. Insisting on the legal capacity of Eliseo Appeals held that Elise was able to prove that Eliseo Instance now Regional Trial Court of any province in
and Lourdes to marry, Elise impugned the validity of and Lourdes lived together as husband and wife by which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance
Eliseo’s marriage to Amelia by claiming that it was establishing a common residence at No. 26 of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall
bigamous for having been contracted during the Everlasting Road, Phase 5, Pilar Village, Las Piñas exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other
subsistence of the latter’s marriage with one Filipito City, from 1975 up to the time of Eliseo’s death in courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as
Sandico (Filipito). To prove her filiation to the 1992. For purposes of fixing the venue of the it depends on the place of residence of the decedent,
decedent, Elise, among others, attached to the settlement of Eliseo’s estate, the Court of Appeals or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested
Petition for Letters of Administration her Certificate of upheld the conclusion reached by the RTC that the in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that
court, in the original case, or when the want of up to the time of his death in 1995. This finding is
jurisdiction appears on the record. (Emphasis consistent with the fact that in 1985, Eliseo filed an Relevant to the foregoing, there is no doubt that Elise,
supplied). action for judicial partition of properties against Amelia whose successional rights would be prejudiced by her
before the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 106, on the father’s marriage to Amelia, may impugn the
The term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual ground that their marriage is void for being existence of such marriage even after the death of her
residence" as distinguished from "legal residence or bigamous.20 That Eliseo went to the extent of taking father. The said marriage may be questioned directly
domicile." This term "resides," like the terms "residing" his marital feud with Amelia before the courts of law by filing an action attacking the validity thereof, or
and "residence," is elastic and should be interpreted renders untenable petitioners’ position that Eliseo collaterally by raising it as an issue in a proceeding for
in the light of the object or purpose of the statute or spent the final days of his life in Tarlac with Amelia the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse,
rule in which it is employed. In the application of and her children. It disproves rather than supports such as in the case at bar. Ineluctably, Elise, as a
venue statutes and rules – Section 1, Rule 73 of the petitioners’ submission that the lower courts’ findings compulsory heir,26 has a cause of action for the
Revised Rules of Court is of such nature – residence arose from an erroneous appreciation of the evidence declaration of the absolute nullity of the void marriage
rather than domicile is the significant factor.13Even on record. Factual findings of the trial court, when of Eliseo and Amelia, and the death of either party to
where the statute uses word "domicile" still it is affirmed by the appellate court, must be held to be the said marriage does not extinguish such cause of
construed as meaning residence and not domicile in conclusive and binding upon this Court.21 action.
the technical sense.14 Some cases make a distinction
between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as Likewise unmeritorious is petitioners’ contention that Having established the right of Elise to impugn
generally used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are the Court of Appeals erred in declaring Amelia’s Eliseo’s marriage to Amelia, we now proceed to
synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the marriage to Eliseo as void ab initio. In a void determine whether or not the decedent’s marriage to
term "inhabitant."15In other words, "resides" should be marriage, it was though no marriage has taken place, Amelia is void for being bigamous.
viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning, thus, it cannot be the source of rights. Any interested
the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, party may attack the marriage directly or collaterally. Contrary to the position taken by the petitioners, the
actual residence or place of abode.16 It signifies A void marriage can be questioned even beyond the existence of a previous marriage between Amelia and
physical presence in a place and actual stay lifetime of the parties to the marriage.22 It must be Filipito was sufficiently established by no less than the
thereat.17 Venue for ordinary civil actions and that for pointed out that at the time of the celebration of the Certificate of Marriage issued by the Diocese of
special proceedings have one and the same marriage of Eliseo and Amelia, the law in effect was Tarlac and signed by the officiating priest of the
meaning.18 As thus defined, "residence," in the the Civil Code, and not the Family Code, making the Parish of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Capas, Tarlac.
context of venue provisions, means nothing more than ruling in Niñal v. Bayadog23 applicable four-square to The said marriage certificate is a competent evidence
a person’s actual residence or place of abode, the case at hand. In Niñal, the Court, in no uncertain of marriage and the certification from the National
provided he resides therein with continuity and terms, allowed therein petitioners to file a petition for Archive that no information relative to the said
consistency.19 the declaration of nullity of their father’s marriage to marriage exists does not diminish the probative value
therein respondent after the death of their father, by of the entries therein. We take judicial notice of the
Viewed in light of the foregoing principles, the Court of contradistinguishing void from voidable marriages, to fact that the first marriage was celebrated more than
Appeals cannot be faulted for affirming the ruling of wit: 50 years ago, thus, the possibility that a record of
the RTC that the venue for the settlement of the marriage can no longer be found in the National
estate of Eliseo was properly laid in Las Piñas City. It Consequently, void marriages can be questioned Archive, given the interval of time, is not completely
is evident from the records that during his lifetime, even after the death of either party but voidable remote. Consequently, in the absence of any showing
Eliseo resided at No. 26 Everlasting Road, Phase 5, marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime of that such marriage had been dissolved at the time
Pilar Village, Las Piñas City. For this reason, the the parties and not after death of either, in which case Amelia and Eliseo’s marriage was solemnized, the
venue for the settlement of his estate may be laid in the parties and their offspring will be left as if the inescapable conclusion is that the latter marriage is
the said city. marriage had been perfectly valid. That is why the bigamous and, therefore, void ab initio.27
action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike
In opposing the issuance of letters of administration, voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only Neither are we inclined to lend credence to the
the petitioners harp on the entry in Eliseo’s Death the parties to a voidable marriage can assail it but any petitioners’ contention that Elise has not shown any
Certificate that he is a resident of Capas, Tarlac proper interested party may attack a void marriage.24 interest in the Petition for Letters of Administration.
where they insist his estate should be settled. While
the recitals in death certificates can be considered It was emphasized in Niñal that in a void marriage, no Section 6, Rule 78 of the Revised Rules of Court lays
proofs of a decedent’s residence at the time of his marriage has taken place and it cannot be the source down the preferred persons who are entitled to the
death, the contents thereof, however, is not binding of rights, such that any interested party may attack the issuance of letters of administration, thus:
on the courts. Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals marriage directly or collaterally without prescription,
found that Eliseo had been living with Lourdes, which may be filed even beyond the lifetime of the Sec. 6.When and to whom letters of administration
deporting themselves as husband and wife, from 1972 parties to the marriage.25 granted. — If no executor is named in the will, or the
executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the In the instant case, Elise, as a compulsory heir who SET ASIDE; and the Complaint for partition,
trust, or fail to give bond, or a person dies intestate, stands to be benefited by the distribution of Eliseo’s annulment, and recovery of possession filed by the
administration shall be granted: estate, is deemed to be an interested party. With the heirs of Maximino in Civil Case No. CEB-5794 is
overwhelming evidence on record produced by Elise hereby DISMISSED.
(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may to prove her filiation to Eliseo, the petitioners’
be, or next of kin, or both, in the discretion of the pounding on her lack of interest in the administration On 10 May 2006, a Motion for Reconsideration3 of the
court, or to such person as such surviving husband or of the decedent’s estate, is just a desperate attempt to foregoing Decision was filed by Atty. Celso C. Reales
wife, or next of kin, requests to have appointed, if sway this Court to reverse the findings of the Court of of the Reales Law Office on behalf of the
competent and willing to serve; Appeals. Certainly, the right of Elise to be appointed respondents, heirs of Maximino R. Briones. On 19
administratix of the estate of Eliseo is on good May 2006, petitioners Erlinda Pilapil and the other co-
(b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may grounds. It is founded on her right as a compulsory heirs of Donata Ortiz Vda.de Briones, through
be, or next of kin, or the person selected by them, be heir, who, under the law, is entitled to her legitimate counsel, filed an Opposition to Respondents’ Motion
incompetent or unwilling, or if the husband or widow, after the debts of the estate are satisfied.29 Having a for Reconsideration,4 to which the respondents filed a
or next of kin, neglects for thirty (30) days after the vested right in the distribution of Eliseo’s estate as Rejoinder5 on 23 May 2006. Thereafter, Atty. Amador
death of the person to apply for administration or to one of his natural children, Elise can rightfully be F. Brioso, Jr. of the Canto Brioso Arnedo Law Office
request that administration be granted to some other considered as an interested party within the purview entered his appearance as collaborating counsel for
person, it may be granted to one or more of the of the law. the respondents.6 Atty. Brioso then filed on 11 June
principal creditors, if competent and willing to serve; 2006 and 16 June 2006, respectively, a Reply7 and
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is Supplemental Reply8 to the petitioners’ Opposition to
(c) If there is no such creditor competent and willing to DENIED for lack of merit. Accordingly, the Court of respondents’ Motion for Reconsideration. Finally,
serve, it may be granted to such other person as the Appeals assailed 28 November 2008 Decision and 7 petitioners filed a Rejoinder9 to the respondents’
court may select. August 2009 Resolution, arc AFFIRMED in toto.SO Reply and Supplemental Reply on 5 July 2006.
ORDERED.
Upon the other hand, Section 2 of Rule 79 provides THIRD DIVISION The facts of the case, as recounted in the
that a petition for Letters of Administration must be G.R. No. 150175 February 5, 2007 Decision,10 are as follows –
filed by an interested person, thus:
ERLINDA PILAPIL and HEIRS OF DONATA ORTIZ Petitioners are the heirs of the late Donata Ortiz-
Sec. 2.Contents of petition for letters of BRIONES, namely: ESTELA, ERIBERTO AND Briones (Donata), consisting of her surviving sister,
administration. — A petition for letters of VIRGILIO SANTOS, ANA SANTOS CULTURA, Rizalina Ortiz-Aguila (Rizalina); Rizalina’s daughter,
administration must be filed by an interested person ELVIRA SANTOS INOCENTES, ERNESTO Erlinda Pilapil (Erlinda); and the other nephews and
and must show, so far as known to the petitioner: MENDOZA, RIZALINA SANTOS, ADOLFO nieces of Donata, in representation of her two other
MENDOZA and PACITA MENDOZA, Petitioners, sisters who had also passed away. Respondents, on
(a) The jurisdictional facts; vs. the other hand, are the heirs of the late Maximino
(b) The names, ages, and residences of the heirs, and HEIRS OF MAXIMINO R. BRIONES, namely: Briones (Maximino), composed of his nephews and
the names and residences of the creditors, of the SILVERIO S. BRIONES, PETRA BRIONES, nieces, and grandnephews and grandnieces, in
decedent; BONIFACIO CABAHUG, JR., ANITA TRASMONTE, representation of the deceased siblings of Maximino.
(c) The probable value and character of the property CIRILITA FORTUNA, CRESENCIA BRIONES,
of the estate; FUGURACION MEDALLE and MERCEDES xxxx
(d) The name of the person for whom letters of LAGBAS, Respondents. Maximino was married to Donata but their union did
administration are prayed. not produce any children. When Maximino died on 1
RESOLUTION May 1952, Donata instituted intestate proceedings to
But no defect in the petition shall render void the CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: settle her husband’s estate with the Cebu City Court
issuance of letters of administration. On 10 March 2006, this Court promulgated its of First Instance (CFI), 14th Judicial District,
Decision1 in the above-entitled case, ruling in favor of designated as Special Proceedings No. 928-R. On 8
An "interested party," in estate proceedings, is one the petitioners. The dispositive portion2 reads as July 1952, the CFI issued Letters of Administration
who would be benefited in the estate, such as an heir, follows: appointing Donata as the administratrix of Maximino’s
or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a estate. She submitted an Inventory of Maximino’s
creditor. Also, in estate proceedings, the phrase "next IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the assailed properties, which included, among other things, the
of kin" refers to those whose relationship with the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV No. following parcels of land x x x.
decedent Is such that they are entitled to share in the 55194, dated 31 August 2001, affirming the Decision
estate as distributees.28 of the Cebu City RTC in Civil Case No. CEB-5794, xxxx
dated 28 September 1986, is hereby REVERSED and
The CFI would subsequently issue an Order, dated 2 xxxx
October 1952, awarding ownership of the After trial in due course, the RTC rendered its Respondents move for the reconsideration of the
aforementioned real properties to Donata. On 27 June Decision, dated 8 April 1986, in favor of the heirs of Decision of this Court raising still the arguments that
1960, Donata had the said CFI Order recorded in the Maximino x x x. Donata committed fraud in securing the Court of First
Primary Entry Book of the Register of Deeds, and by Instance Order, dated 2 October 1952, which
virtue thereof, received new TCTs, covering the said xxxx declared her as the sole heir of her deceased
properties, now in her name. x x x[T]he RTC declared that the heirs of Maximino husband Maximino and authorized her to have
Donata died on 1 November 1977. Erlinda, one of were entitled to ½ of the real properties covered by Maximino’s properties registered exclusively in her
Donata’s nieces, instituted with the RTC a petition for TCTs No. 21542, 21543, 21544, 21545, 21546, and name; that respondents’ right to succession to the
the administration of the intestate estate of Donata. 58684. It also ordered Erlinda to reconvey to the heirs disputed properties was transmitted or vested from
Erlinda and her husband, Gregorio, were appointed of Maximino the said properties and to render an the moment of Maximino’s death and which they
by the RTC as administrators of Donata’s intestate accounting of the fruits thereof. could no longer be deprived of; that Donata merely
estate. Controversy arose among Donata’s heirs possessed and held the properties in trust for her co-
when Erlinda claimed exclusive ownership of three The heirs of Donata appealed the RTC Decision, heirs/owners; and that, by virtue of this Court’s ruling
parcels of land, covered by TCTs No. 21542, 21545, dated 8 April 1986, to the Court of Appeals. The Court in Quion v. Claridad12and Sevilla, et al. v. De Los
and 58684, based on two Deeds of Donation, both of Appeals, in its Decision, promulgated on 31 August Angeles,13 respondents’ action to recover title to and
dated 15 September 1977, allegedly executed in her 2001, affirmed the RTC Decision, x x x. possession of their shares in Maximino’s estate, held
favor by her aunt Donata. The other heirs of Donata in trust for their benefit by Donata, and eventually, by
opposed Erlinda’s claim. This Court, however, was no xxxx petitioners as the latter’s successors-in-interest, is
longer informed of the subsequent development in the Unsatisfied with the afore-quoted Decision of the imprescriptible. Respondents also advance a fresh
intestate proceedings of the estate of Donata; and as Court of Appeals, the heirs of Donata filed the present contention that the CFI Order, dated 2 October 1952,
far as this Petition is concerned, all the heirs of Petition, x x x. being based on the fraudulent misrepresentation of
Donata, including Erlinda, appear to be on the same Donata that she was Maximino’s sole heir, was a void
side. In its Decision, dated 10 March 2006, this Court found order, which produced no legal effect. Lastly,
the Petition meritorious and, reversing the Decisions respondents asseverate that, by relying on certain
On 21 January 1985, Silverio Briones (Silverio), a of the Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Court procedural presumptions in its Decision, dated 10
nephew of Maximino, filed a Petition with the RTC for (RTC), dismissed the Complaint for partition, March 2006, this Court has sacrificed their
Letters of Administration for the intestate estate of annulment, and recovery of possession of real substantive right to succession, thus, making justice
Maximino, which was initially granted by the RTC. The property filed by the heirs of Maximino in Civil Case "subservient to the dictates of mere procedural
RTC also issued an Order, dated 5 December 1985, No. CEB-5794. This Court summed up its fiats."14
allowing Silverio to collect rentals from Maximino’s findings,11 thus –
properties. But then, Gregorio filed with the RTC a While this Court is persuaded to reexamine and clarify
Motion to Set Aside the Order, dated 5 December In summary, the heirs of Maximino failed to prove by some points in its previous Decision in this case, it
1985, claiming that the said properties were already clear and convincing evidence that Donata managed, does not find any new evidence or argument that
under his and his wife’s administration as part of the through fraud, to have the real properties, belonging would adequately justify a change in its previous
intestate estate of Donata. Silverio’s Letters of to the intestate estate of Maximino, registered in her position.
Administration for the intestate estate of Maximino name. In the absence of fraud, no implied trust was
was subsequently set aside by the RTC. established between Donata and the heirs of On the finding of fraud
Maximino under Article 1456 of the New Civil Code. As this Court declared in its Decision, the existence of
On 3 March 1987, the heirs of Maximino filed a Donata was able to register the real properties in her any trust relations between petitioners and
Complaint with the RTC against the heirs of Donata name, not through fraud or mistake, but pursuant to respondents shall be examined in the light of Article
for the partition, annulment, and recovery of an Order, dated 2 October 1952, issued by the CFI in 1456 of the New Civil Code, which provides that, "[i]f
possession of real property, docketed as Civil Case Special Proceedings No. 928-R. The CFI Order, property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the
No. CEB-5794. They later filed an Amended presumed to be fairly and regularly issued, declared person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a
Complaint, on 11 December 1992. They alleged that Donata as the sole, absolute, and exclusive heir of trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person
Donata, as administratrix of the estate of Maximino, Maximino; hence, making Donata the singular owner from whom the property comes." Hence, the foremost
through fraud and misrepresentation, in breach of of the entire estate of Maximino, including the real question to be answered is still whether an implied
trust, and without the knowledge of the other heirs, properties, and not merely a co-owner with the other trust under Article 1456 of the New Civil Code had
succeeded in registering in her name the real heirs of her deceased husband. There being no basis been sufficiently established in the present case.
properties belonging to the intestate estate of for the Complaint of the heirs of Maximino in Civil
Maximino. Case No. CEB-5794, the same should have been In the Decision, this Court ruled in the negative, since
dismissed. there was insufficient evidence to establish that
Donata committed fraud. It should be remembered Aurelia Briones (Aurelia), one of the heirs of
that Donata was able to secure certificates of title to SEC. 3.Disputable presumptions. – The following Maximino, x x x.
the disputed properties by virtue of the CFI Order in presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but
Special Proceedings No. 928-R (the proceedings she may be contradicted and overcome by other xxxx
instituted to settle Maximino’s intestate estate), which evidence: Aurelia’s testimony deserves scant credit considering
declared her as Maximino’s sole heir. In the absence that she was not testifying on matters within her
of proof to the contrary, the Court accorded to Special xxxx personal knowledge. The phrase "I don’t think" is a
Proceedings No. 928-R the presumptions of regularity (m) That official duty has been regularly performed; clear indication that she is merely voicing out her
and validity. Reproduced below are the relevant opinion on how she believed her uncles and aunts
portions15 of the Decision – (n) That a court, or judge acting as such, whether in would have acted had they received notice of Special
the Philippines or elsewhere, was acting in the lawful Proceedings No. 928-R.
At the onset, it should be emphasized that Donata exercise of jurisdiction.
was able to secure the TCTs covering the real It is worth noting that, in its foregoing ratiocination, the
properties belonging to the estate of Maximino by By reason of the foregoing provisions, this Court must Court was proceeding from an evaluation of the
virtue of a CFI Order, dated 2 October 1952. It is presume, in the absence of any clear and convincing evidence on record, which did not include an actual
undisputed that the said CFI Order was issued by the proof to the contrary, that the CFI in Special copy of the CFI Order in Special Proceedings No.
CFI in Special Proceedings No. 928-R, instituted by Proceedings No. 928-R had jurisdiction of the subject 928-R. Respondents only submitted a certified true
Donata herself, to settle the intestate estate of matter and the parties, and to have rendered a copy thereof on 15 June 2006, annexed to their
Maximino. The petitioners, heirs of Donata, were judgment valid in every respect; and it could not give Supplemental Reply to petitioners’ opposition to their
unable to present a copy of the CFI Order, but this is credence to the following statements made by the motion for reconsideration of this Court’s Decision.
not surprising considering that it was issued 35 years Court of Appeals in its Decision. Respondents did not offer any explanation as to why
prior to the filing by the heirs of Maximino of their they belatedly produced a copy of the said Order, but
Complaint in Civil Case No. CEB-5794 on 3 March xxxx merely claimed to have been "fortunate enough to
1987. The existence of such CFI Order, nonetheless, There was totally no evidentiary basis for the obtain a copy" thereof from the Register of Deeds of
cannot be denied. It was recorded in the Primary foregoing pronouncements. First of all, the Petition Cebu.16
Entry Book of the Register of Deeds on 27 June 1960, filed by Donata for Letters of Administration in Special
at 1:10 p.m., as Entry No. 1714. It was annotated on Proceedings No. 928-R before the CFI was not even Respondents should be taken to task for springing
the TCTs covering the real properties as having referred to nor presented during the course of the trial new evidence so late into the proceedings of this
declared Donata the sole, absolute, and exclusive heir of Civil Case No. CEB-5794 before the RTC. How case. Parties should present all their available
of Maximino. The non-presentation of the actual CFI then could the Court of Appeals make a finding that evidence at the courts below so as to give the
Order was not fatal to the cause of the heirs of Donata Donata willfully excluded from the said Petition the opposing party the opportunity to scrutinize and
considering that its authenticity and contents were names, ages, and residences of the other heirs of challenge such evidence during the course of the trial.
never questioned. The allegation of fraud by the heirs Maximino? Second, there was also no evidence However, given that the existence of the CFI Order in
of Maximino did not pertain to the CFI Order, but to showing that the CFI actually failed to send notices of Special Proceedings No. 928-R was never in issue
the manner or procedure by which it was issued in Special Proceedings No. 928-R to the heirs of and was, in fact, admitted by the petitioners; that the
favor of Donata. Moreover, the non-presentation of Maximino or that it did not require presentation of copy submitted is a certified true copy of the said
the CFI Order, contrary to the declaration by the RTC, proof of service of such notices. It should be Order; and that the said Order may provide new
does not amount to a willful suppression of evidence remembered that there stands a presumption that the information vital to a just resolution of the present
that would give rise to the presumption that it would CFI Judge had regularly performed his duties in case, this Court is compelled to consider the same as
be adverse to the heirs of Donata if produced. x x x. Special Proceedings No. 928-R, which included part of the evidence on record.
sending out of notices and requiring the presentation
xxxx of proof of service of such notices; and, the heirs of The CFI Order17 in question reads in full as –
The CFI Order, dated 2 October 1952, issued in Maximino did not propound sufficient evidence to
Special Proceedings No. 928-R, effectively settled the debunk such presumption. They only made a general ORDER
intestate estate of Maximino by declaring Donata as denial of knowledge of Special Proceedings No. 928- This is with reference to the Motion of the
the sole, absolute, and exclusive heir of her deceased R, at least until 1985. There was no testimony or Administratrix, dated January 5, 1960, that she be
husband. The issuance by the CFI of the said Order, document presented in which the heirs of Maximino declared the sole heir of her deceased husband,
as well as its conduct of the entire Special categorically denied receipt of notice from the CFI of Maximino Suico Briones, the latter having died without
Proceedings No. 928-R, enjoy the presumption of the pendency of Special Proceedings No. 928-R. The any legitimate ascendant nor descendant, nor any
validity pursuant to the Section 3(m) and (n) of Rule only evidence on record in reference to the absence legitimate brother or sister, nephews or nieces.
131 of the Revised Rules of Court, reproduced below of notice of such proceedings was the testimony of

At the hearing of this incident today, nobody appeared presumption of regularity, and encompassed in such indeed committed fraud. This Court again brings to
to resist the motion, and based on the uncontradicted presumption is the order of publication of the notice of the fore the delay by which respondents filed the
testimony of Donata G. Ortiz that she was the nearest the intestate proceedings. A review of the records fails present case, when the principal actors involved,
surviving relative of the deceased Maximino Suico to show any allegation or concrete proof that the CFI particularly, Donata and Maximino’s siblings, have
Briones at the time of the latter’s death, and pursuant also failed to order the publication in newspapers of already passed away and their lips forever sealed as
to the pertinent provisions of the new Civil Code of the the notice of the intestate proceedings and to require to what truly transpired between them. On the other
Philippines, the Court hereby declares the aforesaid proof from Donata of compliance therewith. Neither hand, Special Proceedings No. 928-R took place
Donata G. Ortiz the sole, absolute and exclusive heir can this Court find any reason or explanation as to when all these principal actors were still alive and
of the estate of the deceased Maximino Suico why Maximino’s siblings could have missed the each would have been capable to act to protect his or
Briones, and she is hereby entitled to inherit all the published notice of the intestate proceedings of their her own right to Maximino’s estate. Letters of
residue of this estate after paying all the obligations brother. Administration of Maximino’s estate were issued in
thereof, which properties are those contained in the favor of Donata as early as 8 July 1952, and the CFI
Inventory, dated October 2, 1952. In relying on the presumptions of the regular Order in question was issued only on 15 January
performance of official duty and lawful exercise of 1960. The intestate proceedings for the settlement of
Cebu City, January 15, 1960. jurisdiction by the CFI in rendering the questioned Maximino’s estate were thus pending for almost eight
Order, dated 15 January 1960, this Court is not, as years, and it is the burden of the respondents to
From the contents of the afore-quoted Order, this counsel for respondents allege, sacrificing the establish that their parents or grandparents,
Court is able to deduce that the CFI Order was in fact substantive right of respondents to their share in the Maximino’s surviving siblings, had absolutely no
issued on 15 January 1960 and not 2 October 1952, inheritance in favor of mere procedural fiats. There is knowledge of the said proceedings all these years. As
as earlier stated in the Decision. It was the inventory a rationale for the establishment of rules of procedure, established in Ramos v. Ramos,21 the degree of proof
of properties, submitted by Donata as administratrix of as amply explained by this Court in De Dios v. Court to establish fraud in a case where the principal actors
Maximino’s intestate estate, which was dated 2 of Appeals20 – to the transaction have already passed away is proof
October 1952.18 Other than such observation, this beyond reasonable doubt, to wit –
Court finds nothing in the CFI Order which could Procedural rules are designed to insure the orderly
change its original position in the Decision under and expeditious administration of justice by providing "x x x But length of time necessarily obscures all
consideration. for a practical system by which the parties to a human evidence; and as it thus removes from the
litigation may be accorded a full and fair opportunity to parties all the immediate means to verify the
While it is true that since the CFI was not informed present their respective positions and refute each nature of the original transactions, it operates by
that Maximino still had surviving siblings and so the other's submissions under the prescribed way of presumption, in favor of innocence, and
court was not able to order that these siblings be requirements, conditions and limitations. Adjective law against imputation of fraud. It would be
given personal notices of the intestate proceedings, it is not the counterfoil of substantive law. In fact, there unreasonable, after a great length of time, to require
should be borne in mind that the settlement of estate, is a symbiotic relationship between them. By exact proof of all the minute circumstances of any
whether testate or intestate, is a proceeding in complying faithfully with the Rules of Court, the bench transaction, or to expect a satisfactory explanation of
rem,19 and that the publication in the newspapers of and the bar are better able to discuss, analyze and every difficulty, real or apparent, with which it may be
the filing of the application and of the date set for the understand substantive rights and duties and encumbered. The most that can fairly be expected, in
hearing of the same, in the manner prescribed by law, consequently to more effectively protect and enforce such cases, if the parties are living, from the frailty of
is a notice to the whole world of the existence of the them. The other alternative is judicial anarchy. memory, and human infirmity, is, that the material
proceedings and of the hearing on the date and time facts can be given with certainty to a common intent;
indicated in the publication. The publication Thus, compliance with the procedural rules is the and, if the parties are dead, and the cases rest in
requirement of the notice in newspapers is precisely general rule, and abandonment thereof should only be confidence, and in parol agreements, the most that
for the purpose of informing all interested parties in done in the most exceptional circumstances. The we can hope is to arrive at probable conjectures, and
the estate of the deceased of the existence of the presumptions relied upon by this Court in the instant to substitute general presumptions of law, for exact
settlement proceedings, most especially those who case are disputable presumptions, which are knowledge. Fraud, or breach of trust, ought not
were not named as heirs or creditors in the petition, satisfactory, unless contradicted or overcome by lightly to be imputed to the living; for, the legal
regardless of whether such omission was voluntarily evidence. This Court finds that the evidence presumption is the other way; as to the dead, who
or involuntarily made. presented by respondents failed to overcome the are not here to answer for themselves, it would be
given presumptions. the height of injustice and cruelty, to disturb their
This Court cannot stress enough that the CFI Order ashes, and violate the sanctity of the grave,
was the result of the intestate proceedings instituted Although Donata may have alleged before the CFI unless the evidence of fraud be clear, beyond a
by Donata before the trial court. As this Court pointed that she was her husband’s sole heir, it was not reasonable doubt (Prevost vs. Gratz, 6 Wheat.
out in its earlier Decision, the manner by which the established that she did so knowingly, maliciously and [U.S.], 481, 498).
CFI judge conducted the proceedings enjoys the in bad faith, so as for this Court to conclude that she
Moreover, even if Donata’s allegation that she was ordinarily subdivided into resulting and constructive adverse. Not being adverse, he does not acquire by
Maximino’s sole heir does constitute fraud, it is trusts (89 C.J.S. 722). prescription the property held in trust. Thus, Section
insufficient to justify abandonment of the CFI Order, 38 of Act 190 provides that the law of prescription
dated 15 January 1960,22 considering the nature of "A resulting trust is broadly defined as a trust which is does not apply "in the case of a continuing and
intestate proceedings as being in rem and the raised or created by the act or construction of law, but subsisting trust" (Diaz vs. Gorricho and Aguado, 103
disputable presumptions of the regular performance of in its more restricted sense it is a trust raised by Phil. 261, 266; Laguna vs. Levantino, 71 Phil. 566;
official duty and lawful exercise of jurisdiction by the implication of law and presumed always to have been Sumira vs. Vistan, 74 Phil. 138; Golfeo vs. Court of
CFI in rendering the questioned Order, dated 15 contemplated by the parties, the intention as to which Appeals, 63 O.G. 4895, 12 SCRA 199; Caladiao vs.
January 1960, in Special Proceedings No. 928-R. is to be found in the nature of their transaction, but not Santos, 63 O.G. 1956, 10 SCRA 691).
expressed in the deed or instrument of conveyance"
On prescription of the right to recover based on (89 C.J.S. 725). Examples of resulting trusts are The rule of imprescriptibility of the action to recover
implied trust found in Article 1448 to 1455 of the Civil Code. See property held in trust may possibly apply to resulting
Padilla vs. Court of Appeals, L-31569, September 28, trusts as long as the trustee has not repudiated the
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Donata’s 1973, 53 SCRA 168, 179). trust (Heirs of Candelaria vs. Romero, 109 Phil. 500,
misrepresentation constitutes fraud that would impose 502-3; Martinez vs. Graño, 42 Phil. 35; Buencamino
upon her the implied trust provided in Article 1456 of On the other hand, a constructive trust is a trust vs. Matias, 63 O. G. 11033, 16 SCRA 849).
the Civil Code, this Court still cannot sustain "raised by construction of law, or arising by operation
respondents’ contention that their right to recover their of law." In a more restricted sense and as The rule of imprescriptibility was misapplied to
shares in Maximino’s estate is imprescriptible. It is contradistinguished from a resulting trust, a constructive trusts (Geronimo and Isidoro vs. Nava
already settled in jurisprudence that an implied trust, constructive trust is "a trust not created by any words, and Aquino, 105 Phil. 145, 153. Compare with Cuison
as opposed to an express trust, is subject to either expressly or impliedly evincing a direct intention vs. Fernandez and Bengzon, 105 Phil. 135, 139; De
prescription and laches. to create a trust, but by the construction of equity in Pasion vs. De Pasion, 112 Phil. 403, 407).
order to satisfy the demands of justice. It does not
The case of Ramos v. Ramos23 already provides an arise by agreement or intention but by operation of Acquisitive prescription may bar the action of the
elucidating discourse on the matter, to wit – law." (89 C.J.S. 726-727). "If a person obtains legal beneficiary against the trustee in an express trust for
title to property by fraud or concealment, courts of the recovery of the property held in trust where (a) the
"Trusts are either express or implied. Express trusts equity will impress upon the title a so-called trustee has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation
are created by the intention of the trustor or of the constructive trust in favor of the defrauded party." A amounting to an ouster of the cestui qui trust; (b) such
parties. Implied trusts come into being by operation of constructive trust is not a trust in the technical sense positive acts of repudiation have been made known to
law" (Art. 1441, Civil Code). "No express trusts (Gayondato vs. Treasurer of the P.I., 49 Phil. 244; the cestui qui trust and (c) the evidence thereon is
concerning an immovable or any interest therein may See Art. 1456, Civil Code). clear and conclusive (Laguna vs. Levantino, supra;
be proven by oral evidence. An implied trust may be Salinas vs. Tuason, 55 Phil. 729. Compare with the
proven by oral evidence" (Ibid; Arts. 1443 and 1457). There is a rule that a trustee cannot acquire by rule regarding co-owners found in the last paragraph
prescription the ownership of property entrusted to of Article 494, Civil Code; Casañas vs. Rosello, 50
"No particular words are required for the creation of him (Palma vs. Cristobal, 77 Phil. 712), or that an Phil. 97; Gerona vs. De Guzman, L-19060, May 29,
an express trust, it being sufficient that a trust is action to compel a trustee to convey property 1964, 11 SCRA 153, 157).
clearly intended" (Ibid; Art. 1444; Tuason de Perez vs. registered in his name in trust for the benefit of the
Caluag, 96 Phil. 981; Julio vs. Dalandan, L-19012, cestui qui trust does not prescribe (Manalang vs. With respect to constructive trusts, the rule is
October 30, 1967, 21 SCRA 543, 546). "Express Canlas, 94 Phil. 776; Cristobal vs. Gomez, 50 Phil. different. The prescriptibility of an action for
trusts are those which are created by the direct and 810), or that the defense of prescription cannot be set reconveyance based on constructive trust is now
positive acts of the parties, by some writing or deed, up in an action to recover property held by a person in settled (Alzona vs. Capunitan, L-10228, February 28,
or will, or by words either expressly or impliedly trust for the benefit of another (Sevilla vs. De los 1962, 4 SCRA 450; Gerona vs. De Guzman, supra;
evincing an intention to create a trust" (89 C.J. S. Angeles, 97 Phil. 875), or that property held in trust Claridad vs. Henares, 97 Phil. 973; Gonzales vs.
122). can be recovered by the beneficiary regardless of the Jimenez, L-19073, January 30, 1965, 13 SCRA 80;
lapse of time (Marabilles vs. Quito, 100 Phil. 64; Boñaga vs. Soler, 112 Phil. 651; J. M. Tuason & Co.,
"Implied trusts are those which, without being Bancairen vs. Diones, 98 Phil. 122, 126; Juan vs. vs. Magdangal, L-15539, January 30, 1962, 4 SCRA
expressed, are deducible from the nature of the Zuñiga, 62 O.G. 1351; 4 SCRA 1221; Jacinto vs. 84). Prescription may supervene in an implied
transaction as matters of intent, or which are Jacinto, L-17957, May 31, 1962. See Tamayo vs. trust (Bueno vs. Reyes, L-22587, April 28, 1969, 27
superinduced on the transaction by operation of law Callejo, 147 Phil. 31, 37). SCRA 1179; Fabian vs. Fabian, L-20449, January 29,
as matters of equity, independently of the particular 1968; Jacinto vs. Jacinto, L-17957, May 31, 1962, 5
intention of the parties" (89 C.J.S. 724). They are That rule applies squarely to express trusts. The basis SCRA 371).
of the rule is that the possession of a trustee is not
And whether the trust is resulting or constructive, its name of Donata. Therefore, respondents’ action for which belonged to the estate of Maximino. This Court,
enforcement may be barred by laches (90 C.J.S. 887- recovery of possession of the disputed properties had however, appreciates such information differently. It
889; 54 Am Jur. 449-450; Diaz vs. Gorricho and clearly prescribed. actually works against the heirs of Maximino. Since
Aguado, supra; Compare with Mejia vs. Gampona, they only lived nearby, Maximino’s siblings had ample
100 Phil. 277). [Emphases supplied.] Moreover, even though respondents’ Complaint opportunity to inquire or discuss with Donata the
before the RTC in Civil Case No. CEB-5794 also status of the estate of their deceased brother. Some
A present reading of the Quion24 and Sevilla25 cases, prays for partition of the disputed properties, it does of the real properties, which belonged to the estate of
invoked by respondents, must be made in conjunction not make their action to enforce their right to the said Maximino, were also located within the same area as
with and guided accordingly by the principles properties imprescriptible. While as a general rule, the their residences in Cebu City, and Maximino’s siblings
established in the afore-quoted case. Thus, while action for partition among co-owners does not could have regularly observed the actions and
respondents’ right to inheritance was transferred or prescribe so long as the co-ownership is expressly or behavior of Donata with regard to the said real
vested upon them at the time of Maximino’s death, impliedly recognized, as provided for in Article 494, of properties. It is uncontested that from the time of
their enforcement of said right by appropriate legal the New Civil Code, it bears to emphasize that Donata Maximino’s death on 1 May 1952, Donata had
action may be barred by the prescription of the action. had never recognized respondents as co-owners or possession of the real properties. She managed the
co-heirs, either expressly or impliedly.28 Her assertion real properties and even collected rental fees on
Prescription of the action for reconveyance of the before the CFI in Special Proceedings No. 928-R that some of them until her own death on 1 November
disputed properties based on implied trust is governed she was Maximino’s sole heir necessarily excludes 1977. After Donata’s death, Erlinda took possession
by Article 1144 of the New Civil Code, which reads – recognition of some other co-owner or co-heir to the of the real properties, and continued to manage the
inherited properties; Consequently, the rule on non- same and collect the rental fees thereon. Donata and,
ART. 1144. The following actions must be brought prescription of action for partition of property owned in subsequently, Erlinda, were so obviously exercising
within ten years from the time the right of action common does not apply to the case at bar. rights of ownership over the real properties, in
accrues: exclusion of all others, which must have already put
On laches as bar to recovery the heirs of Maximino on guard if they truly believed
(1) Upon a written contract; that they still had rights thereto.
(2) Upon an obligation created by law; Other than prescription of action, respondents’ right to
(3) Upon a judgment. recover possession of the disputed properties, based The heirs of Maximino knew he died on 1 May 1952.
on implied trust, is also barred by laches. The defense They even attended his wake. They did not offer any
Since an implied trust is an obligation created by law of laches, which is a question of inequity in permitting explanation as to why they had waited 33 years from
(specifically, in this case, by Article 1456 of the New a claim to be enforced, applies independently of Maximino’s death before one of them, Silverio, filed a
Civil Code), then respondents had 10 years within prescription, which is a question of time. Prescription Petition for Letters of Administration for the intestate
which to bring an action for reconveyance of their is statutory; laches is equitable.29 estate of Maximino on 21 January 1985. After learning
shares in Maximino’s properties. The next question that the intestate estate of Maximino was already
now is when should the ten-year prescriptive period Laches is defined as the failure to assert a right for an settled in Special Proceedings No. 928-R, they waited
be reckoned from. The general rule is that an action unreasonable and unexplained length of time, another two years, before instituting, on 3 March
for reconveyance of real property based on implied warranting a presumption that the party entitled to 1987, Civil Case No. CEB-5794, the Complaint for
trust prescribes ten years from registration and/or assert it has either abandoned or declined to assert it. partition, annulment and recovery of the real property
issuance of the title to the property,26 not only This equitable defense is based upon grounds of belonging to the estate of Maximino. x x x
because registration under the Torrens system is a public policy, which requires the discouragement of
constructive notice of title,27 but also because by stale claims for the peace of society.30 Considering the circumstances in the afore-quoted
registering the disputed properties exclusively in her paragraphs, as well as respondents’ conduct before
name, Donata had already unequivocally repudiated This Court has already thoroughly discussed in its this Court, particularly the belated submission of
any other claim to the same. Decision the basis for barring respondents’ action for evidence and argument of new issues, respondents
recovery of the disputed properties because of laches. are consistently displaying a penchant for delayed
By virtue of the CFI Order, dated 15 January 1960, in This Court pointed out therein31 that – action, without any proffered reason or justification for
Special Proceedings No. 928-R, Donata was able to such delay.
register and secure certificates of title over the In further support of their contention of fraud by
disputed properties in her name on 27 June 1960. Donata, the heirs of Maximino even emphasized that It is well established that the law serves those who
The respondents filed with the RTC their Complaint Donata lived along the same street as some of the are vigilant and diligent and not those who sleep when
for partition, annulment, and recovery of possession siblings of Maximino and, yet, she failed to inform the law requires them to act. The law does not
of the disputed real properties, docketed as Civil Case them of the CFI Order, dated [15 January 1960], in encourage laches, indifference, negligence or
No. CEB-5794, only on 3 March 1987, almost 27 Special Proceedings No. 928-R, and the issuance in ignorance. On the contrary, for a party to deserve the
years after the registration of the said properties in the her name of new TCTs covering the real properties
considerations of the courts, he must show that he is sale by virtue of its authority finds himself without title
not guilty of any of the aforesaid failings.32 and without redress." (Freeman on Judgments, sec. Nonetheless, this Court also points out that an action
117, citing Campbell vs. McCahan, 41 Ill., 45; Roberts to annul an order or judgment based on fraud must be
On void judgment or order vs. Stowers, 7 Bush, 295, Huls vs. Buntin, 47 Ill., 396; brought within four years from the discovery of the
Respondents presented only in their Reply and Sherrell vs. Goodrum, 3 Humph., 418; Andrews vs. fraud.36 If it is conceded that the respondents came to
Supplemental Reply to the petitioners’ Opposition to State, 2 Sneed, 549; Hollingsworth vs. Bagley, 35 know of Donata’s fraudulent acts only in 1985, during
their Motion for Reconsideration the argument that the Tex., 345; Morton vs. Root, 2 Dill., 312; Commercial the course of the RTC proceedings which they
CFI Order, dated 15 January 1960, in Special Bank of Manchester vs. Martin, 9 Smedes & M., 613; instituted for the settlement of Maximino’s estate, then
Proceedings No. 928-R is void and, thus, it cannot Hargis vs. Morse, 7 Kan., 259. See also Cornell vs. their right to file an action to annul the CFI Order,
have any legal effect. Consequently, the registration Barnes, 7 Hill, 35; Dawson and Another vs. Wells, 3 dated 15 January 1960, in Special Proceedings No.
of the disputed properties in the name of Donata Ind., 399; Meyer vs. Mintonye, 106 Ill., 414; Olson vs. 928-R (earlier instituted by Donata for the settlement
pursuant to such Order was likewise void. Nunnally, 47 Kan., 391; White vs. Foote L. & M. Co., of Maximino’s estate), has likewise prescribed by
29 W. Va., 385.) present time.
This Court is unconvinced.
It is not always easy to draw the line of demarcation In view of the foregoing, the Motion for
In the jurisprudence referred to by the between a void judgment and a voidable one, but all Reconsideration is DENIED.SO ORDERED.
respondents,33 an order or judgment is considered authorities agree that jurisdiction over the subject-
void when rendered by the court without or in excess matter is essential to the validity of a judgment and EN BANC
of its jurisdiction or in violation of a mandatory duty, that want of such jurisdiction renders it void and a A.M. No. P-01-1448 June 25, 2013
circumstances which are not present in the case at mere nullity. In the eye of the law it is non-existent. (Formerly OCA IPI No. 99-664-P)
bar. (Fisher vs. Harnden, 1 Paine, 55; Towns vs. Springer,
9 Ga., 130; Mobley vs. Mobley, 9 Ga., 247; Beverly RODOLFO C. SABIDONG, Complainant,
Distinction must be made between a void judgment and McBride vs. Burke, 9 Ga., 440; Central Bank of vs.
and a voidable one, thus – Georgia vs. Gibson, 11 Ga., 453; Johnson vs. NICOLASITO S. SOLAS (Clerk of Court
Johnson, 30 Ill., 215; St. Louis and Sandoval Coal IV), Respondent.
"* * * A voidable judgment is one which, though not a and Mining Co. vs. Sandoval Coal and Mining Co.,
mere nullity, is liable to be made void when a person 111 Ill., 32; Swiggart vs. Harber, 4 Scam., 364; Miller VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
who has a right to proceed in the matter takes the vs. Snyder, 6 Ind., 1; Seely vs. Reid, 3 Greene [Iowa], The present administrative case stemmed from a
proper steps to have its invalidity declared. It always 374.)34 sworn letter-complaint1 dated May 29, 1999 filed
contains some defect which may become fatal. It before this Court by Rodolfo C. Sabidong
carries within it the means of its own overthrow. But The fraud and misrepresentation fostered by Donata (complainant) charging respondent Nicolasito S.
unless and until it is duly annulled, it is attended with on the CFI in Special Proceedings No. 928-R did not Solas, Clerk of Court IV, Municipal Trial Court in Cities
all the ordinary consequences of a legal judgment. deprive the trial court of jurisdiction over the subject- (MTCC), Iloilo City with grave and serious
The party against whom it is given may escape its matter of the case, namely, the intestate estate of misconduct, dishonesty, oppression and abuse of
effect as a bar or an obligation, but only by a proper Maximino. Donata’s fraud and misrepresentation may authority.
application to have it vacated or reversed. Until that is have rendered the CFI Order, dated 15 January 1960,
done, it will be efficacious as a claim, an estoppel, or voidable, but not void on its face. Hence, the said The Facts
a source of title. If no proceedings are ever taken Order, which already became final and executory, can Trinidad Sabidong, complainant’s mother, is one of
against it, it will continue throughout its life to all only be set aside by direct action to annul and enjoin the longtime occupants of a parcel of land, designated
intents a valid sentence. If emanating from a court of its enforcement.35 It cannot be the subject of a as Lot 11 (Lot 1280-D-4-11 of consolidation-
general jurisdiction, it will be sustained by the ordinary collateral attack as is being done in this case. Note subdivision plan [LRC] Pcs-483) originally registered
presumptions of regularity, and it is not open to that respondents’ Complaint before the RTC in Civil in the name of C. N. Hodges and situated at Barangay
impeachment in any collateral action. * * *" Case No. CEB-5794 was one for partition, annulment, San Vicente, Jaro, Iloilo City.2 The Sabidongs are in
and recovery of possession of the disputed properties. possession of one-half portion of Lot 11 of the said
But it is otherwise when the judgment is void. "A void The annulment sought in the Complaint was not that Estate (Hodges Estate), as the other half-portion was
judgment is in legal effect no judgment. By it no rights of the CFI Order, dated 15 January 1960, but of the occupied by Priscila Saplagio. Lot 11 was the subject
are divested. From it no rights can be obtained. Being certificates of title over the properties issued in of an ejectment suit filed by the Hodges Estate,
worthless in itself, all proceedings founded upon it are Donata’s name. So until and unless respondents bring docketed as Civil Case No. 14706 of the MTCC Iloilo
equally worthless. It neither binds nor bars any one. a direct action to nullify the CFI Order, dated 15 City, Branch 4 ("Rosita R. Natividad in her capacity as
All acts performed under it and all claims flowing out January 1960, in Special Proceedings No. 928-R, and Administratrix of C.N. Hodges Estate, plaintiff vs.
of it are void. The parties attempting to enforce it may attain a favorable judgment therein, the assailed Priscila Saplagio, defendant"). On May 31, 1983, a
be responsible as trespassers. The purchaser at a Order remains valid and binding. decision was rendered in said case ordering the
defendant to immediately vacate the portion of Lot 11 and a new certificate of title, TCT No. T-107519 in the of his position that in 1983 Hodges Estate was
leased to her and to pay the plaintiff rentals due, name of respondent was issued on December 5, ejecting occupants of its land. x x x Taking advantage
attorney’s fees, expenses and costs.3 At the time, 1994. Lot 11 was later subdivided into two lots, Lots of this inside information that the land subject of an
respondent was the Clerk of Court III of MTCC, 11-A and 11-B for which the corresponding titles (TCT ejectment case in the Municipal Trial Court in Cities,
Branch 3, Iloilo City. Nos. T-116467 and T-116468), also in the name of Iloilo City, whom respondent is a Clerk of Court III, the
respondent, were issued on February 28, 1997.6 respondent surreptitiously offered to buy the said lot in
Sometime in October 1984, respondent submitted an litigation. x x x
Offer to Purchase on installment Lots 11 and 12. In a On motion of Ernesto Pe Benito, Administrator of the
letter dated January 7, 1986, the Administratrix of the Hodges Estate, a writ of demolition was issued on 7. Complainant nor any member of his family did not
Hodges Estate rejected respondent’s offer in view of March 3, 1998 by the probate court in favor of know that as early as 1984, the respondent had
an application to purchase already filed by the actual respondent and against all adverse occupants of Lot offered to purchase the subject lot from the estate x x
occupant of Lot 12, "in line with the policy of the 11.7 x. After receiving the notice of denial of his offer to
Probate Court to give priority to the actual occupants purchase, dated January 7, 1986, respondent made a
in awarding approval of Offers". While the check for On June 14, 1999, this Court received the sworn second offer to purchase the subject property the
initial down payment tendered by respondent was letter-complaint asserting that as court employee following day, January 8, 1986, knowing fully well that
returned to him, he was nevertheless informed that he respondent cannot buy property in litigation the subject property was being occupied. x x x
may file an offer to purchase Lot 11 and that if he (consequently he is not a buyer in good faith), commit
could put up a sufficient down payment, the Estate deception, dishonesty, oppression and grave abuse of 8. Because of this denial, respondent met with the
could immediately endorse it for approval of the authority. Complainant specifically alleged the family of the complainant and negotiated for the sale
Probate Court so that the property can be awarded to following: of the property and transfer of the title in favor of the
him "should the occupant fail to avail of the priority 3. Complainant and his siblings, are possessors and latter. Respondent made the complainant and his
given to them."4 occupants of a parcel of land situated at Brgy. San family believed that he is the representative of the
Vicente, Jaro, Iloilo City, then identified as Lot No. estate and that he needed a downpayment right
The following day, January 8, 1986, respondent again 1280-D-4-11, later consolidated and subdivided and away. All the while, the Sabidong family (who were
submitted an Offer to Purchase Lot 11 with an area of became known as Lot 11, then registered and titled in carpenters, laundrywomen, a janitor, persons who
234 square meters for the amount of ₱35,100. Under the name of Charles Newton Hodges. The Sabidong belong to the underprivileged) relied on the
the Order dated November 18, 1986 issued by the family started occupying this lot in 1948 and paid their representations of the respondent that he was
probate court (Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Branch monthly rentals until sometime in 1979 when the authorized to facilitate the sale, with more reason that
27) in Special Proceedings No. 1672 ("Testate Estate Estate of Hodges stopped accepting rentals. x x x respondent represented himself as the City Sheriff;
of the Late Charles Newton Hodges, Rosita R.
Natividad, Administratrix"), respondent’s Offer to 4. Upon knowing sometime in 1987 that the property 9. That between 1992-1993, a sister of the
Purchase Lot 11 was approved upon the court’s over which their house is standing, was being offered complainant who was fortunate to have worked
observation that the occupants of the subject lots for sale by the Estate, the mother of complainant, abroad, sent the amount of Ten Thousand
"have not manifested their desire to purchase the lots TRINIDAD CLAVERIO SABIDONG (now deceased), (₱10,000.00) Pesos to complainant’s mother, to be
they are occupying up to this date and considering took interest in buying said property, Lot 11; given to respondent Nicolasito Solas. x x x After
time restraint and considering further, that the sales in receiving the money, respondent assured the
favor of the x x x offerors are most beneficial to the 5. TRINIDAD CLAVERIO SABIDONG, was then an Sabidong family that they will not be ejected from the
estate x x x". On January 21, 1987, the probate court ordinary housekeeper and a laundrywoman, who lot, he being the City Sheriff will take care of
issued another Order granting respondent’s motion for never received any formal education, and did not everything, and taking advantage of the illiteracy of
issuance of a writ of possession in his favor. The writ even know how to read and write. When Trinidad Trinidad Claverio Sabidong, he did not issue any
of possession over Lot 11 was eventually issued on Claverio Sabidong, together with her children and the receipt;
June 27, 1989.5 complainant in this case, tried to negotiate with the
Estate for the sale of the subject property, they were 10. True enough, they were not ejected instead it took
On November 21, 1994, a Deed of Sale With informed that all papers for transaction must pass the respondent some time to see them again and
Mortgage covering Lot 11 was executed between through the respondent in this case, Nicolasito Solas. demanded additional payment. In the meanwhile, the
respondent and the Hodges Estate represented by its This is unusual, so they made inquiries and they complainant waited for the papers of the supposed
Administratrix, Mrs. Ruth R. Diocares. Lot 11 was learned that, Nicolasito Solas was then the Clerk of sale and transfer of title, which respondent had
thereby conveyed to respondent on installment for the Court 111, Branch 3, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, promised after receiving the downpayment of
total purchase price of ₱50,000. Iloilo City and presently, the City Sheriff of Iloilo City; ₱10,000.00;

Consequently, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 6. The respondent Nicolasito Solas, then Clerk of 11. That sometime again in 1995, respondent again
T-11836 in the name of C. N. Hodges was cancelled Court III, MTCC, Iloilo City, has knowledge, by reason received from the mother of complainant the amount
of Two Thousand (₱2,000.00) Pesos, allegedly for the subdivision and after the same was approved, the boasted that the property would now cost at Four
expenses of the documentation of sale and transfer of complainant did not know that two (2) titles were Thousand Five Hundred (₱4,500.00) Pesos;
title, and again respondent promised that the issued in the name of the respondent. x x x;
Sabidong family will not be ejected; 24. The threats of demolition is imminent. Clearly,
20. Meanwhile, respondent prepared a Contract to complainant and his family were duped by the
12. To the prejudice and surprise of the complainant Sell, for the complainant and his neighbor Norberto respondent and are helpless victims of an officer of
and his family, respondent was able to secure an Saplagio to affix their signatures, pursuant to their the court who took advantage of their good faith and
order for the approval of his offer to purchase x x x in previous agreement for the buyers to avail of a trust. Complainant later was informed that the subject
Special Proceedings No. 1672 x x x; housing loan with the Home Development Mutual property was awarded to the respondent as his
13. Worse, respondent moved for the issuance of a Fund (PAG-IBIG). Complainant attended the seminar Sheriff’s Fees, considering that respondent executed
Writ of Possession in his favor, which the probate of the HDMF for seven (7) times, in his desire to the decisions in ejectment cases filed by the Hodges
court acted favorably x x x. A writ of possession was consummate the sale. However, when the estate against the adverse occupants of its vast
issued on June 27, 1989 x x x; complainant affixed his signature in the contract, he properties;
was surprised that the owner of the subject property
14. x x x respondent took advantage of the trust and was the respondent. When complainant raised a 25. A civil case for the Annulment of Title of the
confidence which the Sabidong family has shown, question about this, respondent assured complainant respondent over the subject property is pending
considering that respondent was an officer of the that everything was alright and that sooner before the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Branch 37
court and a City Sheriff at that. The complainant and complainant will be the owner of the property. and a criminal complaint for Estafa is also pending
his family thought that respondent, being a City Complainant and his family, all these years, had preliminary investigation before the Office of the City
Sheriff, could help them in the transfer of the title in believed and continued to believe that the owner was Prosecutor of Iloilo City, known as I.S. No. 1559-99,
their favor. Never had they ever imagined that while the estate of Hodges and that respondent was only both filed [by] the complainant against the
respondent had been receiving from them hard- the representative of the estate; respondent.8
earned monies purportedly for the sale of the subject
property, respondent was also exercising acts of 21. The Contract to Sell, appeared to have been Acting on the complaint, Court Administrator Alfredo
ownership adverse to the interest of the complainant notarized on June 3, 1996, however, no copy thereof L. Benipayo issued a 1st Indorsement9 dated July 8,
and his family; was given to the complainant by the respondent. 1999, requiring respondent to file his comment on the
Respondent then, took the papers and documents Complaint dated May 29, 1999. On October 21, 1999,
15. Being an officer of the court and supposed to be required by the HDMF to be completed, from the respondent submitted his Comment.10
an embodiment of fairness and justice, respondent complainant allegedly for the purpose of personally
acted with malice, with grave abuse of confidence and filing the same with the HDMF. Complainant freely In a Resolution11 dated July 19, 1999, Public
deceit when he represented that he can facilitate the and voluntarily delivered all pertinent documents to Prosecutor Constantino C. Tubilleja dismissed the
sale and titling of the subject property in favor of the the respondent, thinking that respondent was helping Estafa charge against respondent for insufficiency of
complainant and his family; in the fast and easy release of the loan. While the said evidence.
documents were in the possession of the respondent,
16. That when several thousands of pesos were given he never made any transaction with the HDMF, On November 29, 2000, Court Administrator Benipayo
to the respondent as payment for the same and worse, when complainant tried to secure a copy of the issued an Evaluation and Recommendation12 finding
incidental expenses relative thereto, he was able to Contract to Sell, the copy given was not signed by the respondent guilty of violating Article 149113 of the Civil
cause the transfer of the title in his favor. x x x; Notary Public, x x x; Code. Said rule prohibits the purchase by certain
court officers of property and rights in litigation within
17. After the death of Trinidad Claverio Sabidong x x x 22. The complainant [was] shocked to learn that their jurisdiction. Court Administrator Benipayo
the respondent received from the complainant the respondent had canceled the sale and that recommended that:
amount of Five Thousand (₱5,000.00) Pesos x x x respondent refused to return the documents required
When a receipt was demanded, respondent refused by the HDMF. Respondent claimed that as Sheriff, he 1. this administrative complaint be treated as an
to issue one, and instead promised and assured the can cause the demolition of the house of the administrative matter;
complainant that they will not be ejected; complainant and of his family. Respondent threatened
the complainant and he is capable of pursuing a 2. respondent Nicolasito S. Solas, Clerk of Court IV,
xxxx demolition order and serve the same with the OCC, MTCC, Iloilo City be SUSPENDED for six (6)
19. The complainant again, through his sister-in-law, assistance of the military. x x x; months, with warning that a repetition of the same
Socorro Sabidong, delivered and gave to the offense in the future will be dealt with more severely;
respondent the amount of Three Thousand 23. After learning of the demolition order, complainant
(₱3,000.00) Pesos as expenses for the subdivision of attempted to settle the matter with the respondent, 3. inasmuch as there are factual issues regarding the
the subject lot. The respondent facilitated the however, the same proved futile as respondent delivery of substantial amounts which complainant
alleged and which defendant denied, this issue should ordered the ejectment of Priscila Saplagio and family in peaceful possession of the subject property,
be investigated and the Executive Judge of the Trinidad Sabidong from the subject lot. He insisted respondent caused the issuance of a writ of
Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City should be that public trust was observed when complainant was demolition against them. Thus, Judge Patricio
designated to hear the evidence and to make a report accorded his right of first refusal in the purchase of recommended the forfeiture of respondent’s salary for
and recommendation within sixty (60) days from Lot 11-A, albeit the latter failed to avail said right. six months to be deducted from his retirement
receipt.14 Asserting that he is a buyer in good faith and for benefits.
value, respondent cited the dismissal of the cases for
In a Resolution15 dated January 22, 2001, this Court Estafa and annulment of title and damages which In a Resolution28 dated September 29, 2008, the
adopted the recommendation of the Court complainant filed against him. Court noted Judge Patricio’s Investigation Report and
Administrator to treat the present administrative action referred the same to the Office of the Court
as a regular administrative matter and to designate On September 10, 2007, respondent compulsorily Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report and
the Executive Judge of the RTC of Iloilo City to hear retired from service. Prior to this, he wrote then Senior recommendation.
the evidence of the parties. Deputy Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepaño,
requesting for the release of his retirement benefits Findings and Recommendation of the OCA
The Court, however, noted without action the Court pending resolution of the administrative cases against
Administrator’s recommendation to suspend him.24 In a Memorandum25 dated September 24, In a Memorandum29 dated January 16, 2009, then
respondent for six months. 2007, Senior Deputy Court Administrator Elepaño Court Administrator Jose P. Perez found respondent
made the following recommendations: liable for serious and grave misconduct and
On March 13, 2001, Acting Court Administrator dishonesty and recommended the forfeiture of
Zenaida N. Elepaño forwarded the records of this a) The request of Nicolasito S. Solas, former Clerk of respondent’s salary for six months, which shall be
case to Executive Judge Tito G. Gustilo of the Iloilo Court, MTCC, Iloilo City for partial release of his deducted from his retirement benefits.
City RTC.16 In a Resolution17 dated July 18, 2001, the retirement benefits be GRANTED; and
Court referred this case to the Executive Judge of the The Court Administrator held that by his unilateral
RTC of Iloilo City for investigation, report and b) Atty. Lilian Barribal Co, Chief, Financial acts of extinguishing the contract to sell and forfeiting
recommendation within 60 days from notice. By Management Office, Office of the Court Administrator the amounts he received from complainant and
Order18 dated August 30, 2001, Executive Judge be DIRECTED to (1) WITHHOLD the amount of Two Saplagio without due notice, respondent failed to act
Gustilo set the case for reception of evidence. Hundred Thousand Pesos (₱200,000.00) from the with justice and equity. He found respondent’s denial
retirement benefits of Nicolasito S. Solas to answer to be anchored merely on the fact that he had not
On March 19, 2004, the RTC of Iloilo, Branch 37, for any administrative liability that the Court may find issued receipts which was belied by his admission
dismissed the case for annulment of title, damages against him in A.M. No. P-01-1448 (Formerly that he had asked money for the expenses of
and injunction against respondent for lack of merit.19 Administrative Matter OCA IPI No. 99-664-P); OCA partitioning Lot 11 from complainant and Saplagio.
IPI No. 99-659-P; OCA IPI No. 99-670-P; and OCA Since their PAG-IBIG loan applications did not
In a Resolution20 dated June 15, 2005, the Court IPI No. 99-753-P; and (2) RELEASE the balance of materialize, complainant should have returned the
resolved to reassign the instant administrative case to his retirement benefits.26 amounts given to him by complainant and Saplagio.
Executive Judge Rene S. Hortillo for investigation,
report and recommendation within 60 days from Eventually, the case was assigned to Judge Roger B. On February 11, 2009, the Court issued a
notice. In a Letter21 dated September 15, 2005, Patricio, the new Executive Judge of the Iloilo City Resolution30 requiring the parties to manifest whether
Executive Judge Hortillo informed the Court that per RTC for investigation, report and recommendation. they are willing to submit the case for decision on the
the records, the parties have presented their basis of the pleadings and records already filed with
testimonial and documentary evidence before retired On June 2, 2008, Judge Patricio submitted his final the Court. However, the copy of the Resolution dated
Executive Judge Tito G. Gustilo. Report and Recommendation27 finding respondent February 11, 2009 which was sent to complainant
liable for grave misconduct and dishonesty under was returned unserved with the postal carrier’s
On September 12, 2005, Executive Judge Hortillo A.M. No. 03-06-13-SC or the Code of Conduct for notation "RTS-Deceased." Meanwhile, in a
required the parties to file their respective memoranda Court Personnel. Based on the evidence presented, Compliance31 dated August 24, 2009, respondent
within 60 days from notice, upon submission of which Judge Patricio concluded that respondent expressed his willingness to submit the case for
the case shall be deemed submitted for resolution.22 misappropriated the money which he received for the decision and prayed for an early resolution of the
filing of complainant’s loan application. Such money case.
In his Memorandum,23 respondent maintained that his could not have been used for the partition of Lot No.
purchase of the subject land is not covered by the 1280-D-4-11 since the same was already subdivided Our Ruling
prohibition in paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the Civil into Lots 11-A and 11-B when respondent presented
Code. He pointed out that he bought Lot 11-A a the Contract to Sell to complainant. And despite Article 1491, paragraph 5 of the Civil Code prohibits
decade after the MTCC of Iloilo, Branch 3, had respondent’s promise to keep complainant and his court officers such as clerks of court from acquiring
property involved in litigation within the jurisdiction or order declaring the estate proceedings closed and ejected from the premises. Upon learning that the lot
territory of their courts. Said provision reads: terminated. The rule is that as long as the order for they were occupying was for sale and that they had to
the distribution of the estate has not been complied negotiate for it through respondent, complainant’s
Article 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by with, the probate proceedings cannot be deemed family readily gave the amounts he demanded and,
purchase, even at a public or judicial auction, either in closed and terminated.37 The probate court loses along with Saplagio, complied with the requirements
person or through the mediation of another: jurisdiction of an estate under administration only after for a loan application with PAG-IBIG. All the while and
the payment of all the debts and the remaining estate unknown to complainant’s family, respondent was
xxxx delivered to the heirs entitled to receive the actually working to acquire Lot 11 for himself.
(5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of same.38 Since there is no evidence to show that Sp.
superior and inferior courts, and other officers and Proc. No. 1672 in the RTC of Iloilo, Branch 27, had Thus, while respondent was negotiating with the
employees connected with the administration of already been closed and terminated at the time of the Hodges Estate for the sale of the property to him, he
justice, the property and rights in litigation or levied execution of the Deed of Sale With Mortgage dated collected as down payment ₱5,000 from
upon an execution before the court within whose November 21, 1994, Lot 11 is still deemed to be "in complainant’s family in July 1986. Four months later,
jurisdiction or territory they exercise their respective litigation" subject to the operation of Article 1491 (5) of on November 18, 1986, the probate court approved
functions; this prohibition includes the act of acquiring the Civil Code. respondent’s offer to purchase Lot 11. The latter
by assignment and shall apply to lawyers, with received further down payment from complainant in
respect to the property and rights which may be the This notwithstanding, we hold that the sale of Lot 11 the amount of ₱10,000 between 1992 and 1993, or
object of any litigation in which they may take part by in favor of respondent did not violate the rule on before the Deed of Sale with Mortgage41 dated
virtue of their profession. disqualification to purchase property because Sp. November 21, 1994 could be executed in
Proc. No. 1672 was then pending before another respondent’s favor.
x x x x (Emphasis supplied.) court (RTC) and not MTCC where he was Clerk of
The rationale advanced for the prohibition is that Court. Thereafter, respondent demanded ₱3,000 from
public policy disallows the transactions in view of the complainant supposedly for the subdivision of Lot 11
fiduciary relationship involved, i.e., the relation of trust On the charges against the respondent, we find him between the latter and the Saplagios. Yet, it was not
and confidence and the peculiar control exercised by liable for dishonesty and grave misconduct. until respondent obtained title over said lot that the
these persons.32"In so providing, the Code tends to same was subdivided into Lots 11-A and 11-B. The
prevent fraud, or more precisely, tends not to give Misconduct is a transgression of some established records42 of the case show that the Subdivision Plan
occasion for fraud, which is what can and must be and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful dated April 25, 1996, duly approved by the Land
done."33 behavior as well as gross negligence by a public Management Services (DENR) subdividing Lot 11 into
officer. To warrant dismissal from service, the sublots 11-A and 11-B, was inscribed on February 28,
For the prohibition to apply, the sale or assignment of misconduct must be grave, serious, important, 1997 – two years after TCT No. T-107519 covering
the property must take place during the pendency of weighty, momentous and not trifling. The misconduct Lot 11 was issued in respondent’s name on
the litigation involving the property.34 Where the must imply wrongful intention and not a mere error of December 5, 1994.
property is acquired after the termination of the case, judgment. The misconduct must also have a direct
no violation of paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the Civil relation to and be connected with the performance of Finally, in 1995, respondent received the amount of
Code attaches.35 the public officer’s official duties amounting either to ₱2,000 to defray the expenses for documentation and
maladministration or willful, intentional neglect, or transfer of title in complainant’s name. In the latter
In the case at bar, when respondent purchased Lot failure to discharge the duties of the office.39 instance, while it may be argued that respondent
11-A on November 21, 1994, the Decision in Civil already had the capacity to sell the subject property,
Case No. 14706 which was promulgated on May 31, Dishonesty is the "disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, the sum of all the circumstances belie an honest
1983 had long become final. Be that as it may, it can defraud or betray; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; intention on his part to convey Lot 11-A to
not be said that the property is no longer "in litigation" lack of honesty, probity, or integrity in principle; and complainant. We note the inscription in TCT No. T-
at that time considering that it was part of the Hodges lack of fairness and straightforwardness."40 1183643 in the name of C.N. Hodges that respondent
Estate then under settlement proceedings (Sp. Proc. executed a Request dated February 19, 1997 "for the
No. 1672). In this case, respondent deceived complainant’s issuance of separate titles in the name of the
family who were led to believe that he is the legal registered owner."44 Soon after, TCT No.T-
A thing is said to be in litigation not only if there is representative of the Hodges Estate, or at least 11646745 covering Lot 11-A and TCT No. T-
some contest or litigation over it in court, but also from possessed of such power to intercede for overstaying 11646846 covering Lot 11-B were issued in the name
the moment that it becomes subject to the judicial occupants of the estate’s properties like complainant. of respondent on February 28, 1997 – only eight
action of the judge.36 A property forming part of the Boasting of his position as a court officer, a City months after he executed the Contract to Sell47 in
estate under judicial settlement continues to be Sheriff at that, complainant’s family completely relied favor of complainant on June 3, 1996.
subject of litigation until the probate court issues an on his repeated assurance that they will not be
Respondent’s bare denials were correctly disregarded Under Section 52,51 Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on BERSAMIN, J.:
by the Court Administrator in the light of his own Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, dishonesty The probate court is authorized to determine the issue
admission that he indeed asked money from both and grave misconduct are classified as grave of ownership of properties for purposes of their
complainant and Saplagio. The evidence on record offenses with the corresponding penalty of dismissal inclusion or exclusion from the inventory to be
clearly established that by misrepresenting himself as for the first offense. Section 58(a) states that the submitted by the administrator, but its determination
the estate’s representative and as a court officer penalty of dismissal shall carry with it the cancellation shall only be provisional unless the interested parties
having the power to protect complainant’s family from of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and the are all heirs of the decedent, or the question is one of
eviction, respondent was able to collect sums totaling perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the collation or advancement, or the parties consent to
₱20,000 from complainant’s family. Even after the government service. the assumption of jurisdiction by the probate court and
latter realized they were duped since respondent was the rights of third parties are not impaired. Its
already the owner of Lot 11, they still offered to buy Section 53 further provides that mitigating jurisdiction extends to matters incidental or collateral
the property from him. Respondent, however, circumstances attendant to the commission of the to the settlement and distribution of the estate, such
changed his mind and no longer wanted to sell the offense should be considered in the determination of as the determination of the status of each heir and
property after nothing happened to the loan the penalty to be imposed on the erring government whether property included in the inventory is the
applications of complainant and Saplagio. This employee. However, no such mitigating circumstance conjugal or exclusive property of the deceased
subsequent unilateral cancellation by respondent of had been shown. On the contrary, respondent had spouse.
the contract to sell with complainant may have been been previously held administratively liable for
an afterthought, and plainly unjustified, based merely irregularities in the performance of his duties as Clerk Antecedents
on his own assumption that complainant could not of Court. In A.M. No. P-01-1484,52 this Court imposed Emigdio S. Mercado (Emigdio) died intestate on
make full payment. But it did not negate the deception on respondent a fine of ₱5,000 for acting imprudently January 12, 1991, survived by his second wife,
and fraudulent acts perpetrated against complainant’s in notarizing documents and administering oath on Teresita V. Mercado (Teresita), and their five children,
family who were forced into submission by the matters alien to his official duties. And in A.M. Nos. P- namely: Allan V. Mercado, Felimon V. Mercado,
constant threat of eviction. Such acts constitute grave 08-2567 (formerly OCA IPI No. 99-670-P) and P-08- Carmencita M. Sutherland, Richard V. Mercado, and
misconduct for which respondent should be held 2568 (formerly OCA IPI No. 99-753-P),53 respondent Maria Teresita M. Anderson; and his two children by
answerable. was found liable for simple misconduct and ordered to his first marriage, namely: respondent Franklin L.
pay a fine equivalent to his three (3) months salary to Mercado and petitioner Thelma M. Aranas (Thelma).
In Re: Complaint Filed by Paz De Vera Lazaro be deducted from his retirement benefits.
Against Edna Magallanes, Court Stenographer III, Emigdio inherited and acquired real properties during
RTC Br. 28 and Bonifacio G. Magallanes, Process Since respondent had compulsorily retired from his lifetime. He owned corporate shares in Mervir
Server, RTC Br. 30, Bayombong, Nueva service on September 10, 2007, for this additional Realty Corporation (Mervir Realty) and Cebu
Vizcaya,48 the Court stressed that to preserve administrative case he should be fined in an amount Emerson Transportation Corporation (Cebu
decency within the judiciary, court personnel must equivalent to his salary for six months which shall Emerson). He assigned his real properties in
comply with just contractual obligations, act fairly and likewise be deducted from his retirement benefits. exchange for corporate stocks of Mervir Realty, and
adhere to high ethical standards. In that case, we said sold his real property in Badian, Cebu (Lot 3353
that court employees are expected to be paragons of WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Nicolasito covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3252) to
uprightness, fairness and honesty not only in their S. Solas, retired Clerk of Court IV, Municipal Trial Mervir Realty.
official conduct but also in their personal dealings, Court in Cities, Iloilo City, LIABLE FOR GRAVE
including business and commercial transactions to MISCONDUCT AND DISHONESTY. Respondent is On June 3, 1991, Thelma filed in the Regional Trial
avoid becoming the court’s albatross of infamy.49 FINED in an amount equivalent to his salary for six (6) Court (RTC) in Cebu City a petition for the
months to be deducted from his retirement appointment of Teresita as the administrator of
More importantly, Section 4(c) of Republic Act No. benefits.SO ORDERED. Emigdio’s estate (Special Proceedings No. 3094-
671350 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards CEB).1 The RTC granted the petition considering that
for Public Officials and Employees mandates that FIRST DIVISION there was no opposition. The letters of administration
public officials and employees shall remain true to the G.R. No. 156407 January 15, 2014 in favor of Teresita were issued on September 7,
people at all times. They must act with justness and 1992.
sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, THELMA M. ARANAS, Petitioner,
especially the poor and the underprivileged. They vs. As the administrator, Teresita submitted an inventory
shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall TERESITA V. MERCADO, FELIMON V. MERCADO, of the estate of Emigdio on December 14, 1992 for
refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, CARMENCITA M. SUTHERLAND, RICHARD V. the consideration and approval by the RTC. She
good customs, public policy, public order, public MERCADO, MA. TERESITA M. ANDERSON, and indicated in the inventory that at the time of his death,
safety and public interest. FRANKLIN L. MERCADO, Respondents. Emigdio had "left no real properties but only personal
properties" worth ₱6,675,435.25 in all, consisting of
cash of ₱32,141.20; furniture and fixtures worth Teresita had excluded properties that should be (sic) AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
₱20,000.00; pieces of jewelry valued at ₱15,000.00; included, and accordingly ruled: JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT THE REAL
44,806 shares of stock of Mervir Realty worth PROPERTY WHICH WAS SOLD BY THE LATE
₱6,585,585.80; and 30 shares of stock of Cebu WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing premises EMIGDIO S. MERCADO DURING HIS LIFETIME TO
Emerson worth ₱22,708.25.2 and considerations, the Court hereby denies the A PRIVATE CORPORATION (MERVIR REALTY
administratrix’s motion for approval of inventory. The CORPORATION) BE INCLUDED IN THE
Claiming that Emigdio had owned other properties Court hereby orders the said administratrix to re-do INVENTORY OF THE ESTATE OF THE LATE
that were excluded from the inventory, Thelma moved the inventory of properties which are supposed to EMIGDIO S. MERCADO.
that the RTC direct Teresita to amend the inventory, constitute as the estate of the late Emigdio S.
and to be examined regarding it. The RTC granted Mercado by including therein the properties II
Thelma’s motion through the order of January 8, mentioned in the last five immediately preceding THE HONORABLE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS
1993. paragraphs hereof and then submit the revised COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF JURISDICTION
inventory within sixty (60) days from notice of this (sic) AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
On January 21, 1993, Teresita filed a compliance with order. JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT REAL
the order of January 8, 1993,3 supporting her PROPERTIES WHICH ARE IN THE POSSESSION
inventory with copies of three certificates of stocks The Court also directs the said administratrix to OF AND ALREADY REGISTERED IN THE NAME
covering the 44,806 Mervir Realty shares of render an account of her administration of the estate (OF) PRIVATE CORPORATION (MERVIR REALTY
stock;4 the deed of assignment executed by Emigdio of the late Emigdio S. Mercado which had come to her CORPORATION) BE INCLUDED IN THE
on January 10, 1991 involving real properties with the possession. She must render such accounting within INVENTORY OF THE ESTATE OF THE LATE
market value of ₱4,440,651.10 in exchange for sixty (60) days from notice hereof. SO ORDERED.9 EMIGDIO S. MERCADO.
44,407 Mervir Realty shares of stock with total par
value of ₱4,440,700.00;5 and the certificate of stock On March 29, 2001, Teresita, joined by other heirs of III
issued on January 30, 1979 for 300 shares of stock of Emigdio, timely sought the reconsideration of the THE HONORABLE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS
Cebu Emerson worth ₱30,000.00.6 order of March 14, 2001 on the ground that one of the COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
real properties affected, Lot No. 3353 located in AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
On January 26, 1993, Thelma again moved to require Badian, Cebu, had already been sold to Mervir Realty, JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS
Teresita to be examined under oath on the inventory, and that the parcels of land covered by the deed of ARE NOW ESTOPPED FROM QUESTIONING ITS
and that she (Thelma) be allowed 30 days within assignment had already come into the possession of JURISDICTION IN PASSING UPON THE ISSUE OF
which to file a formal opposition to or comment on the and registered in the name of Mervir Realty.10 Thelma WHAT PROPERTIES SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN
inventory and the supporting documents Teresita had opposed the motion. THE INVENTORY OF THE ESTATE OF THE LATE
submitted. EMIGDIO MERCADO.12
On May 18, 2001, the RTC denied the motion for
On February 4, 1993, the RTC issued an order reconsideration,11 stating that there was no cogent On May 15, 2002, the CA partly granted the petition
expressing the need for the parties to present reason for the reconsideration, and that the movants’ for certiorari, disposing as follows:13
evidence and for Teresita to be examined to enable agreement as heirs to submit to the RTC the issue of
the court to resolve the motion for approval of the what properties should be included or excluded from WHEREFORE, FOREGOING PREMISES
inventory.7 the inventory already estopped them from questioning CONSIDERED, this petition is GRANTED partially.
its jurisdiction to pass upon the issue. The assailed Orders dated March 14, 2001 and May
On April 19, 1993, Thelma opposed the approval of 18, 2001 are hereby reversed and set aside insofar as
the inventory, and asked leave of court to examine Decision of the CA the inclusion of parcels of land known as Lot No. 3353
Teresita on the inventory. Alleging that the RTC thereby acted with grave abuse located at Badian, Cebu with an area of 53,301
of discretion in refusing to approve the inventory, and square meters subject matter of the Deed of Absolute
With the parties agreeing to submit themselves to the in ordering her as administrator to include real Sale dated November 9, 1989 and the various parcels
jurisdiction of the court on the issue of what properties properties that had been transferred to Mervir Realty, of land subject matter of the Deeds of Assignment
should be included in or excluded from the inventory, Teresita, joined by her four children and her stepson dated February 17, 1989 and January 10, 1991 in the
the RTC set dates for the hearing on that issue.8 Franklin, assailed the adverse orders of the RTC revised inventory to be submitted by the administratrix
promulgated on March 14, 2001 and May 18, 2001 by is concerned and affirmed in all other respects. SO
Ruling of the RTC petition for certiorari, stating: ORDERED.
After a series of hearings that ran for almost eight
years, the RTC issued on March 14, 2001 an order I The CA opined that Teresita, et al. had properly filed
finding and holding that the inventory submitted by THE HONORABLE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS the petition for certiorari because the order of the RTC
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF JURISDICTION directing a new inventory of properties was
interlocutory; that pursuant to Article 1477 of the Civil shows that petitioners are not questioning its certiorari to assail the orders of the RTC by Teresita
Code, to the effect that the ownership of the thing sold jurisdiction but the manner in which it was exercised and her co-respondents was not proper.
"shall be transferred to the vendee" upon its "actual for which they are not estopped, since that is their
and constructive delivery," and to Article 1498 of the right, considering that there is grave abuse of Thelma’s contention cannot be sustained.
Civil Code, to the effect that the sale made through a discretion amounting to lack or in excess of limited
public instrument was equivalent to the delivery of the jurisdiction when it issued the assailed Order dated The propriety of the special civil action for certiorari as
object of the sale, the sale by Emigdio and Teresita March 14, 2001 denying the administratrix’s motion a remedy depended on whether the assailed orders of
had transferred the ownership of Lot No. 3353 to for approval of the inventory of properties which were the RTC were final or interlocutory in nature. In
Mervir Realty because the deed of absolute sale already titled and in possession of a third person that Pahila-Garrido v. Tortogo,16 the Court distinguished
executed on November 9, 1989 had been notarized; is, Mervir Realty Corporation, a private corporation, between final and interlocutory orders as follows:
that Emigdio had thereby ceased to have any more which under the law possessed a personality distinct
interest in Lot 3353; that Emigdio had assigned the and separate from its stockholders, and in the The distinction between a final order and an
parcels of land to Mervir Realty as early as February absence of any cogency to shred the veil of corporate interlocutory order is well known. The first disposes of
17, 1989 "for the purpose of saving, as in avoiding fiction, the presumption of conclusiveness of said the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a
taxes with the difference that in the Deed of titles in favor of Mervir Realty Corporation should particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing more
Assignment dated January 10, 1991, additional seven stand undisturbed. to be done except to enforce by execution what the
(7) parcels of land were included"; that as to the court has determined, but the latter does not
January 10, 1991 deed of assignment, Mervir Realty Besides, public respondent court acting as a probate completely dispose of the case but leaves something
had been "even at the losing end considering that court had no authority to determine the applicability of else to be decided upon. An interlocutory order deals
such parcels of land, subject matter(s) of the Deed of the doctrine of piercing the veil of corporate fiction and with preliminary matters and the trial on the merits is
Assignment dated February 12, 1989, were again even if public respondent court was not merely acting yet to be held and the judgment rendered. The test to
given monetary consideration through shares of in a limited capacity as a probate court, private ascertain whether or not an order or a judgment is
stock"; that even if the assignment had been based on respondent nonetheless failed to adjudge competent interlocutory or final is: does the order or judgment
the deed of assignment dated January 10, 1991, the evidence that would have justified the court to impale leave something to be done in the trial court with
parcels of land could not be included in the inventory the veil of corporate fiction because to disregard the respect to the merits of the case? If it does, the order
"considering that there is nothing wrong or separate jurisdictional personality of a corporation, the or judgment is interlocutory; otherwise, it is final.
objectionable about the estate planning scheme"; that wrongdoing must be clearly and convincingly
the RTC, as an intestate court, also had no power to established since it cannot be presumed.14 The order dated November 12, 2002, which granted
take cognizance of and determine the issue of title to the application for the writ of preliminary injunction,
property registered in the name of third persons or On November 15, 2002, the CA denied the motion for was an interlocutory, not a final, order, and should not
corporation; that a property covered by the Torrens reconsideration of Teresita, et al.15 be the subject of an appeal. The reason for
system should be afforded the presumptive disallowing an appeal from an interlocutory order is to
conclusiveness of title; that the RTC, by disregarding Issue avoid multiplicity of appeals in a single action, which
the presumption, had transgressed the clear necessarily suspends the hearing and decision on the
provisions of law and infringed settled jurisprudence Did the CA properly determine that the RTC merits of the action during the pendency of the
on the matter; and that the RTC also gravely abused committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to appeals. Permitting multiple appeals will necessarily
its discretion in holding that Teresita, et al. were lack or excess of jurisdiction in directing the inclusion delay the trial on the merits of the case for a
estopped from questioning its jurisdiction because of of certain properties in the inventory notwithstanding considerable length of time, and will compel the
their agreement to submit to the RTC the issue of that such properties had been either transferred by adverse party to incur unnecessary expenses, for one
which properties should be included in the inventory. sale or exchanged for corporate shares in Mervir of the parties may interpose as many appeals as
Realty by the decedent during his lifetime? there are incidental questions raised by him and as
The CA further opined as follows: there are interlocutory orders rendered or issued by
Ruling of the Court the lower court. An interlocutory order may be the
In the instant case, public respondent court erred subject of an appeal, but only after a judgment has
when it ruled that petitioners are estopped from The appeal is meritorious. been rendered, with the ground for appealing the
questioning its jurisdiction considering that they have order being included in the appeal of the judgment
already agreed to submit themselves to its jurisdiction I itself.
of determining what properties are to be included in or Was certiorari the proper recourse to assail the
excluded from the inventory to be submitted by the questioned orders of the RTC? The remedy against an interlocutory order not subject
administratrix, because actually, a reading of of an appeal is an appropriate special civil action
petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration dated March The first issue to be resolved is procedural. Thelma under Rule 65, provided that the interlocutory order is
26, 2001 filed before public respondent court clearly contends that the resort to the special civil action for rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction or with
grave abuse of discretion. Then is certiorari under not be included in the inventory or list of properties to
Rule 65 allowed to be resorted to. be administered by the administrator. If there is a (e) Constitutes, in proceedings relating to the
dispute as to the ownership, then the opposing parties settlement of the estate of a deceased person, or the
The assailed order of March 14, 2001 denying and the administrator have to resort to an ordinary administration of a trustee or guardian, a final
Teresita’s motion for the approval of the inventory and action for a final determination of the conflicting claims determination in the lower court of the rights of the
the order dated May 18, 2001 denying her motion for of title because the probate court cannot do so. (Bold party appealing, except that no appeal shall be
reconsideration were interlocutory. This is because emphasis supplied) allowed from the appointment of a special
the inclusion of the properties in the inventory was not administrator; and
yet a final determination of their ownership. Hence, On the other hand, an appeal would not be the correct
the approval of the inventory and the concomitant recourse for Teresita, et al. to take against the (f) Is the final order or judgment rendered in the case,
determination of the ownership as basis for inclusion assailed orders. The final judgment rule embodied in and affects the substantial rights of the person
or exclusion from the inventory were provisional and the first paragraph of Section 1, Rule 41, Rules of appealing, unless it be an order granting or denying a
subject to revision at anytime during the course of the Court,21 which also governs appeals in special motion for a new trial or for reconsideration.
administration proceedings. proceedings, stipulates that only the judgments, final
orders (and resolutions) of a court of law "that Clearly, the assailed orders of the RTC, being
In Valero Vda. De Rodriguez v. Court of completely disposes of the case, or of a particular interlocutory, did not come under any of the instances
Appeals,17 the Court, in affirming the decision of the matter therein when declared by these Rules to be in which multiple appeals are permitted.
CA to the effect that the order of the intestate court appealable" may be the subject of an appeal in due
excluding certain real properties from the inventory course. The same rule states that an interlocutory II
was interlocutory and could be changed or modified at order or resolution (interlocutory because it deals with Did the RTC commit grave abuse of discretion in
anytime during the course of the administration preliminary matters, or that the trial on the merits is directing the inclusion of the properties
proceedings, held that the order of exclusion was not yet to be held and the judgment rendered) is in the estate of the decedent?
a final but an interlocutory order "in the sense that it expressly made non-appealable.
did not settle once and for all the title to the San In its assailed decision, the CA concluded that the
Lorenzo Village lots." The Court observed there that: Multiple appeals are permitted in special proceedings RTC committed grave abuse of discretion for
as a practical recognition of the possibility that including properties in the inventory notwithstanding
The prevailing rule is that for the purpose of material issues may be finally determined at various their having been transferred to Mervir Realty by
determining whether a certain property should or stages of the special proceedings. Section 1, Rule Emigdio during his lifetime, and for disregarding the
should not be included in the inventory, the probate 109 of the Rules of Court enumerates the specific registration of the properties in the name of Mervir
court may pass upon the title thereto but such instances in which multiple appeals may be resorted Realty, a third party, by applying the doctrine of
determination is not conclusive and is subject to the to in special proceedings, viz: piercing the veil of corporate fiction.
final decision in a separate action regarding
ownership which may be instituted by the parties (3 Section 1.Orders or judgments from which appeals Was the CA correct in its conclusion?
Moran’s Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 may be taken. - An interested person may appeal in The answer is in the negative. It is unavoidable to find
Edition, pages 448-9 and 473; Lachenal vs. Salas, L- special proceedings from an order or judgment that the CA, in reaching its conclusion, ignored the
42257, June 14, 1976, 71 SCRA 262, 266).18 (Bold rendered by a Court of First Instance or a Juvenile law and the facts that had fully warranted the assailed
emphasis supplied) and Domestic Relations Court, where such order or orders of the RTC.
judgment:
To the same effect was De Leon v. Court of Under Section 6(a), Rule 78 of the Rules of Court, the
Appeals,19 where the Court declared that a "probate (a) Allows or disallows a will; letters of administration may be granted at the
court, whether in a testate or intestate proceeding, discretion of the court to the surviving spouse, who is
can only pass upon questions of title provisionally," (b) Determines who are the lawful heirs of a deceased competent and willing to serve when the person dies
and reminded, citing Jimenez v. Court of Appeals, that person, or the distributive share of the estate to which intestate. Upon issuing the letters of administration to
the "patent reason is the probate court’s limited such person is entitled; the surviving spouse, the RTC becomes duty-bound
jurisdiction and the principle that questions of title or to direct the preparation and submission of the
ownership, which result in inclusion or exclusion from (c) Allows or disallows, in whole or in part, any claim inventory of the properties of the estate, and the
the inventory of the property, can only be settled in a against the estate of a deceased person, or any claim surviving spouse, as the administrator, has the duty
separate action." Indeed, in the cited case of Jimenez presented on behalf of the estate in offset to a claim and responsibility to submit the inventory within three
v. Court of Appeals,20 the Court pointed out: against it; months from the issuance of letters of administration
pursuant to Rule 83 of the Rules of Court, viz:
All that the said court could do as regards the said (d) Settles the account of an executor, administrator,
properties is determine whether they should or should trustee or guardian;
Section 1.Inventory and appraisal to be returned to be a part of the estate but are claimed to belong to the property in the inventory is conjugal or exclusive
within three months. – Within three (3) months after third parties by title adverse to that of the decedent property of the deceased spouse.27 (Italics in the
his appointment every executor or administrator shall and the estate, not by virtue of any right of inheritance original; bold emphasis supplied)
return to the court a true inventory and appraisal of all from the decedent. All that the trial court can do
the real and personal estate of the deceased which regarding said properties is to determine whether or It is clear to us that the RTC took pains to explain the
has come into his possession or knowledge. In the not they should be included in the inventory of factual bases for its directive for the inclusion of the
appraisement of such estate, the court may order one properties to be administered by the administrator. properties in question in its assailed order of March
or more of the inheritance tax appraisers to give his or Such determination is provisional and may be still 14, 2001, viz:
their assistance. revised. As the Court said in Agtarap v. Agtarap:26
In the first place, the administratrix of the estate
The usage of the word all in Section 1, supra, The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial admitted that Emigdio Mercado was one of the heirs
demands the inclusion of all the real and personal court, either as a probate court or an intestate court, of Severina Mercado who, upon her death, left several
properties of the decedent in the relates only to matters having to do with the probate properties as listed in the inventory of properties
inventory.22 However, the word all is qualified by the of the will and/or settlement of the estate of deceased submitted in Court in Special Proceedings No. 306-R
phrase which has come into his possession or persons, but does not extend to the determination of which are supposed to be divided among her heirs.
knowledge, which signifies that the properties must be questions of ownership that arise during the The administratrix admitted, while being examined in
known to the administrator to belong to the decedent proceedings. The patent rationale for this rule is that Court by the counsel for the petitioner, that she did
or are in her possession as the administrator. Section such court merely exercises special and limited not include in the inventory submitted by her in this
1 allows no exception, for the phrase true inventory jurisdiction. As held in several cases, a probate court case the shares of Emigdio Mercado in the said
implies that no properties appearing to belong to the or one in charge of estate proceedings, whether estate of Severina Mercado. Certainly, said properties
decedent can be excluded from the inventory, testate or intestate, cannot adjudicate or determine constituting Emigdio Mercado’s share in the estate of
regardless of their being in the possession of another title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate Severina Mercado should be included in the inventory
person or entity. and which are claimed to belong to outside parties, of properties required to be submitted to the Court in
not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the this particular case.
The objective of the Rules of Court in requiring the deceased but by title adverse to that of the deceased
inventory and appraisal of the estate of the decedent and his estate. All that the said court could do as In the second place, the administratrix of the estate of
is "to aid the court in revising the accounts and regards said properties is to determine whether or not Emigdio Mercado also admitted in Court that she did
determining the liabilities of the executor or the they should be included in the inventory of properties not include in the inventory shares of stock of Mervir
administrator, and in making a final and equitable to be administered by the administrator. If there is no Realty Corporation which are in her name and which
distribution (partition) of the estate and otherwise to dispute, there poses no problem, but if there is, then were paid by her from money derived from the taxicab
facilitate the administration of the estate."23Hence, the the parties, the administrator, and the opposing business which she and her husband had since 1955
RTC that presides over the administration of an estate parties have to resort to an ordinary action before a as a conjugal undertaking. As these shares of stock
is vested with wide discretion on the question of what court exercising general jurisdiction for a final partake of being conjugal in character, one-half
properties should be included in the inventory. determination of the conflicting claims of title. thereof or of the value thereof should be included in
According to Peralta v. Peralta,24 the CA cannot the inventory of the estate of her husband.
impose its judgment in order to supplant that of the However, this general rule is subject to exceptions as
RTC on the issue of which properties are to be justified by expediency and convenience. In the third place, the administratrix of the estate of
included or excluded from the inventory in the Emigdio Mercado admitted, too, in Court that she had
absence of "positive abuse of discretion," for in the First, the probate court may provisionally pass upon in a bank account in her name at Union Bank which she
administration of the estates of deceased persons, an intestate or a testate proceeding the question of opened when her husband was still alive. Again, the
"the judges enjoy ample discretionary powers and the inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece money in said bank account partakes of being
appellate courts should not interfere with or attempt to of property without prejudice to final determination of conjugal in character, and so, one-half thereof should
replace the action taken by them, unless it be shown ownership in a separate action. Second, if the be included in the inventory of the properties
that there has been a positive abuse of interested parties are all heirs to the estate, or the constituting as estate of her husband.
discretion."25 As long as the RTC commits no patently question is one of collation or advancement, or the
grave abuse of discretion, its orders must be parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by In the fourth place, it has been established during the
respected as part of the regular performance of its the probate court and the rights of third parties are not hearing in this case that Lot No. 3353 of Pls-657-D
judicial duty. impaired, then the probate court is competent to located in Badian, Cebu containing an area of 53,301
resolve issues on ownership. Verily, its jurisdiction square meters as described in and covered by
There is no dispute that the jurisdiction of the trial extends to matters incidental or collateral to the Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3252 of the Registry of
court as an intestate court is special and limited. The settlement and distribution of the estate, such as the Deeds for the Province of Cebu is still registered in
trial court cannot adjudicate title to properties claimed determination of the status of each heir and whether the name of Emigdio S. Mercado until now. When it
was the subject of Civil Case No. CEB-12690 which Secondly, with Emigdio and Teresita having been of the transaction under the deed, and what the
was decided on October 19, 1995, it was the estate of married prior to the effectivity of the Family Code in contents purported to be. The presumption of
the late Emigdio Mercado which claimed to be the August 3, 1988, their property regime was the regularity could be rebutted by clear and convincing
owner thereof. Mervir Realty Corporation never conjugal partnership of gains.29 For purposes of the evidence to the contrary.32 As the Court has observed
intervened in the said case in order to be the owner settlement of Emigdio’s estate, it was unavoidable for in Suntay v. Court of Appeals:33
thereof. This fact was admitted by Richard Mercado Teresita to include his shares in the conjugal
himself when he testified in Court. x x x So the said partnership of gains. The party asserting that specific x x x. Though the notarization of the deed of sale in
property located in Badian, Cebu should be included property acquired during that property regime did not question vests in its favor the presumption of
in the inventory in this case. pertain to the conjugal partnership of gains carried the regularity, it is not the intention nor the function of the
burden of proof, and that party must prove the notary public to validate and make binding an
Fifthly and lastly, it appears that the assignment of exclusive ownership by one of them by clear, instrument never, in the first place, intended to have
several parcels of land by the late Emigdio S. categorical, and convincing evidence.30 In the any binding legal effect upon the parties thereto. The
Mercado to Mervir Realty Corporation on January 10, absence of or pending the presentation of such proof, intention of the parties still and always is the primary
1991 by virtue of the Deed of Assignment signed by the conjugal partnership of Emigdio and Teresita must consideration in determining the true nature of a
him on the said day (Exhibit N for the petitioner and be provisionally liquidated to establish who the real contract. (Bold emphasis supplied)
Exhibit 5 for the administratrix) was a transfer in owners of the affected properties were,31 and which of
contemplation of death. It was made two days before the properties should form part of the estate of It should likewise be pointed out that the exchange of
he died on January 12, 1991. A transfer made in Emigdio. The portions that pertained to the estate of shares of stock of Mervir Realty with the real
contemplation of death is one prompted by the Emigdio must be included in the inventory. properties owned by Emigdio would still have to be
thought that the transferor has not long to live and inquired into. That Emigdio executed the deed of
made in place of a testamentary disposition (1959 Moreover, although the title over Lot 3353 was assignment two days prior to his death was a
Prentice Hall, p. 3909). Section 78 of the National already registered in the name of Mervir Realty, the circumstance that should put any interested party on
Internal Revenue Code of 1977 provides that the RTC made findings that put that title in dispute. Civil his guard regarding the exchange, considering that
gross estate of the decedent shall be determined by Case No. CEB-12692, a dispute that had involved the there was a finding about Emigdio having been sick of
including the value at the time of his death of all ownership of Lot 3353, was resolved in favor of the cancer of the pancreas at the time.34 In this regard,
property to the extent of any interest therein of which estate of Emigdio, and whether the CA correctly characterized the exchange
the decedent has at any time made a transfer in as a form of an estate planning scheme remained to
contemplation of death. So, the inventory to be Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3252 covering Lot be validated by the facts to be established in court.
approved in this case should still include the said 3353 was still in Emigdio’s name. Indeed, the RTC
properties of Emigdio Mercado which were transferred noted in the order of March 14, 2001, or ten years The fact that the properties were already covered by
by him in contemplation of death. Besides, the said after his death, that Lot 3353 had remained registered Torrens titles in the name of Mervir Realty could not
properties actually appeared to be still registered in in the name of Emigdio. be a valid basis for immediately excluding them from
the name of Emigdio S. Mercado at least ten (10) the inventory in view of the circumstances admittedly
months after his death, as shown by the certification Interestingly, Mervir Realty did not intervene at all in surrounding the execution of the deed of assignment.
issued by the Cebu City Assessor’s Office on October Civil Case No. CEB-12692.Such lack of interest in This is because:
31, 1991 (Exhibit O).28 Civil Case No. CEB-12692 was susceptible of various
interpretations, including one to the effect that the The Torrens system is not a mode of acquiring titles
Thereby, the RTC strictly followed the directives of the heirs of Emigdio could have already threshed out their to lands; it is merely a system of registration of titles to
Rules of Court and the jurisprudence relevant to the differences with the assistance of the trial court. This lands. However, justice and equity demand that the
procedure for preparing the inventory by the interpretation was probable considering that Mervir titleholder should not be made to bear the unfavorable
administrator. The aforequoted explanations indicated Realty, whose business was managed by respondent effect of the mistake or negligence of the State’s
that the directive to include the properties in question Richard, was headed by Teresita herself as its agents, in the absence of proof of his complicity in a
in the inventory rested on good and valid reasons, President. In other words, Mervir Realty appeared to fraud or of manifest damage to third persons. The real
and thus was far from whimsical, or arbitrary, or be a family corporation. purpose of the Torrens system is to quiet title to land
capricious. and put a stop forever to any question as to the
Also, the fact that the deed of absolute sale executed legality of the title, except claims that were noted in
Firstly, the shares in the properties inherited by by Emigdio in favor of Mervir Realty was a notarized the certificate at the time of registration or that may
Emigdio from Severina Mercado should be included in instrument did not sufficiently justify the exclusion arise subsequent thereto. Otherwise, the integrity of
the inventory because Teresita, et al. did not dispute from the inventory of the properties involved. A the Torrens system shall forever be sullied by the
the fact about the shares being inherited by Emigdio. notarized deed of sale only enjoyed the presumption ineptitude and inefficiency of land registration officials,
of regularity in favor of its execution, but its who are ordinarily presumed to have regularly
notarization did not per se guarantee the legal efficacy performed their duties.35
estate. As long as the RTC commits no patent grave
Assuming that only seven titled lots were the subject abuse of discretion, its orders must be respected as On November 16, 1989, Pedro L. Rifioza died
of the deed of assignment of January 10, 1991, such part of the regular performance of its judicial duty. intestate, leaving several heirs, including his_ children
lots should still be included in the inventory to enable Grave abuse of discretion means either that the with his first wife, respondents Ma. Gracia R. Plazo
the parties, by themselves, and with the assistance of judicial or quasi-judicial power was exercised in an and Ma. Fe Alaras, as well as several properties
the RTC itself, to test and resolve the issue on the arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or including a resort covered by Transfer Certificates of
validity of the assignment. The limited jurisdiction of personal hostility, or that the respondent judge, Title (TCT) No. 51354 and No. 51355, each with an
the RTC as an intestate court might have constricted tribunal or board evaded a positive duty, or virtually area of 351 square meters, and a family home, the
the determination of the rights to the properties arising refused to perform the duty enjoined or to act in land on which it stands is covered by TCT Nos. 40807
from that deed,36 but it does not prevent the RTC as contemplation of law, such as when such judge, and 40808, both located in Nasugbu, Batangas. 4
intestate court from ordering the inclusion in the tribunal or board exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
inventory of the properties subject of that deed. This is powers acted in a capricious or whimsical manner as In their Amended Complaint for Judicial Partition with
because the RTC as intestate court, albeit vested only to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.39 Annulment of Title and Recovery of
with special and limited jurisdiction, was still "deemed Possession 5 dated September 15, 1993, respondents
to have all the necessary powers to exercise such In light of the foregoing, the CA's conclusion of grave alleged that sometime in March 1991, they discovered
jurisdiction to make it effective."37 abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC was that their co-heirs, Pedro’s second wife,
unwarranted and erroneous. Benita"Tenorio and other children, had sold the
Lastly, the inventory of the estate of Emigdio must be subject properties to petitioners, spouses Francisco
prepared and submitted for the important purpose of WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for Villafria and Maria Butiong, who are now deceased
resolving the difficult issues of collation and review on certiorari; REVERSES and SETS ASIDE and substituted by their son, Dr. Ruel B. Villafria,
advancement to the heirs. Article 1061 of the Civil the decision promulgated on May 15, 2002; without their knowledge and consent. When
Code required every compulsory heir and the REINSTATES the orders issued on March 14, 2001 confronted about the sale, Benita acknowledged the
surviving spouse, herein Teresita herself, to "bring and May 18, 2001 by the Regional Trial Court in same, showing respondents a document she believed
into the mass of the estate any property or right which Cebu; DIRECTS the Regional Trial Court in Cebu to evidenced receipt of her share in the sale, which,
he (or she) may have received from the decedent, proceed with dispatch in Special Proceedings No. however, did not refer to any sort of sale but to a
during the lifetime of the latter, by way of donation, or 3094-CEB entitled Intestate Estate of the late Emigdio previous loan obtoiined by Pedro and Benita from a
any other gratuitous title, in order that it may be Mercado, Thelma Aranas, petitioner, and to resolve bank. 6 The document actually evidenced receipt from
computed in the determination of the legitime of each the case; and ORDERS the respondents to pay the Banco Silangan of the amount of ₱87, 352.62
heir, and in the account of the partition." Section 2, costs of suit.SO ORDERED. releasing her and her late husband’s indebtedness
Rule 90 of the Rules of Court also provided that any therefrom. 7 Upon inquiry, the Register of Deeds of
advancement by the decedent on the legitime of an THIRD DIVISION Nasugbu informed respondents that he has no record
heir "may be heard and determined by the court G.R. No. 187524 August 5, 2015 of any transaction involving the subject properties,
having jurisdiction of the estate proceedings, and the giving them certified true copies of the titles to the
final order of the court thereon shall be binding on the SPOUSES MARIA BUTIONG and VILLAFRlA, DR. same. When respondents went to the subject
person raising the questions and on the heir." Rule 90 RUEL B. SPOUSES MARIA FRANCISCO properties, they discovered that 4 out of the 8
thereby expanded the special and limited jurisdiction substituted by VILLAFRIA, Petitioners, cottages in the resort had been demolished. They
of the RTC as an intestate court about the matters vs. were not, however, able to enter as the premises
relating to the inventory of the estate of the decedent MA. GRACIA RINOZA PLAZO and MA. FE RINOZA were padlocked.
by authorizing it to direct the inclusion of properties ALARAS, Respondents.
donated or bestowed by gratuitous title to any Subsequently, respondents learned that on July 18,
compulsory heir by the decedent.38 PERALTA, J.: 1991, a notice of an extra-judicial settlement of estate
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari of their late father was published in a tabloid called
The determination of which properties should be under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to Balita. Because of this, They caused the annotation of
excluded from or included in the inventory of estate reverse and set aside the Decision 1 and their adverse claims over the subject properties
properties was well within the authority and discretion Resolution, 2 dated March 13, 2009 and April 23, before the Register of Deeds of Nasugbu and filed
of the RTC as an intestate court. In making its 2009·, respectively, of the Court Appeals (CA) in CA- their complaint praying, among others, for the
determination, the RTC acted with circumspection, G.R. SP No. 107347, Which affirmed the annulment of all documents conveying the subject
and proceeded under the guiding policy that it was Judgment 3 dated October 1, 2001 of the Regional properties to the petitioners and certificates of title
best to include all properties in the possession of the Trial Court (RTC) of Nasugbu, Batangas, Branch 14, issued pursuant thereto. 8
administrator or were known to the administrator to in Civil Case No. 217.
belong to Emigdio rather than to exclude properties In their Answer, 9 petitioners denied the allegations of
that could turn out in the end to be actually part of the The antecedent facts are as follows: the complaint on the groun_d of lack of personal
knowledge and good faith in acquiring the subject de Guzman marked Doc. No. 1136, Page No. 141, prejudicial to parties in good faith relying on the
properties. In the course of his testimony during trial, and Book. No. XXX, Series of 1991. proferred authority of the notary public or the person
petitioner Francisco further contended that what they pretending to be one. Still, to admit otherwise would
purchased was only the resort. 10 He also presented c) Ordering the forfeiture of any and all improvements render merely officious the elaborate process devised
an Extra-Judicial Settlement with Renunciation, introduced By defendants Francisco Villafria and by this Court in order that a lawyer may receive a
Repudiations and Waiver of Rights and Sale which Maria Butiong in the properties Covered by TCT No. notarial commission. Without such a rule,
provides, among others, that respondents' co-heirs 40807, 40808, 51354 and 51355 of the Register of
sold the family home to the spouses Rolando and Ma. Deeds for Nasugbu, Batangas. . The notarization of a document by a duly appointed
Cecilia Bondoc for Pl million as well as a Deed of Sale notary public will have the same legal effect as one
whereby Benita sold the resort to petitioners for ₱650, 5. Ordering defendant Francisco Villafria and all accomplished by a non-lawyer engaged in pretense.
000.00. 11 persons, whose Occupancy within the premises of the The notarization of a document carries considerable
four- (4) parcels of land described in Par. 4-c above is legal effect. Notarization of a private document
On October 1, 2001, the trial court nullified the derived from the rights and interest of defendant converts such document into a public one, and
transfer of the subject Properties to petitioners and Villafria, to vacate its premises and to deliver renders it admissible in court without further proof of
spouses Bondoc due to irregularities in the possession thereof, and all improvements existing its authenticity. Thus, notarization is not an empty
Documents of conveyance offered by petitioner’s .as thereon to plaintiffs, for and in behalf of the estate of routine; to the contrary, it engages public interest in a
well as the circumstances Surrounding the execution decedent Pedro L. Rifioza. substantial degree and the protection of that interest
of the same. Specifically, the Extra-Judicial requires preventing those who are not qualified or
Settlement was notarized by a notary public that was 6. Declaring the plaintiffs and the defendants-heirs in authorized to act as notaries public from imposing
not duly commissioned as such on the date it was the Amended Complaint to be the legitimate heirs of upon the public and the courts and administrative
executed. 12 The Deed of Sale was Undated, the date decedent Pedro L. Rifioza, each in the capacity and offices generally.
of the acknowledgment therein was left blank, and the degree established, as well as their direct successors-
Typewritten name "Pedro Rifioza, Husband" on the in interest, and ordering the defendant Registrar of Parenthetically, the settlement/family home deed
left side of the document Was not signed. 13 The trial Deeds to issue the co1Tesponding titles in their cannot be considered a public document. This is
court also observed that both documents were Never names in the proportion established by law, pro in because the following cast doubt on the document's
presented to the Office of the Register of Deeds for division, in TCT Nos. 40807, 40808, 51354, 51355 authenticity, to wit: J.
registration and That the titles to the subject and 40353 (after restoration) within ten (10) days from
properties were still in the names of Pedro and His finality of this Decision, 4pon payment of lawful fees, 1.) The date of its execution was not indicated;
second wife Benita. In addition, the supposed notaries except TCT No. 40353, which shall be exempt from all 2.) The amount of consideration was superimposed;
and buyers of the Subject properties were not even expenses for its restoration. 3.) It was not presented to the Registry of Deeds of
presented as witnesses whom supposedly witnessed Nasugbu, Batangas for annotation; and
the signing and execution of the documents of With no costs. SO ORDERED. 15 4.) Not even the supposed notary public," Alfredo de
conveyance. 14 On The basis thereof, the triaI court Guzman, or the purported buyer, the Spouses
ruled in favor of respondents, in its Judgment, the On appeal, the CA affirmed the trial ‘court’s Judgment Rolando and Ma. Cecilia Bondoc, were presented as
pertinent portions of its fallo provide: in its Decision 16 dated October 31, 2006 in the witnesses. · Concededly, the absence of notarization
following wise: in the resort deed and/or the lacking details in the
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, settlement/family home deed did not necessarily
judgment is Hereby rendered as follows: The person before whom the resort deed was invalidate the transactions evidenced by the said
acknowledged, Alfredo de Guzman, was not documents. However, since the said deeds are
xxxx commissioned as a notary public from 1989 to July 3, private documents, perforce, their due execution and
4. A) Declaring as a nullity the ~'Extra-Judicial 1991, the date the certification was issued. Such authenticity becomes subject to the requirement of
Settlement with Renunciation, Repudiation and being the case, the resort deed is not a public proof under the Rules on Evidence, Section 20, Rule
Waiver of Rights and Sale" (Ex. "l ", Villafria) notarized document and the presumption of regularity accorded 132 of which provides: Sec. 20. Proof of private
on December 23, 1991 by Notary Public Antonio G. to public documents will not apply to the same. As laid document. - Before any private. Document offered as
Malonzo of Manila, Doc. No. 190, Page No. 20, Book down in Tigno, et al. v. Aquino, et al.: authentic is received in evidence, its due execution
No. IXII, Series of 1991. . a"Q.d. authenticity must be proved either:
The validity of a notarial certification necessarily
b) Declaring as a nullity the Deed of Absolute Sale derives from the authority of the notarial officer. If the (a). By anyone who saw the document executed or
(Ex. "2", Villafria), purportedly executed by Benita T. notary public docs net have the capacity to notarize a written; or
Rifioza in favor of spouses Francisco Villafria and document, but does so anyway, then the document
Maria Butiong, purportedly notarized by one Alfredo should be treated as A. Unnotarized. The rule may (b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or
strike as rather harsh, and perhaps may prove to be handwriting of the maker.
failed to comply with the 2004 Rules on Notarial The Petitioner argues that the assailed Decision and
The Complaining Heirs insist that the Practice regarding competent evidence of affiant' s Order of the Court a quo, supra, should be annulled
settlement/family home and the resort deed are void, identities. 18 In its Resolution 19 dated September 26, and set aside on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and
as their signatures thereon are forgeries as opposed 2007, this Court also denied petitioner's Motion for lack of jurisdiction.
to the Villafrias who profess the deeds' enforceability. Reconsideration in the absence of any compelling
After the Complaining Heirs presented proofs in reason to warrant a modification of the previous We are not persuaded.
support of their claim that their signatures were denial. Thus, the June 20, 2007 Resolution became
forged, the burden then fell upon the Villafrias to final and executors on October 31, 2007 as certified xxxx
disprove the ~ame2 or conversely, to prove the by the Entry of Judgment issued by the Court. 20 On Section 2 of the Rules as stated above provides that
authenticity and due execution of the said deeds. The January 16, 2008, the Court further denied petitioner' the annulment of a judgment may "be based only on
Villafrias failed in this regard. s motion for leave to admit a second motion for grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction." In
reconsideration of its September 26, 2007 Resolution, RP v. The Heirs of Sancho Magdato, the High
As forestalled, the Villafrias did not present as considering that the same is a prohibited pleading Tribunal stressed that: There is extrinsic fraud when
witnesses (a) the notary public who purportedly under Section 2, Rule 52, in relation to Section 4, "the unsuccessful party had been ·prevented from
notarized the questioned instrument, (b) the witnesses Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as exhibiting fully his case, by fraud or deception
who appear [Ed] in the instruments as eyewitnesses amended. Furthennore, petitioner's letter dated practiced on him by his opponent, as by keeping him
to the signing, or (c) an expert to prove the December 18, 2007 pleading the Court to take a away from court, ... or where the defendant never had
authenticity and genuineness of all the signatures second. Look at his petition for review on certiorari knowledge of the suit, being kept in ignorance by the
appearing on the said instruments. Verily, the rule and that a decision thereon be rendered based purely acts of the plaintiff; ... "
that, proper foundation must be laid for the admission on its merits was noted without action. 21
of documentary evidence; that is, the identity and Otherwise put, extrinsic or collateral fraud pertains to
authenticity of the document must be reasonably Unsatisfied, petitioner wrote a letter dated March 24, such fraud, which prevents the aggrieved party ·from
established as a pre requisite to its admission, was 2008 addressed to then Chief Justice Reynato S. having a trial or presenting his case to the court, or is
prudently observed by the lower court when it refused Puno praying that a decision on the case be rendered used to procure the judgment without fair submission
to admit the settlement/family home and the resort based on the. Merits and not on formal requirements of the controversy. This refers to acts intended to
deeds as their veracity are doubtful. 17 "as he stands to lose everything his parents had left keep the unsuccessful party away from the courts as
him just because the verification against non-forum when there is a false promise of compromise or when
Aggrieved, petitioners, substituted by their son Ruel shopping is formally defective." However, in view of one is kept in ignorance of the suit. The pivotal issues
Villafria, filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated the Entry of Judgment having been made on October before us are (1) whether. There was a time during
November 24, 2006 raising the trial court’s lack of 31, 2007, the Court likewise noted said letter without the proceedings below that the Petitioners ever
jurisdiction. It was alleged that when the Complaint for action. 22 prevented from exhibiting fully their case, by fraud or
Judicial Partition with Annulment of Title and deception, practiced on them by Respondents, and
Recovery of Possession was filed, there was yet no On November 27, 2008, the RTC issued an Order, (2) whether the Petitioners were kept away from the
settlement of Pedro's estate, determination as to the issuing a Part Writ of Execution of its October 1, 2001 court or kept in ignorance by the acts of the
nature thereof, nor was there an identification of the Decision with respect to the portions disposing of Respondent?
number of legitimate heirs. As such, the trial court petitioner's claims as affirmed by the CA.
ruled on the settlement of the intestate estate of We find nothing of that sort. Instead, what we
Pedro in its ordinary· jurisdiction when the action filed The foregoing notwithstanding, petitioner filed, on deduced as We carefully delved. Into the evidentiary
was for Judidal Partition. Considering that the instant February 11, 200 a Petition for Annulment of facts surrounding the instant case as well as the
action is really one for settlement of intestate estate, Judgment and· Order before the CA assailing October proceedings below as shown in the 36-page Decision
the trial court, sitting merely in its probate jurisdiction, 1, 2001 Decision as well as the November 27, 2008 of the Court a quo, is that the Petitioners were given
exceeded its jurisdiction when it ruled upon the issues Order of the RTC on the grounds of extrinsic fraud ample time to rebut the allegations of the
of forgery and ownership. Thus, petitioner argued and lack of jurisdiction. In Decision dated March 13, Respondents and had in fact addressed every detail
that. Said ruling is void and has no effect for having 2009, however, the CA dismissed the petition a of. Respondent's cause of action against them. Thus,
been rendered without jurisdiction. The Motion for affirmed the rulings of the trial court in the following Petitioners' allegation of the Court a quo ‘s lack of
Reconsideration was, however, denied by the wise: Although the assailed Decision of the Court a jurisdiction is misplaced.
appellate court on February 26, 2007. quo has already become final and executory and in
fact entry of judgment was issued on 31 October Our pronouncement on the matter finds support in the
On appeal, this Court denied on June 20, 2007, 2007, supra, nevertheless, to put the issues to explicit ruling of the Supreme Court in Sps. Santos, et
petitioner's Petition for Review on Certiorari for rest,·We deem it apropos to tackle the same. al. v. Sps. Lumbao, thus: It is elementary that' the
submitting a verification of the petition, a certificate of active participation of a party in a case pending
non-forum shopping and an affidavit of service that against him before a court is tantamount to
recognition of that court's jurisdiction and willingness NASUGBU, BATANGAS, ACTED WITHOUT Antonio, Angelita, Loma all surnamed Rifioza, and
to abide by the resolution of the case which will bar JURISDCITION IN ENTERTAINING THE SPECIAL Myrna R. Limon or Myrna R. Rogador, Epifania Belo
said party from later on impugning the court’s PROCEEDING FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF and Ma. Theresa R. Demafelix are the decedent’s
jurisdiction. ' In fine, under the circumstances ESTATE OF PEDRO RINOZA AND THE CIVIL legitimate children with his first wife, while Benita
obtaining in this case the Petitioners are stopped from ACTION FOR ANNULMENT OF TITLE OF THE Tenorio Rifioza, is the decedent’s widow and
assailing the Court a quo 's lack of jurisdiction. Too, HEIRS AND THIRD PERSONS IN ONE Bernadette Rifioza, the decedent's daughter with said
We do not find merit in the Petitioners' second issue, PROCEEDING. 24 widow. As such, said parties are co-owners by virtue
supra. As mentioned earlier, entry of judgment had of an intestate inheritance from the decedent, of the
already been made on the assailed Decision and Petitioner asserts that while the complaint filed by properties enumerated in the succeeding paragraph; ‘
Order as early as 31 October 2007. respondents was captioned as "Judicial Partition with
Annulment of Title and Recovery of Possession," the 3. That the decedent left the following real properties
xxxx allegations therein show that the cause of action is all located in Nasugbu, Batangas:
It maybe that the doctrine of finality of judgments actually one for settlement of estate of decedent
permits certain equitable remedies such as a petition Pedro. Considering that settlement of estate is a xxxx
for annulment. But the I. Rules are clear. The special proceeding cognizable by a probate court of 16. That the estate of decedent Pedro L. Rifioza has
annulment by the Court of Appeals of judgments or limited jurisdiction while judicial partition with no known legal indebtedness;
final orders and resolutions in civil actions of the annulment of title and recovery of possession are
Regional Trial Courts is resorted to only where the ordinary civil actions cognizable by a court of general 17. That said estate remains undivided up to this date
ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for jurisdiction, the trial court exceeded its jurisdiction in and it will be to the best interest of all heirs that it be
relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer entertaining the latter while it was sitting merely in its partitioned judicially. 26.
available through no fault of the petitioner, supra. probate jurisdiction. This is in view of the prohibition
found in the Rules on the joiner of special civil actions Petitioner is mistaken. It is true that some of
If Petitioners lost their chance to avail themselves of and ordinary civil actions. 25 Thus, petitioner argued respondents' causes of action pertaining to the
the appropriate remedies or appeal before the that the ruling of the trial court is void and has no properties left behind by the decedent Pedro, his
Supreme Court, that is their own look out. The High effect for having been rendered in without jurisdiction. known heirs, and the nature and extent of their
Tribunal has emphatically pointed out in Mercado, et interests thereon may fall under an action for
al. v. Security Bank Corporation, thus: Petitioner also reiterates the arguments raised before settlement of estate. However, a complete reading of
the appellate court that since the finding of forgery the complaint would readily show that, based on the
A principle almost repeated to satiety is that "an action relates only to the signature of respondents and not to nature of the suit, the llegations therein, and the
for annulment of judgment cannot and is not a their co-heirs, who assented to the conveyance, the relief’s prayed for, the action, is clearly one for udicial
substitute for the lost remedy of·appeal." A party must transaction should be considered valid as to them. partition with annulment of title and recovery of
have first availed of appeal, a motion for new trial or a Petitioner also denies the indings of the courts below possession.
petition for relief before an action for annulment can that his parents are builders in bad faith for they only
prosper. Its obvious rationale is to prevent the party took possession of the subject properties after the Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court proyides:
from benefiting from his inaction or negligence. Also, execution of the transfer documents and after they
the action for annulment of judgment must be based paid the consideration on the sale. RULE 74
either on (a) extrinsic fraud or (b) lack of jurisdiction or Summary Settlement of Estate
denial of due process. Having failed to avail of the The petition is bereft of merit. Petitioner maintains that
remedies and there being 'a Clear showing that since. Respondents’ complaint alleged the following Section 1.Extrajudicial settlement by agreement
neither of the grounds was present, the petition must causes of action, the same is actually one for between heirs. - If the decedent left no will and no
be dismissed. Only a disgruntled litigant would find settlement of estate and not of judicial partition: debts and the heirs are all of age5 or the minors are
such legal disposition unacceptable. 23 When the FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION represented by their judicial or legal representatives
appellate court denied Petitioner’s Motion for duly authorized for the purpose, the parties may
Reconsideration in its Resolution dated April 23, 1. That Pedro L. Rifi.oza, Filipino and resident of without securing letters of administration, divide the
2009, petitioner filed the instant Petition for Review on Nasugbu, Batangas at the time of his death, died estate among themselves as they see fit by means of
Certiorari on June 10, 2009, invoking the following intestate on November 16, 1989. Copy of his death a public instrument filed in the office of the register of
ground: certificate is hereto attached as Annex "A"; deeds, and should they disagree, they may do so in
an ordinary action of partition. If there is only one heir,
I. 2. That Plaintiffs together with the Defendants he may adjudicate to himself the entire estate by
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED enumerated from paragraph 2-A to 2-J are the only means of an affidavit filled in the office of the register
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT RULING THAT THE known heirs of the above-mentioned decedent. The of deeds. The parties to an Extrajudicial settlement,
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 14, plaintiffs and the Defendants Rolando, Rafael, whether by public instrument or by stipulation in a
pending action for partition, or the sole heir who judicial partition. That the complaint alleged causes of administration proceeding without good and
adjudicates the entire estate to himself by means of action identifying the heirs of the decedent, properties compelling reasons.
an affidavit shall file, simultaneously with and as a of the estate, and their rights thereto, does not
condition precedent to the filing of the public perforce make it an action for settlement of estate. Thus, it has been repeatedly 4eld that when a person
instrument, or stipulation in the action for partition, or dies without leaving pending obligations to be paid,
of the affidavit in the office of the register of deeds, a It must be recalled that the general rule is that when a his heirs, whether of age or not, are not bound to
bond with the said register of deeds, in an amount person dies intestate, or, if testate, failed to name an submit the property to a judicial administration, which
equivalent to the value of the personal property executor in his will or the executor o named is is always long and costly, or to apply for the
involved as certified to under oath by the parties incompetent, or refuses the trust, or. Fails to furnish appointment of an administrator by the Court. It has
concerned and conditioned upon the payment of any the bond equipped by the Rules of Court, then the been uniformly held that in such case the judicial
just claim that may be filed under section 4 of this decedent's estate shall be judicially administered and administration and the appointment of an
rule. It shall be presumed that the decedent left no the competent court shall appoint a qualified administrator are superfluous and unnecessary
debts if no creditor files a petition for letters of administrator the order established in Section 6 of proceedings. 33
administration within two (2) years after the death of Rule 78 of the Rules of Court. 29 An exception to this
the decedent. rule, however, is found in the aforequoted Section 1 of Thus, respondents committed no error in. filing an
Rule 4 wherein the heirs of a decedent, who left no action for judicial partition instead of a special
The fact of the Extrajudicial settlement or will and no debts due from is estate, may divide the proceeding for the settlement of estate as law
administration shall be Published in a newspaper of estate either extrajudicially or in an ordinary action or expressly permits the same. That the complaint
general circulation in the manner provided in the next partition without submitting the same for judicial contained allegations inherent in an action for
succeeding section; but no Extrajudicial settlement administration nor applying for the appointment of an settlement of estate does not. Mean that there was a
shall be binding upon any person who has not administrator by the court. 30The reasons that where prohibited joined of causes of action for questions as
participated therein or had no notice thereof. 27 the deceased dies without pending obligations, there to the estate's properties as well as a determination of
is no necessity for the appointment of an administrator the heirs, their status as such, and the nature and
In this relation, Section 1, Rule 69 of the Rules of to administer the. Estate for hem and to deprive the extent of their titles to the estate, may also be properly
Court provides: real owners of their possession to which they are ventilated in partition proceedings alone.34 In fact, a
immediately entitled. 31 complete inventory of the estate may likewise be done
Section 1.Complaint in action for partition of real during the partition proceedings, especially since the
estate. - A person having the right to compel the In this case, it was expressly alleged in the complaint, estate has no debts.~5 Indeed, where the more
partition of real estate may do so as provided in this and was not isputed, that Pedro died without a will, expeditious remedy 9f partition is available to the
Rule, setting forth in his complaint the nature and leaving his estate without any ending obligations. heirs, then they may not be compelled to submit to
extent of his title and an adequate description of the Thus, contrary to petitioner’s contention, respondents administration proceedings, dispensing of the risks of
real estate of which partition is demanded and joining were under no legal obligation to submit the subject delay and of the properties being dissipated. 36
as defendants all other persons interested in the properties of the estate of a special proceeding for
property. 28 settlement of intestate estate, and are, in fact, Moreover, the fact that respondents' complaint also
encouraged to have the same partitioned, judicially or prayed for the annulment of title and recovery of
As can be gleaned from the foregoing provisions, the extrajudicially, by ereira v. Court of Appeals: 32 possession does not strip the trial court off of its
allegations of respondents in their complaint are but jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. Asking for the
customary, in fact, mandatory, to a complaint for Section 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court, annulment of certain transfers of property could very
partition of real estate. Particularly, the complaint however, does not preclude the heirs from instituting well be achieved in an action for partition, 37 as can be
alleged: (1) that Pedro died intestate; (2) that administration proceedings, even if the estate has no· seen in cases where 1-ourts determine the parties'
respondents, together with their co-heirs, are all of debts or obligations, if they do not desire to resort for rights arising from complaints asking not only for the
legal age, with the exception of one who is good reasons to an ordinary action for partition. While partition of estates but also for the annulment of titles
represented by a judicial representative duly Section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among and recovery of ownership and possession of
authorized for the purpose; (3) that the heirs themselves as they may see fit, qr. to resort to an property. 38 In fact, in Bagayas v. Bagayas, 39·wherein
enumerated are the only known heirs of Pedro; (4) ordinary action for partition, the said provision does a complaint for annulment of sale and partition was
that there is an account and description of all real not compel them to do so if they have good reasons dismissed by the trial court due to the impropriety of
properties left by Pedro; (5) that Pedro's estate has no to take a different course of action. It should be noted an action for annulment as it constituted a collateral
known indebtedness; and (6) that respondents, as that recourse to an administration proceeding even if attack on the certificates of title of the respondents
rightful heirs to the decedent’s estate, pray for the the estate has no debts is sanctioned only if the heirs therein, this Court found the dismissal to be improper
partition of the same in accordance with the laws of have good reasons for not resorting to an action for in the following manner:
intestacy. It is clear, therefore, that based on the partition. Where partition is possible, either in or out of
allegations of the complaint, the case is one for court, the estate should not be burdened with an
In Lacbayan v. Samoy, Jr. (Lacbayan) which is an xxx In the case at bar, respondent, believing rightly or
action. For partition premised on the existence or non- The second phase commences when it appears that wrongly that she was the sole heir to Portugal's
existence of co-ownership between the parties, the "the parties are unable to agree upon the partition" estate, executed on February 15, 1988 the questioned
Court categorically pronounced that a resolution on directed by the court. In that event [,] partition shall be Affidavit of Adjudication under the second sentence of
the issue of ownership does not subject the Torrens done for the parties by the [c] ourt with the assistance Rule 74, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court.
title issued over the disputed realties 'to a collateral of not more than three (3) commissioners. This Said rule is an exception to the general rule that when
attack. It must be borne in mind that what cannot be second stage may well also deal with the rendition of a person dies leaving a property, it should be judicially
collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the accounting itself and its approval by the [c] ourt administered and the competent court should appoint
the title itself. As pronounced in Lacbayan: after the. Parties have been accorded opportunity to a qualified administrator, in the order established in
be heard Thereon, and an award for the recovery by Sec. 6, Rule 78 in case the deceased left no will, or in
There is no dispute that a Torrens certificate of title the party or parties thereto entitled of their just share case he did, he failed to name an executor therein.
cannot be collaterally attacked, but that rule is not in the rents and profits of the real estate in question.
material to the case at bar. What cannot be xx x. 41 · xxxx
collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not It appearing, however, that in the present case the
the title itself. The' certificate referred to is that - An action for partition, therefore, is premised on the only property of the intestate estate of Portugal is the
document issued by the Register of Deeds known as existence or non-existence of co-ownership between Caloocan parcel of land, to still subject it, under the
the TCT. In contrast, the title referred to by law means the parties. 42 Unless and until the issue of co- circumstances of the case, to a special proceeding
ownership, which is, more often than not, represented ownership is definitively resolved, it would be which could be long, hence, not expeditious, just to
by that document. Petitioner c.pparently confuses title premature to effect a partition of an estate. 43 establish the status of petitioners as heirs is not only
with the certificate of title. Title as a concept of impractical; it is burdensome to the estate with the
ownership should not be confused with the certificate In view of the foregoing, petitioner' s argument that costs and expenses of an administration proceeding.
of title as evidence of such ownership although both the trial court acted without jurisdiction in entertaining And it is superfluous in light of the fact that the parties
are interchangeably used. (Emphases supplied) the action of settlement of estate and annulment of to the evil case - subject of the present case, could
title in a single proceeding is clearly erroneous for the and had already in fact presented evidence before the
Thus, the RTC erroneously dismissed petitioner's instant complaint is precisely one for judicial partition trial court which assumed jurisdiction over the case
petition for annulment of sale on the ground that it with annulment of title and recovery of possession, upon the issues it defined during pre-trial.
constituted a collateral attack since she was actually filed within the confines of applicable law and
assailing Rogelio and Orlando's title to the subject jurisprudence. Under Section 144 of Republic Act No. In fine, under the circumstances of the present case,
lands and not any Torrens certificate oftitle over the 7691 (RA 7691),45 amending Batas Pambansa Big. there being no compelling reason to still subject ·
same. 129, the RTC shall exercise exclusive original Portugal’s estate to administration proceedings since
jurisdiction over all civil actions in which the subject of a determination of petitioners’ status as heirs could be
Indeed, an action for partition does not preclude the the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation. achieved in the civil case filed by petitioners, the trial
settlement of the issue of ownership. In fact, the Since the action herein was not merely for partition court should proceed to evaluate the evidence
determination as to the existence of the same is and recovery of ownership but also for annulment of presented by the parties during the trial and render a
necessary in the resolution of an action for partition, title and documents, the action is incapable of decision thereon upon the issues it defined during
as held in Municipality of Bifzan·v. Garcia: 40 pecuniary estimation and thus cognizable by the RTC. pre-trial, x x x. 48
Hence, considering that the trial court clearly had
The first phase of a partition and/or accounting suit is jurisdiction in rendering its decision, the instant Thus, in view of the clarity of respondents' complaint
taken up with the determination of whether or not a petition for annulment of judgment must necessarily and the causes of action alleged therein, as well as
co-ownership in fact exists, and a partition is proper fail. the fact that the trial court, in arriving at its decision,
(i.e., not otherwise legally proscribed) and may be gave petitioner more than ample opportunity to
made by voluntary agreement of all the parties Note that even if the instant action was one for advance his claims, petitioner cannot now be
interested in the property. This phase may end with a annulment of title alone, without the prayer for judicial permitted to allege lack of jurisdiction just because the
declaration that plaintiff is not entitled to have a partition, the requirement of instituting a separate judgment rendered was adverse to them. To repeat,
partition either because a co-ownership does not special proceeding for the determination of the status the action filed herein is one for judicial partition and
exist, or partition is_ legally prohibited. It may end, on and rights of the respondents as putative heirs may not for settlement of intestate estate. Consequently,
the other hand, with an adjudgment that a co- be dispensed with, in light of the fact that the parties that respondents also prayed for the annulment of title
ownership does in truth exist, partition is proper in the had voluntarily submitted the issue to the trial court and recovery of possession in the same proceeding
premises and an accounting of rents and profits and had already presented evidence regarding the does not strip the court off of its jurisdiction for asking
received by the defendant from the real estate in issue of heirship. 46 In Portugal v. Portugal- for 'the annulment of certain transfers of property
question is in order. Beltran, 47 the Court explained: could very well be achieved in an action for partition.
As for petitioner's contention that the sale must be actually took place. In substantiating their claim,
considered valid as to the heirs who assented to the petitioners relied solely on the Extra-Judicial
RULE 91
conveyance as well as their allegation of good faith, Settlement and Deed of Sale, who utterly failed to
SECOND DIVISION
this Court does not find any compelling reason to prove their authenticity and due execution. They
G.R. No. 138953 June 6, 2002
deviate from the ruling of the appellate court. As cannot, therefore, be permitted to claim. Absolute
sufficiently found by both courts below, the ownership of the subject lands based on the same.
CASTORIO ALVARICO, petitioner,
authenticity and due execution of the documents on
vs.
which petitioner’s claims are based were inadequately Neither can they be considered as innocent
AMELITA L. SOLA, respondent.
proven. They were undated, forged, and purchasers for value and builders in good faith. Good
acknowledged before a notary public who was not faith consists in the belief of title builder that the land
QUISUMBING, J.:
commissioned as such on the date they were the latter is building on is one's own without
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the
executed. They were never presented to the Register knowledge of any defect or flaw in one's.
decision dated March 23, 1999 of the Court of
of Deeds for registration. Neither were the supposed Title. 52 However, in view of .the manifest defects in
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 54624, reversing the
notaries and buyers of the subject properties the instruments conveying their titles, petitioners
decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City,
presented as witnesses. should have been placed on guard. Yet, they still
Branch 10, for reconveyance. Also sought to be
demolished several cottages and constructed
reversed is the CA resolution dated June 8, 1999
While it may be argued that Benita, one of the co- improvement on the properties. Thus, their claim of.
denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
heirs to the estate, actually acknowledged the sale of Good faith cannot be given credence.
the resort, the circumstances surrounding the same
The facts of this case are as follows:
militate against the fact of its occurrence. Not only Indeed, a judgment which has acquired finality
was the Deed of Sale supposedly executed by Benita becomes immutable and unalterable, hence, may no
Petitioner Castorio Alvarico is the natural father of
undated and unsigned by Pedro, but the document longer be modified in any respect except to correct
respondent Amelita Sola while Fermina Lopez is
she presented purportedly evidencing her receipt of clerical errors or mistakes, all the issues between the
petitioner's aunt, and also Amelita's adoptive mother.
her share in the sale, did not refer to any sort of sale parties being deemed resolved and. laid to rest. 53 it is
but to a previous loan obtained by Pedro and Benita a fundamental principle in our judicial system and
On June 17, 1982, the Bureau of Lands approved and
from a bank. essential to an effective and efficient administration of
granted the Miscellaneous Sales Application (MSA) of
justice that, once a judgment has become final, the
Fermina over Lot 5, SGS-3451, with an area of 152
Moreover, credence must be given on the appellate winning party be, not through a mere subterfuge,
sq. m. at the Waterfront, Cebu City.1
court’s observations as to petitioners' actuations deprived of the fruits of the verdict. 54 Exceptions to
insofar as the transactions alleged herein are the immutability of final judgment is allowed only
On May 28, 1983,2 Fermina executed a Deed of Self-
concerned. First, they were seemingly uncertain as to under the most extraordinary of circumstances. 55 Yet,
Adjudication and Transfer of Rights3 over Lot 5 in
the number and/or identity of the properties bought by when petitioner is given more than • ample
favor of Amelita, who agreed to assume all the
them. 49 In their Answer, they gave the impression opportunity to be heard, unbridled access to the
obligations, duties, and conditions imposed upon
'that· they bought both the resort and the family home appellate courts, as well as unbiased judgments
Fermina under MSA Application No. V-81066. The
and yet, during trial, Francisco Villafria claimed they rendered after a consideration of evidence presented
document of transfer was filed with the Bureau of
only bought the resort. In fact, it was only then that by the parties, as in the case at hand, the Court shall
Lands.4 The pertinent portions of the deed provide:
they presented the subject Extra Judicial Settlement refrain from reversing the rulings of the courts below
and Deed of Sale. 50 Second, they never presented in the absence of any showing that the same were
xxx
any other document which w0uld evidence their actual rendered with fraud or lack of jurisdiction. ·
That I, FERMINA A. LOPEZ, of legal age, Filipino,
payment of consideration to the selling heirs. 51 Third,
widow of Pedro C. Lopez and a resident of Port San
in spite of the. Blatant legal infirmities of the subject WHEREFORE, premises considered, .the instant
Pedro, Cebu City, Philippines, am the AWARDEE of
documents of conveyance, petitioners still took petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution,
Lots Nos. 4, 5, 3-B, 3-C and 6-B, Sgs-3451 And being
possession of the properties, demolished several dated March 13, 2009 and April 23, 2009,
the winning bidder at the auction sale of these parcels
cottages, and introduced permanent improvements respectively, of the Court Appeals for CA-G.R. SP No.
by the Bureau of Lands held on May 12, 1982, at the
thereon. 107347, which affirmed the Judgment dated October
price of P150.00 per square meter taking a purchase
1, 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Nasugbu,
price of P282,900.00 for the tract; That I have made
In all, the Court agrees with the appellate court: that Batangas, Branch 14, in Civil Case No. 217, insofar
as my partial payment the sum of P28,290.00
petitioners failed to adequately substantiate, with as it conce1ns the resort covered by Transfer
evidenced by Official Receipt No. 1357764-B
convincing, credible and independently verifiable Certificates of Title No. 513 54 and No. 51355, and
representing ten (10%) per cent of my bid, leaving a
proof, their claim that they had, in fact, purchased the family home covered by TCT No. 40807 and 40808,
balance of P254,610.00 that shall be in not more than
subject properties. The circumstances surrounding are AFFIRMED.SO ORDERED.
the purported transfers cast doubt on whether they
ten (10) years at an equal installments of P25,461.00 IV.
beginning June 17, 1983 until the full amount is paid. On appeal, the Court of Appeals in its decision dated THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
March 23, 1999 reversed the RTC. Thus: COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR IN ENUNCIATING
… the Transferee Mrs. Amelita L. Sola, agrees to THAT POSSESSION MENTIONED IN ARTICLE 1544
assume, all the obligations, duties and conditions WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the appealed OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE INCLUDE SYMBOLIC
imposed upon the Awardee in relation to the MSA decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The POSSESSION, UPON WHICH THE APPELLATE
Application No. V-81066 entered in their records as complaint filed by plaintiff-appellee against defendant- COURT BASED ITS CONCLUSION THAT
Sales Entry No. 20476. appellant is hereby DISMISSED. RESPONDENT WAS FIRST IN POSSESSION
BECAUSE THE DEED OF SELF-ADJUDICATION
… [I] hereby declare that I accept this Deed of Self- Costs against plaintiff-appellee. SO ORDERED.16 AND TRANSFER OF RIGHTS IN FAVOR OF
Adjudication and Transfer of Rights and further agree RESPONDENT DATED MAY 28, 1983 WAS
to all conditions provided therein.5 Petitioner sought reconsideration, but it was denied by EXECUTED MUCH EARLIER THAN THE DEED OF
the CA.17 DONATION IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER DATED
Amelita assumed payment of the lot to the Bureau of JANUARY 4, 1984 (Pages 7-8, Decision, Annex
Lands. She paid a total amount of P282,900.6 Hence, the instant petition for certiorari seasonably "A").18
filed on the following grounds:
On April 7, 1989, the Bureau of Lands issued an order The crucial issue to be resolved in an action for
approving the transfer of rights and granting the I. reconveyance is: Who between petitioner and
amendment of the application from Fermina to THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS respondent has a better claim to the land?
Amelita.7 On May 2, 1989, Original Certificate of Title COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR, REFLECTIVE OF
(OCT) No. 3439 was issued in favor of Amelita.8 UNMINDFUL RECKLESSNESS WHICH IS THE To prove she has a better claim, respondent Amelita
VERY OPPOSITE OF JUDICIAL Sola submitted a copy of OCT No. 3439 in her name
On June 24, 1993,9 herein petitioner filed Civil Case CIRCUMSPECTION, IN DECLARING THAT THE and her husband's,19 a Deed of Self-Adjudication and
No. CEB-1419110 for reconveyance against Amelita. DEED OF DONATION DATED JANUARY 4, 1984 Transfer of Rights20 over the property dated 1983
He claimed that on January 4, 1984, Fermina donated (ANNEX "C") IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER WAS executed by Fermina in her favor, and a certification
the land to him11 and immediately thereafter, he took EMBODIED ONLY IN A PRIVATE DOCUMENT from the municipal treasurer that she had been
possession of the same. He averred that the donation (Page 6, Decision, Annex "A"), ALTHOUGH, BY A declaring the land as her and her husband's property
to him had the effect of withdrawing the earlier MERE CASUAL LOOK AT THE DOCUMENT, IT CAN for tax purposes since 1993.21
transfer to Amelita.12 BE READILY DISCERNED THAT IT IS NOTARIZED;
For his part, petitioner Castorio Alvarico presented a
For her part, Amelita maintained that the donation to II. Deed of Donation22 dated January 4, 1984, showing
petitioner is void because Fermina was no longer the THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS that the lot was given to him by Fermina and
owner of the property when it was allegedly donated COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR IN APPLYING ON according to him, he immediately took possession in
to petitioner, the property having been transferred THE CASE AT BAR THE PRINCIPLE IN LAW THAT 1985 and continues in possession up to the present.23
earlier to her.13 She added that the donation was void IT IS REGISTRATION OF THE SALES PATENT
because of lack of approval from the Bureau of Lands, THAT CONSTITUTE THE OPERATIVE ACT THAT Petitioner further contests the CA ruling that declared
and that she had validly acquired the land as WOULD CONVEY OWNERSHIP OF THE LAND TO as a private document said Deed of Donation dated
Fermina's rightful heir. She also denied that she is a THE APPLICANT (Pp. 3-6, Decision, Annex "A") January 4, 1984, despite the fact that a certified true
trustee of the land for petitioner.14 BECAUSE THE LEGAL CONTROVERSY BETWEEN and correct copy of the same was obtained from the
PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT DOES NOT Notarial Records Office, Regional Trial Court, Cebu
After trial, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of INVOLVE CONFLICTING CLAIMS ON SALES City on June 11, 1993 and acknowledged before Atty.
petitioner, the decretal portion of which reads: PATENT APPLICATIONS; Numeriano Capangpangan, then Notary Public for
Cebu.24
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is III.
hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff and against the THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY Given the circumstances in this case and the
defendant. Lot 5, Sgs-3451, is hereby declared as ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AND COMMITTED contentions of the parties, we find that no reversible
lawfully owned by plaintiff and defendant is directed to SERIOUS ERROR IN MAKING A FINDING THAT error was committed by the appellate court in holding
reconvey the same to the former. RESPONDENT ACQUIRED THE LAND IN that herein petitioner's complaint against respondent
QUESTION, IN GOOD FAITH (Page 7, Decision, should be dismissed. The evidence on record and the
No pronouncement as to damages and attorney's Annex "A"), ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO BASIS NOR applicable law indubitably favor respondent.
fees, plaintiff having opted to forego such claims. NEED TO MAKE SUCH A FINDING; and
SO ORDERED.15
Petitioner principally relies on Articles 744 and 1544 the proper courts, in the name of the Republic of the Free Patent No. 586681 over a piece of agricultural
of the New Civil Code, which provide: Philippines. land located in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur,
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. P-9053.[1]
Art. 744. Donations of the same thing to two or more In other words, a private individual may not bring an
different donees shall be governed by the provisions action for reversion or any action which would have On June 15, 1983, well within the five-year prohibitory
concerning the sale of the same thing to two or more the effect of canceling a free patent and the period, Eusebio Borromeo sold the land to Eliseo
different persons. corresponding certificate of title issued on the basis Maltos.[2]
thereof, such that the land covered thereby will again
Art. 1544. If the same thing should have been sold to form part of the public domain. Only the Solicitor Eusebio Borromeo died on January 16, 1991. His
different vendees, the ownership shall be transferred General or the officer acting in his stead may do heirs claimed that prior to his death, he allegedly told
to the person who may have first taken possession so.29 Since Amelita Sola's title originated from a grant his wife, Norberta Borromeo,[3]and his children to
thereof in good faith, if it should be movable property. by the government, its cancellation is a matter nullify the sale made to Eliseo Maltos and have the
between the grantor and the grantee.30 Clearly then, Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-5477 cancelled
Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall petitioner has no standing at all to question the validity because the sale was within the five-year prohibitory
belong to the person acquiring it who in good faith first of Amelita's title. It follows that he cannot "recover" the period.[4]
recorded it in the Registry of Property. property because, to begin with, he has not shown
that he is the rightful owner thereof. On June 23, 1993, Norberta Borromeo and her
Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall children (heirs of Borromeo) filed a Complaint for
pertain to the person who in good faith was first in the Anent petitioner's contention that it was the intention Nullity of Title and Reconveyance of Title against
possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the of Fermina for Amelita to hold the property in trust for Eliseo Maltos, Rosita Maltos, and the Register of
person who presents the oldest title, provided there is him, we held that if this was really the intention of Deeds of Agusan del Sur.[5] The case was docketed
good faith. (Emphasis supplied.) Fermina, then this should have been clearly stated in as Civil Case No. 946.[6]
the Deed of Self-Adjudication executed in 1983, in the
Petitioner claims that respondent was in bad faith Deed of Donation executed in 1984, or in a Eliseo Maltos and Rosita Maltos (Maltos Spouses)
when she registered the land in her name and, based subsequent instrument. Absent any persuasive proof filed their Answer, arguing that the sale was made in
on the abovementioned rules, he has a better right of that intention in any written instrument, we are not good faith and that in purchasing the property, they
over the property because he was first in material prepared to accept petitioner's bare allegation relied on Eusebio Borromeo's title. Further, the parties
possession in good faith. However, this allegation of concerning the donor's state of mind. were in pari delicto. Since the sale was made during
bad faith on the part of Amelita Sola in acquiring the the five-year prohibitory period, the land would revert
title is devoid of evidentiary support. For one, the WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Court of to the public domain and the proper party to institute
execution of public documents, as in the case of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 54624 is reversion proceedings was the Office of the Solicitor
Affidavits of Adjudication, is entitled to the hereby AFFIRMED. The complaint filed by herein General.[7]
presumption of regularity, hence convincing evidence petitioner against respondent in Civil Case No. CEB-
is required to assail and controvert them.25 Second, it 14191 is declared properly DISMISSED. Costs The Register of Deeds of Agusan del Sur also filed an
is undisputed that OCT No. 3439 was issued in 1989 against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Answer, arguing that the deed of sale was presented
in the name of Amelita. It requires more than for Registration after the five-year prohibitory period,
petitioner's bare allegation to defeat the Original SECOND DIVISION thus, it was ministerial on its part to register the
Certificate of Title which on its face enjoys the legal [ GR No. 172720, Sep 14, 2015 ] deed.[8]
presumption of regularity of issuance.26 A
Torrens title, once registered, serves as notice to the ELISEO MALTOS v. HEIRS OF EUSEBIO The heirs of Borromeo countered that good faith was
whole world. All persons must take notice and no one BORROMEO not a valid defense because the prohibitory period
can plead ignorance of its registration.27 appeared on the face of the title of the property.[9]
LEONEN, J.:
Even assuming that respondent Amelita Sola The sale of a parcel of agricultural land covered by a The Regional Trial Court[10] of Prosperidad, Agusan
acquired title to the disputed property in bad faith, only free patent during the five-year prohibitory period del Sur narrowed down the issues to the following:
the State can institute reversion proceedings under under the Public Land Act is void. Reversion of the
Sec. 101 of the Public Land Act.28 Thus: parcel of land is proper. However, reversion under 1. Whether or not the herein plaintiffs are the legal
Section 101 of the Public Land Act is not automatic. heirs of the late Eusebio Borromeo.
Sec. 101.—All actions for reversion to the The Office of the Solicitor General must first file an
Government of lands of the public domain or action for reversion. 2. Whether or not the sale of the disputed property
improvements thereon shall be instituted by the within the prohibitory period is valid or binding.[11]
Solicitor General or the officer acting in his stead, in On February 13, 1979, Eusebio Borromeo was issued
Certificate of Title] No. P-9053 in the name of the "should retain ownership of the land."[41] With regard
The trial court dismissed the Complaint on the ground Heirs of EUSEBIO BORROMEO."[27] to the applicability of the in pari delicto doctrine, the
of failure to state a cause of action.[12] Also, the heirs Court of Appeals held that in pari delicto does not
of Borromeo did not have a right of action because The Court of Appeals[28] reversed the Decision of the apply in cases where its application will violate the
they were unable to establish their status as heirs of trial court and held that since Eusebio Borromeo sold policy of the state.[42]
the late Eusebio Borromeo.[13] They may have his property within the five-year prohibitory period, the
declared themselves the legal heirs of Eusebio property should revert to the state.[29] However, the On May 10, 2006, the Maltos Spouses |filed a
Borromeo, but they did not present evidence to prove government has to file an action for reversion Petition[43] for Review before this court, questioning
their allegation.[14] Further, the determination of their because "reversion is not automatic."[30] While there is the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in
rights to succession must be established in special yet no action for reversion instituted by the Office of CA-G.R. CV No. 77142.[44]
proceedings.[15] the Solicitor General, the property should be returned
to the heirs of Borromeo.[31] The dispositive portion of This court, in a Resolution[45] dated July 5, 2006,
The trial court also ruled that "[t]he sale was null and the Court of Appeals' Decision states: required the heirs of Borromeo to file their Comment.
void because it was within the five (5) year
prohibitionary [sic] period"[16] under the Public Land WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant The heirs of Borromeo filed their Comment,[46] which
Act.[17] The defense of indefeasibility of title was Appeal is GRANTED. The Decision of the court a was noted by this court in a Resolution[47] dated
unavailing because the title to the property stated that quo in Civil Case No. 946 is hereby SET ASIDE and September 25, 2006. In the same Resolution, this
it was "subject to the provisions of Sections 118, 119, another one is entered (1) ordering Appellee ELISEO court required the Maltos Spouses to file their
121, 122 and 124"[18] of the Public Land Act.[19] Since MALTOS to reconvey the property subject matter of Reply.[48]
the property was sold within the five-year prohibitory this litigation to Appellants upon the refund by the
period, such transfer "result[ed] in the cancellation of latter to Appellee ELISEO MALTOS the sum of In a Resolution dated March 28, 2007, this court
the grant and the reversion of the land to the public P36,863.00, all expenses for the reconveyance to be required Attys. Ma. Cherell L. De Castro and Gener C.
domain."[20] borne by the buyer, ELISEO MALTOS, herein Sansaet, counsels for the Maltos Spouses, to show
Appellee and (2) ordering the Register of Deeds of cause why they should not be disciplinarily dealt with
As to the defense of in pari delicto, the trial court ruled Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur to cancel TCT No. T- for their failure to file a Reply. They were also required
against its applicability,[21] citing Egao v. Court of 5477 and revive OCT No. P-9053. to comply with the Resolution dated September 25,
Appeals (Ninth Division).[22] 2006.[50]
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished! the Office of
The rule of pari delicto non oritur action (where two the Solicitor General (OSG) for its information and Counsels for the Maltos Spouses filed a]
persons are equally at fault neither party may be appropriate action and to inform this court within a Compliance,[51] together with the Reply.[52] In a
entitled to relief under the law), admits of exceptions period of thirty (30) days from receipt hereof of the Resolution[53] dated August 15, 2007, this court noted
and does not apply to an inexistent contract, such as, action done under the premises. SO and accepted the Compliance, and also noted the
a sale void ab initio under the Public Land Act, when ORDERED.[32] (Emphasis supplied) Reply.
its enforcement or application runs counter to the
public policy of preserving the grantee's right to the The Maltos Spouses filed a Motion for
land under the homestead law.[23] (Citation omitted) Reconsideration, arguing that since the prohibition on I
transfers of property is provided by law, only the heirs The Maltos Spouses argue that the heirs of Borromeo
The trial court further held that since the sale was null of Borromeo should be punished.[33] Punishment, in did not present evidence to prove that they are indeed
and void, no title passed from Eusebio Borromeo to this case, would come in the form of preventing the the heirs of Eusebio Borromeo. The heirs of Borromeo
Eliseo Maltos.[24] The dispositive portion of the trial heirs of Borromeo from re-acquiring the did not present the death certificate of Eusebio
court's Decision states: land.[34] Instead, the land should revert back to the Borromeo, the marriage certificate of Eusebio
state.[35] The Maltos Spouses also prayed that they be Borromeo and Norberta Borromeo, or any of the birth
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the complaint under reimbursed for the improvements they introduced on certificates of the children of Eusebio.[54] While
consideration is hereby ordered DISMISSED. No the land.[36] Assuming that they would be found to be Norberta Borromeo and two of her children
pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.[25] also at fault, the principle of in pari delicto should testified,[55] their testimonies should be considered as
apply.[37] self-serving.[56] The Maltos Spouses cite Article
On appeal, the heirs of Borromeo argued that they 172[57] of the Family Code, which enumerates how
were able to prove their status as heirs through the The Court of Appeals[38] denied the Motion for filiation may be established.[58]
testimony of their mother, Norberta Borromeo.[26] Reconsideration,[39] reasoning that it could not rule on
the issue of who between the parties had the better The Maltos Spouses also contest the Court of
The heirs of Borromeo also argued that the trial court right to the property.[40] Also, it was the government Appeals' ruling stating that they did not rebut the
should have ordered the "revival of [Original who should decide whether the heirs of Borromeo testimonies of the heirs of Borromeo because they
continuously argued that the heirs of Borromeo were The heirs of Borromeo also argue that the in pari encumbrance of properties covered by patent or grant
unable to prove their status as heirs.[59] delicto rule is not applicable because in Santos v. was explained in Metropolitan Bank and Trust
Roman Catholic Church of Midsayap, et al.,[67] this Company v. Viray.[70]
The Maltos Spouses further argue that it was error for court stated that the in pari delicto rule does not apply
the Court of Appeals not to apply the in pari delicto if its application will have the effect of violating public In Metropolitan Bank, Edgardo D. Viray and his wife
rule, considering that the sale violated Section policy.[68] contracted several loans with Metrobank which they
118[60] of the Public Land Act.[61] Since both parties failed to pay.[71] Metrobank filed a Complaint for sum
are at fault, it follows that Article 1412[62] of the Civil With regard to the claim for reimbursements, the heirs of money before the Regional Trial Court in
Code applies.[63] of Borromeo argue that the Maltos Spouses did not Manila.[72] In 1982, during the pendency of the case,
raise their claim for reimbursement in their Answer to free patents over three parcels of land were issued in
In addition, the Maltos Spouses pray for the the Complaint. They are now barred from claiming favor of Viray.[73] The Complaint for sum of money
reimbursement of the value of the improvements on reimbursement since this was not raised at the first was decided in 1983 in favor of Metrobank.[74] In
the property to prevent unjust enrichment on the part instance.[69] 1984, the trial court issued a writ of execution over the
of the heirs of Borromeo.[64] The Maltos Spouses parcels of land.[75] An auction sale was held, and
enumerate the following circumstances to show why Based on the arguments of the parties, the issues for Metrobank emerged as the winning bidder.[76] Viray
they should be reimbursed: resolution are: filed an action for annulment of sale.[77] This court
ruled that the auction sale was made within the five-
a. EUSEBIO has already long received and enjoyed First, whether the Court of Appeals erred in reversing year prohibitory period[78] and explained that:
the amount of the purchase price of the subject land the Decision of the trial court and ordering the
from petitioners. reconveyance of the property from petitioners [T]he main purpose in the grant of a freq patent of
Spouses Eliseo Maltos and Rosita Maltos to homestead is to preserve and keep in the family of the
b. The value of the purchase price of PHP36,863.00 respondents heirs of Eusebio Borromeo; homesteader that portion of public land which the
paid in 1983 have since then greatly depreciated. If State has given to him so he may have a place to live
petitioners had deposited that money in bank or Second, whether the Court of Appeals erred in not with his family and become a happy citizen and a
loaned it to another person instead of purchasing applying the doctrine of in pari delicto; and useful member of the society. In Jocson v. Soriano,
EUSEBIO's property, it would have at least earned we held that the conservation of a family home is the
some interest. However, the Court of Appeals Finally, whether the Court of Appeals erred in ruling purpose of homestead laws. The policy of the state is
incorrectly assumed that the return of the purchase that petitioners Spouses Eliseo Maltos and Rosita to foster, families as the foundation of society, and
price would be sufficient compensation to the Maltos are not entitled to reimbursement for the thus promote general welfare. . . .
petitioners. improvements they introduced on the land.
Section 118 of CA 141, therefore, is predicated on
c. The value of the improvements introduced by II public policy. Its violation gives rise to the cancellation
petitioners on the subject property is much greater The five-year period prohibiting the sale of land of the grant and the reversion of the land and its
than the purchase price that they initially paid on the obtained under homestead or free patent is provided improvements to the government at the instance of
land. Petitioners estimate the value of the under Section 118 of the Public Land Act, which the latter. The provision that "nor shall they become
improvements, including hundreds of various fruit- states: liable to the satisfaction of any debt contracted prior to
bearing trees and four residential houses, to be at that expiration of the five-year period" is mandatory
least PHP900,000.00. Because of these and any sale made in violation of such provision is
improvements, not only can respondents sell the land SECTION 118. Except in favor of the Government or void and produces no effect whatsoever, just like what
at a much higher price, they can even sell the any of its branches, units, or institutions, or legally transpired in this case. Clearly, it is not within the
improvements and profit from them. It would be the constituted banking corporations, lands acquired competence of any citizen to barter away what public
height of injustice if all the petitioners would receive in under free patent or homestead provisions shall not policy by law seeks to preserve.[79] (Citations omitted)
turning over the subject property to the respondents is be subject to encumbrance or alienation from the date
the purchase price that was previously paid EUSEBIO of the approval of the application and for a term of five In Republic v. Court of Appeals,[80] Josefina L. Morato
under the deed of sale.[65] years from and after the date of issuance1 of the applied for free patent over a parcel which was
patent or grant, nor shall they become liable to the granted.[81] Morato mortgaged and leased a portion of
On the other hand, the heirs of Borromeo argue that satisfaction of any debt contracted prior to the the land within the five-year prohibitory
the testimonies of Norberta Borromeo and Susan expiration of said period; but the improvements or period.[82] Later on, it would also be discovered that
Borromeo Morales on their relationship to Eusebio crops on the land may be mortgaged] or pledged to Morato's land formed part of Calauag Bay.[83] The
Borromeo were not refuted by the Malios Spouses. qualified persons, associations, or corporations. Republic filed a Complaint for cancellation of title and
Thus, they were able to prove their status as heirs.[66] reversion of the parcel of land.[84] This court held that
The reason for prohibiting the alienation or "lease" and "mortgage" were encumbrances on the
parcel of land.[85] This court also discussed the policy favor of the state in view of the limitation imposed by property to the state.[90] This court held that:
behind the five-year prohibitory period: Section 101 that an action for reversion must first be
filed by the Office of the Solicitor General. Section 124 of the Public Land Act indeed provides
that any acquisition, conveyance or transfer executed
It is well-known that the homestead laws were III in violation of any of its provisions shall be null and
designed to distribute disposable agricultural lots of The doctrine of in pari delicto non oritur actio is void and shall produce the effect of annulling and
the State to land-destitute citizens for their home and inapplicable when public policy will be violated. cancelling the grant or patent and cause the reversion
cultivation. Pursuant to such benevolent intention the of the property to the State, and the principle of pari
State prohibits the sale or encumbrance of the constitute criminal offenses. delicto has been applied by this Court in a number of
homestead (Section 116) within five years after the cases wherein the parties to a transaction have
grant of the patent. After that five-year period the law The in pari delicto rule is provided under Articles 1411 proven to be guilty of effected the transaction with
impliedly permits alienation of the homestead; but in and 1412 of the Civil Code. Article 1411 pertains to knowledge of the cause of its invalidity. But we doubt
line with the primordial purpose to favor the acts that constitute criminal offenses, while Article if these principles can now be invoked considering the
homesteader and his family the statute provides that 1412 pertains to acts that do not These provisions philosophy and the policy behind the approval of the
such alienation or conveyance (Section 117) shall be state: Public Land Act. The principle underlying pari delicto
subject to the right of repurchase by the homesteader, as known here and in the United States is not
his widow or heirs within five years. This section 117 ART. 1411. When the nullity proceeds from the absolute in its application. It recognizes certain
is undoubtedly a complement of Section 116. It aims illegality of the cause or object of the contract, and exceptions one of them being when its enforcement or
to preserve and keep in the family of the homesteader the act constitutes a criminal offense, both parties application runs counter to an avowed fundamental
that portion of public land which the State had being in pari delicto, they shall have no action against policy or to public interest. As stated by us in the
gratuitously given to him. It would, therefore, be in each other, and both shall be prosecuted. Moreover, Rellosa case, "This doctrine is subject to one
keeping with this fundamental idea to hold, as we the provisions of the Penal Code relative to the important limitation, namely, [']whenever public policy
hold, that the right to repurchase exists not only when disposal of effects or instruments of a crime shall be is considered advanced by allowing either party to sue
the original homesteader makes the conveyance, but applicable to the things or the price of the contract. for relief against the transaction[']"
also when it is made by his widow or heirs. This
construction is clearly deducible from the terms of the This rule shall be applicable when only one of the The case under consideration comes within the
statute. parties is guilty; but the innocent one may claim what exception above adverted to. Here appellee desires to
he has given, and shall not be bound to comply with nullify a transaction which was done in violation of the
The effect of violating the five-year prohibitory period his promise. law. Ordinarily the principle of pari delicto would apply
is provided under Section 124 of the Public Land Act, to her because her predecessor-in-interest has
which provides: ART. 1412. If the act in which the unlawful or carried out the sale with the presumed knowledge of
forbidden cause consists does not constitute a its illegality, but because the subject of the transaction
SECTION 124. Any acquisition, conveyance, criminal offense, the following rules shall be observed: is a piece of public land, public policy requires that
alienation, transfer, or other contract made or she, as heir, be not prevented from re-acquiring it
executed in violation of any of the provisions of (1) When the fault is on the part of both contracting because it was given by law to her family for her
sections one hundred and eighteen, one hundred and parties, neither may recover what he has given by home and cultivation. This is the policy on which our
twenty, one hundred and twenty-one, one hundred virtue of the contract, or demand the performance of homestead law is predicated. This right cannot be
and twenty-two, and one hundred and twenty-three of the other's undertaking; waived. "It is not within the competence of any citizen
this. Act shall be unlawful and null and void from its to barter away what public policy by law seeks to
execution and shall produce the effect of annulling (2) When only one of the contracting parties is at fault, preserve." We are, therefore, constrained to hold that
and cancelling the grant, title, patent, or permit he cannot recover what he has given by reason of the appellee can maintain the present action it being in
originally issued, recognized or confirmed, actually or contract, or ask for the fulfilment of what has been furtherance of this fundamental aim of our homestead
presumptively, and cause the reversion of the promised him. The other, who is not at fault, may law.[91] (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)
property and its improvements to the State. demand the return of what he has given without any
obligation to comply with his promise. The non-application of the in pari delicto rule where
In this case, Section 101[87] of the Public Land Act is public policy would be violated has also been applied
applicable since title already vested in Eusebio Santos involved the sale of a parcel of land within the in other cases.
Borromeo's name. Both the trial court and the Court of five-year prohibitory period.[88] The Roman Catholic
Appeals found that the sale was made within the five- Church raised the defense of in pari delicto.[89] It was In Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals,[92] this court held that in
year prohibitory period. Thus, there is sufficient cause also argued by the Rornan Catholic Church that the pari delicto "is not [applicable to [e]jectment
to revert the property in favor of the state. However, effect of the sale would be the reversion of the] [c]ases"[93] and cited Drilon v. Gaurana,[94] which
this court cannot declare reversion of the property in discussed the policy behind ejectment cases:
pari delicto.[104] This court held that under the principle land is no better than that of appellee and, therefore,
of unjust enrichment, the sum of money should be they should not be allowed to remain in it to the
It must be stated that the purpose of an action of returned.[105] In so ruling, this court cited Gonzalo v. prejudice of appellee during and until the government
forcible entry and detainer is that, regardless of the Tarnate, Jr.[106] where it was explained that: takes steps toward its reversion to the
actual condition of the title to the property, the party in State.[108] (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)
peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by
strong hand, violence or terror. In affording this . . . the application of the doctrine of in pari delicto is In Binayug v. Ugaddan,[109] which involved the sale of
remedy of restitution the object of the statute is to not always rigid. An accepted exception arises when two properties covered by a homestead
prevent breaches of the peace and criminal disorder its application contravenes well-established public patent,[110] this court cited jurisprudence showing that
which would ensue from the withdrawal of the policy. In this jurisdiction, public policy has been in cases involving the sale of a property covered by
remedy, and the reasonable hope such withdrawal defined as "that principle of the law which holds that the five-year prohibitory period, the property should be
would create that some advantage must accrue to no subject or citizen can lawfully do that which has a returned to the grantee.[111]
those persons who, believing themselves entitled to tendency to hi injurious to the public or against the
the possession of property, resort to force to gain public good." Applying the ruling in Santos and Binayug, this court
possession rather than to some appropriate action in Unjust enrichment exists, according to Hulst v. PR makes it clear that petitioners have no better right to
the courts to assert their claims.[95] Builders, Inc., "when a person unjustly retains a remain in possession of the property against
benefit at the loss of another, or when a person respondents.
This court elucidated that: retains money or property of another against the
fundamental principles of justice, equity and good Hence, the Court of Appeals did not err in ruling that
conscience." The prevention of unjust enrichment is a while there is yet no action for reversion filed by the
Clearly, the application of the principle of pari recognized public policy of the State, for Article 22 of Office of the Solicitor General, the property should be
delicto to a case of ejectment between squatters is the Civil Code explicitly provides that "[e]very person conveyed by petitioners to respondents.
fraught with danger. To shut out relief to squatters on who through an act of performance by another, or any
the ground of pari delicto would openly invite mayhem other meins, acquires or comes into possession of
and lawlessness. A squatter would oust another something at the expense of the latter without just or III
squatter from possession of the lot that the latter had legal ground, shall return the same to him." It is wel I Petitioners' argument that respondents failed to
illegally occupied, emboldened by the knowledge that to note that Article 22 "is part of the chapter of the establish their status as heirs is belied by their
the courts would leave them where they are. Nothing Civil Code on Human Relations, the provisions of admissions during trial and in their pleadings.
would then stand in the way of the ousted squatter which were formulated as basic principles to be Petitioners t know the identity of Eusebio Borromeo's
from re-claiming his prior possession at all cost. observed for the rightful relationship between human wife. As quoted in the trial court's Decision, petitioners
beings and for the stability of the social order; alleged in their Answer that:
Petty warfare over possession of properties is designed to indicate certain norms that spring from
precisely what ejectment cases or actions for recovery the fountain of good conscience; guides for human [I]t was the late Eusebio Borromeo and his wife who
of possession seek to prevent. Even the owner who conduct that should run as golden threads through came along in Bayugan 2, San Francisco, Agusan del
has title over the disputed property cannot take the society to the end that law may approach its supreme Sur, requesting the said defendants to purchase their
law into his own hands to regain possession of his ideal which is the sway and dominance of justice." [107] land because they badly need money and
property. The owner must go to court.[96] (Citation notwithstanding the fact that they have a little amount
omitted) As the in pari delicto rule is not applicable, the and out of pity bought the said land.[112]
question now arises as to who between the parties
In Loria v. Muñoz, Jr.,[97] Carlos Loria asked Ludolfo have a better right to possess the subject parcel of In the Reply, respondents alleged:
Muñoz, Jr. "to advance [P]2,000,000.00 for a land. This issue was addressed in Santos:
subcontract of a [P]50,000,000.00 river-dredging The allegation that the late Eusebio Borrjomeo and
project in Guinobatan."[98] Loria informed Muñoz that his wife went to Bayugan II, San Francisco, Agusan
the project would be awarded to Sunwest What is important to consider now is who of the del Sur in order to sell the land to the defendant
Construction and Development Corporation, and parties is the better entitled to the possession of the Eliseo Maltos has no factual basis, the truth of the
Sunwest would subcontract to Muñoz.[99] Muñoz land while the government does not take steps to matter is that the late Eusebio Borromeo, together
agreed to Loria's proposal.[100] When the river- assert its title to the homestead. Upon annulment of with defendant Eliseo Maltos went to Esperanza,
dredging project was finished, Loria did not return the the sale, the purchaser's claim is reduced to the Sultan Kudarat to secure the signature of the wife.[113]
P2,000,000.00 despite Muñoz's purchase price and its interest. As against the vendor
demand.[101] Complaint for sum of money.[102]Loria or his heirs, the purchaser is no more entitled to keep In addition, when petitioner Eliseo Maltos was
raised the argument that Muñoz "should not be the land than any intruder. Such is the situation of the presented in court, he identified the signatures of the
allowed to recover the money"[103] since they were in appellants. Their right to remain in possession of the witnesses on the deed of sale as the signatures of
Eusebio Borromeo's children, namely, Susan, Ana, the homestead, because such sale is contrary to the the Public Land Act:
and Nicolas Borromeo.[114] public policy enunciated in the homestead law, the
loss of the products realized by the defendants and SECTION 101. All actions for the reversion to the
Respondents' allegation that they are the heirs of the value of the necessary improvements made by Government of lands of the public domain or
Borromeo is admitted by petitioners. Thus, the Court them on the land should not be excepted from the improvements thereon shall be instituted by the
of Appeals did not err in ruling that "the fact that application of the said rule because no cause or Solicitor-General or the officer acting in his stead, in
Appellants [referring to respondents] are the spouse reason can be cited to justify an exception. It has the proper courts, in the name of Commonwealth of
and children of the late EUSEBIO remains been held that the rule of in pari delicto is inapplicable the Philippines.
unrebutted."[115] only where the same violates a well-established public
policy. The purpose of reversion is "to restore public land
IV .... fraudulently awarded and disposed of to private
With regard to the claim for reimbursement, We are constrained to hold that the heirs of the individuals or corporations to the mass of public
respondents argue that it was not raised as a homesteader should be declared to have lost and domain."[126]
counterclaim in the Answer to the Complaint. forfeited the value of the products gathered from the
land, and so should the defendants lose the value of The general rule is that reversion of lands to the state
During trial, petitioner Eliseo Maltos testified that the necessary improvements that they have made is not automatic, and the Office of the Solicitor
when he entered the land, there were around 100 thereon.[121] General is the proper party to file an action for
trees, including coconut trees and a few banana trees. reversion.
He then planted additional coconut trees which, at the In Arsenal, the property covered by a homestead
time of the trial, were already bearing patent had been sold to Suralta in 1957,[122] while the In Villacorta v. Ulanday,[127] defendant-appellee
fruit.[116] Petitioner Eliseo Maltos' testimony was not Complaint was filed before the trial court in Vicente Ulanday admitted that his purchase of a
rebutted by respondents. 1974.[123] The case was decided by this court in parcel of land covered by a homestead patent was
1986.[124] Thus, Suralta had been in possession of the made within the five-year prohibitory period, but
The general rule is that "[a] compulsory counterclaim . property for approximately 17 years before a argued that since the sale was in violation of
. . not set up shall be barred."[117] Further, the Complaint was filed. This court held that: law,[128] the property should automatically revert to the
computation of the value of the improvements on the state.[129] This court held that reversion was not
land entails findings of fact. The value of any improvements made on the land and automatic, and government must file an appropriate
the interests on the purchase price are compensated action so that the land may be reverted to the
In any case, the Court of Appeals did not err when it by the fruits the respondent Suralta and his heirs state.[130]
stated in its Resolution dated April 7, 2006 that: received from their long possession of the
homestead.[125] Ortega v. Tan[131] involved the sale and mortgage of a
With respect to Appellees' claim for the parcel of land covered by a free patent.[132] The series
reimbursement of the improvements on the land in Angeles and Arsenal both involved the sale of a of transactions for the sale and mortgage of the
question, they are hereby declared to have lost and parcel of land covered by a homestead patent within property had been initiated within the five-year
forfeited the value of the necessary improvements the five-year prohibitory period. These cases also prohibitory period but was finalized after the
that they made thereon in the same manner that involved the introduction of improvements on the prohibitory period.[133]This court held that the sale and
Appellants should lose the value of the products parcel of land by the buyer. mortgage violated Section 118 of the Public Land Act
gathered by the Appellees from the said land.[118] and that reversion was proper.[134] This court also
Restating the rulings in Angeles and Arsenal, this clarified that:
The Court of Appeals cited Angeles, et at v. Court of court finds that while the rule on in pari delicto does
Appeals, et al.[119] and Arsenal v. Intermediate not apply policy, if its effect is to violate public policy it [Reversion] is not automatic. The government has to
Appellate Court.[120] In Angeles, this court discussed is applicable with regard to value of the take action to cancel the patent and the certificate of
that: improvements introduced by petitioner Eliseo Maltos. title in order that the land involved may be reverted to
Petitioners had been in possession of the land for 20 it. Correspondingly, any new transaction would be
years before the heirs of Borromeo filed a Complaint. subject to whatever steps the government may take
The question that now poses is whether the return of The expenses incurred by petitioners in introducing for the reversion to it.[135] (Citation omitted)
the value of the products gathered from the land by improvements on the land for which they seek
the defendants and the expenses incurred in the reimbursement should already be compensated by Alvarico v. Solau[136] involved a miscellaneous sales
construction of the dike—all useful and necessary the fruits they received from the improvements. application over a parcel of land by Fermina
expenses—should be ordered to be returned by the Lopez.[137] Subsequently, Lopez executed a deed of
defendants to the plaintiffs. While we believe that the V self-adjudication and transfer of rights in favor of
rule of in pari delicto should not apply to the sale of Reversion is a remedy provided under Section 101 of Amelita Sola.[138] The Bureau of Lands approved the
transfer of rights, and title was issued in Sola's property in dispute is owned by the state, it is proper appellant herself [referring to Ursula Francisco] has
name.[139] Castorio Alvarico then filed an action for that the action be filed by the Office of the Solicitor eliminated the very source (Sales Application) of her
reconveyance, claiming that the parcel of land was General, being the real party-in-interest. claim to Lot No. 595, as a consequence of which, she
donated to him.[140] He also alleged that Sola acquired cannot later assert any right or interest thereon. This
the property in bad faith.[141] This court held that There is, however, an exception to the rule that is the imperative import of the pronouncements in
Alvarico's allegation of bad faith was not supported by reversion is not automatic. Section 29 of the Public G.R. No. L-8263 and in G.R. No. L-15605 that the
evidence and that in any case, "only the State can Land Act provides: invalidity of the conveyance by plaintiff-appellant
institute reversion proceedings under Sec[tion] 101 of "produced as a consequence the reversion of the
the Public Land Act."[142] This court restated Section SECTION 29. After the cultivation of the land has property with all rights thereto to the State." As a
101 of the Public Land Act: begun, the purchaser, with the approval of the matter of fact, Section 29 of the Public Land Law
Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, may convey (Commonwealth Act No. 141) expressly ordains that
[A] private individual may not bring an action for or encumber his rights to any person, corporation, or any sale and encumbrance made without the previous
reversion or any action which would have the effect of association legally qualified under this Act to purchase approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
canceling a free patent and the corresponding agricultural public lands, provided such conveyance or Resources "shall be null and void and shall produce
certificate of title issued on the basis thereof, such encumbrance does not affect any right or interest of the effect of annulling the acquisition and reverting
that the land covered thereby will again form part of the Government in the land: And provided, further, property and all rights thereto to the State, and all
the public domain. Only the Solicitor General or the That the transferee is not delinquent in the payment of payments on the purchase price theretofore made to
officer acting in his stead may do so. Since [the] title any installment due and payable. Any sale and the Government shall be forfeited." . . . .
originated from a grant by the government, its encumbrance made without the previous approval of
cancellation is a matter between the grantor and the the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce shall be In fact, even if a sales application were already given
grantee.[143] (Citations omitted) null and void and shall produce the effect of annulling due course by the Director of Lands, the applicant is
the acquisition and reverting the property and all not thereby conferred any right over the land covered
The rule in Alvarico was cited in Cawis, et al. v. Hon. rights to the State, and all payments on the purchase by the application. It is the award made by the
Cerilles, et al.[144] In Cawis, the validity of a sales price theretofore made to the Government shall be Director to the applicant (if he is the highest bidder)
patent and original certificate of title over a parcel of forfeited. After the sale has been approved, the that confers upon him a certain right over the land,
land in Baguio was questioned.[145] This court denied vendor shall not lose his right to acquire agricultural namely, "to take possession of the land so that he
the Petition[146] and ruled that the Complaint was public lands under the provisions of this Act, provided could comply with the requirements prescribed by
actually a reversion suit, which can be filed only by he has the necessary qualifications. (Emphasis law." It is at this stage, when the award is made, that
the Office of the Solicitor General or a person acting supplied) the land can be considered "disposed of by the
in its stead.[147] Government," since the aforestated right of the
In Francisco v. Rodriguez, et al,[151] this court applicant has the effect of withdrawing the land from
It was also discussed in Cawis that: differentiated reversion under Sections 29 and 101 of the public domain that is "disposable" by the Director
the Public Land Act.[152] This court explained that of Lands under the provisions of the Public Land Act. .
The objective of an action for reversion of public land reversion under Section 29 is self-operative, unlike . . However, the disposition is merely provisional
is the cancellation of the certificate of title an|l the Section 101 which requires the Office of the Solicitor because the applicant has still to comply with the
resulting reversion of the land covered by the title to General to institute reversion proceedings.[153] Also, requirements prescribed by law before . . . . any
the State| This is why an action for reversion is Section 101 applies in cases where "title has already patent is issued. After the requisites of the law are
oftentimes designated asj an annulment suit or a vested in the individual[.]"[154] The Director of Lands complied with by the applicant to the satisfaction of
cancellation suit.[148] sought to execute the Decision in Francisco v. the Director [of] Lands, the patent is issued. It is then
Rodriguez which petitioner Ursula Francisco opposed, that the land covered by the application may be
We clarify that the remedy of reversion is not the arguing that only 29 hectares were reverted to the considered "permanently disposed of by the
same as the remedy of declaration of nullity of free state since she was in possession of the remaining Government."[157] (Citations omitted)
patents and certificate of title. In reversion, the four hectares.[155] This court held that the entire
"allegations in the complaint would admit State property reverted to the state.[156] This court also In this case, a free patent over the subject parcel of
ownership of the disputed land[,]"[149] while in an explained why Francisco v. Rodriguez was covered land was issued to Eusebio Borromeo. This shows
action for the declaration of nullity of free patent and by Section 29 and not Section 101 of the Public Land that he already had title to the property when he sold
certificate of title, the allegations would include Act: it to petitioner Eliseo Maltos. Thus, Section 101 of the
"plaintiffs ownership of the contested lot prior to the Public Land Act applies.
issuance of [the] free patent and certificate of By transgressing the law, i.e., allowing herself to be a
title[.]"[150] dummy in the acquisition of the land and selling the WHEREFORE, the Petition is denied, and the
same without the previous approval of the Secretary Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in
Since an action for reversion presupposes that the of Agriculture and Natural Resources, plaintiff- CA-G.R. CV No. 77142 are AFFIRMED, without
prejudice to the appropriate institution of a case for Visayas, with an aggregate estimated assessed and 3.01 The above captioned petition should be
reversion. par value of P1 Million Pesos[;] dismissed for utter lack of legal and/or factual basis.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of


5. That Julieta Ledesma is not in a position to care for 3.02 In the remote event that this Honorable Court
the Solicitor General for its appropriate action with
respect to the reversion of the land in question. SO herself, and that she needs the assistance of a should find that Julieta Ledesma is incompetent and
ORDERED. guardian to manage her interests in on-going resolve that there is need to appoint a guardian over
corporate and agricultural enterprises; her person and property, this Honorable Court should
RULE 92 – 97 appoint as such guardian:
6. That the nearest of kin of Julieta Ledesma are her
THIRD DIVISION sisters of the full blood, namely, petitioner Amparo 1. Oppositor Goyena;
G.R. No. 147148 January 13, 2003 Ledesma Gustilo, Teresa Ledesma (aka. Sister 2. Bart Lacson;
Cristina of the Religious of the Assumption, and 3. Fely Montelibano;
PILAR Y. GOYENA, petitioner, Loreto Ledesma Mapa, all of whom have given their 4. Jose T. Revilla; or
vs. consent to the filing of this petition as shown by their 5. a qualified and reputable person as may be
AMPARO LEDESMA-GUSTILO, respondent. signatures at the bottom of this petition[;] determined fit by this Honorable Court.

CARPIO MORALES, J.: 7. That petitioner has extensive experience in By Decision2 of October 4, 1996, the trial court found
From the Court of Appeals June 19, 2000 Decision business management of commercial, agricultural and Julieta "incompetent and incapable of taking care of
which affirmed that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) corporate enterprises, many of which are in the same herself and her property" and appointed respondent
of Makati, Branch 149 in Special Proceeding No. N- entities where Julieta Ledesma holds an interest, and as guardian of her person and properties, ratiocinating
4375 appointing herein respondent Amparo Ledesma that she is in a position to monitor and supervise the as follows:
Gustilo as guardian over the person and property of delivery of vitally needed medical services to Julieta
her sister Julieta Ledesma, Pilar Y. Goyena, Julieta's Ledesma whether in the Metro Manila area, or A perusal of the records shows that petitioner
close friend and companion of more than 60 years, elsewhere. (Amparo) is 72 years of age, the youngest sister of
comes to this Court on petition for review on certiorari. Julieta. Admittedly, the Oppositor Pilar Goyena, 90
Petitioner filed an Opposition to the petition for letters years of age has been the close friend and
On July 8, 1996, respondent filed at the RTC of of guardianship. She later filed an Amended companion of Julieta for 61 years. Julieta was with
Makati a "PETITION FOR LETTERS OF Opposition on August 15, 1996 reading in part: Oppositor when she suffered her first stroke in Makati
GUARDIANSHIP"1 over the person and properties of in 1991 which was the reason why Julieta had to give
her sister Julieta, the pertinent allegations of which 2.03 The petition lacked factual and legal basis in that up the management of their hacienda in Bacolod. It is
read: Julieta Ledesma is competent and sane and there is also not disputed that Julieta was with Pilar when she
absolutely no need to appoint a guardian to take had her second stroke in the U.S. In short, the special
2. That for the most part during the year 1995 and charge of her person/property. She is very able to bond of friendship existing between Julieta and the
1996, Julieta Ledesma has been a patient in the take charge of her affairs, and this is clearly evident Oppositor cannot be denied. Now that Julieta is
Makati Medical Center where she is under medical from her letters to the petitioner. Copies of her recent unable to manage her personal life and business
attention for old age, general debility, and a "mini"- letters are herewith attached as Annexes "A" to "E." concerns due to senility and "vascular dementia," the
stroke which she suffered in the United States in early oppositor wants to be appointed her guardian or else
1995; xxx xxx xxx Bart Lacson, Fely Montelibano and Jose T. Revilla.
2.05 Petitioner is not fit to be appointed as the
3. That Julieta Ledesma is confined to her bed and guardian of Julieta Ledesma since their interests are It is interesting to note that the oppositor has
can not get up from bed without outside assistance, antagonistic (Sudler v. Sudler, 121 Md. 46. 49 L.R.A. interposed her objection to the appointment of
and she has to be moved by wheel chair; 800, as cited in vol. V-B Francisco Revised Rules of Amparo as guardian because she thinks that the latter
Court, Rule 93, Section 4, p. 414). dislikes her. She further added that there were a
4. That Julieta Ledesma owns real estate and number of letters allegedly written by Julieta to
personal properties in Metro Manila and in Western xxx xxx xxx Amparo which showed Julieta's sentiments regarding
certain matters. Nevertheless, not one of the nearest petitioner's appointment as such was not objected to WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed
of kin of Julieta opposed the petition. As a matter of by any of her nearest kin, in contrast to the hostile decision, the same is hereby AFFIRMED. SO
fact, her sisters signified their conformity thereto. interest of oppositor, the same is hereby DENIED. ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, Ms. Goyena's mere conjecture that Amparo SO ORDERED.
dislikes her is no sufficient reason why the petition Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court of
should be denied. Neither does it make Amparo On appeal of petitioner, the Court of Appeals affirmed Appeals decision having been denied, she filed the
unsuitable and unfit to perform the duties of a the trial court's decision on the following ratiocination: 4 present petition which proffers that:
guardian. On the contrary, it is Ms. Goyena who could
be considered as to have an adverse interest to that Indeed, oppositor-appellant (Pilar) has not shown the THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS DECIDED A
of Julieta if it is true that 50% of Julieta's holdings at authenticity and due execution of the letters which QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN
the Makati Medical Center has been transferred to her purport to show the existence of a rift between Julieta ACCORD WITH LAW AND APPLICABLE
as alleged in Exhibit 1 and Exhibit A. and her family and dissatisfaction as to how the DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE COURT.
businesses were managed. At any rate, while it is
By and large, the qualification of Amparo to act as correct to say that no person should be appointed THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS DEPARTED FROM
guardian over the person and properties of Julieta has guardian if his interest conflict with those of the ward THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL COURSE OF
been duly established. As a sister, she can best take (Guerrero vs. Teran, 13 Phil. 212), there are really no JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS IN AFFIRMING THE
care of Julieta's concerns and well being. Now that antagonistic interests to speak of between petitioner TRIAL COURT'S DECISION DATED OCTOBER 4,
Julieta is in the twilight of her life, her family should be [Amparo] and Julieta, they being co-owners of certain 1996 AND IN ISSUING THE RESOLUTIONS DATED
given the opportunity to show their love and affection properties. There is also no showing that petitioner's JUNE 29, 2000 AND FEBRUARY 9, 2001.
for her without however denying Pilar Goyena access business decisions in the past had resulted in the
to her considering the special bond of friendship prejudice of Julieta. The petition fails.
between the two. Needless to say, the oppositor at 90
years of age could not be said to be physically fit to While the oppositor may have been very close to It is well-entrenched doctrine that questions of fact are
attend to all the needs of Julieta. Julieta, there is no sufficient showing that petitioner is not proper subjects of appeal by certiorari under Rule
hostile to the best interests of the latter. On the 45 of the Rules of Court as this mode of appeal is
WHEREFORE, petitioner Amparo Gustilo, is hereby contrary, it was the petitioner who, realizing the need confined to questions of law.5 The test of whether the
appointed guardian over the person and property of for the appointment of a person to guard her sister's question is one of law or of fact is whether the
Julieta Ledesma, an incompetent with all the powers interests, initiated the petition for guardianship. We appellate court can determine the issue
and duties specified under the law. see no indication that petitioner is animated by a raised without reviewing or evaluating the
desire to prejudice Julieta's health as well as evidence, in which case it is a question of law;
Accordingly, let letters of guardianship issue to financial interests. In point of fact, it was otherwise, it is question of fact.6
petitioner upon her filing of a bond in the amount of oppositor-appellant who had initially concealed
P200,000.00 to guarantee the performance of the the deteriorating state of mind of Julieta from the In the case at bar, the only issue before this Court is
obligations prescribed for general guardians. SO court. Oppositor's advanced age of 90 years also whether or not the appellate court and the trial court
ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied) militate against her assuming the guardianship of the erred in finding that respondent is not unsuitable for
Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the trial incompetent. The oppositor has declared that she appointment as guardian of the person and properties
court's decision was, by Order of November 4, 19963 , is not interested to be appointed legal guardian (p. of Julieta. In support of an affirmative answer,
denied in this wise: 21[,] Appellant's Brief, Rollo, p. 59). But the persons petitioner posits as follows:
Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the that she points to as being better choices as Julieta's
Oppositor thru counsel, and finding no merits on the guardian over the appellee have not acted, nor even 1. The Court of Appeals' basis for its decision that
ground stated therein, considering that petitioner indicated, their desire to act as such. In any case, We there are no antagonistic interests between [her] and
appears to be most qualified and suitable to act as see no cogent reason why We should reverse the [respondent] is contrary to the evidence on record,7
Julieta Ledesma's guardian after taking into well-reasoned disquisition of the trial court.
consideration the qualifications of the oppositor and
her other recomendees [sic], aside from the fact that
2. The Court of Appeals' erred in holding that there is contradicted by the evidence on record (Emphasis between the two which amounts to antagonistic
no showing that [respondent] is hostile to the best supplied); (Rollo, 350–351) interests. The first letter17 sent by Julieta to
interest of Julieta,8 and respondent which reads:
Petitioner claims that "there is no doubt that the
3. Julieta Ledesma's appointed representatives are instant petition falls within the above-stated x x x So if you (appellee) do not agree with me
most suitable to be appointed as her guardian.9 exceptions because the findings of the Court of (Julieta) my decision is right to let us divide as soon
Appeals are clearly belied by the evidence on as possible, so we will have capital each of us to
Clearly, the issues raised and arguments in support of record."12 work, and keep the Hda, for [sic] generation to
petitioner's position require a review of the evidence, generation.
hence, not proper for consideration in the petition at In the selection of a guardian, a large discretion must
bar. This Court cannot thus be tasked to go over the be allowed the judge who deals directly with the xxx xxx xxx
proofs presented by the parties and analyze, assess, parties.13 As this Court said: For the last time I will repeat even if I have to kneel
and weigh them to ascertain if the trial court and before you and Carlos I have no interest anymore in
appellate court were correct in according them As a rule, when it appears that the judge has any future investment due to my age and being single
superior credit.10 exercised care and diligence in selecting the and alone in life. I would like to be able to enjoy
guardian, and has given due consideration to the whatever monies that correspond to me. I would like
That the issues raised are factual is in fact admitted reasons for and against his action which are urged by to have enough money as a reserve for any future
by petitioner in her Reply dated August 30, 2001:11 the interested parties, his action should not be need that I might have like hospitalization, travel,
disturbed unless it is made very clear that he has buying whatever I like, etc. etc. (Letter to appellee;
Although the general rule is that this Honorable Court fallen into grievous error.14 Exhibit "2")
is not a trier of facts, its jurisdiction being limited to
reviewing and revising only errors of law, it is In the case at bar, petitioner has not shown that the merely shows Julieta's lack of interest in future
nonetheless subject to the following exceptions which lower courts committed any error. investments, not necessarily a business
have been laid down in a number of decisions of this disagreement, and certainly not per se amounting to
Honorable Court: Petitioner cannot rely on Garchitorena v. Sotelo15 with antagonistic interests between her and respondent to
respect to the existence of antagonistic interests render the latter unsuitable for appointment as
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely between respondent and Julieta. In that case, the guardian.
on speculation, surmises and conjectures; (2) When interest of Perfecto Gabriel as creditor and mortgagee
the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or of the minor-wards' properties (a house and lot) is The second letter18 which reads:
impossible; (3) When there is grave abuse of antagonistic to the interest of the wards as
discretion; (4) When the judgment is based on a mortgagors, hence, Gabriel's appointment as My mind is still clear to tell you about Fortuna when I
misapprehension of facts; (5) When the findings of guardian was erroneous. For while he sought to had my stroke I was confined in MMC for one
facts are conflicting; (6) When the Court of Appeals, in foreclose the wards' properties as creditor and month. If I am not mistaken you did not visit me.
making its findings, went beyond the issues of the mortgagee on one hand, he had to, on the other hand, One day Carlos came to visit me and asked me this
case and the same is contrary to the admissions of endeavor to retain them for the wards as their question. Do you think you will be able to continue
both appellants and appellee; (7) When the findings of guardian. Added to that was Gabriel's appointment as managing the Hda? I answered him I don't know it all
the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial guardian without him informing the guardianship court depends on my sickness. Carlos said who do you
court; (8) When the findings of facts are conclusions that he held a mortgage on the properties. want to take your place? I said I want Cheling
without citation of specific evidence on which they are Furthermore, he deliberately misinformed the said Zabaljauregui. Then Carlos said O.K. He asked Pilar
based; (9) When the facts set forth in the petition as court that the first mortgagee was the Santa Clara can you contact Cheling? Tell him to call me or see
well as in the petitioners' main and reply briefs are not Monastery when it was him. None of the said me. The nephew of Cheling was a resident in MMC
disputed by the respondents; and (10) When the circumstances obtain in the present case. through him Pilar was able to contact Cheling and
findings of fact of the Court of Appeals is premised on gave him Carlo's message. So I thought all the time it
the supposed absence of evidence and is Petitioner can neither rely on certain letters of Julieta was agreeable. I left for USA for treatment. To my
to establish her claim that there existed16 a rift surprise when I came back from USA it was not
Cheling, but you (appellee) took over the vs.
management as you requested. Carlos did not tell it has also no relevance to the issue in the case at COURT OF APPEALS (SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION),
me but decided in your favor. . . . (Letter to appellee; bar. The letter is not even addressed to respondent PEDRO ESTRADA and his wife, LEONORA
Exhibit "3"; emphasis supplied) but to a certain Connie (a sister-in-law of Julieta). ESTRADA, respondents.

shows that: 1) respondent did not visit Julieta when Petitioner's assertion that respondent's intent in NARVASA, C.J.:
she was confined at the Makati Medical Center on instituting the guardianship proceedings is to take On November 20, 1989, being then ninety-four (94)
account of her stroke, 2) there was disagreement as control of Julieta's properties and use them for her years of age, Carmen Cañiza, a spinster, a retired
to who should run the hacienda, with Julieta favoring own benefit21 is purely speculative and finds no pharmacist, and former professor of the College of
a certain Cheling Zabaljaurigue, and 3) respondent support from the records. Chemistry and Pharmacy of the University of the
took over management of the hacienda with their Philippines, was declared incompetent by
brother Carlos (Ledesma) supporting her. No The claim that respondent is hostile to the best judgment1 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
inference as to the existence of antagonistic interests interests of Julieta also lacks merit. That respondent Branch 107,2 in a guardianship proceeding instituted
between respondent and Julieta can thus be made. removed Julieta from the Makati Medical Center by her niece, Amparo A. Evangelista.3 She was so
where she was confined after she suffered a stroke adjudged because of her advanced age and physical
The third letter19 which reads: does not necessarily show her hostility towards infirmities which included cataracts in both eyes and
Julieta, given the observation by the trial court, cited senile dementia. Amparo A. Evangelista was
. . . Carlos went to the house before I left and asked in the present petition, that Julieta was still placed appointed legal guardian of her person and estate.
from me twenty thousand (20,000) shares of San under the care of doctors22 after she checked out and
Carlos Milling which you gave because I wanted to was returned to the hospital when she suffered Cañiza was the owner of a house and lot at No. 61
sell all. . . . If he does not sell or cannot sell, just another stroke. Tobias St., Quezon City. On September 17, 1990, her
arrange to send them back to me. Amparing since I guardian Amparo Evangelista commenced a suit in
came here to America and Vancouver my requests Finally, this Court notes two undisputed facts in the the Metropolitan Trial Court (MetroTC) of Quezon City
have been ignored. Everyone is suspecting that Pilar case at bar, to wit: 1) Petitioner opposed the petition (Branch 35) to eject the spouses Pedro and Leonora
is the one ordering or commanding me that is not true. for the appointment of respondent as guardian before Estrada from said premises.4 The complaint was later
What I asked from Julio is just to report to me or send the trial court because, among other reasons, she felt amended to identify the incompetent Cañiza as
me reports so I can follow up from here. But up to now she was disliked by respondent,23 a ground which plaintiff, suing through her legal guardian, Amparo
he has ignored my requests x x x . (Letter to appellee does not render respondent unsuitable for Evangelista.
Exhibit "4") appointment as guardian, and 2) Petitioner concealed
the deteriorating state of mind of Julieta before the The amended Complaint5 pertinently alleged that
has no relevance to the issue of whether or not the trial court, 24 which is reflective of a lack of good faith. plaintiff Cañiza was the absolute owner of the
lower courts erred in finding that respondent is not property in question, covered by TCT No. 27147; that
unsuitable for appointment as guardian. The letter in Discussion of the third argument is unnecessary, the out of kindness, she had allowed the Estrada
fact discloses, that it was Julieta's nephew Julio suitability of Amparo for appointment as guardian not Spouses, their children, grandchildren and sons-in-
Ledesma, and not respondent, who ignored the having been successfully contested. law to temporarily reside in her house, rent-free; that
"request." Cañiza already had urgent need of the house on
ACCORDINGLY, for lack of merit, the petition is account of her advanced age and failing health, "so
As for the fourth letter20 which reads: hereby DISMISSED. SO ORDERED. funds could be raised to meet her expenses for
support, maintenance and medical treatment;" that
I want all of you to know that whatever decision now THIRD DIVISION through her guardian, Cañiza had asked the Estradas
and in the future I want to do nobody can stop me verbally and in writing to vacate the house but they
especially regarding my properties, money, etc. I will G.R. No. 110427 February 24, 1997 had refused to do so; and that "by the defendants' act
be the only one to dispose of it because it is mine. The Incompetent, CARMEN CAÑIZA, represented of unlawfully depriving plaintiff of the possession of
You said to Raul you are going to court, you are most by her legal guardian, AMPARO the house in question, they . . (were) enriching
welcome x x x . (Letter to Connie, Exhibit "5") EVANGELISTA, petitioner, themselves at the expense of the incompetent,
because, while they . . (were) saving money by not claim to the property, . . it is indicative of intent and (b) assuming desahucio to be proper, whether or not
paying any rent for the house, the incompetent . . desire on the part of Carmen Cañiza that defendants Evangelista, as Cañiza's legal guardian had authority
(was) losing much money as her house could not be are to remain and are to continue in their occupancy to bring said action; and (c) assuming an affirmative
rented by others." Also alleged was that the complaint and possession, so much so that Cañiza's answer to both questions, whether or not Evangelista
was "filed within one (1) year from the date of of first supervening incompetency can not be said to have may continue to represent Cañiza after the latter's
letter of demand dated February 3, 1990." vested in her guardian the right or authority to drive death.
the defendants out." 13
In their Answer with Counterclaim, the defendants I
declared that they had been living in Cañiza's house Through her guardian, Cañiza came to this Court It is axiomatic that what determines the nature of an
since the 1960's; that in consideration of their faithful praying for reversal of the Appellate Court's judgment. action as well as which court has jurisdiction over it,
service they had been considered by Cañiza as her She contends in the main that the latter erred in (a) are the allegations of the complaint and the character
own family, and the latter had in fact executed a holding that she should have pursued an accion of the relief sought. 18 An inquiry into the averments of
holographic will on September 4, 1988 by which she publiciana, and not an accion interdictal; and in (b) the amended complaint in the Court of origin is thus in
"bequeathed" to the Estradas the house and lot in giving much weight to "a xerox copy of an alleged order. 19
question. holographic will, which is irrelevant to this case." 14
20
The amended Complaint alleges:
Judgment was rendered by the MetroTC on April 13, In the responsive pleading filed by them on this
1992 in Cañiza's favor,6 the Estradas being ordered to Court's requirement, 15 the Estradas insist that the 6. That the plaintiff Carmen Cañiza, is the sole and
vacate the premises and pay Cañiza P5,000.00 by case against them was really not one of unlawful absolute owner of a house and lot at No. 61 Scout
way of attorney's fees. detainer; they argue that since possession of the Tobias, Quezon City, which property is now the
house had not been obtained by them by any subject of this complaint;
But on appeal,8 the decision was reversed by the "contract, express or implied," as contemplated by
Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 96.9 By Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, their xxx xxx xxx
judgment rendered on October 21, 1992, 10 the RTC occupancy of the premises could not be deemed one 9. That the defendants, their children, grandchildren
held that the "action by which the issue of defendants' "terminable upon mere demand (and hence never and sons-in-law, were allowed to live temporarily in
possession should be resolved is accion publiciana, became unlawful) within the context of the law." the house of plaintiff Carmen Cañiza, for free, out of
the obtaining factual and legal situation . . demanding Neither could the suit against them be deemed one of her kindness;
adjudication by such plenary action for recovery of forcible entry, they add, because they had been
possession cognizable in the first instance by the occupying the property with the prior consent of the 10. That the plaintiff, through her legal guardian, has
Regional Trial Court." "real owner," Carmen Cañiza, which "occupancy can duly notified the defendants, for them to vacate the
even ripen into full ownership once the holographic said house, but the two (2) letters of demand were
Cañiza sought to have the Court of Appeals reverse will of petitioner Carmen Cañiza is admitted to ignored and the defendants refused to vacate the
the decision of October 21, 1992, but failed in that probate." They conclude, on those postulates, that it is same. . .
attempt. In a decision 11 promulgated on June 2, beyond the power of Cañiza's legal guardian to oust
1993, the Appellate Court 12 affirmed the RTC's them from the disputed premises. 11. That the plaintiff, represented by her legal
judgment in toto. It ruled that (a) the proper remedy guardian, Amparo Evangelista, made another demand
for Cañiza was indeed an accion publiciana in the Carmen Cañiza died on March 19, 1994, 16 and her on the defendants for them to vacate the premises,
RTC, not an accion interdictal in the MetroTC, since heirs — the aforementioned guardian, Amparo before Barangay Captain Angelina A. Diaz of
the "defendants have not been in the subject Evangelista, and Ramon C. Nevado, her niece and Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City, but after two
premises as mere tenants or occupants by tolerance, nephew, respectively — were by this Court's leave, (2) conferences, the result was negative and no
they have been there as a sort of adopted family of substituted for her. 17 settlement was reached. A photocopy of the
Carmen Cañiza," as evidenced by what purports to be Certification to File Action dated July 4, 1990, issued
the holographic will of the plaintiff; and (b) while "said Three issues have to be resolved: (a) whether or not by said Barangay Captain is attached, marked Annex
will, unless and until it has passed probate by the an ejectment action is the appropriate judicial remedy "D" and made an integral part hereof;
proper court, could not be the basis of defendants' for recovery of possession of the property in dispute;
12. That the plaintiff has given the defendants more 2. To pay attorney's fees in the amount of P10,000.00; possession of the property in question "by virtue of
than thirty (30) days to vacate the house, but they still any contract, express or implied" — they having been,
refused to vacate the premises, and they are up to 3. To pay the costs of the suit. to repeat, "allowed to live temporarily . . (therein) for
this time residing in the said place; free, out of . . (Cañiza's) kindness" — in no sense
In essence, the amended complaint states: could there be an "expiration or termination of . .
13. That this complaint is filed within one (1) year from (their) right to hold possession, by virtue of any
the date of first letter of demand dated February 3, 1) that the Estradas were occupying Cañiza's house contract, express or implied." Nor would an action for
1990 (Annex "B") sent by the plaintiff to the by tolerance — having been "allowed to live forcible entry lie against them, since there is no claim
defendants, by her legal guardian — Amparo temporarily . . (therein) for free, out of . . (Cañiza's) that they had "deprived (Cañiza) of the possession of .
Evangelista; kindness;" . (her property) by force, intimidation, threat, strategy,
or stealth.
14. By the defendants' act of unlawfully depriving the 2) that Cañiza needed the house "urgently" because
plaintiff of the possession of the house in question, her "health . . (was) failing and she . . (needed) funds . The argument is arrant sophistry. Cañiza's act of
they are enriching themselves at the expense of the . to meet her expenses for her support, maintenance allowing the Estradas to occupy her house, rent-free,
incompetent plaintiff because, while they are saving and medical treatment;" did not create a permanent and indefeasible right of
money by not paying any rent for the house, the possession in the latter's favor. Common sense, and
plaintiff is losing much money as her house could not 3) that through her general guardian, Cañiza the most rudimentary sense of fairness clearly require
be rented by others; requested the Estradas several times, orally and in that that act of liberality be implicitly, but no less
writing, to give back possession of the house; certainly, accompanied by the necessary burden on
15. That the plaintiff's health is failing and she needs the Estradas of returning the house to Cañiza upon
the house urgently, so that funds could be raised to 4) that the Estradas refused and continue to refuse to her demand. More than once has this Court adjudged
meet her expenses for her support, maintenance and give back the house to Cañiza, to her continuing that a person who occupies the land of another at the
medical treatment; prejudice; and latter's tolerance or permission without any contract
between them is necessarily bound by an implied
16. That because of defendants' refusal to vacate the 5) that the action was filed within one (1) year from promise that he will vacate upon demand, failing
house at No. 61 Scout Tobias, Quezon City, the the last demand to vacate. which a summary action for ejectment is the proper
plaintiff, through her legal guardian, was compelled to remedy against him. 24 The situation is not much
go to court for justice, and she has to spend Undoubtedly, a cause of action for desahucio has different from that of a tenant whose lease expires but
P10,000.00 as attorney's fees. been adequately set out. It is settled that in an action who continues in occupancy by tolerance of the
for unlawful detainer, it suffices to allege that the owner, in which case there is deemed to be an
Its prayer 21 is quoted below: defendant is unlawfully withholding possession from unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession as
the plaintiff is deemed sufficient, 22 and a complaint for of the date of the demand to vacate. 25 In other words,
WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice and the rule of unlawful detainer is sufficient if it alleges that the one whose stay is merely tolerated becomes a
law, plaintiff, Carmen Cañiza, represented by her withholding of possession or the refusal to vacate is deforciant illegally occupying the land or property the
legal guardian, Amparo Evangelista, respectfully unlawful without necessarily employing the moment he is required to leave. 26 Thus, in Asset
prays to this Honorable Court, to render judgment in terminology of the law. 23 Privatization Trust vs. Court of Appeals, 27 where a
favor of plaintiff and against the defendants as company, having lawfully obtained possession of a
follows: The Estradas' first proffered defense derives from a plant upon its undertaking to buy the same, refused to
literal construction of Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules return it after failing to fulfill its promise of payment
1. To order the defendants, their children, of Court which inter alia authorizes the institution of an despite demands, this Court held that "(a)fter demand
grandchildren, sons-in-law and other persons claiming unlawful detainer suit when "the possession of any and its repudiation, . . (its) continuing possession . .
under them, to vacate the house and premises at No. land or building is unlawfully withheld after the became illegal and the complaint for unlawful detainer
6 1 Scout Tobias, Quezon City, so that its possession expiration or termination of the right to hold filed by the
can be restored to the plaintiff Carmen Cañiza; and possession, by virtue of any contract, express or . . (plant's owner) was its proper remedy.
implied." They contend that since they did not acquire
It may not be amiss to point out in this connection that probate of the will, any assertion of possession by which it may be situated and to perform all other acts
where there had been more than one demand to them would be premature and inefficacious. necessary for the management of her properties . .
vacate, the one-year period for filing the complaint for " 33 By that appointment, it became Evangelista's duty
unlawful detainer must be reckoned from the date of In any case, the only issue that could legitimately be to care for her aunt's person, to attend to her physical
the last demand, 28the reason being that the lessor raised under the circumstances was that involving the and spiritual needs, to assure her well-being, with
has the option to waive his right of action based on Estradas' possession by tolerance, i.e., possession de right to custody of her person in preference to
previous demands and let the lessee remain facto, not de jure. It is therefore incorrect to postulate relatives and friends. 34 It also became her right and
meanwhile in the premises. 29 Now, the complaint filed that the proper remedy for Cañiza is not ejectment duty to get possession of, and exercise control over,
by Cañiza's guardian alleges that the same was "filed but accion publiciana, a plenary action in the RTC or Cañiza's property, both real and personal, it being
within one (1) year from the date of the first letter of an action that is one for recovery of the right to recognized principle that the ward has no right to
demand dated February 3, 1990." Although this possession de jure. possession or control of his property during her
averment is not in accord with law because there is in incompetency. 35 That right to manage the ward's
fact a second letter of demand to vacate, dated II estate carries with it the right to take possession
February 27, 1990, the mistake is inconsequential, The Estradas insist that the devise of the house to thereof and recover it from anyone who retains
since the complaint was actually filed on September them by Cañiza clearly denotes her intention that they it, 36 and bring and defend such actions as may be
17, 1990, well within one year from the second (last) remain in possession thereof, and legally needful for this purpose. 37
written demand to vacate. incapacitated her judicial guardian, Amparo
Evangelista, from evicting them therefrom, since their Actually, in bringing the action of desahucio,
The Estradas' possession of the house stemmed from ouster would be inconsistent with the ward's will. Evangelista was merely discharging the duty to attend
the owner's express permission. That permission was to "the comfortable and suitable maintenance of the
subsequently withdrawn by the owner, as was her A will is essentially ambulatory; at any time prior to the ward" explicitly imposed on her by Section 4, Rule 96
right; and it is immaterial that the withdrawal was testator's death, it may be changed or revoked; 30 and of the Rules of Court, viz.:
made through her judicial guardian, the latter being until admitted to probate, it has no effect whatever
indisputably clothed with authority to do so. Nor is it of and no right can be claimed thereunder, the law being Sec. 4. Estate to be managed frugally, and proceeds
any consequence that Carmen Cañiza had executed quite explicit: "No will shall pass either real or applied to maintenance of ward. — A guardian must
a will bequeathing the disputed property to the personal property unless it is proved and allowed in manage the estate of his ward frugally and without
Estradas; that circumstance did not give them the accordance with the Rules of Court" (ART. waste, and apply the income and profits thereof, so
right to stay in the premises after demand to vacate 838, id.). 31 An owner's intention to confer title in the far as maybe necessary, to the comfortable and
on the theory that they might in future become owners future to persons possessing property by his suitable maintenance of the ward and his family, if
thereof, that right of ownership being at best inchoate, tolerance, is not inconsistent with the former's taking there be any; and if such income and profits be
no transfer of ownership being possible unless and back possession in the meantime for any reason insufficient for that purpose, the guardian may sell or
until the will is duly probated. deemed sufficient. And that in this case there was encumber the real estate, upon being authorized by
sufficient cause for the owner's resumption of order to do so, and apply to such of the proceeds as
Thus, at the time of the institution of the action possession is apparent: she needed to generate may be necessary to such maintenance.
of desahucio, the Estradas had no legal right to the income from the house on account of the physical
property, whether as possessors by tolerance or infirmities afflicting her, arising from her extreme age. Finally, it may be pointed out in relation to the
sufferance, or as owners. They could not claim the Estradas's defenses in the ejectment action, that as
right of possession by sufferance; that had been Amparo Evangelista was appointed by a competent the law now stands, even when, in forcible entry and
legally ended. They could not assert any right of court the general guardian of both the person and the unlawful detainer cases, the defendant raises the
possession flowing from their ownership of the house; estate of her aunt, Carmen Cañiza. Her Letters of question of ownership in his pleadings and the
their status as owners is dependent on the probate of Guardianship 32 dated December 19, 1989 clearly question of possession cannot be resolved without
the holographic will by which the property had installed her as the "guardian over the person and deciding the issue of ownership, the Metropolitan Trial
allegedly been bequeathed to them — an event which properties of the incompetent CARMEN CANIZA Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit
still has to take place; in other words, prior to the with full authority to take possession of the property of Trial Courts nevertheless have the undoubted
said incompetent in any province or provinces in
competence to resolve "the issue of ownership . . only and attorney’s feesagainst herein respondents heirs
to determine the issue of possession." 38 To be sure, an ejectment case survives the death of a of spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy
party. Cañiza's demise did not extinguish (heirs of Uy).
III the desahucio suit instituted by her through her
As already stated, Carmen Cañiza passed away guardian. 42 That action, not being a purely personal The Facts
during the pendency of this appeal. The Estradas one, survived her death; her heirs have taken her During her lifetime, Anunciacion Neri (Anunciacion)
thereupon moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that place and now represent her interests in the appeal at had seven children, two (2) from her first marriage
Cañiza's death automatically terminated the bar. with Gonzalo Illut (Gonzalo), namely: Eutropia and
guardianship, Amaparo Evangelista lost all authority Victoria, and five (5) from her second marriage with
as her judicial guardian, and ceased to have legal WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Enrique Neri (Enrique), namely: Napoleon, Alicia,
personality to represent her in the present appeal. Decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on June Visminda, Douglas and Rosa. Throughout the
The motion is without merit. 2, 1993 — affirming the Regional Trial Court's marriage of spouses Enrique and Anunciacion, they
judgment and dismissing petitioner's petition acquired several homestead properties with a total
While it is indeed well-established rule that the for certiorari — is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and area of 296,555 square meters located in Samal,
relationship of guardian and ward is necessarily the Decision dated April 13, 1992 of the Metropolitan Davao del Norte, embraced by Original Certificate of
terminated by the death of either the guardian or the Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 35, in Civil Case Title (OCT) Nos. (P-7998) P-21285 , (P-14608) P-
ward, 39 the rule affords no advantage to the Estradas. No. 3410 is REINSTATED and AFFIRMED. Costs 51536and P-20551 (P-8348)7 issued on February 15,
Amparo Evangelista, as niece of Carmen Cañiza, is against private respondents. SO ORDERED. 1957, August 27, 1962 and July 7, 1967, respectively.
one of the latter's only two (2) surviving heirs, the
other being Cañiza's nephew, Ramon C. Nevado. On SECOND DIVISION On September 21, 1977, Anunciacion died intestate.
their motion and by Resolution of this Court 40 of June G.R. No. 194366 October 10, 2012 Her husband, Enrique, in his personal capacity and as
20, 1994, they were in fact substituted as parties in natural guardian of his minor children Rosa and
the appeal at bar in place of the deceased, in NAPOLEON D. NERI, ALICIA D. NERI-MONDEJAR, Douglas, together with Napoleon, Alicia, and
accordance with Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of VISMINDA D. NERI-CHAMBERS, ROSA D. NERI- Vismindaexecuted an Extra-Judicial Settlement of the
Court, viz.: 41 MILLAN, DOUGLAS D. NERI, EUTROPIA D. ILLUT- Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale8 on July 7, 1979,
COCKINOS AND VICTORIA D. ILLUT- adjudicating among themselves the said homestead
Sec. 18. Death of a party. — After a party dies and PIALA, Petitioners, properties, and thereafter, conveying themto the late
the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall vs. spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy
order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of HEIRS OF HADJI YUSOP UY AND (spouses Uy)for a consideration of ₱ 80,000.00.
the deceased to appear and be substituted for the JULPHA* IBRAHIM UY, Respondents.
deceased within a period of thirty (30) days, or within On June 11, 1996, the children of Enrique filed a
such time as may be granted. If the legal PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: complaint for annulment of saleof the said homestead
representative fails to appear within said time, the In this Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 properties against spouses Uy (later substituted by
court may order the opposing party to procure the of the Rules of Court, petitioners Napoleon D. Neri their heirs)before the RTC, docketed as Civil Case
appointment of a legal representative of the deceased (Napoleon), Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar (Alicia), Visminda No.96-28, assailing the validity of the sale for having
within a time to be specified by the court, and the D. Neri-Chambers (Visminda), Rosa D. Neri-Millan been sold within the prohibited period. Thecomplaint
representative shall immediately appear for and on (Rosa), Douglas D. Neri (Douglas), Eutropia D. Illut- was later amended to include Eutropia and Victoriaas
behalf of the interest of the deceased. The court Cockinos (Eutropia), and Victoria D. Illut-Piala additional plaintiffs for having been excluded and
charges involved in procuring such appointment, if (Victoria) seek to reverse and set aside the April 27, deprived of their legitimes as childrenof Anunciacion
defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as 2010 Decision2 and October 18, 2010 Resolution3 of from her first marriage.
costs. The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 01031-
be substituted for the deceased, without requiring the MIN which annulled the October 25, 2004 Decision4 of In their amended answer with counterclaim, the heirs
appointment of an executor or administrator and the the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Panabo City, Davao of Uy countered that the sale took place beyond the 5-
court may appoint guardian ad litemfor the minor del Norte and instead, entered a new one dismissing year prohibitory period from the issuance of the
heirs. petitioners’ complaint for annulment of sale, damages homestead patents. They also denied knowledge of
Eutropia and Victoria’s exclusionfrom the extrajudicial age of majority.Italso found laches to have set in acquired their respective inheritances,9 entitling them
settlement and sale of the subject properties, and because of their inaction for a long period of time. to their pro indiviso shares in her whole estate, as
interposed further the defenses of prescription and follows:
laches. The Issues 9/16 (1/2 of the conjugal assets +
In this petition, petitioners imputeto the CA the Enrique
1/16)
The RTC Ruling following errors:
On October 25, 2004, the RTC rendered a decision Eutropia 1/16
ordering, among others, the annulment of the Extra- I. WHEN IT UPHELDTHE VALIDITY OF THE "EXTRA Victoria 1/16
Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE ESTATE WITH
of Sale. It ruled that while the sale occurred beyond ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE" AS FAR AS THE Napoleon 1/16
the 5-year prohibitory period, the sale is still void SHARES OF EUTROPIA AND VICTORIA WERE Alicia 1/16
because Eutropia and Victoria were deprived of their CONCERNED, THEREBY DEPRIVING THEM OF
hereditary rights and that Enrique had no judicial THEIR INHERITANCE; Visminda 1/16
authority to sell the shares of his minor children, Rosa Rosa 1/16
and Douglas. II. WHEN IT DID NOT NULLIFY OR ANNUL THE
"EXTRA JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE ESTATE Douglas 1/16
Consequently, it rejected the defenses of laches and WITH ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE" WITH RESPECT
prescription raised by spouses Uy, who claimed TO THE SHARESOF ROSA AND DOUGLAS, Hence, in the execution of the Extra-Judicial
possession of the subject properties for 17 years, THEREBY DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale in
holding that co-ownership rights are imprescriptible. INHERITANCE; and favor of spouses Uy, all the heirs of
Anunciacionshould have participated. Considering
The CA Ruling III. WHEN IT FOUND THAT LACHES OR that Eutropia and Victoria were admittedly excluded
On appeal, the CAreversed and set aside the ruling of PRESCRIPTION HAS SET IN. and that then minors Rosa and Douglas were not
the RTC in its April 27, 2010 Decision and dismissed properly represented therein, the settlement was not
the complaint of the petitioners. It held that, while The Ruling of the Court valid and binding uponthem and consequently, a total
Eutropia and Victoria had no knowledge of the The petitionis meritorious. nullity.
extrajudicial settlement and sale of the subject
properties and as such, were not bound by it, the CA It bears to stress that all the petitioners herein are Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court provides:
found it unconscionable to permit the annulment of indisputably legitimate children of Anunciacion from
the sale considering spouses Uy’s possession thereof her first and second marriages with Gonzalo and SECTION 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement
for 17 years, and thatEutropia and Enrique, respectively, and consequently, are entitled between heirs. – x x x
Victoriabelatedlyfiled their actionin 1997, ormore than to inherit from her in equal shares, pursuant to Articles
two years fromknowledge of their exclusion as heirs in 979 and 980 of the Civil Code which read: The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or
1994 when their stepfather died. It, however, did not administration shall be published in a newspaper of
preclude the excluded heirs from recovering their ART. 979. Legitimate children and their descendants general circulation in the manner provided in the next
legitimes from their co-heirs. succeed the parents and other ascendants, without succeeding section; but no extrajudicial settlement
distinction as to sex or age, and even if they should shall be binding upon any person who has not
Similarly, the CA declared the extrajudicial settlement come from different marriages. participated therein or had no notice thereof.
and the subsequent saleas valid and binding with (Underscoring added)
respect to Enrique and hischildren, holding that as co- xxx
owners, they have the right to dispose of their ART. 980. The children of the deceased shall always The effect of excluding the heirs in the settlement of
respective shares as they consider necessary or inherit from him in their own right, dividing the estate was further elucidated in Segura v.
fit.While recognizing Rosa and Douglas to be minors inheritance in equal shares. Segura,10 thus:
at that time, they were deemed to have ratified the As such, upon the death of Anunciacion on
sale whenthey failed to question it upon reaching the September 21, 1977, her children and Enrique
It is clear that Section 1 of Rule 74 does not apply to ART. 326. When the property of the child is worth
the partition in question which was null and void as far more than two thousand pesos, the father or mother A contract entered into in the name of another by one
as the plaintiffs were concerned. The rule covers only shall be considered a guardian of the child’s property, who has no authority or legal representation, or who
valid partitions. The partition in the present case was subject to the duties and obligations of guardians has acted beyond his powers, shall be unenforceable,
invalid because it excluded six of the nine heirs who under the Rules of Court. unless it is ratified, expressly or impliedly, by the
were entitled to equal shares in the partitioned person on whose behalf it has been executed, before
property. Under the rule "no extrajudicial settlement Corollarily, Section 7, Rule 93 of the Rules of Court it is revoked by the other contracting party.
shall be binding upon any person who has not also provides:
participated therein or had no notice thereof." As the ART. 1403. The following contracts are
partition was a total nullity and did not affect the SEC. 7. Parents as Guardians. – When the property unenforceable, unless they are ratified:
excluded heirs, it was not correct for the trial court to of the child under parental authority is worth two
hold that their right to challenge the partition had thousand pesos or less, the father or the mother, (1) Those entered into the name of another person by
prescribed after two years from its execution… without the necessity of court appointment, shall be one who has been given no authority or legal
his legal guardian. When the property of the child is representation, or who has acted beyond his powers;
However, while the settlement of the estate is null and worth more than two thousand pesos, the father or the
void, the subsequent sale of the subject mother shall be considered guardian of the child’s xxx
propertiesmade by Enrique and his children, property, with the duties and obligations of guardians Ratification means that one under no disability
Napoleon, Alicia and Visminda, in favor of the under these Rules, and shall file the petition required voluntarily adopts and gives sanction to some
respondents isvalid but only with respect to their by Section 2 hereof. For good reasons, the court may, unauthorized act or defective proceeding, which
proportionate shares therein.It cannot be denied that however, appoint another suitable persons. without his sanction would not be binding on him. It is
these heirs have acquired their respective shares in this voluntary choice, knowingly made, which amounts
the properties of Anunciacion from the moment of her Administration includes all acts for the preservation of to a ratification of what was theretofore unauthorized,
death11 and that, as owners thereof, they can very the property and the receipt of fruits according to the and becomes the authorized act of the party so
well sell their undivided share in the estate.12 natural purpose of the thing. Any act of disposition or making the ratification.16 Once ratified, expressly or
alienation, or any reduction in the substance of the impliedly such as when the person knowingly received
With respect to Rosa and Douglas who were minors patrimony of child, exceeds the limits of benefits from it, the contract is cleansed from all its
at the time of the execution of the settlement and sale, administration.13 Thus, a father or mother, as the defects from the moment it was constituted,17 as it has
their natural guardian and father, Enrique, natural guardian of the minor under parental authority, a retroactive effect.
represented them in the transaction. However, on the does not have the power to dispose or encumber the
basis of the laws prevailing at that time, Enrique was property of the latter. Such power is granted by law Records, however, show that Rosa had ratified the
merely clothed with powers of administration and only to a judicial guardian of the ward’s property and extrajudicial settlement of the estate with absolute
bereft of any authority to dispose of their 2/16 shares even then only with courts’ prior approval secured in deed of sale. In Napoleon and Rosa’s
in the estate of their mother, Anunciacion. accordance with the proceedings set forth by the Manifestation18 before the RTC dated July 11,
Rules of Court.14 1997,they stated:
Articles 320 and 326 of the Civil Code, the laws in
force at the time of the execution of the settlement Consequently, the disputed sale entered into by "Concerning the sale of our parcel of land executed by
and sale, provide: Enrique in behalf of his minor children without the our father, Enrique Neri concurred in and conformed
proper judicial authority, unless ratified by them upon to by us and our other two sisters and brother (the
ART. 320. The father, or in his absence the mother, is reaching the age of majority,15 is unenforceable in other plaintiffs), in favor of Hadji Yusop Uy and his
the legal administrator of the property pertaining to the accordance with Articles 1317 and 1403(1) of the Civil spouse Hadja Julpa Uy on July 7, 1979, we both
child under parental authority. If the property is worth Code which provide: confirmed that the same was voluntary and freely
more than two thousand pesos, the father or mother made by all of us and therefore the sale was
shall give a bond subject to the approval of the Court ART. 1317. No one may contract in the name of absolutely valid and enforceable as far as we all
of First Instance. another without being authorized by the latter or plaintiffs in this case are concerned;" (Underscoring
unless he has by law a right to represent him. supplied)
retained title to their respective 1/16 shares. They
In their June 30, 1997 Joint-Affidavit,19 Napoleon and were deemed to be holding the 3/16 shares of 1. Declaring the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the
Rosa also alleged: Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas under an implied Estate of Anunciacion Neri NULL and VOID;
constructive trust for the latter’s benefit, conformably
"That we are surprised that our names are included in with Article 1456 of the Civil Code which states:"if 2. Declaring the Absolute Deed of Sale in favor of the
this case since we do not have any intention to file a property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the late spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy
case against Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a as regards the 13/16 total shares of the late Enrique
and their family and we respect and acknowledge the trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person Neri, Napoleon Neri, Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar,
validity of the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate from whom the property comes." As such, it is only Visminda D. Neri-Chambers and Rosa D. Neri-
with Absolute Deed of Sale dated July 7, 1979;" fair, just and equitable that the amount paid for their Millan VALID;
(Underscoring supplied) shares equivalent to ₱ 5,000.0021 each or a total of ₱
15,000.00 be returned to spouses Uy with legal 3. Declaring Eutropia D. Illut-Cockinos, Victoria D.
Clearly, the foregoing statements interest. Illut-Piala and Douglas D. Neri as the LAWFUL
constitutedratification of the settlement of the estate OWNERSof the 3/16 portions of the subject
and the subsequent sale, thus, purging all the defects On the issue of prescription, the Court agrees with homestead properties, covered by Original Certificate
existing at the time of its execution and legitimizing petitioners that the present action has not prescribed of Title Nos. (P-7998) P-2128, (P-14608) P-5153 and
the conveyance of Rosa’s 1/16 share in the estate of in so far as it seeks to annul the extrajudicial P-20551 (P-8348); and
Anunciacion to spouses Uy. The same, however, is settlement of the estate. Contrary to the ruling of the
not true with respect to Douglas for lack of evidence CA, the prescriptive period of 2 years provided in 4. Ordering the estate of the late Enrique Neri, as well
showing ratification. Section 1 Rule 74 of the Rules of as Napoleon Neri, Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar, Visminda
D. Neri-Chambers and Rosa D. Neri-Millan to return
Considering, thus, that the extrajudicial settlement Court reckoned from the execution of the extrajudicial to the respondents jointly and solidarily the amount
with sale is invalid and therefore, not binding on settlement finds no application to petitioners Eutropia, paid corresponding to the 3/16 shares of Eutropia,
Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, only the shares Victoria and Douglas, who were deprived of their Victoria and Douglas in the total amount of ₱
ofEnrique, Napoleon, Alicia, Visminda and Rosa in the lawful participation in the subject estate. Besides, an 15,000.00, with legal interest at 6% per annum
homestead properties have effectivelybeen disposed "action or defense for the declaration of the computed from the time of payment until finality of this
in favor of spouses Uy. "A person can only sell what inexistence of a contract does not prescribe" in decision and 12% per annum thereafter until fully
he owns, or is authorized to sell and the buyer can as accordance with Article 1410 of the Civil Code. paid.
a consequence acquire no more than what the
sellercan legally transfer."20 On this score, Article 493 However, the action to recover property held in trust No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
of the Civil Codeis relevant, which provides: prescribes after 10 years from the time the cause of
action accrues,22 which is from the time of actual FIRST DIVISION
Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his notice in case of unregistered deed.23 In this case, G.R. No. 184528 April 25, 2012
part and of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas claimed to have
and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, knowledge of the extrajudicial settlement with sale NILO OROPESA, Petitioner,
and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, after the death of their father, Enrique, in 1994 which vs.
except when personal rights are involved. But the spouses Uy failed to refute. Hence, the complaint filed CIRILO OROPESA, Respondent.
effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect in 1997 was well within the prescriptive period of 10
to the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which years. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
may be allotted to him in the division upon the This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45
termination of the co-ownership. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure of the
April 27, 2010 Decision and October 18, 2010 Decision1 dated February 29, 2008, as well as the
Consequently, spouses Uy or their substituted heirs Resolution of the Court of Appeals Resolution2 dated September 16, 2008, both rendered
became pro indiviso co-owners of the homestead are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new judgment by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 88449,
properties with Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, who is entered: entitled "NILO OROPESA vs. CIRILO OROPESA."
The Court of Appeals’ issuances affirmed the report but without any finding on the (respondent) who WHEREFORE, considering that the Court record
Order3 dated September 27, 2006 and the refused to see and talk to the social worker. shows that petitioner-movant has failed to provide
Order4 dated November 14, 2006 issued by the sufficient documentary and testimonial evidence to
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Parañaque City, Branch On July 6, 2004, the (respondent) filed his Opposition establish that Gen. Cirilo Oropesa is incompetent to
260 in SP. Proc. Case No. 04-0016, which dismissed to the petition for guardianship. On August 3, 2004, run his personal affairs and to administer his
petitioner Nilo Oropesa’s petition for guardianship the (respondent) filed his Supplemental Opposition. properties, the Court hereby affirms its earlier Order
over the properties of his father, respondent Cirilo dated 27 September 2006.
Oropesa (a widower), and denied petitioner’s motion Thereafter, the (petitioner) presented his evidence
for reconsideration thereof, respectively. which consists of his testimony, and that of his sister Accordingly, petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration is
Gianina Oropesa Bennett, and the (respondent’s) DENIED for lack of merit.7
The facts of this case, as summed in the assailed former nurse, Ms. Alma Altaya.
Decision, follow: Unperturbed, petitioner elevated the case to the Court
After presenting evidence, the (petitioner) filed a of Appeals but his appeal was dismissed through the
On January 23, 2004, the (petitioner) filed with the manifestation dated May 29, 2006 resting his case. now assailed Decision dated February 29, 2008, the
Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City, a petition for The (petitioner) failed to file his written formal offer of dispositive portion of which reads:
him and a certain Ms. Louie Ginez to be appointed as evidence.
guardians over the property of his father, the WHEREFORE, premises considered the instant
(respondent) Cirilo Oropesa. The case was docketed Thus, the (respondent) filed his "Omnibus Motion (1) appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed orders of the
as SP Proc. No. 04-0016 and raffled off to Branch to Declare the petitioner to have waived the court a quo dated September 27, 2006 and November
260. presentation of his Offer of Exhibits and the 14, 2006 are AFFIRMED.8
presentation of his Evidence Closed since they were
In the said petition, it is alleged among others that the not formally offered; (2) To Expunge the Documents A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner
(respondent) has been afflicted with several maladies of the Petitioner from the Record; and (3) To Grant but this was denied by the Court of Appeals in the
and has been sickly for over ten (10) years already leave to the Oppositor to File Demurrer to Evidence. similarly assailed Resolution dated September 16,
having suffered a stroke on April 1, 2003 and June 1, 2008. Hence, the instant petition was filed.
2003, that his judgment and memory [were] impaired In an Order dated July 14, 2006, the court a quo
and such has been evident after his hospitalization; granted the (respondent’s) Omnibus Motion. Petitioner submits the following question for
that even before his stroke, the (respondent) was Thereafter, the (respondent) then filed his Demurrer to consideration by this Court:
observed to have had lapses in memory and Evidence dated July 23, 2006.5 (Citations omitted.)
judgment, showing signs of failure to manage his WHETHER RESPONDENT IS CONSIDERED AN
property properly; that due to his age and medical The trial court granted respondent’s demurrer to "INCOMPETENT" PERSON AS DEFINED UNDER
condition, he cannot, without outside aid, manage his evidence in an Order dated September 27, 2006. The SECTION 2, RULE 92 OF THE RULES OF COURT
property wisely, and has become an easy prey for dispositive portion of which reads: WHO SHOULD BE PLACED UNDER
deceit and exploitation by people around him, GUARDIANSHIP9
particularly Ms. Ma. Luisa Agamata, his girlfriend. WHEREFORE, considering that the petitioner has
failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish that After considering the evidence and pleadings on
In an Order dated January 29, 2004, the presiding Gen. Cirilo O. Oropesa is incompetent to run his record, we find the petition to be without merit.
judge of the court a quo set the case for hearing, and personal affairs and to administer his properties,
directed the court social worker to conduct a social Oppositor’s Demurrer to Evidence is GRANTED, and Petitioner comes before the Court arguing that the
case study and submit a report thereon. the case is DISMISSED.6 assailed rulings of the Court of Appeals should be set
aside as it allegedly committed grave and reversible
Pursuant to the abovementioned order, the Court Petitioner moved for reconsideration but this was error when it affirmed the erroneous decision of the
Social Worker conducted her social case study, denied by the trial court in an Order dated November trial court which purportedly disregarded the
interviewing the (petitioner) and his witnesses. The 14, 2006, the dispositive portion of which states: overwhelming evidence presented by him showing
Court Social Worker subsequently submitted her respondent’s incompetence.
standard unchanged and, thus, must be applied in the h. Respondent continuously allows his girlfriend to
In Francisco v. Court of Appeals,10 we laid out the case at bar. ransack his house of groceries and furniture, despite
nature and purpose of guardianship in the following protests from his children.14
wise: In support of his contention that respondent is
incompetent and, therefore, should be placed in Respondent denied the allegations made by petitioner
A guardianship is a trust relation of the most sacred guardianship, petitioner raises in his and cited petitioner’s lack of material evidence to
character, in which one person, called a "guardian" Memorandum13 the following factual matters: support his claims. According to respondent,
acts for another called the "ward" whom the law petitioner did not present any relevant documentary or
regards as incapable of managing his own affairs. A a. Respondent has been afflicted with several testimonial evidence that would attest to the veracity
guardianship is designed to further the ward’s well- maladies and has been sickly for over ten (10) years of his assertion that respondent is incompetent largely
being, not that of the guardian. It is intended to already; due to his alleged deteriorating medical and mental
preserve the ward’s property, as well as to render any condition. In fact, respondent points out that the only
assistance that the ward may personally require. It b. During the time that respondent was hospitalized at medical document presented by petitioner proves that
has been stated that while custody involves the St. Luke’s Medical Center after his stroke, he he is indeed competent to run his personal affairs and
immediate care and control, guardianship indicates purportedly requested one of his former colleagues administer his properties. Portions of the said
not only those responsibilities, but those of one in loco who was visiting him to file a loan application with the document, entitled "Report of Neuropsychological
parentis as well.11 Armed Forces of the Philippines Savings and Loan Screening,"15 were quoted by respondent in his
Association, Inc. (AFPSLAI) for payment of his Memorandum16 to illustrate that said report in fact
In a guardianship proceeding, a court may appoint a hospital bills, when, as far as his children knew, he favored respondent’s claim of competence, to wit:
qualified guardian if the prospective ward is proven to had substantial amounts of money in various banks
be a minor or an incompetent. sufficient to cover his medical expenses; General Oropesa spoke fluently in English and
Filipino, he enjoyed and participated meaningfully in
A reading of Section 2, Rule 92 of the Rules of Court c. Respondent’s residence allegedly has been left conversations and could be quite elaborate in his
tells us that persons who, though of sound mind but dilapidated due to lack of care and management; responses on many of the test items. He spoke in a
by reason of age, disease, weak mind or other similar clear voice and his articulation was generally
causes, are incapable of taking care of themselves d. The realty taxes for respondent’s various properties comprehensible. x x x.
and their property without outside aid are considered remain unpaid and therefore petitioner and his sister
as incompetents who may properly be placed under were supposedly compelled to pay the necessary xxxx
guardianship. The full text of the said provision reads: taxes; General Oropesa performed in the average range on
most of the domains that were tested. He was able to
Sec. 2. Meaning of the word "incompetent." – Under e. Respondent allegedly instructed petitioner to sell correctly perform mental calculations and keep track
this rule, the word "incompetent" includes persons his Nissan Exalta car for the reason that the former of number sequences on a task of attention. He did
suffering the penalty of civil interdiction or who are would be purchasing another vehicle, but when the BEST in visuo-constructional tasks where he had to
hospitalized lepers, prodigals, deaf and dumb who are car had been sold, respondent did not procure copy geometrical designs using tiles. Likewise, he
unable to read and write, those who are of unsound another vehicle and refused to account for the money was able to render and read the correct time on the
mind, even though they have lucid intervals, and earned from the sale of the old car; Clock Drawing Test. x x x.
persons not being of unsound mind, but by reason of
age, disease, weak mind, and other similar causes, f. Respondent withdrew at least $75,000.00 from a xxxx
cannot, without outside aid, take care of themselves joint account under his name and his daughter’s x x x Reasoning abilities were generally intact as he
and manage their property, becoming thereby an easy without the latter’s knowledge or consent; was able to suggest effective solutions to problem
prey for deceit and exploitation. situations. x x x.17
g. There was purportedly one occasion where
We have held in the past that a "finding that a person respondent took a kitchen knife to stab himself upon With the failure of petitioner to formally offer his
is incompetent should be anchored on clear, positive the "orders" of his girlfriend during one of their fights; documentary evidence, his proof of his father’s
and definite evidence."12 We consider that evidentiary incompetence consisted purely of testimonies given
by himself and his sister (who were claiming interest
in their father’s real and personal properties) and their The Court noted the absence of any testimony of a A demurrer to evidence is defined as "an objection by
father’s former caregiver (who admitted to be acting medical expert which states that Gen. Cirilo O. one of the parties in an action, to the effect that the
under their direction). These testimonies, which did Oropesa does not have the mental, emotional, and evidence which his adversary produced is insufficient
not include any expert medical testimony, were physical capacity to manage his own affairs. On the in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a
insufficient to convince the trial court of petitioner’s contrary, Oppositor’s evidence includes a case or sustain the issue."23 We have also held that a
cause of action and instead lead it to grant the Neuropsychological Screening Report which states demurrer to evidence "authorizes a judgment on the
demurrer to evidence that was filed by respondent. that Gen. Oropesa, (1) performs on the average range merits of the case without the defendant having to
in most of the domains that were tested; (2) is capable submit evidence on his part, as he would ordinarily
Even if we were to overlook petitioner’s procedural of mental calculations; and (3) can provide solutions have to do, if plaintiff’s evidence shows that he is not
lapse in failing to make a formal offer of evidence, his to problem situations. The Report concludes that Gen. entitled to the relief sought."24
documentary proof were comprised mainly of Oropesa possesses intact cognitive functioning,
certificates of title over real properties registered in except for mildly impaired abilities in memory, There was no error on the part of the trial court when
his, his father’s and his sister’s names as co-owners, reasoning and orientation. It is the observation of it dismissed the petition for guardianship without first
tax declarations, and receipts showing payment of the Court that oppositor is still sharp, alert and requiring respondent to present his evidence precisely
real estate taxes on their co-owned properties, which able.19 (Citation omitted; emphasis supplied.) because the effect of granting a demurrer to evidence
do not in any way relate to his father’s alleged other than dismissing a cause of action is, evidently,
incapacity to make decisions for himself. The only It is axiomatic that, as a general rule, "only questions to preclude a defendant from presenting his evidence
medical document on record is the aforementioned of law may be raised in a petition for review on since, upon the facts and the law, the plaintiff has
"Report of Neuropsychological Screening" which was certiorari because the Court is not a trier of shown no right to relief.
attached to the petition for guardianship but was facts."20 We only take cognizance of questions of fact
never identified by any witness nor offered as in certain exceptional circumstances;21 however, we WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is
evidence. In any event, the said report, as mentioned find them to be absent in the instant case. It is also hereby DENIED. The assailed Decision dated
earlier, was ambivalent at best, for although the report long settled that "factual findings of the trial court, February 29, 2008 as well as the Resolution dated
had negative findings regarding memory lapses on when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, will not be September 16, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
the part of respondent, it also contained findings that disturbed by this Court. As a rule, such findings by the G.R. CV No. 88449 are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.
supported the view that respondent on the average lower courts are entitled to great weight and respect,
was indeed competent. and are deemed final and conclusive on this Court FIRST DIVISION
when supported by the evidence on record."22 We [ GR No. 214430, Mar 09, 2016 ]
In an analogous guardianship case wherein the therefore adopt the factual findings of the lower court
soundness of mind of the proposed ward was at and the Court of Appeals and rule that the grant of FELICITO M. MEJORADO v. FLORENCIO B. ABAD
issue, we had the occasion to rule that "where the respondent’s demurrer to evidence was proper under
sanity of a person is at issue, expert opinion is not the circumstances obtaining in the case at bar. PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
necessary [and that] the observations of the trial judge Before the Court is a Petition for Mandamus with
coupled with evidence establishing the person’s state Section 1, Rule 33 of the Rules of Court provides: Prayer for Preliminary Prohibitory and Mandatory
of mental sanity will suffice."18 Injunction[1] filed by petitioner Felicito M. Mejorado
Section 1. Demurrer to evidence. – After the plaintiff (petitioner) seeking to compel respondent Honorable
Thus, it is significant that in its Order dated November has completed the presentation of his evidence, the Florencio B. Abad (respondent), in his capacity as
14, 2006 which denied petitioner’s motion for defendant may move for dismissal on the ground that Secretary of the Department of Budget and
reconsideration on the trial court’s unfavorable upon the facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no Management (DBM), after due proceedings, to issue
September 27, 2006 ruling, the trial court highlighted right to relief. If his motion is denied, he shall have the the Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) covering the
the fatal role that petitioner’s own documentary right to present evidence. If the motion is granted but informer's reward claimed by petitioner.
evidence played in disproving its case and, likewise, on appeal the order of dismissal is reversed he shall
the trial court made known its own observation of be deemed to have waived the right to present The Facts
respondent’s physical and mental state, to wit: evidence. Sometime in December 1996 and the early part of
1997, petitioner documented 62 smuggled oil encourage the public and law enforcement personnel examiners, or the Secretary of Finance or any of his
importations from 1991 to 1997 of Union Refinery to extend full cooperation and do their utmost in deputies or agents: Provided, finally, That the reward
Corporation (URC), OILINK Industrial Corporation stamping out smuggling, a cash reward [equivalent] provided herein shall be paid under rules and
(OILINK),[2] Union Global Trading (UGT), and to twenty per centum of the fair market value of the regulations issued by the Secretary of Finance, upon
Philippine Airlines (PAL). He provided confidential smuggled and confiscated goods shall be given to the recommendation of the Commissioner.
information detailing the illegal importations of the officers and men and informers who are instrumental
said companies to the now-defunct Economic in the discovery and seizure of such goods in (B) For Discovery and Seizure of Smuggled
Intelligence and Investigation Bureau of the Bureau of accordance with the rules and regulations to be Goods. To encourage the public to extend full
Customs (BOC).[3] issued by the Secretary of Finance. (Emphasis and cooperation in eradicating smuggling, a cash reward
underscoring supplied) equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the fair market
Based on the information petitioner furnished, the On the other hand, Section 282 of the NIRC, as value of the smuggled and confiscated goods or One
BOC investigated 23 out of the 62 smuggled oil amended, states: Million Pesos (P1,000,000) per case, whichever is
importations he reported. The investigation resulted in lower, shall be given to persons instrumental in the
the payment by the four (4) companies of millions in Section 282. Informer's Reward to Persons discovery and seizure of such smuggled goods.
unpaid Value-Added Tax (VAT), excise, and ad Instrumental in the Discovery of Violations of the
valoremtaxes from 1997 to 1998. Thus, petitioner filed National Internal Revenue Code and in the x x x x (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
his first claim for informer's reward with the BOC and Discovery and Seizure of Smuggled Goods. - In its 2005 Opinion, the DOJ opined that the
the Department of Finance (DOF).[4] provisions of the TCCP specifically cover tariff and
(A) For Violations of the National Internal Revenue customs duties, while the provisions of the NIRC
Subsequently, the BOC investigated 30 additional Code. Any person, except an internal revenue official govern all internal revenue taxes in general.[12] The
smuggled oil importations out of the 62 that petitioner or employee, or other public official or employee, or Office of the President (OP) concurred in this
reported. From this investigation, it was able to collect his relative within the sixth degree of consanguinity, pronouncement.[13]
deficiency taxes from URC, OILINK, and PAL, who voluntarily gives definite and sworn information,
prompting petitioner to file his second claim for not yet in the possession of the Bureau of Internal Thus, on April 12, 2007, the DOF favorably
informer's fee on May 12, 2000.[5] Revenue, leading to the discovery of frauds upon the indorsed[14] petitioner's second claim to the BOC
internal revenue laws or violations of any of the amounting to P272,064,996.55, or twenty percent
Records show that petitioner was able to receive the provisions thereof, thereby resulting in the recovery of (20%) of the total deficiency assessed and collected
amount of P63,185,959.73 as informer's fee for the revenues, surcharges and fees and/or the conviction from URC, OILINK, and PAL, based on Section 3513
first claim on April 19, 2006.[6] of the guilty party and/or the imposition of any of the of the TCCP.
fine or penalty, shall be rewarded in a sum equivalent
On April 19, 2005, in response to an inquiry from the to ten percent (10%) of the revenues, surcharges or Subsequently, on September 8, 2008, the OP
DOF relative to informer's reward, the Department of fees recovered and/or fine or penalty imposed and directed[15] the DBM to issue an NCA covering
Justice (DOJ), through then Secretary Raul M. collected or One Million Pesos (P1,000,000) per case, the second claim[16] of petitioner.[17]
Gonzalez (Secretary Gonzalez), rendered Opinion whichever is lower. The same amount of reward shall
No. 18, series of 2005[7] (2005 Opinion) stating that also be given to an informer where the offender has Apparently due to lack of response, on August 22,
there is no conflict between Section 3513 of the Tariff offered to compromise the violation of law committed 2011, the BOC itself also requested from the DBM the
and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP),[8] as by him and his offer has been accepted by the issuance and release of the NCA pertaining to
amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 4712,[9]a special Commissioner and collected from the petitioner's second claim.[18]
law, and Section 282 of RA 8424, otherwise known as offender: Provided, That should no revenue,
the Tax Reform Act of 1997,[10] which amended the surcharges or fees be actually recovered or collected, On March 28, 2012, National Treasurer Roberto B.
National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), a general such person shall not be entitled to a Tan certified that the amount pertaining to
law.[11] Section 3513 of the TCCP states: reward: Provided, further, That the information petitioner's second claim was still available and may
mentioned herein shall not refer to a case already be paid to the latter anytime.[19] Thus, on April 18,
Section 3513. Reward to persons instrumental in the pending or previously investigated or examined by the 2012, the BOC once again requested from the DBM,
discovery and seizure of smuggled goods. - To Commissioner or any of his deputies, agents or through respondent, the issuance of the NCA to cover
the payment of petitioner's second claim.[20] Petitioner administrative issuances that interpret the law, but performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, but
himself also wrote letters[21] to the DBM reiterating the rather, are purely advisory in nature.[28] Thus, it not to compel the performance of a discretionary
request for the issuance of said NCA. maintained that it is not the DOJ, but the DOF and the duty. Mandamus will not issue to enforce a right
BOC, which are primarily charged with the which is in substantial dispute or to which a
On June 8, 2012, in response to an inquiry from the implementation, administration, and enforcement of substantial doubt exists.[36] In Star Special
DOF regarding the percentage of fees that should be the TCCP and the NIRC, that should issue Watchman and Detective Agency, Inc. v. Puerto
given to informers, the DOJ, through former Secretary administrative issuances interpreting said laws.[29] Princesa City,[37] a case cited at length by petitioner
Leila M. De Lima (Secretary De Lima), issued Opinion himself,[38] the Court elucidated on the propriety of the
No. 40, series of 2012[22] (2012 Opinion) superseding Thereafter, in a letter[30] dated May 2, 2014, the DBM issuance of the writ of mandamus in this wise:
the 2005 Opinion issued by then Secretary Gonzalez. informed petitioner that it has yet to receive a
In the 2012 Opinion, the DOJ declared that Section favorable endorsement from the DOF on its request Mandamus is a command issuing from a court of law
3513 of the TCCP has been impliedly repealed, or at for re-evaluation of his claim. It also informed of competent jurisdiction, in the name of the state or
the very least, amended or modified by Section 282 petitioner of the DOJ's 2012 Opinion stating that the sovereign, directed to some inferior court, tribunal,
(B) of the NIRC, as amended, since they both refer to under Section 282 (B) of the NIRC, only ten percent or board, or to some corporation or person requiring
the same subject matter and contain inconsistent (10%) of the fair market value of the smuggled goods the performance of a particular duty therein specified,
provisions.[23] As such, under Section 282 (B) of the or P1,000,000.00, whichever is lower, is given as which duty results from the official station of the party
NIRC, as amended - the controlling provision with informer's fee.[31] to whom the writ is directed or from operation of law.
respect to informer's reward for discovery and seizure This definition recognizes the public character of the
of smuggled goods - the amount of the reward is only To date, the DBM has not issued any NCA pertaining remedy, and clearly excludes the idea that it may be
ten percent (10%) of the fair market value of the to the amount of petitioner's second claim for resorted to for the purpose of enforcing the
smuggled and confiscated goods or P1,000,000.00, informer's fee; hence, this petition performance of duties in which the public has no
whichever is lower.[24] for mandamus praying, inter alia, that respondent be interest. The writ is a proper recourse for citizens who
directed to issue the NCA covering his second seek to enforce a public right and to compel the
In a letter[25] dated December 16, 2013, the DOF claim and that the amount thereof be released to him performance of a public duty, most especially when
sought clarification from the DOJ on the implication of with interest at the legal rate. the public right involved is mandated by the
the following statements: (1) the pronouncement in Constitution. As the quoted provision
the 2012 Opinion may be applied to claims for In his Comment,[32] respondent, through the Office of instructs, mandamus will lie if the tribunal, corporation,
informer's rewards for discovery and seizure of the Solicitor General (OSG), maintained, inter alia, board, officer, or person unlawfully neglects the
smuggled goods filed even before the issuance of that: (1) Section 3513 of the TCCP has been repealed performance of an act which the law enjoins as a duty
the 2012 Opinion, as long as said claims were filed by the NIRC, as amended;[33] (2) mistaken acts of resulting from an office, trust or station.
after the effectivity of the Tax Reform Act; (2) public officials, i.e., the 2005 Opinion of the DOJ,
considering that Section 282 (B) of the NIRC, as cannot validate a claim based on a repealed The writ of mandamus, however, will not issue to
amended, is the controlling provision with respect to law;[34] and (3) petitioner is not entitled to legal interest compel an official to do anything which is not his
the informer's reward for discovery and seizure of on his informer's fee, for lack of legal basis.[35] duty to do or which it is his duty not to do, or to
smuggled goods, the DOF may revise the awards it give to the applicant anything to which he is not
has made on the basis of Section 3513 of the TCCP The Issue Before the Court entitled by law. Nor will mandamus issue to
and the DOJ's 2005 Opinion; and (3) the Republic of The sole issue to be resolved by the Court is whether enforce a right which is in substantial dispute or
the Philippines may, therefore, recover amounts or not respondent may be compelled by mandamus to as to which a substantial doubt exists,although
erroneously awarded to a number of claimants on the issue the NCA corresponding to the amount of objection raising a mere technical question will be
basis of Section 3513 of the TCCP and the said 2005 petitioner's second claim for informer's fee. disregarded if the right is clear and the case is
Opinion.[26] meritorious. As a rule, mandamus will not lie in the
The Court's Ruling absence of any of the following grounds: [a] that the
In response thereto, the DOJ rendered Opinion No. The petition is bereft of merit. court, officer, board, or person against whom the
01, series of 2014[27] dated January 8, 2014 (2014 action is taken unlawfully neglected the performance
Opinion) stating that its opinions are not It is settled that mandamus is employed to compel the of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty
resulting from office, trust, or station; or [b] that such made clear that the dismissal is without prejudice to 1999, the LBP’s Account Officer for the Account
court, officer, board, or person has unlawfully petitioner's recourse before the proper forum for the Management Development, Edna L. Juan, stated that
excluded petitioner/relator from the use and apt resolution of the subject claim. LBP extended a credit accommodation to ACDC
enjoyment of a right or office to which he is entitled. through the execution of an Omnibus Credit Line
On the part of the relator, it is essential to the WHEREFORE, the petition for mandamus is DENIED. Agreement (Agreement)6 between LBP and ACDC on
issuance of a writ of mandamus that he should SO ORDERED. October 29, 1996. In various instances, ACDC used
have a clear legal right to the thing demanded and the Letters of Credit/Trust Receipts Facility of the
it must be the imperative duty of respondent to Agreement to buy construction materials. The
RULE 98
perform the act required. respondents, as officers and representatives of
ACDC, executed trust receipts7 in connection with the
SECOND DIVISION
xxxx construction materials, with a total principal amount of
G.R. No. 166884 June 13, 2012
Moreover, an important principle followed in the ₱52,344,096.32. The trust receipts matured, but
issuance of the writ is that there should be no plain, ACDC failed to return to LBP the proceeds of the
LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course construction projects or the construction materials
vs.
of law other than the remedy of mandamus being subject of the trust receipts. LBP sent ACDC a
LAMBERTO C. PEREZ, NESTOR C. KUN, MA.
invoked. In other words, mandamus can be issued demand letter,8 dated May 4, 1999, for the payment of
ESTELITA P. ANGELES-PANLILIO, and
only in cases where the usual modes of procedure its debts, including those under the Trust Receipts
NAPOLEON O. GARCIA, Respondents.
and forms of remedy are powerless to afford relief. Facility in the amount of ₱66,425,924.39. When
Although classified as a legal remedy, mandamus is ACDC failed to comply with the demand letter, LBP
BRION, J.:
equitable in its nature and its issuance is generally filed the affidavit-complaint.
Before this Court is a petition for review on
controlled by equitable principles. Indeed, the grant of
certiorari,1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
the writ of mandamus lies in the sound discretion of The respondents filed a joint affidavit9 wherein they
assailing the decision2dated January 20, 2005 of the
the court.[39] (Emphases and underscoring supplied) stated that they signed the trust receipt documents on
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 76588. In the
In this case, petitioner's right to receive the amount of or about the same time LBP and ACDC executed the
assailed decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the
his second claim, i.e., P272,064,996.55 or twenty loan documents; their signatures were required by
criminal complaint for estafa against the respondents,
percent (20%) of the total deficiency taxes assessed LBP for the release of the loans. The trust receipts in
Lamberto C. Perez, Nestor C. Kun, Ma. Estelita P.
and collected from URC, OILINK, UGT, and PAL, this case do not contain (1) a description of the goods
Angeles-Panlilio and Napoleon Garcia, who allegedly
which was based on Section 3513 of the TCCP, is still placed in trust, (2) their invoice values, and (3) their
violated Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised
in substantial dispute, as exhibited by the variance in maturity dates, in violation of Section 5(a) of P.D. 115.
Penal Code, in relation with Section 13 of Presidential
opinions rendered by the DOJ as well as the BOC and Moreover, they alleged that ACDC acted as a
Decree No. (P.D.) 115 – the "Trust Receipts Law."
the DOF regarding the applicable laws. subcontractor for government projects such as the
Metro Rail Transit, the Clark Centennial Exposition
Petitioner Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) is a
It bears reiteration that the writ of mandamus may and the Quezon Power Plant in Mauban, Quezon. Its
government financial institution and the official
only issue if the party claiming it has a well-defined, clients for the construction projects, which were the
depository of the Philippines.3 Respondents are the
clear, and certain legal right to the thing demanded, general contractors of these projects, have not yet
officers and representatives of Asian Construction and
and that it was the imperative duty of respondent to paid them; thus, ACDC had yet to receive the
Development Corporation (ACDC), a corporation
perform the act required to accord the same upon proceeds of the materials that were the subject of the
incorporated under Philippine law and engaged in the
him. Petitioner's prayer for the issuance of the NCA to trust receipts and were allegedly used for these
construction business.4
cover the amount of his second claim falls short of this constructions. As there were no proceeds received
standard, there being no clear and specific duty on from these clients, no misappropriation thereof could
On June 7, 1999, LBP filed a complaint for estafa or
the part of the respondent to issue the same. have taken place.
violation of Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised
Penal Code, in relation to P.D. 115, against the
In fine, the Court dismisses the present petition On September 30, 1999, Makati Assistant City
respondents before the City Prosecutor’s Office in
for mandamus for being the improper remedy to Prosecutor Amador Y. Pineda issued a
Makati City. In the affidavit-complaint5 of June 7,
obtain the relief sought for. It should, however, be Resolution10 dismissing the complaint. He pointed out
that the evidence presented by LBP failed to state the and to report the action taken within ten (10) days LBP now files this petition for review on certiorari,
date when the goods described in the letters of credit from receipt hereof.14 dated March 15, 2005, raising the following error:
were actually released to the possession of the
respondents. Section 4 of P.D. 115 requires that the The respondents filed a motion for reconsideration of THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED
goods covered by trust receipts be released to the the resolution dated August 1, 2002, which the WHEN IT REVERSED AND SET ASIDE THE
possession of the entrustee after the latter’s execution Secretary of Justice denied.15 He rejected the RESOLUTIONS OF THE HONORABLE
and delivery to the entruster of a signed trust receipt. respondents’ submission that Colinares v. Court of SECRETARY OF JUSTICE BY APPLYING THE
He adds that LBP’s evidence also fails to show the Appeals16 does not apply to the case. He explained RULING IN THE CASE OF COLINARES V. COURT
date when the trust receipts were executed since all that in Colinares, the building materials were delivered OF APPEALS, 339 SCRA 609, WHICH IS NOT
the trust receipts are undated. Its dispositive portion to the accused before they applied to the bank for a APPLICABLE IN THE CASE AT BAR.19
reads: loan to pay for the merchandise; thus, the ownership
of the merchandise had already been transferred to On April 8, 2010, while the case was pending before
WHEREFORE, premises considered, and for the entrustees before the trust receipts agreements this Court, the respondents filed a motion to
insufficiency of evidence, it is respectfully were entered into. In the present case, the parties dismiss.20 They informed the Court that LBP had
recommended that the instant complaints be have already entered into the Agreement before the already assigned to Philippine Opportunities for
dismissed, as upon approval, the same are hereby construction materials were delivered to ACDC. Growth and Income, Inc. all of its rights, title and
dismissed.11 interests in the loans subject of this case in a Deed of
Subsequently, the respondents filed a petition for Absolute Sale dated June 23, 2005 (attached as
LBP filed a motion for reconsideration which the review before the Court of Appeals. Annex "C" of the motion). The respondents also
Makati Assistant City Prosecutor denied in his order of stated that Avent Holdings Corporation, in behalf of
January 7, 2000.12 After both parties submitted their respective ACDC, had already settled ACDC’s obligation to LBP
Memoranda, the Court of Appeals promulgated the on October 8, 2009. Included as Annex "A" in this
On appeal, the Secretary of Justice reversed the assailed decision of January 20, 2005.17 Applying the motion was a certification21 issued by the Philippine
Resolution of the Assistant City Prosecutor. In his doctrine in Colinares, it ruled that this case did not Opportunities for Growth and Income, Inc., stating that
resolution of August 1, 2002,13 the Secretary of involve a trust receipt transaction, but a mere loan. It it was LBP’s successor-in-interest insofar as the trust
Justice pointed out that there was no question that the emphasized that construction materials, the subject of receipts in this case are concerned and that Avent
goods covered by the trust receipts were received by the trust receipt transaction, were delivered to ACDC Holdings Corporation had already settled the claims of
ACDC. He likewise adopted LBP’s argument that even before the trust receipts were executed. It noted LBP or obligations of ACDC arising from these trust
while the subjects of the trust receipts were not that LBP did not offer proof that the goods were receipts.
mentioned in the trust receipts, they were listed in the received by ACDC, and that the trust receipts did not
letters of credit referred to in the trust receipts. He contain a description of the goods, their invoice value, We deny this petition.
also noted that the trust receipts contained maturity the amount of the draft to be paid, and their maturity
dates and clearly set out their stipulations. He further dates. It also adopted ACDC’s argument that since no The disputed transactions are not trust receipts.
rejected the respondents’ defense that ACDC failed to payment for the construction projects had been
remit the payments to LBP due to the failure of the received by ACDC, its officers could not have been Section 4 of P.D. 115 defines a trust receipt
clients of ACDC to pay them. The dispositive portion guilty of misappropriating any payment. The transaction in this manner:
of the resolution reads: dispositive portion reads:
Section 4. What constitutes a trust receipt
WHEREFORE, the assailed resolution is REVERSED WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition is transaction. A trust receipt transaction, within the
and SET ASIDE. The City Prosecutor of Makati City is GIVEN DUE COURSE. The assailed Resolutions of meaning of this Decree, is any transaction by and
hereby directed to file an information for estafa under the respondent Secretary of Justice dated August 1, between a person referred to in this Decree as the
Art. 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code in relation 2002 and February 17, 2003, respectively in I.S. No. entruster, and another person referred to in this
to Section 13, Presidential Decree No. 115 against 99-F-9218-28 are hereby REVERSED and SET Decree as entrustee, whereby the entruster, who
respondents Lamberto C. Perez, Nestor C. Kun, [Ma. ASIDE.18 owns or holds absolute title or security interests over
Estelita P. Angeles-Panlilio] and Napoleon O. Garcia certain specified goods, documents or instruments,
releases the same to the possession of the entrustee of the proceeds of the sale or the return or recovery of of two government projects, as well as unspecified
upon the latter's execution and delivery to the the goods, whether raw or processed.24 When both construction sites, repudiates the idea that LBP
entruster of a signed document called a "trust receipt" parties enter into an agreement knowing that the intended to be the owner of those construction
wherein the entrustee binds himself to hold the return of the goods subject of the trust receipt is not materials. As a government financial institution, LBP
designated goods, documents or instruments in trust possible even without any fault on the part of the should have been aware that the materials were to be
for the entruster and to sell or otherwise dispose of trustee, it is not a trust receipt transaction penalized used for the construction of an immovable property,
the goods, documents or instruments with the under Section 13 of P.D. 115; the only obligation as well as a property of the public domain. As an
obligation to turn over to the entruster the proceeds actually agreed upon by the parties would be the immovable property, the ownership of whatever was
thereof to the extent of the amount owing to the return of the proceeds of the sale transaction. This constructed with those materials would presumably
entruster or as appears in the trust receipt or the transaction becomes a mere loan,25 where the belong to the owner of the land, under Article 445 of
goods, documents or instruments themselves if they borrower is obligated to pay the bank the amount the Civil Code which provides:
are unsold or not otherwise disposed of, in spent for the purchase of the goods.
accordance with the terms and conditions specified in Article 445. Whatever is built, planted or sown on the
the trust receipt, or for other purposes substantially Article 1371 of the Civil Code provides that "[i]n order land of another and the improvements or repairs
equivalent to any of the following: to judge the intention of the contracting parties, their made thereon, belong to the owner of the land,
contemporaneous and subsequent acts shall be subject to the provisions of the following articles.
1. In the case of goods or documents, (a) to sell the principally considered." Under this provision, we can
goods or procure their sale; or (b) to manufacture or examine the contemporaneous actions of the parties Even if we consider the vague possibility that the
process the goods with the purpose of ultimate sale: rather than rely purely on the trust receipts that they materials, consisting of cement, bolts and reinforcing
Provided, That, in the case of goods delivered under signed in order to understand the transaction through steel bars, would be used for the construction of a
trust receipt for the purpose of manufacturing or their intent. movable property, the ownership of these properties
processing before its ultimate sale, the entruster shall would still pertain to the government and not remain
retain its title over the goods whether in its original or We note in this regard that at the onset of these with the bank as they would be classified as property
processed form until the entrustee has complied fully transactions, LBP knew that ACDC was in the of the public domain, which is defined by the Civil
with his obligation under the trust receipt; or (c) to construction business and that the materials that it Code as:
load, unload, ship or tranship or otherwise deal with sought to buy under the letters of credit were to be
them in a manner preliminary or necessary to their used for the following projects: the Metro Rail Transit Article 420. The following things are property of public
sale[.] Project and the Clark Centennial Exposition dominion:
Project.26 LBP had in fact authorized the delivery of
There are two obligations in a trust receipt the materials on the construction sites for these (1) Those intended for public use, such as roads,
transaction. The first is covered by the provision that projects, as seen in the letters of credit it attached to canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed
refers to money under the obligation to deliver it its complaint.27 Clearly, they were aware of the fact by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of
(entregarla) to the owner of the merchandise sold. that there was no way they could recover the similar character;
The second is covered by the provision referring to buildings or constructions for which the materials
merchandise received under the obligation to return it subject of the alleged trust receipts had been used. (2) Those which belong to the State, without being for
(devolvera) to the owner. Thus, under the Trust Notably, despite the allegations in the affidavit- public use, and are intended for some public service
Receipts Law,22 intent to defraud is presumed when complaint wherein LBP sought the return of the or for the development of the national wealth.
(1) the entrustee fails to turn over the proceeds of the construction materials,28 its demand letter dated May
sale of goods covered by the trust receipt to the 4, 1999 sought the payment of the balance but failed In contrast with the present situation, it is fundamental
entruster; or (2) when the entrustee fails to return the to ask, as an alternative, for the return of the in a trust receipt transaction that the person who
goods under trust, if they are not disposed of in construction materials or the buildings where these advanced payment for the merchandise becomes the
accordance with the terms of the trust receipts.23 materials had been used.29 absolute owner of said merchandise and continues as
owner until he or she is paid in full, or if the goods had
In all trust receipt transactions, both obligations on the The fact that LBP had knowingly authorized the already been sold, the proceeds should be turned
part of the trustee exist in the alternative – the return delivery of construction materials to a construction site over to him or to her.30
secured loan. The goods imported by the small
Thus, in concluding that the transaction was a loan importer and retail dealer through the bank’s financing In this case, no dishonesty or abuse of confidence
and not a trust receipt, we noted in Colinares that the remain of their own property and risk and the old existed in the handling of the construction materials.
industry or line of work that the borrowers were capitalist orientation of putting them in jail for estafa
engaged in was construction. We pointed out that the for non-payment of the secured loan (granted after In this case, the misappropriation could be committed
borrowers were not importers acquiring goods for they had been fully investigated by the bank as good should the entrustee fail to turn over the proceeds of
resale.31 Indeed, goods sold in retail are often within credit risks) through the fiction of the trust receipt the sale of the goods covered by the trust receipt
the custody or control of the trustee until they are device should no longer be permitted in this day and transaction or fail to return the goods themselves. The
purchased. In the case of materials used in the age. respondents could not have failed to return the
manufacture of finished products, these finished proceeds since their allegations that the clients of
products – if not the raw materials or their As the law stands today, violations of Trust Receipts ACDC had not paid for the projects it had undertaken
components – similarly remain in the possession of Law are criminally punishable, but no criminal with them at the time the case was filed had never
the trustee until they are sold. But the goods and the complaint for violation of Article 315, paragraph 1(b) been questioned or denied by LBP. What can only be
materials that are used for a construction project are of the Revised Penal Code, in relation with P.D. 115, attributed to the respondents would be the failure to
often placed under the control and custody of the should prosper against a borrower who was not part return the goods subject of the trust receipts.
clients employing the contractor, who can only be of a genuine trust receipt transaction.
compelled to return the materials if they fail to pay the We do not likewise see any allegation in the complaint
contractor and often only after the requisite legal Misappropriation or abuse of confidence is absent in that ACDC had used the construction materials in a
proceedings. The contractor’s difficulty and this case. manner that LBP had not authorized. As earlier
uncertainty in claiming these materials (or the pointed out, LBP had authorized the delivery of these
buildings and structures which they become part of), Even if we assume that the transactions were trust materials to these project sites for which they were
as soon as the bank demands them, disqualify them receipts, the complaint against the respondents still used. When it had done so, LBP should have been
from being covered by trust receipt agreements. should have been dismissed. The Trust Receipts Law aware that it could not possibly recover the processed
punishes the dishonesty and abuse of confidence in materials as they would become part of government
Based on these premises, we cannot consider the the handling of money or goods to the prejudice of projects, two of which (the Metro Rail Transit Project
agreements between the parties in this case to be another, regardless of whether the latter is the owner and the Quezon Power Plant Project) had even
trust receipt transactions because (1) from the start, or not. The law does not singularly seek to enforce become part of the operations of public utilities vital to
the parties were aware that ACDC could not possibly payment of the loan, as "there can be no violation of public service. It clearly had no intention of getting
be obligated to reconvey to LBP the materials or the [the] right against imprisonment for non-payment of a these materials back; if it had, as a primary
end product for which they were used; and (2) from debt."34 government lending institution, it would be guilty of
the moment the materials were used for the extreme negligence and incompetence in not
government projects, they became public, not LBP’s, In order that the respondents "may be validly foreseeing the legal complications and public
property. prosecuted for estafa under Article 315, paragraph inconvenience that would arise should it decide to
1(b) of the Revised Penal Code,35 in relation with claim the materials. ACDC’s failure to return these
Since these transactions are not trust receipts, an Section 13 of the Trust Receipts Law, the following materials or their end product at the time these "trust
action for estafa should not be brought against the elements must be established: (a) they received the receipts" expired could not be attributed to its volition.
respondents, who are liable only for a loan. In subject goods in trust or under the obligation to sell No bad faith, malice, negligence or breach of contract
passing, it is useful to note that this is the threat held the same and to remit the proceeds thereof to [the has been attributed to ACDC, its officers or
against borrowers that Retired Justice Claudio trustor], or to return the goods if not sold; (b) they representatives. Therefore, absent any abuse of
Teehankee emphatically opposed in his dissent in misappropriated or converted the goods and/or the confidence or misappropriation on the part of the
People v. Cuevo,32 restated in Ong v. CA, et al.:33 proceeds of the sale; (c) they performed such acts respondents, the criminal proceedings against them
with abuse of confidence to the damage and prejudice for estafa should not prosper.
The very definition of trust receipt x x x sustains the of Metrobank; and (d) demand was made on them by
lower court’s rationale in dismissing the information [the trustor] for the remittance of the proceeds or the In Metropolitan Bank,37 we affirmed the city
that the contract covered by a trust receipt is merely a return of the unsold goods."36 prosecutor’s dismissal of a complaint for violation of
the Trust Receipts Law. In dismissing the complaint, General in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, a LBP now question the civil aspect of this decision as it
we took note of the Court of Appeals’ finding that the criminal action brought to us by a private party alone had already assigned ACDC’s debts to a third person,
bank was interested only in collecting its money and suffers from a fatal defect. The present petition was Philippine Opportunities for Growth and Income, Inc.,
not in the return of the goods. Apart from the bare brought in behalf of LBP by the Government and the civil liabilities appear to have already been
allegation that demand was made for the return of the Corporate Counsel to protect its private interests. settled by Avent Holdings Corporation, in behalf of
goods (raw materials that were manufactured into Since the representative of the "People of the ACDC. These facts have not been disputed by LBP.
textiles), the bank had not accompanied its complaint Philippines" had not taken any part of the case, it Therefore, we can reasonably conclude that LBP no
with a demand letter. In addition, there was no should be dismissed. longer has any claims against ACDC, as regards the
evidence offered that the respondents therein had subject matter of this case, that would entitle it to file a
misappropriated or misused the goods in question. On the other hand, if we look at the mandate given to civil or criminal action.
the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, we
The petition should be dismissed because the OSG find that it is limited to the civil liabilities arising from WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition and AFFIRM
did not file it and the civil liabilities have already been the crime, and is subject to the control and the January 20, 2005 decision of the Court of Appeals
settled. supervision of the public prosecutor. Section 2, Rule 8 in CA-G.R. SP No. 76588. No costs. SO ORDERED.
of the Rules Governing the Exercise by the Office of
The proceedings before us, regarding the criminal the Government Corporate Counsel of its Authority,
RULE 99 – 100
aspect of this case, should be dismissed as it does Duties and Powers as Principal Law Office of All
not appear from the records that the complaint was Government Owned or Controlled Corporations, filed
filed with the participation or consent of the Office of before the Office of the National Administration
the Solicitor General (OSG). Section 35, Chapter 12, Register on September 5, 2011, reads:
Title III, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987
provides that: Section 2. Extent of legal assistance – The OGCC
shall represent the complaining GOCC in all stages of
Section 35. Powers and Functions. — The Office of the criminal proceedings. The legal assistance
the Solicitor General shall represent the Government extended is not limited to the preparation of
of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities appropriate sworn statements but shall include all
and its officials and agents in any litigation, aspects of an effective private prosecution including
proceedings, investigation or matter requiring the recovery of civil liability arising from the crime, subject
services of lawyers. x x x It shall have the following to the control and supervision of the public prosecutor.
specific powers and functions:
Based on jurisprudence, there are two exceptions
(1) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court when a private party complainant or offended party in
and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; a criminal case may file a petition with this Court,
represent the Government and its officers in the without the intervention of the OSG: (1) when there is
Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and all other denial of due process of law to the prosecution, and
courts or tribunals in all civil actions and special the State or its agents refuse to act on the case to the
proceedings in which the Government or any officer prejudice of the State and the private offended
thereof in his official capacity is a party. (Emphasis party;39 and (2) when the private offended party
provided.) questions the civil aspect of a decision of the lower
court.40
In Heirs of Federico C. Delgado v. Gonzalez,38 we
ruled that the preliminary investigation is part of a In this petition, LBP fails to allege any inaction or
criminal proceeding. As all criminal proceedings refusal to act on the part of the OSG, tantamount to a
before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals denial of due process. No explanation appears as to
may be brought and defended by only the Solicitor why the OSG was not a party to the case. Neither can