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Heirs of Ignacio Conti vs CA, GR No.

118464, December
1998

Facts:

Lourdes Sampayo and Ignacio Conti were the co-owners of


property located in Lucena City. Lourdes died intestate
without issue.
Subsequently, private respondents, all claiming to be
correlative relatives of the deceased Lourdes, filed an action
for partition and damages before the RTC-Lucena City.
Ignacio Conti refused the partition on the ground that
private respondents failed to produce any document to
prove that they were the rightful heirs of Lourdes. Ignacio
died and was substituted as party-defendants by his
children.
To prove their filiation to Lourdes, private respondents
presented Lydia Sampayo-Reyes and Adelaida Sampayo.
Lydia testified that she was one of the nieces of Lourdes,
being the daughter of Josefina Sanpayo, the only living
sibling of Lourdes. They presented her original copy of
certificate of live birth showing that her parents are
Inocentes Reyes and Josefina Sampayo.
Lydia also testified that the other siblings of Lourdes who
were already dead were Remedios, Luis, and Manuel. To
prove that Josefina, Remedios, Manuel, and Luis were
siblings of Lourdes, their baptismal certificate together with
a photocopy of the birth certificate of Manuel were offered
as evidence to show that their parents, like Lourdes, were
Antonio Sampayo and Brigida Jaraza.
The baptismal certificates were presented in lieu of the birth
certificates because the office of the civil registrar were
burned on two separate occasions, thus all civil registration
records were totally burned.
Adelaida Sampayo testified that she was the spouse of
Manuel, the brother of the deceased Lourdes.
To rebut the claim of the private respondents, petitioner
claimed that the late Ignacio Conti paid for the real taxes of
the subject property and spent for the necessary repairs
and improvements thereon because by agreement Lourdes
would leave her share of the property them.

However, the trial court found no will, either testamentary


or holographic, was presented to substantiate their claim.
So it declared that the private respondents are the rightful
heirs of Lourdes. The CA affirmed the decision of the RTC.
The CA also declared that a prior and separate judicial
declaration of heirship was not necessary and that private
respondents became the co-owners of the portions of the
property owned and registered in the name of Lourdes upon
her death and, consequently, entitled to the immediate
possession thereof and all other incidents/right of ownership
as provided by law including the right to demand partition
under Art. 777 of the civil code.
Hence, petitioner pursued the case arguing that a complaint
for partition to claim a supposed share of the deceased coowner cannot prosper without prior settlement of the
latters estate and compliance with the legal requirements,
especially publication, and private respondents failed to
prove by competent evidence their relationship with the
deceased.

Issue:
Whether or not the argument of the petitioner is correct?
Ruling:

The Petitioner is wrong. A prior settlement of estate is


not essential before the heirs can commence any action
originally pertaining to the deceased.
Conformably with Articles 777 and 494 of the civil code,
from the death of Lourdes her rights as co-owner,
incidental to which is the right to ask for partition at any
time or to terminate the co-ownership, were transmitted
to her rightful heirs. So, in demanding partition, private
respondent merely exercised the right originally
pertaining to the decedent, their predecessor-in-interest.
Petitioners theory of publication is also wrong because
the action is not for the partition of the state of Lourdes
but only for the segregation of Lourdes one-half share
to the subject property which they inherited from her
through intestate succession. This is a simple case of
ordinary partition between co-owners over which
publication is not required.