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Rule 86

G.R. No. 146989

February 7, 2007

MELENCIO GABRIEL, represented by surviving spouse, FLORDELIZA V. GABRIEL, Petitioner,


vs.
NELSON BILON, ANGEL BRAZIL AND ERNESTO PAGAYGAY, Respondents.
DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals, respectively
dated August 4, 2000 and February 7, 2001, in CA-G.R. SP No. 52001 entitled "Nelson Bilon, et al. v. National Labor
Relations Commission, et al."
The challenged decision reversed and set aside the decision 2 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)
dismissing respondents complaint for illegal dismissal and illegal deductions, and reinstating the decision of the Labor
Arbiter finding petitioner guilty of illegal dismissal but not of illegal deductions subject to the modification that
respondents be immediately reinstated to their former positions without loss of seniority rights and privileges instead
of being paid separation pay.
Petitioner, represented by his surviving spouse, Flordeliza V. Gabriel, was the owner-operator of a public transport
business, "Gabriel Jeepney," with a fleet of 54 jeepneys plying the Baclaran-Divisoria-Tondo route. Petitioner had a
pool of drivers, which included respondents, operating under a "boundary system" of P400 per day.
The facts3 are as follows:
On November 15, 1995, respondents filed their separate complaints for illegal dismissal, illegal deductions, and
separation pay against petitioner with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). These were consolidated and
docketed as NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-11-07420-95.4
On December 15, 1995, the complaint was amended, impleading as party respondent the Bacoor Transport Service
Cooperative, Inc., as both parties are members of the cooperative.
Respondents alleged the following:
1) That they were regular drivers of Gabriel Jeepney, driving their respective units bearing Plate Nos. PHW
553, NXU 155, and NWW 557, under a boundary system of P400 per day, plying Baclaran to Divisoria via
Tondo, and vice versa, since December 1990, November 1984 and November 1991, respectively, up to April
30, 1995,5 driving five days a week, with average daily earnings of P400;
2) That they were required/forced to pay additional P55.00 per day for the following: a) P20.00 police
protection; b) P20.00 washing; c) P10.00 deposit; and [d)] P5.00 garage fees;
3) That there is no law providing the operator to require the drivers to pay police protection, deposit, washing,
and garage fees.
4) That on April 30, 1995, petitioner told them not to drive anymore, and when they went to the garage to
report for work the next day, they were not given a unit to drive; and
5) That the boundary drivers of passenger jeepneys are considered regular employees of the jeepney
operators. Being such, they are entitled to security of tenure. Petitioner, however, dismissed them without
factual and legal basis, and without due process.
On his part, petitioner contended that:
1) He does not remember if the respondents were ever under his employ as drivers of his passenger jeepneys.
Certain, however, is the fact that neither the respondents nor other drivers who worked for him were ever
dismissed by him. As a matter of fact, some of his former drivers just stopped reporting for work, either
because they found some other employment or drove for other operators, and like the respondents, the next
time he heard from them was when they started fabricating unfounded complaints against him;
2) He made sure that none of the jeepneys would stay idle even for a day so he could collect his earnings;
hence, it had been his practice to establish a pool of drivers. Had respondents manifested their desire to drive
his units, it would have been immaterial whether they were his former drivers or not. As long as they obtained
the necessary licenses and references, they would have been accommodated and placed on schedule;
3) While he was penalized or made to pay a certain amount in connection with similar complaints by other
drivers in a previous case before this, it was not because his culpability was established, but due to
technicalities involving oversight and negligence on his part by not participating in any stage of the
investigation thereof; and

4) Respondents claim that certain amounts, as enumerated in the complaint, were deducted from their days
earnings is preposterous. Indeed, there were times when deductions were made from the days earnings of
some drivers, but such were installment payments for the amount previously advanced to them. Most drivers,
when they got involved in accidents or violations of traffic regulations, managed to settle them, and in the
process they had to spend some money, but most of the time they did not have the needed amount so they
secured cash advances from him, with the understanding that the same should be paid back by installments
through deductions from their daily earnings or boundary.
On the other hand, Bacoor Transport Service Cooperative, Inc. (BTSCI) declared that it should not be made a party to
the case because: 1) [I]t has nothing to do with the employment of its member-drivers. The matter is between the
member-operator and their respective member-drivers. The member-drivers tenure of employment, compensation,
work conditions, and other aspects of employment are matters of arrangement between them and the memberoperators concerned, and the BTSCI has nothing to do with it, as can be inferred from the Management Agreement
between BTSCI and the member-operators; and 2) [T]he amount allegedly deducted from respondents and the
purpose for which they were applied were matters that the cooperative was not aware of, and much less imposed on
them.
On September 17, 1996, respondents filed a motion to re-raffle the case for the reason that the Labor Arbiter (Hon.
Roberto I. Santos) failed "to render his decision within thirty (30) calendar days, without extension, after the
submission of the case for decision."
On September 18, 1996, said Labor Arbiter inhibited himself from further handling the case due to "personal reasons."
On November 8, 1996, Labor Arbiter Ricardo C. Nora, to whom the case was re-raffled, ordered the parties to file their
respective memoranda within ten days, after which the case was deemed submitted for resolution.
On March 17, 1997, the Labor Arbiter (Hon. Ricardo C. Nora) handed down his decision, the dispositive portion of
which is worded as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the illegality of [respondents] dismissal
and ordering [petitioner] Melencio Gabriel to pay the [respondents] the total amount of ONE MILLION THIRTY FOUR
THOUSAND PESOS [P1,034,000,] representing [respondents] backwages and separation pay as follows:
1. Nelson Bilon
Backwages P 284,800
Separation Pay 26,400 P 321,200
2. Angel Brazil
Backwages P 294,800
Separation Pay 96,800 391,600
3. Ernesto Pagaygay
Backwages P 294,800
Separation Pay 26,400 321,200
P 1,034,000
[Petitioner] Melencio Gabriel is likewise ordered to pay attorneys fees equivalent to five percent (5%) of the judgment
award or the amount of P51,700 within ten (10) days from receipt of this Decision.
All other issues are dismissed for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.6
Incidentally, on April 4, 1997, petitioner passed away. On April 18, 1997, a copy of the above decision was delivered
personally to petitioners house. According to respondents, petitioners surviving spouse, Flordeliza Gabriel, and their
daughter, after reading the contents of the decision and after they had spoken to their counsel, refused to receive the
same. Nevertheless, Bailiff Alfredo V. Estonactoc left a copy of the decision with petitioners wife and her daughter but
they both refused to sign and acknowledge receipt of the decision. 7
The labor arbiters decision was subsequently served by registered mail at petitioners residence and the same was
received on May 28, 1997.
On May 16, 1997, counsel for petitioner filed an entry of appearance with motion to dismiss the case for the reason
that petitioner passed away last April 4, 1997.

On June 5, 1997, petitioner appealed the labor arbiters decision to the National Labor Relations Commission, First
Division, contending that the labor arbiter erred:
1. In holding that [petitioner] Gabriel dismissed the complainants, Arb. Nora committed a serious error in the
findings of fact which, if not corrected, would cause grave or irreparable damage or injury to [petitioner]
Gabriel;
2. In holding that strained relations already exist between the parties, justifying an award of separation pay
in lieu of reinstatement, Arb. Nora not only committed a serious error in the findings of fact, but he also
abused his discretion;
3. In computing the amount of backwages allegedly due [respondents] from 30 April 1995 to 15 March 1997,
Arb. Nora abused his discretion, considering that the case had been submitted for decision as early as 1 March
1996 and that the same should have been decided as early as 31 March 1996;
4. In using P400.00 and 22 days as factors in computing the amount of backwages allegedly due
[respondents], Arb. Nora abused his discretion and committed a serious error in the findings of fact,
considering that there was no factual or evidentiary basis therefor;
5. In using 33.5 months as factor in the computation of the amount of backwages allegedly due
[respondents], Arb. Nora committed a serious error in the findings of fact[,] because even if it is assumed that
backwages are due from 30 April 1995 to 15 March 1997, the period between the two dates is only 22
months, and not 33 months as stated in the appealed decision; and
6. In not dismissing the case[,] despite notice of the death of [petitioner] Gabriel before final judgment, Arb.
Nora abused his discretion and committed a serious error of law. 8
On July 3, 1997, respondents filed a motion to dismiss petitioners appeal on the ground that the "surety bond is
defective" and the appeal was "filed out of time," which move was opposed by petitioner.
Subsequently, on April 28, 1998, the NLRC promulgated its first decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision is hereby reversed and set aside. The above-entitled case is
hereby dismissed for lack of employer-employee relationship.
SO ORDERED.9
Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration. They claimed that the decision did not discuss the issue of the
timeliness of the appeal. The lack of employer-employee relationship was mentioned in the dispositive portion, which
issue was not raised before the labor arbiter or discussed in the body of the questioned decision. In view of the issues
raised by respondents in their motion, the NLRC rendered its second decision on October 29, 1998. The pertinent
portions are hereby quoted thus:
In the case at bar, [petitioner] Melencio Gabriel was not represented by counsel during the pendency of the case. A
decision was rendered by the Labor Arbiter a quo on March 17, 1997 while Mr. Gabriel passed away on April 4, 1997
without having received a copy thereof during his lifetime. The decision was only served on April 18, 1997 when he
was no longer around to receive the same. His surviving spouse and daughter cannot automatically substitute
themselves as party respondents. Thus, when the bailiff tendered a copy of the decision to them, they were not in a
position to receive them. The requirement of leaving a copy at the partys residence is not applicable in the instant
case because this presupposes that the party is still living and is just not available to receive the decision.
The preceding considered, the decision of the labor arbiter has not become final because there was no proper service
of copy thereof to [petitioner] .
Undoubtedly, this case is for recovery of money which does not survive, and considering that the decision has not
become final, the case should have been dismissed and the appeal no longer entertained.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of April 28, 1998 is set aside and vacated. Furthermore, the
instant case is dismissed and complainants are directed to pursue their claim against the proceedings for the
settlement of the estate of the deceased Melencio Gabriel.
SO ORDERED.10
Aggrieved by the decision of the NLRC, respondents elevated the case to the Court of Appeals (CA) by way of a
petition for certiorari. On August 4, 2000, the CA reversed the decisions of the NLRC:

Article 223 of the Labor Code categorically mandates that "an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the
posting of a cash bond or surety bond x x x." It is beyond peradventure then that the non-compliance with the above
conditio sine qua non, plus the fact that the appeal was filed beyond the reglementary period, should have been
enough reasons to dismiss the appeal.

In any event, even conceding ex gratia that such procedural infirmity [were] inexistent, this petition would still be
tenable based on substantive aspects.
The public respondents decision, dated April 28, 1998, is egregiously wrong insofar as it was anchored on the
absence of an employer-employee relationship. Well-settled is the rule that the boundary system used in jeepney and
(taxi) operations presupposes an employer-employee relationship (National Labor Union v. Dinglasan, 98 Phil. 649) .
The NLRC ostensibly tried to redeem itself by vacating the decision April 28, 1998. By so doing, however, it did not
actually resolve the matter definitively. It merely relieved itself of such burden by suggesting that the petitioners
"pursue their claim against the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the deceased Melencio Gabriel."
In the instant case, the decision (dated March 17, 1997) of the Labor Arbiter became final and executory on account
of the failure of the private respondent to perfect his appeal on time.
Thus, we disagree with the ratiocination of the NLRC that the death of the private respondent on April 4, 1997 ipso
facto negates recovery of the money claim against the successors-in-interest . Rather, this situation comes within
the aegis of Section 3, Rule III of the NLRC Manual on Execution of Judgment, which provides:
SECTION 3. Execution in Case of Death of Party. Where a party dies after the finality of the decision/entry of
judgment of order, execution thereon may issue or one already issued may be enforced in the following cases:
a) x x x ;
b) In case of death of the losing party, against his successor-in-interest, executor or administrator;
c) In case of death of the losing party after execution is actually levied upon any of his property, the same
may be sold for the satisfaction thereof, and the sheriff making the sale shall account to his successor-ininterest, executor or administrator for any surplus in his hands.
Notwithstanding the foregoing disquisition though, We are not entirely in accord with the labor arbiters decision
awarding separation pay in favor of the petitioners. In this regard, it [is] worth mentioning that in Kiamco v. NLRC,11
citing Globe-Mackay Cable and Radio Corp. v. NLRC,12 the Supreme Court qualified the application of the
"strained relations" principle when it held -"If in the wisdom of the Court, there may be a ground or grounds for the non-application of the above-cited provision
(Art. 279, Labor Code) this should be by way of exception, such as when the reinstatement may be inadmissible due
to ensuing strained relations between the employer and employee.
In such cases, it should be proved that the employee concerned occupies a position where he enjoys the trust and
confidence of his employer, and that it is likely that if reinstated, an atmosphere of antipathy and antagonism may be
generated as to adversely affect the efficiency and productivity of the employee concerned x x x Obviously, the
principle of strained relations cannot be applied indiscriminately. Otherwise, reinstatement can never be possible
simply because some hostility is invariably engendered between the parties as a result of litigation. That is human
nature.
Besides, no strained relations should arise from a valid legal act of asserting ones right; otherwise[,] an employee
who shall assert his right could be easily separated from the service by merely paying his separation pay on the
pretext that his relationship with his employer had already become strained."
Anent the award of backwages, the Labor Arbiter erred in computing the same from the date the petitioners were
illegally dismissed (i.e. April 30, 1995) up to March 15, 1997, that is two (2) days prior to the rendition of his decision
(i.e. March 17, 1997).

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED, hereby REVERSING and SETTING ASIDE the assailed
decisions of the National Labor Relations Commission, dated April 28, 1998 ans October 29, 1998. Consequently, the
decision of the Labor Arbiter, dated March 17, 1997, is hereby REINSTATED, subject to the MODIFICATION that the
private respondent is ORDERED to immediately REINSTATE petitioners Nelson Bilon, Angel Brazil and Ernesto
Pagaygay to their former position without loss of seniority rights and privileges, with full backwages from the date of
their dismissal until their actual reinstatement. Costs against private respondent.
SO ORDERED.13
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied by the CA in a resolution dated February 7,
2001.
Hence, this petition raising the following issues:14
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT PETITIONERS APPEAL TO THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS
COMMISSION WAS FILED OUT OF TIME.

II
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ALLEGED DEFECTS IN PETITIONERS APPEAL BOND WERE OF
SUCH GRAVITY AS TO PREVENT THE APPEAL FROM BEING PERFECTED.
III
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN GRANTING RESPONDENTS PETITION FOR CERTIORARI DESPITE THE FACT THAT
THE SAME ASSAILED A DECISION WHICH HAD BEEN VACATED IN FAVOR OF A NEW ONE WHICH, IN TURN, HAS
SOLID LEGAL BASIS.
IV
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING SECTION 3, RULE III, OF THE MANUAL ON EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT
OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION WHICH, BY ITS OWN EXPRESS TERMS, IS NOT APPLICABLE.
A resolution of the case requires a brief discussion of two issues which touch upon the procedural and substantial
aspects of the case thus: a) whether petitioners appeal was filed out of time; and b) whether the claim survives.
As regards the first issue, the Court considers the service of copy of the decision of the labor arbiter to have been
validly made on May 28, 1997 when it was received through registered mail. As correctly pointed out by petitioners
wife, service of a copy of the decision could not have been validly effected on April 18, 1997 because petitioner
passed away on April 4, 1997.
Section 4, Rule III of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC provides:
SEC. 4. Service of Notices and Resolutions. (a) Notices or summons and copies of orders, resolutions or
decisions shall be served on the parties to the case personally by the bailiff or authorized public officer within three
(3) days from receipt thereof or by registered mail; Provided, That where a party is represented by counsel or
authorized representative, service shall be made on such counsel or authorized representative; Provided further, That
in cases of decision and final awards, copies thereof shall be served on both parties and their counsel .
For the purpose of computing the period of appeal, the same shall be counted from receipt of such decisions, awards
or orders by the counsel of record.
(b) The bailiff or officer personally serving the notice, order, resolution or decision shall submit his return within two
(2) days from date of service thereof, stating legibly in his return, his name, the names of the persons served and the
date of receipt which return shall be immediately attached and shall form part of the records of the case. If no service
was effected, the serving officer shall state the reason therefore in the return.
Section 6, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court which is suppletory to the NLRC Rules of Procedure states that: "[s]ervice of
the papers may be made by delivering personally a copy to the party or his counsel, or by leaving it in his office with
his clerk or with a person having charge thereof. If no person is found in his office, or his office is not known, or he
has no office, then by leaving the copy, between the hours of eight in the morning and six in the evening, at the
partys or counsels residence, if known, with a person of sufficient age and discretion then residing therein."
The foregoing provisions contemplate a situation wherein the party to the action is alive upon the delivery of a copy of
the tribunals decision. In the present case, however, petitioner died before a copy of the labor arbiters decision was
served upon him. Hence, the above provisions do not apply. As aptly stated by the NLRC:
In the case at bar, respondent Melencio Gabriel was not represented by counsel during the pendency of the case. A
decision was rendered by the Labor Arbiter a quo on March 17, 1997 while Mr. Gabriel passed away on April 4, 1997,
without having received a copy thereof during his lifetime. The decision was only served on April 18, 1997 when he
was no longer around to receive the same. His surviving spouse and daughter cannot automatically substitute
themselves as party respondents. Thus, when the bailiff tendered a copy of the decision to them, they were not in a
position to receive them. The requirement of leaving a copy at the partys residence is not applicable in the instant
case because this presupposes that the party is still living and is not just available to receive the decision.
The preceding considered, the decision of the Labor Arbiter has not become final because there was no proper service
of copy thereof to party respondent.15
Thus, the appeal filed on behalf of petitioner on June 5, 1997 after receipt of a copy of the decision via registered mail
on May 28, 1997 was within the ten-day reglementary period prescribed under Section 223 of the Labor Code.
On the question whether petitioners surety bond was defective, Section 6, Rule VI of the New Rules of Procedure of
the NLRC provides:
SEC. 6. Bond. In case the decision of a Labor Arbiter involves monetary award, an appeal by the employer shall
be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited
by the Commission or the Supreme Court in an amount equivalent to the monetary award, exclusive of moral and
exemplary damages and attorneys fees.

The employer as well as counsel shall submit a joint declaration under oath attesting that the surety bond posted is
genuine and that it shall be in effect until final disposition of the case.
The Commission may, in meritorious cases and upon Motion of the Appellant, reduce the amount of the bond. (As
amended on Nov. 5, 1993).
The Court believes that petitioner was able to comply substantially with the requirements of the above Rule. As
correctly pointed out by the NLRC:
While we agree with complainants-appellees that the posting of the surety bond is jurisdictional, We do not believe
that the "defects" imputed to the surety bond posted for and in behalf of respondent-appellant Gabriel are of such
character as to affect the jurisdiction of this Commission to entertain the instant appeal.
It matters not that, by the terms of the bond posted, the "Liability of the surety herein shall expire on June 5, 1998
and this bond shall be automatically cancelled ten (10) days after the expiration." After all, the bond is accompanied
by the joint declaration under oath of respondent-appellants surviving spouse and counsel attesting that the surety
bond is genuine and shall be in effect until the final disposition of the case.
Anent complainants-appellees contention that the surety bond posted is defective for being in the name of BTSCI
which did not appeal and for having been entered into by Mrs. Gabriel without BTSCIs authority, the same has been
rendered moot and academic by the certification issued by Gil CJ. San Juan, Vice-President of the bonding company to
the effect that "Eastern Assurance and Surety Corporation Bond No. 2749 was posted for and on behalf appellant
Melencio Gabriel and/or his heirs" and that "(T)he name "Bacoor Transport Service Cooperative, Inc." was indicated in
said bond due merely in (sic) advertence."
At any rate, the Supreme Court has time and again ruled that while Article 223 of the Labor Code, as amended
requiring a cash or surety bond in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed from for
the appeal to be perfected, may be considered a jurisdictional requirement, nevertheless, adhering to the principle
that substantial justice is better served by allowing the appeal on the merits threshed out by this Honorable
Commission, the foregoing requirement of the law should be given a liberal interpretation (Pantranco North Express,
Inc. v. Sison, 149 SCRA 238; C.W. Tan Mfg. v. NLRC, 170 SCRA 240; YBL v. NLRC, 190 SCRA 160; Rada v. NLRC, 205
SCRA 69; Star Angel Handicraft v. NLRC, 236 SCRA 580).16
On the other hand, with regard to the substantive aspect of the case, the Court agrees with the CA that an employeremployee relationship existed between petitioner and respondents. In Martinez v. National Labor Relations
Commission,17 citing National Labor Union v. Dinglasan,18 the Court ruled that:
[T]he relationship between jeepney owners/operators and jeepney drivers under the boundary system is that of
employer-employee and not of lessor-lessee because in the lease of chattels the lessor loses complete control over
the chattel leased although the lessee cannot be reckless in the use thereof, otherwise he would be responsible for the
damages to the lessor. In the case of jeepney owners/operators and jeepney drivers, the former exercises supervision
and control over the latter. The fact that the drivers do not receive fixed wages but get only that in excess of the socalled "boundary" [that] they pay to the owner/operator is not sufficient to withdraw the relationship between them
from that of employer and employee. Thus, private respondents were employees because they had been engaged
to perform activities which were usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer. 19
The same principle was reiterated in the case of Paguio Transport Corporation v. NLRC.20
The Court also agrees with the labor arbiter and the CA that respondents were illegally dismissed by petitioner.
Respondents were not accorded due process.21 Moreover, petitioner failed to show that the cause for termination falls
under any of the grounds enumerated in Article 282
(then Article 283)22 of the Labor Code.23 Consequently, respondents are entitled to reinstatement without loss of
seniority rights and other privileges and to their full backwages computed from the date of dismissal up to the time of
their actual reinstatement in accordance with Article 279 of the Labor Code.
Reinstatement is obtainable in this case because it has not been shown that there is an ensuing "strained relations"
between petitioner and respondents. This is pursuant to the principle laid down in Globe-Mackay Cable and Radio
Corporation v. NLRC24 as quoted earlier in the CA decision.
With regard to respondents monetary claim, the same shall be governed by Section 20 (then Section 21), Rule 3 of
the Rules of Court which provides:1awphi1.net
SEC. 20. Action on contractual money claims. When the action is for recovery of money arising from contract,
express or implied, and the defendant dies before entry of final judgment in the court in which the action was pending
at the time of such death, it shall not be dismissed but shall instead be allowed to continue until entry of final
judgment. A favorable judgment obtained by the plaintiff therein shall be enforced in the manner provided in these
Rules for prosecuting claims against the estate of a deceased person. (21a)
In relation to this, Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court states:
SEC. 5. Claims which must be filed under the notice. If not filed, barred ; exceptions. All claims for money against
the decedent arising from contract, express or implied, whether the same be due, not due, or contingent, ... and
judgment for money against the decedent, must be filed within the time limited in the notice; otherwise they are

barred forever, except that they may be set forth as counterclaims in any action that the executor or administrator
may bring against the claimants.
Thus, in accordance with the above Rules, the money claims of respondents must be filed against the estate of
petitioner Melencio Gabriel.25
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated August 4, 2000 and
February 7, 2001, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 52001 are AFFIRMED but with the MODIFICATION that the money
claims of respondents should be filed against the estate of Melencio Gabriel, within such reasonable time from the
finality of this Decision as the estate court may fix.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 149926

February 23, 2005

UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
EDMUND SANTIBAEZ and FLORENCE SANTIBAEZ ARIOLA, respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court which seeks the reversal of
the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated May 30, 2001 in CA-G.R. CV No. 48831 affirming the dismissal2 of the
petitioners complaint in Civil Case No. 18909 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 63.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
On May 31, 1980, the First Countryside Credit Corporation (FCCC) and Efraim M. Santibaez entered into a loan
agreement3 in the amount of P128,000.00. The amount was intended for the payment of the purchase price of one (1)
unit Ford 6600 Agricultural All-Purpose Diesel Tractor. In view thereof, Efraim and his son, Edmund, executed a
promissory note in favor of the FCCC, the principal sum payable in five equal annual amortizations of P43,745.96 due
on May 31, 1981 and every May 31st thereafter up to May 31, 1985.
On December 13, 1980, the FCCC and Efraim entered into another loan agreement, 4 this time in the amount of
P123,156.00. It was intended to pay the balance of the purchase price of another unit of Ford 6600 Agricultural AllPurpose Diesel Tractor, with accessories, and one (1) unit Howard Rotamotor Model AR 60K. Again, Efraim and his
son, Edmund, executed a promissory note for the said amount in favor of the FCCC. Aside from such promissory note,
they also signed a Continuing Guaranty Agreement5 for the loan dated December 13, 1980.
Sometime in February 1981, Efraim died, leaving a holographic will.6 Subsequently in March 1981, testate
proceedings commenced before the RTC of Iloilo City, Branch 7, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 2706. On April
9, 1981, Edmund, as one of the heirs, was appointed as the special administrator of the estate of the decedent. 7
During the pendency of the testate proceedings, the surviving heirs, Edmund and his sister Florence Santibaez
Ariola, executed a Joint Agreement8 dated July 22, 1981, wherein they agreed to divide between themselves and take
possession of the three (3) tractors; that is, two (2) tractors for Edmund and one (1) tractor for Florence. Each of
them was to assume the indebtedness of their late father to FCCC, corresponding to the tractor respectively taken by
them.
On August 20, 1981, a Deed of Assignment with Assumption of Liabilities9 was executed by and between FCCC and
Union Savings and Mortgage Bank, wherein the FCCC as the assignor, among others, assigned all its assets and
liabilities to Union Savings and Mortgage Bank.
Demand letters10 for the settlement of his account were sent by petitioner Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) to
Edmund, but the latter failed to heed the same and refused to pay. Thus, on February 5, 1988, the petitioner filed a
Complaint11 for sum of money against the heirs of Efraim Santibaez, Edmund and Florence, before the RTC of Makati
City, Branch 150, docketed as Civil Case No. 18909. Summonses were issued against both, but the one intended for
Edmund was not served since he was in the United States and there was no information on his address or the date of
his return to the Philippines.12 Accordingly, the complaint was narrowed down to respondent Florence S. Ariola.
On December 7, 1988, respondent Florence S. Ariola filed her Answer13 and alleged that the loan documents did not
bind her since she was not a party thereto. Considering that the joint agreement signed by her and her brother
Edmund was not approved by the probate court, it was null and void; hence, she was not liable to the petitioner under
the joint agreement.
On January 29, 1990, the case was unloaded and re-raffled to the RTC of Makati City, Branch 63.14 Consequently, trial
on the merits ensued and a decision was subsequently rendered by the court dismissing the complaint for lack of
merit. The decretal portion of the RTC decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the complaint for lack of merit. 15

The trial court found that the claim of the petitioner should have been filed with the probate court before which the
testate estate of the late Efraim Santibaez was pending, as the sum of money being claimed was an obligation
incurred by the said decedent. The trial court also found that the Joint Agreement apparently executed by his heirs,
Edmund and Florence, on July 22, 1981, was, in effect, a partition of the estate of the decedent. However, the said
agreement was void, considering that it had not been approved by the probate court, and that there can be no valid
partition until after the will has been probated. The trial court further declared that petitioner failed to prove that it
was the now defunct Union Savings and Mortgage Bank to which the FCCC had assigned its assets and liabilities. The
court also agreed to the contention of respondent Florence S. Ariola that the list of assets and liabilities of the FCCC
assigned to Union Savings and Mortgage Bank did not clearly refer to the decedents account. Ruling that the joint
agreement executed by the heirs was null and void, the trial court held that the petitioners cause of action against
respondent Florence S. Ariola must necessarily fail.
The petitioner appealed from the RTC decision and elevated its case to the Court of Appeals (CA), assigning the
following as errors of the trial court:
1. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE JOINT AGREEMENT (EXHIBIT A) SHOULD BE APPROVED
BY THE PROBATE COURT.
2. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE CAN BE NO VALID PARTITION AMONG THE HEIRS
UNTIL AFTER THE WILL HAS BEEN PROBATED.
3. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE DEFENDANT HAD WAIVED HER RIGHT TO HAVE THE
CLAIM RE-LITIGATED IN THE ESTATE PROCEEDING.16
The petitioner asserted before the CA that the obligation of the deceased had passed to his legitimate children and
heirs, in this case, Edmund and Florence; the unconditional signing of the joint agreement marked as Exhibit "A"
estopped respondent Florence S. Ariola, and that she cannot deny her liability under the said document; as the
agreement had been signed by both heirs in their personal capacity, it was no longer necessary to present the same
before the probate court for approval; the property partitioned in the agreement was not one of those enumerated in
the holographic will made by the deceased; and the active participation of the heirs, particularly respondent Florence
S. Ariola, in the present ordinary civil action was tantamount to a waiver to re-litigate the claim in the estate
proceedings.
On the other hand, respondent Florence S. Ariola maintained that the money claim of the petitioner should have been
presented before the probate court.17
The appellate court found that the appeal was not meritorious and held that the petitioner should have filed its claim
with the probate court as provided under Sections 1 and 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court. It further held that the
partition made in the agreement was null and void, since no valid partition may be had until after the will has been
probated. According to the CA, page 2, paragraph (e) of the holographic will covered the subject properties (tractors)
in generic terms when the deceased referred to them as "all other properties." Moreover, the active participation of
respondent Florence S. Ariola in the case did not amount to a waiver. Thus, the CA affirmed the RTC decision, viz.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 63, is
hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.18
In the present recourse, the petitioner ascribes the following errors to the CA:
I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE JOINT AGREEMENT SHOULD BE APPROVED BY
THE PROBATE COURT.
II.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE CAN BE NO VALID PARTITION AMONG THE HEIRS OF THE
LATE EFRAIM SANTIBAEZ UNTIL AFTER THE WILL HAS BEEN PROBATED.
III.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE RESPONDENT HAD WAIVED HER RIGHT TO HAVE THE
CLAIM RE-LITIGATED IN THE ESTATE PROCEEDING.
IV.
RESPONDENTS CAN, IN FACT, BE HELD JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH THE PRINCIPAL DEBTOR THE LATE
EFRAIM SANTIBAEZ ON THE STRENGTH OF THE CONTINUING GUARANTY AGREEMENT EXECUTED IN FAVOR OF
PETITIONER-APPELLANT UNION BANK.
V.

THE PROMISSORY NOTES DATED MAY 31, 1980 IN THE SUM OF P128,000.00 AND DECEMBER 13, 1980 IN THE
AMOUNT OF P123,000.00 CATEGORICALLY ESTABLISHED THE FACT THAT THE RESPONDENTS BOUND THEMSELVES
JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH THE LATE DEBTOR EFRAIM SANTIBAEZ IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER UNION
BANK.19
The petitioner claims that the obligations of the deceased were transmitted to the heirs as provided in Article 774 of
the Civil Code; there was thus no need for the probate court to approve the joint agreement where the heirs
partitioned the tractors owned by the deceased and assumed the obligations related thereto. Since respondent
Florence S. Ariola signed the joint agreement without any condition, she is now estopped from asserting any position
contrary thereto. The petitioner also points out that the holographic will of the deceased did not include nor mention
any of the tractors subject of the complaint, and, as such was beyond the ambit of the said will. The active
participation and resistance of respondent Florence S. Ariola in the ordinary civil action against the petitioners claim
amounts to a waiver of the right to have the claim presented in the probate proceedings, and to allow any one of the
heirs who executed the joint agreement to escape liability to pay the value of the tractors under consideration would
be equivalent to allowing the said heirs to enrich themselves to the damage and prejudice of the petitioner.
The petitioner, likewise, avers that the decisions of both the trial and appellate courts failed to consider the fact that
respondent Florence S. Ariola and her brother Edmund executed loan documents, all establishing the vinculum juris or
the legal bond between the late Efraim Santibaez and his heirs to be in the nature of a solidary obligation.
Furthermore, the Promissory Notes dated May 31, 1980 and December 13, 1980 executed by the late Efraim
Santibaez, together with his heirs, Edmund and respondent Florence, made the obligation solidary as far as the said
heirs are concerned. The petitioner also proffers that, considering the express provisions of the continuing guaranty
agreement and the promissory notes executed by the named respondents, the latter must be held liable jointly and
severally liable thereon. Thus, there was no need for the petitioner to file its money claim before the probate court.
Finally, the petitioner stresses that both surviving heirs are being sued in their respective personal capacities, not as
heirs of the deceased.
In her comment to the petition, respondent Florence S. Ariola maintains that the petitioner is trying to recover a sum
of money from the deceased Efraim Santibaez; thus the claim should have been filed with the probate court. She
points out that at the time of the execution of the joint agreement there was already an existing probate proceedings
of which the petitioner knew about. However, to avoid a claim in the probate court which might delay payment of the
obligation, the petitioner opted to require them to execute the said agreement.1a\^/phi1.net
According to the respondent, the trial court and the CA did not err in declaring that the agreement was null and void.
She asserts that even if the agreement was voluntarily executed by her and her brother Edmund, it should still have
been subjected to the approval of the court as it may prejudice the estate, the heirs or third parties. Furthermore, she
had not waived any rights, as she even stated in her answer in the court a quo that the claim should be filed with the
probate court. Thus, the petitioner could not invoke or claim that she is in estoppel.
Respondent Florence S. Ariola further asserts that she had not signed any continuing guaranty agreement, nor was
there any document presented as evidence to show that she had caused herself to be bound by the obligation of her
late father.
The petition is bereft of merit.
The Court is posed to resolve the following issues: a) whether or not the partition in the Agreement executed by the
heirs is valid; b) whether or not the heirs assumption of the indebtedness of the deceased is valid; and c) whether
the petitioner can hold the heirs liable on the obligation of the deceased.1awphi1.nt
At the outset, well-settled is the rule that a probate court has the jurisdiction to determine all the properties of the
deceased, to determine whether they should or should not be included in the inventory or list of properties to be
administered.20 The said court is primarily concerned with the administration, liquidation and distribution of the
estate.21
In our jurisdiction, the rule is that there can be no valid partition among the heirs until after the will has been
probated:
In testate succession, there can be no valid partition among the heirs until after the will has been probated. The law
enjoins the probate of a will and the public requires it, because unless a will is probated and notice thereof given to
the whole world, the right of a person to dispose of his property by will may be rendered nugatory. The authentication
of a will decides no other question than such as touch upon the capacity of the testator and the compliance with those
requirements or solemnities which the law prescribes for the validity of a will.22
This, of course, presupposes that the properties to be partitioned are the same properties embraced in the will. 23 In
the present case, the deceased, Efraim Santibaez, left a holographic will24 which contained, inter alia, the provision
which reads as follows:
(e) All other properties, real or personal, which I own and may be discovered later after my demise, shall be
distributed in the proportion indicated in the immediately preceding paragraph in favor of Edmund and Florence, my
children.
We agree with the appellate court that the above-quoted is an all-encompassing provision embracing all the properties
left by the decedent which might have escaped his mind at that time he was making his will, and other properties he
may acquire thereafter. Included therein are the three (3) subject tractors. This being so, any partition involving the
said tractors among the heirs is not valid. The joint agreement 25 executed by Edmund and Florence, partitioning the

tractors among themselves, is invalid, specially so since at the time of its execution, there was already a pending
proceeding for the probate of their late fathers holographic will covering the said tractors.
It must be stressed that the probate proceeding had already acquired jurisdiction over all the properties of the
deceased, including the three (3) tractors. To dispose of them in any way without the probate courts approval is
tantamount to divesting it with jurisdiction which the Court cannot allow.26 Every act intended to put an end to
indivision among co-heirs and legatees or devisees is deemed to be a partition, although it should purport to be a
sale, an exchange, a compromise, or any other transaction. 27 Thus, in executing any joint agreement which appears
to be in the nature of an extra-judicial partition, as in the case at bar, court approval is imperative, and the heirs
cannot just divest the court of its jurisdiction over that part of the estate. Moreover, it is within the jurisdiction of the
probate court to determine the identity of the heirs of the decedent.28 In the instant case, there is no showing that the
signatories in the joint agreement were the only heirs of the decedent. When it was executed, the probate of the will
was still pending before the court and the latter had yet to determine who the heirs of the decedent were. Thus, for
Edmund and respondent Florence S. Ariola to adjudicate unto themselves the three (3) tractors was a premature act,
and prejudicial to the other possible heirs and creditors who may have a valid claim against the estate of the
deceased.
The question that now comes to fore is whether the heirs assumption of the indebtedness of the decedent is binding.
We rule in the negative. Perusing the joint agreement, it provides that the heirs as parties thereto "have agreed to
divide between themselves and take possession and use the above-described chattel and each of them to assume the
indebtedness corresponding to the chattel taken as herein after stated which is in favor of First Countryside Credit
Corp."29 The assumption of liability was conditioned upon the happening of an event, that is, that each heir shall take
possession and use of their respective share under the agreement. It was made dependent on the validity of the
partition, and that they were to assume the indebtedness corresponding to the chattel that they were each to receive.
The partition being invalid as earlier discussed, the heirs in effect did not receive any such tractor. It follows then that
the assumption of liability cannot be given any force and effect.
The Court notes that the loan was contracted by the decedent.l^vvphi1.net The petitioner, purportedly a creditor of
the late Efraim Santibaez, should have thus filed its money claim with the probate court in accordance with Section
5, Rule 86 of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides:
Section 5. Claims which must be filed under the notice. If not filed barred; exceptions. All claims for money against
the decedent, arising from contract, express or implied, whether the same be due, not due, or contingent, all claims
for funeral expenses for the last sickness of the decedent, and judgment for money against the decedent, must be
filed within the time limited in the notice; otherwise they are barred forever, except that they may be set forth as
counterclaims in any action that the executor or administrator may bring against the claimants. Where an executor or
administrator commences an action, or prosecutes an action already commenced by the deceased in his lifetime, the
debtor may set forth by answer the claims he has against the decedent, instead of presenting them independently to
the court as herein provided, and mutual claims may be set off against each other in such action; and if final
judgment is rendered in favor of the defendant, the amount so determined shall be considered the true balance
against the estate, as though the claim had been presented directly before the court in the administration
proceedings. Claims not yet due, or contingent, may be approved at their present value.
The filing of a money claim against the decedents estate in the probate court is mandatory. 30 As we held in the
vintage case of Py Eng Chong v. Herrera:31
This requirement is for the purpose of protecting the estate of the deceased by informing the executor or
administrator of the claims against it, thus enabling him to examine each claim and to determine whether it is a
proper one which should be allowed. The plain and obvious design of the rule is the speedy settlement of the affairs of
the deceased and the early delivery of the property to the distributees, legatees, or heirs. `The law strictly requires
the prompt presentation and disposition of the claims against the decedent's estate in order to settle the affairs of the
estate as soon as possible, pay off its debts and distribute the residue. 32
Perusing the records of the case, nothing therein could hold private respondent Florence S. Ariola accountable for any
liability incurred by her late father. The documentary evidence presented, particularly the promissory notes and the
continuing guaranty agreement, were executed and signed only by the late Efraim Santibaez and his son Edmund. As
the petitioner failed to file its money claim with the probate court, at most, it may only go after Edmund as co-maker
of the decedent under the said promissory notes and continuing guaranty, of course, subject to any defenses Edmund
may have as against the petitioner. As the court had not acquired jurisdiction over the person of Edmund, we find it
unnecessary to delve into the matter further.
We agree with the finding of the trial court that the petitioner had not sufficiently shown that it is the successor-ininterest of the Union Savings and Mortgage Bank to which the FCCC assigned its assets and liabilities.33 The petitioner
in its complaint alleged that "by virtue of the Deed of Assignment dated August 20, 1981 executed by and between
First Countryside Credit Corporation and Union Bank of the Philippines"34 However, the documentary evidence35
clearly reflects that the parties in the deed of assignment with assumption of liabilities were the FCCC, and the Union
Savings and Mortgage Bank, with the conformity of Bancom Philippine Holdings, Inc. Nowhere can the petitioners
participation therein as a party be found. Furthermore, no documentary or testimonial evidence was presented during
trial to show that Union Savings and Mortgage Bank is now, in fact, petitioner Union Bank of the Philippines. As the
trial court declared in its decision:
[T]he court also finds merit to the contention of defendant that plaintiff failed to prove or did not present evidence
to prove that Union Savings and Mortgage Bank is now the Union Bank of the Philippines. Judicial notice does not
apply here. "The power to take judicial notice is to [be] exercised by the courts with caution; care must be taken that
the requisite notoriety exists; and every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be promptly resolved in the
negative." (Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 107 SCRA 504).36

This being the case, the petitioners personality to file the complaint is wanting. Consequently, it failed to establish its
cause of action. Thus, the trial court did not err in dismissing the complaint, and the CA in affirming the same.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby DENIED. The assailed Court of Appeals Decision is
AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 159130

August 22, 2008

ATTY. GEORGE S. BRIONES, petitioner,


vs.
LILIA J. HENSON-CRUZ, RUBY J. HENSON, and ANTONIO J. HENSON respondents.
DECISION
BRION, J.:
We review in this petition1 the Decision of the Court of Appeals (Fifteenth Division) dated February 11, 20032 in CAG.R. SP No. 71844.
THE ANTECEDENTS
Respondent Ruby J. Henson filed on February 23, 1999 a petition for the allowance of the will of her late mother, Luz
J. Henson, with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 99-92870.
Lilia Henson-Cruz, one of the deceased's daughters and also a respondent in this petition, opposed Ruby's petition.
She alleged that Ruby understated the value of their late mother's estate and acted with "unconscionable bad faith" in
the management thereof. Lilia prayed that her mother's holographic will be disallowed and that she be appointed as
the Intestate Administratrix.
Lilia subsequently moved for the appointment of an Interim Special Administrator of the estate of her late mother,
praying that the Prudential Bank & Trust Company-Ermita Branch be appointed as Interim Special Administrator. The
trial court granted the motion but designated Jose V. Ferro (Senior Vice-President and Trust Officer, Trust Banking
Group of the Philippines National Bank) as the Special Administrator. Ferro, however, declined the appointment.
The trial court then designated petitioner Atty. George S. Briones as Special Administrator of the estate. Atty. Briones
accepted the appointment, took his oath of office, and started the administration of the estate. The significant
highlights of his administration are listed below:
1. On November 22, 1999, the trial court directed the heirs of Luz J. Henson to turn over the possession of all
the properties of the deceased to the Special Administrator.
2. On February 16, 2000, Atty. Briones moved that the trial court approve Special Administrator's fees of
P75,000.00 per month. These fees were in addition to the commission referred to in Section 7, Rule 85 of the
Revised Rules of Court. The trial court granted the motion but reduced the fees to P60,000.00 per month,
retroactive to the date Atty. Briones assumed office.
3. Atty. Briones filed a Special Administrator's Report No. 1 dated September 8, 2000 which contained an
inventory of the properties in his custody and a statement of the income received and the disbursements
made for the estate. The trial court issued an Order dated March 5, 2001 approving the report.
4. On September 17, 2001, the heirs of Luz J. Henson submitted a project of partition of the estate for the
trial court's approval.
5. On January 8, 2002, Atty. Briones submitted the Special Administrator's Final Report for the approval of the
court. He prayed that he be paid a commission of P97,850,191.26 representing eight percent (8%) of the
value of the estate under his administration.
6. The respondents opposed the approval of the final report and prayed that they be granted an opportunity
to examine the documents, vouchers, and receipts mentioned in the statement of income and disbursements.
They likewise asked the trial court to deny the Atty. Briones' claim for commission and that he be ordered to
refund the sum of P134,126.33 to the estate.
7. On February 21, 2002, the respondents filed an audit request with the trial court. Atty. Briones filed his
comment suggesting that the audit be done by an independent auditor at the expense of the estate.
8. In an Order dated March 12, 2002, the trial court granted the request for audit and appointed the
accounting firm Alba, Romeo & Co. to conduct the audit.
9. The respondents moved for the reconsideration of Order dated March 12, 2002, alleging that in view of the
partition of the estate there was no more need for a special administrator. They also clarified that they were
not asking for an external audit; they merely wanted to be allowed to examine the receipts, vouchers, bank

statements, and other documents in support of the Special Administrator's Final Report and to examine the
Special Administrator under oath.
10. The trial court handed down an Order dated April 13, 2002, the dispositive portion of which reads:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the court hereby:
1. Reiterates its designation of the accounting firm of Messrs. Alba, Romeo & Co. to
immediately conduct an audit of the administration by Atty. George S. Briones of the
estate of the late Luz J. Henson, the expenses of which shall be charged against the
estate.
2. Suspends the approval of the report of the special administrator except the
payment of his commission, which is hereby fixed at 1.8% of the value of the estate.
3. Directs the special administrator to deliver the residue to the heirs in proportion to their
shares. From the shares of Lilia J. Henson-Cruz, there shall be deducted the advances made to
her.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
On April 29, 2002, respondents filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, and
Mandamus which was raffled to the CA's Ninth Division and docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70349. The petition
assailed the Order dated March 12, 2002 which appointed accounting firm Alba, Romeo & Co. as auditors and the
Order dated April 3, 2002 which reiterated the appointment.
Prior the filing of the petition for certiorari in CA G.R. SP No. 70349, the heirs of Luz Henzon filed on April 9, 2002 a
Notice of Appeal with the RTC assailing the Order dated April 3, 2003 insofar as it directed the payment of Atty.
Briones' commission. They subsequently filed their record on appeal.
The trial court, however, denied the appeal and disapproved the record on appeal on May 23, 2002 on the ground of
forum shopping. Respondents' motion for reconsideration was likewise denied.
On July 26, 2002, the respondents filed a Petition for Mandamus with the appellate court, docketed as CA-G.R. SP
No. 71844. They claimed that the trial court unlawfully refused to comply with its ministerial duty to approve their
seasonably-perfected appeal. They refuted the trial court's finding of forum shopping by declaring that the issues in
their appeal and in their petition for certiorari (CA-G.R. SP No. 70349) are not identical, although both stemmed from
the same Order of April 3, 2002. The appeal involved the payment of the special administrator's commission, while
the petition for certiorari assailed the appointment of an accounting firm to conduct an external audit.
On the other hand, the petitioner insisted that the respondents committed forum shopping when they assailed the
Order of April 3, 2002 twice, i.e., through a special civil action for certiorari and by ordinary appeal. Forum shopping
took place because of the identity of the reliefs prayed for in the two cases. The petitioner likewise posited that the
trial court's error, if any, in dismissing the appeal on the ground of forum shopping is an error of judgment, not of
jurisdiction, and hence is not correctible by certiorari.
On February 11, 2003, the Court of Appeals decided the respondents' petition for Mandamus (CA-G.R. SP No. 71844)
as follows:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and respondent Judge is directed to give due course to the
appeal of petitioners from the Order dated April 3, 2002 insofar as it directed the payment of
commission to private respondent. [Emphasis supplied.]
SO ORDERED.
The Court of Appeals held that the trial court had neither the power nor the authority to deny the appeal on the
ground of forum shopping. It pointed out that under Section 13, Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended, the authority of the trial court to dismiss an appeal, either motu proprio or on motion, may be exercised
only if the appeal was taken out of time or if the appellate court docket and other fees were not paid within the
reglementary period.
Atty. Briones moved for the reconsideration of this decision. The appellate court denied his motion in its Resolution
dated July 17, 2003. Thereupon, he seasonably filed the present Petition for Review on Certiorari on September 4,
2003 on the ground that the CA refused to resolve the issue of forum shopping in its Decision of February 11, 2003
and its resolution of July 17, 2003 in CA-G.R. SP No. 71844 (Petition for Mandamus to give due course to the appeal).
In the interim, on August 5, 2003, the Court of Appeals (Ninth Division) handed down its Decision 3 in CA-G.R. SP No.
70439 (Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus on the appointment of the auditing firm), whose fallo
reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Orders dated March 12, 2002 and
April 3, 2002 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Public respondent Judge Artemio S. Tipon is hereby
COMMANDED to allow petitioner-heirs: 1) to examine all the receipts, bank statements, bank passbook,

treasury bills, and other documents in support of the Special Administrator's Final Report, as well as the
Statement of the Income and Disbusement Made from the Estate; and 2) to cross-examine private respondent
Briones, before finally approving the Special Administrator's Final Report. [Emphasis supplied.]
SO ORDERED.
THE PARTIES' POSITIONS
The petitioner faults the appellate court for refusing to resolve the forum shopping issue in its Decision of February
11, 2003 and the Resolution of July 17, 2003, thereby deciding the case in a way not in accord with law or with
applicable decisions of this Court. On the matter of forum shopping, the appellate court simply stated in its decision
that "In view of the fact that respondent Judge had no power to disallow the appeal on the ground of forum shopping,
we deem it unnecessary to discuss whether or not petitioners committed forum shopping." Neither did the appellate
court pass upon the issue of forum shopping in its ruling on the petitioner's motion for reconsideration, stating that
forum shopping should be resolved either in the respondent's appeal or in their petition for certiorari, prohibition, and
mandamus (CA-G.R. SP No. 70349).
As basis, the petitioner cites Section 3 of this Court's Circular No. 28-91 which provides that "(a) Any violation of this
Circular shall be a cause for the summary dismissal of the multiple petition or complaint; and (b) Any willful and
deliberate forum shopping by any party and his lawyer with the filing of multiple petitions and complaints to ensure
favorable action shall constitute direct contempt of court."
To prove that forum shopping transpired, the petitioner cites the respondents' petition for certiorari, prohibition, and
mandamus (CA-G.R. SP No. 70349) that prayed for the annulment of the assailed Order of April 3, 2002 in its
entirety. To the petitioner, the attack on the entire Order meant that even the payment of the special administrator's
commission - which was the subject of a separate appeal - was covered by the petition. The petitioner further alleged
that "to conceal the attempt at forum shopping, respondents deliberately failed to mention the existence of their
ordinary appeal of the same Order of April 3, 2002 in the certification against forum shopping attached to their
petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus in CA-G.R. SP No. 70349."
The petitioner cites in support of his position the cases of Silahis International, Inc. v. National Labor Relations
Commission,4 Tantoy Sr. v. Court of Appeals,5 and First Philippine International Bank v. Court of Appeals.6 Silahis was
cited for the proposition that only one recourse - the appeal - should have been filed because the issues were interrelated. Tantoy, Sr. spoke of related causes or the same or substantially the same reliefs in considering whether there
is forum shopping. On the other hand, First Philippine International Bank was cited to emphasize that the key to a
finding of forum shopping is the objective of the relief; though differently worded, there is violation of the rule against
forum shopping if the objective in all the actions filed involves the same relief - in this case, the setting aside of the
Order of April 3, 2002. The petitioner noted that the respondents had succeeded in obtaining this relief in their
petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus (CA-G.R. SP No. 70349) and the ruling in this petition already
constituted res judicata on the validity of the Order of April 3, 2002.
The respondents, for their part, claim that "the mere failure to specify in the decision the contentions of the appellant
and the reason for refusing to believe them is not sufficient to hold the same contrary to the provisions of the law and
the Constitution."7 In support of the twin recourses they took, they cite Argel v. Court of Appeals8 where this Court
rejected the ground for objection similar to present petitioner's because "the special civil action for certiorari and the
appeal did not involve the same issue." The respondents saw as ineffective the argument that the petition for
certiorari prayed for the annulment of the entire Order of April 3, 2002 since the petition and the appeal were very
specific on the portions of the Order that were being assailed. They pointed, too, to the decision in CA-G.R. SP No.
70349 which only passed upon the issues specified in the petition for certiorari, leaving untouched the issue that they
chose to raise via an appeal. As their last point, the respondents claimed they saw no need to mention the pendency
of the appeal in their non-forum shopping certification because the appeal dealt with an issue altogether different from
the issues raised in the petition for certiorari, citing for this purpose the specific wordings of Section 5, Rule 7 of the
Revised Rules of Court.
THE ISSUE
The sole issue presented to us for resolution is: Did the Court of Appeals (Fifteenth Division) err in not
dismissing the respondents' petition for mandamus (CA-G.R. SP No. 71844) on the ground of forum
shopping?
THE COURT'S RULING
We find the petition devoid of merit as the discussions below will show.
The Order of April 3, 2002
An examination of the RTC Order of April 3, 2002 shows that it resolved three matters, namely: (1) the designation of
the accounting firm of Alba, Romeo & Co. to conduct an audit of the administration of Atty. George S. Briones of the
estate of Luz J. Henson, at the expense of the estate; (2) the payment of the petitioner's commission as the estate's
Special Administrator; and (3) the directive to the petitioner to deliver the residue of the estate to the heirs in their
proportional shares. Of these, only the first two are relevant to the present petition as the third is the ultimate
directive that will close the settlement of estate proceedings.
The first part of the Order (the auditor's appointment) was the subject of the petition for certiorari, prohibition, and
mandamus that the respondents filed before the appellate court (CA-G.R. SP No. 70349). Whether this part is

interlocutory or one that fully settles the case on the merits can be answered by the test that this Court laid down in
Mirada v. Court of Appeals: "The test to ascertain whether or not an order is interlocutory or final is - Does it leave
something to be done in the trial court with respect to the merits of the case? If it does, it is interlocutory;
if it does not it is final." 9
The terms of the trial court's order with respect to the appointment or "designation" of the accounting firm is clear:
"to immediately conduct an audit of the administration by Atty. George S. Briones of the estate of the late Luz J.
Henson, the expenses of which shall be charged against the estate."
To audit, is "to examine and verify (as the books of account of a company or a treasurer's accounts)." An audit is the
"formal or official examination and verification of books of account (as for reporting on the financial condition of a
business at a given date or on the results of its operations for a given period)." 10 Black's Law Dictionary defines it no
differently: "a systematic inspection of accounting records involving analyses, tests and confirmations; a formal or
official examination and authentication of accounts, with witnesses, vouchers, etc."11
Given that the subject matter of the audit is Atty. Briones' Final Report in the administration of the estate of the
decedent, its preparatory character is obvious; it is a prelude to the court's final settlement and distribution of the
properties of the decedent to the heirs. In the context of what the court's order accomplishes, the court's designation
of an auditor does not have the effect of ruling on the pending estate proceeding on its merits (i.e., in terms of finally
determining the extent of the net estate of the deceased and distributing it to the heirs) or on the merits of any
independently determinable aspect of the estate proceeding; it is only for purposes of confirming the accuracy of the
Special Administrator's Final Report, particularly of the reported charges against the estate. In other words, the
designation of the auditor did not resolve Special Proceedings No. 99-92870 or any independently determinable issue
therein, and left much to be done on the merits of the case. Thus, the April 3, 2002 Order of the RTC is
interlocutory in so far as it designated an accounting firm to audit the petitioner's special administration
of the estate.
In contrast with the interlocutory character of the auditor's appointment, the second part is limited to the Special
Administrator's commission which was fixed at 1.8% of the value of the estate. To quote from the Order: the court
hereby. . . 2. Suspends the approval of the report of the special administrator except the payment of his commission,
which is hereby fixed at 1.8% of the value of the estate." Under these terms, it is immediately apparent that this
pronouncement on an independently determinable issue - the special administrator's commission - is the court's
definite and final word on the matter, subject only to whatever a higher body may decide if an appeal is made from
the court's ruling.
From an estate proceeding perspective, the Special Administrator's commission is no less a claim against the estate
than a claim that third parties may make. Section 8, Rule 86 of the Rules recognizes this when it provides for "Claim
of Executor or Administrator Against an Estate."12 Under Section 13 of the same Rule, the action of the court on a
claim against the estate "is appealable as in ordinary cases."13 Hence, by the express terms of the Rules, the
ruling on the extent of the Special Administrator's commission - effectively, a claim by the special
administrator against the estate - is the lower court's last word on the matter and one that is appealable.
Available Recourses against
the April 3, 2002 Order
We bring up the above distinctions between the first two parts of the Order of April 3, 2002 to highlight that the
directives or determinations under the Order are not similarly final and appealable in character. In this regard, Section
1, Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules of Rules of Court lays down the rules on what are or are not subject to appeal and it
provides:
Section 1. Subject of appeal. - An appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that completely
disposes of the case or of a particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to be appealable.
No appeal shall be taken from:
xxx
(c) An interlocutory order.
xxx
In all the above instances where the judgment or final order is not appealable, the aggrieved party may file an
appropriate special civil action under Rule 65.
Under these terms and taking into account the previous discussion of the nature of the various parts of the Order of
April 3, 2002, the lower court's determination of the special administrator's commission is clearly appealable while the
auditor's appointment is not. The latter, under the express terms of the above provision, can be the subject of an
"appropriate special civil action under Rule 65."
Rulings abound on when an appeal or a petition for certiorari is the appropriate recourse to take from a lower court
ruling.14 The twist in the present case is that the losing party took two available recourses from the same Order of the
lower court: an appeal was made with respect to that portion of the Order that is final in character, and a petition for
certiorari was taken against the portion that, again by its nature, is interlocutory. It was under these circumstances

that the petitioner posited that forum shopping had been committed as the respondents should have simply appealed,
citing the interlocutory aspect as an error in the appeal of the final aspect of the Order of April 3, 2002.
While the petitioner's position may be legally correct as a general rule, it is not true in the present case considering
the unique nature of the case that gave rise to the present petition. The petitioner is the special administrator in a
settlement of estate, a special proceeding governed by Rule 72 to 109 of the Revised Rules of Court. Section 1, Rule
109 in part states:
Section 1. Orders or judgments from which appeals may be taken. - An interested person may appeal in
special proceedings from an order or judgment rendered by a Court of First Instance or a Juvenile Domestic
Relations Court, where such order or judgment:
xxxxxxxxx
(c) allows or disallows, in whole or in part, any claim against the estate of a deceased person, or any claim
presented on behalf of the estate in offset to a claim against it;
(d) settles the account of an executor, administrator, trustee or guardian;
(e) constitutes, in the proceedings relating to the settlement of the estate of a deceased person x x x a final
determination in the lower court of the rights of the party appealing, except that no appeal shall be allowed
from the appointment of a special administrator.
The rationale behind allowing more than one appeal in the same case is to enable the rest of the case to proceed in
the event that a separate and distinct issue is resolved by the court and held to be final. 15 In this multi-appeal mode,
the probate court loses jurisdiction only over the subject matter of the appeal but retains jurisdiction over the special
proceeding from which the appeal was taken for purposes of further remedies the parties may avail of. 16
Where multi-appeals are allowed, we see no reason why a separate petition for certiorari cannot be allowed on an
interlocutory aspect of the case that is separate and distinct as an issue from the aspect of the case that has been
adjudged with finality by the lower court. To reiterate, the matter appealed matter was the special administrator's
commission, a charge that is effectively a claim against the estate under administration, while the matter covered by
the petition for certiorari was the appointment of an auditor who would pass upon the special administrator's final
account. By their respective natures, these matters can exist independently of one another and can proceed
separately as envisioned by the Rules under Rule 109.
The Forum Shopping Issue
Forum shopping is the act of a litigant who "repetitively availed of several judicial remedies in different courts,
simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and
circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues either pending in or already resolved adversely by some
other court to increase his chances of obtaining a favorable decision if not in one court, then in another."17 It is
directly addressed and prohibited under Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and is signaled by the
presence of the following requisites: (1) identity of parties, or at least such parties who represent the same interests
in both actions, (2) identity of the rights asserted and the relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts,
and (3) identity of the two preceding particulars such that any judgment rendered in the pending case, regardless of
which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other. 18 In simpler terms, the test to determine whether
a party has violated the rule against forum shopping is where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a
final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other.19
We see no forum shopping after considering these standards as neither litis pendentia nor res judicata would result in
one case from a ruling in the other, notwithstanding that the appeal that subsequently became the subject of CA-G.R.
SP No. 71844 and the petition for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No. 70439 both stemmed from the trial court's Order dated
April 3, 2002. The simple reason - as already discussed above - is that the petition and the appeal involve two
different and distinct issues so that a ruling in either one will not affect the other.
Forum shopping is further negated when the nature of, and the developments in, the proceedings are taken into
account - i.e., an estate proceedings where the Rules expressly allow separate appeals and where the respondents
have meticulously distinguished what aspect of the RTC's single Order could be appealed and what could not. Thus,
the petitioner cannot take comfort in the cases it cited relating to forum shopping; these cases, correct and proper in
their own factual settings, simply do not apply to the attendant circumstances and special nature of the present case
where the issues, although pertaining to the same settlement of estate proceedings and although covered by the
same court order, differ in substance and in stage of finality and can be treated independently of one another for the
purposes of appellate review.
Did the Court of Appeals err in refusing to resolve the issue of forum shopping?
Given our above discussion and conclusions, we do not see forum shopping as an issue that would have made a
difference in the appellate court's ruling. Nor is it an issue that the appellate court should, by law, have fully ruled
upon on the merits. We agree with the respondent that the appellate court is not required "to resolve every
contention and issue raised by a party if it believes it is not necessary to do so to decide the case." 20
The reality though is that the appellate court did rule on the issue when it stated that "it becomes unnecessary to
discuss whether the latter engaged in forum shopping. Apparently, the issue on forum shopping was also raised in CA-

G.R. SP No. 70349 and private respondent can again raise the same in the appeal from the order dated April 3, 2002,
where the issue should be properly resolved."21 To the appellate court - faced with the task of ruling on a petition for
mandamus to compel the trial court to allow the respondents' appeal - forum shopping was not an issue material to
whether the trial court should or should not be compelled; what was material are the requisite filing of a notice of
appeal and record on appeal, and the question of whether these have been satisfied. We cannot find fault with this
reasoning as the forum shopping issue - i.e., whether there was abuse of court processes in the respondents' use of
two recourses to assail the same trial court order - has specific pertinence and relevance in the sufficiency and merits
of the recourses the respondents took.
In sum, we hold that the Court of Appeals did not err in refusing to resolve forum shopping as an issue in its Decision
in CA-G.R. SP No. 71844.
WHEREFORE, we hereby DENY the petition and, accordingly, AFFIRM the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated
February 11, 2003 in CA-G.R. SP No. 71844. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Rule 87
G.R. No. 143365

December 4, 2008

GENEROSO SALIGUMBA, ERNESTO SALIGUMBA, and HEIRS OF SPOUSES VALERIA SALIGUMBA AND
ELISEO SALIGUMBA, SR., petitioners,
vs.
MONICA PALANOG, respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition for review of the Decision dated 24 May 2000 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Kalibo, Aklan
(RTC-Branch 5) in Civil Case No. 5288 for Revival of Judgment. The case is an offshoot of the action for Quieting of
Title with Damages in Civil Case No. 2570.
The Facts
Monica Palanog, assisted by her husband Avelino Palanog (spouses Palanogs), filed a complaint dated 28 February
1977 for Quieting of Title with Damages against defendants, spouses Valeria Saligumba and Eliseo Saligumba, Sr.
(spouses Saligumbas), before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 3, Kalibo, Aklan (RTC-Branch 3). The case was
docketed as Civil Case No. 2570. In the complaint, spouses Palanogs alleged that they have been in actual, open,
adverse and continuous possession as owners for more than 50 years of a parcel of land located in Solido, Nabas,
Aklan. The spouses Saligumbas allegedly prevented them from entering and residing on the subject premises and had
destroyed the barbed wires enclosing the land. Spouses Palanogs prayed that they be declared the true and rightful
owners of the land in question.
When the case was called for pre-trial on 22 September 1977, Atty. Edilberto Miralles (Atty. Miralles), counsel for
spouses Saligumbas, verbally moved for the appointment of a commissioner to delimit the land in question. Rizalino
Go, Deputy Sheriff of Aklan, was appointed commissioner and was directed to submit his report and sketch within 30
days.1 Present during the delimitation were spouses Palanogs, spouses Saligumbas, and Ernesto Saligumba, son of
spouses Saligumbas.2
After submission of the Commissioners Report, spouses Palanogs, upon motion, were granted 10 days to amend their
complaint to conform with the items mentioned in the report. 3
Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued. At the hearing on 1 June 1984, only the counsel for spouses Palanogs
appeared. The trial court issued an order resetting the hearing to 15 August 1984 and likewise directed spouses
Saligumbas to secure the services of another counsel who should be ready on that date. 4 The order sent to Eliseo
Saligumba, Sr. was returned to the court unserved with the notation "PartyDeceased" while the order sent to
defendant Valeria Saligumba was returned with the notation "Party in Manila."5
At the hearing on 15 August 1984, spouses Palanogs direct examination was suspended and the continuation of the
hearing was set on 25 October 1984. The trial court stated that Atty. Miralles, who had not withdrawn as counsel for
spouses Saligumbas despite his appointment as Municipal Circuit Trial Court judge, would be held responsible for the
case of spouses Saligumbas until he formally withdrew as counsel. The trial court reminded Atty. Miralles to secure
the consent of spouses Saligumbas for his withdrawal.6 A copy of this order was sent to Valeria Saligumba but the
same was returned unserved with the notation "Party in Manila."7
The hearing set on 25 October 1984 was reset to 25 January 1985 and the trial court directed that a copy of this order
be sent to Eliseo Saligumba, Jr. at COA, PNB, Manila.8

The presentation of evidence for spouses Palanogs resumed on 25 January 1985 despite the motion of Atty. Miralles
for postponement on the ground that his client was sick. The exhibits were admitted and plaintiffs spouses Palanogs
rested their case. Reception of evidence for the defendants spouses Saligumbas was scheduled on 3, 4, and 5 June
1985.9
On 3 June 1985, only spouses Palanogs and counsel appeared. Upon motion of the spouses Palanogs, spouses
Saligumbas were deemed to have waived the presentation of their evidence.
On 3 August 1987, after a lapse of more than two years, the trial court considered the case submitted for decision.
On 7 August 1987, RTC-Branch 3 rendered a judgment in Civil Case No. 2570 declaring spouses Palanogs the lawful
owners of the subject land and ordering spouses Saligumbas, their agents, representatives and all persons acting in
privity with them to vacate the premises and restore possession to spouses Palanogs.
The trial court, in a separate Order dated 7 August 1987, directed that a copy of the courts decision be furnished
plaintiff Monica Palanog and defendant Valeria Saligumba.
Thereafter, a motion for the issuance of a writ of execution of the said decision was filed but the trial court, in its
Order dated 8 May 1997, ruled that since more than five years had elapsed after the date of its finality, the decision
could no longer be executed by mere motion.
Thus, on 9 May 1997, Monica Palanog (respondent), now a widow, filed a Complaint seeking to revive and enforce the
Decision dated 7 August 1987 in Civil Case No. 2570 which she claimed has not been barred by the statute of
limitations. She impleaded petitioners Generoso Saligumba and Ernesto Saligumba, the heirs and children of the
spouses Saligumbas, as defendants. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 5288 before the RTC-Branch 5.
Petitioner Generoso Saligumba, for himself and in representation of his brother Ernesto who was out of the country
working as a seaman, engaged the services of the Public Attorneys Office, Kalibo, Aklan which filed a motion for time
to allow them to file a responsive pleading. Petitioner Generoso Saligumba filed his Answer10 alleging that: (1)
respondent had no cause of action; (2) the spouses Saligumbas died while Civil Case No. 2570 was pending and no
order of substitution was issued and hence, the trial was null and void; and (3) the court did not acquire jurisdiction
over the heirs of the spouses Saligumbas and therefore, the judgment was not binding on them.
Meanwhile, on 19 December 1997, the trial court granted respondents motion to implead additional defendants
namely, Eliseo Saligumba, Jr. and Eduardo Saligumba, who are also the heirs and children of spouses Saligumbas. 11
They were, however, declared in default on 1 October 1999 for failure to file any responsive pleading. 12
The Trial Courts Ruling
On 24 May 2000, the RTC-Branch 5 rendered a decision in favor of respondent ordering the revival of judgment in
Civil Case No. 2570. The trial court ruled that the non-substitution of the deceased spouses did not have any legal
significance. The land subject of Civil Case No. 2570 was the exclusive property of defendant Valeria Saligumba who
inherited the same from her deceased parents. The death of her husband, Eliseo Saligumba, Sr., did not change the
complexion of the ownership of the property that would require his substitution. The spouses Saligumbas children,
who are the petitioners in this case, had no right to the property while Valeria Saligumba was still alive. The trial court
further found that when defendant Valeria Saligumba died, her lawyer, Atty. Miralles, did not inform the court of the
death of his client. The trial court thus ruled that the non-substitution of the deceased defendant was solely due to the
negligence of counsel. Moreover, petitioner Ernesto Saligumba could not feign ignorance of Civil Case No. 2570 as he
was present during the delimitation of the subject land. The trial court likewise held that the decision in Civil Case No.
2570 could not be the subject of a collateral attack. There must be a direct action for the annulment of the said
decision.
Petitioners elevated the matter directly to this Court. Hence, the present petition.
The Courts Ruling
The instant case is an action for revival of judgment and the judgment sought to be revived in this case is the decision
in the action for quieting of title with damages in Civil Case No. 2570. This is not one for annulment of judgment.
An action for revival of judgment is no more than a procedural means of securing the execution of a previous
judgment which has become dormant after the passage of five years without it being executed upon motion of the
prevailing party. It is not intended to re-open any issue affecting the merits of the judgment debtors case nor the
propriety or correctness of the first judgment.13 An action for revival of judgment is a new and independent action,
different and distinct from either the recovery of property case or the reconstitution case, wherein the cause of action
is the decision itself and not the merits of the action upon which the judgment sought to be enforced is rendered. 14
Revival of judgment is premised on the assumption that the decision to be revived, either by motion or by
independent action, is already final and executory. 15
The RTC-Branch 3 Decision dated 7 August 1987 in Civil Case No. 2570 had been rendered final and executory by the
lapse of time with no motion for reconsideration nor appeal having been filed. While it may be true that the judgment
in Civil Case No. 2570 may be revived and its execution may be had, the issue now before us is whether or not
execution of judgment can be issued against petitioners who claim that they are not bound by the RTC-Branch 3
Decision dated 7 August 1987 in Civil Case No. 2570.

Petitioners contend that the RTC-Branch 3 Decision of 7 August 1987 in Civil Case No. 2570 is null and void since
there was no proper substitution of the deceased spouses Saligumbas despite the trial courts knowledge that the
deceased spouses Saligumbas were no longer represented by counsel. They argue that they were deprived of due
process and justice was not duly served on them.
Petitioners argue that the trial court even acknowledged the fact of death of spouses Saligumbas but justified the
validity of the decision rendered in that case despite lack of substitution because of the negligence or fault of their
counsel. Petitioners contend that the duty of counsel for the deceased spouses Saligumbas to inform the court of the
death of his clients and to furnish the name and address of the executor, administrator, heir or legal representative of
the decedent under Rule 3 presupposes adequate or active representation by counsel. However, the relation of
attorney and client was already terminated by the appointment of counsel on record, Atty. Miralles, as Municipal
Circuit Trial Court judge even before the deaths of the spouses Saligumbas were known. Petitioners invoke the Order
of 1 June 1984 directing the spouses Saligumbas to secure the services of another lawyer to replace Atty. Miralles.
The registered mail containing that order was returned to the trial court with the notation that Eliseo Saligumba, Sr.
was "deceased." Petitioners thus question the decision in Civil Case No. 2570 as being void and of no legal effect
because their parents were not duly represented by counsel of record. Petitioners further argue that they have never
taken part in the proceedings in Civil Case No. 2570 nor did they voluntarily appear or participate in the case. It is
unfair to bind them in a decision rendered against their deceased parents. Therefore, being a void judgment, it has no
legal nor binding effect on petitioners.
Civil Case No. 2570 is an action for quieting of title with damages which is an action involving real property. It is an
action that survives pursuant to Section 1, Rule 8716 as the claim is not extinguished by the death of a party. And
when a party dies in an action that survives, Section 17 of Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court17 provides for the
procedure, thus:
Section 17. Death of Party. - After a party dies and the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall
order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the deceased to appear and to be substituted for the
deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days, or within such time as may be granted. If the legal
representative fails to appear within said time, the court may order the opposing party to procure the
appointment of a legal representative of the deceased within a time to be specified by the court, and the
representative shall immediately appear for and on behalf of the interest of the deceased. The court charges
involved in procuring such appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as costs. The
heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased, without requiring the appointment of
an executor or administrator and the court may appoint guardian ad litem for the minor heirs. (Emphasis
supplied)
Under the express terms of Section 17, in case of death of a party, and upon proper notice, it is the duty of the court
to order the legal representative or heir of the deceased to appear for the deceased. In the instant case, it is true that
the trial court, after receiving an informal notice of death by the mere notation in the envelopes, failed to order the
appearance of the legal representative or heir of the deceased. There was no court order for deceaseds legal
representative or heir to appear, nor did any such legal representative ever appear in court to be substituted for the
deceased. Neither did the respondent ever procure the appointment of such legal representative, nor did the heirs
ever ask to be substituted.
It appears that Eliseo Saligumba, Sr. died on 18 February 1984 while Valeria Saligumba died on 2 February 1985. No
motion for the substitution of the spouses was filed nor an order issued for the substitution of the deceased spouses
Saligumbas in Civil Case No. 2570. Atty. Miralles and petitioner Eliseo Saligumba, Jr., despite notices sent to them to
appear, never confirmed the death of Eliseo Saligumba, Sr. and Valeria Saligumba. The record is bereft of any
evidence proving the death of the spouses, except the mere notations in the envelopes enclosing the trial courts
orders which were returned unserved.
Section 17 is explicit that the duty of the court to order the legal representative or heir to appear arises only "upon
proper notice." The notation "Party-Deceased" on the unserved notices could not be the "proper notice" contemplated
by the rule. As the trial court could not be expected to know or take judicial notice of the death of a party without the
proper manifestation from counsel, the trial court was well within its jurisdiction to proceed as it did with the case.
Moreover, there is no showing that the courts proceedings were tainted with irregularities. 18
Likewise, the plaintiff or his attorney or representative could not be expected to know of the death of the defendant if
the attorney for the deceased defendant did not notify the plaintiff or his attorney of such death as required by the
rules.19 The judge cannot be blamed for sending copies of the orders and notices to defendants spouses in the
absence of proof of death or manifestation to that effect from counsel. 20
Section 16, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court likewise expressly provides:
SEC. 16. Duty of attorney upon death, incapacity or incompetency of party. - Whenever a party to a pending
case dies, becomes incapacitated or incompetent, it shall be the duty of his attorney to inform the court
promptly of such death, incapacity or incompetency, and to give the name and residence of his executor,
administrator, guardian or other legal representative.
It is the duty of counsel for the deceased to inform the court of the death of his client. The failure of counsel to
comply with his duty under Section 16 to
inform the court of the death of his client and the non-substitution of such party will not invalidate the proceedings
and the judgment thereon if the action survives the death of such party. The decision rendered shall bind the partys
successor-in-interest.21

The rules operate on the presumption that the attorney for the deceased party is in a better position than the attorney
for the adverse party to know about the death of his client and to inform the court of the name and address of his
legal representative.22
Atty. Miralles continued to represent the deceased spouses even after the latters demise. Acting on their behalf, Atty.
Miralles even asked for postponement of the hearings and did not even confirm the death of his clients nor his
appointment as Municipal Circuit Trial Court judge. These clearly negate petitioners contention that Atty. Miralles
ceased to be spouses Saligumbas counsel.
Atty. Miralles still remained the counsel of the spouses Saligumbas despite the alleged appointment as judge. Records
show that when Civil Case No. 2570 was called for trial on 25 October 1984, Atty. Miralles appeared and moved for a
postponement. The 25 October 1984 Order reads:
ORDER
Upon petition of Judge Miralles who is still the counsel on record of this case and who is held responsible for
anything that will happen in this case, postpone the hearing of this case to JANUARY 25, 1985 AT 8:30 in the
morning. x x x23
The trial court issued an Order dated 1 June 1984 directing the defendants to secure the services of another counsel.
This order was sent to Eliseo Saligumba, Sr. by registered mail but the same was returned with the notation "PartyDeceased" while the notice to Valeria Saligumba was returned with the notation "Party in Manila."24 Eliseo Saligumba,
Sr. died on 18 February 1984. When Atty. Miralles appeared in court on 25 October 1984, he did not affirm nor inform
the court of the death of his client. There was no formal substitution. The trial court issued an order resetting the
hearing to 25 January 1985 and directed that a copy of the order be furnished petitioner Eliseo Saligumba, Jr. at COA,
PNB, Manila by registered mail.25 When the case was called on 25 January 1985, Atty. Miralles sought for another
postponement on the ground that his client was sick and under medical treatment in Manila.26 Again, there was no
manifestation from counsel about the death of Eliseo Saligumba, Sr. The trial court issued an Order dated 25 January
1985 setting the reception of evidence for the defendants on 3, 4, and 5 June 1985. A copy of this order was sent to
Eliseo Saligumba, Jr. by registered mail. Nonetheless, as the trial court in Civil Case No. 5288 declared, the nonsubstitution of Eliseo Saligumba, Sr. did not have any legal significance as the land subject of Civil Case No. 2570 was
the exclusive property of Valeria Saligumba who inherited it from her deceased parents.
This notwithstanding, when Valeria Saligumba died on 2 February 1985, Atty. Miralles again did not inform the trial
court of the death of Valeria Saligumba. There was no formal substitution nor submission of proof of death of Valeria
Saligumba. Atty. Miralles was remiss in his duty under Section 16, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court. The counsel
of record is obligated to protect his clients interest until he is released from his professional relationship with his
client. For its part, the court could recognize no other representation on behalf of the client except such counsel of
record until a formal substitution of attorney is effected. 27
An attorney must make an application to the court to withdraw as counsel, for the relation does not terminate
formally until there is a withdrawal of record; at least, so far as the opposite party is concerned, the relation otherwise
continues until the end of the litigation.28 Unless properly relieved, the counsel is responsible for the conduct of the
case.29 Until his withdrawal shall have been approved, the lawyer remains counsel of record who is expected by his
client as well as by the court to do what the interests of his client require. He must still appear on the date of hearing
for the attorney-client relation does not terminate formally until there is a withdrawal of record.30
Petitioners should have questioned immediately the validity of the proceedings absent any formal substitution. Yet,
despite the courts alleged lack of jurisdiction over the persons of petitioners, petitioners never bothered to challenge
the same, and in fact allowed the proceedings to go on until the trial court rendered its decision. There was no motion
for reconsideration, appeal or even an action to annul the judgment in Civil Case No. 2570. Petitioners themselves
could not feign ignorance of the case since during the pendency of Civil Case No. 2570, petitioner Ernesto Saligumba,
son of the deceased spouses, was among the persons present during the delimitation of the land in question before
the Commissioner held on 5 November 1977.31 Petitioner Eliseo Saligumba, Jr. was likewise furnished a copy of the
trial courts orders and notices. It was only the Answer filed by petitioner Generoso Saligumba in Civil Case No. 5288
that confirmed the dates when the spouses Saligumbas died and named the latters children. Consequently, Atty.
Miralles was responsible for the conduct of the case since he had not been properly relieved as counsel of record. His
acts bind his clients and the latters successors-in-interest.
In the present case for revival of judgment, the other petitioners have not shown much interest in the case.
Petitioners Eliseo Saligumba, Jr. and Eduardo Saligumba were declared in default for failure to file their answer.
Petitioner Ernesto Saligumba was out of the country working as a seaman. Only petitioner Generoso Saligumba filed
an Answer to the complaint. The petition filed in this Court was signed only by petitioner Generoso Saligumba as
someone signed on behalf of petitioner Ernesto Saligumba without the latters authority to do so.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 24 May 2000 of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 5, Kalibo, Aklan in Civil Case No. 5288. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 175910

July 30, 2009

ATTY. ROGELIO E. SARSABA, Petitioner,


vs.
FE VDA. DE TE, represented by her Attorney-in-Fact, FAUSTINO CASTAEDA, Respondents.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari1 with prayer for preliminary injunction assailing the Order2 dated March
22, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 19, Digos City, Davao del Sur, in Civil Case No. 3488.
The facts, as culled from the records, follow.
On February 14, 1995, a Decision was rendered in NLRC Case No. RAB-11-07-00608-93 entitled, Patricio Sereno v.
Teodoro Gasing/Truck Operator, finding Sereno to have been illegally dismissed and ordering Gasing to pay him his
monetary claims in the amount of P43,606.47. After the Writ of Execution was returned unsatisfied, Labor Arbiter
Newton R. Sancho issued an Alias Writ of Execution3 on June 10, 1996, directing Fulgencio R. Lavarez, Sheriff II of the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), to satisfy the judgment award. On July 23, 1996, Lavarez, accompanied
by Sereno and his counsel, petitioner Atty. Rogelio E. Sarsaba, levied a Fuso Truck bearing License Plate No. LBR-514,
which at that time was in the possession of Gasing. On July 30, 1996, the truck was sold at public auction, with
Sereno appearing as the highest bidder.4
Meanwhile, respondent Fe Vda. de Te, represented by her attorney-in-fact, Faustino Castaeda, filed with the RTC,
Branch 18, Digos, Davao del Sur, a Complaint5 for recovery of motor vehicle, damages with prayer for the delivery of
the truck pendente lite against petitioner, Sereno, Lavarez and the NLRC of Davao City, docketed as Civil Case No.
3488.
Respondent alleged that: (1) she is the wife of the late Pedro Te, the registered owner of the truck, as evidenced by
the Official Receipt6 and Certificate of Registration;7 (2) Gasing merely rented the truck from her; (3) Lavarez
erroneously assumed that Gasing owned the truck because he was, at the time of the "taking," 8 in possession of the
same; and (4) since neither she nor her husband were parties to the labor case between Sereno and Gasing, she
should not be made to answer for the judgment award, much less be deprived of the truck as a consequence of the
levy in execution.
Petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss9 on the following grounds: (1) respondent has no legal personality to sue, having
no real interests over the property subject of the instant complaint; (2) the allegations in the complaint do not
sufficiently state that the respondent has cause of action; (3) the allegations in the complaint do not contain sufficient
cause of action as against him; and (4) the complaint is not accompanied by an Affidavit of Merit and Bond that would
entitle the respondent to the delivery of the tuck pendente lite.
The NLRC also filed a Motion to Dismiss10 on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and lack of cause of action.
Meanwhile, Lavarez filed an Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim and Third-Party Complaint.11 By way of special and
affirmative defenses, he asserted that the RTC does not have jurisdiction over the subject matter and that the
complaint does not state a cause of action.
On January 21, 2000, the RTC issued an Order12 denying petitioner's Motion to Dismiss for lack of merit.
In his Answer,13 petitioner denied the material allegations in the complaint. Specifically, he cited as affirmative
defenses that: respondent had no legal personality to sue, as she had no interest over the motor vehicle; that there
was no showing that the heirs have filed an intestate estate proceedings of the estate of Pedro Te, or that respondent
was duly authorized by her co-heirs to file the case; and that the truck was already sold to Gasing on March 11, 1986
by one Jesus Matias, who bought the same from the Spouses Te. Corollarily, Gasing was already the lawful owner of
the truck when it was levied on execution and, later on, sold at public auction.
Incidentally, Lavarez filed a Motion for Inhibition,14 which was opposed15 by respondent.
On October 13, 2000, RTC Branch 18 issued an Order16 of inhibition and directed the transfer of the records to Branch
19. RTC Branch 19, however, returned the records back to Branch 18 in view of the appointment of a new judge in
place of Judge-designate Rodolfo A. Escovilla. Yet, Branch 19 issued another Order 17 dated November 22, 2000
retaining the case in said branch.
Eventually, the RTC issued an Order18 dated May 19, 2003 denying the separate motions to dismiss filed by the NLRC
and Lavarez, and setting the Pre-Trial Conference on July 25, 2003.
On October 17, 2005, petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss the Case on the following grounds: 19 (1) lack of
jurisdiction over one of the principal defendants; and (2) to discharge respondent's attorney-in-fact for lack of legal
personality to sue.
It appeared that the respondent, Fe Vda. de Te, died on April 12, 2005. 20

Respondent, through her lawyer, Atty. William G. Carpentero, filed an Opposition, 21 contending that the failure to
serve summons upon Sereno is not a ground for dismissing the complaint, because the other defendants have already
submitted their respective responsive pleadings. He also contended that the defendants, including herein petitioner,
had previously filed separate motions to dismiss the complaint, which the RTC denied for lack of merit. Moreover,
respondent's death did not render functus officio her right to sue since her attorney-in-fact, Faustino Castaeda, had
long testified on the complaint on March 13, 1998 for and on her behalf and, accordingly, submitted documentary
exhibits in support of the complaint.
On March 22, 2006, the RTC issued the assailed Order22 denying petitioner's aforesaid motion.
Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Inhibition,23 in which he claimed that the judge who
issued the Order was biased and partial. He went on to state that the judge's husband was the defendant in a petition
for judicial recognition of which he was the counsel, docketed as Civil Case No. C-XXI-100, before the RTC, Branch 21,
Bansalan, Davao del Sur. Thus, propriety dictates that the judge should inhibit herself from the case.
Acting on the motion for inhibition, Judge Carmelita Sarno-Davin granted the same24 and ordered that the case be reraffled to Branch 18. Eventually, the said RTC issued an Order25 on October 16, 2006 denying petitioner's motion for
reconsideration for lack of merit.
Hence, petitioner directly sought recourse from the Court via the present petition involving pure questions of law,
which he claimed were resolved by the RTC contrary to law, rules and existing jurisprudence.26
There is a "question of law" when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on certain state of facts, and
which does not call for an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the parties-litigants. On
the other hand, there is a "question of fact" when the doubt or controversy arises as to the truth or falsity of the
alleged facts. Simply put, when there is no dispute as to fact, the question of whether or not the conclusion drawn
therefrom is correct, is a question of law.27
Verily, the issues raised by herein petitioner are "questions of law," as their resolution rest solely on what the law
provides given the set of circumstances availing. The first issue involves the jurisdiction of the court over the person
of one of the defendants, who was not served with summons on account of his death. The second issue, on the other
hand, pertains to the legal effect of death of the plaintiff during the pendency of the case.
At first brush, it may appear that since pure questions of law were raised, petitioner's resort to this Court was justified
and the resolution of the aforementioned issues will necessarily follow. However, a perusal of the petition requires that
certain procedural issues must initially be resolved before We delve into the merits of the case.
Notably, the petition was filed directly from the RTC which issued the Order in the exercise of its original jurisdiction.
The question before Us then is: whether or not petitioner correctly availed of the mode of appeal under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court.
Significantly, the rule on appeals is outlined below, to wit:28
(1) In all cases decided by the RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, appeal may be made to
the Court of Appeals by mere notice of appeal where the appellant raises questions of fact or mixed questions
of fact and law;
(2) In all cases decided by the RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction where the appellant
raises only questions of law, the appeal must be taken to the Supreme Court on a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45.
(3) All appeals from judgments rendered by the RTC in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, regardless of
whether the appellant raises questions of fact, questions of law, or mixed questions of fact and law, shall be
brought to the Court of Appeals by filing a petition for review under Rule 42.
Accordingly, an appeal may be taken from the RTC which exercised its original jurisdiction, before the Court of
Appeals or directly before this Court, provided that the subject of the same is a judgment or final order that
completely disposes of the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by the Rules to be appealable. 29 The
first mode of appeal, to be filed before the Court of Appeals, pertains to a writ of error under Section 2(a), Rule 41 of
the Rules of Court, if questions of fact or questions of fact and law are raised or involved. On the other hand, the
second mode is by way of an appeal by certiorari before the Supreme Court under Section 2(c), Rule 41, in relation to
Rule 45, where only questions of law are raised or involved.30
An order or judgment of the RTC is deemed final when it finally disposes of a pending action, so that nothing more
can be done with it in the trial court. In other words, the order or judgment ends the litigation in the lower court.31 On
the other hand, an order which does not dispose of the case completely and indicates that other things remain to be
done by the court as regards the merits, is interlocutory. Interlocutory refers to something between the
commencement and the end of the suit which decides some point or matter, but is not a final decision on the whole
controversy.32
The subject of the present petition is an Order of the RTC, which denied petitioner's Omnibus Motion to Dismiss, for
lack of merit.

We have said time and again that an order denying a motion to dismiss is interlocutory.33 Under Section 1(c), Rule 41
of the Rules of Court, an interlocutory order is not appealable. As a remedy for the denial, a party has to file an
answer and interpose as a defense the objections raised in the motion, and then to proceed to trial; or, a party may
immediately avail of the remedy available to the aggrieved party by filing an appropriate special civil action for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court. Let it be stressed though that a petition for certiorari is
appropriate only when an order has been issued without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
Based on the foregoing, the Order of the RTC denying petitioner's Omnibus Motion to Dismiss is not appealable even
on pure questions of law. It is worth mentioning that the proper procedure in this case, as enunciated by this Court, is
to cite such interlocutory order as an error in the appeal of the case -- in the event that the RTC rules in favor of
respondent -- and not to appeal such interlocutory order. On the other hand, if the petition is to be treated as a
petition for review under Rule 45, it would likewise fail because the proper subject would only be judgments or final
orders that completely dispose of the case.34
Not being a proper subject of an appeal, the Order of the RTC is considered interlocutory. Petitioner should have
proceeded with the trial of the case and, should the RTC eventually render an unfavorable verdict, petitioner should
assail the said Order as part of an appeal that may be taken from the final judgment to be rendered in this case. Such
rule is founded on considerations of orderly procedure, to forestall useless appeals and avoid
undue inconvenience to the appealing party by having to assail orders as they are promulgated by the court, when all
such orders may be contested in a single appeal.
In one case,35 the Court adverted to the hazards of interlocutory appeals:
It is axiomatic that an interlocutory order cannot be challenged by an appeal. Thus, it has been held that "the proper
remedy in such cases is an ordinary appeal from an adverse judgment on the merits, incorporating in said appeal the
grounds for assailing the interlocutory order. Allowing appeals from interlocutory orders would result in the `sorry
spectacle of a case being subject of a counterproductive ping-pong to and from the appellate court as often as a trial
court is perceived to have made an error in any of its interlocutory rulings. x x x.
Another recognized reason of the law in permitting appeal only from a final order or judgment, and not from an
interlocutory or incidental one, is to avoid multiplicity of appeals in a single action, which must necessarily suspend
the hearing and decision on the merits of the case during the pendency of the appeal. If such appeal were allowed,
trial on the merits of the case would necessarily be delayed for a considerable length of time and compel the adverse
party to incur unnecessary expenses, for one of the parties may interpose as many appeals as incidental questions
may be raised by him, and interlocutory orders rendered or issued by the lower court. 36
And, even if We treat the petition to have been filed under Rule 65, the same is still dismissible for violating the
principle on hierarchy of courts. Generally, a direct resort to us in a petition for certiorari is highly improper, for it
violates the established policy of strict observance of the judicial hierarchy of courts. 37 This principle, as a rule,
requires that recourse must first be made to the lower-ranked court exercising concurrent jurisdiction with a higher
court. However, the judicial hierarchy of courts is not an iron-clad rule. A strict application of the rule is not necessary
when cases brought before the appellate courts do not involve factual but legal questions. 38
In the present case, petitioner submits pure questions of law involving the effect of non-service of summons following
the death of the person to whom it should be served, and the effect of the death of the complainant during the
pendency of the case. We deem it best to rule on these issues, not only for the benefit of the bench and bar, but in
order to prevent further delay in the trial of the case. Resultantly, our relaxation of the policy of strict observance of
the judicial hierarchy of courts is warranted.
Anent the first issue, petitioner argues that, since Sereno died before summons was served on him, the RTC should
have dismissed the complaint against all the defendants and that the same should be filed against his estate.
The Sheriff's Return of Service39 dated May 19, 1997 states that Sereno could not be served with copy of the
summons, together with a copy of the complaint, because he was already dead.
In view of Sereno's death, petitioner asks that the complaint should be dismissed, not only against Sereno, but as to
all the defendants, considering that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over the person of Sereno.1avvph!1
Jurisdiction over a party is acquired by service of summons by the sheriff, his deputy or other proper court officer,
either personally by handing a copy thereof to the defendant or by substituted service.40 On the other
hand, summons is a writ by which the defendant is notified of the action brought against him. Service of such writ is
the means by which the court may acquire jurisdiction over his person. 41
Records show that petitioner had filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds of lack of legal personality of respondent;
the allegations in the complaint did not sufficiently state that respondent has a cause of action or a cause of action
against the defendants; and, the complaint was not accompanied by an affidavit of merit and bond. The RTC denied
the motion and held therein that, on the basis of the allegations of fact in the complaint, it can render a valid
judgment. Petitioner, subsequently, filed his answer by denying all the material allegations of the complaint. And by
way of special and affirmative defenses, he reiterated that respondent had no legal personality to sue as she had no
real interest over the property and that while the truck was still registered in Pedro Te's name, the same was already
sold to Gasing.

Significantly, a motion to dismiss may be filed within the time for but before the filing of an answer to the complaint
or pleading asserting a claim.42 Among the grounds mentioned is the court's lack of jurisdiction over the person of the
defending party.
As a rule, all defenses and objections not pleaded, either in a motion to dismiss or in an answer, are deemed
waived.43 The exceptions to this rule are: (1) when the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) when
there is another action pending between the parties for the same cause, or (3) when the action is barred by prior
judgment or by statute of limitations, in which cases, the court may dismiss the claim.
In the case before Us, petitioner raises the issue of lack of jurisdiction over the person of Sereno, not in his Motion to
Dismiss or in his Answer but only in his Omnibus Motion to Dismiss. Having failed to invoke this ground at the proper
time, that is, in a motion to dismiss, petitioner cannot raise it now for the first time on appeal.
In fine, We cannot countenance petitioner's argument that the complaint against the other defendants should have
been dismissed, considering that the RTC never acquired jurisdiction over the person of Sereno. The court's failure to
acquire jurisdiction over one's person is a defense which is personal to the person claiming it. Obviously, it is now
impossible for Sereno to invoke the same in view of his death. Neither can petitioner invoke such ground, on behalf of
Sereno, so as to reap the benefit of having the case dismissed against all of the defendants. Failure to serve summons
on Sereno's person will not be a cause for the dismissal of the complaint against the other defendants, considering
that they have been served with copies of the summons and complaints and have long submitted their respective
responsive pleadings. In fact, the other defendants in the complaint were given the chance to raise all possible
defenses and objections personal to them in their respective motions to dismiss and their subsequent answers.
We agree with the RTC in its Order when it resolved the issue in this wise:
As correctly pointed by defendants, the Honorable Court has not acquired jurisdiction over the person of Patricio
Sereno since there was indeed no valid service of summons insofar as Patricio Sereno is concerned. Patricio Sereno
died before the summons, together with a copy of the complaint and its annexes, could be served upon him.
However, the failure to effect service of summons unto Patricio Sereno, one of the defendants herein does not render
the action DISMISSIBLE, considering that the three (3) other defendants, namely, Atty. Rogelio E. Sarsaba, Fulgencio
Lavares and the NLRC, were validly served with summons and the case with respect to the answering defendants may
still proceed independently. Be it recalled that the three (3) answering defendants have previously filed a Motion to
Dismiss the Complaint which was denied by the Court.
Hence, only the case against Patricio Sereno will be DISMISSED and the same may be filed as a claim against the
estate of Patricio Sereno, but the case with respect to the three (3) other accused will proceed.
Anent the second issue, petitioner moves that respondent's attorney-in-fact, Faustino Castaeda, be discharged as he
has no more legal personality to sue on behalf of Fe Vda. de Te, who passed away on April 12, 2005, during the
pendency of the case before the RTC.
When a party to a pending action dies and the claim is not extinguished, the Rules of Court require a substitution of
the deceased.44 Section 1, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court enumerates the actions that survived and may be filed
against the decedent's representatives as follows: (1) actions to recover real or personal property or an interest
thereon, (2) actions to enforce liens thereon, and (3) actions to recover damages for an injury to a person or a
property. In such cases, a counsel is obliged to inform the court of the death of his client and give the name and
address of the latter's legal representative.45
The rule on substitution of parties is governed by Section 16,46 Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended.
Strictly speaking, the rule on substitution by heirs is not a matter of jurisdiction, but a requirement of due process.
The rule on substitution was crafted to protect every party's right to due process. It was designed to ensure that the
deceased party would continue to be properly represented in the suit through his heirs or the duly appointed legal
representative of his estate. Moreover, non-compliance with the Rules results in the denial of the right to due process
for the heirs who, though not duly notified of the proceedings, would be substantially affected by the decision
rendered therein. Thus, it is only when there is a denial of due process, as when the deceased is not represented by
any legal representative or heir, that the court nullifies the trial proceedings and the resulting judgment therein. 47
In the case before Us, it appears that respondent's counsel did not make any manifestation before the RTC as to her
death. In fact, he had actively participated in the proceedings. Neither had he shown any proof that he had been
retained by respondent's legal representative or any one who succeeded her.
However, such failure of counsel would not lead Us to invalidate the proceedings that have long taken place before the
RTC. The Court has repeatedly declared that failure of the counsel to comply with his duty to inform the court of the
death of his client, such that no substitution is effected, will not invalidate the proceedings and the judgment rendered
thereon if the action survives the death of such party. The trial court's jurisdiction over the case subsists despite the
death of the party.48
The purpose behind this rule is the protection of the right to due process of every party to the litigation who may be
affected by the intervening death. The deceased litigants are themselves protected as they continue to be properly
represented in the suit through the duly appointed legal representative of their estate. 49

Anent the claim of petitioner that the special power of attorney50 dated March 4, 1997 executed by respondent in
favor of Faustino has become functus officio and that the agency constituted between them has been extinguished
upon the death of respondent, corollarily, he had no more personality to appear and prosecute the case on her behalf.
Agency is extinguished by the death of the principal.51 The only exception where the agency shall remain in full force
and effect even after the death of the principal is when if it has been constituted in the common interest of the latter
and of the agent, or in the interest of a third person who has accepted the stipulation in his favor. 52
A perusal of the special power of attorney leads us to conclude that it was constituted for the benefit solely of the
principal or for respondent Fe Vda. de Te. Nowhere can we infer from the stipulations therein that it was created for
the common interest of respondent and her attorney-in-fact. Neither was there any mention that it was to benefit a
third person who has accepted the stipulation in his favor.
On this ground, We agree with petitioner. However, We do not believe that such ground would cause the dismissal of
the complaint. For as We have said, Civil Case No. 3488, which is an action for the recovery of a personal property, a
motor vehicle, is an action that survives pursuant to Section 1, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court. As such, it is not
extinguished by the death of a party.
In Gonzalez v. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation,53 We have laid down the criteria for determining
whether an action survives the death of a plaintiff or petitioner, to wit:
x x x The question as to whether an action survives or not depends on the nature of the action and the damage sued
for. If the causes of action which survive the wrong complained [of] affects primarily and principally property and
property rights, the injuries to the person being merely incidental, while in the causes of action which do not survive
the injury complained of is to the person the property and rights of property affected being incidental. x x x
Thus, the RTC aptly resolved the second issue with the following ratiocination:
While it may be true as alleged by defendants that with the death of Plaintiff, Fe Vda. de Te, the Special Power of
Attorney she executed empowering the Attorney-in-fact, Faustino Castaeda to sue in her behalf has been rendered
functus officio, however, this Court believes that the Attorney-in-fact had not lost his personality to prosecute this
case.
It bears stressing that when this case was initiated/filed by the Attorney-in-fact, the plaintiff was still very much alive.
Records reveal that the Attorney-in-fact has testified long before in behalf of the said plaintiff and more particularly
during the state when the plaintiff was vehemently opposing the dismissal of the complainant. Subsequently thereto,
he even offered documentary evidence in support of the complaint, and this court admitted the same. When this case
was initiated, jurisdiction was vested upon this Court to try and hear the same to the end. Well-settled is the rule to
the point of being elementary that once jurisdiction is acquired by this Court, it attaches until the case is decided.
Thus, the proper remedy here is the Substitution of Heirs and not the dismissal of this case which would work injustice
to the plaintiff.
SEC. 16, RULE 3 provides for the substitution of the plaintiff who dies pending hearing of the case by his/her legal
heirs. As to whether or not the heirs will still continue to engage the services of the Attorney-in-fact is another matter,
which lies within the sole discretion of the heirs.

In fine, We hold that the petition should be denied as the RTC Order is interlocutory; hence, not a proper subject of an
appeal before the Court. In the same breath, We also hold that, if the petition is to be treated as a petition for
certiorari as a relaxation of the judicial hierarchy of courts, the same is also dismissible for being substantially
insufficient to warrant the Court the nullification of the Order of the RTC.
Let this be an occasion for Us to reiterate that the rules are there to aid litigants in prosecuting or defending their
cases before the courts. However, these very rules should not be abused so as to advance one's personal purposes, to
the detriment of orderly administration of justice. We can surmise from the present case herein petitioner's
manipulation in order to circumvent the rule on modes of appeal and the hierarchy of courts so that the issues
presented herein could be settled without going through the established procedures. In Vergara, Sr. v. Suelto, 54 We
stressed that this should be the constant policy that must be observed strictly by the courts and lawyers, thus:
x x x. The Supreme Court is a court of last resort, and must so remain if it is to satisfactorily perform the functions
assigned to it by the fundamental charter and immemorial tradition. It cannot and should not be burdened with the
task of dealing with causes in the first instance. Its original jurisdiction to issue the so-called extraordinary writs
should be exercised only where absolutely necessary or where serious and important reasons exist therefor. Hence,
that jurisdiction should generally be exercised relative to actions or proceedings before the Court of Appeals, or before
constitutional or other tribunals, bodies or agencies whose acts for some reason or another are not controllable by the
Court of Appeals. Where the issuance of an extraordinary writ is also within the competence of the Court of Appeals or
a Regional Trial Court, it is in either of these courts that the specific action for the writs procurement must be
presented. This is and should continue to be the policy in this regard, a policy that courts and lawyers must strictly
observe.55WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is DENIED. The Order dated March 22, 2006 of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 19, Digos, Davao del Sur in Civil Case No. 3488, is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 72424 February 13, 1989


INTESTATE ESTATE OF CARMEN DE LUNA (deceased), CATALINA MORALES GONZALES, administratrixpetitioner,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ESPERANZA DE LUNA GONZALES AZUPARDO & ISIDORO DE LUNA
GONZALES, respondents.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
This is a petition to review the resolution of the Court of Appeals dated July 19, 1985.
On April 10, 1964, Jose de Luna Gonzales and former Judge Ramon Icasiano were appointed co-administrators of the
estate of Carmen de Luna in Special Proceedings Case No. 52196.
On March 3, 1968, Judge Icasiano died so Gonzales performed his duties as sole administrator of the estate.
On February 4, 1980, Gonzales through counsel filed a motion for allowances and payment of administrator's
commission in accordance with Section 7, Rule 85 of the Rules of Court leaving the matter to the discretion of the
court.
On February 13, 1980, the trial court issued an order requiring the administrator to define the fees he was
demanding, furnishing copies to all parties and their respective counsel who were then required to file their opposition
if any, within ten (10) days from receipt.
On February 23, 1980 Jose de Luna Gonzales died. His heirs filed in his behalf on March 10, 1980 an Urgent
Supplemental Motion for allowances and payment of administrator's commission or fees asking the amount of
P100,000.00. Heir Trinidad Villajuan Vda. de Martinez filed an opposition to which Catalina M. Gonzales, widow of the
late administrator filed a reply.
On May 26, 1980, the heirs of the deceased administrator filed an urgent amended motion for payment of the
deceased judicial administrator's compensation asking for P500,000.00. An opposition was filed by heir Trinidad
Villajuan vda. de Martinez on the same date.
Consequently, the trial court issued an order on May 26, 1980 setting the motion for hearing on May 30, 1980 at 9:00
o'clock in the morning and directing that copies be served on the parties and their counsel.
On May 30, 1980, the heirs of Esperanza de Luna Gonzales Azupardo and Isidoro de Luna Gonzales filed their
opposition to the motion and presented their witness, Siegfriedo Azupardo on July 16, 1980. On August 20 1980,
Genaro Sevilla, et al. as movants intervenors filed their manifestation that they are also opposing the motion and
adopting the memorandum and evidence presented by the other heirs.
On September 30, 1980, the trial court issued an order directing the new administratrix Catalina M. Gonzales to
submit within fifteen (15) days from receipt a complete and sworn inventory of all the goods, chattels, rights, credits
and estate of the deceased Carmen de Luna, indicating therein the current values of each of these properties and with
respect to the real properties, the current assessed as well as market value thereof. The administratrix filed the
inventory as of April 30, 1980 where the total of the real and personal property of the estate was listed at
P10,751,189.97.
On October 13, 1980, the trial court issued an order granting the compensation asked for by the late administrator
which reads:
In view of the foregoing, and for lack of sufficient grounds to deny the compensation prayed for, the
Court hereby grants the amount of Five Hundred thousand Pesos (500,000.00) by way of
compensation of the deceased administrator Jose de Luna for the services rendered by him as such
administrator of the estate of Carmen de Luna for the period from April 10, 1964, up to February 22,
1980, deducting therefrom the sum of P1,000.00 already paid to him pursuant to this Court's Order
dated April 27, 1977, and authorizing payment of the balance thereof to his heirs, Mrs. Catalina M.
Gonzales, and her children Jose Gonzales, Jr. Carmen G. de Asis and Milagros K. Gonzales, said
amount to be taken out of the available funds of the estate. (Rollo pp. 57-58)
Subsequently, another order dated October 22, 1980 was issued, to wit:
Acting upon the "Urgent Ex-Parte Motion For Authority To Withdraw From Bank Deposits and To
Mortgage Estate Properties" filed by the administratrix, through counsel, dated October 15, 1980, and
for the purpose of implementing the Order of this Court on October 13, 1980, the above motion is
hereby granted.
Accordingly, the administratrix, Catalina Vda. de Gonzales, is hereby authorized to satisfy the amount
of P500,000.00 which was ordered paid to the heirs of the deceased administrator Jose de Luna, out
of the bank deposits of the estate of Carmen de Luna with the Filipinas Bank and Trust Company and
Philippine Trust Company, authorizing said administratrix to make a withdrawal and in the event that
said deposits are insufficient to cover said amount, to obtain loans from any reputable lending
institution, offering by way of mortgage or pledge, any property of the estate under administration,

sufficient to satisfy the balance remaining unpaid, after interest and bank charges, and to inform the
court of her compliance herewith.' (Rollo, p. 58).
Esperanza de Luna Gonzales Azupardo and Isidoro de Luna Gonzales appealed to the Court of Appeals.
On September 17, 1982, the Court of Appeals through Justice Gancayco decided in favor of the administrator and
affirmed in toto the orders appealed from.
The appellants then filed a motion for reconsideration of the said decision.
On July 19, 1985, the Court of Appeals speaking through Justice Porfirio Sison modified the decision promulgated on
September 17, 1982 with the following dispositive portion:
WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice and equity and to protect the estate against undue or
unauthorized waste and exhaustion which preservation in the end will redound to the benefit of all the
parties, our decision of September 17, 1982 is hereby modified by adhering to our finding that the late
Jose de Luna Gonzales as Judicial Administrator of the estate of Carmen de Luna in Sp. Proc. No.
52196, is indeed entitled to his Administrator's fee, but in the reduced and amount of P4,312.50
including the sum of Pl,000.00 previously received or still a balance of P3,312.50. No pronouncement
as to costs. (Rollo, p. 26)
On October 7, 1985, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid decision filed by the
administratrix.
Hence, this petition for review.
The lone assignment of error raised by the petitioner is that "the respondent appellate court committed serious legal
error in the interpretation and application of Section 7, Rule 85 of the Rules of Court and acted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess or jurisdiction in modifying the previous decision of the Court of Appeals dated
September 17, 1982 by reducing the administrator's commission from P500,000.00 (as adjudged by the Trial Court
and upheld by the then Court of Appeals) to a mere P4,312.50 by its Resolution dated July 19, 1985.
The issue posed for resolution is whether or not Jose de Luna Gonzales is entitled to the amount of P500,000.00 by
way of compensation as administrator of the estate of Carmen de Luna.
The opposing views of the parties are summarized by the trial court as follows:
The last inventory of the late Jose de Luna Gonzales on April 25, 1975 showed a gross estate in the
amount of P890,865.25, and since then not only the personal assets of the estate increased by way of
increments, dividends and interests earned but also the real properties thereof, by way of additional
fishponds, farm lands and coconut lands located in Bulacan, Bulacan and Catanawan, Quezon which
said administrator discovered and brought to the estate, so much as that property of the estate
increased in value. While it is true as alleged in their urgent amended motion for payment of the
deceased administrator's compensation, that the value of the estate is conservatively placed at
P2,000,000.00 yet this does not appear to be so, for the inventory as of April 30, 1980 of the present
administratrix, Mrs. Catalina M. Gonzales, who is also the wife of the late administrator, shows that
the real and personal estate of the deceased Carmen de Luna amounts to P10,751,189.97. This last
inventory could have been the same inventory filed by the late administrator, had he lived longer. The
present administratrix, Mrs. Catalina Gonzales, was appointed as such on March 28, 1980 and upon
taking her oath of office and filing the corresponding administratrix's bond, was issued the
corresponding letters of administration. At the hearing of her petition to be appointed new
administratrix of the estate, she claims that during the lifetime of her husband, the former
administrator, their joint efforts led to the discovery of the fishponds, farm lands and coconut lands in
the province of Bulacan and Quezon, and the growth and accumulation of the assets and properties of
the estate were due to their continuous, dedicated and concerned efforts coupled with the sound and
judicious care employed by them in the management of this estate. She further testified that the late
administrator had adequately and religiously executed the trust reposed on him, having attended to
the wise, advantageous and safe placement of the funds of the estate, but without however,
neglecting the payment of the estate and real estate taxes and the submission of his reports to the
Court.
The claimant-heir, Trinidad Villajuan Vda. de Martinez and the other claimant-heirs Esperanza de Luna
Gonzales Azupardo and Isidoro de Luna Gonzales filed separate oppositions. Trinidad Villajuan Vda. de
Martinez claims that the counsel for the alleged heirs of Jose de Luna Gonzales including his surviving
wife, administratrix Catalina M. Gonzales, is the law firm Bausa, Ampil, Suarez, Parades and Bausa,
which is also the counsel for Centro Escolar University wherein the shares of stocks of said university
form the bulk of the present estate so much so that Attys. Bausa, Ampil, Suarez, Parades and Bausa
and Ass. have conflict of interests in handling the affairs of their aforesaid clients and that not only
has said law office conflicting interest but likewise its client, the present administratrix Catalina M.
Gonzales, who is at the same time a claimant of the estate under her administration. The oppositor
further asserts that claims against the estate can not be filed in the form of an urgent motion but
must be filed as claims against the estate. It is likewise claimed by the oppositor that the alleged heirs
of Jose de Luna Gonzales had never been substituted as parties in this proceeding because no motion
had ever been filed and no order had been issued for substitution of the late Jose de Luna Gonzales.
She insinuates that the record of this case will show that oppositor Trinidad Villajuan Vda. de Martinez

bad long prayed for the appointment of Jerry Martines Hervas as the administrator of the estate
because Jose de Luna Gonzales had long become physically incompetent to administer the estate; and
that while it is true the bulk of the estate consists of the shares of stocks of the Centro Escolar
University, yet the late administrator, Jose de Luna Gonzales, had nothing to do with the increase in
the number of shares of stocks of the Centro Escolar University, and if ever its value increased, the
said administrator had also nothing to do with the same inasmuch as during the long duration that
Jose de Luna Gonzales was administrator of the estate he never attempted to become a director of
Centro Escolar University; that although the urgent motion speaks of fishponds farm lands and
coconut lands in Bulacan, Bulacan and Catanuan, Quezon, which were discovered and brought to the
estate, there were no titles to said properties and that said administrator and his counsel had not done
anything regarding the same; and that the properties referred to by them have long been disposed of
by the late Carmen de Luna in favor of innocent third party.
The other group of claimant-heirs, Esperanza de Luna Gonzales Azupardo and Isidoro de Luna
Gonzales claim that the urgent amended motion of the heirs of the deceased Jose de Luna Gonzales
violated the rule on prior notice as required and mandated by Rule 85 Section 10 of the Rules of Court
which provides that before the account of an administrator is allowed notice shall be given to persons
interested of the time and place of examining and allowing the same; the said urgent amended motion
is not under oath and in utter disregard of the legal safeguards required under Rule 85 Section 9 of
the Rules of Court which mandates that every matter with respect to account must be under oath;
that movants if allowed compensation should apportion the commission with the co- administrator;
that if there was an increase in the value of the estate or any part thereof, Sec. 2, Rule 85 strictly
prohibits and expressly denies executor or administrator from profiting thereby; that the value of the
estate increased by natural accretion or by government re-assessment and not thru the efforts of the
late administrator; that the amount being claimed is highly unconscionable and unreasonable and
besides it is not in consonance with the amount specified under Rule 85, Sec. 7 which allows only onefourth per cent of the entire value of the estate and which must be allowed only after a settlement of
the estate is finally made; that the amount being claimed as compensation is not itemized, hence,
purely conjectural, hypothetical and without basis in fact and in law; that in cases where
compensation for extraordinary services are claimed, the better practice is to itemize the account and
explain fully in what particulars the services are extraordinary or unusual; and that the late
administrator Jose de Luna Gonzales had long been compensated by the estate arising from' the
admitted sale for voting rights of Centro Escolar University shares, and for this matter this Court may
require an accounting under Rule 85, Sec. 8 of the Rules of Court; and lastly, that as admitted by
movants themselves in their urgent amended motion, that the administration of the estate spanned a
prolonged period of sixteen years and yet the same is not yet closed or terminated and therefore the
administrator should be denied compensation for his services, for the prolongation of the settlement of
the estate is due entirely to his effort to defraud the heirs, and due to his neglect, the administration
has been too expensive. (Rollo, pp. 61-65)
Section 7, Rule 85 states:
SEC. 7. What expenses and fees allowed executor or administrator. Not to charge for services as
attorney. - Compensation provided by will controls unless renounced. An executor or administrator
shall be allowed the necessary expenses in the care, management, and settlement of the estate, and
for his services, four pesos per day for the time actually and necessarily employed, or a commission
upon the value of so much of the estate as comes into his possession and is finally disposed of by him
in the payment of debts, expenses, legacies, or distributive shares, or by delivery to heirs or devisees,
of two per centum of the first five thousand pesos of such value, one per centum of so much of such
value as exceed five thousand pesos and does not exceed thirty thousand pesos, one-half per centum
of so much of such value as exceeds thirty thousand pesos and does not exceed one hundred
thousand pesos. But in any special case, where the estate is large, and the settlement has been
attended with great difficulty, and has required a high degree of capacity on the part of the executor
or administrator, a greater sum may be allowed. If objection to the fees allowed be taken, the
allowance may be re-examined on appeal.
If there are two or more executors or administrators, the compensation shall be apportioned among
them by the court according to the services actually rendered by them respectively.
When the executor or administrator is an attorney, he shall not charge against the estate any
professional fees for legal services rendered by him.
When the deceased by will makes some other provision for the compensation of his executor, that
provision shall be a full satisfaction for his services unless by a written instrument filed in the court he
renounces all claim to the compensation provided by the will.
Pursuant to the above provision, an administrator is entitled by way of compensation to the following:
(a) P4.00 per day "for the time actually and necessarily employed" by him as such administrator, or
(b) a "commission upon the value of so much of the estate as comes into his possession and was
finally disposed of by him," according to the schedule therein provided.
The appellate court in its resolution dated July 19, 1985 arrived at the amount of P4,313.50 by applying the schedule
provided in computing for commissions. The respondents also contend that the estimates of the real properties
reflected in the inventory were highly exaggerated to jack-up the asking price and excluded from the computation of

the fee of the administrator the total value of the stocks and cash deposits of the administrator. Consequently, it
placed the value of the estate at P1,500,000.00 more or less, the value presented by the lawyers of the administratrix
in their first motion for compensation of de Luna Gonzales, dated March 10, 1980.
We rule otherwise. The applicable provision is the proviso which states: "in any special case, where the estate is large
and the settlement has been attended with great difficulty and has required a high degree of capacity on the part of
the executor or administrator, a greater sum may be allowed." A wide latitude, leeway or discretion is therefore given
to the trial court to grant a greater sum. And the determination of whether the administration and liquidation of an
estate have been attended with greater difficulty and have required a high degree of capacity on the part of the
executor or administrator rests on the sound discretion of the court which took cognizance of the estate. (Rodriguez v.
Silva, 90 Phil. 752 [1952]). The trial court, in applying this proviso awarded the sum of P500,000.00 as
administrator's compensation.
There appears to be no sound justification why the appellate court should interfere with the exercise of the trial
court's discretion, absent a showing that the trial court committed any abuse of discretion in granting a greater
remuneration to the petitioner. The trial court's order is based on substantial evidence and the applicable rule.
In the case of Litton Mills v. Galleon Traders, et al. (G.R. No. 40867, July 26, 1988), this court had the occasion to
explain:
An act of a court or tribunal may only be considered as in grave abuse of discretion when the same
was performed in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of
positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation
of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or
personal hostility. (Butuan Bay Export Co. v. CA, 97 SCRA 297).
The records of the case is replete with evidence to prove that the late administrator Jose de Luna Gonzales had taken
good care of the estate and performed his duties without any complaint from any of the heirs. In fact, the appellate
court agrees with the trial court as it held:
... While it may be true that the inventory of the properties of the estate as of April 25, 1975 was only
P 890,865.25 it has been shown that the value of the estate has increased not only by the efforts of
the late administrator to take good care of the same but in succeeding to locate other properties
belonging to the estate so that when he submitted the inventory of the properties, real and personal
of the estate as of April 13, 1980 the total appraisal thereof appears to be over P10 M. No objection
thereto appears to have been interposed. (Rollo, p. 68)
And with regards to the inventory, the respondents did not even present any evidence to counter or disprove the
valuations made so their claim that the estimated P10 million value of the properties was exaggerated is without basis
and purely conjectural. With the well settled rule that the findings of the trial court are given great respect, we
therefore sustain the finding that the value of the estate is worth P10 million as found by the trial court.
Considering the size of the estate and extent of the care given by the administrator, the amount asked for is not
unreasonable and should therefore be allowed.
WHEREFORE, there appearing to be no manifest error or abuse of discretion for the Court of Appeals to modify the
trial court's orders, the resolution of the Intermediate Appellate Court dated July 19, 1985 is hereby SET ASIDE and
its previous decision dated September 17, 1982 is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.

Rule 88
G.R. No. L-27526 September 12, 1974

ANGELITA G. VDA. DE VALERA, AMANDA G. VALERA, OSCAR G. VALERA, DIONISIO G. VALERA,


FELIXBERTO G. VALERA, BENITO G. VALERA, EVA G. VALERA, LITA G. VALERA, TONIETTE VALERA, ANGEL
V. COLET, NORMAN PE BENITO and ROMEO PE BENITO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. MACARIO M. OFILADA, as Probate Judge, Court of First Instance of Abra; ADORACION VALERABRINGAS, as Administratrix of the Intestate Estate of Francisco Valera; PROVINCIAL SHERIFF of Abra;
DOMINGO V. BANEZ as Deputy Provincial Sheriff of Abra, and CELSO VALERA, respondents.
FERNANDEZ, J.:p
Had the Court of First Instance of Abra been more cognizant of the limitations on its prerogative as a probate court, it
would not have committed the jurisdictional and procedural errors pointed out in this certiorari case by the petitioners,
the heirs of the late Virgilio Valera.
The record discloses that the lower court exceeded its jurisdiction in issuing its orders of July 10, 1964, April 15, 1966
and January 4, 1967 as well as the writ of execution against the assets of the deceased Virgilio Valera. The
jurisdictional and procedural errors committed by the lower court justify the writ of certiorari. Hence, We find the
petition to be meritorious. We have to set aside the said orders and writ of execution insofar as the heirs or estate of
Virgilio Valera are concerned.
Civil Case No. 64, R-1 of the Court of First Instance of Abra is a special proceeding for the settlement of the intestate
estate of Francisco Valera. Virgilio Valera was the administrator of the estate, He died on March 21, 1961. He was
survived by his widow, Angelita Garduque Vda. de Valera and their ten (10) children, named Amanda, Oscar, Dionisio,
Benito, Felixberto, Eva, Lita, Toniette, Vicenta and Teresita, all petitioners herein, except Vicenta and Teresita, who
were abroad.
Later (the exact date is not shown in the record), Adoracion Valera Bringas, who claims to be an acknowledged
natural child of Francisco Valera, was appointed administratrix. She filed on April 16, 1964 in the intestate proceeding
a petition to require "Celso Valera and family and Angelita de Valera and family to pay P100.00" as monthly rental for
the one-third pro-indiviso portion of the Valera residence located in Bangued, Abra. 1
That residence is item 3 of the original inventory dated April 10, 1964 submitted by Mrs. Bringas. It is described as
follows:
Residential land & Improvements. Covered by Tax Declaration No. 16922, declared in 1948 in the
names of Virgilio & Celso Valera; cancelled by Tax Declaration No. 21571 in the name of Virgilio
Valera; cancelled by Tax Declaration No. 29338, in 1962, in the name of Virgilio Valera, located in
Partelo Street, Bangued, Abra, bounded as follows: N. Alejandro Lizards; E. Partelo Street (now
Virgilio Valera Street); S. Taft Street; W'Consiliman Brook, with an area of 1,775 square meters, and
assessed at P1,420.00 for the residential lot, and P9,500.00 for the improvements.
Appraised value P45,600.00, 1/3 of which is P15,200.00. (p. 5 of Respondents' Memorandum)
The petition was not served on the widow and ten children of Virgilio Valera. Celso Valera interposed an opposition to
it on the ground that Francisco Valera had no interest in the Valera residence, that the property was never leased and
that the remedy of Mrs. Bringas was "in a appropriate remedy and/or procedure" and not in the intestate proceeding.
2

The lower court granted the petition in an order dated July 10, 1964 which reads: 3
ORDER
The administratrix, through counsel, has petitioned for an order to pay rental on the property (Item 1B, 23 of the Inventory submitted i)v the administratrix, pp. 415-416, rec.) owned in common by the
estate of the deceased Francisco Valera y Versoza and the late Virgilio Valera and Celso Valera,
corresponding to one-third (1/3) interest pertaining to the estate of the deceased Francisco Valera to
be paid by the family of Virgilio Valera and Celso Valera and family who have been occupying the
property since April, 1945 in the amount of P100.00 a month, plus legal interest, the same to be paid
to the Administratrix.
WHEREFORE, finding the said motion to be well-founded and meritorious, the same is hereby granted.
It is further ordered that the Clerk of Court shall furnish Angelita Garduque Vda. de Valera with a copy
of this order by registered mail.
SO ORDERED.
Done at Bangued, Abra, this 10th day of July, 1964.
(Sgd.) ALFONSO P. DONESA J u d g e
The directive of Judge Donesa to the Clerk of Court to serve a copy of the order by registered mail on Mrs. Valera
implies that the heirs of Virgilio Valera were not served with a copy of the petition. The said heirs, through Atty. Angel
V. Colet, a son-in-law of Mrs. Valera, filed a motion for the reconsideration of that order. They contended that the
Valera residence "should be excluded from the inventory," because that was their "absolute property of which they

have been in complete possession and occupation". 4 Mrs. Bringas replied that Francisco Valera's estate had "already
consolidated" its ownership over that one-third partition "through the submission of the inventory and its approval" by
the probate court. 5
It was only nearly two years later that respondent Judge Macario Ofilada in his order of April 15, 1966 denied the
motion for reconsideration filed by the heirs of Virgilio Valera. 6
On February 17, 1965 (before the motion for reconsideration was resolved) Mrs. Bringas filed in the intestate
proceeding a pleading known as "Motion for Execution and for an Order Directing Delivery of the Fruits of the
Properties or Value and Monies of the Estate to the Administratrix." 7
She prayed in that motion that Judge Donesa's order for the payment of rentals be executed against the heirs of
Virgilio Valera; that the heirs be ordered to deliver to her the fruits of the properties of the estate of Francisco Valera,
which, according to her calculation, amounted to P100,000 for twenty years, plus legal interest supposedly amounting
to P5,000; that the heirs be ordered to deliver the sum of P4,684.98 representing the insurance and war damage
monies collected by Virgilio Valera; and that the Sheriff be ordered to "to seize such properties of Virgilio Valera and
his heirs" "to be sold according to law for the payment of double the value of the fruits and the amount of monies
alienated and embezzled".
As already stated, in an order dated April 15, 1966, respondent Judge Macario M. Ofilada denied the motion for
reconsideration filed by the heirs of Virgilio Valera and granted the motion of Mrs. Bringas for execution and for the
delivery of certain funds and properties. (Note that the execution was granted although the order was not yet final).
That order, which is being assailed in this case, is quoted as follows (pp. 7-9 of the Petition):
Pending resolution before the court are the following motions:
1. Unsigned 'Motion for leave of Court to Intervene and Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated
July 10, 1964', filed by counsel for the heirs of Virgilio Valera;
2. 'Motion' without any notice of hearing filed by counsel for the heirs of Virgilio Valera;
3. 'Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated July 10, 1965,' filed by counsel for petitioner Celso
Valera; and
4. 'Motion for Execution and for an Order Directing Delivery of the Fruits of the Properties or Value
thereof and Monies of the Estate to the Administratrix', filed by counsel for the administratrix.
Also pending is the examination of persons regarding the properties of the estate as ordered by the
court also on July 10, 1964.
On January 27, 1966, the court directed the movants seeking a reconsideration of the order directing
the payment of rentals to the estate to submit their respective memoranda within 15 days from
receipt of the order and the administratrix 5 days from receipt of adverse parties memoranda to
submit her reply if she so desires. Despite the fact that the parties had received copies of the order of
January 27, 1966, none complied. Considering that this case is already more than 20 years old, the
Court can not, in the interest of justice, further hold or suspend the resolutions on these incidents.
They must as they should now, be resolved.
The motion for reconsideration filed by counsel for the heirs of Virgilio Valera and his subsequent
'Motion'. appearing to be unfounded, is hereby denied.
The motion for reconsideration filed by counsel for Celso Valera is a mere repetition of the 'Opposition
to Petition for an Order to Pay Rental dated May 8, 1964. This motion is merely intended to delay the
proceedings and it is hereby denied for lack of merit.
Finding the 'Motion for Execution and for an Order Directing the Delivery of Fruits of the Properties or
Value thereof and Monies of the Estate to the Administratrix' well-founded and meritorious, it is
hereby directed:
1. That a writ of execution issue against the heirs of Virgilio Valera and Celso Valera insofar as the
collectible rents pertaining t the estate are concerned;
2. That the heirs of Virgilio Valera and Celso Valera deliver to the administratrix properties still in their
possession which are among those listed in the 'Incomplete Inventory and Appraisal of the Real and
Personal Estate of the Deceased, Francisco Valera y Versoza' filed by the administratrix on September
17, 1965;
3. That the heirs of Virgilio Valera and Celso Valera and family account to the Administratrix the fruits
of the properties of the estate listed in the said amended inventory;
4. That the heirs of Virgilio Valera deliver to the administratrix the sum of P4,784.98 representing the
insurance and war damage monies collected by Virgilio Valera;

5. That Celso Valera account to the administratrix the war damage monies received by him for the
destroyed Valera family residence and deliver 1/3 of the same to the administratrix; and
6. That failure to render a satisfactory account as hereby required within 15 days from receipt of this
order shall, conformably with See. 8 of Rule 87 of the Rules of Court, make the heirs of Virgilio Valera
and Celso Valera liable to double the value of the fruits and monies unaccounted for.
It is further ordered that the Clerk of Court immediately set 2 days for the examination of the persons
required to appear in the order dated July 10, 1964.
SO ORDERED.
Bangued, Abra, this 15th day of April, 1966.
(Sgd.) MACARIO M. OFILADA
Judge
On January 5. 1967 Judge Ofilada directed the execution of his aforequoted order of April 15, 1966. That directive
reads as follows: 8
ORDER
Pending resolution before this Court are: (1) Omnibus Motion filed by the Administratrix dated
September 15, 1966; and, (2) Omnibus Motion filed by the heirs of Virgilio Valera dated October 13,
1966.
The parties, by the order of this Court dated December 12, 1966 after the hearing on said date at
which counsel discussed their respective motions, were given three days time within which to submit
their written memoranda. No such memoranda have been filed by any of the parties, and the Court
took time and efforts in considering the said motions, oppositions, affidavit and counter-affidavits.
The Omnibus Motion of the heirs of Virgilio Valera dated October 13, 1966 seeks to stay the writ of
execution issued by this Court pursuant to the order dated April 15, 1966 and relies upon an alleged
compromise agreement entered into between said heirs and the administratrix on May 21, 1966.
The Court is aware of attempts to a compromise agreement between the aforementioned parties.
There is nothing however in the record of any amicable settlement such as that required by the Court
in its order dated June 26, 1965, which required the parties 'to inform the court as soon as possible
what arrangement or settlement have been taken and arrived at by them.' The Court has given the
parties long time to agree and settle their differences, even taking time on Sundays to meet with
them for this purpose and, until the present time, no such agreement by all the parties has been
presented for the approval of the Court. Certainly the alleged compromise agreement is not such
agreement especially when the administratrix takes vigorous exception citing facts of record and valid
points of law which have not been sufficiently answered and explained. To allow the alleged oral
compromise agreement in violation of fundamental principles of law such as the time limit within
which to file a petition for relief and unsupported by the facts on record as cited by counsel for and
administratrix would be to trifle with the administration of justice especially in this case which is the
oldest in this court and which has been pending for more than twenty years now. For these basic
reasons, the Omnibus Motion of the heirs of Virgilio Valera dated October 13, 1966 must be, as it is
hereby, DENIED.
And considering the motion of the administratrix dated September 15, 1966 to be meritorious, the
same, as prayed for, is hereby GRANTED.
WHEREFORE, it is hereby directed that:
(1) The orders of November 14 and 25, 1966 staying the execution of the order of April 15, 1966 are
hereby lifted and let another writ of execution immediately issue to effect the order of April 15, 1966.
(2) A writ of execution issue against said heirs of Virgilio Valera for the satisfaction of the amounts
due the estate;
(3) A writ of execution issue against the properties of Celso Valera for the satisfaction of the amount
due to estate; and,
(4) The heirs of Virgilio Valera deliver to the administratrix the possession of the properties listed in
paragraph 6 and 7 of her Omnibus Motion dated September 15, 1966 and the fruits or value thereof
from April, 1945 until time of delivery, and, pursuant to Section 8, Rule 87, of the New Rules of Court,
to pay double the value of said fruits upon failure to account and deliver same within thirty days from
receipt of this order.
SO ORDERED.

Bangued, Abra, January 4, 1967.


(Sgd.) MACARIO M. OFILADA Judge
The heirs of Virgilio Valera filed a motion dated February 6, 1967 for the reconsideration of Judge Ofilada's order of
January 4, 1967. 9 The motion was denied in the order dated February 13, 1967. 10 judge Ofilada in his order dated
February 27, 1967 ordered another execution. 11
The Deputy Provincial Sheriff levied upon the properties of the deceased Virgilio Valera and caused to be published a
notice of auction sale also dated February 27, 1967 which reads in part as follows: 12
1. Of the goods and chattels of Celso Valera and the heirs of Virgilio Valera the sum of Forty
Thousand Three Hundred Twenty (P40,320.00) Pesos for rent due the estate together with interest
thereon from April, 1945 (P25,200.00) for the principal at P1,200.00 per annum from April, 1945 to
March, 1966, and P15,120.00 for interest due at six (6) per centum per annum), plus P100.00 a
month from April, 1966 with interest at six (6) per centum until date of payment and delivery of the
interest, of the estate in the property to the administratrix;
2. Of the goods and chattels of the heirs of Virgilio Valera the sum of Sixty Thousand (P60,000.00)
Pesos representing double the value of undelivered fruits of the properties of the estate for 20 years
from April, 1945 to October, 1965 or One Thousand Five Hundred (P1,500.00) Pesos per year, and the
sum of Nine Thousand Five Hundred Sixty Nine Pesos and Ninety Six Centavos (P9,569.96),
respresenting double the value of the undelivered insurance and war damage monies collected by
Virgilio Valera.
The petitioners filed a motion dated March 15, 1967 to quash the writ of execution and for the suspension of the
auction sale. 13 Judge Ofilada denied it in his order of April 1967. 14 The petitioners filed a motion dated March 31,
1967 to set aside the lower court's orders of April 15, 1966 and February 27, 1967 on the grounds of lack of
jurisdiction and lack of due process. 15
On April 3, 1967, the dated when Judge Ofilada denied petitioners' motion to quash the writ of execution, respondent
Deputy Sheriff proceeded with the auction sale and sold to the estate of Francisco Valera eighteen (18) parcels of land
supposedly belonging to the deceased Virgilio Valera. The price was P92,337.00. 16
The petitioners filed a motion dated April 11, 1967 for the reconsideration of the order of April 3, 1967.
Ofilada denied it in his order of April 21, 1967. 18

17

Judge

On May 8, 1967 the petitioners, the heirs of Virgilio Valera (except two children who were abroad) filed the instant
petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction against Judge Ofilada, Mrs. Bringas, the Provincial Sheriff and the
Deputy Provincial Sheriff. Celso Valera was joined as a nominal party. The respondents were required to answer the
petition. The Court directed that a writ of preliminary injunction should issue upon petitioners' posting a bond of
P5,000.00.
The petitioners assail the brief, three-sentence order of July 10, 1964 on the following grounds: (a) that it decided the
issue of ownership as to the one-third pro-indiviso share of Francisco Valera in the Valera residence, an issue, which
according to them, is beyond the court's probate jurisdiction; (b) that it was issued without the benefit of a trial on
the merits and without hearing all the parties involved; (c) that it does not contain findings of fact and law; (d) that it
is a judgment for a money claim which should have been filed in the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of
the deceased debtor, Virgilio Valera, and (e) that the order has no basis in substantive law.
The petitioners attack Judge Ofilada's order of April 15, 1966 on the following grounds: (a) that, as a probate judge,
he had no jurisdiction to require the heirs of Virgilio Valera to account for the fruits of the six parcels of land
administered by him and that a separate action should be filed or the proper claim should be made against his estate;
(b) that he had no jurisdiction to order the heirs of Virgilio Valera to deliver to Mrs. Bringas the sum of P4,784.98 as
"insurance and war damage monies collected by Virgilio Valera"; (c) that Section 8, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court
contemplates that "double the value of the fruits and monies" should be recovered in an "action" and not in an
intestate proceeding, and (d) that the order was issued without any trial on the merits and it does not contain findings
of fact and law.
The petitioners further contend that the orders of July 10, 1964 and April 15, 1966 are not enforceable by execution
because they are incomplete and not precise as to the amounts supposedly due from the judgment debtors.
As to the execution sale, the petitioners contend: (a) that the orders sought to be executed are void; (b) that the
probate court ordinarily has no jurisdiction to issue a writ of execution and that the instant case is not among the
exceptional cases wherein the probate court can authorize an execution, and (c) that execution for a money claim
cannot be had against a decedent's estate.
After a careful study of the arguments of the parties in their memoranda, reply, rejoinder and surrejoinder, We find
that, for the resolution of the case, it is not necessary to pass upon all those issues. The crucial issue in the last
analysis is whether the lower court, sitting as a probate court in the intestate proceeding for the estate of Francisco
Valera, could hold the heirs of Virgilio Valera answerable for certain supposed monetary liabilities of the latter to the
estate and enforce said liabilities against the properties of the deceased Virgilio Valera.

We hold that the trial court, as a probate court, erred in adjudging in the said intestate proceeding the monetary
liabilities of the late Virgilio Valera to the estate of Francisco Valera and in issuing a writ of execution against his
properties to enforce the supposed liabilities.
The controlling principle, which should govern this case, was announced by Justice Torres in 1907 in Pavia vs. De la
Rosa, 8 Phil. 70, a case which is on all fours with the instant case. This Court ruled in that case:
Administrators or executors; Code of Civil Procedure; Heirs. The heir legally succeeds the deceased
from whom he derives his right and title but only after the liquidation of the estate, the payment of
the debts of same, and the adjudication of the residue of the estate of the deceased, and in the
meantime the only person in charge by law to attend to all claims against the estate of the deceased
debtor is the executor or administrator appointed by a competent court. (Syllabus based on page 77).
In the Pavia case, an action for damages was brought by Rafaela Pavia against Bibiana de la Rosa and Salud de la
Rosa, as the only heirs of the deceased Jose de la Rosa. Rafaela Pavia claimed that she empowered Jose de la Rosa to
administer the estate of Pablo Linart and that, as administrator, De la Rosa caused damages to the estate through his
negligence. The De la Rosa sisters contended that they could not be held liable for the negligent acts of their brother,
Jose de la Rosa.
This Court held that the action was not maintainable against the De la Rosa sisters and that it should be prosecuted
against the executor or administrator of the estate of Jose de la Rosa. Hence, the action was dismissed, reserving to
Rafaela Pavia "the right to institute proper action against the executor or administrator of the properties of the estate
of the deceased Jose de la Rosa".
In the instant case, Mrs. Bringas sought to hold the heirs of the deceased Virgilio Valera liable for his obligations to
pay rentals and to account for the fruits of the properties forming part of the estate of Francisco Valera and the war
damage and insurance monies collected by Virgilio Valera. The heirs of Virgilio Valera were dragged into the intestate
proceeding for the purpose of holding them liable for the amounts supposedly due from the deceased. As already
noted, Mrs. Bringas prayed for "an order directing the Sheriff to seize such properties of Virgilio Valera and his heirs
... as may be sufficient, to be sold according to law for the payment of double the value of the fruits and the amount
of monies alienated and embezzled" (Annex "E" of Petition). Judge Ofilada specifically directed that the execution be
issued "against the heirs of Virgilio Valera". The Deputy Sheriff literally followed that directive by levying upon "the
goods and chattels of the heirs of Virgilio Valera".
The procedure followed by the Sheriff was erroneous. The decedent's heirs are not liable personally for the debts of
his debts. Thus, it was held:
It happens, however, that the plaintiffs are not under obligation to pay the debts of their late father,
such as items (a), (f) and (h) of the counterclaim. It does not appear that they personally bound
themselves to pay them, and the mere fact that they are the deceased's heirs does not make them
answerable for such credits against their predecessor in interest, inasmuch as article 1003 of the Civil
Code is no longer in force, having been abrogated by certain provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure
(Pavia vs. De la Rosa, 8 Phil. 70, cited in Calma vs. Calma, 56 Phil. 102, 105).
The error becomes more glaring in the light of Section 7, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which allows execution in case
of the death of a party only "where a party dies after the entry of the judgment or order". The implication is that if a
person, before his death, or the legal representative of his estate was never a party to a case, no execution can be
issued against his properties after his death. In this case, the Sheriff seems to have proceeded on the assumption that
the properties levied upon belonged to the deceased Virgilio Valera and that the said properties were in the possession
of his heirs.
Furthermore, there is merit in the petitioners' contention that the probate court generally cannot issue a writ of
execution. It is not supposed to issue a writ of execution because its orders usually refer to the adjudication of claims
against the estate which the executor or administrator may satisfy without the necessity of resorting to a writ of
execution. The probate court, as such, does not render any judgment enforceable by execution.
The circumstance that the Rules of Court expressly specifies that the probate court may issue execution (a) to satisfy
the contributive shares of devisees, legatees and heirs in possession of the decedent's assets (Sec. 6, Rule 88), (b) to
enforce payment of the expenses of partition (Sec. 3, Rule 90), and (e) to satisfy the costs when a person is cited for
examination in probate proceedings (Sec. 13, Rule 142) may mean, under the rule of inclusion unius est exclusion
alterius, that those are the only instances when it can issue a writ of execution.
With particular reference to the sum of P4,784.96, which represents the insurance and war damage monies allegedly
embezzled by Virgilio Valera, the lower court, sitting as a probate court, had no jurisdiction to enforce, by execution,
the payment of double the value of that amount. The alleged embezzler was dead. Execution was not warranted under
Sections 7 and 8, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court, which both refer, to a living person, meaning a person entrusted with
a part of the decedent's estate "by an executor or administrator", and to a person who committed "embezzlement
before letters (were) issued". Section 8 explicitly provides that the embezzler's liability shall be determined in "an
action", and not in the intestate proceeding. 19
The record reveals that there is a dispute between Mrs. Bringas and the heirs of Virgilio Valera as to whether one-third
of the Valera residence and the six parcels of land listed in the "Amended Incomplete Inventory, etc." dated August
31, 1965 20 belong to the estate of Francisco Valera. The tax declarations for those properties are in the name of the
deceased Virgilio Valera.

Their inclusion in the inventory is not conclusive as to the ownership. "Questions on title to real property cannot be
determined in testate or intestate proceedings. It has, however, been held that for the purpose of determining
whether a certain property should or should not be included in the inventory, the probate court may pass upon the
title thereto, but such determination is not conclusive and is subject to the final decision in a separate action to he
instituted between the parties." 21 As stressed by Mr. Justice Zaldivar in Mangaliman vs. Gonzales, L-21033,
December 28, 1970, 36 SCRA 462, the probate court is a court of special and limited jurisdiction.
We have studied carefully respondents' memorandum and rejoinder. We have not found therein any citation of a rule
or precedent which would justify the arbitrary and irregular procedure followed by the lower court in determining the
liability of a dead person without hearing the legal representative of his estate and in holding his heirs answerable for
his supposed liabilities and then enforcing those liabilities against his estate. Section 6(b), Rule 78 and Section 2, Rule
79 of the Rules of Court assume that a creditor, as an interested person, may cause a debtor's estate to be placed
under administration.
The cases of Cunanan vs. Amparo, 80 Phil. 227 and Bernardo vs. Court of Appeals, 62 O.G. 2621 cited by the
respondents in page 19 of their rejoinder, refer to a living party, not to a decedent.
Without going into a more extensive and detailed discussion of the other irregularities committed by the lower court,
We believe that the jurisdictional errors already pointed out suffice to show that it acted in excess of jurisdiction and
with grave abuse of discretion. Hence, the issuance of the writ of certiorari is warranted.
WHEREFORE, the writ of execution and the Sheriff's execution sale on April 3, 1967 and all proceedings relative
thereto as well as the orders of July 10, 1964, April 15, 1966, January 4, April 3 and May 2, 1967 of the lower court,
are declared void and are set aside, insofar as the heirs of Virgilio Valera or his estate are concerned, without
prejudice to the right of Adoracion Valera Bringas to institute the proper action against the administrator of the estate
of the estate of the late Virgilio Valera and to file the appropriate claims in the proceeding for the settlement of his
estate. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-50526 December 4, 1991
CASIMIRO V. ARKONCEL, JR., in his capacity as the Administrator of the ESTATE OF CASIMIRO F.
ARKONCEL, petitioners,
vs.
HON. ALFREDO J. LAGAMON, Presiding Judge of the CFI of Davao City, Branch I and INVESTORS' FINANCE
CORPORATION (FNCB), respondents.

BIDIN, J.:p
This is a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction seeking that the orders of respondent judge dated December
13, 1978 and January 12, 1979 in Special Case No. 2079, Court of First Instance of Davao City, be declared null and
void and set aside, with costs against the respondent Investors' Finance Corporation (FNCB Finance).
The order dated December 13, 1978 reads:
The Compromise Agreement forged between the Intestate of Casimiro F. Arkoncel, Sr., represented by
its administrator, Casimiro V. Arkoncel, Jr., and the FNCB Finance Corporation, having become final
and executory, the motion for execution filed by the plaintiff thru counsel should be, as it is hereby,
granted.
WHEREFORE, let a writ of execution issue forthwith.
The order of January 12, 1979 denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioner for lack of merit.
The antecedents of the case are as follows:
The late Casimiro F. Arkoncel died intestate on July 20, 1976 at Davao City (his residence at the time of his death),
leaving behind an estate with a probable value of about P241,020.00. On November 24, 1976, a petition for letters of
administration seeking, among others, for the appointment of the widow Maria V. Vda. de Arkoncel as administrator
over the intestate estate of the deceased, was filed by one of the heirs, Nenita C. Valdez, and docketed as Special
Case No. 2079 in the Court of First Instance of Davao City, Branch I. All the other heirs manifested their conformity to
the appointment of the surviving spouse, Maria V. Vda. de Arkoncel.
In the order dated April 1, 1977, the intestate Court * identified the heirs of the deceased Casimiro F. Arkoncel as
Maria V. Vda. de Arkoncel, widow; Casimiro V. Arkoncel, Jr., son; Florencio V. Arkoncel, son; Maria V. Arkoncel,
daughter; and Nenita Carpio Valdez, daughter, but appointed Casimiro V. Arkoncel, Jr., the eldest son, as the judicial
administrator without bond instead of Maria V. Vda. de Arkoncel, the widow and ordered the issuance to him of letters
of administration. In the same order, the Court of First Instance allowed him one year within which to dispose of the
estate and to pay the debts of the deceased. The letters of administration issued on April 11, 1977 gives Casimiro V.
Arkoncel, Jr., petitioner herein, full authority as Administrator of the estate of Casimiro F. Arkoncel, to take possession
of all the property of said deceased and to perform all other acts necessary for the preservation of said property.

On July 5, 1977, the intestate court issued an order giving notice to all persons having money claims against the
decedent Casimiro F. Arkoncel, "arising from contract, express or implied, whether the same be due, not due or
contingent, all claims for funeral expenses and expenses of the last sickness of the said decedent, and judgment for
money against him to file them in the Office of the Clerk of Court within six (6) months after the date of the first
publication of the notice" in the Mindanao Mail, a newspaper of general circulation in the City and Province of Davao,
wherein the notice wis to be published once a week for three consecutive weeks.
In compliance with the order of the intestate court, FNCB Finance, respondent herein, filed on October 7, 1977 with
the court a quo its claim against the estate for the payment of certain debts incurred by the decedent during his
lifetime, in the following amounts:
Principal sum ..........................P44,438.00
Interests .....................................(to be
computed later at 14% p.a.)
Attorney's fees ..........................11,109.50
Liquidated damages ...................4,443.38

On January 9, 1978, petitioner herein, in his capacity as administrator of the estate of Casimiro F. Arkoncel and the
claimant FNCB Finance, assisted by their respective counsels, entered into an amicable settlement, under the
following terms and conditions:
1. That the Judicial Administrator admits the claim of herein claimant against the estate, as follows:
a) P44,438.00 representing the outstanding principal balance of the Torana car purchased for the
use and benefit of the decedent Casimiro F. Arkoncel and financed by herein claimant;
b) Interest on the outstanding principal balance from the date of default in the payment of the latter
on April 12, 1977 until fully paid at the rate of 14% per annum;
c) Pll,109.50 or 25% of the outstanding principal balance as and for attomey's fees;
d) Costs of and expenses in this suit in the amount of P200.00;
2 That the claimant, with the conformity of its counsel, is willing to reduce, as it hereby reduces, its
claims for attorney's fees to 15% of the principal balance or to P6,665.70. (Rollo, p. 35)
The intestate Court approved the amicable settlement in an order dated May 17, 1978, directing the parties to strictly
comply with the terms thereof and the Judicial Administrator, "to pay the amounts agreed upon out of the estate finds
and/or properties within 30 days from receipt" of the said order (Rollo, p. 37).
It appears that the Judicial Administrator, petitioner herein, was served thru counsel a copy of the aforementioned
order on September 17, 1978 but the claim of private respondent had remained unpaid thirty (30) days after. Thus,
on November 26, 1978 private respondent filed with the intestate court a motion for execution praying for the
issuance of a writ of execution to satisfy its claims (Rollo, p. 39) which was opposed by petitioner (Rollo, p. 42).
Acting on the motion, respondent judge issued the questioned order of December 13, 1978 granting the motion for
execution and the issuance of a writ of execution. The motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner on December 28,
1978 was denied by respondent judge for lack of merit in an order dated January 12, 1979 holding that "the order of
this Court dated May 17, 1979 approving the amicable settlement voluntarily entered into by the parties ... is a
perfectly valid order which was a decision in itself based on the compromise agreement" (Rollo, p. 57). Hence, this
petition filed with the Court by petitioner on May 15, 1979.
On July 9, 1979, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition.
After the parties had submitted their respective memoranda, the Court declared the case submitted for decision on
September 28, 1979.
On March 7, 1988, the Court resolved to require the parties to move in the premises within 30 days from notice;
otherwise the case shall be considered terminated and closed. In compliance with the same Resolution, petitioner, on
May 13, 1988, manifested that there exists no supervening events (that have taken place in the interim) that may
have rendered the case moot and academic (Rollo, p. 96). Private respondent manifested that as matters stand, as
between the petitioner and the private respondent, the instant case is now ripe for disposition. It also brought to the
attention of the Court the fact that the issue in the instant case is one of the errors assigned by the petitioner in his
appeal from the decision in Civil Case No. 2079 to the Court of Appeals, which was docketed and considered by the
latter Court under AC-G.R. CV No. 04426, the two other issues being (a) that the trial court erred in not finding that
the Officer-inCharge of the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Court a quo (formerly Davao Court of First Instance,
Branch I) is not authorized by law to cause to be issued the controversial ahas writ of execution; and (b) that the trial
court erred in not finding that when a subject matter is pending before the Supreme Court, such as the present

petition for certiorari, the court a quo should refrain from issuing implementing orders on the questioned subjectmatter (Rollo, p. 99).
The Third Division of the Court to which the case was transferred on May 30, 1988 (Rollo, p. 109) resolved to note the
manifestations of both parties in its Resolution of June 22, 1988.
The sole issue of the case is:
WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF HIS JURISDICTION IN
ORDERING THE ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF EXECUTION FOR THE PAYMENT OF A DEBT IN AN
ADMINISTRATION PROCEEDINGS. (Rollo, p. 76).
What transpired after the case was elevated to the Court in this instant certiorari case is described by the appellate
Court in its decision in AC-G.R. No, 04426, as follows:
... Motion for Reconsideration having been denied, the administrator elevated the issue as G.R. No.
50526, Casimiro V. Arkoncel, Jr. etc. v. Hon. Judge Alfredo G. Lagamon, etc. et al., on certiorari with
preliminary injunction to the Supreme Court which initially required comments. Prior to the elevation,
appellee filed motion for alias writ of execution. The Supreme Court required comments, thereafter,
the intestate court granted the motion for alias writ which was issued over the signature of the
Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Davao of First Instance Clerk of Court.
Pursuant to the alias writ, the Davao Provincial Sheriff caused levy to be made on a piece of property
with an area of 1,136 square meters under TCT No. 2436 (T-1 339) which forms part of the estate.
The Supreme Court gave due course but did not issue an injunction.
The Provincial Sheriff thereafter sold the property at public auction at which the appellee was the
highest bidder.
Before expiry of the redemption, the administrator filed this case for the declaration of nullity of
certain proceedings, damages and preliminary injunction ...
The aforementioned supervening events form the bases of the appeal made to the appellate court but the third
assigned error which is "that the trial court erred in not finding that a writ of execution is not the property
remedy/procedure to satisfy money claims or for the payment of debts before an intestate court in an administration
proceedings" (Rollo, p. 104), is the same issue brought before the Court in this instant case. The appellate court,
however, aware of the pending issue before the Court, made no ruling on this issue. It simply declared:
The issue in this error (sic) is squarely raised in G.R. No. 50526, supra, where decision still pends.
Carefully mindful of the fact that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of dispute, we refrain from
passing judgment upon the issue brought up by this assigrunent. As a matter of practice, it is more
advisable in a situation like this one to defer to the Supreme Court. It is not inconceivable that our
appreciation may run counter to the Supreme Court decision in which event it will be for naught
anyway. And, in any case, whatever may be the ruling from this Court on the issue will provide no
comfort to either the appellant or the appellees both of whom must await the Supreme Court decision
on the matter. (Rollo, p. 106).
There is indeed a need for the Court to rule squarely on the issue.
The Judicial Administrator voluntarily entered into an amicable settlement with the claimant FNCB Finance. He was not
only assisted by counsel but the agreement itself was confirmed by the other heirs, the widow Maria V. Vda. de
Arkoncel, Florencio V. Arkoncel and Maria V. Arkoncel (Mesias). The other heir, Nenita C. Valdez, was represented by
her Attorneyin-Fact David O. Montano who is at the same time counsel for the other heirs and the judicial
administrator. The agreement was submitted to the intestate court for approval and it was duly approved by the court
a quo in an order dated May l7, 1978 which incorporated the conditions therein. The court approves a compromise
agreement when not contrary to law, morals or public policy and renders judgment in accordance therewith (Jose v.
Cham Samco and Sons, Inc., 125 SCRA 142 [1983]; Alejandro v. Philippine Airlines, 127 SCRA 660 [1984]). In the
instant case, judgment was rendered in consonance with the compromise agreement and the parties were enjoined to
comply with and abide by its terms and conditions (Gravador v. Elbiuias, 126 SCRA 205 [1983]; G & S Corporation v.
Court of Appeals, 126 SCRA 212 [1983]; National Housing Authority v. Abaya, 129 SCRA 412 [19841).
There is no merit to the petition.
The rule is that a judgment rendered in accordance with a compromise agreement is immediately executory unless a
motion is filed to set aside the agreement on the ground of fraud, mistake or duress in which case an appeal may be
taken against the order denying the motion (De Guzman v. Court of Appeals, 137 SCRA 730 [1985]; Zagata v.
Jimenez, 152 SCRA 148 [1987]). It then becomes ministerial for the lower court to order the execution of its final
executory judgment. (Service Specialists Incorporated v. Sheriff of Manila, 145 SCRA 139 [1986]; Landicho v.
Tensuan, 151 SCRA 410 [1987])
Even more than a contract which may be enforced by ordinary action for specific performance, the compromise
agreement is part and parcel of the judgment, and may therefore be enforced as such by a writ of execution (Tria v,

Lirag, 1 SC 1207 [1961]; Osmena v. Court of Agrarian Relations, 17 SC 828 [1966]; Paredes v. Court of Appeals, 132
SCRA 501 [1984])
Finally, when the terms of an amicable settlement are violated, as in the case at bar, the remedy of the aggrieved
party is to move for its execution (Valdez v. Octaviano, 1 SCRA 74 [961]; Parede s v. Court of Appeals, 132 SCRA 501
[1984]).
Petitioners claim that properties in custodia legis may not be the proper subject of a writ of execution to satisfy a
claim; that what private respondent could have done was to ask the Court a quo for an order requiring the
administrator to pay the debt and only if there are no sufficient funds on hand to pay the debt may the court order the
sale of the properties and out of the proceeds, to pay the debt. This argument is untenable inasmuch as the
dispositive portion of the very order approving the amicable settlement directs the judicial administrator to pay the
claim of FNCB Finance out of the funds and/or properties of the estate, to wit:
Conformably, the Judicial Administrator is hereby directed to pay out of the estate funds and/or
properties the amounts agreed upon within 30 days from receipt hereof.
Nevertheless, petitioner Judicial Administrator chose not to comply with said order. Inasmuch as the compromise
agreement is part and parcel of the judgment and may, therefore, be enforced as such by a writ of execution, the
respondent judge committed no reversible error in issuing the questioned writ of execution.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is Dismissed for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-15445

April 29, 1961

IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED MERCEDES CANO. FLORANTE C. TIMBOL,
administrator-appellee,
vs.
JOSE CANO, oppositor-appellant.
LABRADOR, J.:
Appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, Hon. Arsenio Santos, presiding, dated August 25,
1958, approving petitions of the administrator Florante C. Timbol dated January 6 and 8, 1958. The order appealed
from authorizes the administrator to increase the area of a subdivision to be formed out of the lands under
administration from 30 hectares to 41.9233 hectares and approves the plan of such increased area.
The intestate Mercedes Cano died in August, 1945, leaving as her only heir her son Florante C. Timbol then only 11
years old. On September 27, 1946, Jose Cano, brother of the intestate, was appointed administrator. On April 13,
1951 Jose Cano, filed a petition, thru his counsel Atty. Filemon Cajator, also an uncle of the minor Florante C. Timbol,
proposing that the agricultural lands of the intestate be leased to the administrator Jose Cano for an annual rental of
P4,000, this rental to be used for the maintenance of the minor and the payment of land taxes and dues to the
government. Judge Edilberto Barot, then presiding the court, approved the motion in an order dated April 27, 1951,
which reads:
WHEREFORE, the motion of the administrator and his lawyer dated April 13,1951, is hereby granted under the
conditions therein set forth and the further condition that all previous obligations of the administration
including the previous deficits are assumed by said administrator, and that the arrangement will continue only
as long as, in the judgment of contageous to the heir, the Court, the same continues to be advantageous to
the heir, Florante C. Timbol. (p. 27, Rec. on Appeal)
On January 14, 1956 the court, upon motion of the administrator and the conformity of the minor heir and his uncles,
approved the reduction of the annual rental of the agricultural lands of the intestate leased to the administrator from
P4,000 to P2,400 and the conversion of 30 hectares of the agricultural lands into a subdivision.
On April 2, 1957, upon motion of the administrator, a project of partition was approved, designating Florante C.
Timbol the sole and exclusive heir of all the properties of the intestate.
On June 6, 1957 Florante C. Timbol was appointed administrator in place of Jose Cano and on January 6, 1958 he
presented a motion, which he modified ina subsequent one of January 8, 1958, alleging among other things (a) that
the area destined for the projected subdivision be increased from 30 hectares to 41.9233 hectares and (b) that the
plan submitted be approved. The motions were approved but the approval was immediately thereafter set aside to
give opportunity to the former administrator and lessee Jose Cano to formulate his objections to the motions. Cano's
objections are (1) that the enlargement of the subdivision would reduce the land leased to him and would deprive his
tenants of their landholdings, and (b) that he is in possession under express authority of the court, under a valid
contract, and may not be deprived of his leasehold summarily upon a simple petition.
The court granted the motions of the administrator, overruling the objections of Jose Cano, in the order now subject
of appeal, which reads:
The said contract of lease is on all forms illegal. Under article 1646 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, a
new provision, "the persons disqualified to buy referred to in articles 1490 and 1491, are also disqualified to

become lessee of the things mentioned therein," and under article 1491 (3) o the same Code, executors and
administrators cannot acquire by purchase the property of the estate under administration.
If, as already stated, Florante C. Timbol was only pointed administrator on June 6, 1957 and the said contract
of lease having been executed on July 9, 1956, the same fall within the prohibition provided by law. However,
Jose C. Cano avers that this Court, in the instant proceedings, cannot pass upon the legality of the aforesaid
lease contract, but in its general jurisdiction. There is no need for the court to declare such contract illegal
and, therefore, null and void as the law so expressly provides.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations the court hereby grants Florante C. Timbol's petitions
date January 6 and 8, 1958, approving the amended plan for sub division, attached thereto, and overrules
Jose C. Cano's motion for reconsideration dated May 9, same year. (pp. 151-152 Record on Appeal) The
above is the subject of the present appeal.
The above is the subject of the present appeal.
In the first assignment of error appellant claims that the consideration of the motions of the administrator July 6 and
8, 1958, without due notice to him, who is lessee is a violation of the Rules of Court. This objection lost its force when
the court, motu proprio set aside it first order of approval and furnished copy of the motion to appellant and gave him
all the opportunity to present his objections thereto.
In the second and third assignments of error appellant argues that the court below, as a probate court, has no
jurisdiction to deprive the appellant of his rights under the lease, because these rights may be annulled or modified
only by a court of general jurisdiction. The above arguments are without merit. In probate proceedings the court
orders the probate of the will of the decedent (Rule 80, See. 5); grants letters of administration to the party best
entitled thereto or to any qualified applicant (Id., Sec. 6); supervises and controls all acts of administration; hears and
approves claims against the estate of the deceased (Rule 87, See. 13); orders payment of lawful debts (Rule 89, Sec.
14); authorizes sale, mortgage or any encumbrance of real estate (Rule 90, Sec. 2); directs the delivery of the estate
to those entitled thereto (Rule 91, See. 1). It has been held that the court acts as a trustee, and as such trustee,
should jealously guard the estate and see that it is wisely and economically administered, not dissipated. (Tambunting
vs. San Jose, G.R. No. L-8152.) .
Even the contract of lease under which the appellant holds the agricultural lands of the intestate and which he now
seeks to protect, was obtained with the court's approval. If the probate court has the right to approve the lease, so
may it order its revocation, or the reduction of the subject of the lease. The matter of giving the property to a lessee
is an act of administration, also subject to the approval of the court. Of course, if the court abuses its discretion in the
approval of the contracts or acts of the administrator, its orders may be subject to appeal and may be reversed on
appeal; but not because the court may make an error may it be said that it lacks jurisdiction to control acts of
administration of the administrator.
In the fourth assignment of error, appellant argues that the effect of the reduction of the area under lease would be to
deprive the tenants of appellant of their landholdings. In the first place, the tenants know ought to know that the
lands leased are lands under administration, subject to be sold, divided or finally delivered to the heir, according to
the progress of the administration of the lands of the intestate. The order appealed from does not have the effect of
immediately depriving them of their landholdings; the order does not state so, it only states that the lands leased
shall be reduced and subdivided. If they refuse to leave their landholdings, the administrator will certainly proceed as
the law provides. But in the meanwhile, the lessee cannot allege the rights of his tenants as an excuse for refusing the
reduction ordered by the court.
In the fifth assignment of error, appellant claims that his rights as lessee would be prejudiced because the land leased
would be reduced without a corresponding reduction in the rentals. This would be a matter to be litigate between the
administrator and himself before the probate court. But the fact of the prejudice alone cannot bar reduction of the
land leased, because such reduction is necessary to raise funds with which to pay and liquidate the debts of the estate
under administration.
The sixth assignment of error merits no attention on our part; it is appellant himself who, as administrator since 1945,
has delayed the settlement of the estate.
In the seventh assignment of error, appellant argues that since the project of partition had already been approved
and had become final, the lower court has lost jurisdiction to appoint a new administrator or to authorize the
enlargement of the land to be converted into a subdivision. This assignment of error needs but a passing mention. The
probate court loses jurisdiction of an estate under administration only after the payment of all the debts the remaining
estate delivered to the heirs entitled to receive the same. In the case at bar, the debts had not yet been paid, and the
estate had not yet been delivered to the heirs as such heir.
We have taken pains to answer all the arguments adduced by the appellant on this appeal. But all said arguments are
squarely laid to naught by the declaration of the court that the lease of the agricultural lands of the estate to the
appellant Cano, who was the administrator at the time the lease was granted, is null and void not only because it is
immoral but also because the lease by the administrator to himself is prohibited by law.(See Arts. 1646 and 1491,
Civil Code of the Philippines). And in view of the declaration of the court below that the lease is null and void, which
declaration we hereby affirm, it would seem proper for the administrator under the direction of the court, to take
steps to get back the lands leased from the appellant herein, or so much thereof as is needed in the course of
administration.
The court order appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against the appellant.

Rule 89
G.R. No. L-27876 April 22, 1992
ADELAIDA S. MANECLANG, in her capacity as Administrator of the Intestate Estate of the late Margarita
Suri Santos, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
JUAN T. BAUN and AMPARO S. BAUN, ET AL., defendants. CITY OF DAGUPAN, defendant-appellant.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


The issue presented in this case is the validity of a sale of a parcel of land by the administrator of an intestate estate
made pursuant to a petition for authority to sell and an order granting it which were filed and entered, respectively,
without notice to the heirs of the decedents.
The records disclose that on 12 June 1947, Margarita Suri Santos died intestate. She was survived by her husband
Severo Maneclang and nine (9) children. On 30 July 1947, a petition for the settlement of her estate was filed by
Hector S. Maneclang, one of her legitimate children, with the Court of First Instance at Dagupan City, Pangasinan; the
case was docketed as Special Proc. No. 3028. At the time of the filing of the petition, the ages of her children were as
follows:
Hector Maneclang 21 years old
Cesar Maneclang 19
Oscar Maneclang 17
Amanda Maneclang 16
Adelaida Meneclang 13
Linda Maneclang 7
Priscila Maneclang 6
Natividad Maneclang 3
Teresita Maneclang 2
No guardian ad litem was appointed by the court for the minor children.
Margarita left several parcels of land, among which is Lot No. 203 of the Cadastral Survey of Dagupan City containing
an area of 7, 401 square meters, more or less , and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 1393.
On 2 September 1949, Pedro M. Feliciano, the administrator of the intestate estate of Margarita, filed a petition in SP
Proc. No. 3028 asking the court to give him "the authority to dispose of so much of the estate that is necessary to
meet the debts enumerated" in the petition. While notice thereof was given to the surviving spouse, Severo
Maneclang, through his counsel, Atty. Teofilo Guadiz, no such notice was sent to the heirs of Margarita.
On 9 September 1949, despite the absence of notice to the heirs, the intestate court issued an Order "authorizing the
administrator to mortgage or sell so much of the properties of the estate for the purposes (sic) of paying off the
obligations" referred to in the petition.
Pursuant to this Order, Oscar Maneclang, the new administrator of the intestate estate, executed on 4 October 1952 a
deed of sale 1 in favor of the City of Dagupan, represented by its mayor, Angel B. Fernandez, of a portion consisting of
4,415 square meters of the aforementioned Lot No. 203 for and in consideration of P11,687.50. This sale was
approved by the intestate court on 15 March 1954.
The City of Dagupan immediately took possession of the land and constructed thereon a public market, known as the
Perez Boulevard Public Market, at a cost of P100,00.00, more or less. It has been in continuous and uninterrupted
possession of the property since the construction of the market. 2
Some other parcels of land belonging to the intestate estate were sold by the administrator pursuant of the same
authority granted by the 9 September 1949 Order. 3
On 28 September 1965, the new judicial administratrix of the intestate estate, Adelaida S. Maneclang, daughter of the
late Margarita Suri Santos, filed with the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan an action for the annulment of the
sales made by the previous administrator pursuant to the order of 9 September 1949, cancellation of titles, recovery
of possession and damages against the vendees Juan T. Baun and Amparo Baun, Marcelo Operaa and Aurora
Pagurayan, Crispino Tandoc and Brigida Tandoc, Jose Infante and Mercedes Uy Santos, Roberto Cabugao, Basilisa
Callanta and Fe Callanta, Ricardo Bravo and Francisca Estrada, the City of Dagupan, and Constantino Daroya and
Marciana Caramat. 4 The complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. D-1785. The cause of action against the City of
Dagupan centers around the deed of sale executed in its favor on 4 October 1952 by former judicial administrator
Oscar S. Maneclang. In its Answer filed on 5 November 1965, 5 the City of Dagupan interposed the following
affirmative defenses: (a) the sale in its favor is valid, legal and above board; (b) plaintiff has no cause of action
against it, or that the same, if any, had prescribed since the complaint was filed thirteen (13) years after the
execution of the sale; (c) plaintiff is barred by estoppel and laches; (d) it is a buyer in good faith; and (e) it has
introduced necessary and useful improvements and contructed a supermarket worth P200,000.00; hence, assuming

arguendo that the sale was illegal, it has the right to retain the land and the improvements until it is reimbursed for
the said improvements.
On 30 March 1966, plaintiff and the City of Dagupan entered into a Stipulation of Facts wherein they agreed on the
facts earlier adverted to. They, however, agreed: (a) to adduce evidence concerning the reasonable rental of the
property in question and other facts not embodied therein but which are material and vital to the final determination
of the case, and (b) to request the court to take judicial notice of SP Proc. No. 3028.
The evidence adduced by plaintiff discloses that Oscar Maneclang was induced by its then incumbent Mayor, Atty.
Angel B. Fernandez, to sell the property to the City of Dagupan and that the said City has been leasing the premises
out to numerous tenants at the rate of P0.83 per square meter per month, or a total monthly rental of P3,747.45,
since 4 October 1952. 6
On 9 November 1966, the trial court rendered a partial decision in Civil Case No. D-1785 against the City of Dagupan,
the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the Court hereby renders judgment:
(a) Annulling (sic) the Deed of Sale executed by the Administrator on October 4, 1952 (Exh. F) being
null and void ab initio;
(b) Ordering the cancellation of the Certificate of Title issued in favor of the defendant City of Dagupan
by virtue of said Deed of Sale, and directing the Register of Deeds of said City to issue a new
Certificate of Title in favor of the plaintiff as Administratrix covering the property in question;
(c) Ordering the defendant City of Dagupan to restore the possession to the plaintiff in her capacity as
Judicial Administratrix of the Intestate Estate of Margarita Suri Santos of the parcel of land in
question, together with all the improvements thereon existing;
(d) Ordering the defendant City of Dagupan City to pay the plaintiff the sum of P584,602.20 as
accumulated rentals or reasonable value of the use of the property in question from October 4, 1952
up to the filing of the complaint in 1985, plus interest thereon at the rate of 6% per annum from the
later date;
(e) Ordering the defendant City of Dagupan to pay a monthly rental or reasonable value of its
occupation of the premises in the amount of P3,747.45 from October 9, 1985 up to the date the
possession of the premises is delivered (sic) the plaintiff by said defendant, and
(f) Ordering the plaintiff to reimburse the defendant City of Dagupan the sums of P100,000.00 and
P11,687.50 both amounts to be deducted from the amount due the plaintiff from said defendant.
Defendant shall also pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.

In arriving at the said disposition, the trial court held that:


(a) Under Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, 8 which is similar to the provisions of Section 722 of the Code
of Civil Procedure, it is essential and mandatory that the interested parties be given notices of the
application for authority to sell the estate or any portion thereof which is pending settlement in a
probate court. As held in the early case of Estate of Gamboa vs. Floranza, 9 an order issued by a
probate court for the sale of real property belonging to the estate of a deceased person would be void
if no notice for the hearing of the petition for such sale is given as required by said Section 722. Under
this section, when such a petition is made, the court shall designate a time and place for the hearing
and shall require notice of such hearing to be given in a newspaper of general circulation; moreover,
the court may require the giving of such further notice as it deems proper.
In the instant case, no notice of the application was given to the heirs; hence, both the order granting
authority to sell and the deed of sale executed in favor of the City of Dagupan pursuant thereto, are
null and void.
(b) Estoppel does not lie against plaintiff as no estoppel can be predicated on an illegal act and
estoppel is founded on ignorance. In the instant case, the nullity is by reason of the non-observance of
the requirements of law regarding notice; this legal defect or deficiency deprived the probate court of
its jurisdiction to dispose of the property of the estate. Besides, the City of Dagupan was represented
in the transaction by lawyers who are presumed to know the law. This being the case, they should not
be allowed to plead estoppel; finally, estoppel cannot give validity to an act which is prohibited by law
or is against public policy. 10
(c) Laches and prescription do not apply. The deed of sale being void ab initio, it is in contemplation of
law inexistent and therefore the right of the plaintiff to bring the action for the declaration of
inexistence of such contract does not prescribe. 11

(d) The City of Dagupan is not a purchaser in good faith and for value as the former judicial
administrator, Oscar Maneclang, testified that he was induced by then incumbent Mayor of the City
Councilor Atty. Teofilo Guadiz, Sr. to sell the property; moreover, the City Fiscal signed as witness to
the deed of sale. These lawyers are presumed to know the law.
Not satisfied with the decision, the City of Dagupan appealed to this Court 12 alleging that said decision is contrary to
law, the facts and the evidence on record, and that the amount involved exceeds P500,000.00.
In its Brief, the City of Dagupan submits the following assigned errors:
FIRST ERROR
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE SALE EXECUTED BY THE JUDICIAL
ADMINISTRATOR TO THE CITY OF DAGUPAN IS NULL AND VOID AB INITIO.
SECOND ERROR
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PLAINTIFF IS NOT IN ESTOPPEL FROM ASSAILING THE
LEGALITY OF THE SALE.
THIRD ERROR
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE INSTANT ACTION IS NOT BARRED BY LACHES AND
PRESCRIPTION.
FOURTH ERROR
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT DEFENDANT CITY OF DAGUPAN IS NOT A
PURCHASER IN GOOD FAITH AND FOR VALUE.
FIFTH ERROR
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING DEFENDANT CITY OF DAGUPAN TO PAY THE PLAINTIFF THE
SUM OF P584,602.20 AS ACCUMULATED RENTALS OR REASONABLE VALUE OF (sic) THE USE OF THE
PROPERTY IN QUESTION FROM OCTOBER 4, 1952 UP TO THE FILING OF THE COMPLAINT IN 1965,
PLUS INTEREST THEREON AT THE RATE OF 6% PER ANNUM FROM THE LATER DATE.
SIXTH ERROR
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE DEFENDANT CITY OF DAGUPAN TO PAY A MONTHLY
RENTAL OR REASONABLE VALUE OF (sic) ITS OCCUPATION OF THE PREMISES IN THE AMOUNT OF
P3,747,45 FROM OCTOBER 9, 1965 UP TO THE DATE THE POSSESSION OF THE PREMISES IS
DELIVERED TO THE PLAINTIFF BY SAID DEFENDANT.
We shall consider these assigned errors sequentially.
1. In support of the first, appellant maintains that notice of the application for authority to sell was given to Severo
Maneclang, surviving spouse of Margarita. As the designated legal representative of the minor children in accordance
with Article 320 of the Civil Code, notice to him is deemed sufficient notice to the latter; moreover, after Oscar
Maneclang signed the deed of sale 13 in his capacity as judicial administrator, he "sent copies of his annual report and
the deed of sale to Severo Maneclang, and his brothers Hector Maneclang and Oscar Maneclang and sister Amanda
Maneclang, all of legal ages (sic), while the other minor heirs received theirs through his lawyer." 14 Besides, per
Flores vs. Ang Bansing, 15 the sale of property by the judicial administrator cannot be set aside on the sole ground of
lack of notice.
These contentions are without merit.
Article 320 of the Civil Code does not apply. While the petition for authority to sell was filed on 2 September 1949, the
Civil Code took effect only on 30 August 1950. 16 Thus, the governing law at the time of the filing of the petition was
Article 159 of the Civil Code of Spain which provides as follows:
The father, or in his default, the mother, shall be the legal administrator of the property of the
children who are subject to parental authority.
However, the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure on guardianship impliedly repealed those of the Civil Code
relating to that portion of the patria potestad (parental authority) which gave to the parents the administration and
usufruct of their minor children's property; said parents were however entitled, under normal conditions, to the
custody and care of the persons of their minor children. 17
Article 320 of the present Civil Code, taken from the aforesaid Article 159, incorporates the amendment that if the
property under administration is worth more than two thousand pesos (P2,000.00), the father or the mother shall give
a bond subject to the approval of the Court of First Instance. This provision then restores the old rule 18 which made
the father or mother, as such, the administrator of the child's property. Be that as it may, it does not follow that for

purposes of complying with the requirement of notice under Rule 89 of the Rules of the Court, notice to the father is
notice to the children. Sections 2, 4 and 7 of said Rule state explicitly that the notice, which must be in be writing,
must be given to the heirs, devisees, and legatees and that the court shall fix a time and place for hearing such
petition and cause notice to be given to the interested parties.
There can be no dispute that if the heirs were duly represented by counsel or by a guardian ad litem in the case of the
minors, the notice may be given to such counsel or guardian ad litem. In this case, however, only the surviving
spouse, Severo Maneclang, was notified through his counsel. Two of the heirs, Hector Maneclang and Oscar
Maneclang, who were then of legal age, were not represented by counsel. The remaining seven (7) children were still
minors with no guardian ad litem having been appointed to represent them. Obviously then, the requirement of notice
was not satisfied. The requisite set forth in the aforesaid sections of Rule 89 are mandatory and essential. Without
them, the authority to sell, the sale itself and the order approving it would be null and void ab initio. 19 The reason
behind this requirement is that the heirs, as the presumptive owners 20 since they succeed to all the rights and
obligations of the deceased from the moment of the latter's death, 21 are the persons directly affected by the sale or
mortage and therefore cannot be deprived of the property except in the manner provided by law.
Consequently, for want of notice to the children, the Order of 9 September 1949 granting the application, the sale in
question of 4 October 1952 and the Order of 15 March 1954 approving the sale are all void ab initio as against said
children. Severo Maneclang, however, stands on different ground altogether. Having been duly notified of the
application, he was bound by the said order, sale and approval of the latter. However, the only interest which
Severino Maneclang would have over the property is his right of usufruct which is equal to that corresponding by way
of legitime pertaining to each of the surviving children pursuant to Article 834 of the Civil Code of Spain, the
governing law at that time since Margarita Suri Santos died before the effectivity of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
2 Estoppel is unavailable as an argument against the administratrix of the estate and against the children.
As to the former, this Court, in Boaga vs. Soler, supra, reiterated the rule "that a decedent's representative is not
estopped to question the validity of his own void deed purporting to convey land; 22 and if this be true of the
administrator as to his own acts, a fortiori, his successor can not be estopped to question the acts of his predecessor
are not conformable to law." 23 Not being the party who petitioned the court for authority to sell and who executed
the sale, she cannot be held liable for any act or omission which could give rise to estoppel. Under Article 1431 of the
Civil Code, through estoppel an admission or representation is rendered conclusive upon the person making it, and
cannot be denied or disproved as against the person relying thereon. In estoppel by pais, as related to the party
sought to be estopped, it is necessary that there be a concurrence of the following requisites: (a) conduct amounting
to false representation or concealment of material facts or at least calculated to convey the impression that the facts
are otherwise than, and inconsistent with, those which the party subsequently attempts to assert; (b) intent, or at
least expectation that this conduct shall be acted upon, or at least influenced by the other party; and (c) knowledge,
actual or constructive of the actual facts. 24 In estoppel by conduct, on the other hand, (a) there must have been a
representation or concealment of material facts; (c) the party to whom it was made must have been ignorant of the
truth of the matter; and (d) it must have been made with the intention that the other party would act upon it. 25
As to the latter, considering that, except as to Oscar Maneclang who executed the deed of sale in his capacity as
judicial administrator, the rest of the heirs did not participate in such sale, and considering further that the action was
filed solely by the administratrix without the children being impleaded as parties plaintiffs or intervenors, there is
neither rhyme nor reason to hold these heirs in estoppel. For having executed the deed of sale, Oscar Maneclang is
deemed to have assented to both the motion for and the actual order granting the authority to sell. Estoppel operates
solely against him.
3 As to prescription, this Court ruled in the Boaga case that "[a]ctions to declare the inexsistence of contracts do not
prescribe (Art. 1410, N.C.C.), a principle applied even before the effectivity of the new Civil Code (Eugenio, et al. vs.
Perdido, et al., supra, citing Tipton vs. Velasco, 6 Phil. 67, and Sabas vs. Germa , 66 Phil. 471 )."
4. Laches is different from prescription. As the court held in Nielsen & Co. Inc . vs. Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., 26
the defense of laches applies independently of prescription. While prescription is concerned with the fact of delay,
laches is concerned with the effect of delay. Prescription is a matter of time; laches is principally a question of inequity
of permitting a claim to be enforced, this inequity being founded on some change in the condition of the property or
the relation of the parties. Prescription is statutory; laches is not. Laches applies in equity, whereas prescription
applies at law. Prescription is based on fixed time, laches is not.
The essential elements of laches are the following: (1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he
claims, giving rise to the situation of which complaint is made and for which the complaint seeks a remedy; (2) delay
in asserting the complainant's rights, the complainant having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit; (3) lack
of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which he bases his
suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the suit is not
held barred. 27
In the instant case, from time the deed of sale in favor of the City of Dagupan was executed on 4 October 1952, up to
the time of the filing of the complaint for annulment on 28 September 1965, twelve (12) years, ten (10) months and
twenty-four (24) days had elapsed.
The respective ages of the children of Margarita Suri Santos on these two dates were, more or less, as follows:
Upon execution At the filing
of the deed of sale of the complaint

Hector Maneclang 26 39
Cesar Maneclang 24 37
Oscar Maneclang 22 35
Amanda Maneclang 21 34
Adelaida Maneclang 18 31
Linda Maneclang 12 25
Priscila Maneclang 11 24
Natividad Maneclang 8 20
Teresita Maneclang 7 20
It is an undisputed fact that the City of Dagupan immediately took possession of the property and constructed thereon
a public market; such possession was open, uninterrupted and continuous. Obviously, Hector, Cesar, Oscar and
Amanda were already of legal age when the deed of sale was executed. As it was Oscar who executed the deed of
sale, he cannot be expected to renounce his own act. With respect to Hector, Cesar and Amanda, they should have
taken immediate steps to protect their rights. Their failure to do so for thirteen (13) years amounted to such inaction
and delay as to constitute laches. This conclusion, however, cannot apply to the rest of the children who were then
minors and not represented by any legal representative. They could not have filed an action to protect their interests;
hence, neither delay nor negligence could be attributed to them as a basis for laches. Accordingly, the estate is
entitled to recover 5/9 of the questioned property.
5. In ruling out good faith, the trial court took into account the testimony of Oscar Maneclang to the effect that it was
Mayor Fernandez of Dagupan City and Councilor Teofilo Guadiz, Sr., both lawyers, who induced him to sell the
property and that the execution of the sale was witnessed by the City Fiscal.
We are unable to agree.
While the order granting the motion for authority to sell was actually issued on 9 September 1949, the same was
secured during the incumbency of the then judicial administrator Pedro Feliciano. Even if it is to be assumed that
Mayor Fernandez and Councilor Guadiz induced Oscar Maneclang to sell the property, the fact remains that there was
already the order authorizing the sale. Having been issued by a Judge who was lawfully appointed to his position, he
was disputably presumed to have acted in the lawful exercise of jurisdiction and that his official duty was regularly
performed. 28 It was not incumbent upon them to go beyond the order to find out if indeed there was a valid motion
for authority to sell. Otherwise, no order of any court can be relied upon by the parties. Under Article 526 of the Civil
Code, a possessor in good faith is one who is not aware that there exists in his title or mode of acquisition any flaw
which invalidates it; furthermore, mistake upon a doubtful or difficult question of law may be the basis of good faith.
It implies freedom from knowledge and circumstances which ought to put a person on inquiry. 29 We find no
circumstance in this case to have alerted the vendee, the City of Dagupan, to a possible flaw or defect in the authority
of the judicial administrator to sell the property. Since good faith is always presumed, and upon him who alleges bad
faith on the part of the possessor rests the burden of proof, 30 it was incumbent upon the administrator to established
such proof, which We find to be wanting. However, Article 528 of the Civil Code provides that: "Possession acquired in
good faith does not lose this character except in the case and from the moment facts exist which show that the
possessor is not unaware that he possesses the thing improperly or wrongfully." The filing of a case alleging bad faith
on the part of a vendee gives cause for cessation of good faith.
In Tacas vs. Tobon, 31 this Court held that if there are no other facts from which the interruption of good faith may be
determined, and an action is filed to recover possession, good faith ceases from the date of receipt of the summons to
appear at the trial and if such date does not appear in the record, that of the filing of the answer would control. 32
The date of service of summons to the City of Dagupan in Civil Case No. D-1785 is not clear from the record. Its
Answer, however, was filed on 5 November 1965. Accordingly, its possession in good faith must be considered to have
lasted up to that date. As a possessor in good faith, it was entitled to all the fruits of the property and was under no
obligation to pay rental to the intestate of Margarita for the use thereof. Under Article 544 of the Civil Code, a
possessor in good faith is entitled to the fruits received before the possession is legally interrupted. Thus, the trial
court committed an error when it ordered the City of Dagupan to pay accumulated rentals in the amount of
P584,602.20 from 4 October 1952 up to the filing of the complaint.
6. However, upon the filing of the Answer, the City of Dagupan already became a possessor in bad faith. This brings
Us to the issue of reasonable rentals, which the trial court fixed at P3,747.45 a month. The basis thereof is the
monthly earnings of the city from the lessees of the market stalls inside the Perez Boulevard Supermarket. The lesses
were paying rental at the rate of P0.83 per square meter. Appellant maintains that this is both unfair and unjust. The
property in question is located near the Chinese cemetery and at the time of the questioned sale, it had no access to
the national road, was located "in the hinterland" and, as admitted by the former judicial administrator, Oscar
Maneclang, the persons who built houses thereon prior to the sale paid only P6.00 to P8.00 as monthly rentals and
the total income from them amounted only to P40.00 a month. Appellant contends that it is this income which should
be made the basis for determining the reasonable rental for the use of the property.
There is merit in this contention since indeed, if the rental value of the property had increased, it would be because of
the construction by the City of Dagupan of the public market and not as a consequence of any act imputable to the
intestate estate. It cannot, however, be denied that considering that the property is located within the city, its value
would never decrease; neither can it be asserted that its price remained constant. On the contrary, the land
appreciated in value at least annually, if not monthly. It is the opinion of this Court that the reasonable compensation
for the use of the property should be fixed at P1,000.00 a month. Taking into account the fact that Severo Maneclang,
insofar as his usufructuary right is concerned, but only until his death, is precluded from assailing the sale, having
been properly notified of the motion for authority to sell and considering further that the heirs, Hector, Cesar, Oscar
and Amanda, all surnamed Maneclang, are, as discussed above, barred by laches, only those portions of the monthly
rentals which correspond to the presumptive shares of Adelaida, Linda, Priscila, Natividad and Teresita, all surnamed

Maneclang, to the extent untouched by the usufructuary right of Severo Maneclang, should be paid by the City of
Dagupan. There is no showing as to when Severo Maneclang died; this date of death is necessary to be able to
determine the cessation of his usufructuary right and the commencement of the full enjoyment of the fruits of the
property by the unaffected heirs. Under the circumstances, and for facility of computation, We hereby fix the
presumptive shares in the rentals of the aforenamed unaffected heirs at P500.00 a month, or at P100.00 each,
effective 5 November 1965 until the City of Dagupan shall have effectively delivered to the intestate estate 5/9 of the
property in question. The latter, however, shall reimburse the City of Dagupan of that portion of the real estate taxes
it had paid on the land corresponding to 5/9 of the lot commencing from taxable year 1965 until said 5/9 part is
effectively delivered to the intestate estate.
Pursuant to Article 546 of the Civil Code, the City of Dagupan may retain possession of the property until it shall have
been fully reimbursed the value of the building in the amount of P100,000.00 and 5/9 of the purchase price
amounting to P6,493.05
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered AFFIRMING the decision in all respects, except to the extent as above
modified. As modified, (a) the sale in favor of the City of Dagupan, executed on 4 October 1952 (Exhibit "F"), is
hereby declared null and void; however, by reason of estoppel and laches as abovestated, only 5/9 of the subject
property representing the presumptive shares of Adelaida, Linda, Priscila, Natividad and Teresita, all surnamed
Maneclang, may be recovered; (b) subject, however, to its right to retain the property until it shall have been
refunded the amounts of P100,000.00 and P6,493.05, the City of Dagupan is hereby ordered to reconvey to the
intestate estate of Margarita Suri Santos 5/9 of the property in question, for which purpose said parties shall cause
the appropriate partition thereof, expenses for which shall be borne by them proportionately; and (c) the City of
Dagupan is further ordered to pay reasonable compensation for the use of 5/9 of the property in question at the rate
of P500.00 a month from 5 November 1965 until it shall have effectively delivered the possession of the property to
the intestate estate of Margarita Suri Santos. Upon the other hand, said intestate estate is hereby ordered to refund
to the City of Dagupan that portion of the real estate taxes the latter had paid for the lot corresponding to 5/9 thereof
effective taxable year 1965 and until the latter shall have delivered to said intestate estate.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 102380 January 18, 1993
HERODOTUS P. ACEBEDO and DEMOSTHENES P. ACEBEDO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. BERNARDO P. ABESAMIS, MIGUEL ACEBEDO, ALEXANDER ACEBEDO, NAPOLEON ACEBEDO,
RIZALINO ACEBEDO, REPUBLICA ACEBEDO, FILIPINAS ACEBEDO and YU HWA PING, respondents.
CAMPOS, JR., J.:
The lower court's jurisdiction in approving a Deed of Conditional Sale executed by respondents-heirs and ordering
herein administrator-petitioner Herodotus Acebedo to sell the remaining portions of said properties, despite the
absence of its prior approval as a probate court, is being challenged in the case at bar.
The late Felix Acebedo left an estate consisting of several real estate properties located in Quezon City and Caloocan
City, with a conservative estimated value of about P30 million. Said estate allegedly has only the following unsettled
claims:
a. P87,937.00 representing unpaid real estate taxes due Quezon City;
b. P20,244.00 as unpaid real estate taxes due Caloocan City;
c. The unpaid salaries/allowances of former Administrator Miguel Acebedo, and the incumbent
Administrator Herodotus Acebedo; and
d. Inheritance taxes that may be due on the net estate.
The decedent was succeeded by eight heirs, two of whom are the petitioners herein, and the others are the private
respondents.
Due to the prolonged pendency of the case before the respondent Court for sixteen years, respondents-heirs filed a
"Motion for Approval of Sale", on October 4, 1989. The said sale involved the properties covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title Nos. 155569, 120145, 9145, and 18709, all of which are registered in Quezon City, and form part
of the estate. The consideration for said lots was twelve (12) million pesos and by that time, they already had a
buyer. It was further stated in said Motion that respondents-heirs have already received their proportionate share of
the six (6) million pesos paid by the buyer, Yu Hwa Ping, as earnest money; that the balance of P6,000,000.00 is
more than enough to pay the unsettled claims against the estate. Thus, they prayed for the Court to direct the
administrator, Herodotus Acebedo (referred to as petitioner-administrator hereafter):
1. to sell the properties mentioned in the motion;
2. with the balance of P6 million, to pay all the claims against the Estate; and
3. to distribute the residue among the Heirs in final settlement of the Estate.

To the aforesaid Motion, herein petitioner-administrator interposed an "Opposition to Approval of Sale", to wit:
1. That he has learned that some of the heirs herein have sold some real estate property of the Estate
located at Balintawak, Quezon City, without the knowledge of the herein administrator, without the
approval of this Honorable Court and of some heirs, and at a shockingly low price;
2. That he is accordingly hereby registering his vehement objection to the approval of the sale,
perpetrated in a manner which can even render the proponents of the sale liable for punishment for
contempt of this Honorable Court;
3. The herein Administrator instead herein prays this Honorable Court to authorize the sale of the
above mentioned property of the Estate to generate funds to pay certain liabilities of the Estate and
with the approval of this Honorable Court if warranted, to give the heirs some advances chargeable
against theirs (sic) respective shares, and, for the purpose to authorize the herein Administrator, and
the other heirs to help the Administrator personally or through a broker, to look for a buyer for the
highest obtainable price, subject always to the approval of this Honorable Court. 1
On October 30, 1989, herein petitioners moved to be given a period of forty-five (45) days within which to look for a
buyer who will be willing to buy the properties at a price higher than P12,000,000.00.
The case was set for hearing on December 15, 1989. However, by said date, petitioners have not found any buyer
offering better terms. Thus, they asked the Court, on February 8, 1990, for an in extendible period of thirty days to
look for a buyer.
Petitioner-administrator then filed a criminal complaint for falsification of a public document against Yu Hwa Ping and
notary public Eugenio Obon on February 26, 1990. He initiated this complaint upon learning that it was Yu Hwa Ping
who caused the notarization of the Deed of Conditional Sale wherein allegedly petitioner-administrator's signature was
made to appear. He also learned that after he confronted the notary public of the questioned document, the latter
revoked his notarial act on the same.
On April 2, 1990, petitioner-administrator filed the civil action to secure the declaration by the Court of the nullity of
the Deed of Conditional Sale and the Deed of Absolute Sale.
The period granted herein petitioners having lapsed without having found a buyer, petitioner Demosthenes Acebedo
sought to nullify the Orders granting them several periods within which to look for a better buyer. Respondents filed a
comment thereon.
Having miserably failed to find a better buyer, after seven long months, petitioner-administrator filed another
"Opposition to Approval of Sale", dated May 10, 1990, maintaining that the sale should wait for the country to recover
from the effects of the coup d'etat attempts, otherwise, the properties should be divided among the heirs.
On June 21, 1990, petitioners filed a "Motion for Leave of Court to Mortgage and Lease some of the Properties of the
Estate". To this Motion, respondents filed an Opposition on the following grounds : that the motion is not proper
because of the pending motion to approve the sale of the same properties; that said conditional sale was initiated by
petitioner-administrator who had earlier signed a receipt for P500,000.00 as earnest money; that the approval of the
sale would mean Yu Hwa Ping's assumption of payment of the realty taxes; that the estate has no further debts and
thus, the intestate administrator may be terminated.
On August 17, 1990, respondent Court issued an Order, the dispositive portion of which, stated, among others, to wit:
2

b. the motion filed by the heirs-movants, dated October 4, 1989, praying that the new administrator
be directed to sell the properties covered by TCT Nos. 155569, 120145, 9145 and 18709, in favor of
Yu Hwa Ping is hereby denied; and
c. the new administrator is hereby granted leave to mortgage some properties of the estate at a just
and reasonable amount, subject to the approval of the Court.
On December 4, 1990, the respondent Judge issued an order resolving to call the parties to a conference on
December 17, 1990. The conference was held, but still the parties were unable to arrive at an agreement. So, on
January 4, 1991, it was continued, wherein the parties actually agreed that the heirs be allowed to sell their shares of
the properties to Yu Hwa Ping for the price already agreed upon, while herein petitioners negotiate for a higher price
with Yu Hwa Ping.
Petitioners, then, instead filed a "Supplemental Opposition" to the approval of the Deed of Conditional Sale.
On March 29, 1991, the respondent Court issued the challenged Order, the dispositive portion of which states, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the Order dated August 7, 1990, is hereby lifted, reconsidered and set aside, and
another one is hereby issued as follows:

1. Approving the conditional sale, dated September 10, 1989, executed by the heirs-movants, in favor
of Yu Hwa Ping, pertaining to their respective shares in the properties covered by TCT Nos. 155569,
120145, 1945 and 18709 of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City;
2. Ordering the administrator Herodotus Acebedo to sell the remaining portions of the said properties
also in favor of Yu Hwa Ping at the same price as the sale executed by the herein heirs-movants;
3. Ordering Yu Hwa Ping to deposit with the Court the total remaining balance of the purchase price
for the said lots within TWENTY (20) DAYS from notice hereof;
4. The motion to cite former administrator Miguel Acebedo in contempt of court, resulting from his
failure to submit the owner's copy of TCT Nos. 155569, and 120145 is hereby denied. 3
Yu Hwa Ping, on April 4, 1991, deposited the remaining balance of the purchase price for the properties subject of the
Deed of Conditional Sale in the amount of P6,500,000.00.
Petitioners herein received the questioned Order on April 11, 1991. Twenty one (21) days thereafter, they filed a
Motion for Reconsideration, praying that the Court reinstate its Order of August 17, 1990. To this, private respondents
filed their Opposition. 4
Instead of making a reply, petitioners herein filed a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. The motions for
reconsideration of herein petitioners were denied by the respondent Court on August 23, 1991.
On September 23, 1991, herein petitioners filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, hoping for the last time that they
would be able to convince the Court that its Order dated March 29, 1991 in effect approving the conditional sale is
erroneous and beyond its jurisdiction.
On October 17, 1991, the respondent Court denied the Motion for Partial Reconsideration for "lack of merit".
On November 7, 1991, private respondents filed a Motion for Execution of the Order dated March 29, 1991. This was
pending resolution when the petitioners filed this Petition for Certiorari.
The controversy in the case at bar revolves around one question: Is it within the jurisdiction of the lower court, acting
as a probate court, to issue an Order approving the Deed of Conditional Sale executed by respondents-heirs without
prior court approval and to order herein Administrator to sell the remaining portion of said properties?
We answer in the positive?
In the case of Dillena vs. Court of Appeals, 5 this Court made a pronouncement that it is within the jurisdiction of the
probate court to approve the sale of properties of a deceased person by his prospective heirs before final adjudication.
Hence, it is error to say that this matter should be threshed out in a separate action.
The Court further elaborated that although the Rules of Court do not specifically state that the sale of an immovable
property belonging to an estate of a decedent, in a special proceeding, should be made with the approval of the court,
this authority is necessarily included in its capacity as a probate court. Therefore, it is clear that the probate court in
the case at bar, acted within its jurisdiction in issuing the Order approving the Deed of Conditional Sale.
We cannot countenance the position maintained by herein petitioners that said conditional sale is null and void for lack
of prior court approval. The sale precisely was made conditional, the condition being that the same should first be
approved by the probate court.
Petitioners herein anchor their claim on Section 7, Rule 89 of the Rules of Court. 6 It is settled that court approval is
necessary for the validity of any disposition of the decedent's estate. However, reference to judicial approval cannot
adversely affect the substantive rights of the heirs to dispose of their ideal share in the co-heirship and/or coownership among the heirs. 7
This Court had the occasion to rule that there is no doubt that an heir can sell whatever right, interest, or participation
he may have in the property under administration. This is a matter which comes under the jurisdiction of the probate
court. 8
The right of an heir to dispose of the decedent's property, even if the same is under administration, is based on the
Civil Code provision 9 stating that the possession of hereditary property is deemed transmitted to the heir without
interruption and from the moment of the death of the decedent, in case the inheritance is accepted. Where there are
however, two or more heirs, the whole estate of the decedent is, before its partition, owned in common by such heirs.
10

The Civil Code, under the provisions on co-ownership, further qualifies this right. 11 Although it is mandated that each
co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and thus may
alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, the effect of the alienation or
the mortgage, with respect to the
co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the coownership. 12 In other words, the law does not prohibit a co-owner from selling, alienating or mortgaging his ideal
share in the property held in common. 13

As early as 1942, this Court has recognized said right of an heir to dispose of property under administration. In the
case of Teves de Jakosalem vs. Rafols, et al., 14 it was said that the sale made by an heir of his share in an
inheritance, subject to the result of the pending administration, in no wise, stands in the way of such administration.
The Court then relied on the provision of the Old Civil Code, Article 440 and Article 339 which are still in force as
Article 533 and Article 493, respectively, in the new Civil Code. The Court also cited the words of a noted civilist,
Manresa: "Upon the death of a person, each of his heirs 'becomes the undivided owner of the whole estate left with
respect to the part or portion which might be adjudicated to him, a community of ownership being thus formed among
the co-owners of the estate which remains undivided'."
Private respondents having secured the approval of the probate court, a matter which is unquestionably within its
jurisdiction, and having established private respondents' right to alienate the decedent's property subject of
administration, this Petition should be dismissed for lack of merit.
PREMISES considered, Petition is hereby DISMISSED. With Costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-44664 July 31, 1991
BERNARDO MENDOZA I, BERNARDO MENDOZA II, GUADALUPE M. MANGALE, JULIANA M. SAMONTE,
PACITA M. SAMONTE, RICARDO MENDOZA, FRANCISCO MENDOZA, PATRICIA MENDOZA, OLYMPIA M.
DIZON, ROMEO MENDOZA, REYNALDO MENDOZA, REMEDIOS M. BERNABE and TRINIDAD MANUEL
MENDOZA, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, RENATO SAMONTE and LUCIA DELA CRUZ SAMONTE, respondents.
MEDIALDEA, J.:p
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to nullify the decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 23, 1976, in
C.A G.R. No. 56049-R entitled "Bernardo Mendoza I, et al. v. Renato Samonte, et al.," which affirmed the decision of
the Court of First Instance of Bulacan; and its resolution dated September 15, 1976, which denied the motion for
reconsideration.
The antecedent facts are, as follows:
On February 18, 1969, petitioners Bernardo Mendoza I, Bernardo Mendoza II, Guadalupe M. Mangale, Juliana M.
Samonte, Pacita M. Samonte, Ricardo Mendoza, Francisco Mendoza, Patricia Mendoza, Olympia M. Dizon, Romeo
Mendoza, Reynaldo Mendoza, Remedios M. Bernabe and Trinidad Manuel Mendoza instituted before the Court of First
Instance of Bulacan an action for reconveyance of real property against private respondents spouses Renato Samonte
and Lucia de la Cruz Samonte. On October 27, 1970, petitioners filed a First Amended Complaint wherein they alleged
that in the event that the sale of the real property by petitioner Trinidad Manuel Mendoza to private respondents is
declared valid, they are nonetheless entitled to legal redemption.
During the pre-trial on June 28, 1971, the parties, through their respective counsel, submitted the following partial
stipulation of facts (pp. 48-51, Record on Appeal):
xxx xxx xxx
1. Plaintiffs are the legal heirs of the late Arcadio Mendoza of Barrio Taliptip, Bulacan, Bulacan;
plaintiff Trinidad Manuel being the surviving spouse of said Arcadio Mendoza and the rest of the
plaintiffs being the legitimate children of spouses Arcadio Mendoza (deceased) and Trinidad Manuel;
2. Arcadio Mendoza and Trinidad Manuel were married on April 22, 1923, in the Catholic Church,
Parish of Bulacan, Bulacan;
3. Areadio Mendoza died in the Barrio of Taliptip, Bulacan, Bulacan, on November 4, 1944;
4. The late Arcadio Mendoza left properties, real and personal, among which is the property covered
by Original Certificate of Title No. 12192 of the Register of Deeds of Bulacan, situated at Taliptip,
Bulacan, Bulacan, consisting of nine (9) parcels of land, with an aggregate area of 33,398 square
meters; . . .;
5. The property in question is Lot 3-A, which is a portion of Lot 3, which Lot 3-A is more particularly
described as follows:
(A parcel of land (Lot 3-A of the subdivision plan (LRC) Psd17370, being a portion of
Lot 3, described on plan Psu-51078, LRC (GLRO) Record No. 32994), situated in the
Barrio of Taliptip, Municipality of Bulacan, Province of Bulacan. Bounded on the NE.,
points 1 to 2 by (Lot 8, Psu-51078, Road Widening) Bulacan-Obando Provincial Road
(15-00 m. wide); on the SE., points 2 to 3 by property of Faustino Samonte; on the
SW., points 3 to 4 by property of Faustino Samonte; and on the NW., points 4 to 1 by
Lot 3-B of the Subdivision plan. Beginning at a point marked "1" on plan, being S, 30
deg. 52'E., 3794.82 m. from BLLM 1, Mp. of Bulacan,

thence S. 49 deg. 38'E., 46.93 m. to point 2;


thence S. 42 deg. 21 'W 49.94 m. to point 3;
thence N. 43 deg. 47'W., 47.33 m. to point 4;
thence N. 42 deg. 46'E., 45.14 m. to the point
of beginning containing an area of TWO THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY
EIGHT (2,238) SQUARE METERS, more or less. All points referred to are indicated on
the plan and are marked on the ground as follows: points 1 and 4 by PS. Cyl. Conc.
Mons. 15 x 60 cm., and the rest of Old PLS. Stone Mons. 20x20x60 cm., bearings
true; declination O deg. 48'E date of the original survey, April 27, 1926 and that of the
subdivision survey, July 21, 1961.
6. Arcadio Mendoza acquired ownership over the above-mentioned nine (9) parcels of land, including
Lot 3, through donation from the late Jose Samonte, which mode of acquisition was recognized and
adjudicated by the Court of Appeals in its decision dated September 23, 1964, in the case entitled
"Victor Samonte, et al. v. Maria Samonte, et al."; GR No. 22891-R; . . .;
7. In the case decided by the Court of Appeals, CA-G.R. No. 22891-R the plaintiffs were:
VICTOR SAMONTE, AGATONA SAMONTE, ARTEMIO VILLANUEVA, CELESTINO
VILLANUEVA, RAMON VILLANUEVA, MERCEDES VILLANUEVA, SANTOS VILLANUEVA,
MAXIMO VILLANUEVA, ALIPIO VILLANUEVA, SIXTO DE LOS REYES, JOSE DE LOS
REYES, LIGAYA DE LOS REYES, ELINO VILLANUEVA, CRISANTA VILLANUEVA, PEDRO
VILLANUEVA, NICOLAS VILLANUEVA, ARSENIO VILLANUEVA, BALTAZAR VILLANUEVA,
OTILLA VILLANUEVA, ENRIQUE VILLANUEVA, JOSE VILLANUEVA, ROLANDO
VILLANUEVA, MARTA MENDOZA, MARIA MENDOZA, FELIPA VILLENA, ADELA ANDAYA,
and MATIAS VILLANUEVA. (sic)
while the defendants were:
FAUSTINO SAMONTE, MARIA SAMONTE, BERNARDO MENDOZA, GUADALUPE M. VDA.
DE MANGALI, JULIANA MENDOZA, RAUL SAMONTE, BERNARDO MENDOZA II,
RICARDO MENDOZA, FRANCISCO MENDOZA, PACITA MENDOZA, CAYETANO SAMONTE
and TRINIDAD MANUEL, in her own right and as guardian-ad-litem for the minors,
OLIMPIA, PATRICIA, REYNALDO, REMEDIOS and ROMEO all surnamed MENDOZA;
8. The aforementioned Lot 3 was subsequently subdivided into two (2) lots, namely: Lot 3-A with an
area of 2238 square meters and Lot 3-B with an area of 2115 square meters, as shown in the
Subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-17370, dated September 7, 1961, duly approved by the Commissioner of
Land Registration, Antonio Noblejas;
9. One June 26,1962, plaintiff Trinidad Manuel Mendoza sold to defendants, Renato Samonte and
Lucia de la Cruz Samonte, Lot 3-A . . .;
10. The said "Dokumento ng Bilihan:" is written in Tagalog, signed by plaintiff Trinidad Manuel
Mendoza, as vendor, witnessed by plaintiffs Juliana Mendoza and Pacita Mendoza Samonte, and
notarized by Atty. Pedro Magsalin;
11. In said "Dokumento ng Bilihan," plaintiff Trinidad Manuel Mendoza declared the following:
Na sa aming kasunduan ng aking mga anak at ako, ang nasabing Lot 3-A ay siyang
aking kalahati sa nasabing Lot 3, na may kaunting lamang, at ang Lot 3-B ay siyang
nauukol sa aking mga anak na tunay nilang pag-aari. (See first paragraph, page 3,
Dokumento ng Bilihan, (Annex "C");
Na sa aking pakikpagkasundo (sic) sa aking mga anak at sa kanilang kapasiyahan at
kapahintulutan ang nasabing Lot 3-A ay siyang aking ipinagbili sa magasawang (sic)
Renato Samonte at Lucia de la Cruz, alang-alang sa aming pangako na ipagbili sa
nasabing magasawa ang kalahati ng naturang Lot 3, na ang halaga ay matagal ng
tinanggap namin sa mga nakabiling magasawa. (see second paragraph, page 3,
Dokumento ng Bilihan, supra);
Na alang-alang (sic) sa halagang TATLONG LIBO AT LIMANG DAANG PISO
(P3,500.00), Salaping Pilipino (sic), na aking ng (sic) tinanggap na may mga dalawang
taon na sa magasawang (sic) RENATO SAMONTE at LUCIA DE LA CRUZ, mga Pilipino
(sic), may sapat na gulang at naninirahan sa Taliptip, Bulacan, Bulacan, ay aking
ipinagbibili, isinasalin at inililipat sa nasabing magasawang Renato Samonte at Lucia
de la Cruz, sa kanilang mga anak at tagapagmana ang Lot 3-A ng Lote 3, na
binabanggit sa itaas nito, pati ng pagkamayari at possesion (sic) ng nasabing Lote 3A, na walang pinanagutan (sic) kahit ano hanggang sa petsang ito, at aking
ipagtatangol sa ano mang habol sa Lote 3-A ang mga bumiling magasawang (sic)

Renato Samonte at Lucia de la Cruz sa sarili kong pananagot. (See last paragraph,
page 2, Dokumento ng Bilihan, supra).
12. All the improvements in said Lot 3-A were placed therein by defendant spouses Renato Samonte
and Lucia de la Cruz Samonte.
WHEREFORE, parties herein respectfully pray that the foregoing partial stipulation of facts be
admitted, and that the above-entitled case be set for hearing for purposes of receiving evidence
insofar as the contorverted (sic) facts are concerned.
Malolos, Bulacan, June 18, 1971.
(SGD.) ERNESTO M. TOMANENG
Counsel for the plaintiffs
Suite 507 Marvel Bldg. I
258 Juan Luna, Manila
(SGD.) FRANCISCO E. RODRIGO, JR.
Counsel for the defendants
54 Dona (sic) Juana Rodriguez, St.
Quezon City
On October 15, 1973, the trial court dismissed the complaint, with costs against petitioners, based on the following
grounds (pp. 51-53, Record on Appeal):
There are several issues raised by the plaintiffs in their pre-trial brief as well as memorandum and
foremost among them is the question regarding the validity of the sale. According to the plaintiffs, the
sale of the disputed property in favor of the defendants was null and void because as a mere co-owner
of an undivided estate, Trinidad Mendoza had no right to divided (sic) the estate into parts and then
convey a part thereof by metes and bounds to a third person. Such was the case, according to the
plaintiffs, since there had never been any partition, judicial or extrajudicial, of the estate among the
heirs of the late Arcadio Mendoza.
It is apparent that the resolution of this issue will depend on whether or not the heirs of Arcadio
Mendoza had already partitioned his estate and in pursuance thereto, adjudicated the lot in question
to the plaintiff Trinidad Mendoza.
After examining the "Dokumento ng Bilihan," evidencing the sale of the lot in question to the
defendants, the Court is convinced that there was such an agreement to partition the properties,
including the one involved in this case, left by the deceased Arcadio Mendoza. From paragraphs 4 and
5 of said document, . . . it can readily be seen that the partition had been accomplished by the heirs of
Arcadio Mendoza. . . . Said paragraphs, which read as follows, clearly stated that it was the agreement
among the surviving children and wife of Arcadio Mendoza that Lot 3-A, which was the other half of
Lot 3, was to be the share of plaintiff Trinidad Mendoza while Lot 3-B would belong to the children:
Na sa aming kasunduan ng aking mga anak at ako, ang nasabing Lot 3-A ay siyang
aking kalahati sa nasabing Lot 3, na may kaunting lamang, at ang Lot 3-B ay siyang
nauukol sa aking mga anak na tunay nilang pagaari (sic).
Na sa aking pakikipagkasundo sa aking mga anak at sa kanilang kapasiyahan at
kapahintulutan ang nasabing Lot 3-A ay siyang aking ipinagbili sa magasawang (sic)
Renato Samonte at Lucia dela Cruz, alang-alang sa aming pangako na ipagbili sa
nasabing magasawa (sic) ang kalahati ng naturang Lot 3, na ang halaga ay matagal
ng (sic) tinanggap (sic) namin sa mga nakabiling magasawa (sic).
Indeed, it must habe (sic) been because of this agreement to partition the estate, that Lot 3, from
which the land in question came, was subdivided on September 7, 1961 by a surveyor as stated in the
second paragraph of said deed of sale.
Na upang mahati humigit kumulang sa dalawang bahagi ang nasabing Lote No. 3, ang
isa ay para sa mga anak ng namatay na aking asawang Arcadio Mendoza, at ang
pangalawa ay para sa akin na tunay kong pagaari (sic), ay ipinagawa namin ang ang
(sic) plano de subdivision (LRC) PSD-17370 petsa Sept. 7, 1961, aprobado ni G.
Antonio H. Noblejas, Comisionado ng Land Registration, at ang kinalabasan ay ang
mga sumusunod:
Lote 3-AArea 2238 sq. m.:

xxx xxx xxx


It bears emphasis that according to the fourth paragraph of the "Dokumento ng Bilihan" quoted
above, the sale made by plaintiff Trinidad Mendoza of Lot 3-A to the defendants had the prior consent
and approval of her children, the other plaintiffs herein.
In the opinion of the Court, the paragraphs cited above constitute clear admissions on the part of
plaintiff Trinidad Mendoza, who executed said deed of sale, and on the part of plaintiffs Pacita
Samonte and Juliana Samonte, who signed the same as witnesses, regarding the existence of the
partition agreement adjudicating to plaintiff Trinidad Mendoza the land in question before it was sold
to the defendants.
Of course, plaintiffs Trinidad Manuel, Pacita Samonte and Juliana Samonte, who all took the stand,
vehemently denied having read and understood the contents of the "Dokumento ng Bilihan" which
they admittedly signed. According to plaintiff Trinidad Manuel, she affixed her thumbmark on the
document when her sister Lourdes Manuel, the mother of defendant Renato Samonte, asked her to do
so and promised to take care of the "interests" of her children. On her part, Pacita Samonte claimed
that although she was able to read the title of the document, she did not read the contents thereof,
however, since she signed the same only upon the assurance of her aunt that her mother Trinidad
Mendoza, had already given her conformity. Juliana Samonte also denied having read the document
but alleged that her failure to do so was due to her illness then.
But in the opinion of the Court, all these deals cannot prevail over the presumption that the said
plaintiffs understood the contents of the deed of sale whtn (sic) they signed the same. For following
the ordinary course of human nature, one does not affix his signature on a legal document if he does
not understand the same. Besides, it appears that the "document (sic) ng Bilihan" was written in a
dialect spoken by and known to the said plaintiffs who while on the stand all testified in the Tagalog
dialect.
Moreover, according to plaintiff Romeo Mendoza, the son of plaintiff Trinidad Mendoza, the
"Dokumento ng Bilihan" was prepared by their lawyer, Atty. Pedro Magsalin who according to the
defendant Renato Samonte read the same to the plaintiffs Trinidad Mendoza, Juliana and Pacita
Samonte before the latter affixed their respective signatures, a fact which is not improbable.
Indeed, there is another circumstance showing why the denials of plaintiffs Trinidad Mendoza, Juliana
and Pacita Samonte cannot be given much credit. These three plaintiffs testified that they did not
know the contents of the deed of sale not only at the time they signed it but also after they had
executed the same. Yet, the undeniable fact remains that after the execution of said deed of sale in
1962, the defendants started building their house on the lot in question in barrio Taliptip, Bulacan,
Bulacan. The failure of said plaintiffs and of the other plaintiffs to stop or even question the
defendants regarding the construction of their house on the lot in question, which was being built
openly in the vicinity where they all resided, can only mean that the plaintiffs knew that the
defendants had a right to build on the disputed property.
Considering the finding of the Court that Lot 3-A, the property in question, was the subject of a
partition agreement and was adjudicated to plaintiff Trinidad Mendoza, it follows that said property
was no longer held in co-ownership by the plaintiffs at the time that it was sold to the defendants.
Such being the case, the provisions of Article 1620 of the Civil Code, allowing a co-owner to exercise
the right of redemption, cannot be applied.
To summarize, the trial court took into account the following in dismissing petitioners' complaint: (1) the
pertinent provisions of the "Dokumento ng Bilihan" to prove that Lot 3 has been subdivided and that Lot 3-A
has been adjudicated to petitioner Trinidad Manuel Mendoza; (2) the presumption that petitioners Trinidad
Manuel Mendoza, Pacita Samonte and Juliana Mendoza understood the contents of the document when they
signed it; (3) estoppel on the part of petitioners; and (4) non-applicability of Article 1620 of the Civil Code.
On appeal, the respondent Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court (p. 40, Rollo). The motion for
reconsideration was denied (p. 70, Rollo) Hence, the present petition.
The issues are whether or not: (1) the "Dokumento ng Bilihan" is valid; and (2) petitioners can still exercise the right
of legal redemption.
According to petitioners, on June 26, 1962, when the alleged "Dokumento ng Bilihan" was executed by Trinidad
Manuel Mendoza, Lot 3-A was still under litigation for it was only on September 23, 1964, that C.A.-G.R. No. 22891-R
was decided by the respondent court. This being the case, petitioners have not executed any agreement of partition,
judicial or extrajudicial. As held by the respondent court in C.A.-G.R. No. 22891-R, Lot 3-A (and other lots) was
donated by Jose Samonte to Arcadio Mendoza for which reason, petitioner Trinidad Manuel Mendoza is not entitled to
one-half (1/2) of Lot 3 but only to the share of one (1) legitimate child or 1/13 rights and interests, citing Article 996
of the Civil Code. 1 The "Dokumento ng Bilihan" is null and void insofar as it affects the rights and interests of the
other petitioners because petitioner Trinidad Manuel Mendoza can only sell her 1/13 rights and interests over Lot 3-A
and not more than that. Corollarily, the remaining petitioners can still exercise the right of legal redemption,
conformably with Article 1620 of the Civil Code. 2
Disputing these allegations of petitioners, private respondents contend that petitioner Trinidad Manuel Mendoza
declared under oath in the "Dokumento ng Bilihan" that Lot 3-A was given to her by virtue of an agreement of

partition between her and her children. She declared further that the land in question was sold by her to private
respondents with the knowledge and consent of her children. The amount paid therefor was known to her and her
children. The document was written in Tagalog, the dialect in Bulacan. It was signed by petitioner Trinidad Manuel
Mendoza, as vendor, witnessed by petitioners Pacita Samonte and Juliana Mendoza and prepared and notarized by
Atty. Pedro Magsalin, the family lawyer of petitioners. Having participated in, consented to and/or benefited from the
sale, petitioners are estopped from impugning the validity and enforcesbility thereof.
Likewise, We affirm.
In resolving the first issue, We have to settle two (2) sub-issues: (1) has Lot 3 been partitioned; and (2) if so, has the
subject lot been adjudicated to petitioner Trinidad Manuel Mendoza? In this case, the source of co-ownership among
the heirs was intestate succession. Where there are two or more heirs, the whole estate of the decedent is, before its
partition, owned in common by such heirs (Article 1078 of the Civil Code). Petitioners' co-ownership over Lot 3 was
extinguished when it was subdivided into Lot 3-A and Lot 3-B, which portions were concretely determined and
technically described (see de la Cruz v. Cruz, G.R. No. L-27759, April 17, 1970, 32 SCRA 307). Against the impetuous
denial of petitioners that Lot 3 has been partitioned (pp. 19, 96, 121, Rollo) is Exhibit A which is the Subdivision Plan
of Lot 3, (LRC) PSD-17370, dated September 7, 1961, duly approved by the Commissioner of Land Registration. It is
also Our finding that Lot 3-A has been adjudicated to petitioner Trinidad Manuel Mendoza. We take into account the
pertinent provisions of the "Dokumento ng Bilihan" and estoppel on the part of petitioners (pp. 6-8, supra). Therefore,
the "Dokumento ng Bilihan" is a valid document.
We resolve the second issue based on the previous discussion that the co-ownership has been extinguished. Article
1620 of the Civil Code applies only if the co-ownership still exists. If the property has been partitioned or an identified
share has been sold, there is no longer any right of legal redemption (see Umengan v. Butucan, et al., 117 Phil. 325;
Caro v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-46001, March 25, 1982, 113 SCRA 10).
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision dated June 23, 1976 and the resolution dated September
15, 1976 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Rule 90
G.R. No. 169454

December 27, 2007

THE HEIRS OF MARCELINO DORONIO, NAMELY: REGINA AND FLORA, BOTH SURNAMED DORONIO,
Petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF FORTUNATO DORONIO, NAMELY: TRINIDAD ROSALINA DORONIO-BALMES, MODING DORONIO,
FLORENTINA DORONIO, AND ANICETA ALCANTARA-MANALO, Respondents.
DECISION
REYES, R.T., J.:
For Our review on certiorari is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) reversing that2 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 45, Anonas, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, in an action for reconveyance and damages. The CA declared
respondents as rightful owners of one-half of the subject property and directed petitioners to execute a registerable
document conveying the same to respondents.
The Facts
Spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia Gante, now both deceased, were the registered owners of a parcel of land
located at Barangay Cabalitaan, Asingan, Pangasinan covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 352.3 The
courts below described it as follows:
Un terreno (Lote 1018), situada en el municipio de Asingan, Linda por el NE; con propriedad de Gabriel Bernardino;
con el SE con propriedad de Zacarias Najorda y Alejandro Najorda; por el SO con propriedad de Geminiano Mendoza y
por el NO con el camino para Villasis; midiendo una extension superficial mil ciento cincuenta y dos metros
cuadrados.4
The spouses had children but the records fail to disclose their number. It is clear, however, that Marcelino Doronio and
Fortunato Doronio, now both deceased, were among them and that the parties in this case are their heirs. Petitioners
are the heirs of Marcelino Doronio, while respondents are the heirs of Fortunato Doronio.
On April 24, 1919, a private deed of donation propter nuptias5 was executed by spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia
Gante in favor of Marcelino Doronio and the latters wife, Veronica Pico. One of the properties subject of said deed of
donation is the one that it described as follows:
Fourth A piece of residential land located in the barrio of Cabalitian but we did not measure it, the area is bounded
on the north by Gabriel Bernardino; on the east by Fortunato Doronio; on the south by Geminiano Mendoza and on
the west by a road to Villasis. Constructed on said land is a house of light materials also a part of the dowry. Value
200.00.6
It appears that the property described in the deed of donation is the one covered by OCT No. 352. However, there is a
significant discrepancy with respect to the identity of the owner of adjacent property at the eastern side. Based on
OCT No. 352, the adjacent owners are Zacarias Najorda and Alejandro Najorda, whereas based on the deed of
donation, the owner of the adjacent property is Fortunato Doronio. Furthermore, said deed of donation remained a
private document as it was never notarized. 7
Both parties have been occupying the subject land for several decades8 although they have different theories
regarding its present ownership. According to petitioners, they are now the owners of the entire property in view of
the private deed of donation propter nuptias in favor of their predecessors, Marcelino Doronio and Veronica Pico.
Respondents, on the other hand, claim that only half of the property was actually incorporated in the said deed of
donation because it stated that Fortunato Doronio, instead of Zacarias Najorda and Alejandro Najorda, is the owner of
the adjacent property at the eastern side. Respondents posit that the donors respected and segregated the possession
of Fortunato Doronio of the eastern half of the land. They are the ones who have been possessing said land occupied
by their predecessor, Fortunato Doronio.
Eager to obtain the entire property, the heirs of Marcelino Doronio and Veronica Pico filed, on January 11, 1993,
before the RTC in Urdaneta, Pangasinan a petition "For the Registration of a Private Deed of Donation" 9 docketed as
Petition Case No. U-920. No respondents were named in the said petition10 although notices of hearing were posted
on the bulletin boards of Barangay Cabalitaan, Municipalities of Asingan and Lingayen. 11
During the hearings, no one interposed an objection to the petition. 12 After the RTC ordered a general default,13 the
petition was eventually granted on September 22, 1993. This led to the registration of the deed of donation,
cancellation of OCT No. 352 and issuance of a new Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 44481 in the names of
Marcelino Doronio and Veronica Pico.14 Thus, the entire property was titled in the names of petitioners predecessors.
On April 28, 1994, the heirs of Fortunato Doronio filed a pleading before the RTC in the form of a petition in the same
Petition Case No. U-920. The petition was for the reconsideration of the decision of the RTC that ordered the
registration of the subject deed of donation. It was prayed in the petition that an order be issued declaring null and
void the registration of the private deed of donation and that TCT No. 44481 be cancelled. However, the petition was

dismissed on May 13, 1994 on the ground that the decision in Petition Case No. U-920 had already become final as it
was not appealed.
Determined to remain in their possessed property, respondent heirs of Fortunato Doronio (as plaintiffs) filed an action
for reconveyance and damages with prayer for preliminary injunction15 against petitioner heirs of Marcelino Doronio
(as defendants) before the RTC, Branch 45, Anonas, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan. Respondents contended, among
others, that the subject land is different from what was donated as the descriptions of the property under OCT No.
352 and under the private deed of donation were different. They posited that spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia
Gante intended to donate only one-half of the property.
During the pre-trial conference, the parties stipulated, among others, that the property was originally covered by OCT
No. 352 which was cancelled by TCT No. 44481. They also agreed that the issues are: (1) whether or not there was a
variation in the description of the property subject of the private deed of donation and OCT No. 352; (2) whether or
not respondents had acquired one-half of the property covered by OCT No. 352 by acquisitive prescription; (3)
whether or not the transfer of the whole property covered by OCT No. 352 on the basis of the registration of the
private deed of donation notwithstanding the discrepancy in the description is valid; (4) whether or not respondents
are entitled to damages; and (5) whether or not TCT No. 44481 is valid.16
RTC Decision
After due proceedings, the RTC ruled in favor of petitioner heirs of Marcelino Doronio (defendants). It concluded that
the parties admitted the identity of the land which they all occupy;17 that a title once registered under the torrens
system cannot be defeated by adverse, open and notorious possession or by prescription; 18 that the deed of donation
in consideration of the marriage of the parents of petitioners is valid, hence, it led to the eventual issuance of TCT No.
44481 in the names of said parents;19 and that respondent heirs of Fortunato Doronio (plaintiffs) are not entitled to
damages as they are not the rightful owners of the portion of the property they are claiming. 20
The RTC disposed of the case, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby renders judgment DISMISSING the herein Complaint filed by
plaintiffs against defendants.21
Disagreeing with the judgment of the RTC, respondents appealed to the CA. They argued that the trial court erred in
not finding that respondents predecessor-in-interest acquired one-half of the property covered by OCT No. 352 by
tradition and/or intestate succession; that the deed of donation dated April 26, 1919 was null and void; that assuming
that the deed of donation was valid, only one-half of the property was actually donated to Marcelino Doronio and
Veronica Pico; and that respondents acquired ownership of the other half portion of the property by acquisitive
prescription.22
CA Disposition
In a Decision dated January 26, 2005, the CA reversed the RTC decision with the following disposition:
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated June 28, 2002 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Declaring the appellants as
rightful owners of one-half of the property now covered by TCT No. 44481, the appellees are hereby directed to
execute a registerable document conveying the same to appellants.
SO ORDERED.23
The appellate court determined that "(t)he intention to donate half of the disputed property to appellees predecessors
can be gleaned from the disparity of technical descriptions appearing in the title (OCT No. 352) of spouses Simeon
Doronio and Cornelia Gante and in the deed of donation propter nuptias executed on April 24, 1919 in favor of
appellees predecessors."24
The CA based its conclusion on the disparity of the following technical descriptions of the property under OCT No. 352
and the deed of donation, to wit:
The court below described the property covered by OCT No. 352 as follows:
"Un terreno (Lote 1018), situada en el municipio de Asingan, Linda por el NE; con propriedad de Gabriel Bernardino;
con el SE con propriedad de Zacarias Najorda y Alejandro Najorda; por el SO con propriedad de Geminiano Mendoza y
por el NO con el camino para Villasis; midiendo una extension superficial mil ciento cincuenta y dos metros
cuadrados."
On the other hand, the property donated to appellees predecessors was described in the deed of donation as:
"Fourth A piece of residential land located in the barrio of Cabalitian but we did not measure it, the area is bounded
on the north by Gabriel Bernardino; on the east by Fortunato Doronio; on the south by Geminiano Mendoza and on
the west by a road to Villasis. Constructed on said land is a house of light materials also a part of the dowry. Value
200.00."25 (Emphasis ours)

Taking note "that the boundaries of the lot donated to Marcelino Doronio and Veronica Pico differ from the boundaries
of the land owned by spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia Gante," the CA concluded that spouses Simeon Doronio
and Cornelia Gante donated only half of the property covered by OCT No. 352. 26
Regarding the allegation of petitioners that OCT No. 352 is inadmissible in evidence, the CA pointed out that, "while
the OCT is written in the Spanish language, this document already forms part of the records of this case for failure of
appellees to interpose a timely objection when it was offered as evidence in the proceedings a quo. It is a well-settled
rule that any objection to the admissibility of such evidence not raised will be considered waived and said evidence
will have to form part of the records of the case as competent and admitted evidence."27
The CA likewise ruled that the donation of the entire property in favor of petitioners predecessors is invalid on the
ground that it impairs the legitime of respondents predecessor, Fortunato Doronio. On this aspect, the CA reasoned
out:
Moreover, We find the donation of the entire property in favor of appellees predecessors invalid as it impairs the
legitime of appellants predecessor. Article 961 of the Civil Code is explicit. "In default of testamentary heirs, the law
vests the inheritance, x x x, in the legitimate x x x relatives of the deceased, x x x." As Spouses Simeon Doronio and
Cornelia Gante died intestate, their property shall pass to their lawful heirs, namely: Fortunato and Marcelino Doronio.
Donating the entire property to Marcelino Doronio and Veronica Pico and excluding another heir, Fortunato,
tantamounts to divesting the latter of his rightful share in his parents inheritance. Besides, a persons prerogative to
make donations is subject to certain limitations, one of which is that he cannot give by donation more than what he
can give by will (Article 752, Civil Code). If he does, so much of what is donated as exceeds what he can give by will
is deemed inofficious and the donation is reducible to the extent of such excess. 28
Petitioners were not pleased with the decision of the CA. Hence, this petition under Rule 45.
Issues
Petitioners now contend that the CA erred in:
1. DECLARING ADMISSIBILITY OF THE ORIGINAL CERTIFICATE OF TITLE NO. 352 DESPITE OF LACK OF
TRANSLATION THEREOF.
2. (RULING THAT) ONLY HALF OF THE DISPUTED PROPERTY WAS DONATED TO THE PREDECESSORS-ININTEREST OF THE HEREIN APPELLANTS.
3. (ITS) DECLARATION THAT THE DONATION PROPTER NUPTIAS IS INNOFICIOUS, IS PREMATURE, AND THUS
IT IS ILLEGAL AND UNPROCEDURAL.29
Our Ruling
OCT No. 352 in Spanish Although Not
Translated into English or Filipino Is
Admissible For Lack of Timely Objection
Petitioners fault the CA for admitting OCT No. 352 in evidence on the ground that it is written in Spanish language.
They posit that "(d)ocumentary evidence in an unofficial language shall not be admitted as evidence, unless
accompanied with a translation into English or Filipino."30
The argument is untenable. The requirement that documents written in an unofficial language must be accompanied
with a translation in English or Filipino as a prerequisite for its admission in evidence must be insisted upon by the
parties at the trial to enable the court, where a translation has been impugned as incorrect, to decide the issue. 31
Where such document, not so accompanied with a translation in English or Filipino, is offered in evidence and not
objected to, either by the parties or the court, it must be presumed that the language in which the document is
written is understood by all, and the document is admissible in evidence. 32
Moreover, Section 36, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Evidence provides:
SECTION 36. Objection. Objection to evidence offered orally must be made immediately after the offer is made.
Objection to a question propounded in the course of the oral examination of a witness shall be made as soon as the
grounds therefor shall become reasonably apparent.
An offer of evidence in writing shall be objected to within three (3) days after notice of the offer unless a different
period is allowed by the court.
In any case, the grounds for the objections must be specified. (Emphasis ours)
Since petitioners did not object to the offer of said documentary evidence on time, it is now too late in the day for
them to question its admissibility. The rule is that evidence not objected may be deemed admitted and may be validly
considered by the court in arriving at its judgment.33 This is true even if by its nature, the evidence is inadmissible
and would have surely been rejected if it had been challenged at the proper time. 34

As a matter of fact, instead of objecting, petitioners admitted the contents of Exhibit "A," that is, OCT No. 352 in their
comment35 on respondents formal offer of documentary evidence. In the said comment, petitioners alleged, among
others, that "Exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F and G, are admitted but not for the purpose they are offered because these
exhibits being public and official documents are the best evidence of that they contain and not for what a party would
like it to prove."36 Said evidence was admitted by the RTC.37 Once admitted without objection, even though not
admissible under an objection, We are not inclined now to reject it.38 Consequently, the evidence that was not
objected to became property of the case, and all parties to the case are considered amenable to any favorable or
unfavorable effects resulting from the said evidence. 39
Issues on Impairment of Legitime
Should Be Threshed Out in a Special
Proceeding, Not in Civil Action for
Reconveyance and Damages
On the other hand, petitioners are correct in alleging that the issue regarding the impairment of legitime of Fortunato
Doronio must be resolved in an action for the settlement of estates of spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia Gante. It
may not be passed upon in an action for reconveyance and damages. A probate court, in the exercise of its limited
jurisdiction, is the best forum to ventilate and adjudge the issue of impairment of legitime as well as other related
matters involving the settlement of estate.40
An action for reconveyance with damages is a civil action, whereas matters relating to settlement of the estate of a
deceased person such as advancement of property made by the decedent, partake of the nature of a special
proceeding. Special proceedings require the application of specific rules as provided for in the Rules of Court. 41
As explained by the Court in Natcher v. Court of Appeals:42
Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines civil action and special proceedings, in this wise:
x x x a) A civil action is one by which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the
prevention or redress of a wrong.
A civil action may either be ordinary or special. Both are governed by the rules for ordinary civil actions, subject to
specific rules prescribed for a special civil action.
xxxx
c) A special proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact.
As could be gleaned from the foregoing, there lies a marked distinction between an action and a special proceeding.
An action is a formal demand of ones right in a court of justice in the manner prescribed by the court or by the law. It
is the method of applying legal remedies according to definite established rules. The term "special proceeding" may be
defined as an application or proceeding to establish the status or right of a party, or a particular fact. Usually, in
special proceedings, no formal pleadings are required unless the statute expressly so provides. In special proceedings,
the remedy is granted generally upon an application or motion.
Citing American Jurisprudence, a noted authority in Remedial Law expounds further:
It may accordingly be stated generally that actions include those proceedings which are instituted and prosecuted
according to the ordinary rules and provisions relating to actions at law or suits in equity, and that special proceedings
include those proceedings which are not ordinary in this sense, but is instituted and prosecuted according to some
special mode as in the case of proceedings commenced without summons and prosecuted without regular pleadings,
which are characteristics of ordinary actions x x x. A special proceeding must therefore be in the nature of a distinct
and independent proceeding for particular relief, such as may be instituted independently of a pending action, by
petition or motion upon notice.
Applying these principles, an action for reconveyance and annulment of title with damages is a civil action, whereas
matters relating to settlement of the estate of a deceased person such as advancement of property made by the
decedent, partake of the nature of a special proceeding, which concomitantly requires the application of specific rules
as provided for in the Rules of Court.
Clearly, matters which involve settlement and distribution of the estate of the decedent fall within the exclusive
province of the probate court in the exercise of its limited jurisdiction.
Thus, under Section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, questions as to advancement made or alleged to have been
made by the deceased to any heir may be heard and determined by the court having jurisdiction of the estate
proceedings, and the final order of the court thereon shall be binding on the person raising the questions and on the
heir.
While it may be true that the Rules used the word "may," it is nevertheless clear that the same provision
contemplates a probate court when it speaks of the "court having jurisdiction of the estate proceedings."
Corollarily, the Regional Trial Court in the instant case, acting in its general jurisdiction, is devoid of authority to
render an adjudication and resolve the issue of advancement of the real property in favor of herein petitioner Natcher,
inasmuch as Civil Case No. 71075 for reconveyance and annulment of title with damages is not, to our mind, the

proper vehicle to thresh out said question. Moreover, under the present circumstances, the RTC of Manila, Branch 55,
was not properly constituted as a probate court so as to validly pass upon the question of advancement made by the
decedent Graciano Del Rosario to his wife, herein petitioner Natcher.
We likewise find merit in petitioners contention that before any conclusion about the legal share due to a compulsory
heir may be reached, it is necessary that certain steps be taken first. 43 The net estate of the decedent must be
ascertained, by deducting all payable obligations and charges from the value of the property owned by the deceased
at the time of his death; then, all donations subject to collation would be added to it. With the partible estate thus
determined, the legitime of the compulsory heir or heirs can be established; and only then can it be ascertained
whether or not a donation had prejudiced the legitimes. 44
Declaration of Validity of Donation
Can Be Challenged by an Interested
Party Not Impleaded in Petition for
Quieting of Title or Declaratory Relief
or Where There is No Res Judicata.
Moreover, This Court Can Consider
a Factual Matter or Unassigned Error
in the Interest of Substantial Justice.
Nevertheless, petitioners cannot preclude the determination of validity of the deed of donation on the ground that (1)
it has been impliedly admitted by respondents; (2) it has already been determined with finality by the RTC in Petition
Case No. U-920; or (3) the only issue in an action for reconveyance is who has a better right over the land. 45
The validity of the private deed of donation propter nuptias in favor of petitioners predecessors was one of the issues
in this case before the lower courts. The pre-trial order46 of the RTC stated that one of the issues before it is
"(w)hether or not the transfer of the whole property covered by OCT No. 352 on the basis of the private deed of
donation notwithstanding the discrepancy in the description is valid." Before the CA, one of the errors assigned by
respondents is that "THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE PRIVATE DEED OF DONATION DATED
APRIL 26, 1919 WAS NULL AND VOID."47
The issue of the validity of donation is likewise brought to Us by petitioners as they stated in their Memorandum 48 that
one of the issues to be resolved is regarding the alleged fact that "THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
FINDING THE DONATION INVALID." We are thus poised to inspect the deed of donation and to determine its validity.
We cannot agree with petitioners contention that respondents may no longer question the validity of the deed of
donation on the ground that they already impliedly admitted it. Under the provisions of the Civil Code, a void contract
is inexistent from the beginning. The right to set up the defense of its illegality cannot be waived. 49 The right to set up
the nullity of a void or non-existent contract is not limited to the parties as in the case of annullable or voidable
contracts; it is extended to third persons who are directly affected by the contract.50
Consequently, although respondents are not parties in the deed of donation, they can set up its nullity because they
are directly affected by the same.51 The subject of the deed being the land they are occupying, its enforcement will
definitely affect them.
Petitioners cannot also use the finality of the RTC decision in Petition Case No. U-92052 as a shield against the
verification of the validity of the deed of donation. According to petitioners, the said final decision is one for quieting of
title.53 In other words, it is a case for declaratory relief under Rule 64 (now Rule 63) of the Rules of Court, which
provides:
SECTION 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested under a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, or
whose rights are affected by a statute, executive order or regulation, or ordinance, may, before breach or violation
thereof, bring an action to determine any question of construction or validity arising under the instrument or statute
and for a declaration of his rights or duties thereunder.
An action for the reformation of an instrument, to quiet title to real property or remove clouds therefrom, or to
consolidate ownership under Article 1607 of the Civil Code, may be brought under this rule.
SECTION 2. Parties. All persons shall be made parties who have or claim any interest which would be affected by
the declaration; and no declaration shall, except as otherwise provided in these rules, prejudice the rights of persons
not parties to the action. (Emphasis ours)
However, respondents were not made parties in the said Petition Case No. U-920.1wphi1 Worse, instead of issuing
summons to interested parties, the RTC merely allowed the posting of notices on the bulletin boards of Barangay
Cabalitaan, Municipalities of Asingan and Lingayen, Pangasinan. As pointed out by the CA, citing the ruling of the RTC:
x x x In the said case or Petition No. U-920, notices were posted on the bulletin boards of barangay Cabalitaan,
Municipalities of Asingan and Lingayen, Pangasinan, so that there was a notice to the whole world and during the
initial hearing and/or hearings, no one interposed objection thereto.54
Suits to quiet title are not technically suits in rem, nor are they, strictly speaking, in personam, but being against the
person in respect of the res, these proceedings are characterized as quasi in rem. 55 The judgment in such proceedings
is conclusive only between the parties.56 Thus, respondents are not bound by the decision in Petition Case No. U-920
as they were not made parties in the said case.

The rules on quieting of title57 expressly provide that any declaration in a suit to quiet title shall not prejudice persons
who are not parties to the action.
That respondents filed a subsequent pleading58 in the same Petition Case No. U-920 after the decision there had
become final did not change the fact that said decision became final without their being impleaded in the case. Said
subsequent pleading was dismissed on the ground of finality of the decision. 59
Thus, the RTC totally failed to give respondents their day in court. As a result, they cannot be bound by its orders.
Generally accepted is the principle that no man shall be affected by any proceeding to which he is a stranger, and
strangers to a case are not bound by judgment rendered by the court. 60
Moreover, for the principle of res judicata to apply, the following must be present: (1) a decision on the merits; (2) by
a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) the decision is final; and (4) the two actions involve identical parties, subject
matter and causes of action.61 The fourth element is not present in this case. The parties are not identical because
respondents were not impleaded in Petition Case No. U-920. While the subject matter may be the same property
covered by OCT No. 352, the causes of action are different. Petition Case No. U-920 is an action for declaratory relief
while the case below is for recovery of property.
We are not persuaded by petitioners posture that the only issue in this action for reconveyance is who has a better
right over the land; and that the validity of the deed of donation is beside the point.62 It is precisely the validity and
enforceability of the deed of donation that is the determining factor in resolving the issue of who has a better right
over the property. Moreover, notwithstanding procedural lapses as to the appropriateness of the remedies prayed for
in the petition filed before Us, this Court can brush aside the technicalities in the interest of justice. In some instances,
this Court even suspended its own rules and excepted a case from their operation whenever the higher interests of
justice so demanded.63
Moreover, although respondents did not directly raise the issue of validity of the deed of donation at the
commencement of the case before the trial court, it was stipulated 64 by the parties during the pre-trial conference. In
any event, this Court has authority to inquire into any question necessary in arriving at a just decision of a case
before it.65 Though not specifically questioned by the parties, additional issues may also be included, if deemed
important for substantial justice to be rendered. 66
Furthermore, this Court has held that although a factual issue is not squarely raised below, still in the interest of
substantial justice, this Court is not prevented from considering a pivotal factual matter. The Supreme Court is clothed
with ample authority to review palpable errors not assigned as such if it finds that their consideration is necessary in
arriving at a just decision.67
A rudimentary doctrine on appealed cases is that this Court is clothed with ample authority to review matters, even if
they are not assigned as errors on appeal, if it finds that their consideration is necessary at arriving at a just decision
of the case.68 Also, an unassigned error closely related to an error properly assigned or upon which the determination
of the question raised by the error properly assigned is dependent, will be considered by the appellate court
notwithstanding the failure to assign it as an error.69
Donation Propter Nuptias of Real
Property Made in a Private Instrument
Before the New Civil Code Took Effect
on August 30, 1950 is Void
We now focus on the crux of the petition, which is the validity of the deed of donation.1avvphi1 It is settled that only
laws existing at the time of the execution of a contract are applicable to it and not the later statutes, unless the latter
are specifically intended to have retroactive effect. 70 Accordingly, the Old Civil Code applies in this case as the
donation propter nuptias was executed in 1919, while the New Civil Code took effect only on August 30, 1950.
Under the Old Civil Code, donations propter nuptias must be made in a public instrument in which the property
donated must be specifically described.71 Article 1328 of the Old Civil Code provides that gifts propter nuptias are
governed by the rules established in Title 2 of Book 3 of the same Code. Article 633 of that title provides that the gift
of real property, in order to be valid, must appear in a public document. 72 It is settled that a donation of real estate
propter nuptias is void unless made by public instrument. 73
In the instant case, the donation propter nuptias did not become valid. Neither did it create any right because it was
not made in a public instrument.74 Hence, it conveyed no title to the land in question to petitioners predecessors.
Logically, then, the cancellation of OCT No. 352 and the issuance of a new TCT No. 44481 in favor of petitioners
predecessors have no legal basis. The title to the subject property should, therefore, be restored to its original owners
under OCT No. 352.
Direct reconveyance to any of the parties is not possible as it has not yet been determined in a proper proceeding who
among the heirs of spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia Gante is entitled to it. It is still unproven whether or not the
parties are the only ones entitled to the properties of spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia Gante. As earlier
intimated, there are still things to be done before the legal share of all the heirs can be properly adjudicated. 75
Titled Property Cannot Be Acquired
By Another By Adverse Possession
or Extinctive Prescription

Likewise, the claim of respondents that they became owners of the property by acquisitive prescription has no merit.
Truth to tell, respondents cannot successfully invoke the argument of extinctive prescription. They cannot be deemed
the owners by acquisitive prescription of the portion of the property they have been possessing. The reason is that the
property was covered by OCT No. 352. A title once registered under the torrens system cannot be defeated even by
adverse, open and notorious possession; neither can it be defeated by prescription.76 It is notice to the whole world
and as such all persons are bound by it and no one can plead ignorance of the registration.77
The torrens system is intended to guarantee the integrity and conclusiveness of the certificate of registration, but it
cannot be used for the perpetration of fraud against the real owner of the registered land. 78 The system merely
confirms ownership and does not create it. Certainly, it cannot be used to divest the lawful owner of his title for the
purpose of transferring it to another who has not acquired it by any of the modes allowed or recognized by law. It
cannot be used to protect a usurper from the true owner, nor can it be used as a shield for the commission of fraud;
neither does it permit one to enrich himself at the expense of another. 79 Where such an illegal transfer is made, as in
the case at bar, the law presumes that no registration has been made and so retains title in the real owner of the
land.80
Although We confirm here the invalidity of the deed of donation and of its resulting TCT No. 44481, the controversy
between the parties is yet to be fully settled. The issues as to who truly are the present owners of the property and
what is the extent of their ownership remain unresolved. The same may be properly threshed out in the settlement of
the estates of the registered owners of the property, namely: spouses Simeon Doronio and Cornelia Gante.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. A new one is entered:
(1) Declaring the private deed of donation propter nuptias in favor of petitioners predecessors NULL AND
VOID; and
(2) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan to:
(a) CANCEL Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44481 in the names of Marcelino Doronio and Veronica
Pico; and
(b) RESTORE Original Certificate of Title No. 352 in the names of its original owners, spouses Simeon
Doronio and Cornelia Gante.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 178933

September 16, 2009

RICARDO S. SILVERIO, JR. Petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS (Fifth Division) and NELIA S. SILVERIO-DEE, Respondents.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
The Case
This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 65 seeks the reversal of the May 4, 2007 Resolution1 and July 6,
2007 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 98764, entitled Nelia S. Silverio-Dee and Ricardo C.
Silverio, Sr. (impleaded as necessary party) v. Reinato G. Quilala, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the RTC of
Makati, Branch 57, Ricardo S. Silverio, Jr., Edmundo S. Silverio, represented by Nestor Dela Merced II, and Sheriff
Villamor R. Villegas.
The assailed resolution granted private respondents prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order against
public respondent Judge Quilala. On the other hand, the assailed decision set aside the Writ of Execution dated April
17, 2007 and the Notice to Vacate dated April 19, 2007 while directing the respondent lower court to give due course
to the appeal of herein private respondent.
The Facts
The instant controversy stemmed from the settlement of estate of the deceased Beatriz Silverio. After her death, her
surviving spouse, Ricardo Silverio, Sr., filed an intestate proceeding for the settlement of her estate. The case was
docketed as SP. PROC. NO. M-2629 entitled In Re: Estate of the Late Beatriz D. Silverio, Ricardo C. Silverio, Sr. v.
Ricardo S. Silverio Jr., et al. pending before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 57 (RTC).
On November 16, 2004, during the pendency of the case, Ricardo Silverio, Jr. filed a petition to remove Ricardo C.
Silverio, Sr. as the administrator of the subject estate. On November 22, 2004, Edmundo S. Silverio also filed a
comment/opposition for the removal of Ricardo C. Silverio, Sr. as administrator of the estate and for the appointment
of a new administrator.
On January 3, 2005, the RTC issued an Order granting the petition and removing Ricardo Silverio, Sr. as administrator
of the estate, while appointing Ricardo Silverio, Jr. as the new administrator.

On January 26, 2005, Nelia S. Silverio-Dee filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated January 3, 2005, as
well as all other related orders.
On February 4, 2005, Ricardo Silverio Jr. filed an Urgent Motion for an Order Prohibiting Any Person to
Occupy/Stay/Use Real Estate Properties Involved in the Intestate Estate of the Late Beatriz Silverio, Without Authority
from this Honorable Court.3
Then, on May 31, 2005, the RTC issued an Omnibus Order4 affirming its Order dated January 3, 2005 and denying
private respondents motion for reconsideration. In the Omnibus Order, the RTC also authorized Ricardo Silverio, Jr.
to, upon receipt of the order, immediately exercise his duties as administrator of the subject estate. The Omnibus
Order also directed Nelia S. Silverio-Dee to vacate the property at No. 3, Intsia, Forbes Park, Makati City within fifteen
(15) days from receipt of the order.
Nelia Silverio-Dee received a copy of the Omnibus Order dated May 31, 2005 on June 8, 2005.
On June 16, 2005, private respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated June 15, 20055 of the Omnibus Order.
This was later denied by the RTC in an Order dated December 12, 2005, which was received by private respondent on
December 22, 2005.
Notably, the RTC in its Order dated December 12, 20056 also recalled its previous order granting Ricardo Silverio, Jr.
with letters of administration over the intestate estate of Beatriz Silverio and reinstating Ricardo Silverio, Sr. as the
administrator.
From the Order dated December 12, 2005, Ricardo Silverio, Jr. filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by
the RTC in an Order dated October 31, 2006. In the same order, the RTC also allowed the sale of various properties of
the intestate estate of the late Beatriz Silverio to partially settle estate taxes, penalties, interests and other charges
due thereon. Among the properties authorized to be sold was the one located at No. 3 Intsia Road, Forbes Park,
Makati City.7
Meanwhile, on January 6, 2006, Nelia Silverio-Dee filed a Notice of Appeal dated January 5, 20068 from the Order
dated December 12, 2005 while the Record on Appeal dated January 20, 2006 9 was filed on January 23, 2006.
Thereafter, on October 23, 2006, Ricardo Silverio, Jr. filed a Motion to Dismiss Appeal and for Issuance of a Writ of
Execution10 against the appeal of Nelia Silverio-Dee on the ground that the Record on Appeal was filed ten (10) days
beyond the reglementary period pursuant to Section 3, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.
Thus, on April 2, 2007, the RTC issued an Order11 denying the appeal on the ground that it was not perfected within
the reglementary period. The RTC further issued a writ of execution for the enforcement of the Order dated May 31,
2005 against private respondent to vacate the premises of the property located at No. 3, Intsia, Forbes Park, Makati
City. The writ of execution was later issued on April 17, 200712 and a Notice to Vacate13 was issued on April 19, 2007
ordering private respondent to leave the premises of the subject property within ten (10) days.
Consequently, private respondent filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition (With Prayer for TRO and Writ of
Preliminary Injunction) dated May 2, 200714 with the CA.
On May 4, 2007, the CA issued the assailed Resolution granting the prayer for the issuance of a TRO. In issuing the
TRO, the CA ruled that the Notice of Appeal was filed within the reglementary period provided by the Rules of Court
applying the "fresh rule period" enunciated by this Court in Neypes v. Court of Appeals 15 as reiterated in Sumaway v.
Union Bank.16
Afterwards, on July 6, 2007, the CA issued the assailed decision granting the petition of private respondent. The
dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is GRANTED and GIVEN DUE COURSE. Accordingly, the
Order, dated April 2, 2007, the writ of execution, dated April 17, 2007, and the Notice to Vacate, dated April 19,
2007, are ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE. Further, the court a quo is hereby directed to give due course to the appeal of
Nelia S. Silverio-Dee.
SO ORDERED.
Hence, the instant petition.
The Issues
-AThe Omnibus Order dated May 31, 2005 (Annex G of Annex C) and the Order dated December 12, 2005 are
Interlocutory Orders which are not subject to appeal under Sec. 1 of Rule 41;
-B-

The respondent Court seriously erred and/or committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of
jurisdiction, in deliberately failing to decide that the basis of the occupancy of Nelia S. Silverio-Dee are fraudulent
documents, without any authority from the Intestate Court;
-CThe respondent Court seriously erred and/or committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of
jurisdiction, in issuing precipitately the temporary restraining order (TRO) in its Resolution dated May 4, 2007 (Annex
A-1);
-DThe respondent Court seriously erred and/or committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of
jurisdiction in annulling the Order dated April 2, 2007, the Writ of Execution dated April 17, 2007, and the Notice to
Vacate dated April 19, 2007 because the respondent Silverio-Dees occupancy of the Intestate property located at No.
3 Intsia Road, Forbes Park, Makati City (Annex N of Annex C) will prevent the sale authorized by the Order dated
October 31, 2006 to secure funds for the payment of taxes due which are now high and rapidly increasing payment of
which must not be enjoined.17
The Courts Ruling
This petition is meritorious.
The May 31, 2005 Order of the RTC Is an Interlocutory Order, Not Subject to an Appeal
To recapitulate, the relevant facts to the instant issue are as follows:
On May 31, 2005, the RTC issued an Omnibus Order ordering Nelia Silverio-Dee to vacate the premises of the
property located at No. 3, Intsia Road, Forbes Park, Makati City. She received a copy of the said Order on June 8,
2005. Instead of filing a Notice of Appeal and Record on Appeal, private respondent filed a motion for reconsideration
of the Order. This motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order dated December 12, 2005. This Order was
received by private respondent on December 22, 2005. On January 6, 2006, private respondent filed her Notice of
Appeal while she filed her Record on Appeal on January 23, 2006.1avvphi1
Thus, in denying due course to the Notice/Record on Appeal, the RTC, in its Order dated April 2, 2007, ruled:
Verily, the appeal taken by the movant Nelia Silverio-Dee from the Order of this Court dated December 12, 2005
denying the Motion for Reconsideration is misplaced as no appeal may be taken from the order denying the motion for
reconsideration (see Section 1, Rule 41 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure in relation to Section 1(f), Rule 109 of the
Rules of Court). Furthermore, assuming that what said movant had appealed is the final Order dated May 31, 2005,
still, the appeal cannot be given due course as the Record on Appeal had been filed beyond the thirty-day period to
appeal (see Section 3 Rule 41 of the Rules of Court)
WHEREFORE, the appeal filed by Nelia Silverio is hereby DENIED due course.
Let a writ of execution issue to enforce the Order dated May 31, 2005 against Nelia Silverio-Dee requiring her to
vacate the premises at No. 3 Intsia, Forbes Park, Makati City.
SO ORDERED.
Thus, the denial of due course by the RTC was based on two (2) grounds: (1) that Nelia Silverio-Dees appeal was
against an order denying a motion for reconsideration which is disallowed under Sec. 1(a), Rule 41 of the Rules of
Court; and (2) that Nelia Silverio-Dees Record on Appeal was filed beyond the reglementary period to file an appeal
provided under Sec. 3 of Rule 41.
Sec. 1(a), Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides:
RULE 41
APPEAL FROM THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS
SECTION 1. Subject of appeal.An appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that completely disposes of
the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to be appealable.
No appeal may be taken from:
(a) An order denying a motion for new trial or reconsideration;
xxxx
In all the above instances where the judgment or final order is not appealable, the aggrieved party may file an
appropriate special civil action under Rule 65.

Petitioner argues that because private respondent filed a Notice of Appeal from the Order dated December 12, 2005
which denied her motion for reconsideration of the Omnibus Order dated May 31, 2005, her appeal is of an order
denying a motion for reconsideration. Thus, petitioner alleges that private respondent employed the wrong remedy in
filing a notice of appeal and should have filed a petition for certiorari with the CA under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
instead.
The CA, however, ruled that the filing of the Notice of Appeal in this case was proper saying that the appeal pertained
to the earlier Omnibus Order dated May 31, 2005. The CA, citing Apuyan v. Haldeman, 18 argued that an order denying
a motion for reconsideration may be appealed as such order is the "final order" which disposes of the case. In that
case, we stated:
In the recent case of Quelnan v. VHF Philippines, Inc., We held, thus:
[T]his Court finds that the proscription against appealing from an order denying a motion for reconsideration refers
to an interlocutory order, and not to a final order or judgment. That that was the intention of the above-quoted rules
is gathered from Pagtakhan v. CIR, 39 SCRA 455 (1971), cited in above-quoted portion of the decision in Republic, in
which this Court held that an order denying a motion to dismiss an action is interlocutory, hence, not appealable.
The rationale behind the rule proscribing the remedy of appeal from an interlocutory order is to prevent undue delay,
useless appeals and undue inconvenience to the appealing party by having to assail orders as they are promulgated
by the court, when they can be contested in a single appeal. The appropriate remedy is thus for the party to wait for
the final judgment or order and assign such interlocutory order as an error of the court on appeal.
The denial of the motion for reconsideration of an order of dismissal of a complaint is not an interlocutory order,
however, but a final order as it puts an end to the particular matter resolved, or settles definitely the matter therein
disposed of, and nothing is left for the trial court to do other than to execute the order.
Not being an interlocutory order, an order denying a motion for reconsideration of an order of dismissal of a complaint
is effectively an appeal of the order of dismissal itself.
The reference by petitioner, in his notice of appeal, to the March 12, 1999 Order denying his Omnibus MotionMotion
for Reconsideration should thus be deemed to refer to the January 17, 1999 Order which declared him non-suited and
accordingly dismissed his complaint.
If the proscription against appealing an order denying a motion for reconsideration is applied to any order, then there
would have been no need to specifically mention in both above-quoted sections of the Rules "final orders or
judgments" as subject to appeal. In other words, from the entire provisions of Rule 39 and 41, there can be no
mistaking that what is proscribed is to appeal from a denial of a motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order.
(Emphasis supplied.)
Thus, the question posed is whether the Omnibus Order dated May 31, 2005 is an interlocutory order.
On this aspect, the CA ruled that the Omnibus Order dated May 31, 2005 was a final order, to wit:
We note that the Order, dated December 12, 2005, is an offshoot of the Omnibus Order, dated May 31, 2005. In the
Omnibus Order, the court a quo ruled that the petitioner, as an heir of the late Beatriz S. Silverio, had no right to use
and occupy the property in question despite authority given to her by Ricardo Silverio, Sr. when it said, thus:
x x x In the first place, Nelia S. Silverio-Dee cannot occupy the property in Intsia, Forbes Park, admittedly belonging
to the conjugal estate and subject to their proceedings without authority of the Court. Based on the pretenses of Nelia
Silverio-Dee in her memorandum, it is clear that she would use and maintain the premises in the concept of a
distributee. Under her perception, Section 1 Rule 90 of the Revised Rules of Court is violated. x x x
xxxx
For the property at Intsia, Forbes Park cannot be occupied or appropriated by, nor distributed to Nelia S. Silverio-Dee,
since no distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations mentioned in the aforestated Rule is made.
In fact, the said property may still be sold to pay the taxes and/or other obligations owned by the estate, which will be
difficult to do if she is allowed to stay in the property.
Moreover, the alleged authority given by SILVERIO, SR. for Nelia S. Silverio-Dee to occupy the property dated May 4,
2004, assuming it is not even antedated as alleged by SILVERIO, JR., is null and void since the possession of estate
property can only be given to a purported heir by virtue of an Order from this Court (see Sec. 1 Rule 90, supra; and
Sec. 2 Rule 84, Revised Rules of Court). In fact, the Executor or Administrator shall have the right to the possession
and management of the real as well as the personal estate of the deceased only when it is necessary for the payment
of the debts and expenses of administration (See Sec. 3 Rule 84, Revised Rules of Court). With this in mind, it is
without an iota of doubt that the possession by Nelia S. Silverio-Dee of the property in question has absolutely no
legal basis considering that her occupancy cannot pay the debts and expenses of administration, not to mention the
fact that it will also disturb the right of the new Administrator to possess and manage the property for the purpose of
settling the estates legitimate obligations.
In the belated Memorandum of Nelia Silverio-Dee, she enclosed a statement of the expenses she incurred pertaining
to the house renovation covering the period from May 26, 2004 to February 28, 2005 in the total amount of
Php12,434,749.55, which supports this Courts conclusion that she is already the final distributee of the property.

Repairs of such magnitude require notice, hearing of the parties and approval of the Court under the Rules. Without
following this process, the acts of Nelia Silverio-Dee are absolutely without legal sanction.
To our mind, the court a quos ruling clearly constitutes a final determination of the rights of the petitioner as the
appealing party. As such, the Omnibus Order, dated May 31, 2002 (the predecessor of the Order dated December 12,
2002) is a final order; hence, the same may be appealed, for the said matter is clearly declared by the rules as
appealable and the proscription does not apply.19 (Emphasis supplied.)
An interlocutory order, as opposed to a final order, was defined in Tan v. Republic: 20
A final order is one that disposes of the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a particular proceeding or action,
leaving nothing else to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined by the court, while an
interlocutory order is one which does not dispose of the case completely but leaves something to be decided upon.
(Emphasis supplied.)
Additionally, it is only after a judgment has been rendered in the case that the ground for the appeal of the
interlocutory order may be included in the appeal of the judgment itself. The interlocutory order generally cannot be
appealed separately from the judgment. It is only when such interlocutory order was rendered without or in excess of
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion that certiorari under Rule 65 may be resorted to.21
In the instant case, Nelia Silverio-Dee appealed the May 31, 2005 Order of the RTC on the ground that it ordered her
to vacate the premises of the property located at No. 3 Intsia Road, Forbes Park, Makati City. On that aspect the order
is not a final determination of the case or of the issue of distribution of the shares of the heirs in the estate or their
rights therein. It must be borne in mind that until the estate is partitioned, each heir only has an inchoate right to the
properties of the estate, such that no heir may lay claim on a particular property. In Alejandrino v. Court of Appeals,
we succinctly ruled:
Art. 1078 of the Civil Code provides that where there are two or more heirs, the whole estate of the decedent is,
before partition, owned in common by such heirs, subject to the payment of the debts of the deceased. Under a coownership, the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons. Each co-owner of property which
is held pro indiviso exercises his rights over the whole property and may use and enjoy the same with no other
limitation than that he shall not injure the interests of his co-owners. The underlying rationale is that until a division is
made, the respective share of each cannot be determined and every co-owner exercises, together with his coparticipants, joint ownership over the pro indiviso property, in addition to his use and enjoyment of the same.
Although the right of an heir over the property of the decedent is inchoate as long as the estate has not been fully
settled and partitioned, the law allows a co-owner to exercise rights of ownership over such inchoate right. Thus, the
Civil Code provides:
Art. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and
he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when
personal rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co-owners, shall be
limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.22
(Emphasis supplied.)
Additionally, the above provision must be viewed in the context that the subject property is part of an estate and
subject to intestate proceedings before the courts. It is, thus, relevant to note that in Rule 84, Sec. 2 of the Rules of
Court, the administrator may only deliver properties of the estate to the heirs upon order of the Court. Similarly,
under Rule 90, Sec. 1 of the Rules of Court, the properties of the estate shall only be distributed after the payment of
the debts, funeral charges, and other expenses against the estate, except when authorized by the Court.
Verily, once an action for the settlement of an estate is filed with the court, the properties included therein are under
the control of the intestate court. And not even the administrator may take possession of any property that is part of
the estate without the prior authority of the Court.
In the instant case, the purported authority of Nelia Silverio-Dee, which she allegedly secured from Ricardo Silverio,
Sr., was never approved by the probate court. She, therefore, never had any real interest in the specific property
located at No. 3 Intsia Road, Forbes Park, Makati City. As such, the May 31, 2005 Order of the RTC must be
considered as interlocutory and, therefore, not subject to an appeal.1avvphi1
Thus, private respondent employed the wrong mode of appeal by filing a Notice of Appeal with the RTC. Hence, for
employing the improper mode of appeal, the case should have been dismissed. 23
The implication of such improper appeal is that the notice of appeal did not toll the reglementary period for the filing
of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, the proper remedy in the instant case. This means that private respondent
has now lost her remedy of appeal from the May 31, 2005 Order of the RTC.
Therefore, there is no longer any need to consider the other issues raised in the petition.
WHEREFORE, the May 4, 2007 Resolution and July 6, 2007 Decision of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 98764 are REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. Thus, the Decision dated April 2, 2007 of the RTC denying due course to the appeal of Nelia SilverioDee; the Writ of Execution dated April 17, 2007; and the Notice to Vacate dated April 19, 2007 are hereby
REINSTATED. No costs.SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 94005. April 6, 1993.


LUISA LYON NUAL, herein represented by ALBERT NUAL, and ANITA NUAL HORMIGOS, petitioners,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS and EMMA LYON DE LEON in her behalf and as guardian ad litem of the minors
HELEN SABARRE and KENNY SABARRE, EDUARDO GUZMAN, MERCEDEZ LYON TAUPAN, WILFREDO
GUZMAN, MALLY LYON ENCARNACION and DORA LYON DELAS PEAS, respondents.
SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; JUDGMENT; ONCE IT BECOMES FINAL, MAY NO LONGER BE MODIFIED IN ANY
RESPECT; EXCEPTIONS. In the case of Manning International Corporation v. NLRC, (195 SCRA 155, 161 [1991])
We held that ". . ., nothing is more settled in the law than that when a final judgment becomes executory, it thereby
becomes immutable and unalterable. The judgment may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification
is meant to correct what is perceived to be an erroneous conclusion of fact or law, and regardless of whether the
modification is attempted to be made by the Court rendering it or by the highest Court of land. The only recognized
exceptions are the correction of clerical errors or the making of so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no
prejudice to any party, and, of course, where the judgment is void." Furthermore, "(a)ny amendment or alteration
which substantially affects a final and executory judgment is null and void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire
proceedings held for that purpose."
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; REMEDY OF AGGRIEVED PARTY. In the case at bar, the decision of the trial court in Civil Case
No. 872 has become final and executory. Thus, upon its finality, the trial judge lost his jurisdiction over the case.
Consequently, any modification that he would make, as in this case, the inclusion of Mary Lyon Martin would be in
excess of his authority. The remedy of Mary Lyon Martin is to file an independent suit against the parties in Civil Case
No. 872 and all other heirs for her share in the subject property, in order that all the parties in interest can prove their
respective claims.
DECISION
CAMPOS, JR., J p:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision ** dated February 22, 1990 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 14889 entitled "Emma Lyon de Leon, et al., plaintiffs-appellees versus Luisa Lyon Nual, now deceased herein
represented by Albert Nual, et al., defendants appellants," dismissing petitioners' appeal and affirming the trial
court's order *** dated January 9, 1987 for the inclusion of Mary Lyon Martin as one of the heirs who shall benefit
from the partition.
The facts as culled from the records of the case are as follows.
This case originated from a suit docketed as Civil Case No. 872 filed by Emma Lyon de Leon in her behalf and as
guardian ad litem of the minors Helen Sabarre and Kenny Sabarre, Eduardo Guzman, Mercedes Lyon Taupan, Wilfredo
Guzman, Mally Lyon Encarnacion and Dona Lyon de las Peas, (herein private respondents) against Luisa Lyon Nual,
now deceased and herein represented by her heirs, Albert Nual and Anita Nual Hormigos (herein petitioners), for
partition and accounting of a parcel of land located in Isabela, Basilan City. Subject parcel of land was formerly owned
by Frank C. Lyon and May Ekstrom Lyon, deceased parents of Helen, Dona, Luisa, Mary, Frank and William James.
Private respondents claimed that said parcel of land, formerly covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3141 in the
name of Frank C. Lyon, has been in possession of petitioner Luisa Lyon Nual since 1946 and that she made no
accounting of the income derived therefrom, despite demands made by private respondents for the partition and
delivery of their shares.
On December 17, 1974, after trial and hearing, the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial court) rendered its
judgment in favor of private respondents and ordered the partition of the property but dismissing private respondents'
complaint for accounting. The dispositive portion of the judgment reads as follows:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the partition of the land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title
No. 3141 among the plaintiffs and defendant. The parties shall make partition among themselves by proper
instruments of conveyance, subject to the Court's confirmation, should the parties be unable to agree on the partition,
the court shall appoint commissioners to make the partition, commanding them to set off to such party in interest
such part and proportion of the property as the Court shall direct. Defendant is further ordered to pay plaintiffs
attorney's fees in the sum of P2,000.00." 1
On July 30, 1982, the order of partition was affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 57265-R. The
case was remanded to the court of origin for the ordered partition. 2
On May 17, 1984, an order for the issuance of the writ of execution was issued by the court a quo. 3
On July 17, 1984, Mary Lyon Martin, daughter of the late Frank C. Lyon and Mary Ekstrom Lyon, assisted by her
counsel filed a motion to quash the order of execution with preliminary injunction. In her motion, she contends that
not being a party to the above-entitled case her rights, interests, ownership and participation over the land should not
be affected by a judgment in the said case; that the order of execution is unenforceable insofar as her share, right,
ownership and participation is concerned, said share not having been brought within the Jurisdiction of the court a
quo. She further invokes Section 12, Rule 69 of the Rules of Court. 4

On June 26, 1985, the trial court issued an order revoking the appointment of the three commissioners and in lieu
thereof, ordered the issuance of a writ of execution. 5
On February 4, 1986, the said court issued an order appointing a Board of Commissioners to effect the partition of the
contested property. 6
On May 28, 1986, the trial court dismissed the motion to quash order of execution with preliminary injunction filed by
Mary Lyon Martin and directed the partition of the property among the original party plaintiffs and defendants. 7
On September 24, 1986, the Commissioners manifested to the trial court that in view of the fact that the name of
Mary Lyon Martin also appears in the Transfer Certificate of Title, she could therefore be construed as one of the heirs.
A ruling from the trial court was then sought. 8
On September 29, 1986, the lower court issued an order directing the counsel of Emma Lyon de Leon to furnish the
court within five days from receipt thereof all the names the of heirs entitled to share in the partition of the subject
property. 9
On October 1, 1986, the petitioners filed a manifestation praying that the court issue an order directing the partition
of the property in consonance the decision dated December 17, 1974 of the trial court the order of said court dated
May 28, 1986. 10
Without ruling on the manifestation, the lower court issued an order directing the Board of Commissioners to
immediately partition the said property. 11
On January 3, 1987, the private respondents filed motion for clarification as to whether the partition of property is to
be confined merely among the party plaintiffs and defendants, to the exclusion of Mary Lyon Martin. 12
On January 9, 1987, the lower court issued the assailed order directing the inclusion of Mary Lyon Martin as co-owner
with a share in the partition of the property, to wit:
"After a perusal of the decision of the Court of Appeals CA-G.R. No. 57265-R, where this case was appealed by the
unsatisfied parties, there is a finding that Mary now Mary Lyon Martin is one of the legitimate children of Frank C.
Lyon and Mary Ekstrom. (Page 3 of the decision).
In view of this finding, it would be unfair and unjust if she would be left out in the partition of this property now
undertaking (sic) by the said court appointed commissioners.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court appointed commissioners is hereby directed to include Mary Lyon Martin
as co-owner in the said property subject of partition with the corresponding shares adjudicated to her.
SO ORDERED." 13
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration 14 of the aforesaid order was denied by the trial court. 15
On February 22, 1990 the Court of Appeals rendered its decision dismissing petitioners' appeal, the dispositive portion
of which reads as follows:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, there being no legal impediment to the inclusion of Mary Lyon Martin by the
court-appointed Board of Commissioners as one of the heirs who shall benefit from the partition, the instant appeal is
DISMISSED for lack of merit.
NO COSTS.
SO ORDERED." 16
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied on June 6, 1990. 17
Petitioners filed this petition for review alleging that the Court of Appeals has decided questions of substance contrary
to law and the applicable decisions of this Court, for the following reasons:
"1.) BY SUSTAINING THE ORDER OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT DIRECTING THE COURT APPOINTED BOARD OF
COMMISSIONERS TO INCLUDE MARY L. MARTIN TO SHARE IN THE PARTITION OF THE PROPERTY IN LITIGATION
DESPITE THE FACT, OVER WHICH THERE IS NO DISPUTE, THAT SHE HAS NOT LITIGATED EITHER AS A PARTY
PLAINTIFF OR DEFENDANT IN CIVIL CASE NO. 872, IT HAS REFUSED TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION TO AMEND OR MODIFY THE JUDGMENT IN CIVIL CASE NO. 872 AND THE REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT'S ORDER DATED 28 MAY 1986 WHICH HAS BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY.
2.) WHEN THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS CATEGORICALLY STATED THAT MARY L. MARTIN "NEVER LITIGATED AS ONE
OF THE PLAINTIFFS IN SAID CASE," AND HER ONLY PARTICIPATION THEREIN WAS SIMPLY CONFINED "AS A
WITNESS FOR DEFENDANT-SISTER LUISA LY ON NUAL," AND TO ALLOW HER TO SHARE IN THE PARTITION THIS
LATE WITHOUT REQUIRING A PROCEEDING WHERE THE PARTIES COULD PROVE THEIR RESPECTIVE CLAIMS, IS
TANTAMOUNT TO DENYING THE NUALS OF THEIR RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS. 18

The crux of this case is whether of not the trial court may order the inclusion of Mary L. Martin as co-heir entitled to
participate in the partition of the property considering that she was neither a party plaintiff nor a party defendant in
Civil Case No. 872 for partition and accounting of the aforesaid property and that the decision rendered in said case
has long become final and executory.
Petitioners contend that the trial court's decision dated December 14, 1974 in Civil Case No. 872 ordering the partition
of the parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3141 among plaintiffs and defendants has long
become final and executory. Hence the trial court has no jurisdiction to issue the questioned Order dated January 9,
1987 ordering the Board of Commissioners to include Mary Lyon Martin to share in the partition of said property
despite the fact that she was not a party to the said case. Said Order, therefore, resulted in an amendment or
modification of its decision rendered in Civil Case No. 872.
We find merit in the instant petition.
In the ease of Manning International Corporation v. NLRC, 19 We held that ". . ., nothing is more settled in the law
than that when a final judgment becomes executory, it thereby becomes immutable and unalterable. The judgment
may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct what is perceived to be an
erroneous conclusion of fact or law, and regardless of whether the modification is attempted to be made by the Court
rendering it or by the highest Court of land. The only recognized exceptions are the correction of clerical errors or the
making of so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, and, of course, where the judgment
is void."
Furthermore, "(a)ny amendment. or alteration which substantially affects a final and executory judgment is null and
void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held for that purpose." 20
In the case at bar, the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 872 has become final and executory. Thus, upon its
finality, the trial judge lost his jurisdiction over the case. Consequently, any modification that he would make, as in
this case, the inclusion of Mary Lyon Martin would be in excess of his authority.
The remedy of Mary Lyon Martin is to file an independent suit against the parties in Civil Case No. 872 and all other
heirs for her share in the subject property, in order that all the parties in interest can prove their respective claims.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Order dated January 9, 1987 of the trial Court as affirmed by the Court of
Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The decision of the trial court dated December 17, 1974 in Civil Case
No. 872 is hereby REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.