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G.R. Nos.

L-21938-39 May 29, 1970


VICENTE URIARTE, petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL (12th Judicial District)
THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA, BRANCH IV, JUAN URIARTE
ZAMACONA and HIGINIO URIARTE, respondents.
Norberto J. Quisumbing for petitioner.

6. Respondent Negros court erred in dismissing its Special Proceeding No.


6344, supra, and failing to declare itself 'the court first taking cognizance of
the settlement of the estate of' the deceased Don Juan Uriarte y Goite as
prescribed in Rule 75 section 1 of the Rules of Court. Respondent Manila
court erred in failing to dismiss its Special Proceeding No. 51396, supra,
notwithstanding proof of prior filing of Special Proceeding No. 6344, supra, in
the Negros court.
The writ of preliminary injunction prayed for was granted and issued by this Court on October
24, 1963.

Taada, Teehankee & Carreon for respondents.

DIZON, J.:
On October 3, 1963 petitioner Vicente Uriarte filed an original petition for certiorari
docketed as G.R. L-21938 against the respondents Juan Uriarte Zamacona, Higinio
Uriarte, and the Courts of First Instance of Negros Occidental and of Manila, Branch IV, who
will be referred to hereinafter as the Negros Court and the Manila Court, respectively
praying:
... that after due proceedings judgment be rendered annulling the orders of
19 April 1963 (Annex 'H') and 11 July 1963 (Annex 'I') of respondent Negros
court dismissing the first instituted Special Proceeding No. 6344, supra, and
the order of 1 July 1963 (Annex 'K') of respondent Manila court denying
petitioner's omnibus motion to intervene and to dismiss the later-instituted
Special Proceeding No. 51396, supra, both special proceedings pertaining to
the settlement of the same estate of the same deceased, and consequently
annulling all proceedings had in Special Proceeding No. 51396; supra, of the
respondent Manila court as all taken without jurisdiction.
For the preservation of the rights of the parties pending these proceedings,
petitioner prays for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining
respondents Manila court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona and Higinio Uriarte from
proceeding with Special Proceeding No. 51396, supra, until further orders of
this Court.
Reasons in support of said petition are stated therein as follows:

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On April 22, 1964 petitioner filed against the same respondents a pleading entitled
SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION FOR MANDAMUS docketed in this Court as G.R. No. L21939 praying, for the reasons therein stated, that judgment be rendered annulling the
orders issued by the Negros Court on December 7, 1963 and February 26, 1964, the first
disapproving his record on appeal and the second denying his motion for reconsideration,
and further commanding said court to approve his record on appeal and to give due course to
his appeal. On July 15, 1964 We issued a resolution deferring action on this Supplemental
Petition until the original action for certiorari (G.R. L-21938) is taken up on the merits.
On October 21, 1963 the respondents in G.R. L-21938 filed their answer traversing
petitioner's contention that the respondent courts had committed grave abuse of discretion in
relation to the matters alleged in the petition for certiorari.
It appears that on November 6, 1961 petitioner filed with the Negros Court a petition for the
settlement of the estate of the late Don Juan Uriarte y Goite (Special Proceeding No. 6344)
alleging therein, inter alia, that, as a natural son of the latter, he was his sole heir, and that,
during the lifetime of said decedent, petitioner had instituted Civil Case No. 6142 in the same
Court for his compulsory acknowledgment as such natural son. Upon petitioner's motion the
Negros Court appointed the Philippine National Bank as special administrator on November
13, 1961 and two days later it set the date for the hearing of the petition and ordered that the
requisite notices be published in accordance with law. The record discloses, however, that,
for one reason or another, the Philippine, National Bank never actually qualified as special
administrator.
On December 19, 1961, Higinio Uriarte, one of the two private respondents herein, filed an
opposition to the above-mentioned petition alleging that he was a nephew of the deceased
Juan Uriarte y Goite who had "executed a Last Will and Testament in Spain, a duly
authenticated copy whereof has been requested and which shall be submitted to this

Honorable Court upon receipt thereof," and further questioning petitioner's capacity and
interest to commence the intestate proceeding.

In view of the above-quoted order, petitioner filed the supplemental petition for mandamus
mentioned heretofore.

On August 28, 1962, Juan Uriarte Zamacona, the other private respondent, commenced
Special Proceeding No. 51396 in the Manila Court for the probate of a document alleged to
be the last will of the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite, and on the same date he filed in Special
Proceeding No. 6344 of the Negros Court a motion to dismiss the same on the following
grounds: (1) that, as the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite had left a last will, there was no legal
basis to proceed with said intestate proceedings, and (2) that petitioner Vicente Uriarte had
no legal personality and interest to initiate said intestate proceedings, he not being an
acknowledged natural son of the decedent. A copy of the Petition for Probate and of the
alleged Will were attached to the Motion to Dismiss.

On April 15, 1963 Vicente Uriarte filed an Omnibus Motion in Special Proceeding No. 51396
pending in the Manila Court, asking for leave to intervene therein; for the dismissal of the
petition and the annulment of the proceedings had in said special proceeding. This motion
was denied by said court in its order of July 1 of the same year.

Petitioner opposed the aforesaid motion to dismiss contending that, as the Negros Court was
first to take cognizance of the settlement of the estate of the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite, it
had acquired exclusive jurisdiction over same pursuant to Rule 75, Section 1 of the Rules of
Court.
On April 19, 1963, the Negros Court sustained Juan Uriarte Zamacona's motion to dismiss
and dismissed the Special Proceeding No. 6344 pending before it. His motion for
reconsideration of said order having been denied on July 27, 1963, petitioner proceeded to
file his notice of appeal, appeal bond and record on appeal for the purpose of appealing from
said orders to this court on questions of law. The administrator with the will annexed
appointed by the Manila Court in Special Proceeding No. 51396 objected to the approval of
the record on appeal, and under date of December 7, 1963 the Negros Court issued the
following order:
Oppositor prays that the record on appeal filed by the petitioner on July 27,
1963, be dismissed for having been filed out of time and for being
incomplete. In the meantime, before the said record on appeal was approved
by this Court, the petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme
Court entitled Vicente Uriarte, Petitioner, vs. Court of First Instance of Negros
Occidental, et al., G.R. No. L-21938, bringing this case squarely before the
Supreme Court on questions of law which is tantamount to petitioner's
abandoning his appeal from this Court.
WHEREFORE, in order to give way to the certiorari, the record on appeal
filed by the petitioner is hereby disapproved.

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It is admitted that, as alleged in the basic petition filed in Special Proceeding No. 6344 of the
Negros Court, Vicente Uriarte filed in the same court, during the lifetime of Juan Uriarte y
Goite, Civil Case No. 6142 to obtain judgment for his compulsory acknowledgment as his
natural child. Clearly inferrable from this is that at the time he filed the action, as well as when
he commenced the aforesaid special proceeding, he had not yet been acknowledged as
natural son of Juan Uriarte y Goite. Up to this time, no final judgment to that effect appears to
have been rendered.
The record further discloses that the special proceeding before the Negros Court has not
gone farther than the appointment of a special administrator in the person of the Philippine
National Bank who, as stated heretofore, failed to qualify.
On the other hand, it is not disputed that, after proper proceedings were had in Special
Proceeding No. 51396, the Manila Court admitted to probate the document submitted to, it as
the last will of Juan Uriarte y Goite, the petition for probate appearing not to have been
contested. It appears further that, as stated heretofore, the order issued by the Manila Court
on July 1, 1963 denied petitioner. Vicente Uriarte's Omnibus Motion for Intervention,
Dismissal of Petition and Annulment of said proceedings.
Likewise, it is not denied that to the motion to dismiss the special proceeding pending before
the Negros Court filed by Higinio Uriarte were attached a copy of the alleged last will of Juan
Uriarte y Goite and of the petition filed with the Manila Court for its probate. It is clear,
therefore, that almost from the start of Special Proceeding No. 6344, the Negros Court and
petitioner Vicente Uriarte knew of the existence of the aforesaid last will and of the
proceedings for its probate.
The principal legal questions raised in the petition for certiorari are (a) whether or not the
Negros Court erred in dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6644, on the one hand, and on the
other, (b) whether the Manila Court similarly erred in not dismissing Special Proceeding No.
51396 notwithstanding proof of the prior filing of Special Proceeding No. 6344 in the Negros
Court.

Under the Judiciary Act of 1948 [Section 44, paragraph (e)], Courts of First Instance have
original exclusive jurisdiction over "all matters of probate," that is, over special proceedings
for the settlement of the estate of deceased persons whether they died testate or intestate.
While their jurisdiction over such subject matter is beyond question, the matter of venue, or
the particular Court of First Instance where the special proceeding should be commenced, is
regulated by former Rule 75, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, now Section 1, Rule 73 of the
Revised Rules of Court, which provides that the estate of a decedent inhabitant of the
Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, shall be in the court of first
instance in the province in which he resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant
of a foreign country, the court of first instance of any province in which he had estate .
Accordingly, when the estate to be settled is that of a non-resident alien like the deceased
Juan Uriarte y Goite the Courts of First Instance in provinces where the deceased left any
property have concurrent jurisdiction to take cognizance of the proper special proceeding for
the settlement of his estate. In the case before Us, these Courts of First Instance are the
Negros and the Manila Courts province and city where the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite
left considerable properties. From this premise petitioner argues that, as the Negros Court
had first taken cognizance of the special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of said
decedent (Special Proceeding No. 6344), the Manila Court no longer had jurisdiction to take
cognizance of Special Proceeding No. 51396 intended to settle the estate of the same
decedent in accordance with his alleged will, and that consequently, the first court erred in
dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, while the second court similarly erred in not
dismissing Special Proceeding No. 51396.
It can not be denied that a special proceeding intended to effect the distribution of the estate
of a deceased person, whether in accordance with the law on intestate succession or in
accordance with his will, is a "probate matter" or a proceeding for the settlement of his estate.
It is equally true, however, that in accordance with settled jurisprudence in this jurisdiction,
testate proceedings, for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person take precedence
over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus it has been held repeatedly that, if in
the course of intestate proceedings pending before a court of first instance it is found it hat
the decedent had left a last will, proceedings for the probate of the latter should replace the
intestate proceedings even if at that stage an administrator had already been appointed, the
latter being required to render final account and turn over the estate in his possession to the
executor subsequently appointed. This, however, is understood to be without prejudice that
should the alleged last will be rejected or is disapproved, the proceeding shall continue as an
intestacy. As already adverted to, this is a clear indication that proceedings for the probate of
a will enjoy priority over intestate proceedings.
Upon the facts before Us the question arises as to whether Juan Uriarte Zamacona should
have filed the petition for the probate of the last will of Juan Uriarte y Goite with the Negros

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Court particularly in Special Proceeding No. 6344 or was entitled to commence the
corresponding separate proceedings, as he did, in the Manila Court.
The following considerations and the facts of record would seem to support the view that he
should have submitted said will for probate to the Negros Court, either in a separate special
proceeding or in an appropriate motion for said purpose filed in the already pending Special
Proceeding No. 6344. In the first place, it is not in accord with public policy and the orderly
and inexpensive administration of justice to unnecessarily multiply litigation, especially if
several courts would be involved. This, in effect, was the result of the submission of the will
aforesaid to the Manila Court. In the second place, when respondent Higinio Uriarte filed an
opposition to Vicente Uriarte's petition for the issuance of letters of administration, he had
already informed the Negros Court that the deceased Juan Uriarte y Goite had left a will in
Spain, of which a copy had been requested for submission to said court; and when the other
respondent, Juan Uriarte Zamacona, filed his motion to dismiss Special Proceeding No.
6344, he had submitted to the Negros Court a copy of the alleged will of the decedent, from
which fact it may be inferred that, like Higinio Uriarte, he knew before filing the petition for
probate with the Manila Court that there was already a special proceeding pending in the
Negros Court for the settlement of the estate of the same deceased person. As far as Higinio
Uriarte is concerned, it seems quite clear that in his opposition to petitioner's petition in
Special Proceeding No. 6344, he had expressly promised to submit said will for probate to
the Negros Court.
But the fact is that instead of the aforesaid will being presented for probate to the Negros
Court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed the petition for the purpose with the Manila Court. We can
not accept petitioner's contention in this regard that the latter court had no jurisdiction to
consider said petition, albeit we say that it was not the proper venue therefor.
It is well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely a waiveable procedural defect,
and, in the light of the circumstances obtaining in the instant case, we are of the opinion, and
so hold, that petitioner has waived the right to raise such objection or is precluded from doing
so by laches. It is enough to consider in this connection that petitioner knew of the existence
of a will executed by Juan Uriarte y Goite since December 19, 1961 when Higinio Uriarte filed
his opposition to the initial petition filed in Special Proceeding No. 6344; that petitioner
likewise was served with notice of the existence (presence) of the alleged last will in the
Philippines and of the filing of the petition for its probate with the Manila Court since August
28, 1962 when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed a motion for the dismissal of Special Proceeding
No. 6344. All these notwithstanding, it was only on April 15, 1963 that he filed with the Manila
Court in Special Proceeding No. 51396 an Omnibus motion asking for leave to intervene and
for the dismissal and annulment of all the proceedings had therein up to that date; thus
enabling the Manila Court not only to appoint an administrator with the will annexed but also

to admit said will to probate more than five months earlier, or more specifically, on October
31, 1962. To allow him now to assail the exercise of jurisdiction over the probate of the will by
the Manila Court and the validity of all the proceedings had in Special Proceeding No. 51396
would put a premium on his negligence. Moreover, it must be remembered that this Court is
not inclined to annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter was not
the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be to have the same proceedings repeated
in some other court of similar jurisdiction; more so in a case like the present where the
objection against said proceedings is raised too late.

worse still, would enable petitioner to circumvent our ruling that he can no longer question the
validity of said orders.

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

Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Barredo and Villamor, JJ., concur.

We believe in connection with the above matter that petitioner is entitled to prosecute Civil
Case No. 6142 until it is finally determined, or intervene in Special Proceeding No. 51396 of
the Manila Court, if it is still open, or to ask for its reopening if it has already been closed, so
as to be able to submit for determination the question of his acknowledgment as natural child
of the deceased testator, said court having, in its capacity as a probate court, jurisdiction to
declare who are the heirs of the deceased testator and whether or not a particular party is or
should be declared his acknowledged natural child (II Moran on Rules of Court, 1957 Ed., p.
476; Conde vs. Abaya, 13 Phil. 249; Severino vs. Severino, 44 Phil. 343; Lopez vs. Lopez, 68
Phil. 227, and Jimoga-on vs. Belmonte, 47 O. G. 1119).
Coming now to the supplemental petition for mandamus (G.R. No. L-21939), We are of the
opinion, and so hold, that in view of the conclusions heretofore stated, the same has become
moot and academic. If the said supplemental petition is successful, it will only result in
compelling the Negros Court to give due course to the appeal that petitioner was taking from
the orders of said court dated December 7, 1963 and February 26, 1964, the first being the
order of said court dismissing Special Proceeding No. 6344, and the second being an order
denying petitioner's motion for the reconsideration of said order of dismissal. Said orders
being, as a result of what has been said heretofore beyond petitioner's power to contest, the
conclusion can not be other than that the intended appeal would serve no useful purpose, or,

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IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, judgment is hereby rendered denying


the writs prayed for and, as a result, the petition for certiorari filed in G.R. No. L-21938, as
well as the supplemental petition for mandamus docketed as G.R. No. L-21939, are hereby
dismissed. The writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued is set aside. With costs against
petitioner.

G.R. No. L-24742 October 26, 1973


ROSA
CAYETANO
CUENCO, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THIRD DIVISION, MANUEL CUENCO,
LOURDES CUENCO, CONCEPCION CUENCO MANGUERRA, CARMEN CUENCO,
CONSUELO CUENCO REYES, and TERESITA CUENCO GONZALEZ, respondents.
Ambrosio Padilla Law Office for petitioner.
Jalandoni and Jamir for respondents.
TEEHANKEE, J.:
Petition for certiorari to review the decision of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No.
34104-R, promulgated 21 November 1964, and its subsequent Resolution promulgated 8
July 1964 denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.

The pertinent facts which gave rise to the herein petition follow:
On 25 February 1964 Senator Mariano Jesus Cuenco died at the Manila Doctors' Hospital,
Manila. He was survived by his widow, the herein petitioner, and their two (2) minor sons,
Mariano Jesus, Jr. and Jesus Salvador, both surnamed Cuenco, all residing at 69 Pi y Margal
St., Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City, and by his children of the first marriage, respondents
herein, namely, Manuel Cuenco, Lourdes Cuenco, Concepcion Cuenco Manguera, Carmen
Cuenco, Consuelo Cuenco Reyes and Teresita Cuenco Gonzales, all of legal age and
residing in Cebu.
On 5 March 1964, (the 9th day after the death of the late Senator) 1 respondent Lourdes
Cuenco filed a Petition for Letters of Administration with the court of first instance of Cebu
(Sp. Proc. No. 2433-R), alleging among other things, that the late senator died intestate in
Manila on 25 February 1964; that he was a resident of Cebu at the time of his death; and that
he left real and personal properties in Cebu and Quezon City. On the same date, the Cebu
court issued an order setting the petition for hearing on 10 April 1964, directing that due
notice be given to all the heirs and interested persons, and ordering the requisite publication
thereof at LA PRENSA, a newspaper of general circulation in the City and Province of Cebu.
The aforesaid order, however, was later suspended and cancelled and a new and modified
one released on 13 March 1964, in view of the fact that the petition was to be heard at
Branch II instead of Branch I of the said Cebu court. On the same date, a third order was
further issued stating that respondent Lourdes Cuenco's petition for the appointment of a
special administrator dated 4 March 1964 was not yet ready for the consideration of the said
court, giving as reasons the following:
It will be premature for this Court to act thereon, it not having yet regularly acquired
jurisdiction to try this proceeding, the requisite publication of the notice of hearing not yet
having been complied with. Moreover, copies of the petition have not been served on all of
the heirs specified in the basic petition for the issuance of letters of administration. 2
In the meantime, or specifically on 12 March 1964, (a week after the filing of the Cebu
petition) herein petitioner Rosa Cayetano Cuenco filed a petition with the court of first
instance of Rizal (Quezon City) for the probate of the deceased's last will and testament and
for the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor, as the surviving widow and executrix in
the said last will and testament. The said proceeding was docketed as Special Proceeding
No. Q-7898.
Having learned of the intestate proceeding in the Cebu court, petitioner Rosa Cayetano
Cuenco filed in said Cebu court an Opposition and Motion to Dismiss, dated 30 March 1964,
as well as an Opposition to Petition for Appointment of Special Administrator, dated 8 April
1964. On 10 April 1964, the Cebu court issued an order holding in abeyance its resolution on
petitioner's motion to dismiss "until after the Court of First Instance of Quezon City shall have
acted on the petition for probate of that document purporting to be the last will and testament
of the deceased Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco." 3 Such order of the Cebu court deferring to

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the probateproceedings in the Quezon City court was neither excepted to nor sought by
respondents to be reconsidered or set aside by the Cebu court nor did they challenge the
same by certiorari or prohibition proceedings in the appellate courts.
Instead, respondents filed in the Quezon City court an Opposition and Motion to Dismiss,
dated 10 April 1964, opposing probate of the will and assailing the jurisdiction of the said
Quezon City court to entertain petitioner's petition for probate and for appointment as
executrix in Sp. Proc. No. Q-7898 in view of the alleged exclusive jurisdiction vested by her
petition in the Cebu court in Sp. Proc. No. 2433-R. Said respondent prayed that Sp. Proc. No.
Q-7898 be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and/or improper venue.
In its order of 11 April 1964, the Quezon City court denied the motion to dismiss, giving as a
principal reason the "precedence of probate proceeding over an intestate proceeding." 4 The
said court further found in said order that the residence of the late senator at the time of his
death was at No. 69 Pi y Margal, Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City. The pertinent portion of
said order follows:
On the question of residence of the decedent, paragraph 5 of the opposition and motion to
dismiss reads as follows: "that since the decedent Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco was a resident
of the City of Cebu at the time of his death, the aforesaid petition filed by Rosa Cayetano
Cuenco on 12 March 1964 was not filed with the proper Court (wrong venue) in view of the
provisions of Section 1 of Rule 73 of the New Rules of Court ...". From the aforequoted
allegation, the Court is made to understand that the oppositors do not mean to say that the
decedent being a resident of Cebu City when he died, the intestate proceedings in Cebu City
should prevail over the probate proceedings in Quezon City, because as stated above the
probate of the will should take precedence, but that the probate proceedings should be filed
in the Cebu City Court of First Instance. If the last proposition is the desire of the oppositors
as understood by this Court, that could not also be entertained as proper because paragraph
1 of the petition for the probate of the will indicates that Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco at the
time of his death was a resident of Quezon City at 69 Pi y Margal . Annex A (Last Will and
Testament of Mariano Jesus Cuenco) of the petition for probate of the will shows that the
decedent at the time when he executed his Last Will clearly stated that he is a resident of 69
Pi y Margal, Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City, and also of the City of Cebu. He made the
former as his first choice and the latter as his second choice of residence." If a party has two
residences, the one will be deemed or presumed to his domicile which he himself selects or
considers to be his home or which appears to be the center of his affairs. The petitioner, in
thus filing the instant petition before this Court, follows the first choice of residence of the
decedent and once this court acquires jurisdiction of the probate proceeding it is to the
exclusion of all others. 5
Respondent Lourdes Cuenco's motion for reconsideration of the Quezon City court's said
order of 11 April 1964 asserting its exclusive jurisdiction over the probate proceeding as
deferred to by the Cebu court was denied on 27 April 1964 and a second motion for
reconsideration dated 20 May 1964 was likewise denied.

On 11 May 1964, pursuant to its earlier order of 11 April 1964, the hearing for probate of the
last will of the decedent was called three times at half-hour intervals, but notwithstanding due
notification none of the oppositors appeared and the Quezon City court proceeded at 9:00
a.m. with the hearing in their absence.
As per the order issued by it subsequently on 15 May 1964, the Quezon City court noted that
respondents-oppositors had opposed probate under their opposition and motion to dismiss
on the following grounds:
(a) That the will was not executed and attested as required by law;
(b) That the will was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of
the beneficiary or some other persons for his benefit;
(c) That the testator's signature was procured by fraud and/or that the testator acted by
mistake and did not intend that the instrument he signed should be his will at the time he
affixed his signature thereto. 6
The Quezon City court further noted that the requisite publication of the notice of the hearing
had been duly complied with and that all the heirs had been duly notified of the hearing, and
after receiving the testimony of the three instrumental witnesses to the decedent's last will,
namely Atty. Florencio Albino, Dr. Guillermo A. Picache and Dr. Jose P. Ojeda, and of the
notary public, Atty. Braulio A. Arriola, Jr., who ratified the said last will, and the documentary
evidence (such as the decedent's residence certificates, income tax return, diplomatic
passport, deed of donation) all indicating that the decedent was a resident of 69 Pi y Margal
St., Quezon City, as also affirmed by him in his last will, the Quezon City court in its
said order of 15 May 1964 admitted to probate the late senator's last will and testament as
having been "freely and voluntarily executed by the testator" and "with all formalities of the
law" and appointed petitioner-widow as executrix of his estate without bond "following the
desire of the testator" in his will as probated.
Instead of appealing from the Quezon City court's said order admitting the will to probate and
naming petitioner-widow as executrix thereof, respondents filed a special civil action
of certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction with respondent Court of Appeals
(docketed as case CA-G.R. No. 34104-R) to bar the Rizal court from proceeding with case
No. Q-7898.
On 21 November 1964, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision in favor of respondents
(petitioners therein) and against the herein petitioner, holding that:
Section 1, Rule 73, which fixes the venue in proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a
deceased person, covers both testate and intestate proceedings. Sp. Proc. 2433-R of the
Cebu CFI having been filed ahead, it is that court whose jurisdiction was first invoked and
which first attached. It is that court which can properly and exclusively pass upon the factual
issues of (1) whether the decedent left or did not leave a valid will, and (2) whether or not the
decedent was a resident of Cebu at the time of his death.

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Considering therefore that the first proceeding was instituted in the Cebu CFI (Special
Proceeding 2433-R), it follows that the said court must exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of
the Rizal CFI, in which the petition for probate was filed by the respondent Rosa Cayetano
Cuenco (Special Proceeding Q-7898). The said respondent should assert her rights within
the framework of the proceeding in the Cebu CFI, instead of invoking the jurisdiction of
another court.
The respondents try to make capital of the fact that on March 13, 1964, Judge Amador
Gomez of the Cebu CFI, acting in Sp. Proc. 2433-R, stated that the petition for appointment
of special administrator was "not yet ready for the consideration of the Court today. It would
be premature for this Court to act thereon, it not having yet regularly acquired jurisdiction to
try this proceeding ... . " It is sufficient to state in this connection that the said judge was
certainly not referring to the court's jurisdiction over the res, not to jurisdiction itself which is
acquired from the moment a petition is filed, but only to the exercise of jurisdiction in relation
to the stage of the proceedings. At all events, jurisdiction is conferred and determined by law
and does not depend on the pronouncements of a trial judge.
The dispositive part of respondent appellate court's judgment provided as follows:
ACCORDINGLY, the writ of prohibition will issue, commanding and directing the respondent
Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IX, Quezon City, and the respondent Judge Damaso
B. Tengco to refrain perpetually from proceeding and taking any action in Special Proceeding
Q-7898 pending before the said respondent court. All orders heretofore issued and actions
heretofore taken by said respondent court and respondent Judge, therein and connected
therewith, are hereby annulled. The writ of injunction heretofore issued is hereby made
permanent. No pronouncement as to costs.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a resolution of respondent Court of
Appeals, dated 8 July 1965; hence the herein petition for review on certiorari.
The principal and decisive issue at bar is, theretofore, whether the appellate court erred in
law in issuing the writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court ordering it to refrain
perpetually from proceeding with the testateproceedings and annulling and setting aside all
its orders and actions, particularly its admission to probate of the decedent's last will and
testament and appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof without bond in compliance
with the testator's express wish in his testament. This issue is tied up with the issue submitted
to the appellate court, to wit, whether the Quezon City court acted without jurisdiction or with
grave abuse of discretion in taking cognizance and assuming exclusive jurisdiction over the
probate proceedings filed with it, in pursuance of the Cebu court's order of 10 April 1964
expressly consenting in deference to the precedence of probate over intestate proceedings
that it (the Quezon City court) should first act "on the petition for probate of the document
purporting to be the last will and testament of the deceased Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco" which order of the Cebu court respondents never questioned nor challenged by prohibition
or certiorari proceedings and thus enabled the Quezon City court to proceed without any

impediment or obstruction, once it denied respondent Lourdes Cuenco's motion to dismiss


the probate proceeding for alleged lack of jurisdiction or improper venue, toproceed with the
hearing of the petition and to admit the will to probate upon having been satisfied as to its due
execution and authenticity.
The Court finds under the above-cited facts that the appellate court erred in law in issuing the
writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court from proceeding with the testate proceedings
and annulling and setting aside all its orders and actions, particularly its admission to probate
of the deceased's last will and testament and appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof
without bond pursuant to the deceased testator's express wish, for the following
considerations:
1. The Judiciary Act 7 concededly confers original jurisdiction upon all Courts of First Instance
over "all matter of probate, both of testate and intestate estates." On the other hand, Rule 73,
section of the Rules of Court lays down the rule of venue, as the very caption of the Rule
indicates, and in order to prevent conflict among the different courts which otherwise may
properly assume jurisdiction from doing so, the Rule specifies that "the court first taking
cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the
exclusion of all other courts." The cited Rule provides:
Section 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of the
Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or
letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the
Province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign
country, the Court of First Instance of the province in which he had estate. The court first
taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to
the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on
the place of residence, of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested
in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when
the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. (Rule 73) 8
It is equally conceded that the residence of the deceased or the location of his estate
is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue. This was lucidly
stated by the late Chief Justice Moran in Sy Oa vs. Co Ho 9 as follows:
We are not unaware of existing decisions to the effect that in probate cases the place of
residence of the deceased is regarded as a question of jurisdiction over the subject-matter.
But we decline to follow this view because of its mischievous consequences. For instance, a
probate case has been submitted in good faith to the Court of First Instance of a province
where the deceased had not resided. All the parties, however, including all the creditors, have
submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the court and the case is therein completely
finished except for a claim of a creditor who also voluntarily filed it with said court but on
appeal from an adverse decision raises for the first time in this Court the question of
jurisdiction of the trial court for lack of residence of the deceased in the province. If we

Page 7 of 74

consider such question of residence as one affecting the jurisdiction of the trial court over the
subject-matter, the effect shall be that the whole proceedings including all decisions on the
different incidents which have arisen in court will have to be annulled and the same case will
have to be commenced anew before another court of the same rank in another province. That
this is of mischievous effect in the prompt administration of justice is too obvious to require
comment. (Cf. Tanunchuan vs. Dy Buncio & Co., G.R. No. 48206, December 31, 1942)
Furthermore, section 600 of Act No. 190, 10 providing that the estate of a deceased person
shall be settled in the province where he had last resided, could not have been intended as
defining the jurisdiction of the probate court over the subject-matter, because such legal
provision is contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with procedural matters, and, as
we have said time and again, procedure is one thing and jurisdiction over the subject matter
is another. (Attorney-General vs. Manila Railroad Company, 20 Phil. 523.) The law of
jurisdiction Act No. 136, 11 Section 56, No. 5 confers upon Courts of First Instance
jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of the place of residence of the deceased.
Since, however, there are many courts of First Instance in the Philippines, the Law of
Procedure, Act No. 190, section 600, fixes the venue or the place where each case shall be
brought. Thus, the place of residence of the deceased is not an element of jurisdiction over
the subject-matter but merely of venue. And it is upon this ground that in the new Rules of
Court the province where the estate of a deceased person shall be settled is properly called
"venue".
It should be noted that the Rule on venue does not state that the court with whom the estate
or intestate petition is first filed acquires exclusive jurisdiction.
The Rule precisely and deliberately provides that "the court first taking cognizance of the
settlement of the estateof a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other
courts."
A fair reading of the Rule since it deals with venue and comity between courts of equal and
co-ordinate jurisdiction indicates that the court with whom the petition is first filed, must
also first take cognizance of the settlement of the estate in order to exercise jurisdiction over
it to the exclusion of all other courts.
Conversely, such court, may upon learning that a petition for probate of the decedent's last
will has been presented in another court where the decedent obviously had his conjugal
domicile and resided with his surviving widow and their minor children, and that the allegation
of the intestate petition before it stating that the decedent died intestate may be actually false,
may decline to take cognizance of the petition and hold the petition before it in abeyance, and
instead defer to the second court which has before it the petition for probate of the decedent's
alleged last will.
2. This exactly what the Cebu court did. Upon petitioner-widow's filing with it a motion to
dismiss Lourdes' intestate petition, it issued its order holding in abeyance its action on the
dismissal motion and deferred to the Quezon City court, awaiting its action on the petition

for probate before that court. Implicit in the Cebu court's order was that if the will was duly
admitted to probate, by the Quezon City court, then it would definitely decline to take
cognizance of Lourdes' intestate petition which would thereby be shown to be false and
improper, and leave the exercise of jurisdiction to the Quezon City court, to the exclusion of
all other courts. Likewise by its act of deference, the Cebu court left it to the Quezon City
court to resolve the question between the parties whether the decedent's residence at the
time of his death was in Quezon City where he had his conjugal domicile rather than in Cebu
City as claimed by respondents. The Cebu court thus indicated that it would decline to take
cognizance of the intestate petition before it and instead defer to the Quezon City
court, unless the latter would make a negative finding as to the probate petition and the
residence of the decedent within its territory and venue.

jurisdiction, testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person take
precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus it has been held
repeatedly that, if in the course of intestate proceedings pending before a court of first
instance it is found that the decedent had left a last will, proceedings for the probate of the
latter should replace the intestate proceedings even if at that state an administrator had
already been appointed, the latter being required to render final account and turn over the
estate in his possession to the executor subsequently appointed. This however, is
understood to be without prejudice that should the alleged last will be rejected or is
disapproved, the proceeding shall continue as an intestacy. As already adverted to, this is a
clear indication that proceedings for the probate of a will enjoy priority over intestate
proceedings. 14

3. Under these facts, the Cebu court could not be held to have acted without jurisdiction or
with grave abuse of jurisdiction in declining to take cognizance of the intestate petition and
deferring to the Quezon City court.

The Court likewise therein upheld the jurisdiction of the second court, (in this case, the
Quezon City court) although opining that certain considerations therein "would seem to
support the view that [therein respondent] should have submitted said will for probate to the
Negros Court, [in this case, the Cebu court] either in a separate special proceeding or in an
appropriate motion for said purpose filed in the already pending Special Proceeding No.
6344," 15 thus:

Necessarily, neither could the Quezon City court be deemed to have acted without jurisdiction
in taking cognizance of and acting on the probate petition since under Rule 73, section 1, the
Cebu court must first take cognizance over the estate of the decedent and must exercise
jurisdiction to exclude all other courts, which the Cebu court declined to do. Furthermore, as
is undisputed, said rule only lays down a rule of venue and the Quezon City court
indisputably had at least equal and coordinate jurisdiction over the estate.
Since the Quezon City court took cognizance over the probate petition before it and assumed
jurisdiction over the estate, with the consent and deference of the Cebu court, the Quezon
City court should be left now, by the same rule of venue of said Rule 73, to exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts.
Under the facts of the case and where respondents submitted to the Quezon City court
their opposition to probate of the will, but failed to appear at the scheduled hearing
despite due notice, the Quezon City court cannot be declared, as the appellate court did, to
have acted without jurisdiction in admitting to probate the decedent's will and appointing
petitioner-widow
as
executrix
thereof
in
accordance
with
the
testator's testamentary disposition.
4. The relatively recent case of Uriarte vs. Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental 12 with
facts analogous to the present case 13 is authority against respondent appellate court's
questioned decision.
In said case, the Court upheld the doctrine of precedence of probate proceedings over
intestate proceedings in this wise:
It can not be denied that a special proceeding intended to effect the distribution of the estate
of a deceased person, whether in accordance with the law on intestate succession or in
accordance with his will, is a "probate matter" or a proceeding for the settlement of his
estate. It is equally true, however, that in accordance with settled jurisprudence in this

Page 8 of 74

But the fact is that instead of the aforesaid will being presented for probate to the Negros
Court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed the petition for the purpose with the Manila Court. We can
not accept petitioner's contention in this regard that the latter court had no jurisdiction to
consider said petition, albeit we say that it was not the proper venue therefor.
It is well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely a waivable procedural defect,
and, in the light of the circumstances obtaining in the instant case, we are of the opinion, and
so hold, that petitioner has waived the right to raise such objection or is precluded from doing
so by laches. It is enough to consider in this connection that petitioner knew of the existence
of a will executed by Juan Uriarte y Goite since December 19, 1961 when Higinio Uriarte filed
his opposition to the initial petition filed in Special Proceeding No. 6344; that petitioner
likewise was served with notice of the existence (presence) of the alleged last will in the
Philippines and of the filing of the petition for its probate with the Manila Court since August
28, 1962 when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed a motion for the dismissal of Special Proceeding
No. 6344. All these notwithstanding, it was only on April 15, 1963 that he filed with the Manila
Court in Special Proceeding No. 51396 an Omnibus motion asking for leave to intervene and
for the dismissal and annulment of all the proceedings had therein up to that date; thus
enabling the Manila Court not only to appoint an administrator with the will annexed but also
to admit said will to probate more than five months earlier, or more specifically, on October
31, 1962. To allow him now to assail the exercise of jurisdiction over the probate of the will by
the Manila Court and the validity of all the proceedings had in Special Proceeding No. 51396
would put a premium on his negligence. Moreover, it must be remembered that this Court is
not inclined to annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter was not
the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be to have the same proceedings repeated

in some other court of similar jurisdiction; more so in a case like the present where the
objection against said proceedings is raised too late. 16
5. Under Rule 73, section 1 itself, the Quezon City court's assumption of jurisdiction over the
decedent's estate on the basis of the will duly presented for probate by petitioner-widow and
finding that Quezon City was the first choice of residence of the decedent, who had his
conjugal home and domicile therein with the deference in comity duly given by the Cebu
court could not be contested except by appeal from said court in the original case. The last
paragraph of said Rule expressly provides:
... The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the
decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or
proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of
jurisdiction appears on the record. (Rule 73)
The exception therein given, viz, "when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record" could
probably be properly invoked, had such deference in comity of the Cebu court to the Quezon
City court not appeared in the record, or had the record otherwise shown that the Cebu court
had taken cognizance of the petition before it and assumed jurisdiction.
6. On the question that Quezon City established to be the residence of the late senator, the
appellate court while recognizing that "the issue is a legitimate one" held in reliance on Borja
vs. Tan 17 that.
... The issue of residence comes within the competence of whichever court is considered to
prevail in the exercise jurisdiction - in this case, the Court of First Instance of Cebu as held by
this Court. Parenthetically, we note that the question of the residence of the deceased is a
serious one, requiring both factual and legal resolution on the basis of ample evidence to be
submitted in the ordinary course of procedure in the first instance, particularly in view of the
fact that the deceased was better known as the Senator from Cebu and the will purporting to
be his also gives Cebu, besides Quezon City, as his residence. We reiterate that this matter
requires airing in the proper court, as so indicated in the leading and controlling case of Borja
vs. Hon. Bienvenido Tan, et al., G.R. L-7792, July 27, 1955.
In the case at bar, however, the Cebu court declined to take cognizance of
the intestate petition first filed with it and deferred to the testate proceedings filed with the
Quezon City court and in effect asked the Quezon City court to determine the residence of
the decedent and whether he did leave a last will and testament upon which would depend
the proper venue of the estate proceedings, Cebu or Quezon City. The Quezon City court
having thus determined in effect for both courts at the behest and with the deference and
consent of the Cebu court that Quezon City was the actual residence of the decedent who
died testate and therefore the proper venue, the Borja ruling would seem to have no
applicability. It would not serve the practical ends of justice to still require the Cebu court, if
the Borja ruling is to be held applicable and as indicated in the decision under review, to
determine for itself the actual residence of the decedent (when the Quezon City court had

Page 9 of 74

already so determined Quezon City as the actual residence at the Cebu court's behest and
respondents have not seriously questioned this factual finding based on documentary
evidence) and if the Cebu court should likewise determine Quezon City as the actual
residence, or its contrary finding reversed on appeal, only then to allow petitioner-widow after
years of waiting and inaction to institute the corresponding proceedings in Quezon City.
7. With more reason should the Quezon City proceedings be upheld when it is taken into
consideration that Rule 76, section 2 requires that the petition for allowance of a will must
show: "(a) the jurisdictional facts." Such "jurisdictional facts" in probate proceedings, as held
by the Court in Fernando vs. Crisostomo 18 " are the death of the decedent, his residence at
the time of his death in the province where the probate court is sitting, or if he is an inhabitant
of a foreign country, his having left his estate in such province."
This tallies with the established legal concept as restated by Moran that "(T)he probate of a
will is a proceeding in rem. The notice by publication as a pre-requisite to the allowance of a
will, is a constructive notice to the whole world, and when probate is granted, the judgment of
the court is binding upon everybody, even against the State. The probate of a will by a court
having jurisdiction thereof is conclusive as to its due execution and validity." 19 The Quezon
City court acted regularly within its jurisdiction (even if it were to be conceded that Quezon
City was not the proper venue notwithstanding the Cebu court's giving way and deferring to
it,) in admitting the decedent's last will to probate and naming petitioner-widow as executrix
thereof. Hence, the Quezon city court's action should not be set aside by a writ of prohibition
for supposed lack of jurisdiction as per the appellate court's appealed decision, and should
instead be sustained in line with Uriarte, supra, where the Court, in dismissing
the certiorari petition challenging the Manila court's action admitting the decedent's will to
probate and distributing the estate in accordance therewith in the second proceeding, held
that "it must be remembered that this Court is not inclined to annul proceedings regularly had
in a lower court even if the latter was not the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be
to have the same proceedings repeated in some other court of similar jurisdiction." As
stressed by Chief Justice Moran in Sy Oa, supra, "the mischievous effect in the
administration of justice" of considering the question of residence as affecting the jurisdiction
of the trial court and annulling the whole proceedings only to start all over again the same
proceedings before another court of the same rank in another province "is too obvious to
require comment."
8. If the question of jurisdiction were to be made to depend only on who of the decedent's
relatives gets first to file a petition for settlement of the decedent's estate, then the
established jurisprudence of the Court that Rule 73, section 1 provides only a rule of venue in
order to preclude different courts which may properly assume jurisdiction from doing so and
creating conflicts between them to the detriment of the administration of justice, and that
venue is waivable, would be set at naught. As between relatives who unfortunately do not see
eye to eye, it would be converted into a race as to who can file the petition faster in the court
of his/her choice regardless of whether the decedent is still in cuerpo presente and in

disregard of the decedent's actual last domicile, the fact that he left a last will and testament
and the right of his surviving widow named as executrix thereof. Such dire consequences
were certainly not intended by the Rule nor would they be in consonance with public policy
and the orderly administration of justice.
9. It would finally be unjust and inequitable that petitioner-widow, who under all the applicable
rules of venue, and despite the fact that the Cebu court (where respondent Lourdes Cuenco
had filed an intestate petition in the Cebu court earlier by a week's time on 5 March
1964) deferred to the Quezon City court where petitioner had within fifteen days (on March
12, 1964) after the decedent's death (on February 25, 1964) timely filed the decedent's last
will and petitioned for letters testamentary and is admittedly entitled to preference in the
administration of her husband's estate, 20 would be compelled under the appealed decision to
have to go all the way to Cebu and submit anew the decedent's will there for probate either in
a new proceeding or by asking that the intestate proceedings be converted into
a testate proceeding when under the Rules, the proper venue for the testate proceedings,
as per the facts of record and as already affirmed by the Quezon City court is Quezon City,
where the decedent and petitioner-widow had their conjugal domicile.
It would be an unfair imposition upon petitioner as the one named and entitled to be executrix
of the decedent's last will and settle his estate in accordance therewith, and a disregard of
her rights under the rule on venue and the law on jurisdiction to require her to spend much
more time, money and effort to have to go from Quezon City to the Cebu court everytime she
has an important matter of the estate to take up with the probate court.
It would doubly be an unfair imposition when it is considered that under Rule 73, section
2, 21 since petitioner's marriage has been dissolved with the death of her husband, their
community property and conjugal estate have to be administered and liquidated in the estate
proceedings of the deceased spouse. Under the appealed decision, notwithstanding that
petitioner resides in Quezon City, and the proper venue of the testate proceeding was in
Quezon City and the Quezon City court properly took cognizance and exercised exclusive
jurisdiction with the deference in comity and consent of the Cebu court, such proper exercise
of jurisdiction would be nullified and petitioner would have to continually leave her residence
in Quezon City and go to Cebu to settle and liquidate even her own community property and
conjugal estate with the decedent.
10. The Court therefore holds under the facts of record that the Cebu court did not act without
jurisdiction nor with grave abuse of discretion in declining to take cognizance of
the intestate petition and instead deferring to the testate proceedings filed just a week later by
petitioner as surviving widow and designated executrix of the decedent's last will, since the
record before it (the petitioner's opposition and motion to dismiss) showed the falsityof the
allegation in the intestate petition that the decedent had died without a will. It is noteworthy
that respondents never challenged by certiorari or prohibition proceedings the Cebu court's
order of 10 April 1964 deferring to the probate proceedings before the Quezon City court,

Page 10 of 74

thus leaving the latter free (pursuant to the Cebu court's order of deference) to exercise
jurisdiction and admit the decedent's will to probate.
For the same reasons, neither could the Quezon City court be held to have acted without
jurisdiction nor with grave abuse of discretion in admitting the decedent's will to probate and
appointing petitioner as executrix in accordance with its testamentary disposition, in the light
of the settled doctrine that the provisions of Rule 73, section 1 lay down only a rule of venue,
not of jurisdiction.
Since respondents undisputedly failed to appeal from the Quezon City court's order of May
15, 1964 admitting the will to probate and appointing petitioner as executrix thereof, and said
court concededly has jurisdiction to issue said order, the said order of probate has long since
become final and can not be overturned in a special civic action of prohibition.
11. Finally, it should be noted that in the Supreme Court's exercise of its supervisory authority
over all inferior courts, 22 it may properly determine, as it has done in the case at bar,
that venue was properly assumed by and transferredto the Quezon City court and that it is
the interest of justice and in avoidance of needless delay that the Quezon City court's
exercise of jurisdiction over the testate estate of the decedent (with the due deference and
consent of the Cebu court) and its admission to probate of his last will and testament and
appointment of petitioner-widow as administratrix without bond in pursuance of the
decedent's express will and all its orders and actions taken in the testate proceedings before
it be approved and authorized rather than to annul all such proceedings regularly had and to
repeat and duplicate the same proceedings before the Cebu court only to revert once more to
the Quezon City court should the Cebu court find that indeed and in fact, as already
determined by the Quezon City court on the strength of incontrovertible documentary
evidence of record, Quezon City was the conjugal residence of the decedent.
ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered reversing the appealed decision and resolution
of the Court of Appeals and the petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary
injunction originally filed by respondents with the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 34104-R) is
ordered dismissed. No costs.
Makalintal, C.J., Zaldivar, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.
Fernando and Castro, JJ., took no part.

G.R. No. L-44888 February 7, 1992


PILIPINAS
SHELL
PETROLEUM
CORPORATION, petitioner,
vs.
FIDEL P. DUMLAO, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Agusan Del Norte and
Butuan City, BONIFACIO CANONOY, Judicial Administrator of the Estate of Regino
Canonoy, CARMEN VDA. DE CANONOY, TEODULO CANONOY, REGINO CANONOY,
JR., MARIANITA CANONOY GUINTO and GLORIA CANONOY BASA, respondents.
Dominguez & Paderna Law Offices Co. for petitioner.
Wenceslao B. Rosales for private respondents.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
Brought to focus in this petition are the following issues: (a) whether the jurisdictional facts
that need to be stated in a petition for letters of administration under Section 2(a), Rule 79 of

Page 11 of 74

the Rules of Court include the specific assertion that the petitioner therein is an "interested
person," and (b) whether the administration court may properly and validly dismiss a petition
for letters of administration filed by one who is not an "interested person" after having
appointed an heir of the decedent as administrator of the latter's intestate estate and set for
pre-trial a claim against the said estate
Ricardo M. Gonzalez, District Manager of Shell Philippines, Inc. for Mindanao (hereinafter
referred to as Shell), filed on 8 January 1973 a petition entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate
Estate of the Deceased Regino Canonoy, Petition for Letters of Administration, Ricardo M.
Gonzalez, Petitioner" with the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of
Agusan del Norte and Butuan City, praying therein that he be appointed judicial administrator
of the estate of the deceased Regino Canonoy. The case was docketed as SP PROC. No.
343 and was raffled to Branch II of the trial court.
On 27 January 1973, Judge Vicente B. Echavez, Jr. of Branch II issued an Order (1) setting
the hearing on the petition for 23 March 1973 at 8:30 a.m.; (2) directing that the order be
published, at petitioner's expense, once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a
newspaper with a nationwide circulation published regularly by a government agency or
entity, or in any newspaper published and edited in any part of the country which is in
operation during the existence of the present national emergency and of general circulation in
the province of Agusan del Norte and in Butuan City, if any there be; and (3) ordering that
copies of the order be sent by registered mail or personal delivery, at the petitioner's expense,
to each of all the known heirs of the deceased Regino Canonoy, within the periods prescribed
by Section 4, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court. 1
In their Opposition to the issuance of letters of administration to Gonzalez filed on 21 March
1973, 2 private respondents, who are heirs of Regino Canonoy, allege that: Gonzalez "is a
complete stranger to the intestate estate" of Regino Canonoy; he is "not even a creditor" of
the estate; he is a resident of Davao City and thus if appointed as administrator of the estate,
the bulk of which is located in Butuan City, "he would not be able to perform his duties
efficiently;" and he is an employee of Shell Philippines, Inc., an alleged creditor of the estate,
and so "he would not be able to properly and effectively protect the interest of the estate in
case of conflicts." They, however, "propose" and pray that since Bonifacio Canonoy, one of
Regino's sons, enjoys preference in appointment pursuant to Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules
of Court, he should "be appointed administrator of the said intestate estate and the
corresponding letters of administration be issued in his favor."
On 25 July 1973, after due hearing, the trial court appointed Bonifacio Canonoy as
administrator of the intestate estate of Regino Canonoy, 3 having found him competent to act
as such. None of the parties moved to reconsider this order or appealed therefrom. On 23
November 1973, herein petitioner Shell, then known as Shell Philippines, Inc., filed its claim
against the estate of the deceased Regino Canonoy. The duly appointed administrator,
Bonifacio Canonoy, filed on 9 October 1974 a Motion to Dismiss the claim of Shell 4 which the
latter contested by filing an Opposition. Shell likewise filed an amended claim against the

Page 12 of 74

estate. 5 On 12 May 1975, the administrator filed his Reply to the Opposition to Motion to
Dismiss. 6 On 25 May 1975, he filed an Answer to the amended claim filed by Shell. 7 In the
said Answer, he interposes compulsory counterclaims for the estate in the amount of
P659,423.49 representing rentals for land occupied by the Shell Service Station, lighting
allowances, allowances for salaries and wages of service attendants, sales commission due
the deceased Regino Canonoy and reasonable attorney's fees. Petitioner filed an answer to
the Counterclaim.
Upon joinder of the issues on Shell's claim, the trial court, this time presided over by
respondent Judge Fidel P. Dumlao, set the pre-trial for 15 August 1975. 8 This was later reset to 23 September 1975. 9
On 18 August 1975, petitioner filed a motion to require the judicial administrator to file an
inventory of the properties of the deceased. 10
At the pre-trial held on 23 September 1975, counsel for the administrator requested for time
to file a Motion to Dismiss the case. In an Order issued on that date, the court granted him
ten (10) days to file the motion; opposing counsel was likewise given ten (10) days from
receipt of the same to file whatever pleading he may deem proper to file, after which the
motion shall be deemed submitted for resolution. 11 The motion was filed on 30 September
1975. It alleges that the court did not acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter and nature
thereof because the petitioner therein, Mr. Gonzalez, is not the "interested person"
contemplated by Section 2, Rule 79 of the Rules of Court. 12 Shell filed its Opposition to the
Motion on 16 October 1975 13 on the ground that the trial court had acquired jurisdiction over
the case to issue letters of administration as the interest of Gonzalez in the estate is not a
jurisdictional fact that needs to be alleged in the petition. If at all, Gonzalez' lack of interest in
the estate of the deceased only affected his competence to be appointed administrator. In an
Order dated 8 November 1975, respondent Judge, finding the motion to be well-taken and
meritorious, dismissed the case. 14 The motion for its reconsideration having been denied by
the
trial
court
on
23
January
1976, 15 Shell filed the instant petition which it denominated as a petition for review
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
In the Resolution dated 6 December 1976, this Court required the respondents to comment
on the petition; 16 the latter complied with the same on 31 January 1977. 17 Thereafter, on 7
February 1977, this Court resolved, inter alia, to treat the petition for review as a special civil
action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court and require the parties to submit their respective
Memoranda; 18 petitioner filed its Memorandum on 4 April 1977 19 while the respondents filed
theirs on 3 June 1977. 20
The petition is impressed with merit; it must perforce be granted.
Under the peculiar circumstances of the case, the trial court clearly acted with grave abuse of
discretion when it dismissed SP PROC. No. 343 after having set for pre-trial petitioner's
amended claim against the estate. That said dismissal was predicated solely on the ground

that petitioner therein, Ricardo Gonzalez, is not an "interested person," and that, since such
interest is a jurisdictional requirement, the trial court acquired no jurisdiction over the case,
serves only to compound the error.
1. Section 2, Rule 79 of the Rules of Court provides:
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 2. Contents of petition of letters of administration. A petition for letters of
administration must be filed by an interested person and must show, so far as known to the
petitioner:

did not ask for the dismissal of the petition but merely opposed the issuance of letters of
administration in favor of Gonzalez because, among other reasons, he is a stranger to the
estate. The Opposition also proposed that Bonifacio Canonoy, one of the children of the
deceased Regino Canonoy, be appointed administrator of the latter's intestate estate. The
failure to move for a dismissal amounted to a waiver of the above-mentioned ground. Section
8, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court provides that:
A motion attacking a pleading or a proceeding shall include all objections then available, and
all objections not so included shall be deemed waived.

But no defect in the petition shall render void the issuance of letters of administration.

However, if a motion to dismiss is not filed, as what obtains in this case, any of the grounds
available for such a motion, except for improper venue, may be pleaded as an affirmative
defense, and a preliminary hearing thereon may be had as if a motion to dismiss had been
filed. 28 Excepted from the above rules are the following grounds: (a) failure to state a cause
of action which may be alleged in a later pleading if one is permitted, or by a motion for
judgment on the pleadings, or at the trial on the merits; and (b) lack of jurisdiction over the
subject matter of the action, 29 subject to the exception as hereinafter discussed.

xxx xxx xxx

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

The jurisdictional facts alluded to are: the death of the testator, his residence at the time of his
death in the province where the probate court is sitting or, if he is an inhabitant of a foreign
country, his having left his estate in such province. 21 These facts are amply enumerated in
the petition filed by Gonzalez. 22 The fact of death of the intestate and of his residence within
the country are foundation facts upon which all the subsequent proceedings in the
administration of the estate rest, and that if the intestate was not an inhabitant of the state at
the time of his death, and left no assets in the state, and none came into it afterwards, no
jurisdiction is conferred on the court to grant letters of administration in any county. 23 Clearly,
the allegation that a petitioner seeking letters of administration is an interested person, does
not fall within the enumeration of jurisdictional facts. Of course, since the opening sentence of
the section requires that the petition must be filed by an interested person, it goes without
saying that a motion to dismiss may lie not on the basis of lack of jurisdiction on the part of
the court, but rather on the ground of lack of legal capacity to institute the proceedings.

Finally, appellant would contend that plaintiff has no capacity to sue and is not the real party
in interest. It is now too late to raise these objections here. These should have been asserted
in the motion to dismiss filed by defendant below. Not having been included therein, they are
now barred by the rule on omnibus motion.

(a) The jurisdictional facts;


(b) The names, ages, and residences of the heirs, and the names and residences of the
creditors, of the decedent;
(c) The probable value and character of the property of the estate;
(d) The name of the person for whom letters of administration are prayed.

This is precisely what happened in Saguinsin vs. Lindayag, 24 where the dismissal of a
petition for letters of administration was affirmed because the petitioner "is not an heir of her
deceased sister and, therefore, has no material and direct interest in her estate." 25 In the said
case, this Court defined an interested party as one who would be benefited by the estate,
such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor; this interest
must be material and direct, not merely indirect or contingent. 26
The Saguinsin doctrine is not, however, without exception. An objection to a petition for letters
of administration on that ground may be barred by waiver or estoppel.
Private respondents herein did not file a motion to dismiss the petition filed by Gonzalez on
the ground of lack of capacity to sue; 27 they instead filed an Opposition which, unfortunately,

Page 13 of 74

By proposing that Bonifacio Canonoy be appointed as administrator instead of Mr. Gonzalez,


private respondents have in fact approved or ratified the filing of the petition by the latter.
In Eusebio vs. Valmores, 31 We held that:
xxx xxx xxx
The evidence submitted in the hearing does not satisfactorily prove that the petitioner was
legally adopted; hence, he did not have any interest in the properties of the deceased Rosalia
Saquitan. Under ordinary circumstances, such defect would authorize the dismissal of the
proceedings especially in view of the fact that the surviving spouse of Rosalia Saquitan had
filed an affidavit of adjudication under the provisions of Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Rules.
Counsel for Domingo Valmores, however, had not objected to the application for the
appointment of an administrator; he only objected to the appointment of the said stranger
Eulogio Eusebio as administrator, claiming to have the right as surviving spouse to be
appointed as such administrator. By this act of Domingo Valmores, surviving spouse of the
deceased, therefore, the fatal defect in the petition may be considered, as cured. In other
words, the filing of the petition for the appointment of an administrator may be considered as
having been ratified by the surviving husband, Domingo Valmores, and for this reason the
proceedings may not be dismissed.

2. There can be no dispute that the trial court had acquired jurisdiction over SP PROC. No.
343. Immediately after the filing of the case, the trial court complied with Section 3, Rule 79 of
the Rules of Court by issuing the Order dated 27 January 1973. At the initial hearing on 25
July 1973, petitioner Gonzalez established the jurisdictional requirements by submitting in
evidence proof of publication and service of notices of the petition. Thereafter, it heard the
evidence on the qualifications and competence of Bonifacio Canonoy, then appointed him as
the administrator and finally directed that letters of administration be issued to him, and that
he takes his oath of office after putting up a surety or property bond in the amount of
P5,000.00. 32
It is be presumed that Bonifacio Canonoy immediately qualified as administrator because in
that capacity, he filed a motion to dismiss petitioner's claim against the estate, 33 a Reply to
the Opposition to the motion to dismiss 34 and an Answer to the petitioner's amended claim
against the estate wherein he interposed a counterclaim, 35 praying thus:
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court to dismiss the abovementioned "Amended Claim Against the Estate" and to order the claimant to pay into the
intestate estate of Regino Canonoy the said sum of P659,423.49, together with the interest
thereon at the legal rate beginning from the date hereof, the reasonable attorney's fees for
the prosecution of this counterclaim, and costs;
OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, in the event that any sum is found due from and payable by the
said intestate estate of Regino Canonoy in favor of the said claimant, the said amount be
deducted from the above-mentioned sum and, thereafter, to order the claimant to pay the
balance remaining unto the said intestate estate of Regino Canonoy, together with interest
thereon at the legal rate beginning from date hereof, the reasonable attorney's fees for the
prosecution of this counterclaim, and costs.
Clearly, therefore, not only had the administrator and the rest of the private respondents
voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court, they even expressly affirmed and
invoked such jurisdiction in praying for reliefs and remedies in their favor, namely: (a) denial
of Gonzalez' prayer to be appointed as administrator, (b) appointment of Bonifacio Canonoy
as administrator, (c) denial of petitioner Shell's amended claim against the estate, and (d) the
granting of the counterclaim. Hence, they cannot now be heard to question the jurisdiction of
the trial court. While it may be true that jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings, a party who has affirmed and invoked it in a particular matter to secure an
affirmative relief cannot be allowed to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape
penalty.
In Tijam, et al. al. vs. Sibonghanoy, et al., 36 this Court held:
It has been held that a party can not invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative
relief against his opponent and, after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or
question that same jurisdiction (Dean vs. Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86 A.L.R. 79). In the case just
cited, by way of explaining the rule, it was further said that the question whether (sic) the

Page 14 of 74

court had jurisdiction either of the subject-matter of the action or of the parties was not
important in such cases because the party is barred from such conduct not because the
judgment or order of the court is valid and conclusive as an adjudication, but for the reason
that such a practice can not be tolerated obviously for reasons of public policy.
Furthermore, it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting a cause and encountering
an adverse decision on the merits, it is too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or
power of the court (Pease vs. Rathbun-Jones etc., 243 U.S. 273, 61 L. Ed. 715, 37 S. Ct.
283; St. Louis etc. vs. McBride, 141 U.S. 127, 35 L. Ed. 659). And in Littleton vs. Burgess, 16
Wyo. 58, the Court said that it is not right for a party who has affirmed and invoked the
jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to secure an affirmative relief, to afterwards deny
that same jurisdiction to escape a penalty.
The respondent Judge should have lent his ears to Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy instead of
peremptorily granting the motion to dismiss in an Order which does not even care to expound
on why the court found the said motion to be meritorious. He exhibited undue haste in
removing the case from his docket and in abdicating judicial authority and responsibility.
Howsoever viewed, he committed grave abuse of discretion.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED and the Order of respondent Judge
of 8 November 1975 in SP PROC. No. 343 is hereby SET ASIDE. The court below is further
ordered to hear and decide petitioner's claim against the estate in said case, unless
supervening events had occurred making it unnecessary, and to conduct therein further
proceedings pursuant to the Rules of Court until the case is closed and terminated.
Costs against private respondents.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Romero, JJ., concur.
[G.R. No. L-9282. May 31, 1956.]
EMILIO ADVINCULA, Petitioner, vs. HONORABLE JUDGE JOSE TEODORO, SR., Judge
of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, and ENRIQUE A.
LACSON, Respondents.
DECISION
CONCEPCION, J.:
Petitioner Emilio Advincula seeks a writ of certiorari, to annul certain orders of the Court of
First Instance of Negros Occidental.
Said Petitioner was, on November 22, 1954, appointed, special administrator of the estate of
his deceased wife, Josefa Lacson Advincula, in special proceeding No. 3245 of said court. In
due course, he was, on February 12, 1955, appointed regular administrator of said estate.
After Advincula had qualified as such, the brothers of the deceased, who left no issue,
submitted to the court, for allowance, a document purporting to be her last will and

testament. Petitioner opposed the probate thereof upon the ground that it did not bear the
signature of the deceased; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat the signature thereon, if hers, was
secured through fraud and duress; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand that, the instrument had
not been executed with the requisite formalities. On May 4, 1955, Respondent Enrique
Lacson, one of the brothers of the deceased, filed a motion praying that he be appointed
administrator of said estate, in lieu of Petitioner herein, for the reason that said Respondent is
the executor named in the aforementioned alleged will. On or about May 16, 1955, Attys.
Jose Y. Torres and Antonio Lozada, as counsel for Advincula, filed an opposition to said
motion. When the latter was called for hearing on May 18, 1955, Atty. Lozada was served, in
open court, copy of an amended motion, of Respondent Lacson, for change of administrator,
dated May 14, 1955. It was alleged therein, in addition to the ground set forth in the first
motion:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
5. That the present administrator is incompetent, incapable and unsuitable to the discharge
of the trust, he being foreign to the estate, and without changing or removing him as such
would be disastrous to the estate and to the heirs named in the will of the decedent.
Atty. Lozada asked a postponement of the hearing upon the ground that Advinculas main
counsel, Atty. Torres, was in Manila, but his request was denied. Then, after hearing the
argument of opposing counsel, the court, presided over by Respondent, Honorable Jose
Teodoro, Sr., Judge, issued, on the same date (May 18, 1955), an order the pertinent parts of
which read:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The Court, after hearing the oral arguments of both parties, finds the motion for
postponement not well-taken and hereby denies the same; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand
finding the motion dated May 4, 1955 as amended by the amended motion dated May 14,
1955, well-founded and the opposition thereto dated May 16, 1955 not well-founded, said
motion is hereby granted.
WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice and for the preservation of the property for the heirs,
the appointment of Emilio Advincula as administrator is hereby revoked and in his stead,
the Oppositor, Enrique A. Lacson, is hereby appointed administrator of this intestate estate,
and same may qualify by filing a bond in the sum of P5,000 and taking and subscribing the
corresponding oath of Office. Once said Enrique A. Lacson has qualified, let letters of
administration issue in his favor.
The former administrator, Emilio Advincula, is hereby ordered to submit within ten (10) days
from receipt hereof, his final account covering the entire period of his administration and
should it appear that any deficiency has been incurred by him during his incumbency, his
bond shall answer for said deficiency.
Thereupon, Lacson gave the requisite bond, letters of administration was issued to him, and
he tried to take possession of the estate of the deceased. A reconsideration of said order of
May 18, 1955, having been denied by another order, dated May 30, 1955, Petitioner instituted
the present action for certiorari, against Lacson and Judge Teodoro, to annul his aforesaid

Page 15 of 74

orders of May 18 and 30, 1955, upon the ground that the same were issued with grave abuse
of discretion. Upon the filing of a bond by Advincula, we issued, as prayed for in his petition, a
writ of preliminary injunction restraining Respondent Lacson and his agents from interfering,
molesting and harassing the Petitioner in the administration of the estate of the deceased,
during the pendency of this case.
The writ of certiorari prayed for is in order. Lacsons appointment, in lieu of Advincula, as
administrator of the estate of Josefa Lacson Advincula, is predicated upon the fact that the
former is named executor in the alleged will of said deceased. The provision therein to this
effect cannot be enforced, however, until after said document has been allowed to probate,
for section 4 of Rule 79 of the Rules of Court provides:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
When a will has been proved and allowed, the court shall issue letters testamentary thereon
to the person named as executor therein, if he is competent, accepts the trusts, and gives
bond as required by these rules. (Italics supplied.)
Besides, the discovery of a document purporting to be the last will and testament of a
deceased, after the appointment of an administrator of the estate of the latter, upon the
assumption that he or she had died intestate, does not ipso facto nullify the letters of
administration already issued or even authorize the revocation thereof, until the alleged will
has been proved and allowed by the court. Rule 83, section 1, of the Rules of Court, is plain
and explicit on this point.
If after letters of administration have been granted on the estate of a decedent as if he had
died intestate, his will is proved and allowed by the court, the letters of administration shall be
revoked and all powers thereunder cease, and the administrator shall forthwith surrender the
letters to the court, end render his account within such time as the court directs. Proceedings
for the issuance of letters testamentary or of administration under the will shall be as
hereinbefore provided. (Italics supplied.)
The amended motion for change of administrator endeavored to justify the removal of
Advincula by alleging that he is incompetent, incapable and unsuitable to the discharge of
the trust, he being foreign to the estate of the deceased. By holding, in its order of May 18,
1955, that said motion is well-founded with nothing, absolutely nothing else, to indicate
the basis of this conclusion Respondent Judge has impliedly adopted the line of argument
followed in the above quoted allegation of the amended motion to change administrator. Said
argument is, however, devoid of merit.
It is untenable from the viewpoint of logic and experience, because a stranger to deceased
may be competent, capable and fit to administer her estate, in much the same as a member
of her immediate family could be incompetent, incapable and unfit to do so. At any rate,
Advincula is not a stranger, either to her or to her estate, he bring her surviving spouse and,
as such, one of her forced heirs (Arts. 887, 888, 892, 893, 894, 897 to 900, and 995 to 1001,
Civil Code of the Philippines), whether she died testate or intestate. What is more, he is prima
facie entitled to one-half of all property subject to the authority of the administrator of said

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

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


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

Page 16 of 74

Comments

and

Cases

on

Civil

Law,

1970

ed.,

Vol.

VI,

p.

472).

2. ID.; ID.; PREFERENCE OF CREDITS; ARTICLES 2249 AND 2242 OF THE NEW CIVIL
CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES; CONSTRUED. Under the system established by Article
2249 of the civil Code of the Philippines, only taxes and assessments upon immovable
property enjoy absolute preference. All the remaining specified classes of preferred creditors
under Article 2242 enjoy no priority among themselves. Their credits shall be satisfied prorata,
i.e.,
in
proportion
to
the
amount
of
the
respective
credits.
3. ID.; ID.; ARTICLE 2249 AND 2242 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE; PAIL REQUISITE TO
THEIR FULL APPLICATION UNDER THE DE BARRETO CASE. Under the De Barreto
decision, the full application of Articles 2242 and 2249 demands that there must first be some
proceeding where the class of all the preferred creditors may be bindingly adjudicated, such
as insolvency, the settlement of a decedents estate under Rule 87 of the Rules of Court, or
other
liquidation
proceedings
of
similar
import.
4. REMEDIAL LAW; INSOLVENCY PROCEEDINGS AND SETTLEMENT OF A
DECEDENTS ESTATE; BOTH PROCEEDINGS IN REM, OTHER EQUIVALENT GENERAL
LIQUIDATION OF SIMILAR NATURE. Insolvency proceedings end settlement of a
decedents estate are both proceedings in rem which are binding the whole world. All persons
having interest in the subject matter involved, whether they were notified or not, are equally
bound. Consequently, a liquidation of similar import or other equivalent general liquidation
must also necessarily be a proceeding in rem so that all interested persons whether known to
the
parties
or
not
may
be
bound
by
such
proceeding.
3. ID.; ACTION FOR COLLECTION OF UNPAID CONTRACTORS FEE; NOT AN ACTION IN
REM. The proceedings in the court below do not partake of the insure of insolvency
proceedings or settlement of a decedents estate. The action filed by Ramos was only to
collect the unpaid cost of the construction of the duplex apartment. It is far from being a
general
liquidation
of
the
estate
of
the
Tabligan
spouses.
6. CIVIL LAW; CREDIT TRANSACTION; ANNOTATION OF CLAIMS AND CREDITS AS
STATUTORY LIENS; RELEVANCE TO THE STABILITY OF THE TORRENS SYSTEM. In
the case at bar, although the lower court found that "there were no known creditors other than
the plaintiff and the defendant herein," this cannot be conclusive. It will not bar other creditors
in the event they show up and present their claims State petitioner bank, claiming that they
also have preferred liens against the property involved. Consequently, Transfer Certificate of
Title No. 101864 issued in favor of the bank which is supposed to be indefeasible would
remain constantly unstable and questionable. Such could not have been the intention of
Article 2243 of the Civil Code although it considers claims and credits under Article 2242 as
statutory liens. Neither does the De Barreto case sanction such instability. In fact, an

Page 17 of 74

annotation, as suggested above, would insure to the benefit of the public, particularly those
who may subsequently wish to buy the property in question or who have a business
transaction in connection therewith. It would facilitate the enforcement of a legal statutory
right which cannot be barred by laches (See Manila Railroad Co. v. Luzon Stevedoring Co.,
100
Phil.
135).
7. ID.; SALE; BUYER IN GOOD FAITH OF REALTY; TAKES IT FEE FROM LIENS AND
ENCUMBRANCES OTHER THAN STATUTORY LIENS AND THOSE ANNOTATED IN THE
TITLE; CASE AT BAR. Since the action filed by the private respondent is not one which
can be considered as "equivalent general liquidation" having the same import as an
insolvency or settlement of the decedents estate proceeding, the well established principle
must be applied that a purchaser in good faith and for value takes register land free from liens
and encumbrances other than statutory liens and those recorded in the Certificate of Title. It
Is an limited fact that at the time the deeds of real estate mortgage in favor of the petitioner
bank were constituted, the transfer certificate of title of the spouses Tabligan was free from
any recorded lien and encumbrances, so that the only registered liens in the title were deeds
in favor of the petitioner.

DECISION
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch VII,
presided over by respondent Judge Gregorio T. Lantin, in Civil Case No. 79914 entitled
Candido Ramos v. Philippine Savings Bank and of the order denying a motion for its
reconsideration. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
defendant ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P15,000.00 as his pro-rata
share in the value of the duplex-apartment house which was built by the plaintiff for the
spouses likewise Filomeno Tabligan and Socorro Espiritu, which is now registered in the
name of the defendant under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 101864 issued by the Register
of Deeds of the City of Manila, on August 6, 1970, with legal interest from the date of the filing
of the complaint until fully paid; to pay the sum of P500.00 as attorneys fees; and to pay the
costs.

"The counterclaim interposed by the defendant is hereby dismissed."cralaw virtua1aw library


Involved in this case is a duplex-apartment house on a lot covered by TCT No. 86195
situated at San Diego Street, Sampaloc, Manila, and owned by the spouses Filomeno and
Socorro
Tabligan.
The duplex-apartment house was built for the spouses by private respondent Candido
Ramos, a duly licensed architect and building contractor, at a total cost of P32,927.00. The
spouses paid private respondent the sum of P7,139.00 only. Hence, the latter used his own
money,
P25,788.50
in
all,
to
finish
the
construction
of
the
duplexapartment.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
Meanwhile, on December 16, 1966, February 1, 1967, and February 28, 1967, the spouses
Tabligan obtained from petitioner Philippine Savings Bank three (3) loans in the total amount
of P35,000.00, the purpose of which was to complete the construction of the duplexapartment. To secure payment of the l2oans, the spouses executed in favor of the petitioner
three (3) promissory notes and three (3) deeds of real estate mortgages over the property
subject
matter
of
this
litigation.
On December 19, 1966, the petitioner registered the December 16, 1966 deed of real estate
mortgage with the Register of Deeds of Manila. The subsequent mortgages of February 1,
1967, and February 28, 1967, were registered with the Register of Deeds of Manila on
February 2, 1967 and March 1, 1967, respectively. At the time of the registration of these
mortgages, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 86195 was free from all liens and encumbrances.
The spouses failed to pay their monthly amortizations. As a result thereof, the petitioner bank
foreclosed the mortgages, and at the public auction held on July 23, 1969, was the highest
bidder.
On August 5, 1969, the petitioner bank registered the certificate of sale issued in its favor. On
August 9, 1970, the bank consolidated its ownership over the property in question, and
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 101864 was issued by the Register of Deeds of Manila in the
name
of
the
petitioner
bank.
Upon the other hand, the private respondent filed an action against the spouses to collect the
unpaid cost of the construction of the duplex-apartment before the Court of First Instance of
Manila, Branch I, which case was docketed therein as Civil Case No. 69228. During its
pendency, the private respondent succeeded in obtaining the issuance of a writ of preliminary
attachment, and pursuant thereto, had the property in question attached. Consequently, a
notice of adverse claim was annotated at the back of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 86195.

Page 18 of 74

On August 26, 1968, a decision was rendered in Civil Case No. 69228 in favor of the private
respondent and against the spouses. A writ of execution was accordingly issued but was
returned
unsatisfied.
As the spouses did not have any properties to satisfy the judgment in Civil Case No. 69228,
the private respondent addressed a letter to the petitioner for the delivery to him (private
respondent) of his pro-rata share in the value of the duplex-apartment in accordance with
Article 2242 of the Civil Code. The petitioner refused to pay the pro-rata value prompting the
private respondent to file the instant action. As earlier stated, a decision was rendered in
favor
of
the
private Respondent.chanrobles
virtual
lawlibrary
The parties are agreed that the only issue is whether or not the private respondent is entitled
to claim a pro-rata share in the value of the property in question. The applicable provision,
Article
2242
of
the
Civil
Code,
reads
as
follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"ART. 2242. With reference to specific immovable property and real rights of the debtor, the
following claims, mortgages and liens shall be preferred, and shall constitute an
encumbrance
on
the
immovable
or
real
right:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"(1)
"(2)

Taxes
For

the

unpaid

due
price

upon
of

real

the
property

land
sold,

upon

or
the

building;

immovable

sold;

"(3) Claims of laborers, masons, mechanics and other workmen, as well as of architects,
engineers and contractors, engaged in the construction, reconstruction or repair of buildings,
canals
or
other
works,
upon
said
buildings,
canals
or
other
works;
"(4) Claims of furnishers of materials used in the construction reconstruction, or repair of
buildings, canals or other works upon said buildings, canals or other works;
"(5) Mortgage credits recorded in the Registry of Property, upon the real estate mortgaged;
"(6) Expenses for the preservation or improvement of real property when the law authorizes
reimbursement,
upon
the
immovable
preserved
or
improved;
"(7) Credits annotated in the Registry of Property, in virtue of a judicial order, by attachments
or executions, upon the property affected, and only as to later credits;
"(8) Claims of co-heirs for warranty in the partition of an immovable among them, upon the
real
property
thus
divided;

"(9) Claims of donors of real property for pecuniary charges or other conditions imposed upon
the
donee,
upon
the
immovable
donated;

bindingly adjudicated, such as insolvency, the settlement of a decedents estate under Rule
87 of the Rules of Court, or other liquidation proceedings of similar import.

"(10) Credits of insurers upon the property insured, for the insurance premium for two
years."cralaw
virtua1aw
library

The

Both the petitioner bank and private respondent Ramos rely on the case of De Barreto v.
Villanueva
(6
SCRA
928).
The petitioner bank would impress upon this Court that the proceedings had before the court
below is not one of the proceedings contemplated in the De Barreto case that will sustain the
authority of the respondent court to adjudicate the claims of all preferred creditors under
Article 2242 of the Civil Code. Petitioner argues that for Article 2242 of the Civil Code to
apply, there must have been an insolvency proceeding or other liquidation proceedings of
similar import. And under the facts then obtaining, there could have been no insolvency
proceeding as there were only two known creditors. ** Consequently, it is argued that private
respondents unpaid contractors claim did not acquire the character of a statutory lien equal
to
the
petitioners
registered
mortgage.
Upon the other hand, private respondent Ramos maintains that the proceedings had before
the court below can qualify as a general liquidation of the estate of the spouses Tabligan
because the only existing property of said spouses is the property subject matter of this
litigation.chanrobles
virtualawlibrary
chanrobles.com:chanrobles.com.ph
Concurrence of credits occurs when the same specific property of the debtor or all of his
property is subjected to the claims of several creditors. The concurrence of credits raises no
questions of consequence where the value of the property or the value of all assets of the
debtor is sufficient to pay in full all the creditors. However, it becomes material when said
assets are insufficient for then some creditors of necessity will not be paid or some creditors
will not obtain the full satisfaction of their claims. In this situation, the question of preference
will then arise, that is to say who of the creditors will be paid ahead of the others. (Caguioa,
Comments
and
Cases
on
Civil
Law,
1970
ed.,
Vol.
VI,
p.
472.)
Under the system established by Article 2249 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, only taxes
and assessments upon immovable property enjoy absolute preference. All the remaining
specified classes of preferred creditors under Article 2242 enjoy no priority among
themselves. Their credits shall be satisfied pro-rata, i.e., in proportion to the amount of the
respective
credits.
Under the De Barreto decision, the full application of Articles 2242 and 2249 demands that
there must first be some proceeding where the claims of all the preferred creditors may be

Page 19 of 74

pertinent

ruling

reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Thus, it becomes evident that one preferred creditors third-party claim to the proceeds of a
foreclosure sale (as in the case now before us) is not the proceeding contemplated by law for
the enforcement of preferences under Article 2242, unless the claimant were enforcing a
credit for taxes that enjoy absolute priority. If none of the claims is for taxes, a dispute
between two creditors will not enable the Court to ascertain the pro rata dividend
corresponding to each because the rights of the other creditors likewise enjoying preference
under Article 2242 can not be ascertained. Wherefore, the order of the Court of First Instance
of Manila now appealed from, decreeing that the proceeds of the foreclosure sale be
apportioned only between appellant and appellee, is incorrect and must be reversed.
"In the absence of insolvency proceedings (or other equivalent general liquidation of the
debtors estate), the conflict between the parties now before us must be decided pursuant to
the well established principle concerning registered lands; that a purchaser in good faith and
for value (as the appellant concededly is) takes registered property free from liens and
encumbrances other then statutory liens and those recorded in the certificate of title. There
being no insolvency or liquidation, the claim of the appellee, as unpaid vendor, did not acquire
the character and rank of a statutory lien co-equal to the mortgagees recorded encumbrance,
and
must
remain
subordinate
to
the
latter."cralaw
virtua1aw
library
The resolution of this petition, therefore, hinges on the determination of whether an
insolvency proceeding or other liquidation proceeding of similar import may be considered to
have
been
conducted
in
the
court
below.
The

respondent

court

ruled

in

the

affirmative

holding

that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"There were no known creditors, other than the plaintiff and defendant herein, and the
proceedings in the present case may ascertain and bindingly adjudicate the respective claims
of the plaintiff and the defendant, serving as a substantial compliance with what the Supreme
Court
stated:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . it is thus apparent that the full application of Articles 2242 and 2249 demands that there
must be first some proceeding where the claims of all the preferred creditors may be
bindingly adjudicated, such as insolvency, the settlement of a decedents estate under Rule
87 of the Rules of Court, or other liquidation proceedings of similar import. (de Barretto v.
Villanueva,
Et
Al.,
G.R.
No.
L-14938,
December
29,
1962)."

A careful considering of this petition leads us to agree with the petitioner. The conclusions of
the
lower
court
are
not
supported
by
the
law
and
the
facts.
The proceedings in the court below do not partake of the nature of the insolvency
proceedings or settlement of a decedents estate. The action filed by Ramos was only to
collect the unpaid cost of the construction of the duplex apartment. It is far from being a
general
liquidation
of
the
estate
of
the
Tabligan
spouses.
Insolvency proceedings and settlement of a decedents estate are both proceedings in rem
which are binding against the whole world. All persons having interest in the subject matter
involved, whether they were notified or not, are equally bound. Consequently, a liquidation of
similar import or "other equivalent general liquidation must also necessarily be a proceeding
in rem so that all interested persons whether known to the parties or not may be bound by
such
proceeding.
In the case at bar, although the lower court found that "there were no known creditors other
than the plaintiff and the defendant herein", this can not be conclusive. It will not bar other
creditors in the event they show up and present their claims against the petitioner bank,
claiming that they also have preferred liens against the property involved. Consequently,
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 101864 issued in favor of the bank which is supposed to be
indefeasible would remain constantly unstable and questionable. Such could not have been
the intention of Article 2243 of the Civil Code although it considers claims and credits under
Article 2242 as statutory liens. Neither does the De Barretto case sanction such instability. It
emphasized
the
following:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"We are understandably loath (absent a clear precept of law so commanding) to adopt a rule
that would undermine the faith and credit to be accorded to registered Torrens titles and
nullify the beneficient objectives sought to be obtained by the Land Registration Act. No
argument is needed to stress that if a person dealing with registered land were to be held to
take it in every instance subject to all the fourteen preferred claims enumerated in Article
2242 of the new Civil Code, even if the existence and import thereof can not be ascertained
from the records, all confidence in Torrens titles would be destroyed, and credit transactions
on the faith of such titles would be hampered, if not prevented, with incalculable results.
Loans on real estate security would become aleatory and risky transactions, for no
prospective lender could accurately estimate the hidden liens on the property offered as
security, unless he indulged in complicated, tedious investigations. The logical result might
well be a contraction of credit to unforeseable proportions that could lead to economic
disaster.
"Upon the other hand, it does not appear excessively burdensome to require the privileged
creditors to cause their claims to be recorded in the books of the Register of Deeds should

Page 20 of 74

they desire to protect their rights even outside of insolvency or liquidation proceedings.
In fact, an annotation, as suggested above, would inure to the benefit of the public,
particularly those who may subsequently wish to buy the property in question or who have a
business transaction in connection therewith. It would facilitate the enforcement of a legal
statutory right which cannot be barred by laches. (See Manila Railroad Co. v. Luzon
Stevedoring
Co.,
100
Phil.
135).chanrobles
law
library
Respondent Ramos admitted in the partial stipulation of facts submitted by both parties that
at the time of the loans to the spouses, the petitioners bank had no actual or constructive
knowledge of any lien against the property in question. The duplex apartment house was built
for P32,927.00. The spouses Tabligan borrowed P35,000.00 for the construction of the
apartment house. The bank could not have known of any contractors lien because, as far as
it was concerned, it financed the entire construction even if the stated purpose of the loans
was
only
to
"complete"
the
construction.
Since the action filed by the private respondent is not one which can be considered as
"equivalent general liquidation" having the same import as an insolvency or settlement of the
decedents estate proceeding, the well established principle must be applied that a purchaser
in good faith and for value takes registered land free from liens and encumbrances other than
statutory liens and those recorded in the Certificate of Title. It is an admitted fact that at the
time the deeds of real estate mortgage in favor of the petitioner bank were constituted, the
transfer certificate of title of the spouses Tabligan was free from any recorded lien and
encumbrances, so that the only registered liens in the title were deeds in favor of the
petitioner.
Prescinding from the foregoing, the private respondents claim must remain subordinate to
the petitioner banks title over the property evidenced by TCT No. 101864.
WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila,
Branch VII is, hereby, reversed and set aside. The complaint and the counterclaim are
dismissed.
SO
Teehankee, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez and Relova, JJ., concur.

ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-18148

February 28, 1963

DEOGRACIAS BERNARDO, executor of the testate estate of the deceased EUSEBIO


CAPILI; and the instituted heirs, namely: ARMANDO CAPILI and ARTURO BERNARDO,
ET AL., petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and THE HEIRS OF THE LATE
HERMOGENA REYES, namely: FRANCISCO REYES, ET AL., and JOSE ISIDORO, ET
AL., respondents.
BARRERA, J.:
This is a petition by certiorari for the review of the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming
that of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan holding that the probate court in Special
Proceeding 1101 had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the deed of donation in question
and to pass upon the question of title or ownership of the properties mentioned therein.
The facts are briefly stated in the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals as follows:
Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes were husband and wife. The first died on July 27,
1958 and a testate proceeding for the settlement of his estate was instituted in the Court of
the Fist Instance of Bulacan. His will was admitted to probate on October 9, 1958, disposing
of his properties in favor of his widow; his cousins Armando, Ursula, and Buenaventura, all
surnamed Capili; and Arturo, Deogracias and Eduardo, all surnamed Bernardo. Hermogena
Reyes herself died on April 24, 1959. Upon petition of Deogracias Bernardo, executor of the
estate of the deceased Eusebio Capili, she was substituted by her collateral relatives and
intestate heirs, namely, Marcos, Vicente, Francisco and Dominga, all surnamed Reyes; and
Jose, Constancia, Raymunda and Elena, all surnamed Isidoro.

Page 21 of 74

On June 12, 1959, the executor filed a project of partition in the testate proceeding in
accordance with the terms of the will, adjudicating the estate of Eusebio Capili among the
testamentary heirs with the exception of Hermogena Reyes, whose share was alloted to her
collateral relatives aforementioned. On June 16, 1959 these relatives filed an opposition to
the executor's project of partition and submitted a counter-project of partition of their own,
claiming 1/2 of the properties mentioned in the will of the deceased Eusebio Capili on the
theory that they belonged not to the latter alone but to the conjugal partnership of the
spouses.
The probate court, in two orders dated June 24, 1959 and February 10, 1960, respectively,
set the two projects of partition for hearing, at which evidence was presented by the parties,
followed by the submission of memoranda discussing certain legal issues. In the
memorandum for the executor and the instituted heirs it was contended: (1) that the
properties disposed of in the will of the deceased Eusebio Capili belonged to him exclusively
and not to the conjugal partnership, because Hermogena Reyes had donated to him her half
share of such partnership; (2) that the collateral heirs of Hermogena Reyes had no lawful
standing or grounds to question the validity of the donation; and (3) that even assuming that
they could question the validity of the donation, the same must be litigated not in the testate
proceeding but in a separate civil action.
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and
approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to
prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1wph1.t
The oppositors and heirs of Hermogena Reyes, on their part, argued that the deed of
donation itself was determinative of the original conjugal character to the properties, aside
from the legal presumption laid down in Article 160 of the Civil Code, and that since the
donation was null and void the deceased Eusebio Capili did not become owner of the share
of his wife and therefore could not validly dispose of it in his will.
On September 14, 1960, the probate court, the Honorable M. Mejia presiding, issued an
order declaring the donation void without making any specific finding as to its juridical nature,
that is, whether it was inter vivos or mortis causa, for the reason that, considered under the
first category, it falls under Article 133 of the Civil Code, which prohibits donations between
spouses during the marriage; and considered under the second category, it does not comply
with the formalities of a will as required by Article 728 in relation to Article 805 of the same
Code, there being no attestation clause. In the same order the court disapproved both
projects of partition and directed the executor to file another," dividing the property mentioned
in the last will and testament of the deceased Eusebio Capili and the properties mentioned in
the deed of donation, Exhibit B, between the instituted heirs of the deceased Eusebio Capili
and the legal heirs of the deceased Hermogena Reyes, upon the basis that the said
properties were conjugal properties of the deceased spouses." On September 27, 1960, the
executor filed a motion for new trial, reiterating and emphasizing the contention previously
raised in their memorandum that the probate court had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of

Page 22 of 74

the claim of the legal heirs of Hermogena Reyes involving title to the properties mentioned in
the will of Eusebio Capili and taking exception to the court's declaration of the nullity of the
donation "without stating facts or provision of law on which it was based." The motion for new
trial was denied in an order dated October 3, 1960.
On appeal to the Court of Appeals the order appealed from being affirmed, petitioners filed
this present petition for review by certiorari.
The petitioners-appellants contend that the appellate court erred in not declaring that the
probate court, having limited and special jurisdiction, had generally no power to adjudicate
title and erred in applying the exception to the rule.
In a line of decisions, this Court consistently held that as a general rule, question as to title to
property cannot be passed upon on testate or intestate proceedings," 1 except where one of
the parties prays merely for the inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the property, in
which case the probate court may pass provisionally upon the question without prejudice to
its final determination in a separate action. 2 However, we have also held that when the parties
interested are all heirs of the deceased, it is optional to them to submit to the probate court a
question as to title to property, and when so submitted, said probate court may definitely pass
judgment thereon (Pascual v. Pascual, 73 Phil. 561; Manalac v. Ocampo, et al., 73 Phil. 661);
and that with the consent of the parties, matters affecting property under judicial
administration may be taken cognizance of by the court in the course of intestate proceeding,
provided interests of third persons are not prejudiced (Cunanan v. Amparo, 80 Phil. 229, 232).
In the light of this doctrine, may it be said correctly that the trial court as well as the Court of
Appeals erred in upholding the power of the probate court in this case to adjudicate in the
testate proceedings, the question as to whether the properties herein involved belong to the
conjugal partnership of Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes, or to the deceased husband
exclusively?
At the outset, let it be clarified that the matter at issue is not a question of jurisdiction, in the
sense advanced by appellants that the trial court had completely no authority to pass upon
the title to the lands in dispute, and that its decision on the subject is null and void and does
not bind even those who had invoked its authority and submitted to its decision because, it is
contended, jurisdiction is a creature of law and parties to an action can not vest, extend or
broaden it. If appellants' contention is correct, then there can be no exception to the nojurisdiction theory. But as has been stated in the case of Cunanan v. Amparo (supra) the
Supreme Court speaking through Mr. Justice Pedro Tuason: "Determination of title to
property is within the jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance. The responding Soriano's
objection (that the probate court lacked jurisdiction to order the delivery of the possession of
the lots to the estate) relates exclusively to the procedure, which is distinct from jurisdiction. It
affects only personal rights to a mode of practice (the filing of an independent ordinary action)
which may be waived". Strictly speaking, it is more a question of jurisdiction over the person,
not over the subject matter, for the jurisdiction to try controversies between heirs of a

deceased person regarding the ownership of properties alleged to belong to his estate, has
been recognized to be vested in probate courts. This is so because the purpose of an
administration proceeding is the liquidation of the estate and distribution of the residue among
the heirs and legatees. Liquidation means determination of all the assets of the estate and
payment of all the debts and expenses. 3 Thereafter, distribution is made of the decedent's
liquidated estate among the persons entitled to succeed him. The proceeding is in the nature
of an action of partition, in which each party is required to bring into the mass whatever
community property he has in his possession. To this end, and as a necessary corollary, the
interested parties may introduce proofs relative to the ownership of the properties in dispute.
All the heirs who take part in the distribution of the decedent's estate are before the court,
and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, in all matters and incidents necessary to the complete
settlement of such estate, so long as no interests of third parties are affected. 4
In the case now before us, the matter in controversy is the question of ownership of certain of
the properties involved whether they belong to the conjugal partnership or to the husband
exclusively. This is a matter properly within the jurisdiction of the probate court which
necessarily has to liquidate the conjugal partnership in order to determine the estate of the
decedent which is to be distributed among his heirs who are all parties to the proceedings,
including, of course, the widow, now represented because of her death, by her heirs who
have been substituted upon petition of the executor himself and who have appeared
voluntarily. There are no third parties whose rights may be affected. It is true that the heirs of
the deceased widow are not heirs of the testator-husband, but the widow is, in addition to her
own right to the conjugal property. And it is this right that is being sought to be enforced by
her substitutes. Therefore, the claim that is being asserted is one belonging to an heir to the
testator and, consequently, it complies with the requirement of the exception that the parties
interested (the petitioners and the widow, represented by dents) are all heirs claiming title
under the testator.
Petitioners contend additionally that they have never submitted themselves to the jurisdiction
of the probate court, for the purpose of the determination of the question of ownership of the
disputed properties. This is not borne by the admitted facts. On the contrary, it is undisputed
that they were the ones who presented the project of partition claiming the questioned
properties as part of the testator's asset. The respondents, as representatives or substitutes
of the deceased widow opposed the project of partition and submitted another. As the Court
of Appeals said, "In doing so all of them must be deemed to have submitted the issue for
resolution in the same proceeding. Certainly, the petitioners can not be heard to insist, as
they do, on the approval of their project of partition and, thus, have the court take it for
granted that their theory as to the character of the properties is correct, entirely without regard
to the opposition of the respondents". In other words, by presenting their project of partition
including therein the disputed lands (upon the claim that they were donated by the wife to her
husband), petitioners themselves put in issue the question of ownership of the properties
which is well within the competence of the probate court and just because of an opposition

Page 23 of 74

thereto, they can not thereafter withdraw either their appearance or the issue from the
jurisdiction of the court. Certainly, there is here a waiver where the parties who raise the
objection are the ones who set the court in motion. 5 They can not be permitted to complain if
the court, after due hearing, adjudges question against them. 6
Finally, petitioners-appellants claim that appellees are estopped to raise the question of
ownership of the properties involved because the widow herself, during her lifetime, not only
did not object to the inclusion of these properties in the inventory of the assets of her
deceased husband, but also signed an extra-judicial partition of those inventoried properties.
But the very authorities cited by appellants require that to constitute estoppel, the actor must
have knowledge of the facts and be appraised of his rights at the time he performs the act
constituting estoppel, because silence without knowledge works no estoppel. 7 In the present
case, the deceased widow acted as she did because of the deed of donation she executed in
favor of her husband not knowing that such deed was illegal, if inter-vivos, and ineffectual if
mortis-causa, as it has not been executed with the required formalities similar to a will.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals being in accordance with law, the same
is hereby affirmed with costs against appellants. So ordered.
G.R. No. L-3342

April 18, 1951

Intestate Estate of the deceased Lee Liong. RAFAEL A. DINGLASAN, ET


ALS., petitioners-appellees,
vs.
ANG CHIA, as Administratrix of the above intestate, LEE BING HOO alias CLARO LEE,
and LEE BUN TING,respondents-appellants.
Quisumbing,
Sycip,
Quisumbing
and
Hector Bisnar and Rafael Dinglasan for appellees.

Zalazar

for

appellants.

BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:


This is an appeal by Ang Chia, her son Claro Lee, and Lee Bun Ting from an order of the
Court of First Instance of Capiz, issued in the intestate estate proceedings of the deceased
Lee Liong, holding in abeyance the approval of their petition for an extrajudicial partition and
the closing of said proceedings until after the final termination of Civil Case No. V-331 of the
same court, entitled Rafael Dinglasan, et al., vs. Lee Bun Ting, Claro Lee and Ang Chia, in
her personal capacity and as administratrix of the estate of Lee Liong.
Rafael Dinglasan et al. filed a case in the Court of First Instance of Capiz on February 16,
1948, against Ang Chia, her son Claro Lee and one Lee Bun Ting to recover the ownership
and possession of a parcel of land located at Capiz, Capiz, and damages in the amount of
P1,000 a month. Subsequently, the plaintiffs filed a motion for the appointment of a receiver
to which counsel for the defendants objected, and it was only at the hearing of said motion
when plaintiffs discovered that there was pending in the same court a case concerning the
intestate estate of Lee Liong. In view thereof, the motion for the appointment of a receiver
was withdrawn and the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint seeking the inclusion as party-

defendant of the administratrix of the estate, who is the same widow Ang Chia, who was
already a party-defendant in her personal capacity. In order to protect their interests, the
plaintiffs also filed in the intestate proceedings a verified claim in intervention and a motion
praying that a co-administrator of the estate be appointed and the bond of the administratrix
in the amount of P500 be increased to P20,000. By their claim in intervention, the plaintiffs
made of record the pendency of the aforesaid civil case No. V-331 and prayed that the
intestate proceedings be not closed until said civil case shall have been terminated.
On June 21, 1948, the administratrix filed a motion to dismiss the claim in intervention and
objected to the motion for the increase of her bond and for the appointment of a coadministrator. On August 4, 1948, the court issued an order denying the petition for a coadministrator but increasing the bond to P5,000, and as regards the petition not to close the
intestate proceedings until after civil case No. V-331 shall have been decided, the court
stated that it would act thereon if a motion to close the proceedings is presented in due time
and is objected to by petitioners. The court however took cognizance of the pendency of said
civil case No. V-331. The administratrix did not appeal from said order nor file a new bond
and instead moved for the closing of the proceedings and her discharge as administratrix on
the ground that the heirs had already entered into an extrajudicial partition of the estate. To
this motion the petitioners objected, whereupon the court issued on July 15, 1949, an order
holding in abeyance the approval of the partition and the closing of the proceedings until after
the decision in said civil case has been rendered. From this order the administratrix and the
heirs appealed and now assign the following errors:
I
The lower court erred in taking cognizance of and being guided by the supposed "claim" of
petitioners-appellees.
II
The lower court erred in holding in abeyance the closing of the intestate proceedings pending
the termination of the separate civil action filed by the petitioners-appellees.
III
The lower court erred in ordering the administratrix to file an increased bond of P5,000.
Under the first assignment of error, the appellants question the validity of the order of the
lower court of August 4, 1948, whereby the court took cognizance of the civil case filed by the
appellees against the administratrix to recover possession of lot No. 398 and damages, and
required the administratrix to file a new bond of P5,000, contending that by taking such action
the court assumed jurisdiction over the case which it cannot do because its jurisdiction as
probate court is limited and especial (Guzman vs. Anog and Anog, 37 Phil. 61). They claim
further that probate proceedings are purely statutory and their functions are limited to the
control of the property upon the death of its owner and cannot extend to the adjudication of
collateral questions. (I Woermer, The American Law of Administration, 514, 662-663.)
Appellees on the other hand claim that said order of August 4, 1948, is not the subject of this

Page 24 of 74

appeal, as no appeal has been taken by the appellants from said order and the same has
long become final; so that the present appeal is only from the order of the lower court dated
July 15, 1949, which denies the motion of the appellees to terminate the intestate
proceedings on the ground that they have already agreed on the extrajudicial settlement of
the estate and to relieve the administratrix of the obligation of filing an increased bond.
There is merit in the claim of the appellees. It really appears from the record that the order
increasing the bond of the administratrix to P5,000 was issued on August 4, 1948, and from
said order no appeal has been taken by the appellants which has become final long ago and
that the present appeal is only from the order of the lower court dated July 15, 1949. It is true
that the lower court in its later order of July 15, 1949, reiterated its order to the administratrix
to file a new bond in the amount of P5,000 within 30 days after receipt thereof, but this cannot
have the effect of receiving the former order of August 4, 1948, nor does it give the appellants
the right to question in this instance the validity of said order, which has long become final.
Moreover, an order requiring the filing of a new bond by the administratrix is interlocutory in
nature and is solely addressed to the sound discretion of the court.
The act of the lower court in taking cognizance of civil case No. V-331 is not tantamount to
assuming jurisdiction over said case nor does it violate the ruling of this court which says that
"when questions arise as to the ownership of property, alleged to be part of the estate of a
deceased person, but claimed by some other person to be his property, not by virtue of any
right of inheritance from the deceased, but by title adverse to that of the deceased and his
estate, such questions cannot be determined in the course of administration proceedings.
The Court of First Instance, acting as probate court, has no jurisdiction to adjudicate such
contentions, which must be submitted to the court in the exercise of its general jurisdiction as
a Court of First Instance to try and determine ordinary actions. . . ." (Guzman vs. Anog and
Anog, 37 Phil., 61, 62-63.)
If the appellants filed a claim in intervention in the intestate proceedings it was only pursuant
to their desire to protect their interests it appearing that the property in litigation is involved in
said proceedings and in fact is the only property of the estate left subject of administration
and distribution; and the court is justified in taking cognizance of said civil case because of
the unavoidable fact that whatever is determined in said civil case will necessarily reflect and
have a far reaching consequence in the determination and distribution of the estate. In so
taking cognizance of civil case No. V-331 the court does not assume general jurisdiction over
the case but merely makes of record its existence because of the close interrelation of the
two cases and cannot therefore be branded as having acted in excess of its jurisdiction.
Appellants' claim that the lower court erred in holding in abeyance the closing of the intestate
proceedings pending determination of the separate civil action for the reason that there is no
rule or authority justifying the extension of administration proceedings until after the separate
action pertaining to its general jurisdiction has been terminated, cannot entertained. Section
1, Rule 88, of the Rules of Court, expressly provides that "action to recover real or personal
property from the estate or to enforce a lien thereon, and actions to recover damages for an

injury to person or property, real or personal, may be commenced against the executor or
administrator". What practical value would this provision have if the action against the
administrator cannot be prosecuted to its termination simply because the heirs desire to close
the intestate proceedings without first taking any step to settle the ordinary civil case? This
rule is but a corollary to the ruling which declares that questions concerning ownership of
property alleged to be part of the estate but claimed by another person should be determined
in a separate action and should be submitted to the court in the exercise of its general
jurisdiction. (Guzman vs. Anog and Anog, supra). These rules would be rendered nugatory if
we are to hold that an intestate proceedings can be closed by any time at the whim and
caprice of the heirs. Another rule of court provides that "after a party dies and the claim is not
thereby extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the
deceased to appear and to be substituted for the deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days,
or within such time as may be granted. If the legal representative fails to appear within said
time, the court may order the opposing party to procure the appointment of a legal
representative of the deceased within a time to be specified by the court, and the
representative shall immediately appear for and on behalf of the interest of the deceased."
(Section 17, Rule 3.) This rule also implies that a probate case may be held in abeyance
pending determination of an ordinary case wherein an administrator is made a party. To hold
otherwise would be also to render said rule nugatory.
Wherefore, the Court affirms the order appealed from, with costs against appellants.
Paras, C.J., Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Tuason, Montemayor and Jugo, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-40804 January 31, 1978


ROSARIO FELICIANO VDA. DE RAMOS, MIGUEL DANILA, RAYMUNDO A. DANILA,
CONSOLACION SANTOS, MIGUEL G. DANILA, AMOR DANILA, MOISES MARTINEZ,
MIGUELA GAVINO, MELITON NISTA, PRIMITIVA NISTA, HEIRS OF DANIEL NISTA,
MOISES
NISTA,
DOMINGO
NISTA
and
ADELAIDA
NISTA,petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, MARCELINA (MARTINA) GUERRA and THE HEIRS OF
BUENAVENTURA GUERRA,respondents.
Ernesto C. Hidalgo for petitioners.
Romulo S. Brion & Florentino M. Poonin for private respondents.
GUERRERO, J.:
Appeal by way of certiorari of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 49915-R,
entitled "Adelaida Nista Petitioner-appellee, versus Buenaventura Guerra, et al., Oppositors
-Appellants, " denying and disallowing the probate of the second last will and codicil of the
late Eugenia Danila previously probated by the Court of First Instance of Laguna Branch III at
San Pablo City.
The facts are rotated in the appealed decision. the pertinent portions of which state:
It appears that on June 2, 1966, Adelaida Nista who claimed to be one of the instituted heirs,
filed a petition for the probate of the alleged will and testament dated March 9, 1963 (Exhibit
H) and codicil dated April 18, 1963 (Exhibit L) of the late Eugenia Danila who died on May 21,
1966. The petitioner prayed that after due notice and proper hearing, the alleged will and
codicil be probates and allowed and that she or any other person be appointed as

Page 25 of 74

administrator of the testatrix's estate. She also prayed that in case no opposition thereto be
interposed and the value of the estate be less than P10,000.00, said estate be summarily
settled in accordance with the Rules.

Martina Guerra over the said parcel; that as a matter of fact Whatever rights and interests
Adelaida Nista has or may still have thereon are already considered waived and renounced in
favor of Marcelina Martina Guerra;

Buenaventura and Marcelina (Martina) both surnamed Guerra filed an opposition on July 18,
1966 and an amended opposition on August 19, 1967, to the petition alleging among others
that they are the legally adopted son and daughter of the late spouses Florentino Guerra and
Eugenia Danila (Exhibit 1); that the purported will and codicil subject of the petition (Exhibits
H and L) were procured through fraud and undue influence; that the formalities requited by
law for the execution of a will and codicil have not been complied with as the same were not
properly attested to or executed and not expressing the free will and deed of the purported
testatrix; that the late Eugenia Danila had already executed on November 5, 1951 her last will
and testament (Exhibit 3) which was duly probated (Exhibit 4) and not revoked or annulled
during the lifetime of the testatrix, and that the petitioner is not competent and qualified to act
as administration of the estate.

5. That in view of the fact that the riceland mentioned in paragraph 3 of the foregoing appears
to have already been disposed of by Eugenia Danila in favor of petitioner Adelaida Nista
which the parties hereto do not now contest, there is therefore no more estate left by the said
deceased Eugenia Danila to he disposed of by the will sought to be probated in this
proceedings; that consequently, and for the sake of peace and harmony money among the
relations and kins and adopted children of the deceased Eugenia Danila and with the further
aim of settling differences among themselves, the will and codicil of Eugenia Danila submitted
to this Honorable Court by the petitioner for probate, are considered abrogated and set aside;

On November 4, 1968, the petitioner and the oppositors, assisted by their respective
counsels, entered into a Compromise Agreement with the following terms and conditions,
thus:
1. That oppositors Buenaventura Guerra and Marcelina (Martina) Guerra are the legally
adopted son and daughter, respectively, of the deceased spouses, Florentino Guerra and
Eugenia Manila;
2. That Florentino Guerra pre-deceased Eugenia Danila that Eugenia Danila died on May 21,
1966, at San Pablo City, but during her lifetime, she had already sold, donated or disposed of
all her properties, some of which to Marcelina Martina Guerra, as indicated and confirmed in
paragraph 13 of the Complaint in Civil Case No. SP620, entitled Marcelina Guerra versus
Adelaida Nista, et al., and Which We hereby 'likewise admit and confirm;

6. That as the late Eugenia Danila has incurred debts to private persons during her lifetime,
which in addition to the burial and incidental expenses amounts to SIX THOUSAND EIGHT
HUNDRED PESOS (P6,800.00) her adopted daughter, Marcelina (Martina) Guerra is now
determined to settle the same, but herein petitioner Adelaida Nista hereby agrees to
contribute to Marcelina (Martina) Guerra for the settlement of the said indebtedness in the
amount of THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED PESOS (P3,400.00), Philippine Currency,
the same to be delivered by Adelaida Nista to Marcelina (Martina) Guerra at the latter's
residence at Rizal Avenue, San Pablo City, on or about February 28, 1969;
7. That should there be any other property of the deceased Eugenia Danila that may later on
be discovered to be undisposed of as yet by Eugenia Danila during her lifetime, the same
should be considered as exclusive property of her adopted children and heirs, Buenaventura
Guerra and Marcelina (Martina) Guerra and any right of the petitioner and signatories hereto,
with respect to said property or properties, shall be deemed waived and renounced in favor of
said Buenaventura and Marcelina (Martina) Guerra; and

3. That, however, with respect to the parcel of riceland covered by TCT No. T-5559 of the
Register of Deeds of San Pablo City, which oppositors believe to be the estate left and
undisposed of at the time of the death of the owner thereof, Eugenia Danila it now appears
that there is a Deed of Donation covering the same together with another parcel of coconut
land situated at Barrio San Ignacio, San Pablo City, with an area of 19,905 sq.m., and
covered by Tax Declaration No. 31286, executed by the late Eugenia Danila in favor of
Adelaida Nista, as per Doc. No. 406, Page No. 83, Series of 1966 under Notarial Register III
of Notary Public Pio Aquino of San Pablo city;

8. That with the exception of the foregoing agreement, parties hereto waived and renounce
further claim against each other, and the above-entitled case. (Exh. 6)

4. That inasmuch as the above-mentioned parcel of coconut and has been earlier donated
inter vivos and validly conveyed on November 15, 1965 by the late Eugenia Danila to
Marcelina (Martina) Guerra as shown by Doc. No. 237, Page No. 49, Series of 1965, under
Notarial Register XV of Notary Public Atty. Romulo S. Brion of San Pablo City, the inclusion of
said parcel in the subsequent donation to Adelaida Nista is admittedly considered a mistake
and of no force and effect and will in no way prejudice the ownership and right of Marcelina

On November 16, 1968, Rosario de Ramos, Miguel Danila Felix Danila Miguel Gavino Amor
Danila Consolacion Santos and Miguel Danila son of the late Fortunato Danila filed a motion
for leave to intervene as co-petitioners alleging that being instituted heirs or devisees, they
have rights and interests to protect in the estate of the late Eugenia Danila They also filed a
reply partly admitting and denying the material allegations in the opposition to the petition and
alleging among other things, that oppositors repudiated their institution as heirs and

Page 26 of 74

This Agreement was approved by the lower court in a judgment readings as follows:
WHEREFORE, said compromise agreement, being not contrary to public policy, law and
moral, the same is hereby approved and judgment is hereby rendered in accordance with the
terms and conditions set forth in the above- quoted compromise agreement, which is hereby
made an integral part of the dispositive portion of this decision, and the parties are strictly
enjoined to comply with the same. (Exh. 7)

executors when they failed to cause the recording in the Register of Deeds of San Pablo City
the will and testament dated November 5, 1951 (Exhibit 3) in accordance with the Rules and
committed acts of ingratitude when they abandoned the testatrix and denied her support after
they managed, through fraud and undue influence, to secure the schedule of partition dated
January 15, 1962. The Intervenors prayed for the probate and/or allowance of the will and
codicil (Exhibits H and L), respectively and the appointment of any of them in as administrator
of said estate.

court gave more weight and ment to the .'straight-forward and candid" testimony of Atty.
Ricardo Barcenas, the Notary Public who assisted in the execution of the wilt that the testatrix
and the three (3) instrumental witnesses signed the will in the presence of each other, and
that with respect to the codicil the same manner was likewise observed as corroborated to by
the testimony of another lawyer, Atty. Manuel Alvero who was also present during the
execution of the codicil.

On December 6, 1968, the intervenors also filed a motion for new trial and/or re-hearing
and/or relief from judgment and to set aside the judgment based on compromise dated
November 5, 1968. The oppositors interposed an opposition to the motion to which the
intervenors filed their reply.

WHEREFORE, it appearing that the late Eugenia Danila had testamentary capacity when she
executed the will, Exh. H., and the codicil Exh. L, and that said will and codicil were duly
signed by her and the three attesting witnesses and acknowledged before a Notary Public in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by law, the said will and codicil are hereby
declared probated. No evidence having been adduced regarding the qualification and fitness
of any of the intervenors- co-petitioners to act as executors, the appointment of executors of
the will and codicil is held pending until after due hearing on the matter.

The lower court resolved the motions in an order the dispositive portion reading, thus:
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING the Court hereby makes the following dispositions
(1) Movants Rosario de Ramos, Miguel C. Danila Miguela Gavino Amor Danila Consolacion
Santos, Miguel A. Danila and Raymundo Danila are allowed and admitted to intervene to this
proceeding as Party Petitioners; and likewise admitted in their reply to the amended
opposition of November 11, 1968;
(2) The compromise agreement dated October 15, 1968 by and between Petitioner Adelaida
Nista and oppositors Buenaventura Guerra and Marcelina Guerra Martina is disapproved,
except as regards their respective lawful rights in the subject estate; and, accordingly, the
judgment on compromise rendered by this Court on November 5, 1968 is reconsidered and
set aside; and
(3) The original Petition and amended opposition to probate of the alleged will and codicil
stand.
xxx xxx xxx
The lower court also denied the motion for the appointment of a special administrator filed by
the intervenors.
xxx xxx xxx
A motion for reconsideration of the foregoing order was filed by the intervenors co-petitioners
but the motion was denied.
xxx xxx xxx
On February 9, 1971, a motion for the substitution of Irene, Crispina, Cristina Casiano,
Edilberto Felisa, Guerra in place of their father, the oppositor Buenaventura Guerra who died
on January 23, 1971, was filed and granted by the lower court.
After trial on the merits, the lower court rendered its decision dated July 6, 1971 allowing the
probate of the wilt In that decision, although two of the attesting witness Odon Sarmiento and
Rosendo Paz, testified that they did not see the testatrix Eugenia Danila sign the will but that
the same was already signed by her when they affixed their own signatures thereon, the trial

Page 27 of 74

The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

SO ORDERED.
Oppositors Marcelina Guam and the heirs of Buenaventura Guam appealed the foregoing
decision to the Court of Appeals The latter court, in its derision dated May 12, 1975 ruled that
the lower court acted correctly in setting aside its judgment approving the Compromise
Agreement and in allowing the intervenor petitioners to participate in the instant probate
proceedings; however, it disallowed the probate of the will on the that the evidence failed to
establish that the testatrix Eugenia Danila signed her will in the presence of the instrumental
witness in accordance with Article 805 of the Civil Code, as testified to by the two surviving
instrumental witnesses.
In this present appeal petitioners vigorously insists on constitutional grounds the nullity of the
decision of respondent court but We deem it needless to consider the same as it is not
necessary in resolving this appeal on the following assigned errors:
(A) THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED GRAVELY IN NOT HAVING GIVEN WEIGHT TO
THE MANIFESTATION CLAUSES IN THE TESTAMENT AND CODICIL ANNEX B
(PETITION) AND INSTEAD IT GAVE CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OR BIASED
WITNESSES OVER THEIR OWN ATTESTATION CLAUSES AND THE TESTIMONIAL
EVIDENCE AND NOTARIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE NOTARY PUBLIC; AND
(B) THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HAVING DENIED THE PROBATE OF THE
WILL AND CODICIL DESPITE CONVINCING EVIDENCE FOR THEIR ALLOWANCE.
We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and restore the decision of the trial court
allowing probate of the will and codicil in question.
The main point in controversy here is whether or not the last testament and its accompanying
codicil were executed in accordance with the formalities of the law, considering the

complicated circumstances that two of the attesting witnesses testified against their due
execution while other non-subscribing witnesses testified to the contrary.
Petitioners argue that the attestation clauses of the win and codicil which were signed by the
instrumental witnesses are admissions of due execution of the deeds, thus, preventing the
said witnesses from prevaricating later on by testifying against due execution. Petitioners
further maintain that it is error for respondent court to give credence to the testimony of the
biased witnesses as against their own attestation to the fact of due execution and over the
testimonial account of the Notary Public who was also present during the execution and
before whom right after, the deeds were acknowledged.
Private respondents, on the other hand reiterate in their contention the declaration of the two
surviving witnesses, Odon Sarmiento and Rosendo Paz, that the win was not signed by the
testatrix before their presence, which is strengthened by two photographic evidence showing
only the two witnesses in the act of signing, there being no picture of the same occasion
showing the testatrix signing the will. Respondent court holds the view that where there was
an opportunity to take pictures it is not understandable why pictures were taken of the
witnesses and not of the testatrix. It concludes that the absence of the latter's picture to
complete the evidence belies the testimony of Atty. Barcenas that the testatrix and the
witnesses did sign the will and the codicil in the presence of each other.
The oppositors' argument is untenable. There is ample and satisfactory evidence to convince
us that the will and codicil were executed in accordance with the formalities required by law. It
appears positively and convincingly that the documents were prepared by a lawyer, Atty.
Manuel Alvero The execution of the same was evidently supervised by his associate, Atty.
Ricardo Barcenas and before whom the deeds were also acknowledged. The solemnity
surrounding the execution of a will is attended by some intricacies not usually within the
comprehension of an ordinary layman. The object is to close the door against bad faith and
fraud, to avoid substitution of the will and testament, and to guarantee their truth and
authenticity. 2 If there should be any stress on the participation of lawyers in the execution of
a wig, other than an interested party, it cannot be less than the exercise of their primary duty
as members of the Bar to uphold the lofty purpose of the law. There is no showing that the
above-named lawyers had been remiss in their sworn duty. Consequently, respondent court
failed to consider the presumption of ty in the execution of the questioned documents. There
were no incidents brought to the attention of the trial court to arouse suspicion of anomaly.
While the opposition alleged fraud and undue influence, no evidence was presented to prove
their occurrence. There is no question that each and every page of the will and codicil carry
the authentic signatures of Eugenia Danila and the three (3) attesting witnesses. Similarly, the
attestation claim far from being deficient, were properly signed by the attesting witnesses.
Neither is it disputed that these witnesses took turns in signing the will and codicil in the
presence of each other and the testatrix. Both instruments were duly acknowledged before a
Notary Public who was all the time present during the execution.

Page 28 of 74

The presumption of regularity can of course be overcome by clear and convincing evidence
to the contrary, but not easily by the mere expediency of the negative testimony of Odon
Sarmiento and Rosendo Paz that they did not see the testatrix sign the will. A negative
testimony does not enjoy equal standing with a positive assertion, and faced with the
convincing appearance of the will, such negative statement must be examined with extra
care. For in this regard
It has also been held that the condition and physical appearance of a questioned document
constitute a valuable factor which, if correctly evaluated in the light of surrounding
circumstances, may help in determining whether it is genuine or forged. Subscribing
witnesses may forget or exaggerating what they really know, saw, heard or did; they may be
biased and, therefore, tell only half-truths to mislead the court or favor one party to the
prejudice of the others. This cannot be said of the condition and Physical appearance of the
questioned document. Both, albeit silent, will reveal the naked truth, hiding nothing, forgetting
nothing, and exaggerating nothing. 3
Unlike other deeds, ordinary wills by necessity of law must contain an attestation clause
Which, significantly is a separate memorandum or record of the facts surrounding that the
conduct of execution. Once signed by the attesting witnesses, it that compliance with the
indispensable legal formalities had been observed. This Court had previously hold that the
attestation clause basically contracts the pretense of undue ex execution which later on may
be made by the attesting witnesses. 4 In the attestation clause, the witnesses do not merely
attest to the signature of the testatrix but also to the proper execution of the will, and their
signature following that of the testatrix show that they have in fact at not only to the
genuineness of the testatrix's signature but also to the due execution of the will as embodied
in the attention clause. 5 By signing the wilt the witnesses impliedly to the truth of the facts
which admit to probate, including the sufficiency of execution, the capacity of the testatrix, the
absence of undue influence, and the like. 6
In this jurisdiction, all the attesting witness to a will if available, must be called to prove the
wilt Under this circumstance, they become "forced witnesses" " and their declaration
derogatory to the probate of the will need not bind the proponent hence, the latter may
present other proof of due exemption even if contrary to the testimony of or all of the at,
testing witness. 7 As a rule, if any or all of the submitting witness testify against the due
execution of the will, or do not remember having attested to it, or are otherwise of doubtful
ability, the will may, nevertheless, be allowed if the court is satisfied from the testimony of
other witness and from all the evidence presented that the will was executed and attested in
the manner by law. 8 Accordingly, although the subscribing witnesses to a contested will are
the best witness in connection with its due execution, to deserve full credit, their testimony
must be reasonable, and unbiased; if otherwise it may be overcome by any competent
evidence, direct or circubstantial. 9
In the case at bar, the s bear a disparity in the quality of the testimonies of Odon Sarmiento
and Rosendo Paz on one hand, and the Notary Public, Atty. Ricardo A. Barcenas, on the

other. The testimony of Odon Sarmiento was contradicted by his own admission. Though his
admission to the effect that "when Eugenia Danila signed the testament (he) and the two
other attesting witnesses Rosendo Paz and Calixto Azusada were present" (t.s.n., Feb. 12,
1970, p. 115) was made extrajudicially, it was not squarely refuted when inquired upon during
the trial.
With respect to the testimony of Rosendo Paz, it had been refuted by the declaration of Atty.
Ricardo A. Barcenas. The records show that this attesting witness was fetched by Felix
Danila from his place of work in order to act as witness to a wilt Rosendo Paz did not know
what the document he signed was all about. Although he performed his function as an
attesting witness, his participation was rather passive. We do not expect, therefore, that his
testimony, "half-hearted" as that of Odon Sarmiento, be as candid and complete as one
proceeding from a keen mind fully attentive to the details of the execution of the deeds. Quite
differently, Atty. Ricardo A. Barcenas, more than a direct witness himself, was Purposely there
to oversee the accomplishment of the will and codicil. His testimony is an account of what he
actually heard and saw during the conduct of his profession. There is no evidence to show
that this lawyer was motivated by any material interest to take sides or that his statement is
truth perverted.
It has been regarded that the function of the Notary Public is, among others, to guard against
any illegal or immoral arrangements in the execution of a will. 10 In the absence of any
showing of self-interest that might possibly have warped his judgment and twisted his
declaration, the intervention of a Notary Public, in his professional capacity, in the execution
of a will deserves grave consideration. 11 An appraise of a lawyer's participation has been
succinctly stated by the Court in Fernandez v. Tantoco, supra, this wise:
In weighing the testimony of the attesting witnesses to a will, his statements of a competent
attorney, who has been charged with the responsibility of seeing to the proper execution of
the instrument, is entitled to greater weight than the testimony of a person casually called to
anticipate in the act, supposing of course that no motive is revealed that should induce the
attorney to prevaricate. The reason is that the mind of the attorney being conversant of the
instrument, is more likely to become fixed on details, and he is more likely than other persons
to retain those incidents in his memory.
One final point, the absence of a photograph of the testator Eugenia Danila in the act of
signing her will. The fact that the only pictures available are those which show the Witnesses
signing the will in the presence of the testatrix and of each other does not belie the probability
that the testatrix also signed the will before the presence of the witnesses. We must stress
that the pictures are worthy only of what they show and prove and not of what they did not
speak of including the events they failed to capture. The probate of a will is a proceeding not
embued with adverse character, wherein courts should relax the rules on evidence "to the
end that nothing less than the best evidence of which the matter is susceptible" should be
presented to the court before a reported will may be probated or denied probate. 12

Page 29 of 74

We find here that the failure to imprint in photographs all the stages in the execution of the
win does not serve any persuasive effect nor have any evidentiary value to prove that one
vital and indispensable requisite has not been acted on. Much less can it defeat, by any
ordinary or special reason, the presentation of other competent evidence intended to confirm
a fact otherwise existent but not confirmed by the photographic evidence. The probate court
having satisfied itself that the win and codicil were executed in accordance with the
formalities required by law, and there being no indication of abuse of discretion on its part,
We find no error committed or any exceptional circumstance warranting the subsequent
reversal of its decision allowing the probate of the deeds in question.
WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Court of Appeals is hereby reversed in so far its it
disallowed the probate of the will and codicil. With costs against respondents.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Muoz Palma and Fernandez, JJ., concur.
G.R. No. 153820

October 16, 2009

DELFIN
TAN, Petitioner,
vs.
ERLINDA C. BENOLIRAO, ANDREW C. BENOLIRAO, ROMANO C. BENOLIRAO, DION
C. BENOLIRAO, SPS. REYNALDO TANINGCO and NORMA D. BENOLIRAO, EVELYN T.
MONREAL, and ANN KARINA TANINGCO,Respondents.
DECISION
Is an annotation made pursuant to Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court (Rules) on a
certificate of title covering real property considered an encumbrance on the property? We
resolve this question in the petition for review on certiorari 1 filed by Delfin Tan (Tan) to assail
the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 52033 2and the decision of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC)3 that commonly declared the forfeiture of his P200,000.00 down
payment as proper, pursuant to the terms of his contract with the respondents.
THE ANTECEDENTS
The facts are not disputed. Spouses Lamberto and Erlinda Benolirao and the Spouses
Reynaldo and Norma Taningco were the co-owners of a 689-square meter parcel of land
(property) located in Tagaytay City and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
26423. On October 6, 1992, the co-owners executed a Deed of Conditional Sale over the
property in favor of Tan for the price of P1,378,000.00. The deed stated:
a) An initial down-payment of TWO HUNDRED (P200,000.00) THOUSAND PESOS,
Philippine Currency, upon signing of this contract; then the remaining balance of ONE
MILLION ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND (P1,178,000.00) PESOS, shall be
payable within a period of one hundred fifty (150) days from date hereof without interest;

b) That for any reason, BUYER fails to pay the remaining balance within above mentioned
period, the BUYER shall have a grace period of sixty (60) days within which to make the
payment, provided that there shall be an interest of 15% per annum on the balance amount
due from the SELLERS;
c) That should in case (sic) the BUYER fails to comply with the terms and conditions within
the above stated grace period, then the SELLERS shall have the right to forfeit the down
payment, and to rescind this conditional sale without need of judicial action;
d) That in case, BUYER have complied with the terms and conditions of this contract, then
the SELLERS shall execute and deliver to the BUYER the appropriate Deed of Absolute Sale;
Pursuant to the Deed of Conditional Sale, Tan issued and delivered to the co-owners/vendors
Metrobank Check No. 904407 for P200,000.00 as down payment for the property, for which
the vendors issued a corresponding receipt.
On November 6, 1992, Lamberto Benolirao died intestate. Erlinda Benolirao (his widow and
one of the vendors of the property) and her children, as heirs of the deceased, executed an
extrajudicial settlement of Lambertos estate on January 20, 1993. On the basis of the
extrajudicial settlement, a new certificate of title over the property, TCT No. 27335, was
issued on March 26, 1993 in the names of the Spouses Reynaldo and Norma Taningco and
Erlinda Benolirao and her children. Pursuant to Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules, the following
annotation was made on TCT No. 27335:
x x x any liability to credirots (sic), excluded heirs and other persons having right to the
property, for a period of two (2) years, with respect only to the share of Erlinda, Andrew,
Romano and Dion, all surnamed Benolirao
As stated in the Deed of Conditional Sale, Tan had until March 15, 1993 to pay the balance of
the purchase price. By agreement of the parties, this period was extended by two months, so
Tan had until May 15, 1993 to pay the balance. Tan failed to pay and asked for another
extension, which the vendors again granted. Notwithstanding this second extension, Tan still
failed to pay the remaining balance due on May 21, 1993. The vendors thus wrote him a letter
demanding payment of the balance of the purchase price within five (5) days from notice;
otherwise, they would declare the rescission of the conditional sale and the forfeiture of his
down payment based on the terms of the contract.
Tan refused to comply with the vendors demand and instead wrote them a letter (dated May
28, 1993) claiming that the annotation on the title, made pursuant to Section 4, Rule 74 of the
Rules, constituted an encumbrance on the property that would prevent the vendors from
delivering a clean title to him. Thus, he alleged that he could no longer be required to pay the
balance of the purchase price and demanded the return of his down payment.
When the vendors refused to refund the down payment, Tan, through counsel, sent another
demand letter to the vendors on June 18, 1993. The vendors still refused to heed Tans
demand, prompting Tan to file on June 19, 1993 a complaint with the RTC of Pasay City for
specific performance against the vendors, including Andrew Benolirao, Romano Benolirao,

Page 30 of 74

Dion Benolirao as heirs of Lamberto Benolirao, together with Evelyn Monreal and Ann Karina
Taningco (collectively, the respondents). In his complaint, Tan alleged that there was a
novation of the Deed of Conditional Sale done without his consent since the annotation on
the title created an encumbrance over the property. Tan prayed for the refund of the down
payment and the rescission of the contract.
On August 9, 1993, Tan amended his Complaint, contending that if the respondents insist on
forfeiting the down payment, he would be willing to pay the balance of the purchase price
provided there is reformation of the Deed of Conditional Sale. In the meantime, Tan caused
the annotation on the title of a notice of lis pendens.
On August 21, 1993, the respondents executed a Deed of Absolute Sale over the property in
favor of Hector de Guzman (de Guzman) for the price of P689,000.00.
Thereafter, the respondents moved for the cancellation of the notice of lis pendens on the
ground that it was inappropriate since the case that Tan filed was a personal action which did
not involve either title to, or possession of, real property. The RTC issued an order dated
October 22, 1993 granting the respondents motion to cancel the lis pendens annotation on
the title.
Meanwhile, based on the Deed of Absolute Sale in his favor, de Guzman registered the
property and TCT No. 28104 was issued in his name. Tan then filed a motion to carry over the
lis pendens annotation to TCT No. 28104 registered in de Guzmans name, but the RTC
denied the motion.
On September 8, 1995, after due proceedings, the RTC rendered judgment ruling that the
respondents forfeiture of Tans down payment was proper in accordance with the terms and
conditions of the contract between the parties. 4 The RTC ordered Tan to pay the respondents
the amount of P30,000.00, plus P1,000.00 per court appearance, as attorneys fees, and to
pay the cost of suit.
On appeal, the CA dismissed the petition and affirmed the ruling of the trial court in toto.
Hence, the present petition.
THE ISSUES
Tan argues that the CA erred in affirming the RTCs ruling to cancel the lis pendens
annotation on TCT No. 27335. Due to the unauthorized novation of the agreement, Tan
presented before the trial court two alternative remedies in his complaint either the
rescission of the contract and the return of the down payment, or the reformation of the
contract to adjust the payment period, so that Tan will pay the remaining balance of the
purchase price only after the lapse of the required two-year encumbrance on the title. Tan
posits that the CA erroneously disregarded the alternative remedy of reformation of contract
when it affirmed the removal of the lis pendens annotation on the title.
Tan further contends that the CA erred when it recognized the validity of the forfeiture of the
down payment in favor of the vendors. While admitting that the Deed of Conditional Sale

contained a forfeiture clause, he insists that this clause applies only if the failure to pay the
balance of the purchase price was through his own fault or negligence. In the present case,
Tan claims that he was justified in refusing to pay the balance price since the vendors would
not have been able to comply with their obligation to deliver a "clean" title covering the
property.
Lastly, Tan maintains that the CA erred in ordering him to pay the respondents P30,000.00,
plus P1,000.00 per court appearance as attorneys fees, since he filed the foregoing action in
good faith, believing that he is in the right.
The respondents, on the other hand, assert that the petition should be dismissed for raising
pure questions of fact, in contravention of the provisions of Rule 45 of the Rules which
provides that only questions of law can be raised in petitions for review on certiorari.
THE COURTS RULING
The petition is granted.
No new issues can be raised in the Memorandum
At the onset, we note that Tan raised the following additional assignment of errors in his
Memorandum: (a) the CA erred in holding that the petitioner could seek reformation of the
Deed of Conditional Sale only if he paid the balance of the purchase price and if the vendors
refused to execute the deed of absolute sale; and (b) the CA erred in holding that the
petitioner was estopped from asking for the reformation of the contract or for specific
performance.
The Courts September 27, 2004 Resolution expressly stated that "No new issues may be
raised by a party in his/its Memorandum." Explaining the reason for this rule, we said that:
The raising of additional issues in a memorandum before the Supreme Court is irregular,
because said memorandum is supposed to be in support merely of the position taken by the
party concerned in his petition, and the raising of new issues amounts to the filing of a petition
beyond the reglementary period. The purpose of this rule is to provide all parties to a case a
fair opportunity to be heard. No new points of law, theories, issues or arguments may be
raised by a party in the Memorandum for the reason that to permit these would be offensive
to the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process. 5
Tan contravened the Courts explicit instructions by raising these additional errors. Hence, we
disregard them and focus instead on the issues previously raised in the petition and properly
included in the Memorandum.
Petition raises a question of law
Contrary to the respondents claim, the issue raised in the present petition defined in the
opening paragraph of this Decision is a pure question of law. Hence, the petition and the
issue it presents are properly cognizable by this Court.
Lis pendens annotation not proper in personal actions

Section 14, Rule 13 of the Rules enumerates the instances when a notice of lis pendens can
be validly annotated on the title to real property:
Sec. 14. Notice of lis pendens.
In an action affecting the title or the right of possession of real property, the plaintiff and
the defendant, when affirmative relief is claimed in his answer, may record in the office of the
registry of deeds of the province in which the property is situated a notice of the pendency of
the action. Said notice shall contain the names of the parties and the object of the action or
defense, and a description of the property in that province affected thereby. Only from the
time of filing such notice for record shall a purchaser, or encumbrancer of the property
affected thereby, be deemed to have constructive notice of the pendency of the action, and
only of its pendency against the parties designated by their real names.
The notice of lis pendens hereinabove mentioned may be cancelled only upon order of the
court, after proper showing that the notice is for the purpose of molesting the adverse party,
or that it is not necessary to protect the rights of the party who caused it to be recorded.
The litigation subject of the notice of lis pendens must directly involve a specific property
which is necessarily affected by the judgment.6
Tans complaint prayed for either the rescission or the reformation of the Deed of Conditional
Sale. While the Deed does have real property for its object, we find that Tans complaint is an
in personam action, as Tan asked the court to compel the respondents to do something
either to rescind the contract and return the down payment, or to reform the contract by
extending the period given to pay the remaining balance of the purchase price. Either way,
Tan wants to enforce his personal rights against the respondents, not against the property
subject of the Deed. As we explained in Domagas v. Jensen: 7
The settled rule is that the aim and object of an action determine its character. Whether a
proceeding is in rem, or in personam, or quasi in rem for that matter, is determined by its
nature and purpose, and by these only. A proceeding in personam is a proceeding to enforce
personal rights and obligations brought against the person and is based on the jurisdiction of
the person, although it may involve his right to, or the exercise of ownership of, specific
property, or seek to compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance with the mandate of
the court. The purpose of a proceeding in personam is to impose, through the judgment of a
court, some responsibility or liability directly upon the person of the defendant. Of this
character are suits to compel a defendant to specifically perform some act or actions to fasten
a pecuniary liability on him.
Furthermore, as will be explained in detail below, the contract between the parties was merely
a contract to sell where the vendors retained title and ownership to the property until Tan had
fully paid the purchase price. Since Tan had no claim of ownership or title to the property yet,
he obviously had no right to ask for the annotation of a lis pendens notice on the title of the
property.
Contract is a mere contract to sell

Page 31 of 74

A contract is what the law defines it to be, taking into consideration its essential elements,
and not what the contracting parties call it. 8 Article 1485 of the Civil Code defines a contract
of sale as follows:

x x x any liability to credirots (sic), excluded heirs and other persons having right to the
property, for a period of two (2) years, with respect only to the share of Erlinda, Andrew,
Romano and Dion, all surnamed Benolirao [Emphasis supplied.]

Art. 1458. By the contract of sale one of the contracting parties obligates himself to transfer
the ownership and to deliver a determinate thing, and the other to pay therefor a price certain
in money or its equivalent.

This annotation was placed on the title pursuant to Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules, which
reads:

xxx

Sec. 4. Liability of distributees and estate. - If it shall appear at any time within two (2) years
after the settlement and distribution of an estate in accordance with the provisions of either of
the first two sections of this rule, that an heir or other person has been unduly deprived of his
lawful participation in the estate, such heir or such other person may compel the settlement of
the estate in the courts in the manner hereinafter provided for the purpose of satisfying such
lawful participation. And if withinthe same time of two (2) years, it shall appear that there
are debts outstanding against the estate which have not been paid, or that an heir or
other person has been unduly deprived of his lawful participation payable in money,
the court having jurisdiction of the estate may, by order for that purpose, after
hearing, settle the amount of such debts or lawful participation and order how much
and in what manner each distributee shall contribute in the payment thereof, and may
issue execution, if circumstances require, against the bond provided in the preceding
section or against the real estate belonging to the deceased, or both. Such bond and
such real estate shall remain charged with a liability to creditors, heirs, or other persons for
the full period of two (2) years after such distribution, notwithstanding any transfers of real
estate that may have been made. [Emphasis supplied.]

d) That in case, BUYER has complied with the terms and conditions of this contract, then the
SELLERS shall execute and deliver to the BUYER the appropriate Deed of Absolute Sale;

Senator Vicente Francisco discusses this provision in his book The Revised Rules of Court in
the Philippines,13where he states:

xxx

The provision of Section 4, Rule 74 prescribes the procedure to be followed if within two
years after an extrajudicial partition or summary distribution is made, an heir or other person
appears to have been deprived of his lawful participation in the estate, or some outstanding
debts which have not been paid are discovered. When the lawful participation of the heir is
not payable in money, because, for instance, he is entitled to a part of the real property that
has been partitioned, there can be no other procedure than to cancel the partition so made
and make a new division, unless, of course, the heir agrees to be paid the value of his
participation with interest. But in case the lawful participation of the heir consists in his share
in personal property of money left by the decedent, or in case unpaid debts are discovered
within the said period of two years, the procedure is not to cancel the partition, nor to appoint
an administrator to re-assemble the assets, as was allowed under the old Code, but the court,
after hearing, shall fix the amount of such debts or lawful participation in proportion to or to
the extent of the assets they have respectively received and, if circumstances require, it may
issue execution against the real estate belonging to the decedent, or both. The present
procedure is more expedient and less expensive in that it dispenses with the appointment of
an administrator and does not disturb the possession enjoyed by the
distributees.14 [Emphasis supplied.]

A contract of sale may be absolute or conditional.


The very essence of a contract of sale is the transfer of ownership in exchange for a price
paid or promised.9
In contrast, a contract to sell is defined as a bilateral contract whereby the prospective seller,
while expressly reserving the ownership of the property despite delivery thereof to the
prospective buyer, binds himself to sell the property exclusively to the prospective buyer upon
fulfillment of the condition agreed, i.e., full payment of the purchase price. 10 A contract to sell
may not even be considered as a conditional contract of sale where the seller may likewise
reserve title to the property subject of the sale until the fulfillment of a suspensive condition,
because in a conditional contract of sale, the first element of consent is present, although it is
conditioned upon the happening of a contingent event which may or may not occur.11
In the present case, the true nature of the contract is revealed by paragraph D thereof, which
states:

Jurisprudence has established that where the seller promises to execute a deed of absolute
sale upon the completion by the buyer of the payment of the price, the contract is only a
contract to sell.12 Thus, while the contract is denominated as a Deed of Conditional Sale, the
presence of the above-quoted provision identifies the contract as being a mere contract to
sell.
A Section 4, Rule 74 annotation is an encumbrance on the property
While Tan admits that he refused to pay the balance of the purchase price, he claims that he
had valid reason to do so the sudden appearance of an annotation on the title pursuant to
Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules, which Tan considered an encumbrance on the property.
We find Tans argument meritorious.
The annotation placed on TCT No. 27335, the new title issued to reflect the extrajudicial
partition of Lamberto Benoliraos estate among his heirs, states:

Page 32 of 74

An annotation is placed on new certificates of title issued pursuant to the distribution and
partition of a decedents real properties to warn third persons on the possible interests of
excluded heirs or unpaid creditors in these properties. The annotation, therefore, creates a
legal encumbrance or lien on the real property in favor of the excluded heirs or creditors.
Where a buyer purchases the real property despite the annotation, he must be ready for the
possibility that the title could be subject to the rights of excluded parties. The cancellation of
the sale would be the logical consequence where: (a) the annotation clearly appears on the
title, warning all would-be buyers; (b) the sale unlawfully interferes with the rights of heirs; and
(c) the rightful heirs bring an action to question the transfer within the two-year period
provided by law.
As we held in Vda. de Francisco v. Carreon:15
And Section 4, Rule 74 xxx expressly authorizes the court to give to every heir his lawful
participation in the real estate "notwithstanding any transfers of such real estate" and to
"issue execution" thereon. All this implies that, when within the amendatory period the realty
has been alienated, the court in re-dividing it among the heirs has the authority to direct
cancellation of such alienation in the same estate proceedings, whenever it becomes
necessary to do so. To require the institution of a separate action for such annulment would
run counter to the letter of the above rule and the spirit of these summary settlements.
[Emphasis supplied.]
16

Similarly, in Sps. Domingo v. Roces, we said:


The foregoing rule clearly covers transfers of real property to any person, as long as the
deprived heir or creditor vindicates his rights within two years from the date of the settlement
and distribution of estate. Contrary to petitioners contention, the effects of this provision are
not limited to the heirs or original distributees of the estate properties, but shall
affect any transferee of the properties. [Emphasis supplied.]

We have held in numerous cases18 that the remedy of rescission under Article 1191 cannot
apply to mere contracts to sell. We explained the reason for this in Santos v. Court of
Appeals,19 where we said:
[I]n a contract to sell, title remains with the vendor and does not pass on to the vendee until
the purchase price is paid in full. Thus, in a contract to sell, the payment of the purchase price
is a positive suspensive condition. Failure to pay the price agreed upon is not a mere
breach, casual or serious, but a situation that prevents the obligation of the vendor to
convey title from acquiring an obligatory force. This is entirely different from the situation
in a contract of sale, where non-payment of the price is a negative resolutory condition. The
effects in law are not identical. In a contract of sale, the vendor has lost ownership of the
thing sold and cannot recover it, unless the contract of sale is rescinded and set aside. In a
contract to sell, however, the vendor remains the owner for as long as the vendee has not
complied fully with the condition of paying the purchase price. If the vendor should eject the
vendee for failure to meet the condition precedent, he is enforcing the contract and not
rescinding it. x x x Article 1592 speaks of non-payment of the purchase price as a resolutory
condition. It does not apply to a contract to sell. As to Article 1191, it is subordinated to the
provisions of Article 1592 when applied to sales of immovable property. Neither provision is
applicable [to a contract to sell]. [Emphasis supplied.]
We, therefore, hold that the contract to sell was terminated when the vendors could no longer
legally compel Tan to pay the balance of the purchase price as a result of the legal
encumbrance which attached to the title of the property. Since Tans refusal to pay was due to
the supervening event of a legal encumbrance on the property and not through his own fault
or negligence, we find and so hold that the forfeiture of Tans down payment was clearly
unwarranted.
Award of Attorneys fees

Indeed, in David v. Malay,17 although the title of the property had already been registered in
the name of the third party buyers, we cancelled the sale and ordered the reconveyance of
the property to the estate of the deceased for proper disposal among his rightful heirs.

As evident from our previous discussion, Tan had a valid reason for refusing to pay the
balance of the purchase price for the property. Consequently, there is no basis for the award
of attorneys fees in favor of the respondents.

By the time Tans obligation to pay the balance of the purchase price arose on May 21, 1993
(on account of the extensions granted by the respondents), a new certificate of title covering
the property had already been issued on March 26, 1993, which contained the encumbrance
on the property; the encumbrance would remain so attached until the expiration of the twoyear period. Clearly, at this time, the vendors could no longer compel Tan to pay the balance
of the purchase since considering they themselves could not fulfill their obligation to transfer a
clean title over the property to Tan.

On the other hand, we award attorneys fees in favor of Tan, since he was compelled to
litigate due to the respondents refusal to return his down payment despite the fact that they
could no longer comply with their obligation under the contract to sell, i.e., to convey a clean
title. Given the facts of this case, we find the award of P50,000.00 as attorneys fees proper.

Contract to sell is not rescinded but terminated


What then happens to the contract?

Page 33 of 74

Monetary award is subject to legal interest


Undoubtedly, Tan made a clear and unequivocal demand on the vendors to return his down
payment as early as May 28, 1993. Pursuant to our definitive ruling in Eastern Shipping
Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,20 we hold that the vendors should return the P200,000.00
down payment to Tan, subject to the legal interest of 6% per annum computed from May 28,
1993, the date of the first demand letter.1avvphi1

Furthermore, after a judgment has become final and executory, the rate of legal interest,
whether the obligation was in the form of a loan or forbearance of money or otherwise, shall
be 12% per annum from such finality until its satisfaction. Accordingly, the principal obligation
of P200,000.00 shall bear 6% interest from the date of first demand or from May 28, 1993.
From the date the liability for the principal obligation and attorneys fees has become final and
executory, an annual interest of 12% shall be imposed on these obligations until their final
satisfaction, this interim period being deemed to be by then an equivalent to a forbearance of
credit.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby GRANT the petition and, accordingly,
ANNUL and SET ASIDE the May 30, 2002 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 52033. Another judgment is rendered declaring the Deed of Conditional Sale terminated
and ordering the respondents to return the P200,000.00 down payment to petitioner Delfin
Tan, subject to legal interest of 6% per annum, computed from May 28, 1993. The
respondents are also ordered to pay, jointly and severally, petitioner Delfin Tan the amount
of P50,000.00 as and by way of attorneys fees. Once this decision becomes final and
executory, respondents are ordered to pay interest at 12% per annum on the principal
obligation as well as the attorneys fees, until full payment of these amounts. Costs against
the respondents.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 194366

October 10, 2012

NAPOLEON D. NERI, ALICIA D. NERI-MONDEJAR, VISMINDA D. NERI-CHAMBERS,


ROSA D. NERI-MILLAN, DOUGLAS D. NERI, EUTROPIA D. ILLUT-COCKINOS AND
VICTORIA
D.
ILLUT-PIALA, Petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF HADJI YUSOP UY AND JULPHA* IBRAHIM UY, Respondents.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari 1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioners
Napoleon D. Neri (Napoleon), Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar (Alicia), Visminda D. Neri-Chambers
(Visminda), Rosa D. Neri-Millan (Rosa), Douglas D. Neri (Douglas), Eutropia D. Illut-Cockinos
(Eutropia), and Victoria D. Illut-Piala (Victoria) seek to reverse and set aside the April 27,
2010 Decision2 and October 18, 2010 Resolution 3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
CV No. 01031-MIN which annulled the October 25, 2004 Decision 4 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Panabo City, Davao del Norte and instead, entered a new one dismissing
petitioners complaint for annulment of sale, damages and attorneys feesagainst herein
respondents heirs of spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy (heirs of Uy).
The Facts
During her lifetime, Anunciacion Neri (Anunciacion) had seven children, two (2) from her first
marriage with Gonzalo Illut (Gonzalo), namely: Eutropia and Victoria, and five (5) from her
second marriage with Enrique Neri (Enrique), namely: Napoleon, Alicia, Visminda, Douglas
and Rosa. Throughout the marriage of spouses Enrique and Anunciacion, they acquired
several homestead properties with a total area of 296,555 square meters located in Samal,

Page 34 of 74

Davao del Norte, embraced by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) Nos. (P-7998) P-2128 5, (P14608) P-51536 and P-20551 (P-8348)7issued on February 15, 1957, August 27, 1962 and
July 7, 1967, respectively.
On September 21, 1977, Anunciacion died intestate. Her husband, Enrique, in his personal
capacity and as natural guardian of his minor children Rosa and Douglas, together with
Napoleon, Alicia, and Vismindaexecuted an Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with
Absolute Deed of Sale8 on July 7, 1979, adjudicating among themselves the said homestead
properties, and thereafter, conveying themto the late spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha
Ibrahim Uy (spouses Uy)for a consideration of P 80,000.00.
On June 11, 1996, the children of Enrique filed a complaint for annulment of saleof the said
homestead properties against spouses Uy (later substituted by their heirs)before the RTC,
docketed as Civil Case No.96-28, assailing the validity of the sale for having been sold within
the prohibited period. Thecomplaint was later amended to include Eutropia and Victoriaas
additional plaintiffs for having been excluded and deprived of their legitimes as childrenof
Anunciacion from her first marriage.
In their amended answer with counterclaim, the heirs of Uy countered that the sale took place
beyond the 5-year prohibitory period from the issuance of the homestead patents. They also
denied knowledge of Eutropia and Victorias exclusionfrom the extrajudicial settlement and
sale of the subject properties, and interposed further the defenses of prescription and laches.
The RTC Ruling
On October 25, 2004, the RTC rendered a decision ordering, among others, the annulment of
the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale. It ruled that while the
sale occurred beyond the 5-year prohibitory period, the sale is still void because Eutropia and
Victoria were deprived of their hereditary rights and that Enrique had no judicial authority to
sell the shares of his minor children, Rosa and Douglas.

Similarly, the CA declared the extrajudicial settlement and the subsequent saleas valid and
binding with respect to Enrique and hischildren, holding that as co-owners, they have the right
to dispose of their respective shares as they consider necessary or fit.While recognizing Rosa
and Douglas to be minors at that time, they were deemed to have ratified the sale whenthey
failed to question it upon reaching the age of majority.Italso found laches to have set in
because of their inaction for a long period of time.
The Issues
In this petition, petitioners imputeto the CA the following errors:
I. WHEN IT UPHELDTHE VALIDITY OF THE "EXTRA JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE
ESTATE WITH ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE" AS FAR AS THE SHARES OF EUTROPIA AND
VICTORIA WERE CONCERNED, THEREBY DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR INHERITANCE;
II. WHEN IT DID NOT NULLIFY OR ANNUL THE "EXTRA JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE
ESTATE WITH ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE" WITH RESPECT TO THE SHARESOF ROSA
AND DOUGLAS, THEREBY DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR INHERITANCE; and
III. WHEN IT FOUND THAT LACHES OR PRESCRIPTION HAS SET IN.
The Ruling of the Court
The petitionis meritorious.
It bears to stress that all the petitioners herein are indisputably legitimate children of
Anunciacion from her first and second marriages with Gonzalo and Enrique, respectively, and
consequently, are entitled to inherit from her in equal shares, pursuant to Articles 979 and 980
of the Civil Code which read:
ART. 979. Legitimate children and their descendants succeed the parents and other
ascendants, without distinction as to sex or age, and even if they should come from different
marriages.

Consequently, it rejected the defenses of laches and prescription raised by spouses Uy, who
claimed possession of the subject properties for 17 years, holding that co-ownership rights
are imprescriptible.

xxx

The CA Ruling

As such, upon the death of Anunciacion on September 21, 1977, her children and Enrique
acquired their respective inheritances, 9 entitling them to their pro indiviso shares in her whole
estate, as follows:

On appeal, the CAreversed and set aside the ruling of the RTC in its April 27, 2010 Decision
and dismissed the complaint of the petitioners. It held that, while Eutropia and Victoria had no
knowledge of the extrajudicial settlement and sale of the subject properties and as such, were
not bound by it, the CA found it unconscionable to permit the annulment of the sale
considering spouses Uys possession thereof for 17 years, and thatEutropia and
Victoriabelatedlyfiled their actionin 1997, ormore than two years fromknowledge of their
exclusion as heirs in 1994 when their stepfather died. It, however, did not preclude the
excluded heirs from recovering their legitimes from their co-heirs.

Page 35 of 74

ART. 980. The children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own right,
dividing the inheritance in equal shares.

Enrique

9/16 (1/2 of the conjugal assets + 1/16)

Eutropia

1/16

Victoria

1/16

Napoleon

1/16

Alicia

1/16

Visminda

1/16

Rosa

1/16

Douglas

1/16

Hence, in the execution of the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of
Sale in favor of spouses Uy, all the heirs of Anunciacionshould have participated. Considering
that Eutropia and Victoria were admittedly excluded and that then minors Rosa and Douglas
were not properly represented therein, the settlement was not valid and binding uponthem
and consequently, a total nullity.
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court provides:
SECTION 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. x x x
The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published in a newspaper of
general circulation in the manner provided in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial
settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no
notice thereof. (Underscoring added)
The effect of excluding the heirs in the settlement of estate was further elucidated in Segura
v. Segura,10 thus:
It is clear that Section 1 of Rule 74 does not apply to the partition in question which was null
and void as far as the plaintiffs were concerned. The rule covers only valid partitions. The
partition in the present case was invalid because it excluded six of the nine heirs who were
entitled to equal shares in the partitioned property. Under the rule "no extrajudicial settlement
shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice thereof."
As the partition was a total nullity and did not affect the excluded heirs, it was not correct for
the trial court to hold that their right to challenge the partition had prescribed after two years
from its execution
However, while the settlement of the estate is null and void, the subsequent sale of the
subject propertiesmade by Enrique and his children, Napoleon, Alicia and Visminda, in favor
of the respondents isvalid but only with respect to their proportionate shares therein.It cannot
be denied that these heirs have acquired their respective shares in the properties of
Anunciacion from the moment of her death 11and that, as owners thereof, they can very well
sell their undivided share in the estate.12
With respect to Rosa and Douglas who were minors at the time of the execution of the
settlement and sale, their natural guardian and father, Enrique, represented them in the
transaction. However, on the basis of the laws prevailing at that time, Enrique was merely
clothed with powers of administration and bereft of any authority to dispose of their 2/16
shares in the estate of their mother, Anunciacion.

Page 36 of 74

Articles 320 and 326 of the Civil Code, the laws in force at the time of the execution of the
settlement and sale, provide:
ART. 320. The father, or in his absence the mother, is the legal administrator of the property
pertaining to the child under parental authority. If the property is worth more than two
thousand pesos, the father or mother shall give a bond subject to the approval of the Court of
First Instance.
ART. 326. When the property of the child is worth more than two thousand pesos, the father
or mother shall be considered a guardian of the childs property, subject to the duties and
obligations of guardians under the Rules of Court.
Corollarily, Section 7, Rule 93 of the Rules of Court also provides:
SEC. 7. Parents as Guardians. When the property of the child under parental authority is
worth two thousand pesos or less, the father or the mother, without the necessity of court
appointment, shall be his legal guardian. When the property of the child is worth more than
two thousand pesos, the father or the mother shall be considered guardian of the childs
property, with the duties and obligations of guardians under these Rules, and shall file the
petition required by Section 2 hereof. For good reasons, the court may, however, appoint
another suitable persons.
Administration includes all acts for the preservation of the property and the receipt of fruits
according to the natural purpose of the thing. Any act of disposition or alienation, or any
reduction in the substance of the patrimony of child, exceeds the limits of
administration.13 Thus, a father or mother, as the natural guardian of the minor under parental
authority, does not have the power to dispose or encumber the property of the latter. Such
power is granted by law only to a judicial guardian of the wards property and even then only
with courts prior approval secured in accordance with the proceedings set forth by the Rules
of Court.14
Consequently, the disputed sale entered into by Enrique in behalf of his minor children
without the proper judicial authority, unless ratified by them upon reaching the age of
majority,15 is unenforceable in accordance with Articles 1317 and 1403(1) of the Civil Code
which provide:
ART. 1317. No one may contract in the name of another without being authorized by the latter
or unless he has by law a right to represent him.
A contract entered into in the name of another by one who has no authority or legal
representation, or who has acted beyond his powers, shall be unenforceable, unless it is
ratified, expressly or impliedly, by the person on whose behalf it has been executed, before it
is revoked by the other contracting party.
ART. 1403. The following contracts are unenforceable, unless they are ratified:
(1) Those entered into the name of another person by one who has been given no authority
or legal representation, or who has acted beyond his powers;

xxx
Ratification means that one under no disability voluntarily adopts and gives sanction to some
unauthorized act or defective proceeding, which without his sanction would not be binding on
him. It is this voluntary choice, knowingly made, which amounts to a ratification of what was
theretofore unauthorized, and becomes the authorized act of the party so making the
ratification.16 Once ratified, expressly or impliedly such as when the person knowingly
received benefits from it, the contract is cleansed from all its defects from the moment it was
constituted,17 as it has a retroactive effect.
Records, however, show that Rosa had ratified the extrajudicial settlement of the estate with
absolute deed of sale. In Napoleon and Rosas Manifestation 18 before the RTC dated July 11,
1997,they stated:
"Concerning the sale of our parcel of land executed by our father, Enrique Neri concurred in
and conformed to by us and our other two sisters and brother (the other plaintiffs), in favor of
Hadji Yusop Uy and his spouse Hadja Julpa Uy on July 7, 1979, we both confirmed that the
same was voluntary and freely made by all of us and therefore the sale was absolutely valid
and enforceable as far as we all plaintiffs in this case are concerned;" (Underscoring
supplied)
In their June 30, 1997 Joint-Affidavit,19 Napoleon and Rosa also alleged:
"That we are surprised that our names are included in this case since we do not have any
intention to file a case against Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy and their family and we
respect and acknowledge the validity of the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with
Absolute Deed of Sale dated July 7, 1979;" (Underscoring supplied)
Clearly, the foregoing statements constitutedratification of the settlement of the estate and the
subsequent sale, thus, purging all the defects existing at the time of its execution and
legitimizing the conveyance of Rosas 1/16 share in the estate of Anunciacion to spouses Uy.
The same, however, is not true with respect to Douglas for lack of evidence showing
ratification.
Considering, thus, that the extrajudicial settlement with sale is invalid and therefore, not
binding on Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, only the shares ofEnrique, Napoleon, Alicia,
Visminda and Rosa in the homestead properties have effectivelybeen disposed in favor of
spouses Uy. "A person can only sell what he owns, or is authorized to sell and the buyer can
as a consequence acquire no more than what the sellercan legally transfer." 20 On this score,
Article 493 of the Civil Codeis relevant, which provides:
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.

Page 37 of 74

Consequently, spouses Uy or their substituted heirs became pro indiviso co-owners of the
homestead properties with Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, who retained title to their
respective 1/16 shares. They were deemed to be holding the 3/16 shares of Eutropia, Victoria
and Douglas under an implied constructive trust for the latters benefit, conformably with
Article 1456 of the Civil Code which states:"if property is acquired through mistake or fraud,
the person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the
benefit of the person from whom the property comes." As such, it is only fair, just and
equitable that the amount paid for their shares equivalent to P 5,000.0021 each or a total
of P 15,000.00 be returned to spouses Uy with legal interest.
On the issue of prescription, the Court agrees with petitioners that the present action has not
prescribed in so far as it seeks to annul the extrajudicial settlement of the estate. Contrary to
the ruling of the CA, the prescriptive period of 2 years provided in Section 1 Rule 74 of the
Rules of
Court reckoned from the execution of the extrajudicial settlement finds no application to
petitioners Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, who were deprived of their lawful participation in
the subject estate. Besides, an "action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a
contract does not prescribe" in accordance with Article 1410 of the Civil Code.
However, the action to recover property held in trust prescribes after 10 years from the time
the cause of action accrues,22 which is from the time of actual notice in case of unregistered
deed.23 In this case, Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas claimed to have knowledge of the
extrajudicial settlement with sale after the death of their father, Enrique, in 1994 which
spouses Uy failed to refute. Hence, the complaint filed in 1997 was well within the prescriptive
period of 10 years.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The April 27, 2010 Decision and October
18, 2010 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new
judgment is entered:
1. Declaring the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate of Anunciacion Neri NULL and VOID;
2. Declaring the Absolute Deed of Sale in favor of the late spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and
Julpha Ibrahim Uy as regards the 13/16 total shares of the late Enrique Neri, Napoleon Neri,
Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar, Visminda D. Neri-Chambers and Rosa D. Neri-Millan VALID;
3. Declaring Eutropia D. Illut-Cockinos, Victoria D. Illut-Piala and Douglas D. Neri as
the LAWFUL OWNERSof the 3/16 portions of the subject homestead properties, covered by
Original Certificate of Title Nos. (P-7998) P-2128, (P-14608) P-5153 and P-20551 (P-8348);
and
4. Ordering the estate of the late Enrique Neri, as well as Napoleon Neri, Alicia D. NeriMondejar, Visminda D. Neri-Chambers and Rosa D. Neri-Millan to return to the respondents
jointly and solidarily the amount paid corresponding to the 3/16 shares of Eutropia, Victoria
and Douglas in the total amount of P 15,000.00, with legal interest at 6% per annum

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

M.

PERLAS-BERNABE

G.R. No. 147468

April 9, 2003

SPOUSES EDUARDO ARENAS DOMINGO & JOSEFINA CHAVEZ DOMINGO, petitioners,


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

Page 38 of 74

executory, and TCT Nos. 57217 (11663) and 57218 (11664) were issued in the name of
GSIS.7

After trial, the court a quo rendered judgment in favor of respondents, the dispositive portion
of which reads:

Cesar Roces died intestate on January 26, 1980. 8 He was survived by his widow, Lilia Roces,
and their children: Cesar Roberto Roces, Ana Ines Magdalena Roces Tolentino, Luis Miguel
M. Roces, Jose Antonio Roces and Maria Vida Presentacion Roces, all of whom are the
respondents in this case.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs against the defendant
Reynaldo L. Montinola who is hereby ordered to pay to the plaintiffs the following sums:

On July 22, 1992, Reynaldo L. Montinola, a nephew of Lilia Roces, executed an affidavit of
self-adjudication over the Arayat properties. He alleged that the properties were owned by the
spouses Cesar and Lilia Roces, both of whom died intestate, on September 13, 1987 and
June 27, 1989, respectively; that the properties were acquired during the existence of their
marriage; that the spouses left no heirs except the brother of Lilia Roces, who was his father;
that neither of the spouses left any will nor any debts; and that he was the sole heir of the
Roces spouses.9

b) Moral damages in the sum of P100,000.00;

On January 5, 1993, Montinola filed a petition against GSIS with the Regional Trial Court of
Pasig, docketed as Civil Case No. R-4743, praying for the cancellation of TCT Nos. 57217
(11663) and 57218 (11664).10 During the trial, GSIS failed to produce any document
evidencing the alleged real estate mortgage by Roces of the properties. Hence, the trial court
rendered judgment in favor of Montinola, declaring the owner's duplicates of TCT No. 57217
(11663) and 57218 (11664) as null and void and ordering the Registry of Deeds of
Mandaluyong to issue new owner's duplicates of the said titles. 11

Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals, reiterating the reliefs prayed for in their
complaint below.18 On November 22, 2000, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed
Decision, the decretal portion of which reads:

GSIS did not appeal the aforesaid judgment; thus, the same became final and executory.
Accordingly, the Registry of Deeds of Mandaluyong issued TCT No. 7299 in the name of
Montinola in lieu of TCT No. 57218 (11664).12
Sometime in July 1993, Montinola executed a deed of absolute sale of the property covered
by TCT No. 7299 in favor of petitioner spouses Eduardo and Josefina Domingo. 13 Thereafter,
TCT No. 7673 was issued in the names of petitioners.
Both TCT Nos. 7299 and 7673 contained the following annotation:
Subject to the provision of Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court with respect to the
inheritance left by the deceased SPS. CESAR ROCES & LILIA MONTINOLA. 14
When respondents learned of the sale of the property to petitioners, they filed a complaint
against Montinola and petitioners with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig. They argued that the
affidavit of self-adjudication was fraudulent because Montinola was not an heir of the Roces
spouses and it was not true that Lilia Roces was dead. Therefore, the affidavit of selfadjudication, as well as the deed of absolute sale, TCT No. 7299, and TCT No. 7673, all
covering the subject property, were null and void.15
In their answer, petitioners alleged that they were buyers in good faith and that their action
was barred by estoppel and laches.16

Page 39 of 74

a) P1,200,000.00 as actual damages, with interest thereon at the legal rate of six (6) per
centum per annum until fully paid;
c) Exemplary damages in the sum of P50,000.00;
d) Attorney's fees in the reasonable amount of P30,000.00; and costs.
The counterclaim of defendant spouses Eduardo and Josefina Domingo is dismissed and the
complaint against the Register of Deeds is likewise dismissed without costs.
SO ORDERED.17

IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision of the
Court a quoappealed from is SET ASIDE AND REVERSED. Another Decision is hereby
rendered in favor of the Appellants as follows:
1. The "Affidavit of Self-Adjudication" (Exhibit "G"), Transfer Certificate of Title No. 7299
(Exhibits "N" and "22", Domingo), the "Deed of Absolute Sale" (Exhibit "20") and Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 7673 (Exhibit "21") are hereby declared null and void.
2. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 57218 (11664), under the names of Cesar P. Roces and
Lilia Montinola, is hereby reinstated.
3. The Appellees are hereby ordered to pay, jointly and severally, to the Appellants the
amount of P50,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees.
4. Appellants' claims for actual, moral and exemplary damages are dismissed.
5. The Appellee Reynaldo Montinola is hereby ordered to pay to the Appellees Spouses
Domingo the amount of P1,800,000.00, with interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum
from the date of the Decision of this Court until the said amount is paid in full by the said
Appellee, the other cross-claims of the Appellees, inter se, are dismissed.
SO ORDERED.19
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, 20 which was denied in a Resolution dated
March 15, 2000.21Hence this petition, raising the following errors:
1. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ANNOTATION IN THE
TITLE REGARDING SEC. 4, RULE 74 IS AN ENCUMBRANCE WHICH DISQUALIFIES
PETITIONERS FROM BEING INNOCENT PURCHASERS FOR VALUE;

2. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT IT WAS RESPONDENTS


WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR REYNALDO MONTINOLA TO PERPETUATE THE FRAUD
AND, THEREFORE, THEY SHOULD BE THE ONE TO BEAR RESULTING DAMAGE;
3. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT RESPONDENTS HAVE NO
EXISTING INTEREST IN THE PROPERTY SINCE IT WAS PREVIOUSLY MORTGAGED
AND FORECLOSED BY THE G.S.I.S.; AND
4. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING PETITIONERS LIABLE TO
RESPONDENTS FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES, THEREBY ADDING MORE INJURY TO THEIR
MISFORTUNE.22
The petition lacks merit.
It is true that one who deals with property registered under the Torrens system need not go
beyond the same, but only has to rely on the title. He is charged with notice only of such
burdens and claims as are annotated on the title. However, this principle does not apply when
the party has actual knowledge of facts and circumstances that would impel a reasonably
cautious man to make such inquiry or when the purchaser has knowledge of a defect or the
lack of title in his vendor or of sufficient facts to induce a reasonably prudent man to inquire
into the status of the title of the property in litigation. One who falls within the exception can
neither be denominated an innocent purchaser for value nor a purchaser in good faith. 23
As stated above, the titles, namely, TCT Nos. 7299 and 7673, contained annotations which
made reference to the provisions of Rule 74, Section 4 of the Rules of Court, viz:
SEC. 4. Liability of distributees and estate. If it shall appear at any time within two (2)
years after the settlement and distribution of an estate in accordance with the provisions of
either of the first two sections of this rule, that an heir or other person has been unduly
deprived of his lawful participation in the estate, such heir or such other person may compel
the settlement of the estate in the courts in the manner hereinafter provided for the purpose
of satisfying such lawful participation. And if within the same time of two (2) years, it shall
appear that there are debts outstanding against the estate which have not been paid, or that
an heir or other person has been unduly deprived of his lawful participation payable in money,
the court having jurisdiction of the estate may, by order for that purpose, after hearing, settle
the amount of such debts or lawful participation and order how much and in what manner
each distributee shall contribute in the payment thereof, and may issue execution, if
circumstances require, against the bond provided in the preceding section or against the real
estate belonging to the deceased, or both. Such bond and such real estate shall remain
charged with a liability to creditors, heirs, or other persons for the full period of two (2) years
after such distribution, notwithstanding any transfers of real estate that may have been
made.24
The foregoing rule clearly covers transfers of real property to any person, as long as the
deprived heir or creditor vindicates his rights within two years from the date of the settlement
and distribution of estate. Contrary to petitioners' contention, the effects of this provision are

Page 40 of 74

not limited to the heirs or original distributees of the estate properties, but shall
affect any transferee of the properties.
In David v. Malay,25 it was held that the buyer of real property the title of which contain an
annotation pursuant to Rule 74, Section 4 of the Rules of Court cannot be considered
innocent purchasers for value. In the same vein, the annotation at the back of TCT No. 7299
in this case referring to Rule 74, Section 4 of the Rules of Court was sufficient notice to
petitioners of the limitation on Montinola's right to dispose of the property. The presence of an
irregularity which excites or arouses suspicion should prompt the vendee to look beyond the
certificate and investigate the title of the vendor appearing on the face thereof. 26 Purchasers
of registered land are bound by the annotations found at the back of the certificate of title. 27
Hence, petitioners cannot be considered buyers in good faith and cannot now avoid the
consequences brought about by the application of Rule 74, Section 4 of the Rules of Court.
Petitioner's claim that respondents were guilty of laches and estoppel is likewise untenable.
Laches is the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do
that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier. The essential
elements of laches are: (1) conduct on the part of defendant or one under whom he claims,
giving rise to the situation complained of; (2) delay in asserting complainant's right after he
had knowledge of the defendant's conduct and after he has an opportunity to sue; (3) lack of
knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right
on which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is
accorded to the complainant.28
On the other hand, estoppel by laches arises from the negligence or omission to assert a
right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it
either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.29
In the case at bar, only four months elapsed from the time respondents discovered
Montinola's fraudulent acts, sometime in May 1993, to the time they filed their complaint on
September 6, 1993. This relatively short span of time can hardly be called unreasonable,
especially considering that respondents used this period of time to investigate the transfers of
the property.30 Delay is an indispensable requisite for a finding of estoppel by laches, but to
be barred from bringing suit on grounds of estoppel and laches, the delay must be lengthy
and unreasonable.31 No unreasonable delay can be attributed to respondents in this case.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The
decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV No. 62473 are
AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 132644 November 19, 1999


ERNESTO DAVID, RICARDO DAVID, NELIA DAVID, EMILIA DAVID, LOLITA DAVID,
BASILIO LEMQUE, NICANOR LEMQUE, FELIX LEMQUE, NORMA LEMQUE, WILFREDO
LEMQUE, RODOLFO LEMQUE, ROGELIO LEMQUE, VICTORIA LEMQUE, ESTATE OF
MARIA ESPIRITU and ANDRES ADONA, MILAGROS DE UBAGO-UMALI, FELISA
GUBALLA DE UBAGO, VANESSA DE UBAGO-UMALI, ANTONIO DE UBAGO, JR.,
JOSEPH GUBALLA DE UBAGO, MARIETTA DE UBAGO-TAN, and REGISTER OF
DEEDS
OF
ZAMBALES, petitioners,
vs.
CRISTITO MALAY and NORA MALAY, DIONISIO MALAY, FRANCISCA T. CAPACILLO,
PEPITO ALCANTARA, NICOLAS SORIANO and JUAN MORA, respondents.
VITUG, J.:
The instant case is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals reversing that of the
Regional Trial Court on an action for reconveyance of property. The issues submitted by the
parties may not really be all that novel.
The spouses Andres Adona and Leoncia Abad, husband and wife for a good number of
years, were blessed with five children among them being Carmen Adona. Carmen married
Filomeno Malay; three children were begotten by the marriage, namely, Cristito, Nora and
Dionisio (among the herein private respondents). Following the death of Leoncia Abad in
1923, Andres Adona cohabited with Maria Espiritu, herself a widow, apparently without the
benefit of marriage. Andres and Maria sired two children, Esperanza, represented herein by

Page 41 of 74

her heirs all surnamed David, and Vicente Adona. Maria Espiritu likewise had a child by her
previous marriage, Fulgencio Lemque, now herein represented also by his own heirs.
During his lifetime, Andres Adona applied for a homestead patent over a parcel of agricultural
land located at Dirita, Iba, Zambales, containing an area of 22.5776 hectares. After Andres
Adona had died, Maria Espiritu, predecessor-in-interest of herein petitioners, succeeded in
obtaining Original Certificate of Title No. 398 over the land in her name. After Maria Espiritu
had died in 1945, the children, as well as descendants, of Andres Adona by his marriage with
Leoncia Abad, continued to be in peaceful and quiet possession of the subject land.
Sometime in 1989 petitioners executed a deed of "Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale" over the
subject property in favor of Mrs. Venancia Ungson. Private respondents protested the sale
claiming that they were the true owners of the land. Ultimately, in any event, the sale in favor
of Mrs. Ungson was rescinded in view of the latter's failure to pay in full the consideration
agreed upon. Subsequently petitioners executed another deed of Extrajudicial Settlement
with Sale. In this new instrument, dated 15 December 1990, petitioners divided the land
equally among themselves and sold their respective shares to their co-petitioners herein.
Antonio de Ubago, Jr., Milagros de Ubago-Umali, Felisa Guballa de Ubago, Vanessa de
Ubago-Umali and Marietta de Ubago-Tan and Joseph Guballa de Ubago. On 27 November
1992 Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-42320 was issued in favor of the de Ubagos.
Less than a month later or on 07 December 1992 private respondents filed a complaint
docketed Civil Case No. RTC-905-1 for "Annulment of Sale with Restraining Order Injunction
and Damages" against petitioners before Branch 71 of the Regional Trial Court of Zambales.
In their complaint private respondents averred that the disputed land sold by the heirs of
Maria Espiritu to the de Ubagos was the subject of a homestead application by their great
grandfather. Andres Adona, but that Original Certificate of Title No. 398 was instead
fraudulently issued to Maria Espiritu, on 04 December 1933, upon her false representation
that she was the widow of Andres Adona.
In its decision of 25 July 1995 after a hearing on the merits of the case, the trial court
dismissed the complaint for lack of cause of action and on the ground of prescription. It
opined that the action being one for annulment of sale anchored on a fraudulent titling of the
subject property, the cause of action constituted a collateral attack on the Torrens Certificate
of Title. The court a quo added that even if the action were to be treated as being one for
reconveyance, the suit would still have to fail since an action for reconveyance could only be
brought within ten (10) years counted from the date of issuance of the certificate of title (in
1933).
On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in its judgment of 11 February 1998, 1 set aside the order of
dismissal of the case decreed by the trial court and directed the cancellation of Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-42320 in the name of the de Ubagos and the reconveyance of the
property to the estate of Andres Adona. Petitioners were additionally ordered to pay damages
and attorney's fees to private respondents. The appellate court, more particularly, ruled.

Page 42 of 74

The evidence on record shows that OCT No. 398 issued in favor of Maria Espiritu was
obtained by her fraudulent concealment of the existence of Adona's first marriage to Leoncia
Abad, as shown by the affidavit she executed on September 21, 1928 and filed with the
Director of Lands.
Consequently, Maria Espiritu's fraudulent concealment of material facts created an implied or
constructive trust in favor of the plaintiffs, the excluded co-heirs and actual possessors of the
subject land. Article 1456 of the Civil Code reads:
If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it is by force of law,
considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property
comes.
Although it is true that after the lapse of one year, a decree of registration is no longer open to
review or attack, although its issuance was tainted with fraud; however, the aggrieved party is
not without a remedy at law. Notwithstanding the irrevocability of the Torrens Title already
issued in favor of Maria Espiritu, she and her successors-in-interest, although the registered
owner under the Torrens system, may still be compelled under the law to reconvey the
subject property to the real owners. The Torrens system was not designed to shield and
protect one who had committed fraud or misrepresentation and thus holds title in bad faith
(Amerol vs. Bagumbaran, 154 SCRA 396, 404 [1987]);
In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible.
What is sought instead is the transfer of the property, which has been wrongfully or
erroneously registered in another person's name, to its rightful and legal owner, or to one with
a better right. (Amerol, supra.)
However, the right to seek reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust is not
absolute. It is subject to existence prescription. (Amerol, supra.; Caro vs. Court of Appeals,
180 SCRA 401, 405-407 [1989]; Ramos vs. Court of Appeals, 112 SCRA 542, 550 [1982];
Ramos vs. Ramos, 61 SCRA 284, 299-300 [19741])
An action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based on an implied trust prescribes in ten
years, the point of reference being the date of registration of the deed or the date of the
issuance of the certificate of title over the property. (Amerol, supra., Caro, supra., Casipit vs.
Court of Appeals, 204 SCRA 684, 694 [1991]). This rule applies only when the plaintiff or the
person enforcing the trust is not in possession of the property. If a person claiming to be the
owner thereof is in actual possession of the property, the right to seek reconveyance does not
prescribe. The reason for this is one who is in actual possession of a piece of land claiming to
be the owner thereof may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked before
taking steps to vindicate his right. His undisturbed possession gives him the continuing right
to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain the nature of the adverse claim of third party
and its effect on his title, which right can be claimed only by one who is in possession. (Vda.
de Cabrera vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. 108547, February 3, 1997).

Hence, the undisturbed possession by plaintiffs and their predecessors-in-interest gave them
the continuing right to resort to judicial intervention once their claim to ownership was
challenged. It was therefore the defendant. Heirs act of executing the "Extrajudicial
Settlement of Estate with Sale" which constituted the express act of repudiation of the
constructive trust which gave rise to plaintiffs cause of action. 2
Aggrieved, petitioners have come to this Court and seek to dispute the judgment of the Court
of Appeals ordering the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. 398 issued on 16
November 1933. It is the contention of petitioners that to allow private respondents to
question Original Certificate of Title No. 398 fifty-nine years after its issuance would
undermine the Torrens system and sanctity of the certificate of title.
Private respondents, upon the other hand, ask this Court to sustain the decision of the Court
of Appeals on the thesis that the property in question indubitably belongs to the estate of
Andres Adona whose incontestable right to it is derived from the perfected homestead
application two years prior to his death as so admitted by Maria Espiritu herself in her affidavit
submitted to the Director of Lands.
The Court rules for the affirmance of the challenged decision.
A certificate of title issued under an administrative proceeding pursuant to a homestead
patent covering a disposable public land within the contemplation of the Public Land Law or
Commonwealth Act No. 141 is as indefeasible as a certificate of title issued under a judicial
registration proceeding. Under the Land Registration Act, title to the property covered by a
Torrens certificate becomes indefeasible after the expiration of one year from the entry of the
decree of registration. Such decree of registration is incontrovertible and becomes binding on
all persons whether or not they were notified of, or participated in, the in rem registration
process. 3 There is no specific provision in the Public Land Law or the Land Registration Act
(Act 496), now Presidential Decree 1529, fixing a similar one-year period within which a
public land patent can be considered open to review on the ground of actual fraud, such as
that provided for in Section 38 of the Land Registration Act, and now Section 32 of
Presidential Decree 1529, and clothing a public land patent certificate of title with
indefeasibility. Nevertheless, this Court has repeatedly applied Section 32 of Presidential
Decree 1529 to a patent issued in accordance with the law by the Director of Lands,
approved by the Secretary of Natural Resources, under the signature of the President of the
Philippines. 4 The date of the issuance of the patent corresponds to the date of the issuance
of the decree in ordinary cases. Just as the decree finally awards the land applied for
registration to the party entitled to it, so also, the patent issued by the Director of Lands
equally and finally grants and conveys the land applied for to the applicant. 5
Original Certificate of Title No. 398 was issued in the name of Maria Espiritu on 04 December
1933 and would have become indefeasible a year thereafter had not its issuance been
attended with fraud. The attendance of fraud created an implied trust in favor of private

Page 43 of 74

respondents and gave them the right of action to seek the remedy of reconveyance of the
property wrongfully obtained. 6 In Javier vs. Court of Appeals 7 this Court ruled:
. . . The basic rule is that after the lapse of one (1) year, a decree of registration is no longer
open to review or attack although its issuance is attended with actual fraud. This does not
mean however that the aggrieved party is without a remedy at law. If the property has not yet
passed to an innocent purchaser for value, an action for reconveyance is still available. The
decree becomes incontrovertible and can no longer be reviewed after one (1) year from the
date of the decree so that the only remedy of the landowner whose property has been
wrongfully or erroneously registered in another's name is to bring an ordinary action in court
for reconveyance, which is an action in personam and is always available as long as the
property has not passed to an innocent third party for value. If the property has passed into
the hands of an innocent purchaser for value, the remedy is an action for damages. 8
The caption of the case before the court a quo while denominated as being one for
"Annulment of Sale with Damages" is in reality an action for reconveyance since the ultimate
relief sought by private respondents would be for the property covered by Original Certificate
of Title No. 398 to be reconveyed to the estate of Andres Adona. In this jurisdiction,
the dictum adhered to is that the nature of an action is determined, more importantly, by the
body of the pleading or complaint itself than by its title or heading. The Court of Appeals did
not err in treating the action brought by private respondents as one for reconveyance or as
one that seeks the transfer of the property, wrongfully registered by another, to its rightful and
legal owner. 10 It would seem that Andres Adona did perfect his homestead application prior to
his death, 11 the right to the issuance of the patent on which vests after complying with all the
requirements of the law. 12
The next crucial issue focuses on the ruling of the Court of Appeals to the effect that if a
person who claims to be the owner of the property is in actual possession thereof, the right to
seek reconveyance does not prescribe.
There is no doubt about the fact that an action for reconveyance based on an implied trust
ordinarily prescribes in ten years. 13 This rule assumes, however, that there is an actual need
to initiate that action, for when the right of the true and real owner is recognized, expressly or
implicitly such as when he remains undisturbed in his possession, the statute of limitation
would yet be irrelevant. An action for reconveyance, if nonetheless brought, would be in the
nature of a suit for quieting of title, or its equivalent, an action that is imprescriptible. In Faja
vs. Court of Appeals, 14 the Court has held that a person in actual possession of a piece of
land under claim of ownership may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is
attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right, and that his undisturbed possession gives
him the continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and determine the
nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his title. In the words of the Court

. . . There is settled jurisprudence that one who is in actual possession of a piece of land
claiming to be owner thereof may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked
before taking steps to vindicate his right, the reason for the rule being, that his undisturbed
possession gives him a continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and
determine the nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his own title, which
right can be claimed only by one who is in possession. No better situation can be conceived
at the moment for Us to apply this rule on equity than that of herein petitioners whose mother,
Felipa Faja, was in possession of the litigated property for no less than 30 years and was
suddenly confronted with a claim that the land she had been occupying and cultivating all
these years, was titled in the name of a third person. We hold that in such a situation the right
to quiet title to the property, to seek its reconveyance and annul any certificate of title
covering it, accrued only from the time the one in possession was made aware of a claim
adverse to his own and it is only then that the statutory period of prescription commences to
run against such possessor. 15
The same dictum is reiterated in Heirs of Jose Olviga vs. Court of Appeals; 16 thus
With regard to the issue of prescription, this Court has ruled a number of times before that an
action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based on implied or constructive trust prescribes
in ten years, the point of reference being the date of registration of the deed or the date of the
issuance of the certificate of title over the property (Vda. de Portugal vs. IAC, 159 SCRA 178).
But this rule applies only when the plaintiff is not in possession of the property, since if a
person claiming to be the owner thereof is in actual possession of the property, the right to
seek reconveyance, which in effect seeks to quiet title to the property, does not prescribe. 17
Finally, this Court sees no cogent reasons to disturb the finding of the Court of Appeals that
the de Ubagos may not be considered buyers in good faith. Said the Appellate Court:
. . . An innocent purchaser for value is one who buys property of another, without notice that
some other person has a right to, or interest in, such property and pays a full and fair price for
the same, at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claim or interest of
some other persons in the property. He buys the property with the belief that the person from
whom he receives the thing was the owner and could convey title to the property. A purchaser
can not close his eyes to facts which should put a reasonable man on his guard and still claim
he acted in good faith (Sandoval vs. Court of Appeals, 260 SCRA 283, 296 [1996]).
It is well settled that one who deals with property registered under the Torrens system need
not go beyond the same, but only has to rely on the title. He is charged with notice only of
such burdens and claims as are annotated on the title. (Sandoval, supra., at p. 295).
The aforestated principle admits of an unchallenged exception: that a person dealing with
registered land has a right to rely on the Torrens certificate of title and to dispense with the
need of inquiring further except when the party has actual knowledge of facts and
circumstances that would impel a reasonably cautious man to make such inquiry or when the
purchaser has some knowledge of a defect or the lack of title in his vendor or of sufficient

Page 44 of 74

facts to induce a reasonably prudent man to inquire into the status of the title of the property
in litigation. The presence of anything which excites or arouses suspicion should then prompt
the vendee to look beyond the certificate and investigate the title of the vendor appearing on
the face of said certificate. One who falls within the exception can neither be denominated an
innocent purchaser for value nor a purchaser in good faith and hence does not merit the
protection of the law. (Sandoval, supra.) (Emphasis supplied)
Applying the aforequoted jurisprudence, the defendant buyers can not be considered as
innocent purchasers for value. A perusal of defendant buyers' TCT No. 42320 reveals that it
contains an entry by the Register of Deeds which provides that their ownership over the land
is subject to prospective claims by any possible heirs and creditors who might have been
deprived of their lawful participation in the estate. The said entry reads as follows:
Entry No. 102385 Section 4 The property described in this certificate of title is subject to
the provisions of Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court for the period of two years in favor
of in any other possible heir or heirs and creditors who might have been deprived of his or
their lawful participations in the said estate.
Date of Instrument December 15, 1990
Date of Inscription November 27, 1992 at 2:00 p.m. (Exh. "E"; Rollo, p. 137)
Sec. 4, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court reads, in part, as follows:
Sec. 4. Liability of distributees and estate. If it shall appear at any time within (2) years
after the settlement and distribution of an estate in accordance with the provisions of either of
the first two sections of this rule, that an heir or other person has been unduly deprived of his
lawful participation in the estate, such heir or such other person may compel the settlement of
the estate in the courts in the manner hereinafter provided for the purpose of satisfying such
lawful participation . . .
The record shows that the "Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Sale" was executed on
December 15, 1990. Plaintiffs' complaint for Reconveyance was filed on December 7, 1992.
Hence, the two-year period has not yet elapsed.
It likewise appears that the subject land was the object of a sale between the defendant Heirs
and one Mrs. Venancia Ungson which was subsequently aborted due to the intervention of
defendant Vicente Adona and plaintiff Cristito Malay. (Exhs. "K", "K-1" and "L") However,
defendant Heirs nevertheless executed another sale in favor of defendant buyers who are
admittedly relatives of Mrs. Venancia Ungson. (TSN, January 23, 1995, p. 14) Plaintiff Cristito
Malay's intervention in the previous sale should have put defendant buyers on their guard.
Moreover, it is unbelievable that the defendant buyers would not have noticed the plaintiffs
who were in possession of the land when the defendant buyers inspected the same. Had they
made further investigations, they would have discovered that plaintiffs were in possession of
the land under a claim of ownership.

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

G.R. No. 115925

August 15, 2003

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

Page 45 of 74

No. 4207 issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal. CATALINA, CANUTO, and VICTORIANO
each owned an aliquot 10/70 share or 1,335 square meters of Lot 2. 2

Malabon, lalawigan ng Rizal, sa ilalim ng isang ganap na panunumpa alinsunod sa batas, ay


malayang nagsasalaysay ng mga sumusunod:

On 20 November 1951, CANUTO had Lot 2 surveyed and subdivided into eight lots (Lot Nos.
2-A to 2-H) through Subdivision Plan Psd 34713 which the Director of Lands approved on 30
May 1952. Lot No. 2-A, with an area of 670 square meters, and Lot No. 2-E, with an area of
2,000 square meters, were placed under CANUTOs name. Three other individuals took the
remaining lots.3

Na kami ang mga buhay na anak na naiwan ni CANUTO SIOSON na nagmamay-ari ng


10/70 bahaging hindi hati (10/70 porcion pro-indiviso) ng isang lagay na lupa (Lote No. 2,
plano Psu-13245), na nasa Nayon ng Tanza, Navotas, Rizal, at ang mga palatandaan nito ay
nasasaad sa Certificado Original de Titulo No. 4207 ng Tanggapan ng Registrador de Titulos
ng Rizal;

On 26 September 1956, CANUTO and CONSOLACION executed a Kasulatan ng Bilihang


Tuluyan4("KASULATAN"). Under the KASULATAN, CANUTO sold his 10/70 share in Lot 2 in
favor of CONSOLACION for P2,250.00. The KASULATAN, notarized by Notary Public Jose T.
de los Santos of Navotas, provides:

Na sa lubos naming kaalaman, ay ipinagbili ng aming Ama na si Canuto Sioson ang kaniyang
buong bahagi na 10/70 sa nasabing Lote No. 2, kay CONSOLACION SIOSON, may-bahay ni
Ricardo S. Pascual, na taga Dampalit, Malabon, Rizal, sa halagang P2,250.00, salaping
pilipino, noong ika 16 [sic] ng Septiembre, 1956, sa pamamagitan ng isang KASULATAN NG
BILIHANG TULUYAN na pinagtibay sa harap ng Notario Publico Jose T. de los Santos nang
pechang nabanggit, sa Navotas, Rizal, (Doc. No. 194, Page No. 84; Book No. IV; Series of
1956);

Na ako, CANUTO SIOSON, mamamayang Pilipino, may katampatang gulang, kasal kay
Raymunda San Diego, at naninirahan sa Tanza, Navotas, Rizal, sa bisa at pamamagitan ng
kasulatang ito ay nagpapatunay at nagpapatibay:
1. Na ako ang lubos at tunay na may-ari ng 10/70 bahaging hindi hati (10/70 porcion proindiviso) ng isang lagay na lupa (Lote No. 2, Plano Psu-13245), na nasa sa nayon ng Tanza,
Municipio ng Navotas, Provincia ng Rizal, at ang descripcion o pagkakakilanlan ng nasabing
lote ay nakasaad sa Certificado Original, de Titulo No. 4207 ng Oficina ng Registrador de
Titulos ng Rizal, gaya ng sumusunod:
xxxx
2. Na dahil at alang-alang sa halagang Dalawang Libo Dalawang Daan at Limampung Piso
(P2,250.00), salaping Pilipino, na sa akin ay ibinayad ni CONSOLACION SIOSON, kasal kay
Ricardo S. Pascual, may sapat na gulang, mamamayang Pilipino, at naninirahan sa
Dampalit, Malabon, Rizal at ang pagkakatanggap ng nasabing halaga ay aking inaamin at
pinatutunayan, ay aking ipinagbili, inilipat at isinalin, sa pamamagitan ng bilihang tuluyan at
walang pasubali a favor [sic] sa nasabing si CONSOLACION SIOSON, sa kanyang
tagapagmana at mapaglilipatan ang lahat ng aking titulo, karapatan at kaparti na binubuo ng
10/70 bahaging hindi hati (10/70 porcion pro-indiviso) ng loteng descrito or tinutukoy sa itaas
nito. (Emphasis supplied)
CONSOLACION immediately took possession of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E. She later declared
the land for taxation purposes and paid the corresponding real estate taxes. 5
On 23 October 1968, the surviving children of CANUTO, namely, Felicidad and Beatriz,
executed a joint affidavit6("JOINT AFFIDAVIT") affirming the KASULATAN in favor of
CONSOLACION. They also attested that the lots their father had sold to CONSOLACION
were Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E of Subdivision Plan Psd 34713. The JOINT AFFIDAVIT reads:
KAMING sina FELICIDAD SIOSON at BEATRIZ SIOSON, pawang mga Pilipino, kapuwa may
sapat na gulang at naninirahan, ang una sa Tanza, Navotas at ang ikalawa sa Concepcion,

Page 46 of 74

Na ang nasabing lupa na ipinagbili ng aming Ama kay Consolacion Sioson ni Pascual, ay
nakikilala ngayong mga Lote No. 2-A at Lote 2-E ng Plano de Subdivision Psd-34713; na
pinagtibay ng Assistant Director of Lands noong Mayo 30, 1952;
Na aming ngayong pinatitibayan ang pagka-pagbili ng bahagi ng aming Ama kay
Consolacion Sioson ni Pascual ng ngayoy nakikilalang Lote No. 2-A at Lote No. 2-E ng Plano
de Subdivision Psd-34713. (Emphasis supplied)
On 28 October 1968, CONSOLACION registered the KASULATAN and the JOINT
AFFIDAVIT with the Office of the Register of Deeds of Rizal ("Register of Deeds"). Based on
these documents, the Register of Deeds issued to CONSOLACION Transfer Certificate of
Title No. (232252) 1321 covering Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E of Subdivision Plan Psd 34713 with a
total area of 2,670 square meters.
On 4 February 1988, REMEDIOS filed a complaint against CONSOLACION and her spouse
Ricardo Pascual in the Regional Trial Court of Malabon, Branch 165, for "Annulment or
Cancellation of Transfer Certificate [of Title] and Damages." REMEDIOS claimed that she is
the owner of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E because CATALINA devised these lots to her in
CATALINAs last will and testament 7 ("LAST WILL") dated 29 May 1964. REMEDIOS added
that CONSOLACION obtained title to these lots through fraudulent means since the area
covered by TCT (232252) 1321 is twice the size of CANUTOs share in Lot 2. REMEDIOS
prayed for the cancellation of CONSOLACIONs title, the issuance of another title in her
name, and the payment to her of damages.
Petitioners sought to dismiss the complaint on the ground of prescription. Petitioners claimed
that the basis of the action is fraud, and REMEDIOS should have filed the action within four
years from the registration of CONSOLACIONs title on 28 October 1968 and not some 19
years later on 4 February 1988. REMEDIOS opposed the motion, claiming that she became

aware of CONSOLACIONs adverse title only in February 1987. CONSOLACION maintained


that she had timely filed her complaint within the four-year prescriptive on 4 February 1988.

subsequently be admitted to probate. The dispositive portion of the appellate courts ruling
provides:

In its order of 28 April 1988, the trial court denied petitioners motion to dismiss. The trial court
held that the reckoning of the prescriptive period for filing REMEDIOS complaint is
evidentiary in nature and must await the presentation of the parties evidence during the trial.
During the pre-trial stage, REMEDIOS clarified that she was claiming only CATALINAs 10/70
share in Lot 2, or 1,335 square meters, which constitute of the area of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2E.8 The trial of the case then ensued.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Registry of
Deeds of Rizal or Metro Manila, District III, is ordered to place Transfer Certificate of Title No.
(232252) 1321 under the name of Remedios S. Eugenio-Gino as executor of the will of
Catalina Sioson and cancel the names of the Spouses Ricardo Pascual and Consolacion
Sioson inscribed over said title as owners of the covered lot. Defendants-appellees spouses
Ricardo Pascual and Consolacion Sioson are ordered to pay plaintiff-appellant Remedios S.
Eugenio-Gino moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00, exemplary damages
of P20,000[.00] and attorneys fees of P20,000.00 and P500.00 per appearance.10

The Ruling of the Trial Court


On 26 November 1990, the trial court rendered judgment dismissing the case and ordering
REMEDIOS to pay petitioners P10,000 as attorneys fees and the cost of suit. The trial court
held that the action filed by REMEDIOS is based on fraud, covered by the four-year
prescriptive period. The trial court also held that REMEDIOS knew of petitioners adverse title
on 19 November 1982 when REMEDIOS testified against petitioners in an ejectment suit
petitioners had filed against their tenants in Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E. Thus, the complaint of
REMEDIOS had already prescribed when she filed it on 4 February 1988.
The trial court further ruled that REMEDIOS has no right of action against petitioners because
CATALINAs LAST WILL from which REMEDIOS claims to derive her title has not been
admitted to probate. Under Article 838 of the Civil Code, no will passes real or personal
property unless it is allowed in probate in accordance with the Rules of Court. The dispositive
portion of the trial courts decision provides:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the defendants and against plaintiff,
ordering:
1. The dismissal of this case;
2. The plaintiff to pay the defendants the sum of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos as and
for attorneys fees; and
3. The plaintiff to pay the costs of suit.9
REMEDIOS appealed to the Court of Appeals.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
On 31 January 1994, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment reversing the decision of the
trial court. The appellate court held that what REMEDIOS filed was a suit to enforce an
implied trust allegedly created in her favor when CONSOLACION fraudulently registered her
title over Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E. Consequently, the prescriptive period for filing the complaint is
ten years, not four. The Court of Appeals counted this ten-year period from 19 November
1982. Thus, when REMEDIOS filed her complaint on 4 February 1988, the ten-year
prescriptive period had not yet expired.
The appellate court held that CATALINAs unprobated LAST WILL does not preclude
REMEDIOS from seeking reconveyance of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E as the LAST WILL may

Page 47 of 74

Petitioners sought reconsideration of the ruling. However, the Court of Appeals denied their
motion in its order dated 15 June 1994.
Hence, this petition.
The Issues
Petitioners allege the following assignment of errors:
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS
CAUSE OF ACTION IS NOT BARRED BY PRESCRIPTION WHICH FINDING IS
MANIFESTLY CONTRARY TO LAW AND THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS
HONORABLE COURT.
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT
DOES NOT HAVE ANY TITLE AND HAS UTTERLY FAILED TO PROVE ANY TITLE TO THE
LOTS INVOLVED IN THIS CASE, AND IN ORDERING THE CANCELLATION OF THE
CERTIFICATE OF TITLE OF PETITIONERS.
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION AND IN GROSS VIOLATION OF THE RULES
OF COURT IN ORDERING THE ENTIRE PROPERTY COVERED BY TRANSFER
CERTIFICATE OF TITLE NO. (232252) 1321 TO BE PLACED IN THE NAME OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENT, BECAUSE THE CLAIM OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS LIMITED ONLY TO
ONE-HALF (1/2) PORTION OF THE PROPERTY, AND THE OTHER HALF THEREOF
UNQUESTIONABLY BELONGS TO PETITIONERS.
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS ACTED
FRAUDULENTLY AND IN BAD FAITH IN SECURING THEIR CERTIFICATE OF TITLE TO
THE PROPERTY INVOLVED IN THIS CASE, AND IN ORDERING PETITIONERS TO PAY
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS MORAL DAMAGES, EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND
ATTORNEYS FEES.11
The pivotal questions are: (1) whether prescription bars the action filed by REMEDIOS, and
(2) whether REMEDIOS is a real party-in-interest.
The Ruling of the Court

The petition has merit.


The Action is Barred by Prescription
The trial court held that the action filed by REMEDIOS is one based on fraud. REMEDIOS
action seeks to recover real property that petitioners allegedly acquired through fraud.
Consequently, the trial court held that the action prescribes in four years counted from
REMEDIOS actual discovery of petitioners adverse title. The trial court concluded that
REMEDIOS belatedly filed her suit on 4 February 1988 because she actually knew of
petitioners adverse title since 19 November 1982.
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals held that what REMEDIOS filed was a suit to enforce
an implied trust. REMEDIOS had ten years counted from actual notice of the breach of trust,
that is, the assertion of adverse title, within which to bring her action. The appellate court held
that REMEDIOS seasonably filed her complaint on 4 February 1988 because she allegedly
discovered petitioners adverse title only on 19 November 1982.
What REMEDIOS filed was an action to enforce an implied trust but the same is already
barred by prescription.
Prescriptive Period is 10 Years Counted
From Registration of Adverse Title
The four-year prescriptive period relied upon by the trial court applies only if the fraud does
not give rise to an implied trust, and the action is to annul a voidable contract under Article
139012 of the Civil Code. In such a case, the four-year prescriptive period under Article
139113 begins to run from the time of discovery of the mistake, violence, intimidation, undue
influence or fraud.
In the present case, REMEDIOS does not seek to annul the KASULATAN. REMEDIOS does
not assail the KASULATAN as a voidable contract. In fact, REMEDIOS admits the validity of
the sale of 1,335 square meters of land under the KASULATAN. However, REMEDIOS
alleges that the excess area of 1,335 meters is not part of the sale under the KASULATAN.
REMEDIOS seeks the removal of this excess area from TCT No. (232252) 1321 that was
issued to CONSOLACION. Consequently, REMEDIOS action is for "Annulment or
Cancellation of Transfer Certificate [of Title] and Damages." 14
REMEDIOS action is based on an implied trust under Article 1456 since she claims that the
inclusion of the additional 1,335 square meters in TCT No. (232252) 1321 was without basis.
In effect, REMEDIOS asserts that CONSOLACION acquired the additional 1,335 square
meters through mistake or fraud and thus CONSOLACION should be considered a trustee of
an implied trust for the benefit of the rightful owner of the property. Clearly, the applicable
prescriptive period is ten years under Article 1144 and not four years under Articles 1389 and
1391.
It is now well-settled that the prescriptive period to recover property obtained by fraud or
mistake, giving rise to an implied trust under Article 145615 of the Civil Code, is ten years

Page 48 of 74

pursuant to Article 1144.16 This ten-year prescriptive period begins to run from the date the
adverse party repudiates the implied trust, which repudiation takes place when the adverse
party registers the land.17
REMEDIOS filed her complaint on 4 February 1988 or more than 19 years after
CONSOLACION registered her title over Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E on 28 October 1968.
Unquestionably, REMEDIOS filed the complaint late thus warranting its dismissal. As the
Court recently declared in Spouses Alfredo v. Spouses Borras, 18
Following Caro,19 we have consistently held that an action for reconveyance based on an
implied trust prescribes in ten years. We went further by specifying the reference point of the
ten-year prescriptive period as the date of the registration of the deed or the issuance of the
title.
The Court of Appeals Reckoning of
Prescriptive Period from Actual Notice
of Adverse Title Not Justified
In holding that the action filed by REMEDIOS has not prescribed, the Court of Appeals
invoked this Courts ruling in Adille v. Court of Appeals. 20 In Adille, the Court reckoned the tenyear prescriptive period for enforcing implied trusts not from registration of the adverse title
but from actual notice of the adverse title by the cestui que trust. However, the Court, in
justifying its deviation from the general rule, explained:
[W]hile actions to enforce a constructive trust prescribes (sic) in ten years, reckoned from the
date of the registration of the property, we x x x are not prepared to count the period from
such date in this case. We note the petitioners sub rosa efforts to get hold of the property
exclusively for himself beginning with his fraudulent misrepresentation in his unilateral
affidavit of extrajudicial settlement that he is "the only heir and child of his mother Feliza["]
with the consequence that he was able to secure title in his name also. (Emphasis supplied)
Such commission of specific fraudulent conduct is absent in the present case. Other than
asserting that petitioners are guilty of fraud because they secured title to Lot Nos. 2-A and 2E with an area twice bigger than what CANUTO allegedly sold to CONSOLACION,
REMEDIOS did not present any other proof of petitioners fraudulent conduct akin to Adille.
CONSOLACION obtained title to Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E through the KASULATAN executed by
CANUTO and the JOINT AFFIDAVIT executed by his surviving children, one of whom,
Felicidad, is the mother of REMEDIOS. The KASULATAN referred to the sale of CANUTOs
10/70 share in Lot 2 without specifying the area of the lot sold. The JOINT AFFIDAVIT
referred to the "Plano de Subdivision Psd-34713" without also specifying the area of the lot
sold. However, Subdivision Plan Psd 34713, as certified by the Assistant Director of Lands on
30 May 1952, showed an area of 2,670 square meters in the name of CANUTO. Based on
these documents, the Register of Deeds issued TCT No. (232252) 1321 to CONSOLACION
covering an area of 2,670 square meters.

REMEDIOS does not assail the KASULATAN or the JOINT AFFIDAVIT as fictitious or forged.
REMEDIOS even admits the authenticity of Subdivision Plan Psd 34713 as certified by the
Assistant Director of Lands.21 Moreover, REMEDIOS has not contested petitioners claim that
CANUTO doubled his share in Lot 2 by acquiring VICTORIANOs share. 22
Plainly, the increase in the area sold from 1,335 square meters to 2,670 square meters is a
glaring mistake. There is, however, no proof whatsoever that this increase in area was the
result of fraud. Allegations of fraud in actions to enforce implied trusts must be proved by
clear and convincing evidence.23 Adille, which is anchored on fraud, 24 cannot apply to the
present case.
At any rate, even if we apply Adille to this case, prescription still bars REMEDIOS complaint.
As executrix of CATALINAs LAST WILL, REMEDIOS submitted to the then Court of First
Instance of Caloocan in Special Proceedings Case No. C-208 the inventory of all the property
comprising CATALINAs estate, which included Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E. In a motion dated 7
November 1977, CONSOLACION sought the exclusion of these lots from the inventory,
invoking her title over them. REMEDIOS was served a copy of the motion on 8 November
1977 against which she filed an opposition. Nevertheless, the trial court overruled
REMEDIOS objection. In its order of 3 January 1978, the trial court granted
CONSOLACIONs motion and ordered the exclusion of Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E from the estate
of CATALINA. REMEDIOS did not appeal from this ruling.
REMEDIOS thus had actual notice of petitioners adverse title on 8 November 1977. Even if,
for the sake of argument, the ten-year prescriptive period begins to run upon actual notice of
the adverse title, still REMEDIOS right to file this suit has prescribed. REMEDIOS had until
11 November 1987 within which to file her complaint. When she did so on 4 February 1988,
the prescriptive period had already lapsed.
Respondent is Not a Real Party-in-Interest
Not only does prescription bar REMEDIOS complaint. REMEDIOS is also not a real party-ininterest who can file the complaint, as the trial court correctly ruled.
The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure require that every action must be prosecuted or defended
in the name of the real party-in-interest who is the party who stands to benefit or suffer from
the judgment in the suit.25 If one who is not a real party-in-interest brings the action, the suit is
dismissible for lack of cause of action.26
REMEDIOS anchored her claim over Lot Nos. 2-A and 2-E (or over its one-half portion) on
the devise of these lots to her under CATALINAs LAST WILL. However, the trial court found
that the probate court did not issue any order admitting the LAST WILL to probate.
REMEDIOS does not contest this finding. Indeed, during the trial, REMEDIOS admitted that
Special Proceedings Case No. C-208 is still pending.27
Article 838 of the Civil Code states that "[N]o will shall pass either real or personal property
unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court." This Court has
interpreted this provision to mean, "until admitted to probate, [a will] has no effect whatever

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and no right can be claimed thereunder." 28 REMEDIOS anchors her right in filing this suit on
her being a devisee of CATALINAs LAST WILL. However, since the probate court has not
admitted CATALINAs LAST WILL, REMEDIOS has not acquired any right under the LAST
WILL. REMEDIOS is thus without any cause of action either to seek reconveyance of Lot
Nos. 2-A and 2-E or to enforce an implied trust over these lots.
The appellate court tried to go around this deficiency by ordering the reconveyance of Lot
Nos. 2-A and 2-E to REMEDIOS in her capacity as executrix of CATALINAs LAST WILL. This
is inappropriate because REMEDIOS sued petitioners not in such capacity but as the alleged
owner of the disputed lots. Thus, REMEDIOS alleged in her complaint:
3. The plaintiff is a niece and compulsory heir of the late CATALINA SIOSON who died single
and without any child of her own and who, during her lifetime, was the owner of those two (2)
parcels of land located at Tanza, Navotas, Rizal (now Metro Manila), formerly covered by
Original Certificate of Title No. 4207 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Rizal, x x x.
4. The plaintiff, aside from being the compulsory heir of the deceased CATALINA SIOSON,
has sole and exclusive claim of ownership over the above-mentioned two (2) parcels of land
by virtue of a will or "Huling Habilin at Pagpapasiya" executed by Catalina Sioson on May 19,
1964 before Notary Public Efren Y. Angeles at Navotas, Rizal, in which document the
deceased Catalina Sioson specifically and exclusively bequeathed to the plaintiff the abovementioned Lots 2-A and 2-E of Psd-34713 approved by the Bureau of Lands on May 30,
1952. Copy of the "Huling Habilin at Pagpapasiya" consisting of four (4) pages is hereto
attached and forms an integral part hereof as Annex "A;"
5. Sometime on or about February, 1987, plaintiff discovered that the above-mentioned Lots
2-A and 2-E of subdivision plan Psd-34713 are now registered or titled in the name of the
defendants under Transfer Certificate of Title No. (232252) 1321 of the Registry of Deeds of
Rizal, now Metro-Manila District III. Copy of the title is hereto attached and forms an integral
part hereof as Annex "B;"
6. Upon further inquiry and investigation, plaintiff discovered that the defendants were able to
obtain title in their name of the said parcels of land by virtue of a "Kasulatan ng Bilihang
Tuluyan" allegedly executed by Canuto Sioson on September 26, 1956 before Notary Public
Jose [T.] de los Santos of Navotas, Metro-Manila. Copy of the said document is hereto
attached and forms an integral part hereof as Annex "C;"
7. The plaintiff also discovered that although x x x the original sale did not specify the parcels
of land sold by Canuto Sioson, the defendants submitted an alleged Affidavit executed by
Felicidad Sioson and Beatriz Sioson identifying the lots sold by Canuto Sioson to the
defendants as Lots 2-A and 2-E of subdivision plan Psd-34713. Copy of the Affidavit dated
October 3, 1968 on the basis of which the present Transfer Certificate of Title No. (232252)
1321 was issued to the defendants is hereto attached and forms an integral part hereof as
Annex "D;"

8. The defendants are clearly guilty of fraud in presenting the aforementioned Affidavit (Annex
"D") to the Register of Deeds as the basis of their claim to Lots 2-A and 2-E in view of the fact
that the parcels sold to them by Canuto Sioson, assuming there was such a sale, were
different parcels of land, Lots 2-A and 2-E being the properties of the late Catalina Sioson
who bequeathed the same to the plaintiff.
xxxx
12. Because of the defendants fraudulent actuations on this matter, plaintiff suffered and
continious [sic] to suffer moral damages arising from anxiety, shock and wounded feelings .
Defendants should also be assessed exemplary damages by way of a lesson to deter them
from again committing the fraudulent acts, or acts of similar nature, by virtue of which they
were able to obtain title to the parcels of land involved in this case x x x. 29(Emphasis supplied)
Indeed, all throughout the proceedings below and even in her Comment to this petition,
REMEDIOS continued to pursue her claim as the alleged owner of one-half of the disputed
lots.
Other Matters Raised in the Petition
The Court deems it unnecessary to pass upon the other errors petitioners assigned
concerning the award of damages and attorneys fees to REMEDIOS. Such award assumes
that REMEDIOS is a real party-in-interest and that she timely filed her complaint. As earlier
shown, this is not the case.

G.R. No. L-56340 June 24, 1983

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31
January 1994 and its Resolution dated 15 June 1994 are SET ASIDE. The complaint filed by
respondent Remedios Eugenio-Gino, dated 2 February 1988 is DISMISSED.

SPOUSES ALVARO PASTOR, JR. and MA. ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR, petitioners,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, JUAN Y. REYES, JUDGE OF BRANCH I, COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF CEBU and LEWELLYN BARLITO QUEMADA, respondents.

SO ORDERED.

Pelaez, Pelaez, & Pelaez Law Office for petitioners.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Vitug, Ynares-Santiago and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Ceniza, Rama & Associates for private respondents.


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

Page 50 of 74

disposition: a legacy in favor of QUEMADA consisting of 30% of PASTOR, SR.'s 42% share
in the operation by Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation (ATLAS) of
some mining claims in Pina-Barot, Cebu.
On November 21, 1970, the PROBATE COURT, upon motion of QUEMADA and after an ex
parte hearing, appointed him special administrator of the entire estate of PASTOR, SR.,
whether or not covered or affected by the holographic will. He assumed office as such on
December 4, 1970 after filing a bond of P 5,000.00.
On December 7, 1970, QUEMADA as special administrator, instituted against PASTOR, JR.
and his wife an action for reconveyance of alleged properties of the estate, which included
the properties subject of the legacy and which were in the names of the spouses PASTOR,
JR. and his wife, Maria Elena Achaval de Pastor, who claimed to be the owners thereof in
their own rights, and not by inheritance. The action, docketed as Civil Case No. 274-R, was
filed with the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch IX.
On February 2, 1971, PASTOR, JR. and his sister SOFIA filed their opposition to the petition
for probate and the order appointing QUEMADA as special administrator.
On December 5, 1972, the PROBATE COURT issued an order allowing the will to probate.
Appealed to the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 52961- R, the order was affirmed in a
decision dated May 9, 1977. On petition for review, the Supreme Court in G.R. No. L-46645
dismissed the petition in a minute resolution dated November 1, 1977 and remanded the
same to the PROBATE COURT after denying reconsideration on January 11, 1978.
For two years after remand of the case to the PROBATE COURT, QUEMADA filed pleading
after pleading asking for payment of his legacy and seizure of the properties subject of said
legacy. PASTOR, JR. and SOFIA opposed these pleadings on the ground of pendency of the
reconveyance suit with another branch of the Cebu Court of First Instance. All pleadings
remained unacted upon by the PROBATE COURT.
On March 5, 1980, the PROBATE COURT set the hearing on the intrinsic validity of the will
for March 25, 1980, but upon objection of PASTOR, JR. and SOFIA on the e ground of
pendency of the reconveyance suit, no hearing was held on March 25. Instead, the
PROBATE COURT required the parties to submit their respective position papers as to how
much inheritance QUEMADA was entitled to receive under the wig. Pursuant thereto,
PASTOR. JR. and SOFIA submitted their Memorandum of authorities dated April 10, which in
effect showed that determination of how much QUEMADA should receive was still premature.
QUEMADA submitted his Position paper dated April 20, 1980. ATLAS, upon order of the
Court, submitted a sworn statement of royalties paid to the Pastor Group of tsn from June
1966 (when Pastor, Sr. died) to February 1980. The statement revealed that of the mining
claims being operated by ATLAS, 60% pertained to the Pastor Group distributed as follows:
1. A. Pastor, Jr. ...................................40.5%
2. E. Pelaez, Sr. ...................................15.0%

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3. B. Quemada .......................................4.5%
On August 20, 1980, while the reconveyance suit was still being litigated in Branch IX of the
Court of First Instance of Cebu, the PROBATE COURT issued the now assailed Order of
Execution and Garnishment, resolving the question of ownership of the royalties payable by
ATLAS and ruling in effect that the legacy to QUEMADA was not inofficious. [There was
absolutely no statement or claim in the Order that the Probate Order of December 5, 1972
had previously resolved the issue of ownership of the mining rights of royalties thereon, nor
the intrinsic validity of the holographic will.]
The order of August 20, 1980 found that as per the holographic will and a written
acknowledgment of PASTOR, JR. dated June 17, 1962, of the above 60% interest in the
mining claims belonging to the Pastor Group, 42% belonged to PASTOR, SR. and only 33%
belonged to PASTOR, JR. The remaining 25% belonged to E. Pelaez, also of the Pastor
Group. The PROBATE COURT thus directed ATLAS to remit directly to QUEMADA the 42%
royalties due decedent's estate, of which QUEMADA was authorized to retain 75% for himself
as legatee and to deposit 25% with a reputable banking institution for payment of the estate
taxes and other obligations of the estate. The 33% share of PASTOR, JR. and/or his
assignees was ordered garnished to answer for the accumulated legacy of QUEMADA from
the time of PASTOR, SR.'s death, which amounted to over two million pesos.
The order being "immediately executory", QUEMADA succeeded in obtaining a Writ of
Execution and Garnishment on September 4, 1980, and in serving the same on ATLAS on
the same day. Notified of the Order on September 6, 1980, the oppositors sought
reconsideration thereof on the same date primarily on the ground that the PROBATE COURT
gravely abused its discretion when it resolved the question of ownership of the royalties and
ordered the payment of QUEMADA's legacy after prematurely passing upon the intrinsic
validity of the will. In the meantime, the PROBATE COURT ordered suspension of payment of
all royalties due PASTOR, JR. and/or his assignees until after resolution of oppositors' motion
for reconsideration.
Before the Motion for Reconsideration could be resolved, however, PASTOR, JR., this time
joined by his wife Ma. ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR, filed with the Court of Appeals a
Petition for certiorari and Prohibition with a prayer for writ of preliminary injunction (CA-G.R.
No. SP- 11373-R). They assailed the Order dated August 20, 1980 and the writ of execution
and garnishment issued pursuant thereto. The petition was denied on November 18, 1980 on
the grounds (1) that its filing was premature because the Motion for Reconsideration of the
questioned Order was still pending determination by the PROBATE COURT; and (2) that
although "the rule that a motion for reconsideration is prerequisite for an action for certiorari is
never an absolute rule," the Order assailed is "legally valid. "
On December 9, 1980, PASTOR, JR. and his wife moved for reconsideration of the Court of
Appeal's decision of November 18, 1980, calling the attention of the appellate court to
another order of the Probate Court dated November 11, 1980 (i.e., while their petition for

certiorari was pending decision in the appellate court), by which the oppositors' motion for
reconsideration of the Probate Court's Order of August 20, 1980 was denied. [The November
11 Order declared that the questions of intrinsic validity of the will and of ownership over the
mining claims (not the royalties alone) had been finally adjudicated by the final and executory
Order of December 5, 1972, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court,
thereby rendering moot and academic the suit for reconveyance then pending in the Court of
First Instance of Cebu, Branch IX. It clarified that only the 33% share of PASTOR, JR. in the
royalties (less than 7.5% share which he had assigned to QUEMADA before PASTOR, SR.
died) was to be garnished and that as regards PASTOR, SR.'s 42% share, what was ordered
was just the transfer of its possession to the custody of the PROBATE COURT through the
special administrator. Further, the Order granted QUEMADA 6% interest on his unpaid legacy
from August 1980 until fully paid.] Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals denied reconsideration.
Hence, this Petition for Review by certiorari with prayer for a writ of pre y injunction, assailing
the decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 18, 1980 as well as the orders of the
Probate Court dated August 20, 1980, November 11, 1980 and December 17, 1980, Med by
petitioners on March 26, 1981, followed by a Supplemental Petition with Urgent Prayer for
Restraining Order.
In April 1981, the Court (First Division) issued a writ of preliminary injunction, the lifting of
which was denied in the Resolution of the same Division dated October 18, 1982, although
the bond of petitioners was increased from P50,000.00 to P100,000.00.
Between December 21, 1981 and October 12, 1982, private respondent filed seven
successive motions for early resolution. Five of these motions expressly prayed for the
resolution of the question as to whether or not the petition should be given due course.
On October 18, 1982, the Court (First Division) adopted a resolution stating that "the petition
in fact and in effect was given due course when this case was heard on the merits on
September 7, (should be October 21, 1981) and concise memoranda in amplification of their
oral arguments on the merits of the case were filed by the parties pursuant to the resolution of
October 21, 1981 . . . " and denied in a resolution dated December 13, 1982, private
respondent's "Omnibus motion to set aside resolution dated October 18, 1982 and to submit
the matter of due course to the present membership of the Division; and to reassign the case
to another ponente."
Upon Motion for Reconsideration of the October 18, 1982 and December 13, 1982
Resolutions, the Court en banc resolved to CONFIRM the questioned resolutions insofar as
hey resolved that the petition in fact and in effect had been given due course.
II. ISSUES:
Assailed by the petitioners in these proceedings is the validity of the Order of execution and
garnishment dated August 20, 1980 as well as the Orders subsequently issued allegedly to
implement the Probate Order of December 5, 1972, to wit: the Order of November 11, 1980
declaring that the Probate Order of 1972 indeed resolved the issues of ownership and

Page 52 of 74

intrinsic validity of the will, and reiterating the Order of Execution dated August 20, 1980; and
the Order of December 17, 1980 reducing to P2,251,516.74 the amount payable to
QUEMADA representing the royalties he should have received from the death of PASTOR,
SR. in 1966 up to February 1980.
The Probate Order itself, insofar as it merely allowed the holographic will in probate, is not
questioned. But petitioners denounce the Probate Court for having acted beyond its
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion when it issued the assailed Orders. Their
argument runs this way: Before the provisions of the holographic win can be implemented,
the questions of ownership of the mining properties and the intrinsic validity of the
holographic will must first be resolved with finality. Now, contrary to the position taken by the
Probate Court in 1980 i.e., almost eight years after the probate of the will in 1972 the
Probate Order did not resolve the two said issues. Therefore, the Probate Order could not
have resolved and actually did not decide QUEMADA's entitlement to the legacy. This being
so, the Orders for the payment of the legacy in alleged implementation of the Probate Order
of 1972 are unwarranted for lack of basis.
Closely related to the foregoing is the issue raised by QUEMADA The Probate Order of 1972
having become final and executory, how can its implementation (payment of legacy) be
restrained? Of course, the question assumes that QUEMADA's entitlement to the legacy was
finally adjudged in the Probate Order.
On the merits, therefore, the basic issue is whether the Probate Order of December 5, 1972
resolved with finality the questions of ownership and intrinsic validity. A negative finding will
necessarily render moot and academic the other issues raised by the parties, such as the
jurisdiction of the Probate Court to conclusively resolve title to property, and the
constitutionality and repercussions of a ruling that the mining properties in dispute, although
in the name of PASTOR, JR. and his wife, really belonged to the decedent despite the latter's
constitutional disqualification as an alien.
On the procedural aspect, placed in issue is the propriety of certiorari as a means to assail
the validity of the order of execution and the implementing writ.
III. DISCUSSION:
1. Issue of Ownership
(a) In a special proceeding for the probate of a will, the issue by and large is restricted to the
extrinsic validity of the will, i.e., whether the testator, being of sound mind, freely executed the
will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. (Rules of Court, Rule 75, Section 1;
Rule 76, Section 9.) As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the
Probate Court cannot resolve with finality. Thus, for the purpose of determining whether a
certain property should or should not be included in the inventory of estate properties, the
Probate Court may pass upon the title thereto, but such determination is provisional, not
conclusive, and is subject to the final decision in a separate action to resolve title. [3 Moran,

Comments on the Rules of Court (1980 ed.), p. 458; Valero Vda. de Rodriguez vs. Court of
Appeals, 91 SCRA 540.]

Goodrich Bldg., Cebu City, and the Register of Deeds of Cebu or of Toledo City, as the case
may be, for recording.

(b) The rule is that execution of a judgment must conform to that decreed in the dispositive
part of the decision. (Philippine-American Insurance Co. vs. Honorable Flores, 97 SCRA 811.)
However, in case of ambiguity or uncertainty, the body of the decision may be scanned for
guidance in construing the judgment. (Heirs of Presto vs. Galang, 78 SCRA 534; Fabular vs.
Court of Appeals, 119 SCRA 329; Robles vs. Timario. 107 Phil. 809.)

(b) There was a delay in the granting of the letters testamentary or of administration for as a
matter of fact, no regular executor and/or administrator has been appointed up to this time
and - the appointment of a special administrator was, and still is, justified under the
circumstances to take possession and charge of the estate of the deceased in the Philippines
(particularly in Cebu) until the problems causing the delay are decided and the regular
executor and/or administrator appointed.

The Order sought to be executed by the assailed Order of execution is the Probate Order of
December 5, 1972 which allegedly resolved the question of ownership of the disputed mining
properties. The said Probate Order enumerated the issues before the Probate Court, thus:
Unmistakably, there are three aspects in these proceedings: (1) the probate of the
holographic will (2) the intestate estate aspect; and (3) the administration proceedings for the
purported estate of the decedent in the Philippines.
In its broad and total perspective the whole proceedings are being impugned by the
oppositors on jurisdictional grounds, i.e., that the fact of the decedent's residence and
existence of properties in the Philippines have not been established.
Specifically placed in issue with respect to the probate proceedings are: (a) whether or not
the holographic will (Exhibit "J") has lost its efficacy as the last will and testament upon the
death of Alvaro Pastor, Sr. on June 5, 1966, in Cebu City, Philippines; (b) Whether or not the
said will has been executed with all the formalities required by law; and (c) Did the late
presentation of the holographic will affect the validity of the same?
Issues In the Administration Proceedings are as follows: (1) Was the ex- parte appointment of
the petitioner as special administrator valid and proper? (2) Is there any indispensable
necessity for the estate of the decedent to be placed under administration? (3) Whether or
not petition is qualified to be a special administrator of the estate; and (4) Whether or not the
properties listed in the inventory (submitted by the special administrator but not approved by
the Probate Court) are to be excluded.
Then came what purports to be the dispositive portion:
Upon the foregoing premises, this Court rules on and resolves some of the problems and
issues presented in these proceedings, as follows:
(a) The Court has acquired jurisdiction over the probate proceedings as it hereby allows and
approves the so-called holographic will of testator Alvaro Pastor, Sr., executed on July 31,
1961 with respect to its extrinsic validity, the same having been duly authenticated pursuant
to the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. Let, therefore, a certificate of its allowance
be prepared by the Branch Clerk of this Court to be signed by this Presiding Judge, and
attested by the seal of the Court, and thereafter attached to the will, and the will and
certificate filed and recorded by the clerk. Let attested copies of the will and of the certificate
of allowance thereof be sent to Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corporation,

Page 53 of 74

(c) There is a necessity and propriety of a special administrator and later on an executor
and/or administrator in these proceedings, in spite of this Court's declaration that the
oppositors are the forced heirs and the petitioner is merely vested with the character of a
voluntary heir to the extent of the bounty given to him (under) the will insofar as the same will
not prejudice the legitimes of the oppositor for the following reasons:
1. To submit a complete inventory of the estate of the decedent-testator Alvaro Pastor, Sr.
2. To administer and to continue to put to prolific utilization of the properties of the decedent;
3. To keep and maintain the houses and other structures and belonging to the estate, since
the forced heirs are residing in Spain, and prepare them for delivery to the heirs in good order
after partition and when directed by the Court, but only after the payment of estate and
inheritance taxes;
(d) Subject to the outcome of the suit for reconveyance of ownership and possession of real
and personal properties in Civil Case No. 274-T before Branch IX of the Court of First
Instance of Cebu, the intestate estate administration aspect must proceed, unless, however, it
is duly proven by the oppositors that debts of the decedent have already been paid, that there
had been an extrajudicial partition or summary one between the forced heirs, that the legacy
to be given and delivered to the petitioner does not exceed the free portion of the estate of
the testator, that the respective shares of the forced heirs have been fairly apportioned,
distributed and delivered to the two forced heirs of Alvaro Pastor, Sr., after deducting the
property willed to the petitioner, and the estate and inheritance taxes have already been paid
to the Government thru the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The suitability and propriety of allowing petitioner to remain as special administrator or
administrator of the other properties of the estate of the decedent, which properties are not
directly or indirectly affected by the provisions of the holographic will (such as bank deposits,
land in Mactan etc.), will be resolved in another order as separate incident, considering that
this order should have been properly issued solely as a resolution on the issue of whether or
not to allow and approve the aforestated will. (Emphasis supplied.)
Nowhere in the dispositive portion is there a declaration of ownership of specific properties.
On the contrary, it is manifest therein that ownership was not resolved. For it confined itself to
the question of extrinsic validity of the win, and the need for and propriety of appointing a
special administrator. Thus it allowed and approved the holographic win "with respect to its

extrinsic validity, the same having been duly authenticated pursuant to the requisites or
solemnities prescribed by law." It declared that the intestate estate administration aspect
must proceed " subject to the outcome of the suit for reconveyance of ownership and
possession of real and personal properties in Civil Case 274-T before Branch IX of the CFI of
Cebu." [Parenthetically, although the statement refers only to the "intestate" aspect, it defies
understanding how ownership by the estate of some properties could be deemed finally
resolved for purposes of testate administration, but not so for intestate purposes. Can the
estate be the owner of a property for testate but not for intestate purposes?] Then again, the
Probate Order (while indeed it does not direct the implementation of the legacy) conditionally
stated that the intestate administration aspect must proceed "unless . . . it is proven . . . that
the legacy to be given and delivered to the petitioner does not exceed the free portion of the
estate of the testator," which clearly implies that the issue of impairment of legitime (an
aspect of intrinsic validity) was in fact not resolved. Finally, the Probate Order did not rule on
the propriety of allowing QUEMADA to remain as special administrator of estate properties
not covered by the holographic will, "considering that this (Probate) Order should have been
properly issued solely as a resolution on the issue of whether or not to allow and approve the
aforestated will. "

partnership and set apart the share of PASTOR, SR.'s wife in the conjugal partnership
preparatory to the administration and liquidation of the estate of PASTOR, SR. which will
include, among others, the determination of the extent of the statutory usufructuary right of
his wife until her death. * When the disputed Probate order was issued on December 5, 1972,
there had been no liquidation of the community properties of PASTOR, SR. and his wife.

(c) That the Probate Order did not resolve the question of ownership of the properties listed in
the estate inventory was appropriate, considering that the issue of ownership was the very
subject of controversy in the reconveyance suit that was still pending in Branch IX of the
Court of First Instance of Cebu.

(d) Nor had the estate tax been determined and paid, or at least provided for, as of December
5, 1972.

(d) What, therefore, the Court of Appeals and, in effect, the Supreme Court affirmed en
toto when they reviewed the Probable Order were only the matters properly adjudged in the
said Order.

(f) All the foregoing deficiencies considered, it was not possible to determine whether the
legacy of QUEMADA - a fixed share in a specific property rather than an aliquot part of the
entire net estate of the deceased - would produce an impairment of the legitime of the
compulsory heirs.

(e) In an attempt to justify the issuance of the Order of execution dated August 20, 1980, the
Probate Court in its Order of November 11, 1980 explained that the basis for its conclusion
that the question of ownership had been formally resolved by the Probate Order of 1972 are
the findings in the latter Order that (1) during the lifetime of the decedent, he was receiving
royalties from ATLAS; (2) he had resided in the Philippines since pre-war days and was
engaged in the mine prospecting business since 1937 particularly in the City of Toledo; and
(3) PASTOR, JR. was only acting as dummy for his father because the latter was a Spaniard.
Based on the premises laid, the conclusion is obviously far-fetched.
(f) It was, therefore, error for the assailed implementing Orders to conclude that the Probate
Order adjudged with finality the question of ownership of the mining properties and royalties,
and that, premised on this conclusion, the dispositive portion of the said Probate Order
directed the special administrator to pay the legacy in dispute.
2. Issue of Intrinsic Validity of the Holographic Will (a) When PASTOR, SR. died in 1966, he was survived by his wife, aside from his two
legitimate children and one illegitimate son. There is therefore a need to liquidate the conjugal

Page 54 of 74

(b) So, also, as of the same date, there had been no prior definitive determination of the
assets of the estate of PASTOR, SR. There was an inventory of his properties presumably
prepared by the special administrator, but it does not appear that it was ever the subject of a
hearing or that it was judicially approved. The reconveyance or recovery of properties
allegedly owned but not in the name of PASTOR, SR. was still being litigated in another court.
(c) There was no appropriate determination, much less payment, of the debts of the decedent
and his estate. Indeed, it was only in the Probate Order of December 5, 1972 where the
Probate Court ordered that... a notice be issued and published pursuant to the provisions of Rule 86 of the Rules of
Court, requiring all persons having money claims against the decedent to file them in the
office of the Branch Clerk of this Court."

(e) The net assets of the estate not having been determined, the legitime of the forced heirs
in concrete figures could not be ascertained.

(g) Finally, there actually was no determination of the intrinsic validity of the will in other
respects. It was obviously for this reason that as late as March 5, 1980 - more than 7 years
after the Probate Order was issued the Probate Court scheduled on March 25, 1980 a
hearing on the intrinsic validity of the will.
3. Propriety of certiorari
Private respondent challenges the propriety of certiorari as a means to assail the validity of
the disputed Order of execution. He contends that the error, if any, is one of judgment, not
jurisdiction, and properly correctible only by appeal, not certiorari.
Under the circumstances of the case at bar, the challenge must be rejected. Grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction is much too evident in the actuations of the probate
court to be overlooked or condoned.
(a) Without a final, authoritative adjudication of the issue as to what properties compose the
estate of PASTOR, SR. in the face of conflicting claims made by heirs and a non-heir (MA.
ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR) involving properties not in the name of the decedent, and in

the absence of a resolution on the intrinsic validity of the will here in question, there was no
basis for the Probate Court to hold in its Probate Order of 1972, which it did not, that private
respondent is entitled to the payment of the questioned legacy. Therefore, the Order of
Execution of August 20, 1980 and the subsequent implementing orders for the payment of
QUEMADA's legacy, in alleged implementation of the dispositive part of the Probate Order of
December 5, 1972, must fall for lack of basis.
(b) The ordered payment of legacy would be violative of the rule requiring prior liquidation of
the estate of the deceased, i.e., the determination of the assets of the estate and payment of
all debts and expenses, before apportionment and distribution of the residue among the heirs
and legatees. (Bernardo vs. Court of Appeals, 7 SCRA 367.)
(c) Neither has the estate tax been paid on the estate of PASTOR, SR. Payment therefore of
the legacy to QUEMADA would collide with the provision of the National Internal Revenue
Code requiring payment of estate tax before delivery to any beneficiary of his distributive
share of the estate (Section 107 [c])
(d) The assailed order of execution was unauthorized, having been issued purportedly under
Rule 88, Section 6 of the Rules of Court which reads:
Sec. 6. Court to fix contributive shares where devisees, legatees, or heirs have been in
possession. Where devisees, legatees, or heirs have entered into possession of portions
of the estate before the debts and expenses have been settled and paid and have become
liable to contribute for the payment of such debts and expenses, the court having jurisdiction
of the estate may, by order for that purpose, after hearing, settle the amount of their several
liabilities, and order how much and in what manner each person shall contribute, and may
issue execution as circumstances require.
The above provision clearly authorizes execution to enforce payment of debts of estate. A
legacy is not a debt of the estate; indeed, legatees are among those against whom execution
is authorized to be issued.
... 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 circumstances that the Rules of Court expressly specifies that the probate court may
issue execution (a) to satisfy (debts of the estate out of) 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 (c) 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. (Vda. de Valera vs. Ofilada, 59 SCRA 96, 108.)

Page 55 of 74

(d) It is within a court's competence to order the execution of a final judgment; but to order the
execution of a final order (which is not even meant to be executed) by reading into it terms
that are not there and in utter disregard of existing rules and law, is manifest grave abuse of
discretion tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. Consequently, the rule that certiorari may not be
invoked to defeat the right of a prevailing party to the execution of a valid and final judgment,
is inapplicable. For when an order of execution is issued with grave abuse of discretion or is
at variance with the judgment sought to be enforced (PVTA vs. Honorable Gonzales, 92
SCRA 172), certiorari will lie to abate the order of execution.
(e) Aside from the propriety of resorting to certiorari to assail an order of execution which
varies the terms of the judgment sought to be executed or does not find support in the
dispositive part of the latter, there are circumstances in the instant case which justify the
remedy applied for.
Petitioner MA. ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR, wife of PASTOR, JR., is the holder in her own
right of three mining claims which are one of the objects of conflicting claims of ownership.
She is not an heir of PASTOR, SR. and was not a party to the probate proceedings.
Therefore, she could not appeal from the Order of execution issued by the Probate Court. On
the other hand, after the issuance of the execution order, the urgency of the relief she and her
co-petitioner husband seek in the petition for certiorari states against requiring her to go
through the cumbersome procedure of asking for leave to intervene in the probate
proceedings to enable her, if leave is granted, to appeal from the challenged order of
execution which has ordered the immediate transfer and/or garnishment of the royalties
derived from mineral properties of which she is the duly registered owner and/or grantee
together with her husband. She could not have intervened before the issuance of the assailed
orders because she had no valid ground to intervene. The matter of ownership over the
properties subject of the execution was then still being litigated in another court in a
reconveyance suit filed by the special administrator of the estate of PASTOR, SR.
Likewise, at the time petitioner PASTOR, JR. Med the petition for certiorari with the Court of
Appeals, appeal was not available to him since his motion for reconsideration of the
execution order was still pending resolution by the Probate Court. But in the face of actual
garnishment of their major source of income, petitioners could no longer wait for the
resolution of their motion for reconsideration. They needed prompt relief from the injurious
effects of the execution order. Under the circumstances, recourse to certiorari was the
feasible remedy.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. No. SP-11373-R is reversed.
The Order of execution issued by the probate Court dated August 20, 1980, as well as all the
Orders issued subsequent thereto in alleged implementation of the Probate Order dated
December 5, 1972, particularly the Orders dated November 11, 1980 and December 17,
1980, are hereby set aside; and this case is remanded to the appropriate Regional Trial Court
for proper proceedings, subject to the judgment to be rendered in Civil Case No. 274-R.

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

MIRASOL VS. MAGSUSI, L-12166, APRIL 29,1959;


Q : What is the nature of a probate proceeding?A : Probate of a will is proceeding in rem. Itca
nnot be dispensed with and substituted byanother proceeding, judicial or extrajudicial,without
offending public policy. It ismandatory as no will shall pass either real orpersonal property
unless proved and allowedin accordance with the rules of Court. It isimprescriptible, because
it is required bypublic policy and the estate could not haveintended to defeat the same by
applyingthereto the statute of limitation ofactions.(Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phil.
479;Mirasol vs. Magsusi, L-12166, April 29,1959;Sec. 1, rule 75; Art. 838, NCC; see also
Soliviovs.CA, 129SCRA 119[1990])

G.R. No. L-21993

June 21, 1966

ANGELA
RODRIGUEZ,
MARIA
RODRIGUEZ,
ET
AL., petitioners,
vs.HON. JUAN DE BORJA, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch
III, ANATOLIA PANGILINAN and ADELAIDA JACALAN, respondents.
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
Petitioners Angela, Maria, Abelardo and Antonio, surnamed Rodriguez, petition this Court for
a writ of certiorariand prohibition to the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, for its refusal to
grant their motion to dismiss its Special Proceeding No. 1331, which said Court is alleged to
have taken cognizance of without jurisdiction.
The facts and issues are succinctly narrated in the order of the respondent court, dated June
13, 1963 (Petition, Annex 0), in this wise:
It is alleged in the motion to dismiss filed by Angela, Maria, Abelardo and Antonio Rodriguez,
through counsel, that this Court "has no jurisdiction to try the above-entitled case in view of
the pendency of another action for the settlement of the estate of the deceased Rev. Fr.
Celestino Rodriguez in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, namely, Sp. Proceedings No. 3907
entitled 'In the matter of the Intestate Estate of the deceased Rev. Fr. Celestino Rodriguez
which was filed ahead of the instant case".
The records show that Fr. Celestino Rodriguez died on February 12, 1963 in the City of
Manila; that on March 4, 1963, Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan delivered to the
Clerk of Court of Bulacan a purported last will and testament of Fr. Rodriguez; that on March
8, 1963, Maria Rodriguez and Angela Rodriguez, through counsel filed a petition for leave of
court to allow them to examine the alleged will; that on March 11, 1963 before the Court could
act on the petition, the same was withdrawn; that on March 12, 1963, aforementioned
petitioners filed before the Court of First Instance of Rizal a petition for the settlement of the
intestate estate of Fr. Rodriguez alleging, among other things, that Fr. Rodriguez was a
resident of Paraaque, Rizal, and died without leaving a will and praying that Maria
Rodriguez be appointed as Special Administratrix of the estate; and that on March 12, 1963
Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan filed a petition in this Court for the probation of the

Page 56 of 74

will delivered by them on March 4, 1963. It was stipulated by the parties that Fr. Rodriguez
was born in Paraaque, Rizal; that he was Parish priest of the Catholic Church of Hagonoy,
Bulacan, from the year 1930 up to the time of his death in 1963; that he was buried in
Paraaque, and that he left real properties in Rizal, Cavite, Quezon City and Bulacan.
The movants contend that since the intestate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of
Rizal was filed at 8:00 A.M. on March 12, 1963 while the petition for probate was filed in the
Court of First Instance of Bulacan at 11:00 A.M. on the same date, the latter Court has no
jurisdiction to entertain the petition for probate, citing as authority in support thereof the case
of Ongsingco Vda. de Borja vs. Tan and De Borja, G.R. No. 7792, July 27, 1955.
The petitioners Pangilinan and Jacalan, on the other hand, take the stand that the Court of
First Instance of Bulacan acquired jurisdiction over the case upon delivery by them of the will
to the Clerk of Court on March 4, 1963, and that the case in this Court therefore has
precedence over the case filed in Rizal on March 12, 1963.
The Court of First Instance, as previously stated denied the motion to dismiss on the ground
that a difference of a few hours did not entitle one proceeding to preference over the other;
that, as early as March 7, movants were aware of the existence of the purported will of Father
Rodriguez, deposited in the Court of Bulacan, since they filed a petition to examine the same,
and that movants clearly filed the intestate proceedings in Rizal "for no other purpose than to
prevent this Court (of Bulacan) from exercising jurisdiction over the probate proceedings".
Reconsideration having been denied, movants, now petitioners, came to this Court, relying
principally on Rule 73, section 1 of the Rules of Court, and invoking our ruling in Ongsingco
vs. Tan and De Borja, L-7792, July 27, 1955.
SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of
the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved,
or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the
province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign
country, the Court of First Instance of any province which he had estate. The court first taking
cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the
exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, as far as it depends on the
place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a
suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want
of jurisdiction appears on the record.
We find this recourse to be untenable. The jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of
Bulacan became vested upon the delivery thereto of the will of the late Father Rodriguez on
March 4, 1963, even if no petition for its allowance was filed until later, because upon the will
being deposited the court could, motu proprio, have taken steps to fix the time and place for
proving the will, and issued the corresponding notices conformably to what is prescribed by
section 3, Rule 76, of the Revised Rules of Court (Section 3, Rule 77, of the old Rules):

Page 57 of 74

SEC. 3. Court to appoint time for proving will. Notice thereof to be published. When a will
is delivered to, or a petition for the allowance of a will is filed in, the Court having jurisdiction,
such Court shall fix a time and place for proving the will when all concerned may appear to
contest the allowance thereof, and shall cause notice of such time and place to be published
three (3) weeks successively, previous to the time appointed, in a newspaper of general
circulation in the province.
But no newspaper publication shall be made where the petition for probate has been filed by
the testator himself.
The use of the disjunctive in the words "when a will is delivered to OR a petition for the
allowance of a will is filed" plainly indicates that the court may act upon the mere deposit
therein of a decedent's testament, even if no petition for its allowance is as yet filed. Where
the petition for probate is made after the deposit of the will, the petition is deemed to relate
back to the time when the will was delivered. Since the testament of Fr. Rodriguez was
submitted and delivered to the Court of Bulacan on March 4, while petitioners initiated
intestate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Rizal only on March 12, eight days
later, the precedence and exclusive jurisdiction of the Bulacan court is
incontestable.1wph1.t
But, petitioners object, section 3 of revised Rule 76 (old Rule 77) speaks of a will being
delivered to "the Court having jurisdiction," and in the case at bar the Bulacan court did not
have it because the decedent was domiciled in Rizal province. We can not disregard Fr.
Rodriguez's 33 years of residence as parish priest in Hagonoy, Bulacan (1930-1963); but
even if we do so, and consider that he retained throughout some animus revertendi to the
place of his birth in Paraaque, Rizal, that detail would not imply that the Bulacan court
lacked jurisdiction. As ruled in previous decisions, the power to settle decedents' estates is
conferred by law upon all courts of first instance, and the domicile of the testator only affects
the venue but not the jurisdiction of the Court (In re Kaw Singco, 74 Phil. 239; Reyes vs. Diaz,
73 Phil. 484; Bernabe vs. Vergara, 73 Phil. 676). Neither party denies that the late Fr.
Rodriguez is deceased, or that he left personal property in Hagonoy, province of Bulacan
(t.s.n. p. 46, hearing of June 11, 1963, Annex "H", Petition, Rec., p. 48). That is sufficient in
the case before us.
In the Kaw Singco case (ante) this Court ruled that:
"... If we consider such question of residence as one affecting the jurisdiction of the trial court
over the subject-matter, the effect shall be that the whole proceedings including all decisions
on the different incidents which have arisen in court will have to be annulled and the same
case will have to be commenced anew before another court of the same rank in another
province. That this is of mischievous effect in the prompt administration of justice is too
obvious to require comment. (Cf. Tanunchuan vs. Dy Buncio & Co., G.R. No. 48206,
December 31, 1942). Furthermore, section 600 of Act No. 190, providing that the estate of a
deceased person shall be settled in the province where he had last resided, could not have

been intended as defining the jurisdiction of the probate court over the subject matter,
because such legal provision is contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with
procedural matters, and, as we have said time and again, procedure is one thing and
jurisdiction over the subject matter is another. (Attorney General vs. Manila Railroad
Company, 20 Phil. 523.) The law of jurisdiction Act No. 136, Section 56, No. 5 confers
upon Courts of First Instance jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of the place of
residence of the deceased.1 Since, however, there are many Courts of First Instance in the
Philippines, the Law of Procedure, Act No. 190, section 600, fixes the venue or the place
where each case shall be brought. Thus, the place of residence of the deceased is not an
element of jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue. And it is upon this ground
that in the new Rules of Court the province where the estate of a deceased person shall be
settled is properly called "venue" (Rule 75, section 1.) Motion for reconsideration is denied.

(4) When the heir instituted is incapable of succeeding, except in cases provided in this Code.

The estate proceedings having been initiated in the Bulacan Court of First Instance ahead of
any other, that court is entitled to assume jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts, even
if it were a case of wrong venue by express provisions of Rule 73 (old Rule 75) of the Rules
of Court, since the same enjoins that:

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF RICARDO B. BONILLA


deceased,
MARCELA
RODELAS, petitioner-appellant,
vs.
AMPARO
ARANZA,
ET
AL., oppositors-appellees, ATTY.
LORENZO
SUMULONG, intervenor.

The Court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent shall exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. (Sec. 1)

Therefore, as ruled in Castro, et al. vs. Martinez, 10 Phil. 307, "only after final decision as to
the nullity of testate succession could an intestate succession be instituted in the form of preestablished action". The institution of intestacy proceedings in Rizal may not thus proceed
while the probate of the purported will of Father Rodriguez is pending.
We rule that the Bulacan Court of First Instance was entitled to priority in the settlement of the
estate in question, and that in refusing to dismiss the probate. proceedings, said court did not
commit any abuse of discretion. It is the proceedings in the Rizal Court that should be
discontinued.
Wherefore, the writ of certiorari applied for is denied. Costs against petitioners Rodriguez.
G.R. No. L-58509 December 7, 1982

Luciano A. Joson for petitioner-appellant.

This disposition presupposes that two or more courts have been asked to take cognizance of
the settlement of the estate. Of them only one could be of proper venue, yet the rule grants
precedence to that Court whose jurisdiction is first invoked, without taking venue into account.

Cesar Paralejo for oppositor-appellee.

There are two other reasons that militate against the success of petitioners. One is that their
commencing intestate proceedings in Rizal, after they learned of the delivery of the
decedent's will to the Court of Bulacan, was in bad faith, patently done with a view to
divesting the latter court of the precedence awarded it by the Rules. Certainly the order of
priority established in Rule 73 (old Rule 75) was not designed to convert the settlement of
decedent's estates into a race between applicants, with the administration of the properties
as the price for the fleetest.

This case was certified to this Tribunal by the Court of Appeals for final determination
pursuant to Section 3, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court.

The other reason is that, in our system of civil law, intestate succession is only subsidiary or
subordinate to the testate, since intestacy only takes place in the absence of a valid operative
will. Says Article 960 of the Civil Code of the Philippines:
ART. 960. Legal or intestate succession takes place:
(1) If a person dies without a will, or with a void will, or one which has subsequently lost its validity;
(2) When the will does not institute an heir to, or dispose of all the property belonging to the testator. In
such case, legal succession shall take place only with respect to the property in which the testator has
not disposed;
(3) If the suspensive condition attached to the institution of heir does not happen or is not fulfilled, or if
the heir dies before the testator, or repudiates the inheritance, there being no substitution, and no right
of accretion takes place;

Page 58 of 74

RELOVA, J.:

As found by the Court of Appeals:


... On January 11, 1977, appellant filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal for
the probate of the holographic will of Ricardo B. Bonilla and the issuance of letters
testamentary in her favor. The petition, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 8432, was opposed by the
appellees Amparo Aranza Bonilla, Wilferine Bonilla Treyes Expedita Bonilla Frias and
Ephraim Bonilla on the following grounds:
(1) Appellant was estopped from claiming that the deceased left a will by failing to produce
the will within twenty days of the death of the testator as required by Rule 75, section 2 of the
Rules of Court;
(2) The alleged copy of the alleged holographic will did not contain a disposition of property
after death and was not intended to take effect after death, and therefore it was not a will
(3) The alleged hollographic will itself,and not an alleged copy thereof, must be produced,
otherwise it would produce no effect, as held in Gam v. Yap, 104 Phil. 509; and
(4 ) The deceased did not leave any will, holographic or otherwise, executed and attested as
required by law.

The appellees likewise moved for the consolidation of the case with another case Sp. Proc.
No, 8275). Their motion was granted by the court in an order dated April 4, 1977.
On November 13, 1978, following the consolidation of the cases, the appellees moved again
to dismiss the petition for the probate of the will. They argued that:
(1) The alleged holographic was not a last will but merely an instruction as to the
management and improvement of the schools and colleges founded by decedent Ricardo B.
Bonilla; and
(2) Lost or destroyed holographic wills cannot be proved by secondary evidence unlike
ordinary wills.
Upon opposition of the appellant, the motion to dismiss was denied by the court in its order of
February 23, 1979.
The appellees then filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that the order was
contrary to law and settled pronouncements and rulings of the Supreme Court, to which the
appellant in turn filed an opposition. On July 23, 1979, the court set aside its order of
February 23, 1979 and dismissed the petition for the probate of the will of Ricardo B. Bonilla.
The court said:
... It is our considered opinion that once the original copy of the holographic will is lost, a copy
thereof cannot stand in lieu of the original.
In the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 Phil. 509, 522, the Supreme Court held that 'in the matter of
holographic wills the law, it is reasonable to suppose, regards the document itself as the
material proof of authenticity of said wills.
MOREOVER, this Court notes that the alleged holographic will was executed on January 25,
1962 while Ricardo B. Bonilla died on May 13, 1976. In view of the lapse of more than 14
years from the time of the execution of the will to the death of the decedent, the fact that the
original of the will could not be located shows to our mind that the decedent had discarded
before his death his allegedly missing Holographic Will.
Appellant's motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, an appeal to the Court of Appeals
in which it is contended that the dismissal of appellant's petition is contrary to law and wellsettled jurisprudence.
On July 7, 1980, appellees moved to forward the case to this Court on the ground that the
appeal does not involve question of fact and alleged that the trial court committed the
following assigned errors:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT A LOST HOLOGRAPHIC WILL MAY
NOT BE PROVED BY A COPY THEREOF;
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE DECEDENT HAS DISCARDED
BEFORE HIS DEATH THE MISSING HOLOGRAPHIC WILL;
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING APPELLANT'S WILL.

Page 59 of 74

The only question here is whether a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can
be proved by means of a photostatic copy. Pursuant to Article 811 of the Civil Code, probate
of holographic wills is the allowance of the will by the court after its due execution has been
proved. The probate may be uncontested or not. If uncontested, at least one Identifying
witness is required and, if no witness is available, experts may be resorted to. If contested, at
least three Identifying witnesses are required. However, if the holographic will has been lost
or destroyed and no other copy is available, the will can not be probated because the best
and only evidence is the handwriting of the testator in said will. It is necessary that there be a
comparison between sample handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will.
But, a photostatic copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because
comparison can be made with the standard writings of the testator. In the case of Gam vs.
Yap, 104 PHIL. 509, the Court ruled that "the execution and the contents of a lost or
destroyed holographic will may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have
seen and/or read such will. The will itself must be presented; otherwise, it shall produce no
effect. The law regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity." But, in Footnote
8 of said decision, it says that "Perhaps it may be proved by a photographic or photostatic
copy. Even a mimeographed or carbon copy; or by other similar means, if any, whereby the
authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the
probate court," Evidently, the photostatic or xerox copy of the lost or destroyed holographic
will may be admitted because then the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased can be
determined by the probate court.
WHEREFORE, the order of the lower court dated October 3, 1979, denying appellant's
motion for reconsideration dated August 9, 1979, of the Order dated July 23, 1979, dismissing
her petition to approve the will of the late Ricardo B. Bonilla, is hereby SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee, Actg. C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-26317

January 29, 1927

Estate of Miguel Mamuyac, deceased.


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

Page 60 of 74

testator Miguel Mamuyac, who assured Carlos Bejar that inasmuch as he had sold him a
house and the land where the house was built, he had to cancel it (the will of 1919),
executing thereby a new testament. Narcisa Gago in a way corroborates the testimony of
Jose Fenoy, admitting that the will executed by the deceased (Miguel Mamuyac) in 1919 was
found in the possession of father Miguel Mamuyac. The opponents have successfully
established the fact that father Miguel Mamuyac had executed in 1920 another will. The same
Narcisa Gago, the sister of the deceased, who was living in the house with him, when crossexamined by attorney for the opponents, testified that the original Exhibit A could not be
found. For the foregoing consideration and for the reason that the original of Exhibit A has
been cancelled by the deceased father Miguel Mamuyac, the court disallows the probate of
Exhibit A for the applicant." From that order the petitioner appealed.
The appellant contends that the lower court committed an error in not finding from the
evidence that the will in question had been executed with all the formalities required by the
law; that the same had been revoked and cancelled in 1920 before his death; that the said
will was a mere carbon copy and that the oppositors were not estopped from alleging that
fact.
With reference to the said cancellation, it may be stated that there is positive proof, not
denied, which was accepted by the lower court, that will in question had been cancelled in
1920. The law does not require any evidence of the revocation or cancellation of a will to be
preserved. It therefore becomes difficult at times to prove the revocation or cancellation of
wills. The fact that such cancellation or revocation has taken place must either remain
unproved of be inferred from evidence showing that after due search the original will cannot
be found. Where a will which cannot be found is shown to have been in the possession of the
testator, when last seen, the presumption is, in the absence of other competent evidence, that
the same was cancelled or destroyed. The same presumption arises where it is shown that
the testator had ready access to the will and it cannot be found after his death. It will not be
presumed that such will has been destroyed by any other person without the knowledge or
authority of the testator. The force of the presumption of cancellation or revocation by the
testator, while varying greatly, being weak or strong according to the circumstances, is never
conclusive, but may be overcome by proof that the will was not destroyed by the testator with
intent to revoke it.
In view of the fat that the original will of 1919 could not be found after the death of the testator
Miguel Mamuyac and in view of the positive proof that the same had been cancelled, we are
forced to the conclusion that the conclusions of the lower court are in accordance with the
weight of the evidence. In a proceeding to probate a will the burden of proofs is upon the
proponent clearly to establish not only its execution but its existence. Having proved its
execution by the proponents, the burden is on the contestant to show that it has been
revoked. In a great majority of instances in which wills are destroyed for the purpose of
revoking them there is no witness to the act of cancellation or destruction and all evidence of
its cancellation perishes with the testator. Copies of wills should be admitted by the courts

Page 61 of 74

with great caution. When it is proven, however, by proper testimony that a will was executed
in duplicate and each copy was executed with all the formalities and requirements of the law,
then the duplicate may be admitted in evidence when it is made to appear that the original
has been lost and was not cancelled or destroyed by the testator. (Borromeo vs. Casquijo,
G.R. No. L-26063.)1
After a careful examination of the entire record, we are fully persuaded that the will presented
for probate had been cancelled by the testator in 1920. Therefore the judgment appealed
from is hereby affirmed. And without any finding as to costs, it is so ordered.
G.R. No. 18600

March 9, 1922

B. E. JOHANNES, husband of Carmen Theodora Johannes, deceased, as a


administrator;
CARLOS D'ALMEIDA and IDA JOHANNES, with her husband, J. E.
JOHANNES, relators,
vs.
Honorable GEORGE R. HARVEY, as judge of First Instance of Manila, ALFREDO
D'ALMEIDA, brother of Carmen Johannes, as administrator, and PHILIPPINE TRUST
COMPANY, as late guardian for a certain cash deposit of Carmen
Johannes, respondent.
Amzi
B.
Kelly
Fisher & Dewitt and Francis B. Mahoney for respondents.

for

relators.

MALCOLM, J.:
The relevant facts disclosed by this petition for certiorari and the return thereto may be stated
as follows:
Mrs. Carmen Theodora Johannes nee Carmen D'Almeida, died intestate in Singapore, Straits
Settlements, on August 31, 1921. Of her immediate family there remained the husband, B. E.
Johannes, the brothers, Frederick Charles D'Almeida and Alfred D'Almeida, and the sister,
Ida D'Almeida Johannes. Of these, the husband, the brother Frederick, and the sister Ida,
were residents of Singapore, while the brother Alfred was in Manila. The Singapore heirs
apparently joined in asking that letters of administration be granted by the Supreme Court of
the Straits Settlements to B. E. Johannes, the lawful husband of the deceased. At least, on
September 19, 1921, the husband of the deceased. At least, on September 19, 1921, the
husband was named the administrator of the property of the deceased wife, which was locally
situate within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements. (Under the
British law [22 & 23 Charles II c 10, 29 Charles II c 3, and James II c 17], it would seem that
the husband is entitled to the whole of the estate of his wife if she die intestate to the
exclusive of any other next of kin.) On October 1, 1921, the brother Alfred D' Almeida was, on
his petition, appointed administrator of the Manila estate of the deceased consisting of
P109,732.55. This sum it appears, was on deposit in the Manila banks under and by virtue of
guardianship proceedings for the late Carmen Theodora Johannes, which were finally

terminated by the discharge of the guardian, the Philippine Trust Company, on January 16,
1922.
The burden of the relator's contention is that the Honorable George R. Harvey, as judge of
First Instance of the City of Manila, has acted in excess of his jurisdiction in appointing Alfred
D'Almeida administrator of the funds of the estate on deposit in the Philippines, and that an
administration in the jurisdiction is unnecessary. Accordingly, relators pray the court to annul
the appointment of Alfred D'Almeida and to issue an order directing the Judge of First
Instance to have placed to the credit of B. E. Johannes as administrator of the estate of
Carmen Theodora Johannes all of the funds of the late Carmen D'Almeida Johannes, now on
deposit and subject to the order of the court, with P5,000 as damages. The respondents,
Judge Harvey, and the administrator Alfred D'Almeida, in compliance with the order to show
cause why the writ should not issue, contend that the respondent judge has not in any
manner acted in excess of the jurisdiction duly conferred upon and exercised by him in the
manner provided by law, and that an order appointing an administrator is a final and
appealable order.
Certain general observations may possibly serve to clarify the situation.
It is often necessary to have more than one administration of an estate. When a person dies
intestate owning property in the country of his domicile as well as in a foreign country,
administration is had in both countries. That which is granted in the jurisdiction of decedent's
last domicile is termed the principal administration, while any other administration is termed
the ancillary administration. The reason for the latter is because a grant of administration
does not ex proprio vigore have any effect beyond the limits of the country in which it is
granted. Hence, an administrator appointed in a foreign state has no authority in the United
States. The ancillary administration is proper, whenever a person dies, leaving in a country
other than that of his las domicile, property to be administered in the nature of assets of the
decedent, liable for his individual debts or to be distributed among his heirs. (23 C. J.,
1010, et seq.; 24 C. J., 1109, et seq.; Wilkins vs. Ellett [1882], 108 U. S., 256;
Perez vs.Aguerria [1901], 1 Porto Rico Fed., 443; Vaughn vs. Barret [1833], 5 Vt., 333.)
The principal administration in this instance is that at the domicile of the late Carmen
Theodora Johannes in Singapore, Straits Settlements. What is sought in the Philippine
Islands is an ancillary administration subsidiary to the domiciliary administration, conformable
to the provisions of sections 601, 602, and 603 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The proper
course of procedure would be for the ancillary administrator to pay the claims of creditors, if
there be any, settle the accounts, and remit the surplus to the domiciliary jurisdiction, for
distribution among the next of kin. Such administration appears to be required in this
jurisdiction since the provisions of section 596 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which permit of
the settlement of certain estates without legal proceedings, have not been met. The decision
of this court in Baldemor vs. Malangyaon ([1916]), 34 Phil., 368), on which relators rely, is
then not in point because predicated directly on the provisions of the section last cited.

Page 62 of 74

It is almost a universal rule to give the surviving spouse a preference when an administrator
is to be appointed, unless for strong reasons it is deemed advisable to name someone else.
This preference has particular force under Spanish law precedents. (4 Escriche, Diccionario
de Legislacion y Jurisprudencia, 1085.) However, the Code of Civil Procedure, in section 642,
while naming the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, as one to whom
administration can be granted, leaves this to the discretion of the court to determine, for it
may be found that the surviving spouse is unsuitable for the responsibility. Moreover,
nonresidence is a factor to be considered in determining the propriety of the appointment,
and in this connection, it is to be noted that the husband of the deceased, the administrator of
the principal administration, resides in Singapore. Undoubtedly, if the husband should come
into this jurisdiction, the court would give consideration to this petition that he be named the
ancillary administrator for local purposes. Ancillary letters should ordinarily be granted to the
domicilliary representative, if he applies therefor, or to his nominee, or attorney; but in the
absence of express statutory requirement the court may in its discretion appoint some other
person. (24 C. J., 1114.)
There is still another aspect to the case. This is that pursuant to section 783 of the Code of
Civil Procedure, an order of a Court of First Instance appointing an administration of the
estate of a deceased person constitutes a final determination of the rights of the parties
thereunder, within the meaning of the statute, and is appealable. (Sy Hong Eng vs. Sy Lioc
Suy [1907], 8 Phil., 594.)
As we reach the conclusion that the Court of First Instance has not acted in excess of its
jurisdiction, and as there in an appeal, certiorari will not lie. Accordingly, the writ prayed for
cannot be granted. Costs against the relators. So ordered.
Araullo, C.J., Street, Avancea, Villamor, Ostrand, Johns and Romualdez, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 183053

October 10, 2012

EMILIO
A.M.
vs.
ISABEL COJUANGCO-SUNTAY, Respondent.

SUNTAY

III, Petitioner,

RESOLUTION
PEREZ, J.:
The now overly prolonged, all-too familiar and too-much-stretched imbroglio over the estate
of Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay has continued. We issued a Decision in the dispute as in Inter
Caetera.1 We now find a need to replace the decision.
Before us is a Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay
(respondent Isabel) of our Decision2 in G.R. No. 183053 dated 16 June 2010, directing the
issuance of joint letters of administration to both petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III (Emilio III)
and respondent. The dispositive portion thereof reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 74949 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Letters of Administration over the estate of
decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay shall issue to both petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III and
respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay upon payment by each of a bond to be set by the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, Bulacan, in Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M95. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, Bulacan is likewise directed to make a
determination and to declare the heirs of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay according to
the actual factual milieu as proven by the parties, and all other persons with legal interest in
the subject estate. It is further directed to settle the estate of decedent Cristina AguinaldoSuntay with dispatch. No costs.3
We are moved to trace to its roots the controversy between the parties.
The decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay (Cristina) died intestate on 4 June 1990. Cristina
was survived by her spouse, Dr. Federico Suntay (Federico) and five grandchildren: three
legitimate grandchildren, including herein respondent, Isabel; and two illegitimate
grandchildren, including petitioner Emilio III, all by Federicos and Cristinas only child, Emilio
A. Suntay (Emilio I), who predeceased his parents.

Page 63 of 74

The illegitimate grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita, were both reared from infancy by the
spouses Federico and Cristina. Their legitimate grandchildren, Isabel and her siblings,
Margarita and Emilio II, lived with their mother Isabel Cojuangco, following the separation of
Isabels parents, Emilio I and Isabel Cojuangco. Isabels parents, along with her paternal
grandparents, were involved in domestic relations cases, including a case for parricide filed
by Isabel Cojuangco against Emilio I. Emilio I was eventually acquitted.
In retaliation, Emilio I filed a complaint for legal separation against his wife, charging her
among others with infidelity. The trial court declared as null and void and of no effect the
marriage of Emilio I and Isabel Cojuangco on the finding that:
From February 1965 thru December 1965 plaintiff was confined in the Veterans memorial
Hospital. Although at the time of the trial of parricide case (September 8, 1967) the patient
was already out of the hospital, he continued to be under observation and treatment.
It is the opinion of Dr. Aramil that the symptoms of the plaintiffs mental aberration classified as
schizophernia (sic) had made themselves manifest even as early as 1955; that the disease
worsened with time, until 1965 when he was actually placed under expert neuro-psychiatrist
(sic) treatment; that even if the subject has shown marked progress, the remains bereft of
adequate understanding of right and wrong.
There is no controversy that the marriage between the parties was effected on July 9, 1958,
years after plaintiffs mental illness had set in. This fact would justify a declaration of nullity of
the marriage under Article 85 of the Civil Code which provides:
Art. 95. (sic) A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes after (sic) existing at
the time of the marriage:
xxxx
(3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to reason, freely
cohabited with the other as husband or wife.
There is a dearth of proof at the time of the marriage defendant knew about the mental
condition of plaintiff; and there is proof that plaintiff continues to be without sound reason. The
charges in this very complaint add emphasis to the findings of the neuro-psychiatrist handling
the patient, that plaintiff really lives more in fancy than in reality, a strong indication of
schizophernia (sic).4
Intent on maintaining a relationship with their grandchildren, Federico and Isabel filed a
complaint for visitation rights to spend time with Margarita, Emilio II, and Isabel in the same
special lower court. The Juvenile Domestic Relations Court in Quezon City (JDRC-QC)
granted their prayer for one hour a month of visitation rights which was subsequently reduced
to thirty minutes, and ultimately stopped, because of respondent Isabels testimony in court
that her grandparents visits caused her and her siblings stress and anxiety.5
On 27 September 1993, more than three years after Cristinas death, Federico adopted his
illegitimate grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita.

Page 64 of 74

On 26 October 1995, respondent Isabel, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Malolos,
Bulacan, a petition for the issuance of letters of administration over Cristinas estate docketed
as Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. Federico, opposed the petition, pointing out that:
(1) as the surviving spouse of the decedent, he should be appointed administrator of the
decedents estate; (2) as part owner of the mass of conjugal properties left by the decedent,
he must be accorded preference in the administration thereof; (3) Isabel and her siblings had
been alienated from their grandparents for more than thirty (30) years; (4) the enumeration of
heirs in the petition was incomplete as it did not mention the other children of his son, Emilio
III and Nenita; (5) even before the death of his wife, Federico had administered their conjugal
properties, and thus, is better situated to protect the integrity of the decedents estate; (6) the
probable value of the estate as stated in the petition was grossly overstated; and (7) Isabels
allegation that some of the properties are in the hands of usurpers is untrue.
Federico filed a Motion to Dismiss Isabels petition for letters of administration on the ground
that Isabel had no right of representation to the estate of Cristina, she being an illegitimate
grandchild of the latter as a result of Isabels parents marriage being declared null and void.
However, in Suntay v. Cojuangco-Suntay, we categorically declared that Isabel and her
siblings, having been born of a voidable marriage as opposed to a void marriage based on
paragraph 3, Article 85 of the Civil Code, were legitimate children of Emilio I, who can all
represent him in the estate of their legitimate grandmother, the decedent, Cristina.
Undaunted by the set back, Federico nominated Emilio III to administer the decedents estate
on his behalf in the event letters of administration issues to Federico. Consequently, Emilio III
filed an Opposition-In-Intervention, echoing the allegations in his grandfathers opposition,
alleging that Federico, or in his stead, Emilio III, was better equipped than respondent to
administer and manage the estate of the decedent, Cristina.
On 13 November 2000, Federico died.
Almost a year thereafter or on 9 November 2001, the trial court rendered a decision
appointing Emilio III as administrator of decedent Cristinas intestate estate:
WHEREFORE, the petition of Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay is DENIED and the Opposition-inIntervention is GRANTED.
Accordingly, the Intervenor, Emilio A.M. Suntay, III (sic) is hereby appointed administrator of
the estate of the decedent Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay, who shall enter upon the execution of
his trust upon the filing of a bond in the amount of P 200,000.00, conditioned as follows:
(1) To make and return within three (3) months, a true and complete inventory;
(2) To administer the estate and to pay and discharge all debts, legatees, and charge on the
same, or dividends thereon;
(3) To render a true and just account within one (1) year, and at any other time when required
by the court, and
(4) To perform all orders of the Court.

Once the said bond is approved by the court, let Letters of Administration be issued in his
favor.6
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the decision of the RTC, revoked the
Letters of Administration issued to Emilio III, and appointed respondent as administratrix of
the subject estate:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the assailed decision dated November 9, 2001 of
Branch 78, Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan in SPC No. 117-M-95 is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE and the letters of administration issued by the said court to Emilio A.M. Suntay III,
if any, are consequently revoked. Petitioner Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay is hereby appointed
administratrix of the intestate estate of Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay. Let letters of administration
be issued in her favor upon her filing of a bond in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand
(P 200,000.00) Pesos.7
As previously adverted to, on appeal by certiorari, we reversed and set aside the ruling of the
appellate court. We decided to include Emilio III as co-administrator of Cristinas estate,
giving weight to his interest in Federicos estate. In ruling for co-administration between
Emilio III and
Isabel, we considered that:
1. Emilio III was reared from infancy by the decedent, Cristina, and her husband, Federico,
who both acknowledged him as their grandchild;
2. Federico claimed half of the properties included in the estate of the decedent, Cristina, as
forming part of their conjugal partnership of gains during the subsistence of their marriage;
3. Cristinas properties, forming part of her estate, are still commingled with those of her
husband, Federico, because her share in the conjugal partnership remains undetermined and
unliquidated; and
4. Emilio III is a legally adopted child of Federico, entitled to share in the distribution of the
latters estate as a direct heir, one degree from Federico, and not simply in representation of
his deceased illegitimate father, Emilio I.
In this motion, Isabel pleads for total affirmance of the Court of Appeals Decision in favor of
her sole administratorship based on her status as a legitimate grandchild of Cristina, whose
estate she seeks to administer.
Isabel contends that the explicit provisions of Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court on the
order of preference for the issuance of letters of administration cannot be ignored and that
Article 992 of the Civil Code must be followed. Isabel further asserts that Emilio III had
demonstrated adverse interests and disloyalty to the estate, thus, he does not deserve to
become a co-administrator thereof.
Specifically, Isabel bewails that: (1) Emilio III is an illegitimate grandchild and therefore, not
an heir of the decedent; (2) corollary thereto, Emilio III, not being a "next of kin" of the
decedent, has no interest in the estate to justify his appointment as administrator thereof; (3)

Page 65 of 74

Emilio IIIs actuations since his appointment as administrator by the RTC on 9 November
2001 emphatically demonstrate the validity and wisdom of the order of preference in Section
6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court; and (4) there is no basis for joint administration as there are
no "opposing parties or factions to be represented."
To begin with, the case at bar reached us on the issue of who, as between Emilio III and
Isabel, is better qualified to act as administrator of the decedents estate. We did not choose.
Considering merely his demonstrable interest in the subject estate, we ruled that Emilio III
should likewise administer the estate of his illegitimate grandmother, Cristina, as a coadministrator. In the context of this case, we have to make a choice and therefore, reconsider
our decision of 16 June 2010.
The general rule in the appointment of administrator of the estate of a decedent is laid down
in Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court:
SEC. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. If no executor is named in the
will, or the executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give bond, or a
person dies intestate, administration shall be granted:
(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or both, in the
discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or next of kin,
requests to have appointed, if competent and willing to serve;
(b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or the person
selected by them, be incompetent or unwilling, or if the husband or widow, or next of kin,
neglects for thirty (30) days after the death of the person to apply for administration or to
request that administration be granted to some other person, it may be granted to one or
more of the principal creditors, if competent and willing to serve;
(c) If there is not such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be granted to such other
person as the court may select.
Textually, the rule lists a sequence to be observed, an order of preference, in the appointment
of an administrator. This order of preference, which categorically seeks out the surviving
spouse, the next of kin and the creditors in the appointment of an administrator, has been
reinforced in jurisprudence.8
The paramount consideration in the appointment of an administrator over the estate of a
decedent is the prospective administrators interest in the estate. 9 This is the same
consideration which Section 6, Rule 78 takes into account in establishing the order of
preference in the appointment of administrator for the estate. The rationale behind the rule is
that those who will reap the benefit of a wise, speedy and economical administration of the
estate, or, in the alternative, suffer the consequences of waste, improvidence or
mismanagement, have the highest interest and most influential motive to administer the
estate correctly.10 In all, given that the rule speaks of an order of preference, the person to be
appointed administrator of a decedents estate must demonstrate not only an interest in the
estate, but an interest therein greater than any other candidate.

To illustrate, the preference bestowed by law to the surviving spouse in the administration of a
decedents estate presupposes the surviving spouses interest in the conjugal partnership or
community property forming part of the decedents estate. 11 Likewise, a surviving spouse is a
compulsory heir of a decedent12 which evinces as much, if not more, interest in administering
the entire estate of a decedent, aside from her share in the conjugal partnership or absolute
community property.
It is to this requirement of observation of the order of preference in the appointment of
administrator of a decedents estate, that the appointment of co-administrators has been
allowed, but as an exception. We again refer to Section 6(a) of Rule 78 of the Rules of Court
which specifically states that letters of administration may be issued to both the surviving
spouse and the next of kin. In addition and impliedly, we can refer to Section 2 of Rule 82 of
the Rules of Court which say that "x x x when an executor or administrator dies, resigns, or is
removed, the remaining executor or administrator may administer the trust alone, x x x."
In a number of cases, we have sanctioned the appointment of more than one administrator
for the benefit of the estate and those interested therein. 13 We recognized that the
appointment of administrator of the estate of a decedent or the determination of a persons
suitability for the office of judicial administrator rests, to a great extent, in the sound judgment
of the court exercising the power of appointment.14
Under certain circumstances and for various reasons well-settled in Philippine and American
jurisprudence, we have upheld the appointment of co-administrators: (1) to have the benefits
of their judgment and perhaps at all times to have different interests represented; 15 (2) where
justice and equity demand that opposing parties or factions be represented in the
management of the estate of the deceased; (3) where the estate is large or, from any cause,
an intricate and perplexing one to settle;16 (4) to have all interested persons satisfied and the
representatives to work in harmony for the best interests of the estate; 17 and when a person
entitled to the administration of an estate desires to have another competent person
associated with him in the office.18
In the frequently cited Matias v. Gonzales, we dwelt on the appointment of special coadministrators during the pendency of the appeal for the probate of the decedents will.
Pending the probate thereof, we recognized Matias special interest in the decedents estate
as universal heir and executrix designated in the instrument who should not be excluded in
the administration thereof. Thus, we held that justice and equity demands that the two (2)
factions among the non-compulsory heirs of the decedent, consisting of an instituted heir
(Matias) and intestate heirs (respondents thereat), should be represented in the management
of the decedents estate.19
Another oft-cited case is Vda. de Dayrit v. Ramolete, where we held that "inasmuch as
petitioner-wife owns one-half of the conjugal properties and that she, too, is a compulsory heir
of her husband, to deprive her of any hand in the administration of the estate prior to the
probate of the will would be unfair to her proprietary interests." 20

Page 66 of 74

Hewing closely to the aforementioned cases is our ruling in Ventura v. Ventura 21 where we
allowed the appointment of the surviving spouse and legitimate children of the decedent as
co-administrators. However, we drew a distinction between the heirs categorized as next of
kin, the nearest of kin in the category being preferred, thus:
In the case at bar, the surviving spouse of the deceased Gregorio Ventura is Juana Cardona
while the next of kin are: Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura and Maria and Miguel Ventura. The
"next of kin" has been defined as those persons who are entitled under the statute of
distribution to the decedents property (citations omitted). It is generally said that "the nearest
of kin, whose interest in the estate is more preponderant, is preferred in the choice of
administrator. Among members of a class the strongest ground for preference is the amount
or preponderance of interest. As between next of kin, the nearest of kin is to be preferred."
(citations omitted)
As decided by the lower court and sustained by the Supreme Court, Mercedes and Gregoria
Ventura are the legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his wife, the late Paulina
Simpliciano. Therefore, as the nearest of kin of Gregorio Ventura, they are entitled to
preference over the illegitimate children of Gregorio Ventura, namely: Maria and Miguel
Ventura. Hence, under the aforestated preference provided in Section 6 of Rule 78, the
person or persons to be appointed administrator are Juana Cardona, as the surviving spouse,
or Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura as nearest of kin, or Juana Cardona and Mercedes and
Gregoria Ventura in the discretion of the Court, in order to represent both
interests.22 (Emphasis supplied)
In Silverio, Sr. v. Court of Appeals, 23 we maintained that the order of preference in the
appointment of an administrator depends on the attendant facts and circumstances. In that
case, we affirmed the legitimate childs appointment as special administrator, and eventually
as regular administrator, of the decedents estate as against the surviving spouse who the
lower court found unsuitable. Reiterating Sioca v. Garcia 24 as good law, we pointed out that
unsuitableness for appointment as administrator may consist in adverse interest of some kind
or hostility to those immediately interested in the estate.
In Valarao v. Pascual,25 we see another story with a running theme of heirs squabbling over
the estate of a decedent. We found no reason to set aside the probate courts refusal to
appoint as special co-administrator Diaz, even if he had a demonstrable interest in the estate
of the decedent and represented one of the factions of heirs, because the evidence weighed
by the probate court pointed to Diazs being remiss in his previous duty as co-administrator of
the estatein the early part of his administration. Surveying the previously discussed cases of
Matias, Corona, and Vda. de Dayrit, we clarified, thus:
Respondents cannot take comfort in the cases of Matias v. Gonzales, Corona v. Court of
Appeals, and Vda. de Dayrit v. Ramolete, cited in the assailed Decision. Contrary to their
claim, these cases do not establish an absolute right demandable from the probate court to
appoint special co-administrators who would represent the respective interests of squabbling

heirs. Rather, the cases constitute precedents for the authority of the probate court to
designate not just one but also two or more special co-administrators for a single estate. Now
whether the probate court exercises such prerogative when the heirs are fighting among
themselves is a matter left entirely to its sound discretion.
Furthermore, the cases of Matias, Corona and Vda. de Dayrit hinge upon factual
circumstances other than the incompatible interests of the heirs which are glaringly absent
from the instant case. In Matias this Court ordered the appointment of a special coadministrator because of the applicant's status as the universal heir and executrix designated
in the will, which we considered to be a "special interest" deserving protection during the
pendency of the appeal. Quite significantly, since the lower court in Matias had already
deemed it best to appoint more than one special administrator, we found grave abuse of
discretion in the act of the lower court in ignoring the applicant's distinctive status in the
selection of another special administrator.
In Corona we gave "highest consideration" to the "executrix's choice of Special Administrator,
considering her own inability to serve and the wide latitude of discretion given her by the
testatrix in her will," for this Court to compel her appointment as special co-administrator. It is
also manifest from the decision in Corona that the presence of conflicting interests among the
heirs therein was not per se the key factor in the designation of a second special
administrator as this fact was taken into account only to disregard or, in the words of Corona,
to "overshadow" the objections to the appointment on grounds of "impracticality and lack of
kinship."
Finally in Vda. de Dayrit we justified the designation of the wife of the decedent as special coadministrator because it was "our considered opinion that inasmuch as petitioner-wife owns
one-half of the conjugal properties and that she, too, is a compulsory heir of her husband, to
deprive her of any hand in the administration of the estate prior to the probate of the will
would be unfair to her proprietary interests." The special status of a surviving spouse in the
special administration of an estate was also emphasized in Fule v. Court of Appeals where
we held that the widow would have more interest than any other next of kin in the proper
administration of the entire estate since she possesses not only the right of succession over a
portion of the exclusive property of the decedent but also a share in the conjugal partnership
for which the good or bad administration of the estate may affect not just the fruits but more
critically the naked ownership thereof. And in Gabriel v. Court of Appeals we recognized the
distinctive status of a surviving spouse applying as regular administrator of the deceased
spouse's estate when we counseled the probate court that "there must be a very strong case
to justify the exclusion of the widow from the administration."
Clearly, the selection of a special co-administrator in Matias, Corona and Vda. de Dayrit was
based upon the independent proprietary interests and moral circumstances of the appointee
that were not necessarily related to the demand for representation being repeatedly urged by
respondents.26(Emphasis supplied)

Page 67 of 74

In Gabriel v. Court of Appeals, we unequivocally declared the mandatory character of the rule
on the order of preference for the issuance of letters of administration:
Evidently, the foregoing provision of the Rules prescribes the order of preference in the
issuance of letters of administration, it categorically seeks out the surviving spouse, the next
of kin and the creditors, and requires that sequence to be observed in appointing an
administrator. It would be a grave abuse of discretion for the probate court to imperiously set
aside and insouciantly ignore that directive without any valid and sufficient reason therefor.27
Subsequently, in Angeles v. Angeles-Maglaya,28 we expounded on the legal contemplation of
a "next of kin," thus:
Finally, it should be noted that on the matter of appointment of administrator of the estate of
the deceased, the surviving spouse is preferred over the next of kin of the decedent. When
the law speaks of "next of kin," the reference is to those who are entitled, under the statute of
distribution, to the decedent's property; one whose relationship is such that he is entitled to
share in the estate as distributed, or, in short, an heir. In resolving, therefore, the issue of
whether an applicant for letters of administration is a next of kin or an heir of the decedent,
the probate court perforce has to determine and pass upon the issue of filiation. A separate
action will only result in a multiplicity of suits. Upon this consideration, the trial court acted
within bounds when it looked into and passed upon the claimed relationship of respondent to
the late Francisco Angeles.29
Finally, in Uy v. Court of Appeals, 30 we took into consideration the size of, and benefits to, the
estate should respondent therein be appointed as co-administrator. We emphasized that
where the estate is large or, from any cause, an intricate and perplexing one to settle, the
appointment of co-administrators may be sanctioned by law.
In our Decision under consideration, we zeroed in on Emilio IIIs demonstrable interest in the
estate and glossed over the order of preference set forth in the Rules. We gave weight to
Emilio IIIs demonstrable interest in Cristinas estate and without a closer scrutiny of the
attendant facts and circumstances, directed co-administration thereof. We are led to a review
of such position by the foregoing survey of cases.
The collected teaching is that mere demonstration of interest in the estate to be settled does
not ipso facto entitle an interested person to co-administration thereof. Neither does
squabbling among the heirs nor adverse interests necessitate the discounting of the order of
preference set forth in Section 6, Rule 78. Indeed, in the appointment of administrator of the
estate of a deceased person, the principal consideration reckoned with is the interest in said
estate of the one to be appointed as administrator. 31 Given Isabels unassailable interest in
the estate as one of the decedents legitimate grandchildren and undoubted nearest "next of
kin," the appointment of Emilio III as co-administrator of the same estate, cannot be a
demandable right. It is a matter left entirely to the sound discretion of the Court 32 and
depends on the facts and the attendant circumstances of the case. 33

Thus, we proceed to scrutinize the attendant facts and circumstances of this case even as we
reiterate Isabels and her siblings apparent greater interest in the estate of Cristina.

Emilio III refutes Isabels imputations that he was lackadaisical in assuming and performing
the functions of administrator of Cristinas estate:

These considerations do not warrant the setting aside of the order of preference mapped out
in Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court. They compel that a choice be made of one over
the other.

1. From the time of the RTCs Order appointing Emilio III as administrator, Isabel, in her
pleadings before the RTC, had vigorously opposed Emilio IIIs assumption of that office,
arguing that "the decision of the RTC dated 9 November 2001 is not among the judgments
authorized by the Rules of Court which may be immediately implemented or executed;"

1. The bitter estrangement and long-standing animosity between Isabel, on the one hand,
and Emilio III, on the other, traced back from the time their paternal grandparents were alive,
which can be characterized as adverse interest of some kind by, or hostility of, Emilio III to
Isabel who is immediately interested in the estate;

2. The delay in Emilio IIIs filing of an inventory was due to Isabels vociferous objections to
Emilio IIIs attempts to act as administrator while the RTC decision was under appeal to the
Court of Appeals;

2. Corollary thereto, the seeming impossibility of Isabel and Emilio III working harmoniously
as co-administrators may result in prejudice to the decedents estate, ultimately delaying
settlement thereof; and

3. The complained partial inventory is only initiatory, inherent in the nature thereof, and one of
the first steps in the lengthy process of settlement of a decedents estate, such that it cannot
constitute a complete and total listing of the decedents properties; and

3. Emilio III, for all his claims of knowledge in the management of Cristinas estate, has not
looked after the estates welfare and has acted to the damage and prejudice thereof.

4. The criminal cases adverted to are trumped-up charges where Isabel, as private
complainant, has been unwilling to appear and testify, leading the Judge of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 44 of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, to warn the prosecutor of a possible
motu propio dismissal of the cases.

Contrary to the assumption made in the Decision that Emilio IIIs demonstrable interest in the
estate makes him a suitable co-administrator thereof, the evidence reveals that Emilio III has
turned out to be an unsuitable administrator of the estate. Respondent Isabel points out that
after Emilio IIIs appointment as administrator of the subject estate in 2001, he has not looked
after the welfare of the subject estate and has actually acted to the damage and prejudice
thereof as evidenced by the following:
1. Emilio III, despite several orders from the probate court for a complete inventory, omitted in
the partial inventories34 he filed therewith properties of the estate35 including several parcels
of land, cash, bank deposits, jewelry, shares of stock, motor vehicles, and other personal
properties, contrary to Section 1,36paragraph a, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court.
2. Emilio III did not take action on both occasions against Federicos settlement of the
decedents estate which adjudicated to himself a number of properties properly belonging to
said estate (whether wholly or partially), and which contained a declaration that the decedent
did not leave any descendants or heirs, except for Federico, entitled to succeed to her
estate.37
In compliance to our Resolution dated 18 April 2012 requiring Emilio III to respond to the
following imputations of Isabel that:
1. Emilio III did not file an inventory of the assets until November 14, 2002;
2. The inventory Emilio III submitted did not include several properties of the decedent;
3. That properties belonging to the decedent have found their way to different individuals or
persons; several properties to Federico Suntay himself; and
4. While some properties have found their way to Emilio III, by reason of falsified
documents;38

Page 68 of 74

While we can subscribe to Emilio IIIs counsels explanation for the blamed delay in the filing
of an inventory and his exposition on the nature thereof, partial as opposed to complete, in
the course of the settlement of a decedents estate, we do not find any clarification on Isabels
accusation that Emilio III had deliberately omitted properties in the inventory, which properties
of Cristina he knew existed and which he claims to be knowledgeable about.
The general denial made by Emilio III does not erase his unsuitability as administrator rooted
in his failure to "make and return x x x a true and complete inventory" which became proven
fact when he actually filed partial inventories before the probate court and by his inaction on
two occasions of Federicos exclusion of Cristinas other compulsory heirs, herein Isabel and
her siblings, from the list of heirs.
As administrator, Emilio III enters into the office, posts a bond and executes an oath to
faithfully discharge the duties of settling the decedents estate with the end in view of
distribution to the heirs, if any. This he failed to do. The foregoing circumstances of Emilio IIIs
omission and inaction become even more significant and speak volume of his unsuitability as
administrator as it demonstrates his interest adverse to those immediately interested in the
estate of the decedent, Cristina.
In this case, palpable from the evidence on record, the pleadings, and the protracted
litigation, is the inescapable fact that Emilio III and respondent Isabel have a deep aversion
for each other.1awp++i1 To our mind, it becomes highly impractical, nay, improbable, for the
two to work as co-administrators of their grandmothers estate. The allegations of Emilio III,
the testimony of Federico and the other witnesses for Federico and Emilio III that Isabel and
her siblings were estranged from their grandparents further drive home the point that Emilio
III bears hostility towards Isabel. More importantly, it appears detrimental to the decedents

estate to appoint a co-administrator (Emilio III) who has shown an adverse interest of some
kind or hostility to those, such as herein respondent Isabel, immediately interested in the said
estate.

estates of Cristina and Federico, considering that the question on who will administer the
properties of the long deceased couple has yet to be settled.

Bearing in mind that the issuance of letters of administration is simply a preliminary order to
facilitate the settlement of a decedents estate, we here point out that Emilio III is not without
remedies to protect his interests in the estate of the decedent. In Hilado v. Court of
Appeals,39 we mapped out as among the allowable participation of "any interested persons"
or "any persons interested in the estate" in either testate or intestate proceedings:

The declaration of heirs made by the lower court is premature, although the evidence
sufficiently shows who are entitled to succeed the deceased. The estate had hardly been
judicially opened, and the proceeding has not as yet reached the stage of distribution of the
estate which must come after the inheritance is liquidated.

xxxx
4. Section 640 of Rule 87, which allows an individual interested in the estate of the deceased
"to complain to the court of the concealment, embezzlement, or conveyance of any asset of
the decedent, or of evidence of the decedents title or interest therein;"
5. Section 1041 of Rule 85, which requires notice of the time and place of the examination and
allowance of the Administrators account "to persons interested;"
6. Section 7(b)42 of Rule 89, which requires the court to give notice "to the persons interested"
before it may hear and grant a petition seeking the disposition or encumbrance of the
properties of the estate; and
43

7. Section 1, Rule 90, which allows "any person interested in the estate" to petition for an
order for the distribution of the residue of the estate of the decedent, after all obligations are
either satisfied or provided for.44
In addition to the foregoing, Emilio III may likewise avail of the remedy found in Section 2,
Rule 82 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
Sec. 2. Court may remove or accept resignation of executor or administrator. Proceedings
upon death, resignation, or removal. If an executor or administrator neglects to render his
account and settle the estate according to law, or to perform an order or judgment of the
court, or a duty expressly provided by these rules, or absconds, or becomes insane, or
otherwise incapable or unsuitable to discharge the trust, the court may remove him, or, in its
discretion, may permit him to resign. When an executor or administrator dies, resigns, or is
removed, the remaining executor or administrator may administer the trust alone, unless the
court grants letters to someone to act with him. If there is no remaining executor or
administrator, administration may be granted to any suitable person.
Once again, as we have done in the Decision, we exercise judicial restraint: we uphold that
the question of who are the heirs of the decedent Cristina is not yet upon us. Article 992 of
the Civil Code or the curtain bar rule is inapplicable in resolving the issue of who is better
qualified to administer the estate of the decedent.
Thus, our disquisition in the assailed Decision:
Nonetheless, it must be pointed out that judicial restraint impels us to refrain from making a
final declaration of heirship and distributing the presumptive shares of the parties in the

Page 69 of 74

Our holding in Capistrano v. Nadurata on the same issue remains good law:

Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court does not depart from the foregoing admonition:
Sec. 1. When order for distribution of residue is made. - x x x. If there is a controversy before
the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive
shares to which each person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be heard and
decided as in ordinary cases.
No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations above mentioned has
been made or provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them, give a bond, in a sum to
be fixed by the court, conditioned for the payment of said obligations within such time as the
court directs.45
Lastly, we dispose of a peripheral issue raised in the Supplemental Comment 46 of Emilio III
questioning the Special Second Division which issued the 18 April 2012 Resolution. Emilio III
asseverates that "the operation of the Special Second Division in Baguio is unconstitutional
and void" as the Second Division in Manila had already promulgated its Decision on 16 June
2010 on the petition filed by him:
7. The question is: who created the Special Second Division in Baguio, acting separately from
the Second Division of the Supreme Court in Manila? There will then be two Second
Divisions of the Supreme Court: one acting with the Supreme Court in Manila, and another
Special Second Division acting independently of the Second Division of the Supreme Court in
Manila.47
For Emilio IIIs counsels edification, the Special Second Division in Baguio is not a different
division created by the Supreme Court.
The Second Division which promulgated its Decision on this case on 16 June 2010, penned
by Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, now has a different composition, with the advent of
Justice Nachuras retirement on 13 June 2011. Section 7, Rule 2 of the Internal Rules of the
Supreme Court provides:
Sec. 7. Resolutions of motions for reconsideration or clarification of decisions or signed
resolutions and all other motions and incidents subsequently filed; creation of a Special
Division. Motions for reconsideration or clarification of a decision or of a signed resolution
and all other motions and incidents subsequently filed in the case shall be acted upon by the
ponente and the other Members of the Division who participated in the rendition of the
decision or signed resolution.

If the ponente has retired, is no longer a Member of the Court, is disqualified, or has inhibited
himself or herself from acting on the motion for reconsideration or clarification, he or she shall
be replaced through raffle by a new ponente who shall be chosen among the new Members
of the Division who participated in the rendition of the decision or signed resolution and who
concurred therein. If only one Member of the Court who participated and concurred in the
rendition of the decision or signed resolution remains, he or she shall be designated as the
new ponente.

CABANAS, ET AL. VS. ENAGE ET AL., 40 OFF. GAZ. 12 SUPPL. 227

If a Member (not the ponente) of the Division which rendered the decision or signed
resolution has retired, is no longer a Member of the Court, is disqualified, or has inhibited
himself or herself from acting on the motion for reconsideration or clarification, he or she shall
be replaced through raffle by a replacement Member who shall be chosen from the other
Divisions until a new Justice is appointed as replacement for the retired Justice. Upon the
appointment of a new Justice, he or she shall replace the designated Justice as replacement
Member of the Special Division.

The "next of kin" has been defined as those persons who are entitled under the statute of
distribution to the decedent's property (Cooper vs. Cooper, 43 Ind. A. 620, 88 NE 341). It is
generally said that "the nearest of kin, whose interest in the estate is more preponderant, is
preferred in the choice of administrator. 'Among members of a class the strongest ground for
preference is the amount or preponderance of interest. As between next of kin, the nearest of
kin is to be preferred." (Cabanas, et al. vs. Enage et al., 40 Off. Gaz. 12 Suppl. 227; citing
12 Am. Jur. Sec. 77, p. 416, cited in Francisco Vicente J., The Revised Rules of Court in the
Philippines, Vol. V-B 1970 Ed., p. 23).

Any vacancy or vacancies in the Special Division shall be filled by raffle from among the other
Members of the Court to constitute a Special Division of five (5) Members.

G.R. No. L-26306 April 27, 1988

If the ponente and all the Members of the Division that rendered the Decision or signed
Resolution are no longer Members of the Court, the case shall be raffled to any Member of
the Court and the motion shall be acted upon by him or her with the participation of the other
Members of the Division to which he or she belongs.
If there are pleadings, motions or incidents subsequent to the denial of the motion for
reconsideration or clarification, the case shall be acted upon by the ponente on record with
the participation of the other Members of the Division to which he or she belongs at the time
said pleading, motion or incident is to be taken up by the Court. (Emphasis supplied)
As regards the operation thereof in Baguio City, such is simply a change in venue for the
Supreme Court's summer session held last April.48
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Our Decision in
G.R. No. 183053 dated 16 June 2010 is MODIFIED. Letters of Administration over the estate
of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay shall solely issue to respondent Isabel CojuangcoSuntay upon payment of a bond to be set by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos,
Bulacan, in Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 78,
Malolos, Bulacan is likewise directed to settle the estate of decedent Cristina AguinaldoSuntay with dispatch. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
JOSE
Associate Justice

Page 70 of 74

PORTUGAL

PEREZ

TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE GREGORIO VENTURA MARIA VENTURA, executrixappellant,


MIGUEL
VENTURA
and
JUANA
CARDONA, heirs-appellants,
vs.
GREGORIA VENTURA and HER HUSBAND, EXEQUIEL VICTORIO, MERCEDES
VENTURA and HER HUSBAND, PEDRO D. CORPUZ, oppositors-appellees.
PARAS, J.:
This is an appeal from the order of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Guimba,
Branch V in Special Proceedings No. 812, Testate of the late Gregorio Venture, dated
October 5, 1965, removing the appellant Maria Ventura as executrix and administratrix of the
estate of the late Gregorio Ventura, and in her place appointing the appellees Mercedes
Ventura and Gregoria Ventura as joint administratrices of the estate. (Record on Appeal, pp.
120-131.)
Appellant Maria Ventura is the illegitimate daughter of the deceased Gregorio Ventura while
Miguel Ventura and Juana Cardona are his son and saving spouse who are also the brother
and mother of Maria Ventura. On the other hand, appellees Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura
are the deceased's legitimate children with his former wife, the late Paulina Simpliciano
(Record on Appeal, p. 122) but the paternity of appellees was denied by the deceased in his
will (Record on Appeal, p. 4).
On December 14,1953, Gregorio Ventura filed a petition for the probate of his will which did
not include the appellees and the petition was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 812
(Record on Appeal, pp. 1-3). In the said will, the appellant Maria Ventura, although an

illegitimate child, was named and appointed by the testator to be the executrix of his will and
the administratrix of his estate (Record on Appeal, p. 7).
In due course, said will was admitted to probate on January 14,1954 (Record on Appeal, pp.
8-10). Gregorio Ventura died on September 26,1955. On October 10, 1955, the appellant
Maria Ventura filed a motion for her appointment as executrix and for the issuance of letters
testamentary in her favor (Record on Appeal, pp. 10-11). On October 17, 1955, Maria Ventura
was appointed executrix and the corresponding letters testamentary was issued in her favor
(Record on Appeal, pp. 11-12).
On or about July 26, 1956, Maria Ventura submitted an inventory of the estate of Gregorio
Ventura (Record on Appeal, pp. 12-20).
On June 17,1960, she filed her accounts of administration for the years 1955 to 1960,
inclusive. (Record on Appeal, pp. 20-27). Said account of administration was opposed by the
spouses Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz on July 25, 1960 (Record on Appeal, pp. 2733) and by Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria Ventura on August 5,1963 (Record on Appeal, pp.
46-50). Both oppositions assailed the veracity of the report as not reflecting the true income
of the estate and the expenses which allegedly are not administration expenses. But on
January 25, 1961, Maria Ventura filed a motion to hold in abeyance the approval of the
accounts of administration or to have their approval without the opposition of the spouses
Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz and Gregoria Ventura and Exequiel Victorio on the
ground that the question of the paternity of Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura is still
pending final determination before the Supreme Court and that should they be adjudged the
adulterous children of testator, as claimed, they are not entitled to inherit nor to oppose the
approval of the counts of administration (Record on Appeals, pp. 33-36). Spouses Mercedes
Ventura and Pedro Corpuz filed on February 2, 1961 their opposition to the motion to hold in
abeyance the approval of the accounts of administration on the ground that Mercedes and
Gregoria Ventura had already been declared by the Court of First Instance in Civil Cases No.
1064 and 1476, which cases are supposed to be pending before the Supreme Court, as the
legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura, hence, they have reason to protect their interest
(Record on Appeal, pp. 36-39). On February 9,1961, the motion to hold in abeyance the
approval of the accounts was denied (Record on Appeal, pp. 39-40).
It appears that on July 12, 1963, the Court set the case for pre-trial on August 7, 1963 in
connection with the accounts of the executrix Maria Ventura dated June 17, 1960 and the
Motion to Annul Provision of Will dated July 14,1962 of Mercedes Ventura (Record on Appeal,
p. 45).
On October 22, 1963, four motions were filed by Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura,
namely: (1) motion to remove the executrix Maria Ventura which was supplemented on April
27, 1965; (2) motion to require her to deposit the harvest of palay of the property under
administration in a bonded warehouse; (3) motion to render an accounting of the proceeds
and expenses of Administration; and (4) motion to require her to include in the inventory of

Page 71 of 74

the estate certain excluded properties (Record on Appeal, pp. 50-53; 71). An opposition to
said motions was filed by the heirs Juana Cardona and Miguel Ventura and by the executrix
Maria Ventura herself (Record on Appeal, pp. 56-61; 61-70 and 71).
On motion of counsel for Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria Ventura the joint motions to require
an Up-to-date Accounting and to Require Executrix Ventura to Include Excluded Properties in
Her Inventory were ordered withdrawn (Order dated February 2, 1965, Record on Appeal, p.
73). The other two motions were however set for hearing.
The grounds of aforesaid joint motions to remove the executrix Maria Ventura are: (1) that
she is grossly incompetent; (2) that she has maliciously and purposely concealed certain
properties of the estate in the inventory; (3) that she is merely an illegitimate daughter who
can have no harmonious relations with the appellees; (4) that the executrix has neglected to
render her accounts and failed to comply with the Order of the Court of December 12, 1963,
requiring her to file her accounts of administration for the years 1961 to 1963 (Record on
Appeal, pp. 70 and 75-76) and the Order of June 11, 1964, reiterating aforesaid Order of
December 12, 1963 (Record on Appeal, p. 76); and (5) that she is with permanent physical
defect hindering her from efficiently performing her duties as an executrix (Record on Appeal,
pp. 50-53 and 74-79).
On May 17, 1965, the executrix Maria Ventura finally submitted her accounts of
administration covering the period 1961 to 1965 (Record on Appeal, pp. 79-84) which were
again opposed by the spouses Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria Ventura on September 21,
1965 and by the spouses Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz on September 29, 1965
(Record on Appeal, pp. 106-120). On June 2, 1965, the executrix filed her supplemental
opposition to the aforesaid four motions, and prayed that the joint supplemental motion to
remove the executrix be denied or held in abeyance until after the status of Mercedes and
Gregoria Ventura as heirs of the testator is finally decided (Record on Appeal, pp. 85-1 01).
On June 3, 1965, the Court, finding that the estate taxes have not been paid, ordered the
administratrix to pay the same within thirty (30) days. On September 13, 1965, the lower court
denied the suspension of the proceedings and deferred the resolution of the joint motion to
remove executrix Maria Ventura until after the examination of the physical fitness of said
executrix to undertake her duties as such. Also, it ordered the deposit of all palay to be
harvested in the next agricultural year and subsequent years to be deposited in a bonded
warehouse to be selected by the Court and the palay so deposited shall not be withdrawn
without the express permission of the Court (Record on Appeal, pp. 103-105). On September
21, 1965, spouses Exequiel Victorio and Gregoria Ventura filed their opposition to the
accounts of administration of Maria Ventura dated May 17, 1965, while that of spouses
Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz was filed on September 29, 1965, both oppositions
alleging among others that said accounts do not reflect the true and actual income of the
estate and that the expenses reported thereunder are fake, exhorbitant and speculative
(Record on Appeal, pp. 106-120).

On October 5, 1965, the court a quo, finding that the executrix Maria Ventura has squandered
the funds of the estate, was inefficient and incompetent, has failed to comply with the orders
of the Court in the matter of presenting up-to-date statements of accounts and neglected to
pay the real estate taxes of the estate, rendered the questioned decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, Maria Ventura is hereby removed as executrix and administratrix of the estate
and in her place Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura are hereby appointed joint a
tratrices of the estate upon filing by each of them of a bond of P 7,000.00. Let letters of
administration be issued to Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura upon their qualification.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
(Record on Appeal pp. 120-131).
Hence, this appeal.
In their brief, appellants Maria Ventura and spouses Juana Cardona and Miguel Ventura
assign the following errors allegedly committed by the probate court:
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS
I
The lower court erred in ordering the removal of Maria Ventura as executrix and administratrix
of the will and estate of the deceased Gregorio Ventura without giving her full opportunity to
be heard and to present all her evidence.
II
The lower court erred in finding that the executrix Maria Ventura had squandered and
dissipated the funds of the estate under her administration.
III
The lower court erred in finding that the executrix Maria Ventura was inefficient and
incompetent.
IV
That, considering the circumtances surrounding the case, the lower court erred in finding that
the failure of Maria Ventura to submit her periodical account had justified her removal as
executrix.
V
The lower court erred in considering as an established fact that the appellees Mercedes
Ventura and Gregoria Ventura are the legitimate daughters of the deceased Gregorio
Ventura.
VI

Page 72 of 74

The lower court erred in finding that the devises and bequests in favor of Maria Ventura and
Miguel Ventura as specified in paragraph 8 of the last Will and Testament of the late Gregorio
Ventura have ipso facto been annulled.
VII
The lower court erred in allowing the appellees Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura to
intervene in the hearing of the accounts of administration submitted by the executrix Maria
Ventura and/or in not suspending the hearing of the said accounts until the said appellees
have finally established their status as legitimate children of the deceased Gregorio Ventura.
VIII
The lower court erred in appointing (even without a proper petition for appointment and much
less a hearing on the appointment of) the appellees Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria Ventura
who have an adverse interest as joint administratrices of the estate of the deceased Gregorio
Ventura.
IX
The lower court erred in not appointing the surviving widow, Juana Cardona, or Miguel
Ventura, as administratrix of the estate of Gregorio Ventura in case the removal of Maria
Ventura as executrix and administratrix thereof is legally justified.
X
Considering that there are in fact two (2) factions representing opposite interests in the
estate, the lower court erred in not appointing Juana Cardona, or Miguel Ventura, as one of
the two (2) administratrices.' (Joint Brief for the Appellants, pp. 1-4)
On July 19,1967, Atty. Arturo Tolentino (representing appellees Mercedes Ventura and Pedro
Corpuz) and Atty. Jose J. Francisco (representing Gregoria and Exequiel Victoria), having
failed to submit their respective briefs within the period for the purpose, which expired on July
2 and May 29,1967, respectively, the Supreme Court Resolved to consider this case
submitted for decision WITHOUT SAID APPELLEES' BRIEF (Rollo, p. 152).
The crucial issue in this case is whether or not the removal of Maria Ventura as executrix is
legally justified. This issue has, however, become moot and academic in view of the decision
of this Court in related cases.
At the outset, it is worthy to note that aside from the instant special proceedings, there are
two other civil cases involving the estate of the deceased Gregoria Ventura, namely, Civil
Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476. Civil Case No. 1064 was filed on December 2, 1952 by herein
appellee Gregoria Ventura in the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch I, against the
other appellees herein Mercedes Ventura and their father, Gregorio Ventura. Later Mercedes
Ventura joined cause with Gregoria Ventura. (Record on Appeal, p. 95). Gregoria and
Mercedes Ventura claimed that they are the legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his
wife Paulina Simpliciano, who died in 1943, and asked that one-half of the properties
described in the complaint be declared as the share of their mother in the conjugal

partnership, with them as the only forced heirs of their mother Paulina (Joint Brief for the
Appellants, pp. 53-68).
Subsequently, Civil Case No. 1476 was filed by Alipio, Eufracia and Juliana, all surnamed
Simpliciano, against Gregorio Ventura and the two sisters, Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura,
before the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch I. They alleged that as the only
children of Modesto Simpliciano, sole brother of Paulina Simpliciano, they, instead of
Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura, whom they claimed are adulterous children of Paulina with
another man, Teodoro Ventura and as such are not entitled to inherit from her, are the ones
who should inherit the share of Paulina Simpliciano in the conjugal Partnership with Gregorio
Ventura (Joint Brief For The Appealant,pp.69-79)
It appears that on November 4, 1959, after a joint hearing of Civil Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476,
the lower court rendered its judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring Mercedes Ventura and Gregoria
Ventura to be the ligitimate daughters of Paulina Simpliciano and Gregorio Ventura; declaring
that as such ligitimate daughters of Paulina Simpliciano they are entitled to 1/2 of the
properties described in paragraph six of the complaint; ordering the defendant Maria Ventura,
as administratrix of the estate of Gregorio Ventura to pay to Mercedes Ventura and Gregorio
Ventura the amount of P 19,074.09 which shall be divided equally between Mercedes and
Gregoria Ventura declaring Mercedes Ventura and Pedro Corpuz are the exclusive owners of
the property describe in the certificate of Title Nos. T-1102, 212, T-1213, T-1214, Exhibits 32,
33, 34 and 35, respectively; ordering Mercedes Ventura and Pedro D. Corpuz to pay to the
conjugal partnership of Gregorio Ventura and Paulina Simpliciano the sum of P100,000.00,
one-half of which shall pertain to the estate of Gregorio Ventura and the other half to the
estate of Paulina Simpliciano to whom Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura have succeeded, to
be divided between Mercedes and Gregoria in equal parts; and dismissing Civil Case No.
1476. The parties are urged to arrive at an amicable partition of the properties herein
adjudicated within twenty days from receipt of this decision. Upon their failure to do so, the
Court shall appoint commissioners to divide the properties in accordance with the terms of
the decision. Without pronouncements as to costs. (Emphasis supplied). (Joint Brief for the
Appellants, pp. 3738.)
Thereafter, on July 14, 1962, Mercedes Ventura filed a motion to annul the provisions of the
will of the deceased Gregorio Ventura in Special Proceedings No. 812, which motion was
opposed by Miguel Ventura and Juana Cardona and later by Maria Ventura. They claimed
that the decision dated November 4,1959 in Civil Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476 was not yet
final.
On February 26,1964, the court annulled the institution of the heirs in the probated will of
Gregorio Ventura. The motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid order filed by executrix
Maria Ventura was denied on June 11, 1964.

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Accordingly, Maria Ventura appealed the February 26, 1964 and June 11, 1964 orders of the
probate court in Special Proceedings No. 812 before the Supreme Court and was docketed
as G.R. No. L-23878. On May 27,1977, this Court, through then Associate Justice Antonio P.
Barredo, ruled, as follows:
And so, acting on appellees' motion to dismiss appeal, it is Our considered opinion that the
decision in Civil Cases Nos.1064 and 1476 declaring that appellees Mercedes and Gregoria
Ventura are the ligimate children of the deceased Gregorio Ventura and his wife, Paulina
Simpliciano, and as such are entitled to the annulment of the institution of heirs made in the
probated will of said deceased became final and executory upon the finality of the order,
approving ther partition directed in the decision in question. We need not indulge in any
discussion as to whether or not, as of the time the orders here in question were issued by the
trial court said decision had the nature of an interlocutory order only. To be sure, in the case
of Miranda, aforementioned, the opinion of the majority of the Court may well be invoked
against appellant's pose. In any event, even if the Court were minded to modify again
Miranda and go back to Fuentebella and Zaldariaga and it is not, as of now there can
be no question that the approval by the trial court in Civil Cases Nos. 1064 and 1476 of the
partition report of the commissioners appointed for the purpose, one of whom, Emmanuel
Mariano, is the husband of appellant, put a definite end to those cases, leaving nothing else
to be done in the trial court. That order of approval is an appealable one, and inasmuch as no
appeal has been taken from the same, it is beyond dispute that the decision in controversy
has already become final and executory in all respects. Hence, the case at bar has become
moot and academic. (Ventura vs. Ventura, 77 SCRA 159, May 27,1977)
Under Article 854 of the Civil Code, "the pretention or omission of one, some, or all of the
compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or
born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and
legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious," and as a result, intestacy follows,
thereby rendering the previous appointment of Maria Ventura as executrix moot and
academic. This would now necessitate the appointment of another administrator, under the
following provision:
Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court:
When and to whom letters of administration granted.-If no executor is named in the will, or the
executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give bond, or a person dies
intestate, a petition shall be granted:
(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be or next of kin, or both, in the
discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or both, in the
discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or next of kin,
requests to have appointed, if competent and willing to serve;"
xxx xxx xxx

In the case at bar, the surviving spouse of the deceased Gregorio Ventura is Juana Cardona
while the next of kin are: Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura and Maria and Miguel Ventura. The
"next of kin" has been defined as those persons who are entitled under the statute of
distribution to the decedent's property (Cooper vs. Cooper, 43 Ind. A. 620, 88 NE 341). It is
generally said that "the nearest of kin, whose interest in the estate is more preponderant, is
preferred in the choice of administrator. 'Among members of a class the strongest ground for
preference is the amount or preponderance of interest. As between next of kin, the nearest of
kin is to be preferred." (Cabanas, et al. vs. Enage et al., 40 Off. Gaz. 12 Suppl. 227; citing 12
Am. Jur. Sec. 77, p. 416, cited in Francisco Vicente J., The Revised Rules of Court in the
Philippines, Vol. V-B 1970 Ed., p. 23).
As decided by the lower court and sustained by the Supreme Court, Mercedes and Gregoria
Ventura are the legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his wife, the late Paulina

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Simpliciano. Therefore, as the nearest of kin of Gregorio Ventura they are entitled to
preference over the illegitimate children of Gregorio Ventura, namely: Maria and Miguel
Ventura. Hence, under the aforestated preference provided in Section 6 of Rule 78, the
person or persons to be appointed administrator are Juana Cardona, as the surviving spouse,
or Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura as nearest of kin, or Juana Cardona and Mercedes and
Gregoria Ventura in the discretion of the Court, in order to represent both interests.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the appeal interposed by appellants Maria Ventura, Juana
Cardona and Miguel Ventura is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.