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Garcia Fule vs CA1

Date: November 29, 1976


Ponente: Martin, J.

Short Version:
Facts: Virginia Fule filed with the CFI of Laguna a petition for letters administration for the estate of Amado.
The alleged that Amado own property in Laguna, and that Amado was a Constitutional Delegate for Laguna,
and that his last place of residence is Laguna. Preciosa opposed the petition saying that Amado's last place of
residence is not in Laguna, but is rather in Quezon City.
Held: Sec 1 Rule 73 prescribes the venue for the the settlement of a decedent's estate as the province in
which he resides at the time of his death. The term resides means actual residence as distinguished from
legal residence or domicile. Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place. In
the present case, evidence shows that Amado's last place of residence is in Quezon City. Thus, the venue
was improperly laid in Laguna.

Facts:
- On May 2, 1973, Virginia Fule filed with the CFI of Calamba, Laguna, presided over by Judge Severo
Malvar, a petition for letters of administration for the estate of Amado Garcia. She alleged that Amado died in
Manila, and left property in Laguna. She moved for appointment as special administratrix, which Judge
Malvar granted.
- on May 8, Preciosa Garcia filed a motion for reconsideration contending that the order appointing Virginia
as special administratrix was issued without jurisdiction, since no notice of the petition has been served upon
all persons interested in the estate; and that Precious, as the surviving spouse of Amado, should be
preferred in the appointment of a special administratrix.
- While the MR was pending resolution, Preciosa a motion to remove Virginia as special administratrix
alleging, besides the jurisdictional ground raised in the MR that her appointment was obtained through
erroneous misrepresentations.
- Virginia then filed a supplemental petition. Among others, she alleged that during Amado's lifetime, he was
elected as Constitutional Delegate for the First District of Laguna and his last place of residence was at
Calamba, Laguna; and that Carolina Carpio is the surviving spouse of Amado, and that Carolina renounced
her preferential right to the administration of the estate in favor of Virginia.
- On July 19, Preciosa filed an opposition to the original and supplemental petitions raising the issues of
jurisdiction, venue, lack of interest of Virginia in the estate of Amado, and disqualification of Virginia as
special administratrix.
- Virgina filed an omnibus motion praying for authority to take possession of properties of the decedent
allegedly in the hands of third persons.
- Judge Malvar and already issued an order on July 2 which was only received by Preciosa on July 31. It
denied Preciosa's MR and admitted Virginia's supplemental petition.
- On August 31, Preciosa moved to dismiss the petition, again raising 1) lack jurisdiction over the petition or
over the parties; 2) venue was improperly laid; and 3) Virginia is not a party in interest.
- Preciosa then filed other motions with respect to Virginia's functions as special administratrix.
- On November 28 Judge Malvar resolved all the motions. With respect to the motion to dismiss, the judge
ruled that the issue of jurisdiction had already been resolved in the order denying Preciosa's MR, and that
the failure of Virginia to allege in her original petition the place of residence of the decedent at the time of his
death was cured when the supplemental petition was admitted. Judge Malvar further held that Preciosa had
submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, and had waived her objections thereto by praying to be appointed
as administratrix.
- Preciosa's filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied.
- Preciosa filed a petition for certiorari with CA. It rendered judgment in favor of Preciosa, annulling the
proceedings before Judge Malvar for lack of jurisdiction.
- Virginia filed a motion for reconsideration. It was denied. Thus, she filed an appeal by certiorari with the
SC. It was docketed as one of the petitions currently under consideration.

1[G.R. No. L-40502]


VIRGINIA GARCIA FULE, and HONORABLE SEVERO A. MALVAR, Presiding Judge, Court of First Instance of Laguna,
Branch Vl, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, PRECIOSA B. GARCIA and AGUSTINA B. GARCIA,
respondents.
[G.R. No. L-42670]
VIRGINIA GARCIA FULE, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE ERNANI C. PAO, Presiding Judge of Court of First Instance of
Rizal, Quezon City, Branch XVIII, and PRECIOSA B. GARCIA, respondents.
- However, even before Virginia could receive the decision of the CA, Preciosa had already filed a petition for
letters of administration before the CFI of Rizal, Quezon City Branch over the estate of Amado. Upon motion,
Judge Ericta appointed Preciosa as special administratrix.
- Preciosa later informed Judge Ericta of the pendency of the other case. The judge ordered the suspension
of the proceedings before his court. However, Preciosa still filed Urgent Petition for Authority to Pay Estate
Obligations.
- Judge Ericta was later replaced by Judge Pao, who granted Preciosa's petition.
- Virginia filed with the SC a petition for certiorari to restrain Judge Pao for further acting on the case. This
was consolidated with the appeal earlier made by Virginia.

Issue/Reasoning:
Issue: Whether the CFI of Laguna (presided by Judge Malvar) properly took cognizance of the petition (No.
The petition was filed in the wrong venue. The decedent's last residence is in Quezon City, not Laguna.)
- The applicable provision is Sec 1 Rule 73 2.
- The said provision, specifically the clause "so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or
of the location of the estate," is in reality a matter of venue, as the caption of the Rule indicates: "Settlement
of Estate of Deceased Persons. Venue and Processes.
- The provision does define the jurisdiction over the subject matter, because such the said provision is
contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with procedural matters. Procedure is one thing; jurisdiction
over the subject matter is another.
- Jurisdiction, or that power of the court over the subject matter, is not altered by procedure, which simply
directs the manner in which the power shall be fully and justly exercised.
- There are cases though that if the power is not exercised conformably with procedural law, the court
attempting to exercise it loses the power to exercise it legally. However, this does not amount to a loss of
jurisdiction over the subject matter; it means that the court does not have jurisdiction over the person or
that the judgment may be rendered defective for lack of something essential to sustain it.
- The Judiciary Act of 1948 confers upon the CFI jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of the
residence of the deceased. Because of courts in the country, the ROC fixes the venue where each case shall
be brought. Thus, the venue the place of residence of the deceased does not constitute an element of
jurisdiction over the subject matter.
- Meaning of the term resides in the provisions:
- The term connotes "actual residence" as distinguished from "legal residence or domicile.
- In the application of venue statutes, residence rather than domicile is the significant factor.
- "Resides" should be understood in its popular sense the personal, actual or physical habitation of a
person; actual residence or place of abode.
- Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires
bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one's domicile. No particular length of time
of residence is required though; however, the residence must be more than temporary.
- Amado's last place of residence is 11 Carmel Avenue, Carmel Subdivision, Quezon City, not Calamba,
Laguna. That Amado's residence is in Quezon City is stated in the following documents:
- The death certificate of Amado, which was presented in evidence both by Virginia and Preciosa.
- The deceased's residence certificate obtained 3 months before his death.
- A Marketing Agreement and Power of Attorney dated November 12, 1971.
- A Deed of Donation dated January 8, 1973 to Agustina Garcia 3.
- Certificates of titles covering parcels of land in Calamba, Laguna.
- Thus, the venue for Virginia petition was improperly laid in the CFI of Laguna. While objection to improper
venue is subject to waiver, no such waiver is present in this case. In asking to substitute Virginia as special
administratrix, Preciosa did not necessarily waive her objection, but availed of a mere practical resort to an
alternative remedy to assert her rights as surviving spouse, while insisting on the enforcement of the proper
venue.

Issue: Whether Preciosa should be appointed as special administratrix (Yes)


- The appointment of a special administrator is governed by Sec 1 Rule 80.
- The discretion to appoint a special administrator lies in the probate court. That, however, is no authority for

2 Tingnan ang codal! But the pertinent portions are as follows: 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... 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...
3 If you notice, there is a person named Agustina Garcia in the case title. She is the minor daughter of Preciosa, and probably also the
daughter of Amado. Not really important. :P She was included in the case because one of Preciosa's motions was a motion filed in behalf
of Agustina.
the judge to become partial. Exercise of that discretion must be based on reason, equity, justice and legal
principle.
- Nothing is wrong for the judge to consider the order of preference in the appointment of a regular
administrator in appointing a special administrator. After all, the consideration that overrides all others in this
respect is the beneficial interest of the appointee in the estate of the decedent.
- The widow succeeds over a portion of the property of the decedent. For such reason, she would have as
such, if not more, interest in administering the entire estate correctly than any other next of kin.
- The following documents state that Amado is married to Preciosa.
- A deed of donation executed by Amado.
- Amado's certificate of candidacy for Constitutional Delegate of Laguna.
- Faced with these documents and the presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as
husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage, Preciosa can be reasonably believed to be
the surviving spouse of Amado. She is thus prima facie entitled to the appointment as special administratrix.

Dispositive:
Under the circumstances, the SC may properly decree that venue in the instant case was properly assumed
by the Quezon City court. It is in the interest of justice and avoidance of needless delay that the Quezon City
court's exercise of jurisdiction be authorized and the CFI of Laguna be disauthorized from continuing with the
case and instead be required to transfer all the records to Quezon City for the continuation of the
proceedings.
The order of Judge Pao is upheld.
The petitions of Virginia are denied.

-Elvin