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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 26751 January 31, 1969

JOSE S. MATUTE, petitioner,


vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS (Third Division) and MATIAS S. MATUTE, respondents.

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G.R. No. L-26085 January 31, 1969

JOSE S. MATUTE, in his personal capacity and as Judicial Co-Administrator of the Estate of AMADEO MATUTE OLAVE, petitioner,
vs.
HON. JUDGE VICENTE P. BULLECER, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch IV, and MARIANO NASSER, respondents.

---------------------------

G.R. No. L-26106 January 31, 1969

JOSE S. MATUTE AND LUIS S. MATUTE, as Intervenors in their personal capacities in Civil Case No. 4252 of the Court of First Instance of Davao, petitioners,
vs.
HON. VICENTE P. BULLECER, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch IV; ATTY. PATERNO R. CANLAS, DANIEL RIVERA, SR., PABLO V. DEL ROSARIO
and NICANOR D. VERGARA, as Defendants in Civil Case No. 4252, of the Court of First Instance of Davao, respondents.

Antonio Enrile Inton for petitioners.


Paterno R. Canlas for and in his own behalf as respondent.

CASTRO, J.:

The present three petitions for certiorari with preliminary injunction (L-26571, L-26085 and L-26106) were separately interposed within the short span of five months by Jose S.
Matute, one of the fifteen heirs to the Amadeo Matute Olave estate. Because these petitions are intertwined in several material aspects and arose from a common environmental
setting — the intra-fraternal strife among the Matute heirs which has unduly delayed for more than a decade the settlement of the Matute estate — this Court has decided to embody
in a single decision the independently discussed resolutions of the issues raised in the said petitions.

L-26751

Although the petition in L-26751 was filed the latest (October 27, 1966), we shall dispose of it first because our pronouncements and observations in this case have direct and
concrete relevance to the other two.

The antecedent events trace their origin to August 20, 1965 when Carlos S. Matute, one of the Matute heirs and a full-blood brother of both the petitioner and the herein respondent
Matias S. Matute, filed in special proceeding 25876 (settlement of the Matute estate) a petition praying for the removal of Matias as co-administrator and his (Carlos') appointment in
such capacity. Carlos alleged that "for a period of more than two years from the date of his appointment (on May 29, 1963), said Matias S. Matute has neglected to render a true,
just and complete account of his administration," and that he "is not only incompetent but also negligent in his management of the estate under his charge consisting of five
haciendas on account of a criminal charge for murder filed against him which is occupying most of his time."1awphil.ñêt

The respondent Matias claims that he forthwith interposed an opposition to the aforesaid petition, and the record discloses that he later filed an amended opposition dated August
25, 1965 wherein he contended.

1. That the allegation ... that the herein co-administrator for the two years of his administration, 1963 and 1964, did not render any accounting is completely without basis
and false, because the records show that under date of May 20,1964, he submitted to this Honorable Court with copies furnished to all the parties concerned, including
Carlos S. Matute, his accounting for 1963, that on Feb. 8, 1965, he filed his accounting for 1964, which accounts for 1963 and 1964 have been approved by majority of the
heirs composing of 63% interests in the estate as shown by the attached manifestation....

2. That his competence to act as administrator has been established to the satisfaction of this Honorable Court as evidenced by his appointment by a fixed,
final and executory order dated May 29, 1963; and Carlos S. Matute is now estopped from denying his [Matias S. Matute's] competence and qualification by reason of his
failure to object to the appointment of herein Judicial Administrator at the time the application was made therefor;

3. .... The records of the pertinent case in the Court of First Instance ofDavao will easily discover that the "criminal charge" supported by perjuredtestimony is nothing but a
trumped-up affair initiated by persons intent onintimidating the herein Judicial Administrator into betraying his sworn dutyto protect and safeguard the interest of the Estate.
The records of the saidcase will also reveal that it has not occupied any time at all of the herein Judicial Administrator, for aside from a single hearing last December 1964
onhis application for bail ... no hearing has been held on the said case up tothe present.

Subsequently, Matias filed a memorandum dated September 12, 1965 in support of his foregoing opposition.

On September 21, 1965 the heirs of Agustina Matute Candelario, Elena MatuteCandelario and Amadeo Matute Candelario and their mother and legatee AnunciacionCandelario,
moved for the immediate appointment of Agustina Matute Candelario,Carlos S. Matute and Jose S. Matute, herein petitioner, as joint co-administratorsor anyone of them in place of
Matias S. Matute, whose removal they also soughttogether with the ouster of the general administrator Carlos V. Matute, on thefollowing additional grounds:

1. Despite the vast resources and income of the estate, the present administrators have failed to pay even the annual real property tax for the years 1964 and 1965;

2. The financial statements of both administrators were not properly signed andauthenticated by a certified public accountant, and do not contain the exactentries as filed by
former administrators containing the daily and monthly entriesof receipts and disbursements;

3. Both administrators have deliberately failed to file their inventories andstatements of accounts of time, and did so only when ordered by the probatecourt;

4. Both administrators have made unauthorized disbursements as shown by theirfinancial statements; and

5. The probate court has discretion to remove the administrator.

It appears that during the reception of evidence conducted on December 29, 1965by the probate court (Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of Manila withHonorable Emigdio
Nietes as the then presiding judge), Carlos S. Matute and theCandelario-Matute heirs submitted respective lists of exhibits in support oftheir motion to oust Matias. On January 8,
1966 Matias filed a written objectionto the admission of the movants' exhibits on the ground that the same were hearsay,self-serving, irrelevant and/or mere photostatic copies of
supposed originalswhich were never properly identified nor shown in court. Four days later, or onJanuary 12, 1966, the counsel for Matias filed with leave of court a "Motion
toDismiss and/or Demurrer to Evidence" which avers that "there is no sufficientevidence on record to justify and support the motions for the removal of theherein co-administrator
Matias S. Matute." In the same motion, said counselreserved the right to introduce evidence in behalf of his client should theforegoing motion be denied.

On January 31, 1966 the probate court issued an order, the dispositive portionof which reads:
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court hereby removes co-administrator, Matias S.Matute, as such co-administrator of the estate and orders him to submit a
finalaccounting of his administration together with his past administration accountswhich have not been approved, and, in his stead appoints Jose S. Matute, a brother by
the same mother of Matias S. Matute, as co-administrator, who ishereby required to put up a bond of P15,000.00, and thereafter immediatelyqualify in his commission and
assume the responsibility of co-administrator....

Forthwith, Matias interposed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari with preliminary mandatory injunction (CA-G.R. 37039-R) dated February 1, 1966, praying that the
aforesaid order of January 31, 1966 be set aside as a nullityfor having decreed his removal without due process and the appointment of JoseS. Matute without the requisite hearing.

On March 4, 1966 the Court of Appeals gave due course to the aforesaid petitionand resolved to grant a writ of preliminary injunction against Jose S. Matuteand the Honorable
Judge Emigdio Nietes, respondents in CA-G.R. 37039-R, conditioned on the filing of a P1,000 bond by the therein petitioner Matias, the respondentherein. On March 22, 1966 Jose
S. Matute moved for the dismissal of the abovementionedpetition on the ground that the Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction totake cognizance of the same since the value of
the estate involved is more thanP200,000. He further contended that the value of the Amadeo Matute Olave estatefor purposes of jurisdiction had already been resolved in CA-G.R.
35124-R wherethe Court of Appeals refused to take jurisdiction over a petition for certiorari contesting the appointment of Matias Matute as co-administrator, on the groundthat the
value of the Matute estate was placed at P2,132,282.72 as evidenced by a "Compromise Agreement" dated April 12, 1956 which was duly signed by all of the heirs.

Despite repeated urgent motions filed by Jose S. Matute praying that the Courtof Appeals resolve with dispatch the issue of jurisdiction, the said appelatetribunal instead required
then respondent Jose S. Matute to answer, which he did.However, on October 27, 1966 herein petitioner Jose S. Matute interposed theinstant petition for certiorari with preliminary
injunction against the Court of Appeals and Matias Matute, challenging the jurisdiction of the respondentCourt of Appeals upon two basic contentions:

The Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction to entertain, give due course, andmuch more to issue a writ of preliminary injunction, against the petitioner, Jose S. Matute, and
respondent Judge Emigdio Nietes in CA-G.R. No. 37039-R ... because the estate of Amadeo Matute Olave is worth more than P200,000.00; and

The same Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 35124-R, on January 27, 1965, specialfourth division, has ruled that the Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction on theestate of
Amadeo Matute Olave in the matter of the appointment and removal ofits administrators.

The respondent Matias Matute does not controvert the petitioner's claim that thevalue of the estate of their deceased father exceeds P200,000. He maintains,however, that the
respondent Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over CA-G.R.37039-R "because the subject matter involved is merely ... the right to collectthe (monthly) rentals due the Estate in the
sum of P5,000.00" pursuant to acontract of lease which he executed in favor of one Mariano Nasser coveringfive haciendas of the estate under his separate administration.

The foregoing assertion does not merit credence. A searching review of the record — from the initial petition filed by Carlos Matute to oust the respondentas co-administrator up to
the latter's petition for certiorari filed with theCourt of Appeals impugning the validity of the abovementioned order of January31, 1966 which removed him as co-administrator and
appointed the petitioner inhis place — reveals no single pleading, statement, contention, reference or eveninference which would justify the respondent's pretension that the
instantcontroversy is a mere contest over the right to collect a P5,000 rental. In bold contrast, the record vividly chronicles the controversy as a bitter fight for co-administration: the
removal of the respondent as co-administrator and the appointment of anyone of the movants and the herein petitioner as new co-administrator. Indeed, the principal conflict
gravitates over the right to co-administer the vast Amadeo Matute Olave estate. This is the same issue underlying the respondent'sabovementioned petition in CA-G.R. 37039-R.
The respondent's prayer in said petition unmistakably indicates that the dispute pertains to the right to co-administer in general, not the mere authority to collect a P5,000 monthly
rental.The said prayer reads:

1. That an ex parte writ of preliminary mandatory injunction be issued enjoiningand/or prohibiting the respondent Judge from approving the administrator's bondthat will be
filed by respondent Jose S. Matute and in issuing the letters ofadministration of the latter, and from issuing Orders incidental and/or connectedwith the exercise and
performance of acts of administration of said respondent Jose S. Matute; likewise enjoining and prohibiting respondent Jose S. Matutehimself, and/or through his counsels,
agents and representatives from takingphysical possession of the different haciendas under the exclusive administrationand management of herein petitioner and from
performing and exercising acts ofa duly and legally appointed administrator, upon filing a bond in such amountthat this Honorable Tribunal may fix;

2. That the Order of the respondent Judge dated January 31, 1966, removing herein petitioner as co-administrator of the Estate of Amadeo Matute Olave andappointing
respondent Jose S. Matute as co-administrator without presentationof evidence, be declared null and void and of no force and effect....
In fine, the pith of the controversy is the right to co-administer the entire estate. In this regard, the ruling in Fernandez, et al. vs. Maravilla 1 is determinative of the jurisdictional issue
posed here. In said case, this Courtruled that in a contest for the administration of an estate, the amount incontroversy is deemed to be the value of the whole estate, which total
valueshould be the proper basis of the jurisdictional amount. Consequently the Courtproceeded to conclude that the Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction toissue writs
of certiorari and preliminary injunction prayed for in a petition concerning a conflict over administration arising as an incident in the mainprobate or settlement proceeding if in the first
place the principal case or proceeding falls outside its appelate jurisdiction considering the total value of the subject estate. This Court in the aforesaid Maravilla case elaborated
thus:

The Court of Appeals, in the decision appealed from, assumed jurisdiction overthe present case on the theory that "the amount in controversy relative to theappointment of
Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator to protect the interestsof the respondents (herein petitioners) is only P90,000.00 more or less, i.e.,one fourth of the conjugal
property" (of respondent and the deceased DignaMaravilla) which, as per inventory submitted by the respondent as special administrator, is valued at P362,424.90. This
theory is untenable. Note that theproceedings had on the appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator are merely incidental to the probate or testate
proceedings of the deceased Digna Maravilla.

That the Court of Appeals have no appelate jurisdiction over the said testateproceedings cannot be doubted, considering the properties therein involved arevalued at
P362,424.00, as per inventory of the special administrator.

... Not having appelate jurisdiction over the proceedings in probate (CA-G.R.No. 27478-R), considering that the amount involved therein is more than P200,000.00,the
Court of Appeals cannot also have original jurisdiction to grant the writsof certiorari and prohibition prayed for by respondent in the instant case, whichare merely incidental
thereto....

Note also that the present proceedings under review were for the annulment ofthe appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator and to restrain theprobate
court from removing respondent as special administrator. It is therefore,a contest for the administration of the estate and, consequently, the amount orvalue of the assets of
the whole estate is the value in controversy. (4 C.J.S. 204.) It appearing that the value of the estate in dispute is much more than P200,000.00, the Court of Appeals clearly
had no original jurisdiction to issuethe writs in question. (emphasis supplied)

Like in the aforecited Maravilla case, the instant intra-fraternal controversy involves a contest over administration, an incident in the settlement of the vast Matute estate.
Considering that the value of the said estate is more thanP200,000, and considering further that as enunciated in the Maravilla case thetotal value of the subject estate determines
the jurisdictional amount anentdisputes over administration arising as incidents in a probate or settlementproceeding, like the case at bar, then it is indubitable that the respondent
Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction over CA-G.R. 37039-R nor the judicial authority to grant the writs of certiorari and prohibition prayed fortherein.

Herein respondent insists, however, that even granting that the actual controversy pertains to administration, such contested administration does not encompassthe whole estate
but is limited to the collection of a P5,000 monthly rental,which sum should be the basis of the jurisdictional amount, not the value ofthe whole estate. In support of his thesis, the
respondent alleges that duringhis incumbency as co-administrator, five haciendas in Davao belonging to theestate of his deceased father were consigned to his separate
administration; that in his capacity as co-administrator he leased on February 10, 1965 said haciendas to one Mariano Nasser for P5,000 a month; that by virtue of said
leasecontract, the possession, management and administration of the said properties were transferred to the lessee until the expiration of the contract; that consequently, only the
collection of the monthly rental of P5,000 remains asthe subject of the administration.

The foregoing contention of the respondent is patently untenable.

1. The averment of the respondent that the controversy centers on the collectionof the alleged P5,000 monthly rental and that the contest over administrationis limited
thereto, does not find any support in the record.

2. The rule remains that the jurisdictional amount is determined by the totalvalue of the estate, not by value of the particular property or portion of the estate subject to
administration, since the question of administration is merely incidental to the principal proceeding for the settlement and distribution ofthe whole estate.
3. The respondent's impression that a co-administrator's trust and responsibilityare circumscribed and delimited by the size and value of the particular propertyor portion of
the estate subject to his separate administration, is erroneous. Although a co-administrator is designated to admininister a portion of theestate, he is no less an
administrator of the whole because his judiciousmanagement of a mere parcel enhances the value of the entire estate, while hisinefficient or corrupt administration thereof
necessarily diminishes the valueof the whole estate. Moreover, when two or more administrators are appointed toadminister separate parts of a large estate they are not to
discharge theirfunctions in distant isolation but in close cooperation so as to safeguard andpromote the general interests of the entire estate. The teaching in Sison
vs.Teodoro 2 is of positive relevance. In the said case, the probate court chargedagainst the entire estate the compensation of an administrator who was assignedas judicial
administrator representing the interests of one of the two heiresses.The other heiress whose interest was represented by the executor opposed theaward on the ground
that the said administrator had not rendered service to theestate but only to his wife, the heiress whom he represented. On appeal, this Court upheld the award and
dismissed the opposition:

This argument erroneously assumes that because Carlos Moran Sison was "judicial administrator representing the interests of Priscilla F. Sison" he was such
administrator "solely for the purpose of protecting Priscilla's interests," and not to protect those of the estate. No words are needed to explain that in general,the interest of
the heir coincides with those of the estate — the bigger theestate the better for the heir. Therefore to protect the interest of heiressPriscilla usually meant to favor the
interest of the estate (sic).... Again, the argument presumes that an administrator appointed by the Court for thepurpose of giving representation to designated heirs, is not
deemed administratorof the estate. This assumption has no legal foundation, because it is admitted practice, where the estate is large, to appoint two or more
administrators ofsuch estate to have different interests represented and satisfied, and furthermore,to have such representatives work in harmony for the best interests of
such estate. (In re Drew's Estate, 236 N.W. 701, 2 C.J. p. 1183) (emphasis supplied)

Verily, therefore, the scope of a co-administrator's trust encompasses the entireestate and is co-extensive in effect with those of the other administrators; consequently, the value of
the entire estate should be the proper basis of the jurisdictional amount irrespective of the value of the particular property orassets of the estate which are the objects of a separate
administration pending the settlement proceedings.

In view of all the foregoing, we are of the consensus that the respondent Courtof Appeals has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of CA-G.R. 37039-R, and consequently was without
power to issue or grant the writs of certiorariand prohibition prayed for in said case.

Notwithstanding that the herein petitioner delimited the issue, as set forth inhis petition of certiorari, to one of jurisdiction of the respondent Court of Appeals over CA-G.R. 37039-R,
in subsequent pleadings and manifestations, however, the parties therein mutually expanded the issue to include the question of the legality of the controverted order of January 31,
1966 in CA-G.R. 37039-R. As a matter of fact, the respondent, in a "Petition to Resolve" dated July 18,1967, prayed "that a decision on the merits in this case be now rendered." To
this manifestation, the petitioner replied "that he has no objection, as in fact, he also prays that this case be decided at the earliest by the Highest Tribunal."

Since the respondent Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction over CA-G.R. 37039-R, we are of the considered opinion that this Court can forestall further delay in the already
protracted proceedings regarding the settlement of the Matute estate if it now proceeds to resolve the issue of legality of the abovementioned disputed order, rather than wait for the
parties to come anew on a separate petition in quest for a verdict on the said issue. Moreover, both the petitioner and the respondent private party have manifested and elaborated
their respective views on this issue and prayed and pressed for a decision thereon.

We shall now discuss separately the twin aspects of the foregoing controverted order, namely, (1) the removal of the respondent as co-administrator of the Matute estate, and (2)
the appointment of the petitioner as the new co-administrator.

The respondent contends that the disputed order removing him as co-administrator is a patent nullity for the following reasons:

(1) He was removed in wanton disregard of due process of law because the probatejudge arbitrarily deprived him of his day in court;

(2) The evidence adduced by the movants is manifestly insufficient, if not devoid of probative value, to warrant his removal; and

(3) He was removed not on the grounds specifically invoked by the movants but for causes discovered motu propio by the probate judge in the records of specialproceeding
25876 and without affording him the opportunity to rebut the findingsof the said judge.

Upon the other hand, the petitioner advances the following reasons in support of the order of removal:
(1) The probate judge accorded the respondent all the opportunity to adduce hisevidence but the latter resorted to dilatory tactics such as filing a "motion to dismiss or
demurrer to evidence";

(2) The evidences presented to sustain the removal of the respondent are incontrovertible since aside from being documentary, they are parts of the record of special
proceeding 25876; and

(3) The evidence on record conclusively supports the findings of the probate judge.

The settled rule is that the removal of an administrator under section 2 of Rule 82 lies within the discretion of the court appointing him. As aptly expressed in one case, 3 "The
sufficiency of any ground for removal should thus be determined by the said court, whose sensibilities are, in the first place, affected by any act or omission on the part of the
administrator not conformable to or in disregard of the rules or the orders of the court." Consequently, appellate tribunals are disinclined to interfere with the action taken by a
probate court in the matter of the removal of an executor or administrator unless positive error or gross abuse of discretion is shown. 4

In the case at bar, we are constrained, however to nullify the disputed order of removal because it is indubitable that the probate judge ousted the respondent from his trust without
affording him the full benefit of a day in court, thus denying him his cardinal right to due process.

It appears that shortly after the reception of evidence for the movants Carlos Matute and the Candelario-Matute heirs, the respondent filed on January 8, 1966a verified objection to
the admission in evidence of the movants' exhibits on the ground that the same were hearsay, self-serving, irrelevant and/or mere photostatic copies of supposed originals which
were never properly identified nor produced in court. Four days later, or on January 12, 1966, the respondent filed with leave of court a "Motion to Dismiss and/or Demurrer to
Evidence", the pertinent and material portion of which reads:

... considering the specific objection to each exhibit contained in said Objections to Admission of Movants' Exhibits and considering further the ruling of this Honorable
Court in open court that pleadings filed in this case are evidence only of the fact of their filing and not of the truth of the statements contained therein and considering still
further the fact that no competent single witness was presented by movants in support of their respective contentions, we submit that there is no sufficient evidence on
record to justify and support the motions for removal of the herein co-administrator Matias S. Matute and in the light of the authorities hereinbelow cited, the motions to
remove Matias S. Matute must be dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

... However, in the remote possibility that this instant motion be denied by this Honorable Court, the herein co-administrator expressly reserves his right to present his own
evidence ... at least five (5) days from the receipt of said denial.... (emphasis supplied)

Instead of resolving the foregoing motion, the probate judge issued the controverted order removing the respondent as co-administrator without giving him the opportunity to
adduce his own evidence despite his explicit reservation that he be afforded the chance to introduce evidence in his behalf in the event of denial of his motion to dismiss and/or
demurrer to evidence. We are of the view that the above actuation of the probate judge constituted grave abuse of discretion which dooms his improvident order as a nullity. In fact,
even without the respondent's reservation, it was the bounden duty of the probate judge to schedule the presentation and reception of the respondent's evidence before disposing of
the case on the merits because only the movants at that time had presented their evidence. This duty is projected into bolder relief if we consider, which we must, that the aforesaid
motion is in form as well as in substance a demurrer to evidence allowed by Rule 35, by virtue of which the defendant does not lose his right to offer evidence in the event that his
motion is denied. Said Rule states:

After the plaintiff has completed the presentation of his evidence, the defendant without waiving his right to offer evidence in the event the motion is not granted, may
move for a dismissal on the ground that upon the facts and law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. (emphasis supplied)

The application of the abovecited Rule in special proceedings, like the case at bar, is authorized by section 2 of Rule 72 which direct that in the "absence of special provisions, the
rules provided for in ordinary civil actions shall be, as far as practicable, applicable in special proceedings."
But what is patently censurable is the actuation of the probate judge in removing the respondent, not on the strength of the evidence adduced by the movants (not a single exhibit
or document introduced by the movants was specifically cited in the disputed order as a justification of the respondent's ouster), but on the basis of his (judge's) findings, which
he motu propio gleaned from the records of special proceeding 25876, without affording the respondent an opportunity to controvert said findings or in the very least to explain why
he should not be removed on the basis thereof.

The probate judge did find, as essayed in his disputed order, that the respondent "has shown indifference to his duties as such co-administrator of the estate" as evidenced by:

(1) the disapproval of his 1964 account by the probate court in an order dated January 5, 1966 due to his "non-appearance and non-submission of evidence to sustain his
account on the date set for the presentation of the same;"

(2) the considerable decrease in the income of the properties under his charge, as reflected in said 1964 account, which circumstance "does not speak well of his diligence
and attention to the administration of said properties;" and

(3) the failure of said 1964 account to disclose the number of calves born during the accounting period, "thereby indicating a palpable omission of fact which directly
reduced the value of the income or the increase of the assets of the estate."

But, significantly, the movants did not specifically invoke the aforesaid grounds in support of their petition to oust the respondent. All of the said grounds, which in the mind of the
probate judge exposed the supposed indifference and incompetence of the respondent in the discharge of his trust, are based on alleged defects of the respondent's 1964 account.
Under these circumstances, it behooved the probate judge to inform the respondent of his findings before ordering the latter's removal. We concede that the probate judge enjoys a
wide latitude of discretion in the matter of the removal of executors and administrators and he can cause their ouster at his own instance. However, before they are deprived of their
office they must be given the full benefit of a day in court, an opportunity not accorded to the respondent herein.

Without forgetting such patent denial of due process, which rendered the order of removal a nullity, let us examine the merits of the probate judge's motu propio findings to
determine whether they warrant the ouster of the respondent.

As proof of the respondent's "indifference" in the discharge of his duties, the probate judge cited the court's order of January 5, 1966 disapproving the respondent's 1964 account
for his failure to personally appear on the date set for the submission of evidence in support of the said account. It must be emphasized, however, that the respondent, two days
before the issuance of the aforesaid order removing him as co-administrator, seasonably moved for the reconsideration of the aforecited order of January 5, 1966 on the ground that
his failure to personally attend the scheduled hearing was due to illness on his part. Evidently, when the probate court decreed the removal of the respondent, the order disapproving
his 1964 account, which was used as one of the principal justifications for his removal as co-admininistrator, was not yet final as it was still subject to possible reconsideration. As a
matter of fact, on February 19, 1966 the same probate judge set aside the aforesaid order of January 5, 1966, thus:

Considering that it will be the benefit of all the parties concerned if former co-administrator Matias S. Matute will be allowed to substantiate the accounting which he
submitted to this Court but which was disapproved on January 5, 1966 for his failure to personally appear at the hearing held for the purpose of substantiating said
accounting, his motion for reconsideration filed on January 28, 1966 is hereby granted and the order dated January 5, 1966 disapproving the accounting submitted by
Matias S. Matute is set aside. (emphasis supplied)

With the order of January 5, 1966 thus revoked, the probate judge's conclusion that the respondent was "indifferent" to his duties as co-administrator as evidenced by the
disapproval of his 1964 account loses its principal basis.

Again using the 1964 account of the respondent as basis of his finding that the respondent was guilty of disinterest in the discharge of his trust, the probate judge stressed that "a
verification of said accounting shows the income of the properties under his (respondent's) charge were very much reduced which does not speak well of his diligence and attention
to the administration of the said properties," and that said account failed to report the number of "offspring of the cattle during the period of accounting belonging to the estate,
thereby indicating a palpable omission of fact which directly reduced the value of the income or increase of the assets of the estate." It is pertinent to emphasize here that the said
1964 account is still pending approval, hence it was premature to use alleged defects in said account as grounds for the removal of the respondent. If it is now ruled that the
respondent is unfit to continue as co-administrator because of the alleged infirmities in his account for 1964, the respondent will be greatly prejudiced in the event that said account
is finally approved and the said defects are found to be nonexistent or so trivial as not to affect the general validity and veracity of the account. Assuming, however, that the probate
judge correctly observed that the said account reflects a big reduction in the income of the haciendas under the separate administration of the respondent, this fact alone does not
justify the conclusion that the latter did not exercise due care and zeal. There is no proof that the decrease in income had been caused by the respondent's willful negligence or
dishonesty. Needless to stress, varied factors, some beyond the control of an administrator, may cause the diminution of an estate's income.

Anent the failure to report the number of calves born during the accounting period, granting that the same is true, there is however no evidence on record to prove that the said
omission was deliberate or designed to prejudice the estate. It could have been either an honest mistake or mere inadvertence. In the absence of competent proof to the contrary,
good faith must be presumed. The probate judge should have required the respondent to explain the said omission instead of branding outright said omission as "palpable."

In his excursion into the records of special proceeding 25876, the probate judge also found a copy of a so-called "Compliance" submitted by the respondent which reported "a very
staggering amount of over One Million Pesos supposedly given to the heirs" as advances. The probate judge proceeded to observe that the "record does not show that the said
advances to the heirs were authorized by the Court in the amounts made to appear in the 'Compliance.'" He added that a "verification of the record will show that may be part of this
amount supposedly paid by the co-administrator to the heirs were authorized by the Court but a greater volume of the same was obviously not authorized." On account of this
particular finding, the probate court concluded, without equivocation, that the respondent had been acting without previous authority from the probate court. Unfortunately again, the
respondent was not afforded the opportunity to present his side and if possible to controvert the said finding or correct the impressions of the judge. Hearing the respondent on this
point is imperative because, like the other grounds upon which the probate judge anchored the order of removal, it was not put in issue by the movants, neither was a copy of said
"Compliance" submitted in evidence. It bears emphasis that it there were unauthorized payments of advances to some heirs or simulated grants as the probate judge appears to
theorize, then it is most surprising why the prejudiced Matute heirs, litigation-proned as they are, did not impugn the so-called "Compliance." Furthermore, not one of the movants
interested in the removal of the respondent specifically charged the latter with unauthorized or fictitious payments of advances. It should also be noted that the said "Compliance"
was submitted by the respondent in response to the probate court's order for the submission of "a list of the heirs who have personally received the advances from
the administration," not from the respondent alone. It stands to reason, therefore, that the said "Compliance" could very well be a cumulative list of all the advances given and
received by the Matute heirs from the several administrators of the Matute estate since 1955. In the absence of concrete evidence that the said "staggering amount" of over a million
pesos advances was disbursed by the respondent alone during his beleaguered term which commenced only in 1963, we have no recourse but to jettison the adverse conclusion of
the probate judge. What the probate judge should have done was to afford Matias the chance to explain and substantiate the facts and the figures appearing in the aforesaid
"Compliance," which unfortunately does not form part of the record before us. The respondent asserts that if only the probate judge "took pains to examine fully the voluminous
records of the Matute estate, and as reflected in the very 'Compliance' submitted to the Court ... any disbursement given to the heirs by all the administrators of the Estate were by
virtue of the several Orders of the Probate Court issued upon joint motion of all the heirs for their monthly maintenance and support."

It likewise appears that the respondent was removed partly due to his failure to pay the inheritance and estate taxes. In this regard, it bears emphasis that the failure to pay the
taxes due from the estate is per se not a compelling reason for the removal of an administrator, for "it may be true that the respondent administrator failed to pay all the taxes due
from the estate, but said failure may be due to lack of funds, and not to a willful omission." 5 In the case at bar there is no evidence that the non-payment of taxes was willful. On the
contrary, the respondent alleged, and this was unchallenged by the movants, that while the previous administrators left the taxes unpaid, he had paid the real property taxes in
Davao covering the years 1954 to 1966.

We now come to the second part of the controverted order — the appointment of the petitioner as co-administrator vice the respondent. Since the removal of Matias was done with
inordinate haste and without due process, aside from the fact that the grounds upon which he was removed have no evidentiary justification, the same is void, and, consequently,
there is no vacancy to which the petitioner could be appointed.

Even granting arguendo that the removal of Matias is free from infirmity, this Court is not prepared to sustain the validity of the appointment of the petitioner in place of the former.
To start with, the record does not disclose that any hearing was conducted, much less that notices were sent to the other heirs and interested parties, anent the petition for the
appointment of Jose S. Matute, among others, as co-administrator vice Matias S. Matute. In this regard, it is pertinent to observe that any hearing conducted by the probate court
was confined solely to the primary prayers of the separate petitions of Carlos S. Matute, and the Candelario-Matute heirs seeking the ouster of Matias S. Matute. The corollary
prayers contained in the same petitions for the appointment of Carlos S. Matute, Jose S. Matute and Agustina Matute Candelario or anyone of them as co-administrator were never
even considered at any of the hearings. The requirement of a hearing and the notification to all known heirs and other interested parties as to the date thereof is essential to the
validity of the proceeding for the appointment of and administrator "in order that no person may be deprived of his right or property without due process of law." (Eusebio vs.
Valmores, 97 Phil. 163) Moreover, a hearing is necessary in order to fully determine the suitability of the applicant to the trust, by giving him the opportunity to prove his qualifications
and affording oppositors, if any, to contest the said application.

The provision of Rule 83 that if "there is no remaining executor or administrator, administration may be granted to any suitable person," cannot be used to justify the institution of
Jose S. Matute even without a hearing, because such institution has no factual basis considering that there was a general administrator (Carlos V. Matute) who remained in charge
of the affairs of the Matute estate after the removal of Matias S. Matute. The abovecited provision evidently envisions a situation when after the removal of the incumbent
administrator no one is left to administer the estate, thus empowering the probate court, as a matter of necessity, to name a temporary administrator (or caretaker), pending the
appointment of a new administrator after due hearing. Such circumstance does not obtain in the case at bar.

Upon the foregoing disquisition, we hold that the respondent Court of Appeals was without jurisdiction over CA-G.R. 37039-R, and that the controverted order of January 31, 1966
is a nullity and must therefore be set aside in its entirety.

L-26085

L-26085 is a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction interposed on May 19, 1966 by the same petitioner Jose S. Matute, praying that the controverted order of default dated
April 16, 1966, judgment by default dated April 23, 1966 and order of execution dated May 3, 1966, all issued by the Court of First Instance of Davao, be set aside.

The sequence of events, like in L-26751, commenced with the issuance by the probate court (Court of First Instance of Manila) of the order of January 31, 1966 removing Matias S.
Matute as co-administrator and replacing him with Jose S. Matute. Armed with the letters of co-administration awarded to him on February 3, 1966, Jose attempted to take
possession of and exercise administration over the five haciendas La Union, Sigaboy, Monserrat, Colatinan and Pundaguitan, all belonging to the Matute estate and situated in
Governor Generoso, Davao. Said five haciendas were previously assigned to the separate administration of the deposed co-administrator, Matias S. Matute.

Mariano Nasser, herein plaintiff-respondent, who was in actual possession of the said haciendas, opposed the projected takeover by the defendant-petitioner Jose S. Matute in the
latter's capacity as co-administrator. Subsequently, on February 15, 1966, Nasser instituted civil case 4968 in the Court of First Instance of Davao, a complain for injunction, alleging
that the defendant-petitioner was forcibly wresting possession of the said haciendaswith the aid of hired goons, and praying that the said defendant-petitioner be enjoined from
taking physical possession, management and administration of the aforesaid five haciendas. On February 16, 1966 the court a quoissued a writ of preliminary injunction ex parte,
prohibiting "Jose S. Matute and/or his counsels, agents, representatives or employees from taking physical possession, management and administration" of the abovementioned
properties.

On February 23, 1966, seven days after he received on February 16, 1966, the summons in civil case 4968, the defendant-petitioner moved to dismiss the aforesaid complaint for
injunction and to dissolve the ex parte writ of injunction. Said motion to dismiss was predicated mainly on the contention that the court a quo did not have jurisdiction over the subject
haciendas considering that the same "are properties in custodia legis under the jurisdiction of the Probate Court of Manila, in Sp. Proc. No. 25876 since 1955 up to the present time,"
and consequently the probate court has exclusive jurisdiction over all cases, like the one at bar, involving possession and administration of the aforesaid haciendas. In the same
motion to dismiss, the defendant-petitioner averred that the alleged contract of lease is simulated and fictitious for which reason not even a copy of the said contract was attached to
the complaint, and that granting that such a contract was actually executed, the same is invalid as it was never approved by the probate court. On February 28, 1966 the defendant-
petitioner was furnished a copy of the plaintiff-respondent's opposition to the abovementioned motion to dismiss and to lift the ex parte writ of injunction.

Failing to receive any notice of a court resolution on his client's motion to dismiss during the period of about 1-½ months after the filing of the said motion, the defendant-petitioner's
counsel on April 11, 1966 wrote the clerk of court of the court a quo, requesting that any resolution or order of the trial court be mailed to him by airmail at his expense, instead of by
surface mail, in order to minimize postal delay. Sometime between April 11 and 19, 1966, the said counsel also dispatched an emissary to Davao to inquire about the status of civil
case 4968. After personal verification of the record, the said emissary reported to the defendant-petitioner's counsel that the abovementioned motion to dismiss had been denied by
the court a quo in an order dated March 31, 1966. It was also discovered from the record that the plaintiff-respondent's counsel had been sent a copy of the order of denial on the
very day it was rendered (March 31, 1966) but the record was silent as to the mailing of the corresponding copy for the defendant-petitioner's counsel, which copy until then had not
been received by the latter. Forthwith, on April 19, 1966, although he had not yet been furnished his copy of the said order of denial, defendant-petitioner's counsel interposed the
requisite answer with counterclaim. Then on April 23, 1966 he filed a manifestation calling the attention of the court a quo that as of the said date he had not received a copy of the
order denying his client's motion to dismiss. It was only two days later, or on April 25, 1966, that the said counsel claims, uncontroverted by the respondent Judge and the plaintiff-
respondent, that he received his copy of the aforesaid order.

In a "Motion to Strike" dated April 26, 1966, the plaintiff-respondent urged that the aforementioned answer with counterclaim be stricken from the record on the grounds that
on April 16, 1966 the court a quo had declared defendant-petitioner in default for failure to answer the complaint in civil case 4928 and that subsequently, on April 23, 1966,
a judgment by default had been entered against the latter.

Immediately after receipt on May 5, 1966 of a copy of the said "Motion to Strike," the defendant-petitioner filed his opposition, asserting that it was legally impossible to declare him
in default as of April 16, 1966 for failure to file his responsive pleading, considering that it was only after the said date, that is, on April 25, 1966, that he received, through his
counsel, a copy of the order denying his motion to dismiss. On the same day, May 5, 1966, the defendant-petitioner's counsel dispatched a rush telegram to the clerk of court of the
Court of First Instance of Davao inquiring whether the trial court had really rendered the order of default dated April 16, 1966 and the subsequent judgment by default dated April 23,
1966, copies of which had not been received by him. On the following day, May 6, 1966, the defendant-petitioner filed an "Urgent Motion to Investigate the Office of the Clerk of
Court for Mailing Discrepancy."

The defendant-petitioner's counsel claims — and this is not controverted by the respondent Judge and the plaintiff-respondent — that it was only May 17, 1966 that he received a
copy of the judgment by default and at the same time a copy of the order of execution dated May 3, 1966, and that a copy of the order of default had never been furnished him.

Because of the impending execution of the judgment by default with the following dispositive portion —

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant confirming the right of the plaintiff
to the possession of the premises leased in his favor by the judicial administrator, Matias S. Matute and the injunction against the defendant issued in this case is hereby
declared permanent and defendant is hereby permanently enjoined from interfering in the peaceful possession of the plaintiff over the haciendas La Union, Sigaboy,
Monserrrat, Golatinan and Pundaguitan of the estate of Amadeo Matute Olave, all situated in Governor Generoso, Davao and from doing any act of taking any step against
the peaceful possession of said properties by the plaintiff. The defendant is likewise ordered to pay the plaintiff the amount of P50,000.00 as attorney's fees due and
payable to plaintiff's counsel for filing this action: P2,400.00 a month beginning February, 1966, representing monthly salaries of security guards employed by the plaintiff in
the haciendas leased plus P7,000.00 representing transportation hotel and representation expenses incurred by the plaintiff for plaintiff's counsel and another P700.00
representing the yearly premiums on the injunction bond filed by plaintiff.

the defendant-petitioner interposed the instant petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction to annul the order of default, the judgment by default, and the order of execution, and
to restrain the execution of the aforesaid judgment pending the resolution of the instant petition.

On May 23, 1966 this Court granted the writ of preliminary injunction prayed for, conditioned on the petitioner's posting a bond of P5,000, which he did on June 4, 1966.

We are of the consensus that the herein petition should be granted.

Rule 11, section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court gives the defendant a period of fifteen (15) days after service of summons within which to file his answer and serve a copy thereof
upon the plaintiff, unless a different period is fixed by the court. However, within the period of time for pleading, the defendant is entitled to move for dismissal of the action on any of
the ground enumerated in Rule 16. If the motion to dismiss is denied or if determination thereof is deferred, the movant shall file his answer within the period prescribed by Rule 11,
computed from the time he received notice of the denial or deferment, unless the court provides a different period (Rule 16, section 4). In other words, the period for filing a
responsive pleading commence to run all over again from the time the defendant received notice of the denial of his motion to dismiss. 6

Reverting to the case at bar, the defendant-petitioner was served with summons in connection with civil case 4968 on February 16, 1966, hence he had until March 3, 1966 to file
his responsive pleading. Instead of filing an answer, he seasonably interposed a motion to dismiss on February 23, 1966. Although the aforesaid motion to dismiss was denied as
early as March 31, 1966, he received notice of the denial, through his counsel of record, only on April 25, 1966, a fact not traversed by either the respondent Judge or the plaintiff-
respondent. Consequently, the defendant-petitioner had fifteen (15) days from April 25, 1966, or up to May 10, 1966, to file his answer.

The delay in the mailing of a copy of the order of denial to the defendant-petitioner's counsel was confirmed by the court a quo in a report rendered after an investigation of the
office of the clerk of court upon urgent motion of the defendant-petitioner. The report reads in part:

From its investigation of the employee in charge of Civil Cases, the Court found out that, indeed, there was a delay in the mailing of the Order of this Court dated March
31, 1966 to counsel for the defendant, Atty. Antonio Enril Inton. This Court, however, is convinced of the sincerity of the reasons given by the employee concerned, and that
is: that her failure to cause to be mailed the copy intended for Atty. Antonio Enrile Inton on the same date that she caused to be mailed the copy for Atty. Paterno Canlas
(plaintiff-respondent's counsel) was purely a case of an honest mistake and inadvertene on her part owing to the volume of her work; the affidavit of the employee in charge
of Civil Cases being hereto attached.

The affidavit of the employee concerned mentioned in the above-quoted portion of the report clearly admits the delay, thus:
That due to the fact that I am the only one handling matters relative to Civil Cases and, because of the volume of my work in the office, I must have inadvertently
misplaced the envelop containing a copy of the Order intended for Atty. Antonio Enrile Inton, and only discovered by (my) mistake on April 14, 1966, when I went over some
papers contained in the drawer of my table;

That upon discovery of the said envelope containing the copy of the order dated March 31, 1966, among the papers in my table drawer, I forthwith sent the same to the
one in charge of mailing and who mailed the same on April 16, 1966, by registered air mail special delivery, as evidenced by Registry Receipt No. 26897 now attached to
the records of this case. (emphasis supplied)

It is unmistakable from the foregoing exposition that when the defendant-petitioner was declared in default on April 16, 1966 the time for filing his answer had not yet even
commenced to run anew because on the said date his counsel had not yet received notice of the denial of the motion to dismiss. The order of denial was received only on April 25,
1966, or definitely after April 16, 1966, the day when a copy of the said order was mailed to the defendant-petitioner's counsel and when the defendant-petitioner was declared in
default.

No further elaboration is needed to show that the trial judge acted in excess of jurisdiction when he declared the defendant-petitioner in default. Consequently, the herein
controverted order of default is a patent nullity, an infirmity which likewise afflicts, necessarily, the subsequent judgment by default and the order of execution.

It is not amiss to say that, at the very least, the defendant-petitioner's motion to dismiss should have been considered as an answer, since it raised issues on the merits of the case,
such as the invalidity of the alleged contract of lease. Consequently, the defendant petitioner should have been notified of the hearing, and failure to give him an opportunity to
appear in the court below tainted the subsequent proceedings not only with irregularity but also with illegality. It follows, therefore, that the petitioner was incorrectly declared in
default, and the holding of the trial of the case on the merits in his absences, without due notice to him, was a denial of due process. 7

In opposing the instant petition, the plaintiff-respondent contends that the remedy of the defendant-petitioner is not a petition for certiorari but an ordinary appeal pursuant to Rule
41, section 2, paragraph 3 which reads:

A party who has been declared in default may likewise appeal from the judgment rendered against him as contrary to the evidence or to the law, even if no petition for
relief to set aside the order of default has been presented by him in accordance with Rule 38.

We do not agree. The remedy provided for in the abovequoted rule is properly, though not exclusively, available to a defendant who has been validly declared in default. It does not
preclude a defendant who has been illegallydeclared in default from pursuing a more speedy and efficacious remedy, like a petition for certiorari to have the judgment by default set
aside as a nullity.

It should be emphasized that a defendant who is properly declared in default is differently situated from one who is improvidently declared in default. The former irreparably loses
his right to participate in the trial, while the latter rentals such right and may exercise the same after having the order of default and the subsequent judgment be default annulled and
the case remanded to the court of origin. Moreover the former is limited to the remedy set forth in section 2, paragraph 3 of Rule 41 by virtue of which he can
contest only the judgment by default on the designated ground that it is contrary to the evidence or the law; the latter, however, has the option to avail of the same remedy or to
forthwith interpose a petition for certiorari seeking the nullification of the order of default even before the promulgation of a judgment by default, or in the event that the latter has
been rendered, to have both court decrees — the other of default and the judgment by default — declared void. The defendant-petitioner's choice of the latter course of action is
correct for he controverts the judgment by default not on the ground that it is not supported by evidence or it is contrary to law, but on the ground that it is intrinsically void for having
been rendered pursuant to a patently invalid order of default.

Granting, however, that an appeal is open to the defendant-petitioner, the same is no longer an adequate and speedy remedy considering that the court a quo had already ordered
the issuance of a writ of execution and the carrying out of such writ loomed as a great probability. This is in consonance with the doctrine enunciated in Vda. de Saludes vs Pajarillo
and Bautista 8 wherein this Court held that an "appeal under the circumstances was not adequate remedy there being an order of execution issued by the municipal court." Hence,
the rule that certioraridoes not lie when there is an appeal is relaxed where, as in the instant case, the trial court had already ordered the issuance of a writ of execution. 9

The plaintiff-respondent also argues that the instant petition should be denied for failure of the defendant-petitioner to move for a reconsideration of the challenged decrees so as to
afford the court a quo the chance to amend its errors. While as a matter of policy a motion for reconsideration in the lower court has often been considered a condition sine qua
non for the granting of a writ of certiorari, this rule does not apply "where the proceeding in which the error occurred is a patent nullity," 10 or where "the deprivation of petitioner's
fundamental right to due process ... taints the proceedings against him in the court below not only with irregularly but with nullity," 11 or when special circumstances warrant
immediate and more direct action. 12 The fact that the defendant-petitioner had been deprived of due process, taken together with the circumstance that a writ of execution had
already been issued, perforce takes this case outside of the purview of the rule requiring a previous motion for reconsideration.

The nullity of the challenged orders relieves the defendant-petitioner from paying the damages assessed against him by the court a quo; however, it does not entitle him to pursue
further his claim of possession and administration over the abovementioned five haciendas, considering that we have declared in L-26751 that his appointment as co-administrator is
void.

In view of the foregoing disquisition, the controverted order of default, judgment by default and order of execution should be annulled and set aside.

L-26106

L-26106 is another petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction instituted on May 25, 1966 by Jose S. Matute (the same petitioner in L-26751 and L-26085) and his brother Luis
S. Matute, 13 praying for the nullification of the following orders of the Court of First Instance of Davao:

1. The order of February 15, 1966 dismissing with prejudice civil case 4252, a complaint filed by Matias S. Matute in behalf of the Matute estate for the annulment of a
compromise agreement and for the reconveyance of certain properties, in which case Jose and Luis Matute appeared as intervenors in alliance with the plaintiff estate;

2. The order of March 29, 1966 declaring in default the intervenors in civil case 4252 for failure to answer the defendant Paterno Canlas' counterclaim, and adjudging them
to jointly and severally pay the sum of P100,000 in damages to the said Canlas; and

3. The order of April 12, 1966 directing the issuance of a writ of execution against the intervenors to enforce the abovementioned judgment by default.

The factual milieu follows:

On February 5, 1966 Matias S. Matute, in his capacity as co-administrator, instituted in the name of the Matute estate civil case 4252 praying for, among others, (1) the annulment
of the compromise agreement dated November 26, 1962 entered into between the co-administrator Julian V. Matute and Atty. Paterno R. Canlas, one of the defendants-
respondents herein, in full settlement of the latter's claim for attorney's fees against the decedent Amadeo Matute Olave; (2) the nullification of the compromise judgment of
December 5, 1962 approving the aforesaid compromise agreement; (3) the voiding of the deed of conveyance and assignment of rights dated December 20, 1962 by virtue of which
the said Julian Matute transferred to Canlas several parcels of land belonging to the Matute estate pursuant to the compromise judgment; (4) the annulment of the deed of
conveyance covering the said parcels of land executed on February 20, 1963 by Canlas in favor of Daniel Rivera, Sr., also one of the defendants-respondents; (5) the nullification of
the unregistered deeds of mortgages, both date July 19, 1963, over said properties executed by Rivera in favor of Pablo del Rosario and Nicanor Vergara, also defendants-
respondents herein; and (6) the reconveyance of the said properties.

The aforesaid complaint was anchored on the grounds that (1) the compromise agreement was entered into in fraud of the Matute estate; (2) Julian Matute, as a mere co-
administrator, had no authority to enter into the said compromise agreement without the consent of the then general administrator, Don Celestino Alonzo; (3) the compromise
agreement was approved by the Court of First Instance of Manila (Branch X) without notice to the heirs and the general administrator; and (4) the said agreement had neither prior
nor subsequent approval of the probate court which has custody of the parcels of land involved in the said agreement.

The defendant-respondent Canlas subsequently interposed a motion to dismiss dated February 24, 1964 predicated on the ground of res judicata, among others. Anent the issue
of res judicata, said motion to dismiss averred:

The records of Civil Case No. 14208, entitled "Rosario Matute, et al. v. Amadeo Matute Olave", Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch X, will show that on December 5,
1962, the Honorable Judge Jose L. Moya, Presiding Judge of Branch X, of the Court of First Instance of Manila, rendered a Compromise Judgment ... pursuant to a
Compromise Agreement ... entered into between defendant Paterno R. Canlas and the Estate of Amadeo Matute Olave, duly represented by the General Administrator of
the Estate, the late Julian V. Matute and his counsel of record in said Civil Case No. 14208, Atty. Marcelo Rafols Javier involving the attorney's fees of defendant Paterno
R. Canlas in said Civil Case No. 14208, secured with a charging lien on the properties involves herein. Pursuant to said Compromise Judgment, the said Julian V. Matute,
as General Administrator of the Estate of his deceased father, Amadeo Matute Olave, transferred and conveyed the properties involved herein which were ordered to be
sold by the Probate Court of Manila for only P144,000.00, in favor of defendant Paterno R. Canlas as full payment of his attorney's fees in Civil Case No. 14208 in the
amount of P200,000.00 agreed upon in the Compromise Agreement. The said Compromise Judgment of December 5, 1962 is immediately final and not appeallable and
has the effect and authority of Res Judicata in this case filed by co-administrator, Matias S. Matute, on behalf of the Estate, without authority of his general administrator,
Carlos V. Matute, who filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint in this case

That the records of Civil Case No. 14208 will show that after the Compromise Judgment was rendered on December 5, 1962, a Petition for relief to set aside the said
Compromise Judgment was filed by two (2) of the heirs and full-blooded sisters of plaintiff co-administrator, Matias S. Matute, namely, Rosario and Trinidad Suazo Matute
on June 6, 1963, on grounds of (a) fraud and (b) lack of the probate court's approval to the Compromise Agreement, the very same grounds alleged in the present
Complaint of plaintiff Estate, a copy of the Petition for Relief is hereto attached as Annex "C" of this Motion to Dismiss. That on June 13, 1963, herein defendant Paterno R.
Canlas filed his Opposition to petition for Relief, and, on June 26, 1963, a Supplementary Opposition to Petition for Relief and refuting all the above issues raised in the
Petition for Relief, copies of which are hereto attached as Annexes "D" and "E". Rosario and Trinidad Suazo Matute filed Reply and defendant Paterno R. Canlas filed his
Rejoinder on July 8, 1963 attaching therewith the letter-conformity to the Compromise Judgment of co-administrator, Matias S. Matute, copies of which are hereto attached
as Annexes "F" and "F-1" of this Motion to Dismiss. That on July 13, 1963, Branch X of the Court of First Instance of Manila, taking cognizance of Civil Case No. 14208,
rightfully denied the Petition for Relief on all the grounds stated in our Opposition to the Petition for Relief, Supplementary Opposition, etc., and Rejoinder, a copy of which
order is hereto attached as Annex "G" of this Motion to Dismiss.

In other words, it is the basic contention of Canlas that both the compromise judgment of December 5, 1962rendered by the Court of First Instance of Manila (Branch X) 14 and
the order of the same court dated July 13, 1963denying the aforecited petition for relief from judgment which sought the setting aside of the said compromise judgment, bar by virtue
of res judicata the prosecution of the abovementioned civil case 4252 which seeks anew the annulment of the said compromise judgment on practically the same grounds invoked in
the aforesaid petition for relief, which grounds were justifiably denied by the competent court.

It appears that on the same day Canlas filed his motion to dismiss, the general administrator and heir, Carlos V. Matute, filed his own motion to dismiss dated February 15, 1964,
stating among other things, that he had never authorized his co-administrator, Matias Matute, to file civil case 4252 in the name of the estate and that said complaint was filed
without legal authority and is prejudicial to the interests of the estate as it would only entail unnecessary litigation expenses. He presented his written conformity to the compromise
judgment in his capacity as the succeeding general administrator.

On February 27, 1964 the defendants-respondents Daniel Rivera, Sr., Pablo del Rosario and Nicanor Vergara filed their own joint motion to dismiss, alleging among other things
that they were innocent transferees and mortgages for value of the properties subject matter of the complaint and adopted as their own the motions to dismiss filed by Canlas and
Carlos V. Matute.

On April 11, 1964 the Honorable Judge Vicente N. Cusi, Jr., executive judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao, issued an order deferring to after the trial the final hearing and
determination of the motions to dismiss since the grounds alleged therein "do not appear to be indubitable." From this order, the defendants moved for a reconsideration which was
denied on January 16, 1965.

Meanwhile, on August 17, 1964 Jose and Luis Matute filed a motion to intervene, asking that they be allowed to adopt the complaint of the plaintiff-estate. Said motion was granted
on September 5, 1964.

After the aforesaid rejection of the defendants' motion for reconsideration of the order denying their separate motions to dismiss, Canlas filed on February 15, 1965 his answer ad
cautelam, traversing the material allegations of the complaint in civil case 4252 and interposing the grounds stated in his motion to dismiss as affirmative defenses. He also filed a
counterclaim for damages in the amount of P100,000 jointly against Matias Matute, for filing the "frivolous and unfounded" action in the name of the estate, and Jose an Luis Matute,
for intervening in the case. All there were charged in their personal capacities. On the same date, the other defendants, Rivera, del Rosario and Vergara, filed their own answer ad
cautelam, denying the essential averments of the complaint having relevance to them and adopting the affirmative defenses interposed by Canlas. Said defendants similarly
interposed a counterclaim of P50,000 for damages, directed against the plaintiff-estate.

On March 1, 1965 Matias Matute, representing the plaintiff-estate, filed the corresponding answers to the foregoing counterclaims. The answer to Canlas' counterclaim specifically
denied.
that the above-entitled case is patently frivolous and unfounded and was instituted in bad faith and calculated to merely harass the defendant in order to satisfy the
personal revenge, hatred and vindictiveness of the co-administrator Matias S. Matute, representing the plaintiff estate, and intervenors Jose S. Matute and Luis S. Matute,
the truth being that the complaint in the above-entitled case was instituted precisely to prevent defendants from illegally and fraudulently transforming and conveying
themselves valuable properties of plaintiff estate worth more than P500,000.00;

and disclaimed any

knowledge of any actual, moral and consequential damage having been suffered by defendant Paterno R. Canlas.

Meanwhile, upon motion of the counsels for the defendants, Judge Cusi ordered on August 28, 1965 the reshuffle of civil case 4252 in accordance with section 7, Rule 22 of the
Rules of Court. Eventually, the case was transferred to the sala of Judge Vicente P. Bullecer, the respondent judge herein.

On January 22, 1966 Canlas filed a "Motion to Resolve: I. Motion to Dismiss; II. Supplementary and/or Second Motion to Dismiss."

On February 3, 1966 Jose Matute interposed an urgent ex parte motion for substitution as representative of the plaintiff-estate in place of Matias Matute, citing the order of January
31, 1966 of the probate court of Manila which appointed him as co-administrator in place of Matias Matute.

Subsequently, Matias Matute filed in behalf of the plaintiff-estate a motion to withdraw and/or dismiss with prejudice the complaint in civil case 4252, which, it will be recalled, he
himself instituted in the name of the Matute estate. The following grounds were advanced to justify the said motion:

That after a thorough study of the documents presented by the parties in this case, the undersigned Judicial Administrator realized that he has expressly ratified and
confirmed any and all contracts and compromise for attorney's fees that his co-administrator Julian V. Matute has already entered into with the defendant Atty. Paterno R.
Canlas in his capacity as co-administrator of the said testacy;

That the causes of action of the above-entitled complaint against the defendants were based and predicated from the compromise agreement entered into between
co-administrator Julian V. Matute and the defendant Paterno R. Canlas on December 2, 1962 and which compromise agreement was approved by Judge Jose Moya,
presiding Judge of Branch X of the Court of First Instance of Manila, in Civil Case No. 14208 entitled Rosario S. Matute, et al. vs. Amadeo Matute Olave, etc., in the
Compromise Judgment dated December 5, 1962.

On February 15, 1966 the respondent Judge dismissed with prejudice the aforesaid complaint. The order of dismissal reads:

The records show that this action was filed by Matias S. Matute in his capacity as co-administrator of the Estate of Amadeo Matute Olave appointed in Sp. Proc. No.
25876, Probate Court of Manila, to annul a compromise judgment awarding attorney's fees to defendant Atty. Paterno R. Canlas and rendered in Civil Case No. 14208,
Court of First Instance of Manila.

Pending incidents in this case, are the motion to dismiss and supplementary motion to dismiss on the ground of res judicata filed by the defendants and adopted by the
General Administrator of the Estate, Carlos V. Matute, and the heirs Maria Luisa Matute, Conchita V. Matute, Carlos S. Matute, Ramos S. Matute, Eduarda S. Matute and
Mrs. Cecilia Villanueva Matute.

It appears now that the co-administrator Matias S. Matute who filed this action in the name of the Estate of Don Amadeo Matute Olave filed a motion to withdraw and/or
dismiss dated January 8, 1966 and verified before the acting Clerk of Court of Appeals stating that he is withdrawing the complaint he filed in this case and prays this Court
to dismiss it with prejudice and further ratifying and expressing conformity to the compromise judgment subject matter of the complaint rendered in the Civil Case 14208,
Court of First Instance of Manila.

As prayed for in defendants' motion to dismiss and supplementary action (motion) to dismiss, the action filed in this case is hereby dismissed with prejudice without cost to
plaintiff . (emphasis supplied).
On March 12, 1966 the respondent Judge issued another order declaring that "all the other incidents pending in this case are hereby terminated and closed." (Emphasis supplied)
Said order reads:

Considering the order of this Court dated February 15, 1966 dismissing this case with prejudice on the ground of res judicata in view of the final order of July 31, 1963
issued by the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch X, in Civil Case No. 14208, as alleged in the defendants' motion to dismiss and supplementary motion to dismiss:
and considering further that the co-administrator Matias S. Matute who filed the complaint in this case in the name of the plaintiff Estate has withdrawn and/or prayed for the
dismissal of this case with prejudice, and considering furthermore, that the said Order of this Court of February 15, 1966 is now fixed and final, all the other incidents
pending in this case are hereby terminated and closed.

However, on March 29, 1966 the respondent Judge promulgated an order declaring in default both the intervenors and the plaintiff estate, the former for failure to answer Canlas'
counterclaim and the latter for failure to respond to the other defendants' separate counterclaim. The same decree included a judgment by default condemning the intervenors to
jointly and severally pay the sum of P100,000 as damages to Canlas and likewise sentencing the plaintiff estate to indemnify the other defendants Rivera, del Rosario and Vergara
in the sum of P50,000. Subsequently, on April 12, 1966 the respondent Judge ordered the issuance of a writ of execution to enforce the aforesaid judgment by default.

Hence, the interposition by the intervenors of the instant petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction.

Anent the order of February 15, 1966 dismissing with prejudice civil case 4252, the intervenors-petitioners (now Jose Matute alone, as the other petitioner, Luis Matute, has already
withdrawn) contend that the said order is a nullity as it was predicated on a void motion to dismiss and/or withdraw filed by Matias Matute on February 14, 1966, two weeks after the
latter had been removed as co-administrator by the probate court in an order dated January 31, 1966. It is further maintained that when Matias Matute interposed the aforesaid
motion to dismiss and/or to withdraw, he had no more authority to represent the Matute estate as a consequence of his ouster as co-administrator. The foregoing argument is
irredeemably foreclosed by our explicit ruling in L-26751 setting aside the abovementioned order of January 31, 1966 and declaring as void the removal of Matias Matute and the
appointment of the herein intervenor-petitioner Jose S. Matute as the new co-administrator. Granting, therefore, that the controverted order of dismissal was rendered on account of
Matias Matute's aforesaid motion which was filed in behalf of the plaintiff estate, the validity of such dismissal order cannot be challenged on the ground that the movant (Matias
Matute) lacked the capacity to represent the plaintiff estate considering that his personality and authority as co-administrator remained unimpaired because the order of January 31,
1966 is a nullity.

However, the intervenor-petitioner is of the mistaken impression that the disputed order of dismissal was based on Matias Matute's motion to dismiss and/or to withdraw. As
correctly pointed out by the defendants-respondents, the said order was anchored on their own motion to dismiss and supplementary motion to dismiss. Although both the motions
of the co-administrator in representation of the plaintiff estate and of the defendants, either of which could justify the dismissal of the complaint in civil case 4252, were prominently
mentioned in the body of the said controverted order, the unequivocal import of the dispositive portion of said decree, however, is that the dismissal was predicated on the
defendants' motion to dismiss and supplementary motion to dismiss, thus:

As prayed for in defendants' motion to dismiss and supplementary action to dismiss, the action filed in this case is hereby dismissed with prejudice without cost to plaintiff.
(emphasis supplied)

Moreover, both the order of March 12, 1966 declaring the termination of all other incidents in civil case 4252 and the order of April 11, 1966 denying the intervenors' motion for
reconsideration, categorically affirm that the disputed order of dismissal was anchored on the defendants' motion to dismiss on the ground of res judicata. The order of April 11, 1966
specifically declares that the dismissal of civil case 4252 was based

... on the ground of res judicata invoked by the defendants in their Motion to Dismiss and Supplementary Motion to Dismiss for the reason that the Compromise Judgment
rendered in Civil Case No. 14208, Court of First Instance of Manila, sought to be annulled in this case, and the Order of July 31, 1963 denying the Petition for Relief in Civil
Case No. 14208 and settling all the issues raised in the Complaint, have both the force and effect of res judicata.

Undeniably, the aforesaid order of dismissal with prejudice adjudicated civil case 4252 upon the merits. Since there is no showing that the respondent Judge issued the said order
with grave abuse of discretion or without or in excess of jurisdiction, an ordinary appeal, then, not a petition for certiorari, was the proper remedy available to the intervenors Jose
and Luis Matute who claim to be aggrieved, by the dismissal. But having failed to seasonably appeal from the aforesaid order of dismissal, the herein intervenor-petitioner cannot
avail of a petition for certiorarias a substitute remedy 15 to challenge the said order, which in the meantime had already become final.
The pretention of the intervenor-petitioner that his inability to appeal on time was due to the failure of the court a quo to furnish him a copy of the order of dismissal is a spurious, if
not an utterly perfidious, claim. To begin with, when the herein intervenor-petitioner and his brother Luis filed their motion to intervene on August 17, 1964, they were not represented
by counsel, but they failed to disclose their respective addresses or at least the address of one of them, contrary to the requirement of section 5 of Rule 7 that a "party who is not
represented by an attorney shall sign his pleadings and state his address." (emphasis supplied) Consequently, if the pertinent orders and notices were not sent to the intervenors, it
was because of their failure to disclose their mailing addresses. At all events, since the intervenors virtually allied with the plaintiff estate by adopting in toto the latter's complaint
without filing a separate complaint in intervention, it is not without justification to rule, considering the particular circumstances obtaining, that notice to the plaintiff estate should be
deemed sufficient notice to the intervenors. Moreover, it is of record that both Attys. Wenceslao Laureta and Robert Porter, who appeared on February 7, 1966 as counsels for the
intervenor Jose S. Matute in his capacity as alleged co-administrator by virtue of the abovecited order of the probate court dated January 31, 1966, were duly furnished with copies
of all orders of the court a quosubsequent to their appearance. Anent the order of dismissal dated February 15, 1966, the lower court reported, after an investigation of the deputy
clerk of court for alleged mailing discrepancies upon motion of the intervenors, that copies of the said order were "each mailed to and received by Attys. Wenceslao Laureta and
Robert E. Porter on March 18 and 3, 1966, respectively, per registry return cards duly attached to the records of this case." In other words, the intervenor-petitioner Jose S. Matute
was furnished, through counsel, a copy of the order of dismissal at the earliest on March 3, 1966 when Atty. Porter received a copy of the order. After a lapse of twenty-three (23)
daysfrom the receipt of the said copy, Attys. Laureta and Porter filed on March 26, 1966 a motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal. Hence, when the said motion was
filed, the intervenor-petitioner had still seven (7) days to perfect an appeal. Subsequently, on April 11, 1966, the court a quo denied the aforesaid motion for reconsideration.
Separate copies of said denial were received by Atty. Laureta on April 16, 1966 and by Atty. Porter on April 18, 1966, respectively, as per registry receipts 25870 and 25872 and
delivery No. 69785 and the reply-telegram dated July 2, 1966 from the Bureau of Posts addressed to the respondent Judge. From April 16, 1966, the intervenor-petitioner still had
seven (7) days or up to April 23, 1966 to perfect an appeal. However, it was only on April 25, 1966 that the requisite notice of appeal and appeal bond were filed while the record on
appeal was filed much later, on May 26, 1966, clearly way beyond the reglementary period.

The intervenor-petitioner contends, however, that it was only on April 25, 1966 that he received notice of the dismissal of civil case 4252 and on the very same day he caused the
filing of the necessary notice of appeal and appeal bond. Conceding that the foregoing assertion is correct, the intervenor-petitioner's projected appeal was still out of time since the
requisite record on appeal was filed only on May 26, 1966, or thirty-one days from April 25, 1966.

In passing, it is pertinent to note that the dismissal of the complaint in civil case 4252m, after the issues were joined with the filing of the responsive pleadings, upon the defendants'
motion to resolve a pending motion to dismiss, the resolution of which had been previously deferred until after the trial by virtue of an order of the same court under another judge, is
a procedural deviation from the standard sequence of trial in accordance with which the court a quo, after the requisite answers were filed, should have proceeded with the trial on
the merits, and only thereafter resolved the motion to dismiss as was the import of the order of defendant. Nevertheless, it is relevant to emphasize, on the other hand, that an order
deferring the resolution of a motion to dismiss, being an interlocutory order, may be altered or revoked by the trial court during the pendency of the main action. It is settled that an
"interlocutory order or decree made in the progress of a case is always under the control of the court until the final decision of the suit, and may be modified or rescinded upon
sufficient grounds shown at any time before final judgment...." 16 Of similar import is the ruling of this Court declaring that "it is rudimentary that such (interlocutory) orders are subject
to change in the discretion of the court. 17 Moreover, one of the inherent powers of the court is "To amend and control its process and orders so as to make them conformable to law
and justice." 18 In the language of Chief Justice Moran, paraphrasing the ruling in Veluz vs. Justice of the Peace of Sariaya, 19 "since judges are human, susceptible to mistakes, and
are bound to administer justice in accordance with law, they are given the inherent power of amending their orders or judgments so as to make them conformable to law and justice,
and they can do so before they los their jurisdiction of the case that is before the time to appeal has expired and no appeal has been perfected." 20 And in the abovecited Veluz case,
this Court held that "If the trial court should discover or be convinced that it had committed an error in its judgment, or had done an injustice, before the same has become final, it
may, upon its own motion or upon a motion of the parties, correct such error in order to do justice between the parties.... It would seem to be the very height of absurdity to prohibit a
trial judge from correcting an error, mistake, or injustice which is called to his attention before he has lost control of his judgment." Corollarily, it has also been held "that a judge of
first instance is not legally prevented from revoking the interlocutory order of another judge in the very litigation subsequently assigned to him for judicial action." 21

In view of the foregoing rulings, it is then enough to say that the abovementioned order of deferment, issued by the Honorable Judge Vicente Cusi, Jr., to whose sala civil case
4252 was originally assigned, is interlocutory in nature, and as such, the court a quo, through the now respondent Judge Vicente Bullecer, had the power to set it aside, as it did by
finally deciding the pending motion to dismiss on the ground of res judicata. Moreover, as previously stated, there is no evidence to show that the respondent Judge, in issuing the
order of dismissal, acted with grave abuse of discretion or without or in excess of jurisdiction.

We now come to the challenged order of default and judgment by default, both contained in the abovementioned order dated March 29, 1966. Attacking the validity of the said
order of default, the intervenor-petitioner claims that the respondent Judge failed to consider that Matias Matute, representing the plaintiff estate, filed on time an answer dated
March 1, 1965 traversing the allegations of Canlas' counterclaim, which answer inured to the benefit of not only Matias Matute but also to the intervenors who were jointly impleaded
as defendants in the said counterclaim. The defendant-respondent Canlas, on the other hand, while not denying receipt of the aforesaid answer to his counterclaim, contends that
the herein intervenor-petitioner's failure to personally answer said counterclaim is fatal and that he could not take refuge under the answer interposed by Matias Matute.
We are of the considered opinion that the herein disputed order of default is illegal and void, and, consequently, the controverted judgment by default and order of execution were
improvidently issued.

1. The counterclaim interposed by Canlas raised a common cause of action for damages against Matias Matute, as the representative of the plaintiff estate, and Jose and Luis
Matute, as intervenors in civil case 4252, all in their personal capacities. The counterclaim reads:

That for instituting this patently frivolous and unfounded action in bad faith calculated to merely harass answering defendant Paterno R. Canlas in order to satisfy the
personal revenge, hatred and vindictiveness of the co-administrator, Matias S. Matute, representing the plaintiff Estate, and the intervenors Jose S. Matute and Luis S.
Matute, defendant Paterno R. Canlas suffered actual, moral and consequential damages in the total amount of P100,000.00, for which plaintiff Matias S. Matute and
intervenors Jose S. Matute and Luis S. Matute should be held personally liable. (emphasis supplied)

Having been this jointly charged to pay the abovestated damages, the brothers Matias, Jose and Luis Matute could validly file a common responsive pleading, as in effect they did
when Matias Matute filed an answer to the aforesaid counterclaim, the receipt of which Canlas admits. It is significant to note that the said answer does not only deny the charge
against Matias Matute but as well as negates the claim against the intervenors.

2. Moreover, having successfully prayed for the resolution of his pending motion to dismiss, even after the issues had been joined with the filing of his answer, the defendant-
respondent Canlas is deemed to have abandoned his counterclaim and voluntarily reverted himself to the time when he initially interposed his motion to dismiss prior to the filing of
his answer with counterclaim. Thus, when the complaint in civil case 4252 was dismissed on the basis of Canlas' motion, the entire proceeding was inevitably terminated and there
was nothing more to adjudge. In fact, the termination of all the pending incidents in civil case 4252 was subsequently decreed by the respondent Judge h imself in the orders of
March 12, 1966 and April 11, 1966. Consequently, the respondent Judge, to say the least, acted in excess of jurisdiction when he issued, after having dismissed the principal
complaint, the herein controverted order of default and judgment by default for then there was nothing left to be adjudicated. Said decrees having been rendered in excess of
jurisdiction, certiorari will lie to have then annulled.

In view of the foregoing discussion, the finality of the order of dismissal should be upheld, while the disputed order of default, judgment by default and order of execution should be
declared void and set aside.

The motion interposed on June 14, 1966 by the herein intervenor-petitioner, in his alleged capacity as co-administrator, in behalf of the Amadeo Matute Olave estate, praying that
the said estate be allowed to adopt the instant petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction and be admitted as co-petitioner, the resolution of which we had previously deferred,
should therefore be denied on the ground that the intervenor-petitioner has no legal personality to represent the Matute estate considering that his appointment as co-administrator
has been voided. Nevertheless, it is our considered view that the declaration of total nullity of the abovementioned judgment by default shall perforce bar the execution against the
Matute estate of that portion of the said void judgment which condemns it to pay the sum of P50,000 in damages to the defendants-respondents Rivera, del Rosario and Vergara.

ACCORDINGLY, (1) in L-26751 the petition for certiorari is hereby granted; the respondent Court of Appeals is adjudged as without jurisdiction over CA-G.R. 37039-R; the probate
court's controverted order of January 31, 1966 is hereby set aside in its entirety, thereby maintaining the respondent Matias S. Matute in his trust as co-administrator of the Amadeo
Matute Olave estate; (2) in L-26085 the petition for certiorari is hereby granted; the order of default dated April 16, 1966, the judgment by default dated April 23, 1966, and the order
of execution dated May 3, 1966, all issued in excess of jurisdiction by the respondent Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao, are set aside; and (3) in L-26106 the petition
for certiorari is hereby denied in so far as it seeks to nullify the final order of dismissal dated February 15, 1966; the order of default and judgment by default dated March 29, 1966
and the order of execution dated April 12, 1966, all similarly issued in excess of jurisdiction by the same respondent Judge are set aside. No pronouncement as to costs.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Fernando, Capistrano, Teehankee and Barredo, JJ., concur.
2. [G.R. No. 122947. July 22, 1999]

TIMOTEO BALUYOT, JAIME BENITO, BENIGNO EUGENIO, ROLANDO GONZALES, FORTUNATO


FULGENCIO and CRUZ-NA-LIGAS HOMESITE ASSOCIATION, INC., petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE
COURT OF APPEALS, THE QUEZON CITY GOVERNMENT and UNIVERSITY OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated November 24, 1995, setting aside an order of the Regional Trial Court
of Quezon City, Branch 89, and dismissing the complaint filed by petitioners against private respondents University of the Philippines and the
Quezon City government.
The facts are as follows:
Petitioners Timoteo Baluyot, Jaime Benito, Benigno Eugenio, Rolando Gonzales, and Fortunato Fulgencio are residents of Barangay Cruz-na-
Ligas,[1] Diliman, Quezon City. The Cruz-na-Ligas Homesite Association, Inc. is a non-stock corporation of which petitioners and other residents of
Barangay Cruz-na-Ligas are members. On March 13, 1992, petitioners filed a complaint for specific performance and damages against private
respondent University of the Philippines before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-92-11663. The complaint
was later on amended to include private respondent Quezon City government as defendant. As amended, the complaint alleges:[2]

5. That plaintiffs and their ascendants have been in open, peaceful, adverse and continuous possession in the concept of an owner
since memory can no longer recall of that parcel of riceland known [as] Sitio Libis, Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas, Quezon City (now
Diliman, Quezon City), as delineated in the Plan herein attached as Annex B while the members of the plaintiff Association and their
ascendants have possessed since time immemorial openly, adversely, continuously and also in the concept of an owner, the rest of
the area embraced by and within the Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas, Diliman, Quezon City as shown in that Plan herein attached as Annex C
all in all consisting of at least forty (42) hectares;

6. That since October 1972, the claims of the plaintiffs and/or members of plaintiff Association have been the subject of quasi-
judicial proceedings and administrative investigations in the different branches of the government penultimately resulting in the
issuance of that Indorsement dated May 7, 1975 by the Bureau of Lands, a copy of which is made an integral part of Annex D, and
ultimately, in the issuance of the Indorsement of February 12, 1985, by the office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines,
a copy of which is herein attached as Annex E confirming the rights of the bonafide residents of Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas to the parcel
of land they have been possessing or occupying as originally found and recommended in that Brief dated November 2, 1972 and
Recommendation dated November 7, 1972, copies of which are made integral parts hereof as Annexes F and G;

7. That defendant UP, pursuant to the said Indorsement (Annex E) from the Office of the President of the Republic of the
Philippines, issued that Reply Indorsement dated September 19, 1984, a copy of which is herein attached as Annex H, pertinent
portion of which is quoted as follows:

2. In 1979, the U.P. Board of Regents approved the donation of about 9.2 hectares of the site, directly to the residents of Brgy. Krus
Na Ligas. After several negotiations with the residents, the area was increased to 15.8 hectares (158,379 square meters);
(underscoring supplied)

3. Notwithstanding the willingness of U.P. to proceed with the donation, Execution of the legal instrument to formalize it failed
because of the unreasonable demand of the residents for an area bigger than 15.8 hectares.

8. That upon advise of counsel and close study of the said offer of defendant UP to donate 15.8379 hectares, plaintiff Association
proposed to accept and the defendant UP manifested in writing [its] consent to the intended donation directly to the plaintiff
Association for the benefit of the bonafide residents of Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas and plaintiffs Association have agreed to comply with
the terms and conditions of the donation;

9. That, however, defendant UP backed-out from the arrangement to donate directly to the plaintiff Association for the benefit of the
qualified residents and high-handedly resumed to negotiate the donation thru the defendant Quezon City Government under the
terms disadvantageous or contrary to the rights of the bonafide residents of the Barrio as shown in the Draft of Deed of Donation
herein attached as Annex I;

10. That plaintiff Association forthwith amended [its] petition in the pending case LRC No. 3151 before Branch 100 of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City by adding the additional cause of action for specific performance aside from the exclusion from the
technical description of certificate of title of defendant UP the area embraced in the Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas, consisting of at least
forty-two (42) hectares, more or less, and praying in the said Amended Petition for a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain
defendant UP from donating the area to the defendant Quezon City Government, a copy of the said Amended Petition is herein
attached as Annex J;

11. That, after due notice and hearing, the application for writ of injunction as well as the opposition of defendant UP, the Order
dated January 24, 1986 granting the writ of preliminary injunction was issued, a copy of which is herein attached as Annex K;
12. That in the hearing of the Motion for Reconsideration filed by defendant UP, a copy of the said Motion for Reconsideration is
herein attached as Annex L, plaintiff Association finally agreed to the lifting of the said Order (Annex K) granting the injunction
after defendant UP made an assurance in their said Motion for Reconsideration that the donation to the defendant Quezon City
Government will be for the benefit of the residents of Cruz-Na-Ligas as shown in the following:

6. The execution of the Deed of Donation in favor of the Quezon City government will not work any injustice to the petitioners.

As well stated in Respondents Opposition to the Prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, it is to the best interest of
the Petitioners that such a deed be executed.

The plan to donate said property to the residents of Bgy. Krus-na-Ligas, that is, through the Quezon City government, is to their best
interests. Left alone, the present land and physical development of the area leaves much to be desired. Road and drainage networks
have to be constructed, water and electric facilities installed, and garbage collection provided for. The residents, even collectively,
do not have the means and resources to provide for themselves such basis facilities which are necessary if only to upgrade their
living condition.

Should the proposed donation push through, the residents would be the first to benefit. thus, Branch 100 of this Honorable Court
issued that Order dated April 2, 1986, lifting the injunction, a copy of which is hereby attached as Annex M;

13. That, however, defendant UP took exception to the aforesaid Order lifting the Order of Injunction and insisted [on] the dismissal
of the case; thus, it was stated that:

2. Respondent has consistently taken the position that efforts to expedite the formalization of a Deed of Donation for the benefit of
the residents of Barangay Kruz-na-Ligas should not only be pre-conditioned on the lifting of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction, but
also the dismissal of the Petition;

in defendant UPs Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated April 2, 1986, a copy of the said Motion is herein attached as
Annex N;

14. That plaintiff Association in [its] Comment on the Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated April 2, 1986, filed on June 2,
1986, manifested [its] willingness to the dismissal of the case, aside from [its] previous consent to the lifting of the preliminary
injunction; provided, that the area to be donated thru the defendant Quezon City government be subdivided into lots to be given to
the qualified residents together with the certificate of titles, without cost, a copy of the said Comment is hereby attached as Annex O;
15. That, that was why, in the hearing re-scheduled on June 13, 1986 of defendant UPs Motion for Reconsideration of the Order
dated April 2, 1986 (Annex N), the Order dated June 13, 1986, was issued, the full text of which is quoted as follows:

After hearing the manifestation of Atty. Angeles for the petitioners and Atty. Raval for the respondent University of the Philippines,
since the petitioners counsel was the first to make a manifestation that this case which is now filed before this court should be
dismissed first without prejudice but because of the vehement objection of the University of the Philippines, thru counsel, that a
dismissal without prejudice creates a cloud on the title of the University of the Philippines and even with or without this case filed,
the University of the Philippines has already decided to have the property subject of litigation donated to the residents of Cruz-na-
Ligas with, of course, the conditions set therein, let this case be DISMISSED without pronouncement as to cost.

As to the charging lien filed by Petitioners thru counsel, it will be a sole litigation between the petitioners and the oppositors both
represented by counsel, with the University of the Philippines being neutral in this case.

and a copy of the said Order is herein attached as Annex P;

16. That, true to [its] commitment stated in the aforesaid Order of June 13, 1986, defendant UP executed that Deed of Donation on
August 5, 1986, in favor of the defendant Quezon City Government for the benefit of the qualified residents of Cruz-na-Ligas;
however, neither the plaintiffs herein nor plaintiff Association officers had participated in any capacity in the act of execution of the
said deed of donation, a copy of the said executed Deed of Donation is herein attached as Annex Q;

17. That under the said deed of donation, the 15.8379 hectares were ceded, transferred and conveyed and the defendant Quezon City
Government accepted the Donation under the terms and conditions, pertinent portions of which are quoted as follows:

This donation is subject to the following conditions:

xxx

2. The DONEE shall, within eighteen (18) months from the signing hereof, undertake at its expense the following:

a. Cause the removal of structures built on the boundaries of the donated lot;
b. Relocate inside the donated lot all families who are presently outside of the donated lot;
c. Relocate all families who cannot be relocated within the boundaries of the donated lot to a site outside of the University of the Philippines campus in
Diliman, Quezon City;
d. Construct a fence on the boundaries adjoining Kruz-na-Ligas and the University.
In the construction of the fence, the DONEE shall establish a ten-meter setback in the area adjacent to Pook Amorsolo and the
Peripheral Road (C.P. Garcia Street);

e. Construct a drainage canal within the area donated along the boundary line between Kruz-na-Ligas and Pook Amorsolo.

In the construction of the fence and the drainage canal, the DONEE shall conform to the plans and specifications prescribed by the
DONOR.

xxx

5. The DONEE shall, after the lapse of three (3) years, transfer to the qualified residents by way of donation the individual lots
occupied by each of them, subject to whatever conditions the DONEE may wish to impose on said donation;

6. Transfer of the use of any lot in the property donated during the period of three (3) years referred to in Item 4 above, shall be
allowed only in these cases where transfer is to be effected to immediate members of the family in the ascending and descending line
and said Transfer shall be made known to the DONOR. Transfer shall be affected by the Donee;

7. The costs incidental to this Deed, including the registration of the property donated shall be at the expense of the DONEE.

The Donee shall also be responsible for any other legitimate obligation in favor of any third person arising out of, in connection
with, or by reason of, this donation.

18. That the defendant Quezon City Government immediately prepared the groundworks in compliance with the afore-quoted terms
and conditions; however, defendant UP under the officer-in-charge then and even under the incumbent President, Mr. Jose Abueva,
had failed to deliver the certificate of title covering the property to be donated to enable the defendant Quezon City Government to
register the said Deed of Donation so that corresponding certificate of title be issued under its name;

19. That defendant UP had continuously and unlawfully refused, despite requests and several conferences made, to comply with
their reciprocal duty to deliver the certificate of title to enable the Donee, the defendant Quezon City Government, to register the
ownership so that the defendant Quezon City Government can legally and fully comply with their obligations under the said deed of
donation;

20. That upon expiration of the period of eighteen (18) [months], for alleged non-compliance of the defendant Quezon City
Government with terms and conditions quoted in par. 16 hereof, defendant UP thru its President, Mr. Jose Abueva, unilaterally,
capriciously, whimsically and unlawfully issued that Administrative Order No. 21 declaring the deed of donation revoked and the
donated property be reverted to defendant UP;
21. That the said revocation and reversion without judicial declaration is illegal and prejudicial to the rights of the plaintiffs who are
the bonafide residents or who represent the bonafide residents of the Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas because: firstly, they were not made
bound to comply with the terms and conditions of the said donation allegedly violated by the defendant Quezon City
Government; secondly, defendant UP, as averred in the preceding paragraphs 9 and 11, was the one who insisted that the donation be
coursed through the defendant Quezon City Government; and the said revocation or reversion are likewise pre-judicial to third
parties who acquired rights therefrom;

22. That, as it apparently turned out, the plaintiff Association, who duly represented the qualified or bonafide resident of Barrio
Cruz-na-Ligas, was deceived into consenting to the lifting of the injunction in said LRC Case No. Q-3151 and in agreeing to the
dismissal of the said LRC Case No. Q-3151 when defendant unjustifiably revoked the donation which they undertook as a condition
to the dismissal of LRC Case No. 3151;

23. That by reason of the deception, the herein plaintiffs hereby reiterate their claims and the claims of the bonafide residents and
resident/farmers of Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas [to] the ownership of forty-two (42) hectares area they and their predecessors-in-interest
have occupied and possessed; parenthetically, the said 42 hectares portion are included in the tax declaration under the name of
defendant UP who is exempted from paying real estate tax; hence, there is no assessment available;

24. That by reason of bad faith and deceit by defendant UP in the execution and in compliance with [its] obligations under the said
Deed of Donation (Annex Q hereof) plaintiffs have suffered moral damages in the amount of at least P300,000.00;

25. That because of wanton and fraudulent acts of defendant UP in refusing to comply with what is incumbent upon [it] under the
Deed of Donation (Annex Q) and in whimsically and oppressively declaring the revocation of the said deed of donation and the
reversion of the 15.8 hectares donated, [it] should be made liable to pay exemplary damages in the sum of P50,000.00 to serve as
example in the interest of public good;

26. That because of said defendant UPs unlawful acts, plaintiffs have been compelled to retain the services of their attorneys to
prosecute this case with whom they agreed to pay the sum of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as attorneys fees; and by way of:

APPLICATION FOR WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

(a) Plaintiffs hereby reallege and reproduce herein by reference all the material and relevant allegations in the preceding paragraphs;

(b) Having legally established and duly recognized rights on the said parcel of lands as shown in the documents marked herein as
Annexes D; E; F; G; and M, plaintiffs have the rights to be protected by an injunctive writ or at least a restraining order to restrain
and to order defendant UP from:
1) Ejecting the plaintiffs-farmers and from demolishing the improvements in the parcel of riceland or farmlands situated at Sitio
Libis of Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas, embraced in the claims of the plaintiffs as shown in these photographs herein attached as Annexes R
to R-3;

2) Executing another deed of donation with different terms and conditions in favor of another and for the benefit of additional
occupants who are not bonafide residents of the Barrio or Barangay Cruz-na-Ligas;

(c) Defendant UP has already started ejecting the plaintiffs and demolishing their improvements on the said riceland and farmlands
in order to utilize the same for the residential house project to the irreparable damages and injuries to the plaintiffs-farmers, unless
restrained or enjoined to desist, plaintiffs will continue to suffer irreparable damages and injuries;

(d) Plaintiffs are ready and willing to file the injunctive bond in such amount that may be reasonably fixed;

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed to this Honorable Court that before the conduct of the proper proceedings, a writ of
preliminary injunction or at least a temporary restraining order be issued, ordering defendant UP to observe status quo; thereafter,
after due notice and hearing, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued; (a) to restrain defendant UP or to their representative from
ejecting the plaintiffs from and demolishing their improvements on the riceland or farmland situated at Sitio Libis; (b) to order
defendant UP to refrain from executing another deed of donation in favor another person or entity and in favor of non-bonafide
residents of Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas different from the Deed of Donation (Annex Q hereof), and after trial on the merits, judgment be
rendered:

1. Declaring the Deed of Donation (Annex Q) as valid and subsisting and ordering the defendant UP to abide by the terms and
conditions thereof;

2. Adjudging the defendant University of the Philippines to segregate the riceland or farmlands as additional area embraced by the
Barrio Cruz-na-Ligas, pursuant to the First Indorsement of August 10, 1984 (Annex E) and pursuant to Findings, Reports and
Recommendation (Annex G) of the Bureau of Lands with an estimated assessed value of P700,000.00;

3. Ordering defendant UP to pay for plaintiffs moral damages of P300,000.00, exemplary damages of P50,000.00, and costs of suit;

4. Enjoining defendant UP to pay professional fees of P50,000.00 of the undersigned attorneys for the plaintiffs; and

Plaintiffs further respectfully pray for other just and equitable reliefs.
Earlier, on May 15, 1992, the trial court denied petitioners application for preliminary injunction. Its order stated:[3]

ORDER

Acting on plaintiffs application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction and the opposition thereto of
the defendant filed on April 3, 1992, as well as plaintiffs reply therewith filed on April 23, 1992, considered in the light of the
affidavit executed on April 23, 1992 by Timoteo Baluyot, Sr. and by Jaime Benito, Benigno Eugenio, Rolando Gonzales and
Fortunato Fulgencio executed on April 21, 1929, for the plaintiffs; and, the affidavit of merit executed on April 28, 1992, by Atty.
Carmelita Yadao-Guno, for the defendant, it appearing that the principal action in this case is one for the specific performance,
apparently, of the Deed of Donation executed on August 8, 1986, by defendant University of the Philippines in favor of the Quezon
City Government, involving the land in question, in virtue of which, it is clear that the plaintiffs are not parties to the said deed of
donation, by reason of which, consequently, there has not been established by the plaintiffs a clear legal right to the enforcement of
the said deed of donation, especially as the said deed was already validly revoked by the University of the Philippines, thru its
president, Jose Abueva, in his Administrative Order No. 21, for which reason the same could no longer be enforced, plaintiffs prayer
for the issuance of a temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction, is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioners moved for a reconsideration of the above order. Without resolving petitioners motion, the trial court ordered petitioners to amend
their complaint to implead respondent Quezon City government as defendant.[4] Hence, the amended complaint was filed on June 10, 1992, in which
it is alleged:

4. That the Quezon City Government . . . which should be joined as party plaintiff is instead impleaded herein as party defendant,
because its consent can not be secured within a reasonable time;

On July 27, 1992, respondent city government filed its Answer to the Amended Complaint with Cross-Claim.[5] However, on November 29,
1993, it moved to withdraw its cross-claim against UP[6] on the ground that, after conferring with university officials, the city government had
recognized the propriety, validity and legality of the revocation of the Deed of Donation.[7]
The motion was granted by the trial court in its order, dated December 22, 1994.[8] On the same day, a Joint Motion to Dismiss was filed by UP
and the Quezon City government on the ground that the complaint fails to state a cause of action.[9] Petitioners opposed the motion.
On April 26, 1995, the trial court denied respondents motion to dismiss on the ground that a perusal of [petitioners] amended complaint,
specifically paragraph 5 thereof, . . . shows that it necessarily alleges facts entitling [petitioners] to acquire ownership over the land in question, by
reason of laches, which cannot be disposed of and resolved at this stage without a trial on the merits.[10] The trial court, however, reiterated its ruling
that petitioners did not have a cause of action for specific performance on the ground that the deed of donation had already been revoked as stated in
its order denying injunction.
On August 14, 1995, respondents filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, charging the trial court with grave abuse of discretion
in refusing to dismiss the complaint filed by petitioners.Respondents contended that
1. Respondent Judge himself had declared that [petitioners] clearly are not parties to the deed of donation sought to be enforced thus they had not shown
clear legal right to the enforcement of said deed of donation which is their principal cause of action; and
2. Under the factual circumstances obtaining, the respondent judge gravely erred in denying the joint motion to dismiss and declaring that [petitioners]
are entitled to acquire ownership over the land in question by reason of laches through a trial on the merits; such constitutes a collateral attack on
[respondent UPs] title in the same suit for specific performance.
On November 24, 1995, the appellate court rendered a decision setting aside the trial courts order of April 26, 1995 and ordering the dismissal of
Civil Case No. Q-92-11663. The appellate court ruled that
1. Petitioners complaint did not allege any claim for the annulment of UPs title over the portion of land concerned or the reconveyance thereof to
petitioners;
2. The alleged cause of action based on ownership of the land by petitioners was tantamount to a collateral attack on the title of UP which is not allowed
under the law; and
3. There is no acquisition of ownership by laches.
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari based on the following grounds:
I. THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS WAS IN ERROR IN CONCLUDING THAT THE TRIAL COURT ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE
OF DISCRETION IN DENYING THE JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS.
II. IN DISMISSING THE AMENDED COMPLAINT, THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT HAS ACTED IN EXCESS [OF] JURISDICTION
WHEN IT MADE [THE] FINDING AND CONCLUSION THAT THE REVOCATION OF THE DONATION IS VALID WHEN THAT IS THE
PRIMARY AND CONTROVERTED ISSUE INVOLVING VARIED QUESTIONS OF FACTS.
Petitioners argue that, on its face, their amended complaint alleges facts constituting a cause of action which must be fully explored during
trial. They cite paragraphs 18, 19, and 20 of their complaint questioning the validity of the revocation of the donation and seek the enforcement of the
donation through specific performance.[11]
On the other hand, respondents contend that by seeking specific performance of the deed of donation as their primary cause of action, petitioners
cannot at the same time claim ownership over the property subject of the donation by virtue of laches or acquisitive prescription. Petitioners cannot
base their case on inconsistent causes of action. Moreover, as the trial court already found the deed to have been validly revoked, the primary cause
of action was already thereby declared inexistent. Hence, according to respondents, the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed the complaint.[12]
First. The question is whether the complaint states a cause of action. The trial court held that inasmuch as the donation made by UP to the
Quezon City government had already been revoked, petitioners, for whose benefit the donation had been made, had no cause of action for specific
performance. Nevertheless, it denied respondents joint motion to dismiss petitioners action on the ground that respondent UP was barred from
contesting petitioners right to remain in possession on the ground of laches.
This is error. While prescription does not run against registered lands, nonetheless a registered owners action to recover possession of his land
may be barred by laches. As held in Mejia de Lucas v. Gamponia:[13]
[W]hile no legal defense to the action lies, an equitable one lies in favor of the defendant and that is, the equitable defense of
laches. No hold that the defense of prescription or adverse possession in derogation of the title of the registered owner Domingo
Mejia does not lie, but that of the equitable defense of laches. Otherwise stated, we hold that while defendant may not be considered
as having acquired title by virtue of his and his predecessors long continued possession for 37 years, the original owners right to
recover back the possession of the property and the title thereto from the defendant has, by the long period of 37 years and by
patentees inaction and neglect, been converted into a stale demand.

Thus, laches is a defense against a registered owner suing to recover possession of the land registered in its name. But UP is not suing in this
case. It is petitioners who are, and their suit is mainly to seek enforcement of the deed of donation made by UP in favor of the Quezon City
government. The appellate court therefore correctly overruled the trial court on this point. Indeed, petitioners do not invoke laches. What they allege
in their complaint is that they have been occupying the land in question from time immemorial, adversely, and continuously in the concept of owner,
but they are not invoking laches.If at all, they are claiming ownership by prescription which, as already stated, is untenable considering that the land
in question is a registered land. Nor can petitioners question the validity of UPs title to the land. For as the Court of Appeals correctly held, this
constitutes a collateral attack on registered title which is not permitted.
On the other hand, we think that the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing petitioners complaint for failure to state a cause of action.
A cause of action exists if the following elements are present, namely: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever
law it arises or is created; (2) an obligation on the part of the defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and (3) an act or omission on the part of
such defendant in violation of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligations of the defendant to the plaintiff for which the latter
may maintain an action for recovery of damages.[14]
We find all the elements of a cause of action contained in the amended complaint of petitioners. While, admittedly, petitioners were not parties
to the deed of donation, they anchor their right to seek its enforcement upon their allegation that they are intended beneficiaries of the donation to the
Quezon City government. Art. 1311, second paragraph, of the Civil Code provides:

If a contract should contain some stipulation in favor of a third person, he may demand its fulfillment provided he communicated his
acceptance to the obligor before its revocation. A mere incidental benefit or interest of a person is not sufficient. The contracting
parties must have clearly and deliberately conferred a favor upon a third person.

Under this provision of the Civil Code, the following requisites must be present in order to have a stipulation pour autrui:[15]
(1) there must be a stipulation in favor of a third person;
(2) the stipulation must be a part, not the whole of the contract;
(3) the contracting parties must have clearly and deliberately conferred a favor upon a third person, not a mere incidental benefit or interest;
(4) the third person must have communicated his acceptance to the obligor before its revocation; and
(5) neither of the contracting parties bears the legal representation or authorization of the third party.
The allegations in the following paragraphs of the amended complaint are sufficient to bring petitioners action within the purview of the second
paragraph of Art. 1311 on stipulations pour autrui:
1. Paragraph 17, that the deed of donation contains a stipulation that the Quezon City government, as donee, is required to transfer to qualified
residents of Cruz-na-Ligas, by way of donations, the lots occupied by them;
2. The same paragraph, that this stipulation is part of conditions and obligations imposed by UP, as donor, upon the Quezon City government, as donee;
3. Paragraphs 15 and 16, that the intent of the parties to the deed of donation was to confer a favor upon petitioners by transferring to the latter the lots
occupied by them;
4. Paragraph 19, that conferences were held between the parties to convince UP to surrender the certificates of title to the city government, implying that
the donation had been accepted by petitioners by demanding fulfillment thereof[16] and that private respondents were aware of such acceptance; and
5. All the allegations considered together from which it can be fairly inferred that neither of private respondents acted in representation of the other; each
of the private respondents had its own obligations, in view of conferring a favor upon petitioners.
The amended complaint further alleges that respondent UP has an obligation to transfer the subject parcel of land to the city government so that
the latter can in turn comply with its obligations to make improvements on the land and thereafter transfer the same to petitioners but that, in breach
of this obligation, UP failed to deliver the title to the land to the city government and then revoked the deed of donation after the latter failed to fulfill
its obligations within the time allowed in the contract.
For the purpose of determining the sufficiency of petitioners cause of action, these allegations of the amended complaint must be deemed to be
hypothetically true. So assuming the truth of the allegations, we hold that petitioners have a cause of action against UP. Thus, in Kauffman v.
National Bank,[17] where the facts were

Stated in bare simplicity the admitted facts show that the defendant bank for a valuable consideration paid by the Philippine Fiber
and Produce Company agreed on October 9, 1918, to cause a sum of money to be paid to the plaintiff in New York City; and the
question is whether the plaintiff can maintain an action against the bank for the non performance of said undertaking. In other words,
is the lack of privity with the contract on the part of the plaintiff fatal to the maintenance of an action by him? [18]

it was held:

In the light of the conclusions thus stated, the right of the plaintiff to maintain the present action is clear enough; for it is undeniable
that the banks promise to cause a definite sum of money to be paid to the plaintiff in New York City is a stipulation in his favor
within the meaning of the paragraph above quoted; and the circumstances under which that promise was given disclose an evident
intention on the part of the contracting parties that the plaintiff should have that money upon demand in New York City. The
recognition of this unqualified right in the plaintiff to receive the money implies in our opinion the right in him to maintain an action
to recover it; and indeed if the provision in question were not applicable to the facts now before us, it would be difficult to conceive
of a case arising under it.
It will be noted that under the paragraph cited a third person seeking to enforce compliance with a stipulation in his favor must
signify his acceptance before it has been revoked. In this case the plaintiff clearly signified his acceptance to the bank by demanding
payment; and although the Philippine National Bank had already directed its New York agency to withhold payment when this
demand was made, the rights of the plaintiff cannot be considered to have been prejudiced by that fact. The word revoked, as there
used, must be understood to imply revocation by the mutual consent of the contracting parties, or at least by direction of the party
purchasing the exchange.[19]

It is hardly necessary to state that our conclusion that petitioners complaint states a cause of action against respondents is in no wise a ruling on
the merits. That is for the trial court to determine in light of respondent UPs defense that the donation to the Quezon City government, upon which
petitioners rely, has been validly revoked.
Respondents contend, however, that the trial court has already found that the donation (on which petitioners base their action) has already been
revoked. This contention has no merit. The trial courts ruling on this point was made in connection with petitioners application for a writ of
preliminary injunction to stop respondent UP from ejecting petitioners. The trial court denied injunction on the ground that the donation had already
been revoked and therefore petitioners had no clear legal right to be protected. It is evident that the trial courts ruling on this question was only
tentative, without prejudice to the final resolution of the question after the presentation by the parties of their evidence.[20]
Second. It is further contended that the amended complaint alleges inconsistent causes of action for specific performance of the deed of
donation. Respondents make much of the fact that while petitioners claim to be the beneficiaries-donees of 15.8 hectares subject of the deed,[21] they
at the same time seek recovery/delivery of title to the 42 hectares of land included in UPs certificate of title.[22]
These are not inconsistent but, rather, alternative causes of action which Rule 8, 2 of the Rules of Court allows:

Alternative causes of action or defenses.- A party may set forth two or more statements of a claim or defense alternatively or
hypothetically, either in one cause of action or defense or in separate causes of action or defenses. When two or more statements are
made in the alternative and one of them if made independently would be sufficient, the pleading is not made insufficient by the
insufficiency of one or more of the alternative statements.

Thus, the parties are allowed to plead as many separate claims as they may have, regardless of consistency, provided that no rules regarding venue
and joinder of parties are violated.[23]
Moreover, the subjects of these claims are not exactly and entirely the same parcel of land; petitioners causes of action consist of two definite
and distinct claims. The rule is that a trial court judge cannot dismiss a complaint which contained two or more causes of action where one of them
clearly states a sufficient cause of action against the defendant.[24]
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 89, for trial on the merits.
SO ORDERED.
3. G.R. No. 101512 August 7, 1992

NILDA GABRIEL, EVA GABRIEL, EDGAR GABRIEL, GEORGE GABRIEL, ROSEMARIE GABRIEL, MARIBEL GABRIEL, CYNTHIA GABRIEL,
RENATO GABRIEL, GERARDO GABRIEL, JOJI ZORAYDA GABRIEL, DANIEL GABRIEL and FELICITAS JOSE-GABRIEL, petitioners,
vs.
HON COURT OF APPEALS, HON. MANUEL E. YUZON, Judge, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XI, and ROBERTO DINDO
GABRIEL, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:

In its decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 19797 promulgated on August 23, 1991, 1 respondent Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by herein
petitioners assailing the orders of the lower court in Special Proceeding No. 88-44589 thereof which effectively sustained the appointment of private
respondent Roberto Dindo Gabriel as administrator of the estate of the late Domingo Gabriel.

Petitioners' present appeal by certiorari would have this Court set aside that decision of respondent court, hence the need to examine the chronology of
antecedent facts, as found by respondent court and detailed hereunder, pertinent to and which culminated in their recourse now before us.

On May 12, 1988, or nine (9) months after Domingo Gabriel died on August 6, 1987, private respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch XI, a petition for letters of administration alleging, among others, that he is the son of the decedent, a college graduate, engaged in business, and is
fully capable of administering the estate of the late Domingo Gabriel. Private respondent mentioned eight (8) of herein petitioners as the other next of kin
and heirs of the decedent. 2

On May 17, 1988, the court below issued an order 3 setting the hearing of the petition on June 29, 1988, on which date all persons interested may show
cause, if any, why the petition should not be granted. The court further directed the publication of the order in "Mabuhay," a newspaper of general
circulation, once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks. No opposition having been filed despite such publication of the notice of hearing, private
respondent was allowed to present his evidence ex parte. Thereafter, the probate court issued an order, dated July 8, 1988, appointing private respondent
as administrator of the intestate estate of the late Domingo Gabriel on a bond of P30,000.00. 4

Subsequently, a notice to creditors for the filing of claims against the estate of the decedent was published in the "Metropolitan News." As a consequence,
Aida Valencia, mother of private respondent, filed a "Motion to File Claim of (sic) the Intestate Estate of Domingo P. Gabriel" alleging that the decision in a
civil case between her and the deceased remained unsatisfied and that she thereby had an interest in said estate. 5

On December 12, 1988, private respondent filed for approval by the probate court an "Inventory and Appraisal" placing the value of the properties left by
the decedent at P18,960,000.00, which incident was set for hearing on January 16, 1989. 6

On February 2, 1989, petitioners Nilda, Eva, Boy, George, Rosemarie, and Maribel, all surnamed Gabriel, filed their "Opposition and Motion" praying for
the recall of the letters of administration issued to private respondent and the issuance of such letters instead to petitioner Nilda Gabriel, as the legitimate
daughter of the deceased, or any of the other oppositors who are the herein petitioners. 7 After some exchanges and on order of the court, petitioners filed
an "Opposition to the Petition and Motion," dated May 20, 1989, alleging that (1) they were not duly informed by personal notice of the petition for
administration; (2) petitioner Nilda Gabriel, as the legitimate daughter, should be preferred over private respondent; (3) private respondent has a conflicting
and/or adverse interest against the estate because he might prefer the claims of his mother and (4) most of the properties of the decedent have already
been relinquished by way of transfer of ownership to petitioners and should not be included in the value of the estate sought to be administered by private
respondent. 8

On September 21, 1989, the probate court issued an order denying the opposition of petitioners on the ground that they had not shown any circumstance sufficient to overturn the order of July 8, 1988, in that (1) no
evidence was submitted by oppositor Nilda Gabriel to prove that she is a legitimate daughter of the deceased; and (2) there is no proof to show that the person who was appointed administrator is unworthy,
incapacitated or unsuitable to perform the trust as to make his appointment inadvisable under these circumstances. 9 The motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners was likewise denied in an order dated December
22, 1989. 10

From said orders, herein petitioners filed a special civil action for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, on the following grounds:

1. The orders of September 21, 1989 and December 22, 1989 are null and void, being contrary to the facts, law and jurisprudence on the
matter;

2. Respondent judge, in rendering the aforesaid orders, gravely acted with abuse of discretion amounting to lack and/or excess of
jurisdiction, hence said orders are null and void ab initio; and

3. Private respondent is morally incompetent and unsuitable to perform the duties of an administrator as he would give prior preference to
the claims of his mother against the estate itself. 11

As stated at the outset, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment dismissing that petition for certiorari on the ground that the appointment of an
administrator is left entirely to the sound discretion of the trial court which may not be interfered with unless abused; that the fact that there was no
personal notice served on petitioners is not a denial of due process as such service is not a jurisdictional requisite and petitioners were heard on their
opposition; and that the alleged violation of the order of preference, if any, is an error of fact or law which is a mistake of judgment, correctible by appeal
and not by the special civil action of certiorari. 12

In the petition for review on certiorari at bar, petitioners primarily aver that under Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court, it is the surviving spouse who is
first in the order of preference for the appointment of an administrator. Petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel is the widow and legal surviving spouse of the
deceased Domingo Gabriel and should, therefore, be preferred over private respondent who is one of the illegitimate children of the decedent by claimant.
Aida Valencia. Secondly, they claim that assuming that the widow is incompetent, the next of kin must be appointed. As between a legitimate and an
illegitimate child, the former is preferred, hence petitioner Nilda Gabriel, as the legitimate daughter, must be preferred over private respondent who is an
illegitimate son. Thirdly, it is contended that the non-observance or violation per se of the order of preference already constitutes a grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

On the other hand, private respondent contends that the court did not commit a grave abuse of discretion in not following the order of preference because
the same is not absolute and the choice of who to appoint rests in the sound discretion of the court. He calls attention to the fact that petitioners Nilda
Gabriel and Felicitas Jose-Gabriel never applied for appointment despite the lapse of more than nine (9) months from the death of Domingo Gabriel, hence
it was not possible for the probate court to have considered them for appointment. Besides, it is not denied that several properties of the deceased have
already been relinquished to herein petitioners, hence they would have no interest in applying for letters of administration. Lastly, private respondent
submits that it has not been shown that he is incompetent nor is he disqualified from being appointed or serving as administrator.

Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court provides:

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 husband or wife, as the case may be, or the 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 no such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be granted to such other person as the court may select. (Emphases
ours.)

Evidently, the foregoing provision of the Rules prescribes the order of preference in the issuance of letters of administration, 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.

In the appointment of the 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. This is the same consideration which Section 6 of Rule 78 takes into account in establishing the order of preference in
the appointment of administrators for the estate. The underlying assumption behind this rule is that those who will reap the benefit of a wise, speedy and
economical administration of the estate, or, on the other hand, suffer the consequences of waste, improvidence or mismanagement, have the highest
interest and most influential motive to administer the estate correctly. 13

This is likewise the same consideration which the law takes into account in establishing the preference of the widow to administer the estate of her
husband upon the latter's death, because she is supposed to have an interest therein as a partner in the conjugal partnership. 14 Under the law, the widow
would have the right of succession over a portion of the exclusive property of the decedent, aside from her share in the conjugal partnership. For such
reason, she would have as much, if not more, interest in administering the entire estate correctly than any other next of kin. 15 On this ground alone,
petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel, the widow of the deceased Domingo Gabriel, has every right and is very much entitled to the administration of the estate
of her husband since one who has greater interest in the estate is preferred to another who has less. 16

Private respondent, however, argues that Felicitas Jose-Gabriel may no longer be appointed administratrix by reason of her failure to apply for letters of
administration within thirty (30) days from the death of her husband, as required under the rules.

It is true that Section 6(b) of Rule 78 provides that the preference given to the surviving spouse or next of kin may be disregarded by the court where said
persons neglect to apply for letters of administration for thirty (30) days after the decedent's death. However, it is our considered opinion that such failure is
not sufficient to exclude the widow from the administration of the estate of her husband. There must be a very strong case to justify the exclusion of the
widow from the administration. 17

In the case at bar, there is no compelling reason sufficient to disqualify Felicitas Jose-Gabriel from appointment as administratrix of the decedent's estate.
Moreover, just as the order of preference is not absolute and may be disregarded for valid cause 18 despite the mandatory tenor in the opening sentence of
Rule 78 for its observance, so may the 30-day period be likewise waived under the permissive tone in paragraph (b) of said rule which merely provides that
said letters, as an alternative, "may be granted to one or more of the principal creditors."

On the other hand, we feel that we should not nullify the appointment of private respondent as administrator. The determination of a person's suitability for
the office of judicial administrator rests, to a great extent, in the sound judgment of the court exercising the power of appointment and said judgment is not
to be interfered with on appeal unless the said court is clearly in error. 19 Administrators have such a right and corresponding interest in the execution of
their trust as would entitle them to protection from removal without just cause. Thus, Section 2 of Rule 82 provides the legal and specific causes
authorizing the probate court to remove an administrator.

While it is conceded that the court is invested with ample discretion in the removal of an administrator, it must, however, have some fact legally before it in
order to justify such removal. There must be evidence of an act or omission on the part of the administrator not conformable to or in disregard of the rules
or the orders of the court which it deems sufficient or substantial to warrant the removal of the administrator. 20 In the instant case, a mere importunity by
some of the heirs of the deceased, there being no factual and substantial bases therefor, is not adequate ratiocination for the removal of private
respondent. Suffice it to state that the removal of an administrator does not lie on the whims, caprices and dictates of the heirs or beneficiaries of the
estate. In addition, the court may also exercise its discretion in appointing an administrator where those who are entitled to letters fail to apply therefor
within a given time. 21

On the equiponderance of the foregoing legal positions, we see no reason why, for the benefit of the estate and those interested therein, more than one
administrator may not be appointed since that is both legally permissible and sanctioned in practice. 22 Section 6(a) of Rule 78 specifically states that letters
of administration may be issued to both the surviving spouse and the next of
kin. 23 In fact, Section 2 of Rule 82 contemplates a contingency which may arise when there is only one administrator but which may easily be remediable
where there is co-administration, to wit: "When an executor or administrator dies, resigns, or is removed the remaining executor or administrator may
administer the trust alone, . . . ." Also, co-administration herein will constitute a recognition of both the extent of the interest of the widow in the estate and
the creditable services rendered to and which may further be expected from private respondent for the same estate.

Under both Philippine and American jurisprudence, the appointment of co-administrators has been upheld for various reasons, viz: (1) to have the benefit
of their judgment and perhaps at all times to have different interests represented; 24 (2) where justice and equity demand that opposing parties or factions
be represented in the management of the estate of the deceased; 25
(3) where the estate is large or, from any cause, an intricate and perplexing one to settle; 26 (4) to have all interested persons satisfied and the
representatives to work in harmony for the best interests of the estate; 27 and (5) when a person entitled to the administration of an estate desires to have
another competent person associated with him in the office. 28

Under the circumstances obtaining herein, we deem it just, equitable and advisable that there be a co-administration of the estate of the deceased by
petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel and private respondent Roberto Dindo Gabriel. As earlier stated, the purpose of having co-administrators is to have the
benefit of their judgment and perhaps at all times to have different interests represented, especially considering that in this proceeding they will respectively
represent the legitimate and illegitimate groups of heirs to the estate. Thereby, it may reasonably be expected that all interested persons will be satisfied,
with the representatives working in harmony under the direction and supervision of the probate court.

WHEREFORE, the judgment of respondent Court of Appeals is MODIFIED by AFFIRMING the validity of the appointment of respondent Roberto Dindo
Gabriel as judicial administrator and ORDERING the appointment of petitioner Felicitas Jose-Gabriel as co-administratrix in Special Proceeding No. 88-
4458 of Branch XI, Regional Trial Court of Manila.

SO ORDERED.

4. G.R. No. L-18498 March 30, 1967

TESTATE ESTATE OF VITO BORROMEO. JOSE H. JUNQUERA, petitioner-appellee,


vs.
CRISPIN BORROMEO, ET AL., oppositors-appellants.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, intervenor-appellant.

Benjamin A. Rallon for oppositor-appellant Fortunato Borromeo.


Crispen Baizas and Associates for heirs oppositors-appellants Tomas Borromeo and Amelia Borromeo.
Office of the Solicitor General for intervenor oppositor-appellant Republic.
Miguel Cuenco and Fernando S. Ruiz for heirs oppositors-appellants Crispin Borromeo, Teofilo Borromeo, et al.
Filiberto Leonardo for petitioner-appellee.

DIZON, J.:

Vito Borromeo, a widower and permanent resident of the City of Cebu, died on March 13, 1952, in Parañaque, Rizal, at the age of 88 years, without forced
heirs but leaving extensive properties in the province of Cebu.

On April 19 of the same year, Jose H. Junquera, filed with the Court of First Instance of said province a petition for the probate of a one page document as
the last will left by said deceased, devising all his properties to Tomas, Fortunato and Amelia, all surnamed Borromeo, in equal and undivided shares, and
designating Junquera as executor thereof (Special Proceedings No. 916-R). The document — now in the record as Exhibit "A" — was dated May 17, 1946,
drafted in Spanish, and allegedly signed, and thumbmarked by said deceased, in the presence of Dr. Cornelio G. Gandionco, Eusebio Cabiluna and
Filiberto Leonardo as attesting witnesses. On June 14, 1952, the probate court appointed Junquera as special administrator of the estate.

On November 14 of the same year, Teofilo Borromeo filed an opposition to the probate of the will based on the following grounds: (1) that the formalities
required by law had not been complied with; (2) that the testator was mentally incapable of making a will at the time of its execution; (3) that the will was
procured by undue and improper influence, on the part of the beneficiaries and/or some other person; (4) that the signature of the testator was procured by
fraud; and (5) that the testator acted by mistake or did not intend the instrument he signed to be his will at the time he affixed his signature thereto.

Upon motion of the abovenamed oppositor, on June 9, 1953, the Court removed Junquera as special administrator and appointed Dr. Patricio Beltran in
his place.

On November 27, 1953, Vitaliana Borromeo, a niece of the deceased, filed her own opposition to the probate of the will, on the ground that the signature
"Vito Borromeo" appearing thereon was a forgery. Other oppositions were subsequently filed by Patrocinio Borromeo de Tabotabo (her opposition was
later withdrawn), Lilia Morre de Tabotabo, Lamberto Morre, Patricia Morre de Ranario, Aurora Morre de Borromeo, Ramon Ocampo, Isagani Morre and
Rosario Morre, invoking substantially the same grounds mentioned heretofore.

Meanwhile, Tomas, Amelia and Fortunato Borromeo, manifestly on behalf of the "Cebu Arcade Company, T. L. Borromeo y Cia.", a duly organized
partnership controlled by them, filed a motion to exclude from the inventory of the Estate previously filed by the new special administrator, thirteen parcels
of land situated in the City of Cebu with a total area of 2,148 square meters, alleging that during his lifetime the deceased testator had sold said lots to
them, as evidenced by the document now in the record as Exhibit F-1 executed on May 17, 1945, confirming the alleged previous sale. After due hearing,
the court, in its order of July 16, 1954, denied the motion for exclusion, ruling that movants' remedy was to file a separate accion reivindicatoria against the
administrator.

On October 28, 1955, the Republic of the Philippines filed a motion for leave to intervene and join the oppositors in contesting the probate of the will, on the
ground that, should the estate be adjudicated the latter by intestacy, it stood to collect a considerable amount by way of estate and inheritance taxes. In its
order of December 10 of the same year, the Court allowed the intervention.
After a prolonged trial, on May 28, 1960, the Court rendered a decision denying the probate of the will and declaring itself without jurisdiction to pass upon
the question of ownership over the thirteen lots which the Cebu Arcade etc. claimed as its own. All the parties appealed — the proponents of the will from
the portion of the decision denying probate, and the oppositors and the Republic of the Philippines, from that portion thereof where the court refused to
decide the question of ownership of the thirteen lots already mentioned.

The proponents of the disputed will, mainly with the testimony of the three attesting witnesses, Cornelio Gandionco, Filiberto Leonardo and Eusebio
Cabiluna, sought to prove the following facts:

In the morning of May 17, 1945, Tomas Borromeo, complying with the request of Vito Borromeo, went to the house of Atty. Filiberto Leonardo to request
him to be a witness at the execution of the latter's last will. Dr. Cornelio Gandionco, who at the time happened to be in the house of Leonardo, was likewise
requested to act as such. Together, the three went to the residence of Vito Borromeo at Ramos Street, Cebu City. Upon their arrival the third witness,
Eusebio Cabiluna, who was living on the ground floor of the house, was asked to come upstairs. Thereafter, in their presence, Vito Borromeo executed
first, the document Exhibit "F" (deed of confirmation of an alleged previous sale to Cebu Arcade Company, T. L. Borromeo y Cia.) witnessed by Gandionco
and Cabiluna. Later, Vito Borromeo, being of sound and disposing mind, and without pressure or influence exerted on him, dictated the substance of his
will to Tomas Borromeo, who in turn typewrote it in proper legal language. The document was then read by Vito Borromeo, who later signed and
thumbmarked it (Exhibit "A") and carbon copies thereof (Exhibits "E" and "K") in the presence of the attesting witnesses, who, in turn, signed the will and its
copies in the presence of Vito Borromeo and of each other.

Proponents also placed the Rev. Fr. Julio Corres, a Spanish Catholic priest who was the confessor of Vito Borromeo from 1942 to 1946, the Rev. Fr.
Sergio Alfafara, who was his confessor from 1946 to 1947, and Vicenta Mañacap, a mid-wife who lived in the testator's house and had served him from
May 1945 up to his death on March 30, 1952 on the witness stand. The gist of their testimony is to the effect that at the time of the execution of the will,
Vito Borromeo was still strong and could move around freely with the aid of a cane; that he was still mentally alert and was a man of strong will; that his
right hand was unimpaired and he could write with it unaided; that as a matter of fact — according to Vicenta Mañacap — he still wrote personal letters to
Tomas Borromeo, could eat by himself and even played the piano.

On the other hand, the oppositors presented several witnesses who testified that the signatures purporting to be those of Vito Borromeo on the document
Exhibit "A" and its copies were forgeries; that they were too good and too perfect signatures and, therefore, quite impossible for the deceased — an ailing
man already 82 years old on May 17, 1945 — to write; that he was found "positive for bacillus leprosy" by Dr. Antonio Garcia as early as 1926 or 1927,
having been treated for it consistently by injections of chaulmoogra oil administered by Dr. Max Borromeo and Dr. Cornelio Gandionco; that Vito
Borromeo's usual signatures during his better days had always been characterized by certain flourishes, technically called "rubric"; that Vito Borromeo had
also reared and educated two of the oppositors, Crispin Borromeo and the late Teofilo Borromeo and there was no conceivable reason why they were left
out in the will, if any such will had really been made by him knowingly; that the testamentary witness Cornelio Gandionco, is a nephew of the other witness,
Filiberto Leonardo, and was the fiance of Angeles Borromeo, a sister of Tomas Borromeo, one of the instituted heirs; that the third testamentary witness,
Eusebio Cabiluna is the real father of Fortunato Borromeo, another instituted heir, who admittedly grew up and was reared by Vito Borromeo and his wife
Juliana Evangelista since he was barely three months; that Amelia Borromeo, the third instituted heir, is a younger sister of Tomas Borromeo and
dependent upon him; that on May 17, 1945, the deceased's leprosy was so far advanced that the fingers of his right hand were already hardened and
atrophied, this making it difficult, if not impossible, for him to write; and that on the same date, his sense of hearing and his eyesight had been considerably
impaired, his eyes being always watery due to the progress of his leprosy.

The oppositors also presented Felipe Logan of the National Bureau of Investigation and Jose G. Villanueva, as handwriting experts, who testified, after
examining the supposed signatures of the deceased in Exhibit "A" and comparing them with his accepted standard signatures, that the questioned
signatures were forgeries. The proponents, however, presented their own handwriting expert, Martin Ramos, who testified to the contrary.
The trial court refused to believe the testimony of the attesting witnesses and, as a result, denied the petition for probate, because, in its opinion, they
appeared not to be "wholly disinterested persons" and because of the serious discrepancies in their testimonies with respect to the number of copies made
of the disputed document. The court also found that the physical condition of the deceased at the time of the execution of the questioned document was
such that it was highly improbable, if not impossible, for him to have affixed his signatures on the documents Exhibits A, E and K in the spontaneous and
excellent manner they appear to have been written. Thus, the court was also led to believe the testimony of the handwriting experts for oppositors, —
adverse to the genuineness of the signatures of Vito Borromeo on the questioned document — more than that of the handwriting expert presented by the
proponents of the will.

It seems clear, therefore, that the main issue to be decided in the present appeal is whether or not the evidence of record is sufficient to prove the due
execution of the will in question.
1äwphï1.ñët

It must be conceded that in this jurisdiction, the subscribing witnesses to a contested will are regarded as the best witnesses in connection with its due
execution. It is similarly true, however, that to deserve full credit, their test, testimony must be reasonable and unbiased, and that, as in the case of any
other witness, their testimony may be overcome by any competent evidence — direct or circumstantial (Board, etc. vs. Shasser, 10 Kan. 585, 168 Pac. 836
[1917]).

It is also an appellate practice of long standing in this jurisdiction to accord great weight to the findings of fact made by the trial court and not to disturb
them unless said court had failed to consider material facts and circumstances or had given undue weight to, or misconstrued the testimony of particular
witnesses, the reason for this being that the trial judge had full opportunity to hear and observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses while testifying
and was consequently in a better position than the reviewing court to determine the question of their credibility. While this is not applicable to the present
case because His Honor, the judge who penned the appealed decision was not the same judge before whom the evidence of the parties was presented, it
must be stated that, judging from the carefully written decision under review, it was only after a thorough study of the record that His Honor arrived at the
conclusion that the subscribing witnesses do not appear to be wholly disinterested persons.

On the matter of the number of copies made of the questioned will allegedly signed by the testator and the three subscribing witnesses, His Honor found
that Cabiluna was very uncertain and confused; that a certain stage of his examination, he said that only two copies of the will were prepared — the
original and one carbon copy — while at another stage he affirmed that he did not know whether or not there was a duplicate and that all he could say was
that he had affixed his signature three times (Transcript, Marquiala, August 22, 1958, pp. 49-50). In truth, however, he really signed six (6) times — twice
on the original and twice on each of the two copies. Adding confusion to the situation is the answer he gave when he was asked if Vito Borromeo also
signed the carbon copy, to which his answer was "I did not see" (Idem., p. 50).

On the other hand, the other subscribing witness, Atty. Filiberto Leonardo, testified categorically that there were only the original and one carbon copy of
the will and that the testator and all the subscribing witnesses signed both (Transcript, Marquiala, December 23, 1953, pp. 167, 210, and 218). However,
the naked and highly disturbing fact is that, contrary to what is inferable from the vacillating testimony of Cabiluna and the categorical assertion of Atty.
Leonardo, the proponents of the questioned will themselves presented three copies of said will; the original, a carbon duplicate copy and a carbon triplicate
copy, now in the record as Exhibits A, E and K, respectively.

While it is true that the testimony of these subscribing witnesses was given around eight years after the alleged execution of the questioned will, still we
believe that the transaction in which they claim to have taken an important part is of such character and importance that it can not be a very easy matter for
anyone of them to have a hazy recollection of the number of copies signed by the testator and by them. Stranger still would it be for them to say something
in open contradiction with the reality on the matter. If, as may be clearly deduced from their testimony — Cabiluna and Leonardo's — there was only the
original and one copy signed by the testator and the subscribing witnesses, why is it that three — original and two copies — were really in existence and
were produced in court during the trial?
In the case of the third subscribing witness, Dr. Cornelio Gandionco, the imputation was made by two witnesses, Dr. Teofilo Borromeo and Judge Crispin
Borromeo, that he was the fiance of Angeles Borromeo, sister of Tomas Borromeo, who is one of the three heirs instituted in the questioned will, evidently
to show that he is not a completely disinterested witness. The evidence to this effect appears to have remained unimpeached, although the proponents of
the will could have done it by calling on Dr. Gandionco himself or on Angeles Borromeo to deny the imputation.

Moreover, the evidence also disclose that Dr. Gandionco was the uncle of the other subscribing witness, Atty. Leonardo, and that, in fact, they were living
together at the time of the alleged execution of the will. This circumstance — apparently trivial — can not be taken lightly because in view of appellee's
claim that Angeles Borromeo was the fiance of Dr. Gandionco, it would not be unreasonable to entertain the suspicion that both subscribing witnesses
were not wholly disinterested. Material to this point is the fact established by the evidence that Atty. Leonardo was the notary public before whom the
document Exhibit 4-A — which purports to convey to a partnership controlled by the heirs instituted in the questioned will thirteen parcels of land situated in
the commercial center of Cebu City — was supposedly acknowledged by the testator on the same date May 17, 1945.

In the light of the foregoing, We can not see our way clear to holding that the trial court erred in refusing to give full credit to the testimony of the three
subscribing witnesses.

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 exaggerate 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 other.
This can not be said of the condition and physical appearance of the questioned document itself. Both, albeit silently, will reveal the naked truth, hiding
nothing, forgetting nothing, and exaggerating nothing. For this reason, independently of the conflicting opinions expressed by the handwriting experts
called to the witness stand by the parties, we have carefully examined and considered the physical appearance and condition of the original and two
copies of the questioned will found in the record — particularly the signatures attributed to the testator — and We have come to the conclusion that the
latter could not have been written by him.

Upon the face of the original and two copies of the contested will (Exhibits A, E and K) appear a total of six alleged signatures of the testator. They are all
well written along a practically straight line, without any visible sign of tremor or lack of firmness in the hand that wrote them. In fact, in the respects just
adverted to, they appear better written than the unquestioned signatures, of attesting witnesses Gandionco and Cabiluna, inspite of the fact that on the
date of the alleged execution of the will (May 17, 1945) the testator was considerably older and in a much poorer physical condition than they. According to
the evidence, the testator was then a sick man, eighty-two years old, with the entire left half of his body paralyzed since six years before, while the oldest
attesting witness (Cabiluna) was around sixty-five years of age and Leonardo and Gandionco were only forty-four and forty-five years old respectively, and
were all in good health. Despite the obviously very poor physical condition of the testator, Leonardo claims that he signed the alleged will unaided, writing
his name thereon slowly but continuously or without interruption, and that, on the same occasion, he signed his name several times not only on the original
of the will and its copies but also on the original and several copies of the alleged confirmatory sale Exhibit F-1 and on his residence certificate.
Considering all the attendant circumstances, we agree with the lower court that Vito Borromeo could not have written the questioned signatures.

In view of what has been said heretofore, We find it unnecessary to examine and consider in detail the conflicting testimony of the handwriting experts
presented by the parties: Martin Ramos by the proponents of the will, to sustain the genuineness of the questioned signatures, and Felipe Logan and Jose
G. Villanueva, by the oppositors, to prove that said signatures are forgeries. We shall limit ourselves in this connection to quoting with approval the
following portion of the appealed decision:

What the Court finds to be a weakness in the conclusions of Martin Ramos, based on his comparative examination of the questioned and standard
signatures of Vito Borromeo, is his apparent assumption that all the signatures were made by Vito Borromeo under equality or similarity of
circumstances, that is, that in all instances Vito Borromeo had normal use of both of his hands, — the right and the left. He failed to take into
account that when Vito Borromeo allegedly affixed those signatures on May 17, 1945 on Exhibits 'A', 'E', and 'K' the left portion of his body,
including the left hand, was already paralyzed, and Vito Borromeo was represented to have written his name alone by himself and unaided. Maybe,
if he was previously apprised of those circumstances, he would hesitate to make the conclusion that those flawless signatures reading Vito
Borromeo, written straight and in a form as good as, if not better than, the signatures of three much younger attesting witnesses, were positively in
the handwriting of the 82-year old, ailing, and paralytic Vito Borromeo. The Court consequently, finds itself not disposed to adopt his conclusions,
but on the contrary is inclined toward the views of the other two experts witnesses, Felipe Logan and Jose G. Villanueva.

As stated at the outset, the contested will is claimed to have been signed and thumbmarked by the testator. An examination of the thumbmarks, however,
readily shows that, as the lower court found, the same are "glaringly far from being distinct and clear"; that "they are not a possible means of identification"
nor can "they possibly be identified to be those of Vito Borromeo, or for that matter, of any other person whatsoever". It is, therefore, obvious, that they are
of little use in the resolution of the issue before Us.

We shall now consider the appeal, taken by the oppositors and the Republic of the Philippines from that portion of the decision where the lower court
declined to decide with finality the question of who owns the thirteen parcels of land subject-matter of the confirmatory sale Exhibit F-1 and whether or not
they should be included in or excluded from the inventory of properties of the Estate of the deceased Vito Borromeo.

It appears that on February 11, 1954 Tomas, Amelia, and Fortunato Borromeo, through counsel, filed a motion for the exclusion from the inventory of the
Estate of the thirteen lots therein mentioned, with a total area of 2,348 square meters, claiming that the same had been sold by the deceased Vito
Borromeo during his lifetime to the Cebu Arcade, T. L. Borromeo y Cia. This motion for exclusion was denied by the lower court in its order of July 16,
1954, and the ruling was reiterated in the appealed decision "for the same reasons and considerations" upon which it rejected the probate of the will. The
ruling on the matter, however, was expressly made provisional in nature.

We believe, and so hold, that the resolution of the lower court on this matter is correct because said court, acting in its capacity as a probate court, had no
jurisdiction to determine with finality the question of ownership involved. That such matter must be litigated in a separate action has been the established
jurisprudence in this jurisdiction (Ongsinco vs. Borja, L-7635, July 25, 1955; Mallari vs. Mallari, L-4656, February 23, 1953; Garcia vs. Martin, G.R. No. L-
9233, June 29, 1957; Cordova vs. Ocampo, 73 Phil. 661; Pascual vs. Pascual, 73 Phil. 561 and others), except where a party merely prays for the
inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of any particular property, in which case the probate court may pass upon provisionally, the question of inclusion
or exclusion, but without prejudice to its final determination in an appropriate separate action (Garcia vs. Garcia, 67 Phil. 353; Marcelino vs. Antonio, 70
Phil. 388; Guinguing vs. Abuton, 48 Phil. 144, 147).

In view of all the foregoing, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with costs.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.

5. G.R. No. 43351 February 26, 1937

Intestate estate of the deceased Baldomero Cosme.


ROSARIO COSME DE MENDOZA, administratrix-appellee,
vs.
JANUARIO PACHECO and RAYMUNDO CORDERO, sureties-appellants.

Vicente J. Francsico and Estanislao A. Fernandez, Jr. for appellants.


R. Gonzales Lloret for appellee.
LAUREL, J.:

The facts in this case are not disputed. Manuel Soriano was former administrator of the estate of Baldomero Cosme in civil case No. 5494, Court of First
Instance of Laguna. To assure faithful performance of his duties as such administrator, he filed a bond for P5,000, with the herein appellants, Januario
Pacheco and Raymundo Cordero, as sureties. Soriano's account, upon approval, showed him indebted to the estate in the sum of P23,603.21. Unable to
turn this amount over to the estate upon demand of Rosario Cosme, the new administratrix, the lower court ordered the execution of his bond on
November 4, 1932, after notice duly served upon the sureties. Sometime later, the court approved a settlement had between the adminstratrix and the ex-
administrator, whereby the latter ceded certain real properties to the estate reducing on that account his indebtedness to the estate from P23,603.21 to
P5,000. As to this last amount, "La administradora se atiene a la orden de ejecucion de la fianza suscrita por los fiadores Januario Pacheco y Raymundo
Cordero" (Record on Appeal, p. 2). Subsequently, the administratrix had the public sale thereof to collect this amount of P5,000. Separate motions to he
discharged from the bond were filed by sureties Pacheco and Cordero. Both motions were denied. A motion by Cordero to reconsider the order of denial
met a like fate. Brought on appeal to this court, the appeal was dismissed. The dispositive part of the decision of this court (G. R. No. 40998, Cosme de
Mendoza vs. Pacheco and Cordero [60 Phil., 1057]) reads as follows:

The motion of October 1, 1933, was filed only on behalf of Raymundo Cordero who filed no motion for reconsideration of the order of execution of
November 4, 1932, and took no appeal therefrom. Being of the opinion that the trial court correctly held that said order had become final, the
motion of October 31, 1933, for reconsideration (if such it may be called) came too late. The judgment is therefore affirmed with costs against the
appellants.

When the case was remanded to the lower court, the sureties filed a motion challenging, for the first time, the jurisdiction of the trial court to issue the order
of November 4, 1932, executing the bond. The trial court denied the motion in view of the decision of this court. The case is elevated here for the second
time on appeal.

Appellants assign the following error:

The lower court erred in refusing: (a) To declare null and void its order of execution of the ex-administrator's bond of November 4, 1932, as well as
the writs of execution issued in virtue thereof; (b) to accordingly vacate said order of November 4, 1932, and order the release of the properties of
the herein sureties-appellants attached in pursuance of the writs of execution issued against them by virtue of said order; and (c) to order the
suspension of the execution of the said order of November 4, 1932, until this case is finally decide.

In the discussion of the foregoing assignment of error in their brief (pp. 9-23), the appellants take in six propositions. One question, however, — that of
jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Laguna to order the execution of the administrator's bond — is decisive of this appeal. Appellants, sureties upon
the bond, press the point that the order in suit is an absolute nullity for lack of power in the issuing court. "In vain," they tell us, "have we searched our
statute books, especially the part of our Code of Civil Procedure regarding probate jurisdiction, to find whether our Courts of First Instance, acting as
probate courts, have the power to order the execution of an administrator's bond." Neither their failure to assail that jurisdiction when they ought nor the
subsequent affirmance of the order by this court, they say, could revive an order dead from its inception.

To begin with, it lies within discretion of the court to select an administrator of the estate of a deceased person (Capistrano vs. Nadurata, 46 Phil., 726,
727). Before an administrator, or an executor, enters upon the execution of his trust, and letters testamentary or of administration are issued, the person to
whom they are issued is required to give a bond in such reasonable sum as the court directs, with one or more sufficient sureties, conditioned upon the
faithful performance of his trust (Code of Civil Procedure, sec. 643, 662). The administrator is accountable on his bond along with the sureties for the
performance of certain legal obligations. (Tan vs. Go Chiong Lee, 46 Phil., 200, 205. See also, Stovall vs. Banks, 10 Wall., 583, 588; 19 Law. ed., 1036;
Long vs. O'Fallon, 19 How., 116; 15 Law. ed., 550.)
It is clear that a Court of First Instance, exercising probate jurisdiction, is empowered to require the filing of the administrator's bond, to fix the amount
thereof, and to hold it accountable for any breach of the administrator's duty. Possessed, as it is, with an all-embracing power over the administrator's bond
and over administration proceedings, a Court of First Instance in a probate proceeding cannot be devoid of legal authority to execute and make that bond
answerable for the very purpose for which it was filed. It is true that the law does not say expressly or in so many words that such court has power to
execute the bond of an administrator, but by necessary and logical implication, the power is there as eloquently as if it were phrased in unequivocal term.
When the accountability of an administrator's bond is spoken of in the very provisions dealing with and bearing directly on administration proceedings, it
would involve a strained construction to hold, as appellants would have us do, that where an administrator is held liable for a devastravit for having
squandered and misapplied property which he was in duty bound to marshal and conserve, the estate is without a remedy to go against the administrator's
bond in the same probate proceedings, but in an action outside of and separate from it. In this connection, it should be observed that section 683 of the
Code of Civil Procedure provides that "Upon the settlement of the account of an executor or administrator, trustee, or guardians, a person liable as surety
in respect to such amount may, upon application, be admitted as a party to such accounting, and may have the right to appeal as hereinafter provided."
There is here afforded to a person who may be held liable as surety in respect to an administrator's account the right, upon application, to be admitted as a
party to their accounting, from which we may not unreasonably infer that a surety, like the appellants in the case before us, may be charged with liability
upon the bond during the process of accounting, that is, within the recognized confines of probate proceedings, and not in an action apart and distinct from
such proceedings.

Appellants in their brief direct our attention to several cases decided by this court holding that Courts of First Instance, as probate courts, have no power to
adjudicate on claims of other persons on property forming part of the estate, by title adverse to the deceased (Guzman vs. Anog and Anog, 37 Phil., 61,
62); on the legal usufruct of the widow (Sahagun vs. De Gorosita, 7 Phil., 347, 351), and on the validity of testamentary dispositions
(Castañeda vs.Alemany, 3 Phil., 426, 428). We have carefully examined these cases in relation to the facts and circumstances of the case at bar. We take
the view, however, that the execution of an administrator's bond, unlike the questions involved in the cited cases, clearly stands upon a different footing,
and is as necessary a part and incident of the administration proceeding as the filing of such bond or the fixing of its amount. Particularly is this true in the
present case where Soriano's indebtedness to the sate in the amount of P23,603.21, subsequently reduced to P5,000, is conceded on all sides, and all
that the trial court had to do was to see that said amount was turned over to the estate.

It is the duty of courts of probate jurisdiction to guard jealously the estates of the deceased person by intervening in the administration thereof in order to
remedy or repair any injury that may be done thereto (Dariano vs. Fernandez Fidalgo, 14 Phil., 62, 67; Sison vs. Azarraga, 30 Phil., 129, 134). "Probate
and like courts have a special jurisdiction only, and their powers as to ancillary or incidental questions must of necessity to exercise within certain
limitations; but such powers include the right to try questions which arise incidentally in a cause over which such courts have jurisdiction and the
determination of which are necessary to a lawful exercise of the powers expressly conferred in arriving at a decision. . . . There seems, however, to be a
general tendency, in the absence of express and specific restrictions to the contrary, to uphold the exercise by these court of such incidental powers as
are, within the purview of their grant of authority, reasonably necessary to enable them to accomplish the objects for which they were invested with
jurisdiction and to perfect the same. And it has been held that statutes conferring jurisdiction on such courts, being remedial and for the advancement of
justice, should receive a favorable construction, such as will give them the force and efficiency intended by the legislature." (15 C. J., 813, 814.) The
tendency in the United States indeed has been towards the enlargement of the powers of probate courts. In the beginning these courts were possessed
but limited powers. Having originated from the ecclesiastical courts of England, their jurisdiction, following their English patterns was practically limited to
the probate of wills, the granting of administrators, and the suing for legacies (Plant vs. Harrion, 74 N. Y. Sup., 411, 441; 36 Misc. Rep., 649;
Chadwick vs. Chadwick, 13 Pac., 385, 388; 6 Mont., 566; 3 Bl. Comm., pp. 95-98). But, though they still are often unadvisedly described, particularly in
Connecticut (Griffin vs. Pratt, 3 Conn., 513), as courts of limited, inferior or special jurisdiction, they have outgrown their limitations and have become
courts with considerably increased powers (Woerner, The American Law of Administration [2d], sec. 145; Plant vs. Harrison, supra).

What has been said sufficiently determinative of the appeal before us. We wish, however, to say a word on a salutary consideration of policy which has
been invariably followed by this court in cases of this nature. We refer to the dispatch and economy with which administration of the estates of deceased
persons should be terminated and settled. It will be recalled that the appellants could have raised the question of jurisdiction now pressed upon us in civil
case No. 5494 of the Court of First Instance of Laguna and on appeal of that case to this court once before (G. R. No. 40998 [60 Phil., 1057]). They not
failed to avail of that right but failed to appeal from the order complained of (Vide, Decision of this court in G. R. No. 40998, Cosme de
Mendoza vs. Pacheco and Cordero). The questions raised in the appeal at bar, appellant's second attempt to go about and frustrate the order in question,
could have been passed upon once for all in the case referred to. We cannot encourage a practice that trenches violently upon the settled jurisprudence of
this court that the policy and purpose of administration proceedings is ". . . to close up, and not to continue an estate . . ." (Lizarraga Hermanos vs. Abada,
40 Phil., 124, 133), and that ". . . the State fails wretchedly in its duty to its citizens if the machinery furnished by it for the division and distribution of the
property of a decedent is so cumbersome, unwidely and expensive that a considerable portion of the sate is absorbed in the process of such division.
Where administration is necessary, it ought to be accomplished consumes any considerable portion of the property which it was designed to distribute is a
failure. . . ." (McMicking vs. Sy Conbieng, 21 Phil., 211, 220.)

The order appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against the appellants. So ordered.

Avanceña, C.J., Abad Santos, Imperial, Diaz and Concepcion, JJ., concur.

6. G.R. No. L-27657 August 30, 1992

IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE JULIANA REYES, PAULINA SANTOS DE PARREÑO, special adminstratrix,
vs.
GREGORIA ARANZANSO, appellant.

&

ABAD SANTOS, J.: 1äwph ï1.ñët

This case is about the all-too-familiar problem as to who shall administer the estate of the deceased. It exposes human nature in its most naked form —
acquisitive.

Juliana Reyes died intestate. Her substantial estate is still being settled in Special Proceedings No. 34354 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch
IV. The settlement has spawned a number of litigation which has reached this Court and includes not only the instant case but also other cases with the
following docket numbers: 23828, 26940 and 27130.

The estate had only special administrators until Gregoria Aranzanso who claims to be a first cousin of the decedent asked that she be appointed regular
administrator. Her motion provoked counter motions, oppositions, replies, rebuttal and rejoinder which take up 120 pages of the printed record on appeal
and which demonstrate the zeal of the various counsel in espousing their clients claims to the estate which as aforesaid is substantial.

On January 29, 1966, the Court issued an order appointing Gregoria Aranzanso as regular administrator and relieving Araceli A. Pilapil as special
administrator. The order reads: 1äwphï1.ñët

This incident refers to the appointment of the regular administrator or administratrix of this intestate of the late Juliana Reyes de Santos.

This proceeding was instituted upon petition of the late Simplicio Santos on November 25, 1957, after the death of the decedent on October
21, same year. On August 22, 1959, Simplicio Santos was appointed as Special Administrator with the bond of P5,000.00, and acted as
such until his death on July 1, 1962. A special proceeding was likewise instituted for the settlement of his estate (Sp. Proc. No. 50994, of
this Court) by persons claiming to be the children of Simplicio Santos, in which Dominador Santos and Zenaida Diaz Vda, de Santos were
appointed as administrator and administratrix, respectively. On August 1, 1962, Araceli Pilapil was appointed special administratrix of this
intestate upon petition of the late Aurora Santos and Paulina Santos. It appears that Araceli A. Pilapil has no relation to the decedent,
except as attorney-in-fact of Paulina Santos.

On August 3, 1963, Filomena Santos de Lagunera through counsel, filed a motion for the appointment of a regular administrator. On
December 13, 1963, this Court in an order issued directed the parties to show cause why this case should not be set for hearing for the
appointment of a regular administrator. Because of the length of time that had already elapsed since the filing or institution of this
proceeding on November 25, 1957, without a regular administrator having been appointed, this Court issued an order on October 4, 1965,
ordering the setting of the case for hearing on October 11, 1965, for the appointment of the regular administrator or administratrix.

On October 9, 1965, Paulina Santos filed a motion praying that she be appointed as regular administratrix, but in the interim apparently
because she is out of the country, asked that the special administratrix Araceli A. Pilapil be appointed in the meantime. On October 9, 1965,
the surviving spouse of the late Simplicio Santos, Zenaida Diaz Vda. de Santos, and her son, Simplicio Santos, Jr., filed a motion praying
the Court that Atty. Olimpio Capalungan be appointed as the regular administrator. In the hearing on October 11, 1965, the oppositors
Consuelo and Pacita Pasion proposed the appointment of the former as the regular administratrix although in subsequent hearings
withdrew in favor of Gregorio Aranzanso. On October 12, 1965, oppositor Gregorio Aranzanso proposed that she or her son-in-law Manuel
Cariaga be appointed as the regular administrator or administratrix, as the case may be. The oppositors are the nearest surviving relatives
of the decedent Juliana Reyes who died without issue, being first cousin. In the hearing of October 15, 1965, persons claiming to be the
children of Simplicio Santos proposed the appointment of Dominador Santos as the regular administrator.

Hearings were held and the parties adduced their respective evidence to support their contentions, but only the oppositors presented oral
evidence to show that the properties under administration are the paraphernal or exclusive properties of the decedent Juliana Reyes. To
further support their contention the oppositors presented numerous exhibits consisting of certified true copies of torrens titles issued in the
name of the decedent Juliana Reyes. Paulina Santos adopted most of these exhibits presented by the oppositors and objected to some,
while the heirs of Simplicio Santos adopted also some of the exhibits presented by the oppositors and adduced four (4) exhibits, to support
their contention.

It appears from the evidence presented that the properties under administration are the paraphernal properties of Juliana Reyes, but there
are also evidence that the late Simplicio Santos, through a general power of attorney, allegedly sold some lots owned by the decedent
Juliana Reyes Santos to Paulina Santos, Dominador Santos, Eduvigis Santos, and a certain Jose F. Sugay. All these lots numbering six in
all were later on reconveyed by the aforementioned alleged vendees to Simplicio Santos. The evidence further shows that Paulina Santos
and the late Simplicio Santos, while this proceeding had already been instituted and in utter disregard of the law, executed on May 12,
1958, "Extra-Judicial Partition with Sale" covering a property of the decedent in Baguio City. The oppositors claim that these sales are
fictitious and would, together with the said extra-judicial partition, automatically disqualify Paulina Santos, Dominador Santos and Atty.
Olimpio Kapalungan to be appointed as regular administrator or administratrix of this intestate as obviously they have adverse interests
against the estate. If appointed as regular administrator or administratrix, naturally they will not institute proceedings to recover those
properties which were illegally transferred or sold. This leaves only oppositor Gregoria Aranzanso as the person most qualified to be
appointed regular administratrix.

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby appoints Gregoria Aranzanso as the regular administratrix of this intestate estate with a bond of
P15,000.00, and upon submission and approval thereof, let letters of administration issue. ....
Motions for reconsideration of the order were filed but the presiding judge held firm "considering that most of the movants have adverse interests against
this intestate estate." (Order of February 16,1966, pp- 140-141, Record on Appeal.)

But the opposition was persistent; it refused to give in. And so on June 20, 1966, the court which incidentally was presided by a different judge issued an
order which reads as follows: 1äwphï1.ñët

On May 26, 1966, the petitioner Paulina R. Santos de Parreño filed an omnibus motion for an order: 1äw phï1.ñët

(1) Declaring that the oppositors Gregoria Aranzanso, Demetria Ventura, Consuelo Pasion and Pacita Pasion have no right
to intervene in this intestate estate proceeding;

(2) Ordering Gregoria Aranzanso and Demetria Ventura to return to the estate the sum of P14,000.00 received by them with
the authority of this Court;

(3) Revoking the appointment of Gregoria Aranzanso as regular administratrix and ordering her to render an accounting of
her administration;

(4) Appointing the petitioner Paulina R. Santos de Parreno special administratrix of the intestate estate of her late mother,
Juliana Reyes de Santos; and

(5) Revoking the previous order of May 9, 1966 allowing the regular administratrix to make extensive repairs on the building
belonging to the estate situated at the corners of Barbosa and R. Hidalgo Streets, Quiapo, Manila, and ordering her to
return to the estate the sum of P28,040.00 which she was authorized to withdraw from the funds of the estate deposited
with the Philippine Trust Company.

In view of the decision of the Honorable Supreme Court rendered on February 28, 1966 in S.C. G.R. No. L-23828, 'Paulina Santos and
Aurora Santos vs. Gregoria Aranzanso, et al,' which decision declared that the oppositors Gregoria Aranzanso, Demetria Ventura,
Consuelo Pasion and Pacita Pasion are without right to intervene as heirs in the settlement of the estate in question and that said
oppositors were enjoined permanently from withdrawing any sum from the estate in the concept of the heirs and from intervening in this
proceeding, and which judgment of the Supreme Court has already become final and executory, the oppositors aforementioned, more
specially the administratrix Gregoria Aranzanso, have lost their right to intervene in this case and the latter to perform any act of
administration in the present proceeding. As a matter of fact, if we have to construe strictly the mandate of the aforementioned judgment of
the appellate Court, it would seem that the oppositors never had any right at all to intervene in this case. Such being the case, the Court
after weighing carefully the circumstances surrounding this case, has arrived at the conclusion that the aforementioned decision of the
appellate Court has stripped off the oppositors of any semblance of personality which they may have acquired in this instant proceeding.

WHEREFORE, and finding the omnibus motion filed by Paulina R. Santos de Parreño on May 26, 1966 to be well- taken, the same is
hereby granted.

The oppositors Gregorio Aranzanso, Demetria Ventura, Consuelo Pasion and Pacita Pasion are declared to be without any right to
intervene in this intestate proceeding and, henceforth they should not be allowed to take part therein.
GREGORIA ARANZANSO and Demetria Ventura are ordered to return to the estate the sum of P14,000.00 which they received by virtue
of the order of this Court dated October 2, 1965.

The appointment of Gregoria Aranzanso as regular administratrix pursuant to the order of this Court dated January 29, 1966 is revoked and
she is ordered to render a final account of her administration within ten (10) days from receipt hereof.

Paulina R. Santos de Parreno is appointed special administratrix of the intestate estate of the late Juliana Reyes de Santos and upon her
filing a bond in the amount of P2,000.00 and the corresponding oath of office, letters of special administration be issued to her. ....

A motion for reconsideration of the order was denied which prompted Gregoria Aranzanso to appeal the order to this Court with a lone assignment of error,
to wit:
1äw phï1.ñët

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN REMOVING THE APPELLANT AS REGULAR ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF
THE LATE JULIANA REYES AND THE REVOCATION OF HER APPOINTMENT IS CONTRARY TO LAW.

There is merit in the appeal, As indicated in the lone assignment of error, the only issue in this appeal, is whether or not the lower court was justified in
revoking the appointment of Gregoria Aranzanso as the administrator of the intestate estate of Juliana Reyes. Alien to the issue is the question of
preference — whether it should be Gregoria Aranzanso who is a first cousin of the decedent or Paulina Santos de Parreño who is an adopted child of the
decedent — in receiving letters of administration.

It stands to reason that the appellant having been appointed regular administrator of the intestate estate of Juliana Reyes may be removed from her office
but only for a cause or causes provided by law. What is the law on removal? It is found in Rule 82, Section 2, of the Rules of Court which reads as
follows: 1äw phï1.ñët

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.

It is obvious that the decision of this Court, cited in the appealed order, that Gregoria Aranzanso, among other persons, is without right to intervene as heir
in the settlement of the estate in question is not one of the grounds provided by the Rules of Court.

Let it be recalled that in G.R. No. L-23828, Paulina Santos, et al. vs. Gregoria Aranzanso, et al., 123 Phil. 160 (1966), a collateral attack on the adoption of
the two girls was not allowed under the following facts:

When Juliana Reyes died intestate, Simplicio Santos filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila a petition for the settlement of her estate. In said petition
he stated among other things that the surviving heirs of the deceased are: he, as surviving spouse, Paulina Santos and Aurora Santos, 27 and 17 years of
age, respectively. In the same petition, he asked that he be appointed administrator of the estate.
Gregoria Aranzanso, alleging that she is first cousin to the deceased, filed an opposition to the petition for appointment of administrator. For her grounds
she asserted that Simplicio Santos' marriage to the late Juliana Reyes was bigamous and thus void; and that the adoption of Paulina Santos and Aurora
Santos was likewise void ab initio for want of the written consent of their parents who were then living and had not abandoned them.

The Court of First Instance decided the point in dispute, ruling that the validity of the adoption in question could not be assailed collaterally in the intestate
proceedings (Sp. Proc. No. 34354). The order was appealed to the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals reversed the appealed order, finding instead that the adoption was null and void ab initio due to the absence of consent thereto by
the natural parents of the minor children, which it deemed a jurisdictional defect still open to collateral attack.

Stating that, "The principal issue on the merits in this appeal is whether respondents-oppositors Aranzanso and Ventura, could assail in the settlement
proceedings the adoption decree in favor of Paulina and Aurora Santos," this Court gave a negative answer.

Thereafter, this Court rendered judgment which insofar as relevant reads as follows: 1äw phï1.ñët

Wherefore, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is hereby reversed and the order of the probate court a quo sustaining the adoption, dated
April 6, 1959, is affirmed. Respondents Gregoria Aranzanso and Demetria Ventura as well as Consuelo and Pacita Pasion are declared
without right to intervene as heirs in the settlement of the intestate estate of Juliana Reyes. ....

The decision denied to Gregoria Aranzanso the right to intervene in the settlement proceedings as an heir of Juliana Reyes. But an administrator does not
have to be an heir. He can be a stranger to the deceased. In fact, in one of her motions Paulina Santos de Parreno proposed the appointment of the
Philippine National Bank as special administrator. (Record on Appeal, pp. 144-146.) We hold that the intervention of Gregoria Aranzanso in the settlement
proceedings is not in the capacity of heir although she might be one if her direct attack on the adoption of the two girls should succeed. We have
authorized such direct attack in G.R. No. L-26940.

WHEREFORE, the order of June 20, 1966, removing Gregoria Aranzanso as administrator is hereby set aside and she is reinstated as administrator of the
intestate estate of Juliana Reyes. Cost against the appellee.