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Cuenco vs. CA G.R. No.

L-24742, October 26, 1973 The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts FACTS: Senator Mariano Jesus Cuenco died in Manila. He was survived by his widow and two minor sons, residing in Quezon City, and children of the first marriage, residing in Cebu. Lourdes, one of the children from the first marriage, filed a Petition for Letters of Administration with the Court of First Instance (CFI) Cebu, alleging that the senator died intestate in Manila but a resident of Cebu with properties in Cebu and Quezon City. The petition still pending with CFI Cebu, Rosa Cayetano Cuenco, the second wife, filed a petition with CFI Rizal for the probate of the last will and testament, where she was named executrix. Rosa also filed an opposition and motion to dismiss in CFI Cebu but this court held in abeyance resolution over the opposition until CFI Quezon shall have acted on the probate proceedings. Lourdes filed an opposition and motion to dismiss in CFI Quezon, on ground of lack of jurisdiction and/or improper venue, considering that CFI Cebu already acquired exclusive jurisdiction over the case. The opposition and motion to dismiss were denied. Upon appeal CA ruled in favor of Lourdes and issued a writ of prohibition to CFI Quezon. ISSUEs: Whether or not CA erred in issuing the writ of prohibition Whether or not CFI Quezon acted without jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion in taking cognizance and assuming exclusive jurisdiction over the probate proceedings in pursuance to CFI Cebu's order expressly consenting in deference to the precedence of probate over intestate proceedings HELD: The Supreme Court found that CA erred in law in issuing the writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court from proceeding with the testate proceedings and annulling and setting aside all its orders and actions, particularly its admission to probate of the last will and testament of the deceased and appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof without bond pursuant to the deceased testator's wish. On Venue and Jurisdiction Under Rule 73, the court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The residence of the decent or the location of his estate is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue. If this were otherwise, it would affect the prompt administration of justice. The court with whom the petition is first filed must also first take cognizance of the settlement of the estate in order to exercise jurisdiction over it to the exclusion of all other courts. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Unlike a civil action which has definite adverse parties, a special proceeding has no definite adverse party. The definitions of a civil action and a special proceeding, respectively, in the Rules illustrate this difference. A civil action, in which "a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong"34 necessarily has definite adverse parties, who are either the plaintiff or defendant.35 On the other hand, a special proceeding, "by which a party seeks to establish a status, right, or a particular fact,"36 has one definite party, who petitions or applies for a declaration of a status, right, or particular fact, but no definite adverse party. In the case at bar, it bears emphasis that the estate of the decedent is not being sued for any cause of action. As a special proceeding, the purpose of the settlement of the estate of the decedent is to determine all the assets of the estate,37 pay its liabilities,38 and to distribute the residual to those entitled to the same.39 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ A CIVIL ACTION is one by which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong. (See. 3[a], Rule 1, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure), while a SPECIAL PROCEEDING is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact. (Sec. 3[C]. Rule 1,1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.) ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ May 31, 1969 G.R. No. L-22761 ROSE BUSH MALIG and JOE, THOMAS, and JOHN all surnamed BUSH, represented in this suit by their attorney-in-fact, ROSE BUSH MALIG, plaintiffs-appellants, vs. MARIA SANTOS BUSH, defendant-appellee. Dewey G. Soriano for plaintiffs-appellants. Feria, Feria, Lugtu and LaO for defendant-appellee. Makalintal, J.: This is an appeal by the plaintiffs from two orders of the Court of First Instance of Manila in Civil Case No. 51639, the first dismissing the complaint and the second denying the motion to reconsider the order of dismissal. On September 19, 1962 the plaintiffs filed the complaint, alleging that they were the acknowledged natural children and the only heirs in the direct line of the deceased John T. Bush, having been born of the common-law relationship of their father with Apolonia Perez from 1923 up to August, 1941; that said John T. Bush and Apolonia Perez, during the conception of the plaintiffs, were not suffering from any disability to marry each other; that they lived with their alleged father during his lifetime and were considered and treated by. him as his acknowledge natural children; that said John T. Bush, at the time of his death, left several real and personal properties; that the defendant, by falsely alleging that she was the legal wife of the deceased was able to secure her appointment as administratrix of the estate of the deceased in Testate Proceedings No. 29932 of the Court of First Instance of Manila; that she submitted to the court for approval a project of partition, purporting to show that the deceased left a will whereby he bequeathed his estate to three persons, namely: Maria Santos Bush, Anita S. Bush and Anna Berger; that the defendant then knew that the plaintiffs were the acknowledged natural children of the deceased; and that they discovered the fraud and misrepresentation perpetrated by the defendant only in July, 1962. They prayed that the project of

partition be annulled; that the defendant be ordered to submit a complete inventory and accounting of all the properties left by the deceased and another project of partition adjudicating to the plaintiffs their legal participation in the said estate and/or in the event that the defendant had disposed of all or part of the estate, that she be ordered to pay them the market value thereof; and that the defendant be ordered to pay for the value of the fruits received, damages and attorneys fees. The defendant moved to dismiss, alleging lack of cause of action, res judicata and statute of limitations. The plaintiffs opposed and the defendant filed a reply to the opposition. On January 10, 1963 the lower court denied the motion, it appearing that the grounds upon which said motion is based are not indubitable. In time, the defendant filed her answer specifically denying all the material averments of the complaint and invoking laches, res judicata and statute of limitations as affirmative defenses. After the issues were joined the case was set for hearing, but on the date thereof the hearing was postponed upon the defendants manifestation that she would file a written motion to dismiss. The motion, when filed, challenged the jurisdiction of the court, stating that since the action was one to annul a project of partition duly approved by the probate court it was that court alone which could take cognizance of the case, citing Rule 75, Section 1, of the Rules of Court. On October 31, 1963 the lower court granted the motion and dismissed the complaint, not on the ground relied upon by the defendant but because the action had prescribed. The plaintiffs moved to reconsider but were turned down; hence, this appeal. The procedural question posed by appellants is: May the lower court dismiss an action on a ground not alleged in the motion to dismiss? It must be remembered that the first motion to dismiss, alleging lack of cause of action, res judicata and statute of limitations, was denied because those grounds did not appear to the court to be indubitable. The second motion reiterated none of those grounds and raised only the question of jurisdiction. In dismissing the complaint upon a ground not relied upon, the lower court in effect did so motu proprio, without offering the plaintiffs a chance to argue the point. In fact the court did not even state in its order why in its opinion the action had prescribed, and why in effect, without any evidence or new arguments on the question, it reversed its previous ruling that the ground of prescription was not indubitable. In Manila Herald Publishing Co., Inc. vs. Ramos, et al., 88 Phil. 94, it was held: Section 1 of Rule 8 enumerates the grounds upon which an action may be dismissed, and it specifically ordains that a motion to this end be filed. In the light of this express requirement we do not believe that the court had power to dismiss the case without the requisite motion duly presented. The fact that the parties filed memoranda upon the courts indication or order in which they discussed the proposition that the action was unnecessary and was improperly brought outside and independently of the case for libel did not supply the deficiency. Rule 30 of the Rules of Court provides for the cases in which an action may be dismissed, and the inclusion of those therein provided excludes any other, under the familiar maxims, inclusio unius est exclusivo ulterius. The only instance in which, according to said Rules, the court may dismiss upon the courts own motion an action is, when the plaintiff fails to appear at the time of the trial or to prosecute his action for an unreasonable length of time or to comply with the Rules or any order of the court. The foregoing ruling is applicable in this case, because although a motion to dismiss had been presented defendant the resolution of the court granting the same was based upon a ground not alleged in said

motion. But assuming that the lower court could properly consider the question of prescription anew, the same still did not appear to be indubitable on the face of the allegations in the complaint. The defendant cites Article 137 of the Civil Code, which provides that an action for acknowledgment of natural children may be commenced only during the lifetime of the putative parents, except in two instances not obtaining in this case, and that the present action was commenced after the death of the putative father of the plaintiffs. The said provision is not of indubitable application, since the plaintiffs do not seek acknowledgment but allege as a matter of fact that they are the acknowledged natural children and the only heirs in the direct line of the late John T. Bush. Whether or not this allegation is true will, of course, depend upon the evidence to be presented at the trial. The defendant insists in this instance on the jurisdictional ground posed in her motion to dismiss, citing Rule 75, Section 1, of the Rules of Court formerly in force (now Rule 73, Section 1), which says: SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. It will be noted that the foregoing rule fixes jurisdiction for purposes of the special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate. The matter really concerns venue, as the caption of Rule cited indicates, and in order to preclude different courts which may properly assume jurisdiction from doing so, the Rule specifies that the court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. In the final analysis this action is not necessarily one to annul the partition already made and approved by the probate court, and to reopen the estate proceeding so that a new partition may be made, but for recovery by the plaintiffs of the portion of their alleged inheritance of which, through fraud, they have been deprived. Without prejudice to whatever defenses may be available to the defendant, this Court believes that the plaintiffs cause should not be foreclosed without a hearing on the merits. WHEREFORE, the orders appealed from are set aside and the case remanded for further proceedings. Costs against the defendantappellee in this instance. TOPIC: II. UNDER RULES OF COURT A. SETTLEMENT OF ESTATES 1. VENUE & JURISDICTION CASE #1: GARCIA FULE V. CA Nov. 29, 1976; J. Martin NATURE: Petitions for review of the decision of the CA FACTS:

On April 26, 1973 Amado G. Garcia died, he owned property in Calamba, Laguna. On May 2, 1973, Virginia G. Fule field with CFI Laguna a petition for letters of administration and ex parte appointment as special administratix over the estate. Motion was granted. (there was an allegation that the wife was Carolina Carpio) Preciosa B. Garcia, wife of deceased, and in behalf of their child: Agustina B. Garcia opposed, which was denied by CFI. (Preciosa alleged that Fule was a creditor of the estate, and as a mere illegitimate sister of the deceased is not entitled to succeed from him ) CA reversed and annulled the appointment of Fule. Preciosa became special administratrix upon a bond of P30k. ISSUES: a.) Venue v. jurisdiction b.) What does the word resides in Revised Rules of Court Rule 73 Section 1 Mean? c.) Who is entitled? HELD/RATIO: a.) RULE 73 SECTION 1. if the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled at the CFI in the province in which he resides at the time of his death, And if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the CFI of any province in which he had estate. The court 1st taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceedings, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. Fules own submitted Death Certificate shows that the deceased resided in QC at the time of his death, therefore the venue of Laguna was improper. Venue is subject to waiver (RULE 4 SECTION 4), but Preciosa did not waive it, merely requested for alternative remedy to assert her rights as surviving spouse. However, venue is distinct from jurisdiction which is conferred by Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended to be with CFIs independently from the place of residence of the deceased. RULE 79 SECTION 2, demands that the petition should show the existence of jurisdiction to make the appointment sought, and should allege all the necessary facts such as death, name, last residence, existence, situs of assets, intestacy, right of person who seeks administration as next of kin, creditor or otherwise to be appointed. b.) purpose Resides ex vi termini actual residence Elastic and should be interpreted in the light of the object or of the statute or rule in which it is employed. Same meaning as inhabitant.

Popular sense the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode Must be more than temporary Distinguished from legal residence or domicile requires bodily presence and an intention to make it ones domicile. c.) Preciosa is prima facie entitled to the appointment of special administratrix. The New Rules RULE 80 SECTION 1 broadened the basis for appointment of special administrator (temporarily) to take possession and charge of the estates of the deceased until the questions causing the delay are decided and (regular) executors or administrators appointed. Old rules basis ay: appeal of allowance of disallowance of a will; New: added - xxx delay in granting letters testamentary or of administration by any cause (includes parties cannot agree among themselves) including an appeal of allowance of disallowance of a will, the court may appoint a xxx The discretion to appoint a special administrator or not is with the probate court, the paramount consideration is the beneficial interest of the appointee in the estate of the decedent. In re: Fule, it is not required that the administratrix be entitled to share in the estate of the decedent only that one is entitled to the administration; but the preference of Preciosa is with sufficient reason the widow would have the right of succession over a portion of the exclusive property of the decedent, besides her share in the conjugal partnership. For such reason, she would have as such, if not more, interest in administering the entire estate correctly than any other next of kin. DISPOSITION: Fules petition DENIED.