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DIGEST, SY 2016-2017 Special Atty.

Boomsri Rodolfo

Natcher v. CA (CHENG)
G.R. No. 133000. October 2, 2001
General Principles

Spouses GracianO del Rosario and GracianA Esguerra were registered owners of a parcel
of land in Manila. Upon the death of Gracian A in 1951, GracianO, together with his six children,
namely Bayani, Ricardo, Rafael, Leticia, Emiliana and Nieves, entered into an extrajudicial
settlement of Graciana's estate.
They adjudicated and divided among themselves the real property. Under the agreement,
Graciano received 8/14 share while each of the six children received 1/14 share of the said
property and through the "Agreement of Consolidation-Subdivision of Real Property with Waiver of
Rights" they subdivided among themselves a parcel of land.
Subsequently, Graciano donated to his children a portion of his interest in the land
amounting to 4,849.38 square meters leaving only 447.60 square meters registered under his
name. This land was further subdivided into two separate lots. Graciano sold the 1st lot to a third
person but retained ownership over the 2nd lot.
Thereafter, Graciano married petitioner Patricia Natcher. He sold the 2nd lot to Natcher, a
title was issued under her name. Graciano dies leaving his 6 children and Natcher as heirs. A civil
case was filed a complaint before the RTC of Manila by the 6 children alleging that 1) Natcher
through the employment of fraud, misrepresentation and forgery, acquired the 2nd lot by making it
appear that Graciano executed a Deed of Sale in her favor and 2) that their legitimes have been
In Natchers answer, she claimed that she was legally married to Graciano in 20 March
1980 and thus, under the law, she was likewise considered a compulsory heir of the latter.
The RTC ruled deed of sale executed by the late Graciano del Rosario in favor of Patricia
Natcher is prohibited by law and thus a complete nullity as there is no evidence that a separation of
property was agreed upon in the marriage settlements or that there has been decreed a judicial
separation of property between them, the spouses are prohibited from entering into a contract of
sale; thus it was not a valid donation. However, it can be regarded as an extension of advance
inheritance of Patricia Natcher being a compulsory heir of the deceased.
On appeal, the CA set aside the RTCs decision and stated that 1) it is a probate court that
has exclusive jurisdiction to make a just and legal distribution of the estate; and 2) trying an
ordinary action for reconveyance / annulment of title, went beyond its jurisdiction when it performed
the acts proper only in a special proceeding for the settlement of estate of a deceased person.
Questioning the CAs decision Natcher appealed through Rule 45 the decision of the CA in
dismissing the case as it should have been a probate court and not an ordinary court deciding the
ISSUE: WON the RTC, acting as a court of general jurisdiction in an action for reconveyance
annulment of title with damages, adjudicate matters relating to the settlement of the estate of a
deceased person particularly on questions as to advancement of property made by the decedent to
any of the heirs?
Arcaina Austria Baadera Cheng Coloquio Diploma Fajardo Layno Lim, J. Villarin, L. Villarin
DIGEST, SY 2016-2017 Special Atty. Boomsri Rodolfo

HELD: No. The SC affirmed the CAs decision.

An ordinary civil action and a special civil action is both governed by the rules on civil
procedure, subject to specific rules prescribed for a special civil action.

1. Civil action vs- Special Proceeding

Civil Action Special Proceedings

A formal demand of one's right in a court of An application or proceeding to establish the status or right
justice in the manner prescribed by the court or of a party, or a particular fact.
by the law.

Method of applying legal remedies according to No formal pleadings are required unless the statute
definite established rules expressly so provides.
the remedy is granted generally upon an
application or motion

Citing American Jurisprudence, a noted authority in Remedial Law states that a special
proceeding is in the nature of a distinct and independent proceeding for particular relief, such as
may be instituted independently by petition or motion upon notice. It is a special mode as
proceedings are commenced without summons and prosecuted without regular pleadings, which
are the characteristics of an ordinary action.
As the matter in the case is regarding the settlement and distribution of the estate of the
decedent fall within the exclusive province of the probate court in the exercise of its limited
jurisdiction, and not ordinary civil courts. An example of the settlement and distribution of the estate
is the advancement of property of the decedent.
The Regional Trial Court in the instant case, acting in its general jurisdiction, is devoid of
authority to render an adjudication and resolve the issue of advancement of the real property in
favor of Natcher and for reconveyance and annulment of title with damages is not. Moreover, under
the present circumstances, the RTC was not properly constituted as a probate court so as to
validly pass upon the question of advancement made by the decedent Graciano Del Rosario to his
wife, Natcher.
The Court stated that the issue on whether it is the RTC in its general jurisdiction or limited
jurisdiction can try the case is a procedural matter and can be waived. The SC in numerous
instance has waived such defect. However, no waiver was done by the 6 children and they
assailed the authority of the trial court, acting in its general jurisdiction, to rule on this specific issue
of advancement made by the decedent to petitioner.
Thus, it was wrong for the RTC to decide the case on the question of advancement.

Arcaina Austria Baadera Cheng Coloquio Diploma Fajardo Layno Lim, J. Villarin, L. Villarin
DIGEST, SY 2016-2017 Special Atty. Boomsri Rodolfo

Analogously, the Court has consistently enunciated that a probate court may not decide a
question of title or ownership, yet if the interested parties are all heirs, or the question is one of
collation or advancement, or the parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by the probate
court and the rights of third parties are not impaired, then the probate court is competent to decide
the question of ownership.

Arcaina Austria Baadera Cheng Coloquio Diploma Fajardo Layno Lim, J. Villarin, L. Villarin