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G.R. No.

140486 February 6, 2001 In its answer, petitioner denied that the Coastal Road had overlapped the property of
private respondents, stating that the area covered by the infrastructure was granted to
PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY, petitioner, it by the government through a Special Patent and that the title to the subject area was
vs. issued in its name on 13 January 1989 (for OCT No. SP 02) and on 04 April 1988 (for TCT
JESUS S. YUJUICO and AUGUSTO Y. CARPIO, respondents. No. 7310). Petitioner assailed the title of private respondents' predecessor-in-interest,
Fermina Castro, claiming that the latter acquired her title to the subject land in 1974
when the same was yet under water and therefore still then part of the public domain.
VITUG, J.:

After the issues-were joined, and during the pendency of the proceedings, petitioner,
The instant petition for review, with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary
through its former General Manager, Atty. Arsenio B. Yulo, Jr., asked the Office of the
restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction, seeks the reversal of the
Government Corporate Counsel ("OGCC") to make an in-depth study on the validity of
13th September 1999 decision and 19th October 1999 resolution of the Court of Appeals,
the titles of private respondents, the possible reversion of the property to the
both issued in CA-G.R. SP No. 50855, entitled "Public Estates Authority vs. Hon. Raul E.
government, and the question of the correct position of Tie-Point T-12-A of the PEA
De Leon, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, National Capital
property sold to MBDC shown in the PEA Survey Plan. In an opinion, dated 13 October
Judicial Region, Branch 258, Parañaque City and Jesus S. Yujuico and Augusto Carpio."
1997, the OGCC upheld the validity of the titles of private respondents and expressed
that there was no legal ground for filing reversion proceedings. There was, according to
The relevant antecedents: the OGCC, a mispositioning of the PEA survey reference point by about 88 meters
westward based on the documentary evidence submitted to the court, resulting in the
On 24 July 1996, private respondents filed with the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque overlap of the PEA and the Yujuico property. The OGCC recommended that petitioner
City, a complaint, docketed Civil Case No. 96-0317, for the "Removal of Cloud and should instead negotiate an amicable settlement with private respondents. Upon
Annulment of Title with Damages" against petitioner. Respondent Yujuico averred request of Atty. Yulo, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) also gave an opinion,
being the registered owner of Lot 1 of the subject area along Roxas Boulevard, dated 22 December 1997, to the effect that, premised on the matters on record, there
Parañaque City, with an area of 10,000 square meters, covered by Transfer Certificate of was no sufficient basis for the government to institute an action to annul OCT No. 10215
Title (TCT) No. 446386, dated 07 June 1974, of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of in the name of Fermina Castro and the derivative titles of private respondents.
Rizal. Respondent Carpio, in his case, himself maintained to be the registered owner of
Lot 2 with an area of 7,343 square meters, covered by TCT No. 44265, dated 16 June Petitioner created a special committee of three PEA board directors composed of Atty.
1976, of the same registry. The two lots were originally consolidated in one title Nestor Kalaw, as Chairman, and Gregorio Fider and Edgardo de Leon, as members, to
registered in the name of one Fermina Castro under Original Certificate of Title (OCT) study the matter of a possible settlement of the case and to submit its
No. 10215, dated 31 May 1974, of the Registry of Deeds for the province. recommendation. In due time, the committee recommended an amicable settlement of
Civil Case No. 96-0317 and submitted a proposed compromise agreement which the
Sometime in 1989, petitioner Public Estates Authority (PEA) obtained ownership of PEA Board approved on 17 April 1998.
various parcels of land along Manila Bay for the purpose of constructing the Manila-
Cavite Coastal Road. It was issued OCT No. Sp 02 on 13 January 1989. Petitioner Following a series of negotiations, a compromise agreement was concluded on 15 May
likewise acquired ownership of some other parcels of land along the Manila Bay Coast 1998 by then PEA General Manager Atty. Arsenio B. Yulo, Jr., assisted by the OGCC,
covered by TCT No. 7310 and TCT No. 19346 portions of which were by it to the Manila and by Benedicto Yujuico, attorney-in-fact of private respondents, assisted by counsel
Bay Development Corporation ("MBDC"). The MBDC, in turn, leased portions of the Atty. Angel Cruz. The compromise agreement contained, among other things, two
aforesaid lots to Uniwide Holdings, Inc. Petitioner proceeded to carve out the path of major .provisions, i.e., -
the Coastal Road. Private respondents claimed that a subsequent verification survey
commissioned by them showed that the coastal road directly overlapped their property
(a) that because PEA is not in a position to settle by cash payment, it was
and that a portion of the area sold by petitioner to the MBDC was also owned by them
agreed that private respondents' property with a combined area of 1.7343
(private respondents). Private respondents contended that the titles issued in the name
hectares covered by TCT No. 446386 and TCT No. 44265 shall be exchanged
of petitioner and the MBDC, being then invalid, ineffective, or voidable, should be
with PEA property to be taken from PEA's property described as CBP-1A,
nullified and set aside.
shown on the Sketch Plan attached as Annex "A" of the Compromise
Agreement, and that all taxes and registration expenses for the property to be

Page 1 of 38
conveyed under the exchange shall be for the account of the conveying party; Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals via a petition for certiorari but the
and petition was dismissed by the appellate court on 13 September 1999 for petitioner's
failure to pay the required docket fees and for lack of merit. The appellate court agreed
(b) that private respondents were given an Option to purchase an additional with the findings of the trial court that the alleged inadvertence on the part of former
7.6 hectares from said PEA property CBP-1A within a period of three years PEA General Manager in signing the compromise agreement on the belief that
from the date of the approval by the Court of the Compromise Agreement at everything was in order could hardly be considered the mistake or excusable negligence
the price based on the market value as determined by PEA on the date of the contemplated by the rules of civil procedure sufficient to support a petition for relief
exercise of the Option. from judgment. It further ruled that the petition for relief filed on 14 September 1998
came much too late considering that the resolution approving the compromise
agreement was issued by the trial court on 18 May 1998 and Civil Case No. 96-0317 was
The compromise was approved by the trial court in its resolution of 18 May 1998.
dismissed on 03 July 1998. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied by the
Court of Appeals on 19 October 1999.
On 17 June 1998, pursuant to the compromise, the parties executed a "Deed of Exchange
of Real Property" with a sketch plan showing where the PEA property with an area of
Hence, the instant petition.
1.4007 hectares to be conveyed to private respondents (in 3 Lots) would be taken in
exchange for private respondents' property with a combined area of 1.7343 hectares.
Petitioner raises the following grounds for allowance of the petition:
On 31 July 1998, the incumbent PEA General Manager, Carlos P. Doble, informed the
Office of the Solicitor General that the new PEA board and management had reviewed I.
the compromise agreement and decided to defer and hold in abeyance its
implementation in view of the letter, dated 27 July 1998, of the former PEA General THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW AND
Manager, Atty. Arsenio Yulo, Jr., to the effect that the compromise agreement, which ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN HOLDING THAT
he signed did not reflect a condition required by the previous PEA Board, i.e., the PETITIONER IS NOT EXEMPT FROM THE PAYMENT OF DOCKET AND
approval by the Office of the President. OTHER LEGAL FEES IN THE INSTANT CASE DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT
WAS SUED BY RESPONDENTS NOT FOR ANY PECUNIARY ACTIVITY BUT
On 14 September 1998, the new management of PEA filed a petition for relief from the IN RELATION TO CERTAIN RECLAIMED PARCELS OF LAND REGISTERED
resolution, dated 18 May 1998, of the trial court which approved the compromise AND OWNED BY PETITIONER UNDENIABLY FOR AND ON BEHALF OF
agreement on the ground of mistake and excusable negligence consisting of THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.
"inadvertence" on the part of former General Manager Yulo in the signing of the
compromise agreement without the requisite approval of the Office of the President. II.
Private respondents opposed the petition and prayed for its dismissal in that (a) it was
filed beyond the reglementary period provided under Section 3, Rule 38, of the 1997 THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW AND
Rules of Civil Procedure, and (b) the allegation of mistake and excusable negligence ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN BARRING PETITIONER,
was a sham because it was through and upon the recommendation of a special THROUGH PROCEDURAL TECHNICALITIES, FROM SEEKING EQUITABLE
committee of three PEA directors and assisted by the OGCC, as well as guided by the AND JUDICIAL RELIEFS WHEN IT HELD THAT THE PETITION FOR
legal opinions of both the OGCC and the OSG, that PEA entered into and approved the RELIEF FILED A QUO, DESPITE THE PECULIAR CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE
compromise agreement. INSTANT CASE, WAS FILED OUT OF TIME.

The petition for relief was dismissed by the trial court on 06 November 1998 on the III.
ground that it was filed out of time and that the allegation of mistake and excusable
negligence had no valid basis. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW AND
06th November 1998 order of the trial court but its motion was denied on 07 January
ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN AVOIDING AND
1999.
EVADING, BASED ON A TECHNICAL AND/OR PROCEDURAL GROUND,
THE ISSUE OF FRAUD.

Page 2 of 38
Petitioner admits that it has been paying docket fees in filing court petitions but asserts Petitioner is a creation of Presidential Decree No. 1084, dated 04 February 1977, as a
that since it is being sued not in relation to any pecuniary activity but as a government government corporation wholly owned by the Government. It has been empowered to
entity holding reclaimed parcels of land for and on behalf of the National Government exercise the right of eminent domain in the name of the Republic of the Philippines. In
pursuant to the purpose and objective of its creation, it should be exempt from such the acquisition of real estate by condemnation proceedings, the title to such real estate
fees conformably with Section 19, Rule 141, of the Revised Rules of Court. Petitioner is to be taken in the name of the Republic of the Philippines; thereupon, such real
claims that fraud has attended the execution of the compromise agreement, adding estate shall be entrusted to the Authority as the agent of the Republic of the
that the unexplained deletion of the condition of prior approval by the Office of the Philippines.2 Although vested with personality separate and distinct from the
President constitutes extrinsic fraud which has prevented it from having a trial or from government, petitioner is not thereby divorced from its being an agent or
presenting its case in court. instrumentality of the government within the purview of Section 19, Rule 141, of the
Revised Rules of Court. Petitioner, in having been charged with the construction of the
In refutation of the above assignment of errors private respondents contend that Manila-Cavite Coastal Road exercises a governmental function, as so distinguished
petitioner as an "incorporated agency" of the government is liable and not exempt from from a mere proprietary interest, and it is in relation thereto that it has here been sued.
the payment of docket fees. Respondents argue that the distinction made by petitioner In Iron Steel Authority vs. Court of Appeals,3 the Court has observed that certain
with respect to its being sued not in relation to any pecuniary activity but as a agencies or instrumentalities of the National Government are cast in corporate form,
government entity owning reclaimed parcels of land for and on behalf of the National that is to say, incorporated agencies or instrumentalities, at times with and at other
Government is frivolous as not being based on any provision of the PEA Charter. times without capital stock, and correspondingly vested with a juridical personality
Respondents aver that petitioner, in fact, appears to concede that its petition for relief distinct from the personality of the Republic.
has been filed out of time. In any case, respondents submit, there is absolutely no
extrinsic fraud perpetrated upon the petitioner and that the appellate court has At all events, while a court may refused to entertain a suit for non-payment of docket
properly disregarded this allegation as having been raised for the first time on appeal. fees, such failure does not preclude it, however, from taking cognizance of the case as
circumstances may so warrant or when the ends of justice would be best served if the
Petitioner has raised a valid point in its first assignment of error. case were to be given due course. Verily, the payment of fees is by no means a mere
technicality of law or procedure.4 It is also an indispensable step in the perfection of an
appeal.5 While it is mandatory on the litigant, the court, however, is not necessarily left
In both original and appealed cases, the court can be tasked to take cognizance over
without any alternative but to dismiss the appeal for non-payment of docket fees. Thus,
such cases only upon the payment of the prescribed docket fees.1 In this regard, Section
the failure to pay the appeal docketing fee confers a discretionary authority, not
1 and Section 19, Rule 141, of the Revised Rules of Court provide:
mandatory charge, on the part of the court to dismiss an appeal. This discretion must,
of course, be exercised soundly, wisely and prudently, and with great deal of
"Sec. 1. Payment of Fees. - Upon the filing of the pleading or other application circumspection6 in accordance with the tenets of fair play, never capriciously, and
which initiates an action or proceeding, the fees prescribed therefor shall be always with a view to substance.7
paid in full."
Similarly, the Court has had occasions to suspend its own rules, or to except a
"Sec. 19. Government Exempt. - The Republic of the Philippines, its agencies particular case from its operation, whenever the purposes of justice require it.8 Strong
and instrumentalities, are exempt from paying the legal fees provided in this compelling reasons, such as serving the ends of justice and preventing a miscarriage
Rule. Local governments and government-owned or controlled corporations thereof, can warrant a suspension of the rules.9 While there is a crying need to unclog
with or without independent charters are not exempt from paying such fees." court dockets, on the one hand, there is, on the other hand, an incomparable demand
for resolving disputes fairly and equitably.10
Section 2, paragraph 10, of the Administrative Code of 1987 defines instrumentality as
an agency of the National Government, not integrated within the department The Court, in fine, holds that petitioner, as and when it sues or is sued in the exercise of
framework, vested with special functions or jurisdiction by law, endowed with some if a governmental function, could come within the category of an exempt agency of
not all corporate powers, administering special funds, and enjoying operational government under the Rules.
autonomy, usually through a charter. The term, under the Code, includes regulatory
agencies, chartered institutions and government-owned or controlled corporations.
The Court now addresses the issue of whether or not the petition for relief has been
filed with the trial court within the reglementary period prescribed therefor.

Page 3 of 38
Section 3, Rule 38, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a verified petition SO ORDERED.
for relief must be filed within sixty (60) days after the petitioner learns of the judgment,
final order, or other proceeding to be set aside and not more than six (6) months after
such judgment or final order has been entered or such proceeding has been taken. It
must be accompanied with affidavits showing the fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable
negligence relied upon, and the facts constituting petitioner's good and substantial
cause of action or defense.
G.R. No. 135384 April 4, 2001
In the instant case, the trial court issued the order approving the compromise
agreement on 18 May 1998. Consequentially, two hearings were held in both of which MARIANO DE GUIA and APOLONIA DE GUIA, petitioners,
instances petitioner was represented by counsel. The first was on 01 June 1998 when vs.
petitioner's co-defendant, Manila Bay Development Corporation ("MBDC"), through CIRIACO, LEON, VICTORINA, TOMASA and PABLO, all surnamed DE
Atty. William Chua, openly manifested that it was no longer pursuing its counterclaim GUIA, respondents.
against private respondents and its cross-claim against petitioner because of the
approval of the compromise agreement. On 17 June 1998, the parties executed a Deed of PANGANIBAN, J.:
Exchange of Real Properties pursuant to the compromise. The second .hearing took
place on 02 July 1998, where the counsel for private respondents similarly manifested Under the pre-1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a notice of pretrial must be served
that they were withdrawing all claims against Uniwide and MBDC. Thus, the trial court, separately on the counsel and the client. If served only on the counsel, the notice must
in its order dated 03 July 1998, dismissed with prejudice all the claims by the plaintiffs expressly direct the counsel to inform the client of the date, the time and the place of
and defendants against each other. This narration was neither denied nor refuted by the pretrial conference. The absence of such notice renders the proceedings void, and
petitioner. the judgment rendered therein cannot acquire finality and may be attacked directly or
collaterally.1âwphi1.nêt
Surprisingly, petitioner, while reiterating in its own Memorandum the same sequence
of events, would now argue, however, that its incumbent-management was not aware The Case
that prior to 15 July 1998, its previous counsel was already aware of the existence
of the 18th May 1998 resolution of the trial court, indicating parenthetically, that
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the
indeed the petition for relief was filed beyond the sixty-day period allowed therefor. It
February 17, 1998 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 42971. The
would not be right to allow a mere change of management of PEA to defeat the
dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows:
operation of the Rules on reglementary period.

"WHEREFORE, without anymore touching on the merit of the judgment, we


Having thus concluded, the Court may not freely take on the third issued raised by
hereby SET ASIDE the default Order of June 18, 1992 which the lower court
petitioner.
had improvidently issued as well as the ensuing judgment which suffers from
the same fatal infirmity. Let the case be remanded to the lower court, which is
Significantly, one other substantive matter brought up during the oral argument of the directed to promptly set the case for pre-trial conference in accordance with
case is that the property subject matter of the case was still under water 11 when titled, in the present Rules, and for further proceedings."2
the name of Fermina Castro and when it was thereafter conveyed to private
respondents; however, this issue, yet unventilated and a subject beyond the limited
Also assailed is the September 11, 1998 CA Resolution3 which denied petitioners’ Motion
coverage of PEA's charter, is not appropriate for consideration and determination, nor
for Reconsideration.
can it be peremptorily adjudged, by the Court in this instance. In resolving this
petition, the Court does not thus foreclose the right of the Republic of the Philippines
itself from pursuing any proper recourse in such separate proceedings as it may deem The Facts
warranted.1âwphi1.nêt
The appellate court summarized the antecedents of the case as follows:
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED, and the temporary restraining order
previously issued is accordingly lifted. No costs.
Page 4 of 38
"The record shows that on October 11, 1990, plaintiffs Mariano De Guia, "In fine, we hold that the lower court committed a reversible error in
Apolonia De Guia, Tomasa De Guia and Irene Manuel filed with the court declaring appellants as in default for their failure to attend the pre-trial
below a complaint for partition against defendants Ciriaco, Leon, Victorina conference [of] which they were not properly served x x x notice and in
and Pablo De Guia. They alleged x x x that the real properties therein subsequently rendering the herein appealed judgment. And while we
described were inherited by plaintiffs and defendants from their predecessors- commend the lower court for its apparent interest in disposing of the case
in-interest, and that the latter unjustly refused to have the properties with dispatch, the imperatives of procedural due process constrain us to set
subdivided among them. Shortly after defendants filed their traverse, an aside the default order and the appealed judgment, both of which were
amended complaint was admitted by the lower court, in which plaintiff entered in violation of appellants’ right to notice of pre-trial as required by the
Tomasa De Guia was impleaded as one of the defendants for the reason that Rules."5
she had become an unwilling co-plaintiff.
Hence, this Petition.6
"It is further shown in the record that on June 11, 1992, the Branch Clerk of
Court issued a Notice setting the case for pre-trial conference on June 18, 1992 Issues
at 8:30 a.m. Copies of said notices were sent by registered mail to parties and
their counsel. It turned out that both defendants and counsel failed to attend
Petitioners impute the following alleged errors to the CA:
the pre-trial conference. Hence, upon plaintiffs’ motion, defendants were
declared as in default and plaintiffs were allowed to present their evidence ex-
parte. "I

"It appears that on July 6, 1992, defendants filed their Motion for The Respondent Court of Appeals, with grave abuse of discretion, erred in not
Reconsideration of the June 16, 1992 Order which declared them as in default. finding private respondents as in default despite the existence of fraud, for
They explained therein that they received the Notice of pre-trial only in the being contrary to law, and for being contrary to the findings of the trial court.
afternoon of June 18, 1992, giving them no chance to appear for such
proceeding in the morning of that day. The Motion was opposed by plaintiffs "II
who pointed out that per Postal Delivery Receipt, defendants’ counsel actually
received his copy of the Notice on June 17, 1992 or one day before the date of The Respondent Court, with grave abuse of discretion, erred in reversing the
pre-trial. Citing Section 2, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court, plaintiffs further trial court’s Decision notwithstanding private respondents’ violations of Rule
urged that counsel’s receipt of the said notice on June 17, 1992 was sufficient to 15, Sections 4 and 5 and Administrative Circular No. 04-94 and Revised
bind defendants who received said notice on the next day. Finally, they Circular No. 28-91.
faulted defendants for failing to support their Motion for Reconsideration
with an affidavit of merit showing among others that they had a meritorious
defense. "III

"In an Order dated August 19, 1992, plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration was The Respondent Court of Appeals, with grave abuse of discretion, erred in not
denied and on June 11, 1993, judgment was rendered ordering the partition of affirming the compromise agreement which has the effect and authority of res
the controverted parcels of land."4 judicata even if not judicially approved.

The CA Ruling "IV

The CA sustained respondents’ claim that the trial court had improperly declared them The Respondent Court gravely erred in not applying Rule 135, Section 8 as
in default. It held that the Notice of pretrial received by their counsel a day before the warranted by the facts, admission and the evidence of the parties."7
hearing did not bind the clients, because the Rules of Court in effect at the time
mandated separate service of such Notice upon the parties and their counsel. Said the In the main, petitioners raise the following core issues: (1) the propriety of the trial
appellate court: court’s order declaring respondents in default; and (2) petitioners’ allegation of
procedural prejudice.
Page 5 of 38
The Court’s Ruling Such belated receipt of the notice, which was not attributable to respondents,
amounted to a lack of notice. Thus, the lower court erred in declaring them in default
The Petition has no merit. and in denying them the opportunity to fully ventilate and defend their claim in court.

First Issue: Of course, this situation would not have arisen under Section 3,13 Rule 18 of the 1997
The Propriety of the Default Order Rules of Civil Procedure. It specifically provides that notice of pretrial shall be served
on counsel, who is charged with the duty of notifying the client. Considering the milieu
of the present case, however, such amended proviso is not applicable.
When the present dispute arose in 1992, the applicable rule was Section 1, Rule 20 of the
pre-1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which provided as follows:
Second Issue:
Allegation of Procedural Bias
"SECTION 1. Pre-trial mandatory. -- In any action after the last pleading has
been filed, the court shall direct the parties and their attorneys to appear
before it for a conference to consider: Petitioners allege that, to their detriment, the appellate court disregarded established
procedural precepts in resolving the case, and that it did so for three
reasons. First, respondents’ Manifestation and Motion to Lift the Order of Default, filed
xxx xxx x x x."
with the trial court, was merely pro forma because the former lacked the requisite
notice of hearing. Second, it also lacked an affidavit of merit. Third, respondents’ Appeal
This provision mandated separate service of the notice of pretrial upon the parties and Brief did not contain a certificate of non-forum shopping.
their lawyers.8 In Taroma v. Sayo,9 the Court explained:
Granting that respondents’ Manifestation and Motion to Lift the Order of Default was
"For the guidance of the bench and bar, therefore, the Court in reaffirming the pro forma, this issue has become moot, not only because the trial court had denied
ruling that notice of pre-trial must be served separately upon the party and his such Motion, but also because what was appealed was the judgment rendered by the
counsel of record, restates that while service of such notice to party may be lower court. For the same reason, we must also reject petitioners’ insistence that an
made directly to the party, it is best that the trial courts uniformly serve such affidavit of merit was absent. In any case, there was no need to attach an affidavit of
notice to party through or care of his counsel at counsel’s address with the merit to the Motion, as the defenses of respondents had been set out in their
express imposition upon counsel of the obligation of notifying the party of the Answer.1âwphi1.nêt
date, time and place of the pre-trial conference and assuring that the party
either appear thereat or deliver counsel a written authority to represent the
With regard to the absence of a certification of non-forum shopping, substantial justice
party with power to compromise the case, with the warning that a party who
behooves us to agree with the disquisition of the appellate court. We do not condone
fails to do so may be non-suited or declared in default." (emphasis supplied)
the shortcomings of respondents’ counsel, but we simply cannot ignore the merits of
their claim. Indeed, it has been held that "[i]t is within the inherent power of the Court
Hence, before being declared non-suited or considered in default, parties and their to suspend its own rules in a particular case in order to do justice."14
counsel must be shown to have been served with notice of the pretrial
conference.10 Moreover, if served only on the counsel, the notice must expressly direct
One last point. Petitioners fault the CA for remanding the case to the trial court,
him or her to inform the client of the date, the time and the place of the pretrial
arguing that the appellate court should have resolved the case on its merit.
conference. The absence of such notice renders the proceedings void, and the judgment
rendered therein cannot acquire finality and may be attacked directly or collaterally.11
We understand petitioners’ apprehension at the prospect of re-hearing the case; after
all, it has been nine years since the filing of the Complaint. However, their claim and
In this case, respondents received the notice on the afternoon of June 18, 1992, or after
the evidence supporting it -- and respondents’ as well -- can be best threshed out and
the pretrial scheduled on the morning of that day. Moreover, although the Notice was
justly resolved in the lower court. In this regard, we cannot pass upon the validity of
also sent to their counsel, it did not contain any imposition or directive that he inform
the Agreement of Partition between Mariano de Guia and Ciriaco de Guia, for such
his clients of the pretrial conference. The Notice merely stated: "You are hereby notified
action would amount to a prejudgment of the case.
that the above-entitled case will be heard before this court on the 18th day of June, 1992,
at 8:30 a.m. for pre-trial."12

Page 6 of 38
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision and The one is a matter of right and depends on the substantive law, while the other is a
Resolution AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. matter of statement and is governed by the law of procedure. (Phillips, Code Pleading,
section 189, page 170.)
SO ORDERED.
It is not denied that Lora, if he rendered the service alleged in the complaint, would
have a right to be paid compensation for the service he rendered jointly with Marquez.
He acted as a broker, and a broker is entitled to a commission for his services. (Article
277, Code of Commerce: Henry vs. Velasco, 34 Phil. 587; Perez de Tagle vs. Luzon
Surety Co, 38 Off. Gaz. 1213). There is no prohibition in law against the employment of a
companion to look for a buyer; neither is it against public policy. Neither was there
G.R. No. L-4845 December 24, 1952 even any implied understanding between Lora and the defendants that no part of the
compensation to which Lora would be entitled to receive could be paid to any
L. G. MARQUEZ and Z. GUTIERREZ LORA, plaintiffs. companion or helper of Lora. Marquez's right to compensation can not, therefore, be
L. G. Marquez, plaintiff-appellant, disputed under the operative facts set forth in the complaint.
vs.
FRANCISCO VARELA and CARMEN VARELA, defendants-appellees. The next issue is, is there a cause of action in favor of Marquez against the defendants?
From the facts alleged in the complaint, it is clear that there is a primary right in favor
Amelito R. Mutuc for appellant of Marquez (to be paid for his services even through Lora only) and a corresponding
Jorge V. Jazmines for appellees. duty devolving upon the defendants (to pay for said services). Since (as alleged)
defendants refuse to comply with their duty, Marquez now is entitled to enforce his
legal right by an action in court. The complaint in the case at bar, therefore, contains
both the primary right and duty and the delict or wrong combined which constitute the
cause of action in the legal sense as used in Code Pleading (Pomeroy, Code Remedies,
section 347), and the cause of action is full and complete.
LABRADOR, J.:

Objection to the complaint, however, is not that Marquez has no right to share in the
This is an appeal against an order of the Court of First Instance of manila dismissing
compensation to be paid Lora, whom defendants had directly engaged, but that
the complaint as to plaintiff L.G. Marquez. The pertinent allegations of the complaint
Marquez can not join in this action and enforce therein his rights directly against the
are as follows : that plaintiff Gutierrez Lora was authorized by defendants to negotiate
defendants, evidently because defendants never dealt with Marquez, directly or
the sale of their share or interest in a parcel of land on Plaza Goiti, Manila, and having
indirectly, or, in other words, that both Marquez and his services were not known to
meet his co-plaintiff L. G. Marquez, a real estate broker, both of them agreed to work
dismiss show that such in fact was the objection:
together for the sale of defendant's property; that they found a ready, willing, and able
buyer, which accepted defendants' price and terms, but that thereafter defendants,
without any justifiable reason, refused to carry out the sale and execute the necessary This paragraph clearly shows that the authority to sell was only given to
deed therefor; and that as a consequence plaintiffs failed to receive the commission plaintiff Z. Gutierrez Lora and not to the other plaintiff L. G. Marquez.
which they were entitled to receive. The defendants presented a motion to dismiss the Attention is respectfully called to the word "plaintiff" used in said paragraph
complaint as to L. G . Marquez on the ground that he has no cause of action against III and expressed in singular form to the exclusion of the other plaintiff L. G.
defendants , and this motion having been granted, plaintiff L. G. Marquez has Marquez. If the plaintiff L. G. Marquez had worked at all for the sale of the
prosecuted this appeal. property at the instance of an invitation of his co- plaintiff Z. Gutierrez Lora,
we maintain that his action if there is any is against his co-plaintiff and not
against the defendants herein.
The complaint was dismissed on the alleged ground that it states no cause of action
against the defendants. Is this objection to the complaint justified? The term "cause of
action" has been held to be synonymous with "right of action" (37 Words and Phrases, As far as the defendant are concerned in this case, plaintiff L. G. Marquez is
642), but in the law of pleading (Code Pleading) one is distinguished from the other in not only a stranger in this case but also unknown to the defendants; and if he
that a right of action is a remedial right belonging to some person, while a cause of had worked at all for the sale of the defendants' share and participation in the
action is a formal statement of the operative facts that give rise to such remedial right. parcels of lands referred to in the complaint, the same was made not only at
Page 7 of 38
his own look-out, risk and responsibility but also with no authority Under the former Code of civil procedure "every action must be prosecuted in the name
whatsoever. (Record on Appeal, pages 16, 17) of the real party in interest," and "all persons having an interest in the subject of the
action and in obtaining the relief demanded shall be joined as plaintiffs, " and " if any
The principle underlying defendants' objection is one of substantive law, recognized person having an interest and in obtaining the relief demanded refuses to join as
under common law, where no one could sue for a breach of a contract who was not a plaintiff, he may be made a defendant and the fact of his interest and refusal to join to
party thereto, and the action allowed to be brought only in the name of the one holding be stated in the complaint." ( Section 114, Act 190) The principle underlying the rule is
the legal title. The requirement was based upon the doctrine of privity of contract. that all persons having a material interest under the substantive law should be made
parties, as distinguished from that of the common law which allowed only a two-sided
controversy, each party to be opposed to the other. Phillips, Code Pleading, 2d ed.
Sec. 234. Plaintiffs in Action ex Contractu. — When an action of contract
section 228, page 216.)
concerns only the original parties to the instrument, it is not difficult to
determine who should be the plaintiff. Obviously the one seeking to enforce it
is the real party in interest. At common law no one could sue for the breach of The above principles have not been changed by the reforms in the rules in 1940 and
contract who was not a party thereto. Hence an action on contract, whether 1941. The action is still to be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest. Under
express or implied, was required to be brought in the name of the one who section 6 of Rule 3, "All persons in whom . . . any right to relief in respect to or arising
held the legal interest. This requirement was based upon the doctrine of out of the same transaction . . . is alleged to exist, whether jointly, severally, or in the
privity of contract. . . . (Phillips, Code Pleading, page 226.) alternative, may, . . . join as plaintiffs . . . where any question of law or fact common to
all such plaintiffs . . . may arise in the action; Plaintiff Marquez, in the case at bar,
clearly falls under the above rule. He is entitled to be paid his commission out of the
Sec. 235. Privity of Contract. — When necessary. — It was a rule of the
very contract of agency between Lora and the defendants; Lora and he acted jointly in
common law that before one may complain of another for breach of contract,
rendering services to defendants under Lora's contract, and the same questions of law
there must be some direct contractual relation, or privity, between them; and
and fact govern their claims. The rules do not require the existence of privity of
this, with only a few exceptions, is a requirement of the law today. . . .
contract between Marquez and the defendants as required under the common law; all
(Phillips, code Pleading, page 227.)
that they demand is that Marquez has a material interest in the subject of the action,
the right to share in the broker's commission to be paid Lora under the latter's
At common law, in order that two or more persons may join in an action upon contract, which right Lora does not deny. This is sufficient to justify the joinder of
a contract, there must be community of interest between them; that is, they Marquez as a party plaintiff, even in the absence of privity of contract between him and
must be parties to the contract and jointly interested in therein. (47 . C. J. the defendants.
54)lawphil.net
We find, therefore, that the complaint of Marquez was improperly dismissed. The order
Persons subsequently admitted to the benefit of a contract, without the privity of dismissal is hereby reversed, with costs against defendants.
or assent of the promisor, can not join in a suit on the contract. (47 C.J., 55)
Pablo, Bengzon, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.
But we did not import into this jurisdiction the common law procedure. Our original
code of civil Procedure (Act 190) was taken mainly from the code of Civil Procedure of
California, and this in turn was based upon the Code of Civil procedure of New York
adopted in that stated in 1948. Our system of pleading is Code Pleading that system
used in the states of the Union that had adopted codes of procedure. The code system
of pleading adopted in substance the rules of equity practice as to parties, under which
"all persons having an interest in the subject of the action, and in obtaining the relief
demanded, may be joined as plaintiffs". (Phillips, Code Pleading, section 251, page 247.)
In New York and California interest in the subject matter, or in any relief growing out Separate Opinions
of the same transaction or series of transactions is sufficient to allow joinder. (Ibid,
footnote 10a. page 247.)

PARAS, C.J., concurring:


Page 8 of 38
I concur. For all practical purposes Marquez may be considered an intervenor. much less had any contractual relation. In the field of torts, offenses, or violations or
property rights such as forcible entry or detainer, etc. it is proper that all the persons
MONTEMAYOR, J., dissenting: having an interest in obtaining damages for the tort or offense committed or for any
other relief should all be included as parties plaintiff against the tortfeasor, offender or
the illegal occupant despite the absence of any previous contract. But in the present
With all due respect to the learned majority opinion with its plausible arguments and
case the relief sought is the performance of a contract. Consequently, only those who
citations of authorities, I believe that the complaint of Marquez against the defendants-
were parties or privies to the contract can bring the action against the alleged violator
appellees was properly dismissed. There was absolutely no contractual relation or
of the agreement. Marquez in this case is attempting to enforce a contract entered into
privity of contract between Marquez and the defendants, and as far as the latter are
not between him and the defendants but between him and his co-plaintiff and
concerned, Marquez never rendered service, and he did not exist in their realm of
defendants. To me, he has no right to do so. His right or cause of action lies against his
contracts and obligations. I reproduce with favor the two paragraphs contained in
co-plaintiff and not against the defendants. Consequently, I hold that the dismissal of
defendant's motion to dismiss and also reproduced in the majority opinion and which
the complaint as to Marquez was warranted.
for the purposes of reference I quote below:

This paragraph clearly shows that the authority to sell was only given to
plaintiff Z. Gutierrez Lora and not to the other plaintiff L.G. Marquez.
Attention is respectfully called to the word plaintifff' used in paragraph III and
expressed in singular form to the exclusion of the other plaintiff L. G.
Marquez. If the plaintiff L. G. Marquez had worked at all for the sale of the G.R. No. L-18799 March 31, 1964
property at the instance of an invitation of his co-plaintiff Z. Gutierrez Lora,
we maintain that his action if there is any is against his co-plaintiff and not HON. JOSE F. FERNANDEZ, Judge of the Court of First Instance, Negros
against the defendants herein. Occidental,
ASUNCION MARAVILLA, ET AL., petitioners,
As far as the defendants are concerned in this case, plaintiff L. G. Marquez is vs.
not only a stranger in this case but also unknown to the defendant; and if he HERMINIO MARAVILLA, respondent.
had worked at all for the sale of the defendant's share and participation in the
parcels of lands referred to in the complaint, the same was made not only at Jose Gutierrez David, A. Aveto, A. Mirasol and P. C. Ramos for petitioners.
his own lookout, risk and responsibility but also with no authority Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for respondent.
whatsoever. (Record on Appeal, pages 16, 17.)
BARRERA, J.:
Marquez may have rendered some services in connection with the offer for sale and the
supposed acceptance of said offer by the alleged prospective buyer of the property ; but
Petitioners herein appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals (in CA-
such service was clearly rendered at the instance of and for the benefit of his co-
G.R. No. 27200-R) wherein, over their objection, raising the question of jurisdiction
plaintiff Z. Gutierrez Lora. His possible interest in this case would be a share in any
petition, the appellate court took cognizance of the petition for certiorari and
money that may be obtained or received by Gutierrez from the defendants as
prohibition filed by Herminio Maravilla and, in consequence thereof, set aside the
compensation for his services as broker by virtue of the contract of employment
appointment of petitioner Eliezar Lopez as a special co-administrator of the estate of
between him and the defendants. Marquez may possibly intervene in this case for he is
the deceased Digna Maravilla. The pertinent antecedent facts are as follows:
obviously interested in the success of Gutierrez in obtaining a favorable judgment, but
to proceed directly and file the claim against the defendants, with whom he never
contracted, who never saw him, much less employed him, he may not, in my opinion, On August 25, 1958, respondent Herminio Maravilla filed with he Court of First
do legally. Instance of Negros Occidental a petition for probate of the will (Spec. Proc. No. 4977)
of his deceased wife Digna Maravilla who died on August 12 of that same year. In the
will the surviving spouse was named as the universal heir and executor.
To sustain a litigation or defend one's self against a suit in court involves
embarrassment, expenditure of time and money and vexation. A party has a right to be
protected from being harassed, troubled and otherwise vexed by an action in court On September 30, 1958, Pedro, Asuncion, and Regina Maravilla (brother and sisters of
brought by total stranger with whom the party made defendant has never dealt with, the deceased Digna Maravilla) filed an opposition to the probate of the will, on the
Page 9 of 38
ground, inter alia, that the will was not signed on each page by the testatrix in the On February 27, 1960, the devisees Conchita and Rose Marie Kohlhaas filed with the
presence of the attesting witnesses and of one another. court a petition for appointment of Conchita as special co-administratrix. Devisee
Adelina Sajo, likewise, filed a similar petition February 29.
On March 16, 1959, on motion of respondent Herminio, which was opposed by Pedro,
Asuncion, and Regina Maravilla, the court issued an order appointing him special On March 5, 1960, the court held a joint hearing the (1) petition to appoint Eliezar
administrator of the estate of the deceased, for the reason that: Lopez as special administrator, (2) approval of respondent's record appeal and appeal
bond, (3) petition to remove respondent as special administrator, (4) petition to
... all the properties subject of the will are conjugal properties of the petitioner appoint Conchita Kohlhaas as special co-administratrix, and (5) petition to appoint
and his late wife, Digna Maravilla, and before any partition of the conjugal Adelina Sajo as special co-administrator. At said hearing, respondent objected to the
property is done, the Court cannot pinpoint which of the property subject of appointment of Eliezar Lopez was special co-administratrix, on grounds that (a) the law
the Will belongs to Digna Maravilla, exclusively, that shall be administered by allows only one special co-administrator (b) the order of March 16, 1959 estops the
the special administrator. Hence, although it is true that the petitioner court from appointing Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator (c) such appointment
Herminio Maravilla has an adverse interest in the property subject of the Will, is unfair to respondent, because owns at least 3/4 of the whole property, conjugal
the Court finds it impossible for the present time to appoint any person other nature, which would be subjected to the administrate of a stranger, and (d) a deadlock
than the petitioner as special administrator of the property until after the between two special administrators would ruin the management of the property,
partition is ordered, for the reason that the properties mentioned in the Will including those of respondent. On cross-examination of Eliezar Lopez, respondent's
are in the name of the petitioner who is the surviving spouse of the deceased. counsel elicited the facts that (1) Lopez was employed full time in the PCAPE, with
office in Manila. and could not discharge the functions of a co-administrator, and (2)
there was merely intention on Lopez part to resign from office.
On February 8, 1960, the court rendered a decision denying probate of the will, as it
was not duly signed on each page by the testatrix in the presence of the attesting
witnesses and of one another. After said joint hearing, the court appointed Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator
in an order dictated open court, to protect the interests of Pedro, Asuncion and Regina
Maravilla.
On February 17, 1960, Pedro, Asuncion, and Regina Maravilla, filed with the court a
petition for appointment of Eliezar Lopez (son of Asuncion Maravilla) as special co-
administrator to protect their interests, on the ground that the will, having been denied From this order, respondent, on March 7, 1960, filed with the Court of Appeals a
probate, they are the legal heirs of the decedent. Said petition was heard on February petition for certiorari and prohibition (with prayer for preliminary injunction) to annul
20, at which hearing, respondent's counsel orally moved for postponement, because the order appointing Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator, and to prohibit the
respondent's principal counsel (Salonga) had not been notified and was not present. probate court from further proceeding with the petition for the removal of respondent
The court ordered presentation of oral evidence, consisting of the testimonies of Eliezar as special administrator. The Court of Appeals issued a writ of preliminary injunction
Lopez, and Regina and Francisco Maravilla. on March 9, 1960 which was amended on March 11, 1960 to make it more specific.

On February 26, 1960, respondent filed with the court his notice of appeal, appeal bond On October 6, 1960, petitioners Regina Maravilla, et al. filed with the Court of Appeals
and record on appeal, from the decision denying probate of the will. Some devisees a petition to certify the case to the Supreme Court, on the grounds that the principal
under the will, likewise, appealed from said decision. amount in controversy in this case exceeds P200,000.00, and the writs (of certiorari and
prohibition) prayed for are not in aid of appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals,
since the probate case is not on appeal before it. To this petition, respondent filed an
On February 25, 1960, Pedro, Asuncion, and Regina Maravilla, filed with the court a
opposition. on the grounds that the amount in controversy is less than P200,000.00 and
petition for the removal of respondent as special administrator, as he failed to file an
the decision of the probate court (of February 8, 1960) is now on appeal before the
inventory within 3 months from his appointment and qualification as special
Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 27478-R); hence, the writ prayed for is in aid of its
administrator, as provided for in Section 1, Rule 84, of the Rules of Court. To this
appellate jurisdiction, and the present case does not involve title to or possession of
petition, respondent filed an opposition, on the ground that said provision of the Rules
real estate exceeding in value P200,000.00.1
of Court does not apply to a special administrator, and an inventory had already been
submitted by him, before said petition for his removal was filed.1äwphï1.ñët
On May 16, 1961, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision granting the writs
(certiorari and prohibition) prayed for by respondent, and declaring null and void the
appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator.
Page 10 of 38
Petitioners Regina Maravilla, et al. filed a motion for reconsideration of said decision, estate. ... In a contest for administration of an estate the amount or value of the assets
but it was denied by the Court of Appeals. Hence, this appeal. of the estate is the amount in controversy for purposes of appeal." (4 C.J.S. 204). In line
with this ruling, it is to be observed that respondent's interest as appellant in the
Petitioners claim that the Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction to issue the writs probate proceedings (CA-G.R. No. 27478-R) is, according to his theory, the whole estate
of certiorari and prohibition prayed for by respondent, the same not being in aid of its amounting to P362,424.90, or, at least more than 3/4 thereof, or approximately
appellate jurisdiction. P270,000.00. Such interest, reduced to a pecuniary standard on the basis of the
inventory, is the amount or value of the matter in controversy, and such amount being
more than P200,000.00, it follows that the appeal taken in said proceedings falls within
We agree with petitioners. The Court of Appeals, in the decision appealed from,
the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and should, therefore, be certified to it
assumed jurisdiction over the present case on the theory that "the amount in
pursuant to Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended.
controversy relative to the appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator to
protect the interests of respondents (herein petitioners) is only P90,000.00 more or
less, i.e., one fourth of the conjugal property" (of respondent and the deceased Digna Note also that the present proceedings under review were for the annulment of the
Maravilla) which, is per inventory submitted by respondent as special administrator is appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator and to restrain the probate
valued at P362,424.90. This theory is untenable. Note that the proceedings had on the court from removing respondent as special administrator. It is therefore, a contest for
appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator are merely incidental to the the administration of the estate and, consequently, the amount or value of the assets of
probate or testate proceedings of the deceased Digna Maravilla presently on appeal the whole estate is the value in controversy (4 C.J.S. 204). It appearing that the value of
before the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 27478-R) where petitioners' motion to elevate the estate in dispute is much more than P200,000.00, the Court of Appeals clearly had
the same to the Supreme Court, on the ground that the amount herein involved is no original jurisdiction to issue the writs in question.
within the latter's exclusive jurisdiction, is still pending, resolution. That the Court of
Appeals has no appellate jurisdiction over said testate proceedings cannot be doubted, The Court of Appeals, in the decision appealed from, arrived at the amount of
considering that the properties therein involved are valued at P362,424,90, as per "P90,000.00 more or less", as the amount involved in the case, upon authority of the
inventory of the special administrator. case of Vistan v. Archbishop (73 Phil. 20). But this case is inapplicable, as it does not
refer to the question of administration of the estate, nor to an order denying probate of
Under Section 2, Rule 75, of the Rules of Court, the property to be administered and a will, but only to the recovery of a particular legacy consisting of the rentals of a
liquidated in testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse is, not only that fishpond belonging to the estate. In an analogous case involving the administration of a
part of the conjugal estate pertaining to the deceased spouse, but the entire conjugal trust fund, the United States Supreme Court held:
estate. This Court has already held that even if the deceased had left no debts, upon the
dissolution of the marriage by the death of the husband or wife, the community Where the trust fund administered and ordered to be distributed by the
property shall be inventoried, administered, and liquidated in the testate or intestate circuit court, in a suit to compel the stockholders of a corporation to pay their
proceedings of the deceased spouse (Vda. de Roxas v. Pecson, et al., L-2211, December subscriptions to stock to realize the fund, amounts to more than $5,000.00,
20, 1948; 82 Phil. 407; see also Vda. de Chantengco v. Chantengco, et al., L-10663, this court has jurisdiction of the appeal, which is not affected by the fact that
October 31, 1958). In a number of cases where appeal was taken from an order of a the amounts decreed to some of the creditors are less than that sum (Handly
probate court disallowing a will, this Court, in effect, recognized that the amount or et al. vs. Stutz, et al., 34 Law Ed. 706).
value involved or in controversy therein is that of the entire estate (Suntay v. Suntay, L-
3087, July 31, 1954, 50 O.G. 5321; Vano v. Vda. de Garces, et al., L-6303, June 30, 1954, 50 Respondent also contends that appeals in special proceedings, as distinguished from
O.G. 3045). Not having appellate jurisdiction over the proceedings in probate (CA-G.R. ordinary civil cases, are within the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the Court of
No. 27478-R), considering that the amount involved therein is more than P200,000.00, Appeals, since they are not enumerated in Section 17 of the Judiciary Act, as amended.
the Court of Appeals cannot also have original jurisdiction to grant the writs Granting, arguendo, that a special proceeding is not a civil action, it has never been
of certiorari and prohibition prayed for by respondent in the instant case, which are decided that a special proceeding is not a "civil case" (Carpenter v. Jones, 121 Cal. 362; 58
merely incidental thereto. p. 842). On the other hand, it has been held that the term "civil case" includes special
proceedings (Herkimer v. Keeler, 100 Iowa 680, N.W. 178). Moreover, Section 2, Rule 73,
In the United States, the rule is that "proceedings in probate are appealable where the of the Rules of Court provides that the rules on ordinary civil actions are applicable in
amount or value involved is reducible to a pecuniary standard, the amount involved special proceedings where they are not inconsistent with, or when they may serve to
being either the appellant's interest or the value of the entire estate according as the supplement the provisions relating to special proceedings. Consequently, the procedure
issues on appeal involve only the appellant's rights or the entire administration of the

Page 11 of 38
of appeal is the same in civil actions as in special proceedings. (See Moran's Comments WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals of May 16, 1961 is set aside and
on the Rules of Court, Vol. II, 1957 Ed., p. 326.) another one entered also setting aside the order of the trial court of March 5, 1960,
appointing Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator. Without costs. So ordered.
The cases cited by respondent where this Court ruled that the separate total claim of
the parties and not the combined claims against each other determine the appellate
jurisdictional amount, are not applicable to, the instant case, because Section 2, Rule 75
of the Rules of Court is explicit that the amount or value involved or in controversy in
probate proceedings is that of the entire estate. Assuming, arguendo, that the rule in
the cases cited by respondent is here applicable, it should be noted that respondent
G.R. No. 164108 May 8, 2009
claims the whole estate of at least more than 3/4 thereof. Said claim, reduced to a
pecuniary standard, on the basis of the inventory, would amount to more than
P200,000.00 and, consequently, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. ALFREDO HILADO, LOPEZ SUGAR CORPORATION, FIRST FARMERS HOLDING
CORPORATION, Petitioners,
vs.
The case of Ledesma v. Natividad (L-6115, May 10, 1954) cited by respondent in his brief,
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE AMOR A. REYES,
is also inapplicable, because unlike the instant case, it did not involve a contest in the
Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 21 and
administration of the estate.
ADMINISTRATRIX JULITA CAMPOS BENEDICTO, Respondents.

While it is true that questions of fact have been raised in the probate proceedings
DECISION
(Spec. Proc. No. 4977, CFI of Negros Occidental) which was appealed by respondent to
the Court of Appeals, it becomes immaterial, in view of Sections 17 and 31 of the
Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, providing that the Supreme Court shall have TINGA, J.:
exclusive appellate jurisdiction over "all cases in which the value in controversy exceeds
two hundred thousand pesos, exclusive of interests and costs", and that "all cases which The well-known sugar magnate Roberto S. Benedicto died intestate on 15 May 2000. He
may be erroneously brought to the Supreme Court, or to the Court of Appeals shall be was survived by his wife, private respondent Julita Campos Benedicto (administratrix
sent to the proper court, which shall hear the same as if it had originally been brought Benedicto), and his only daughter, Francisca Benedicto-Paulino.1 At the time of his
before it". death, there were two pending civil cases against Benedicto involving the petitioners.
The first, Civil Case No. 95-9137, was then pending with the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
On the question of the appointment of petitioner Eliezar Lopez as special of Bacolod City, Branch 44, with petitioner Alfredo Hilado as one of the plaintiffs
administrator, we agree with respondent that there was no need for it. Note that the therein. The second, Civil Case No. 11178, was then pending with the RTC of Bacolod
Rules of Court contain no provision on special co-administrator, the reason being, that City, Branch 44, with petitioners Lopez Sugar Corporation and First Farmers Holding
the appointment of such special administrator is merely temporary and subsists only Corporation as one of the plaintiffs therein.2
until a regular executor or administrator is duly appointed. Thus, it would not only be
unnecessary but also impractical, if for the temporary duration of the need for a special On 25 May 2000, private respondent Julita Campos Benedicto filed with the RTC of
administrator, another one is appointed aside from the husband, in this case, upon Manila a petition for the issuance of letters of administration in her favor, pursuant to
whom the duty to liquidate the community property devolves merely to protect the Section 6, Rule 78 of the Revised Rules of Court. The petition was raffled to Branch 21,
interests of petitioners who, in the event that the disputed will is allowed to probate, presided by respondent Judge Amor A. Reyes. Said petition acknowledged the value of
would even have no right to participate in the proceedings at all. (Roxas v. Pecson, 82 the assets of the decedent to be ₱5 Million, "net of liabilities."3 On 2 August 2000, the
Phil. 407.) Manila RTC issued an order appointing private respondent as administrator of the
estate of her deceased husband, and issuing letters of administration in her favor. 4 In
In view of the conclusion herein reached, in connection with the amount involved in January 2001, private respondent submitted an Inventory of the Estate, Lists of Personal
the controversy, it is suggested that appropriate steps be taken on the appeal pending and Real Properties, and Liabilities of the Estate of her deceased husband. 5 In the List
in the Court of Appeals involving the probate of the will (CA-G.R. No. 27478-R) to of Liabilities attached to the inventory, private respondent included as among the
comply with the provisions of the Judiciary Act on the matter. liabilities, the above-mentioned two pending claims then being litigated before the
Bacolod City courts.6 Private respondent stated that the amounts of liability
corresponding to the two cases as ₱136,045,772.50 for Civil Case No. 95-9137 and

Page 12 of 38
₱35,198,697.40 for Civil Case No. 11178.7 Thereafter, the Manila RTC required private market value of the same.15 Third, petitioners moved that the intestate court set a
respondent to submit a complete and updated inventory and appraisal report deadline for the submission by the administrator of her verified annual account, and,
pertaining to the estate.8 upon submission thereof, set the date for her examination under oath with respect
thereto, with due notice to them and other parties interested in the collation,
On 24 September 2001, petitioners filed with the Manila RTC a Manifestation/Motion preservation and disposition of the estate.16
Ex Abundanti Cautela,9praying that they be furnished with copies of all processes and
orders pertaining to the intestate proceedings. Private respondent opposed the The Court of Appeals chose to view the matter from a perspective solely informed by
manifestation/motion, disputing the personality of petitioners to intervene in the the rule on intervention. We can readily agree with the Court of Appeals on that point.
intestate proceedings of her husband. Even before the Manila RTC acted on the Section 1 of Rule 19 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure requires that an intervenor "has
manifestation/motion, petitioners filed an omnibus motion praying that the Manila a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an
RTC set a deadline for the submission by private respondent of the required inventory interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or
of the decedent’s estate.10 Petitioners also filed other pleadings or motions with the other disposition of property in the custody of the court x x x" While the language of
Manila RTC, alleging lapses on the part of private respondent in her administration of Section 1, Rule 19 does not literally preclude petitioners from intervening in the
the estate, and assailing the inventory that had been submitted thus far as unverified, intestate proceedings, case law has consistently held that the legal interest required of
incomplete and inaccurate. an intervenor "must be actual and material, direct and immediate, and not simply
contingent and expectant."17
On 2 January 2002, the Manila RTC issued an order denying the manifestation/motion,
on the ground that petitioners are not interested parties within the contemplation of Nonetheless, it is not immediately evident that intervention under the Rules of Civil
the Rules of Court to intervene in the intestate proceedings.11 After the Manila RTC had Procedure necessarily comes into operation in special proceedings. The settlement of
denied petitioners’ motion for reconsideration, a petition for certiorari was filed with estates of deceased persons fall within the rules of special proceedings under the Rules
the Court of Appeals. The petition argued in general that petitioners had the right to of Court,18 not the Rules on Civil Procedure. Section 2, Rule 72 further provides that
intervene in the intestate proceedings of Roberto Benedicto, the latter being the "[i]n the absence of special provisions, the rules provided for in ordinary actions shall
defendant in the civil cases they lodged with the Bacolod RTC. be, as far as practicable, applicable to special proceedings."

On 27 February 2004, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision12 dismissing the We can readily conclude that notwithstanding Section 2 of Rule 72, intervention as set
petition and declaring that the Manila RTC did not abuse its discretion in refusing to forth under Rule 19 does not extend to creditors of a decedent whose credit is based on
allow petitioners to intervene in the intestate proceedings. The allowance or a contingent claim. The definition of "intervention" under Rule 19 simply does not
disallowance of a motion to intervene, according to the appellate court, is addressed to accommodate contingent claims.
the sound discretion of the court. The Court of Appeals cited the fact that the claims of
petitioners against the decedent were in fact contingent or expectant, as these were still Yet, even as petitioners now contend before us that they have the right to intervene in
pending litigation in separate proceedings before other courts. the intestate proceedings of Roberto Benedicto, the reliefs they had sought then before
the RTC, and also now before us, do not square with their recognition as intervenors. In
Hence, the present petition. In essence, petitioners argue that the lower courts erred in short, even if it were declared that petitioners have no right to intervene in accordance
denying them the right to intervene in the intestate proceedings of the estate of with Rule 19, it would not necessarily mean the disallowance of the reliefs they had
Roberto Benedicto. Interestingly, the rules of procedure they cite in support of their sought before the RTC since the right to intervene is not one of those reliefs.
argument is not the rule on intervention, but rather various other provisions of the
Rules on Special Proceedings.13 To better put across what the ultimate disposition of this petition should be, let us now
turn our focus to the Rules on Special Proceedings.
To recall, petitioners had sought three specific reliefs that were denied by the courts a
quo. First, they prayed that they be henceforth furnished "copies of all processes and In several instances, the Rules on Special Proceedings entitle "any interested persons"
orders issued" by the intestate court as well as the pleadings filed by administratrix or "any persons interested in the estate" to participate in varying capacities in the
Benedicto with the said court.14 Second, they prayed that the intestate court set a testate or intestate proceedings. Petitioners cite these provisions before us, namely: (1)
deadline for the submission by administratrix Benedicto to submit a verified and Section 1, Rule 79, which recognizes the right of "any person interested" to oppose the
complete inventory of the estate, and upon submission thereof, order the inheritance issuance of letters testamentary and to file a petition for administration;" (2) Section 3,
tax appraisers of the Bureau of Internal Revenue to assist in the appraisal of the fair Rule 79, which mandates the giving of notice of hearing on the petition for letters of
Page 13 of 38
administration to the known heirs, creditors, and "to any other persons believed to trial court ordered the increase of the bond and took cognizance of the pending civil
have interest in the estate;" (3) Section 1, Rule 76, which allows a "person interested in case, the administrator moved to close the intestate proceedings, on the ground that
the estate" to petition for the allowance of a will; (4) Section 6 of Rule 87, which allows the heirs had already entered into an extrajudicial partition of the estate. The trial court
an individual interested in the estate of the deceased "to complain to the court of the refused to close the intestate proceedings pending the termination of the civil case, and
concealment, embezzlement, or conveyance of any asset of the decedent, or of evidence the Court affirmed such action.
of the decedent’s title or interest therein;" (5) Section 10 of Rule 85, which requires
notice of the time and place of the examination and allowance of the Administrator’s If the appellants filed a claim in intervention in the intestate proceedings it was only
account "to persons interested;" (6) Section 7(b) of Rule 89, which requires the court to pursuant to their desire to protect their interests it appearing that the property in
give notice "to the persons interested" before it may hear and grant a petition seeking litigation is involved in said proceedings and in fact is the only property of the estate
the disposition or encumbrance of the properties of the estate; and (7) Section 1, Rule left subject of administration and distribution; and the court is justified in taking
90, which allows "any person interested in the estate" to petition for an order for the cognizance of said civil case because of the unavoidable fact that whatever is
distribution of the residue of the estate of the decedent, after all obligations are either determined in said civil case will necessarily reflect and have a far reaching
satisfied or provided for. consequence in the determination and distribution of the estate. In so taking
cognizance of civil case No. V-331 the court does not assume general jurisdiction over
Had the claims of petitioners against Benedicto been based on contract, whether the case but merely makes of record its existence because of the close interrelation of
express or implied, then they should have filed their claim, even if contingent, under the two cases and cannot therefore be branded as having acted in excess of its
the aegis of the notice to creditors to be issued by the court immediately after granting jurisdiction.
letters of administration and published by the administrator immediately after the
issuance of such notice.19 However, it appears that the claims against Benedicto were Appellants' claim that the lower court erred in holding in abeyance the closing of the
based on tort, as they arose from his actions in connection with Philsucom, Nasutra intestate proceedings pending determination of the separate civil action for the reason
and Traders Royal Bank. Civil actions for tort or quasi-delict do not fall within the class that there is no rule or authority justifying the extension of administration proceedings
of claims to be filed under the notice to creditors required under Rule 86.20 These until after the separate action pertaining to its general jurisdiction has been
actions, being as they are civil, survive the death of the decedent and may be terminated, cannot be entertained. Section 1, Rule 88, of the Rules of Court, expressly
commenced against the administrator pursuant to Section 1, Rule 87. Indeed, the provides that "action to recover real or personal property from the estate or to enforce a
records indicate that the intestate estate of Benedicto, as represented by its lien thereon, and actions to recover damages for an injury to person or property, real or
administrator, was successfully impleaded in Civil Case No. 11178, whereas the other personal, may be commenced against the executor or administrator." What practical
civil case21 was already pending review before this Court at the time of Benedicto’s value would this provision have if the action against the administrator cannot be
death. prosecuted to its termination simply because the heirs desire to close the intestate
proceedings without first taking any step to settle the ordinary civil case? This rule is
Evidently, the merits of petitioners’ claims against Benedicto are to be settled in the but a corollary to the ruling which declares that questions concerning ownership of
civil cases where they were raised, and not in the intestate proceedings. In the event the property alleged to be part of the estate but claimed by another person should be
claims for damages of petitioners are granted, they would have the right to enforce the determined in a separate action and should be submitted to the court in the exercise of
judgment against the estate. Yet until such time, to what extent may they be allowed to its general jurisdiction. These rules would be rendered nugatory if we are to hold that
participate in the intestate proceedings? an intestate proceedings can be closed by any time at the whim and caprice of the heirs
x x x23(Emphasis supplied) [Citations omitted]
Petitioners place heavy reliance on our ruling in Dinglasan v. Ang Chia,22 and it does
provide us with guidance on how to proceed. A brief narration of the facts therein is in It is not clear whether the claim-in-intervention filed by Dinglasan conformed to an
order. Dinglasan had filed an action for reconveyance and damages against action-in-intervention under the Rules of Civil Procedure, but we can partake of the
respondents, and during a hearing of the case, learned that the same trial court was spirit behind such pronouncement. Indeed, a few years later, the Court, citing
hearing the intestate proceedings of Lee Liong to whom Dinglasan had sold the Dinglasan, stated: "[t]he rulings of this court have always been to the effect that in the
property years earlier. Dinglasan thus amended his complaint to implead Ang Chia, special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person, persons not
administrator of the estate of her late husband. He likewise filed a verified claim-in- heirs, intervening therein to protect their interests are allowed to do so to protect the
intervention, manifesting the pendency of the civil case, praying that a co- same, but not for a decision on their action."24
administrator be appointed, the bond of the administrator be increased, and that the
intestate proceedings not be closed until the civil case had been terminated. When the

Page 14 of 38
Petitioners’ interests in the estate of Benedicto may be inchoate interests, but they are Rule 135 came to fore, the provision stating that "the records of every court of justice
viable interests nonetheless. We are mindful that the Rules of Special Proceedings shall be public records and shall be available for the inspection of any interested person
allows not just creditors, but also "any person interested" or "persons interested in the x x x." The Court ruled that petitioners were "interested persons" entitled to access the
estate" various specified capacities to protect their respective interests in the estate. court records in the intestate proceedings. We said:
Anybody with a contingent claim based on a pending action for quasi-delict against a
decedent may be reasonably concerned that by the time judgment is rendered in their Petitioners' stated main purpose for accessing the records to—monitor prompt
favor, the estate of the decedent would have already been distributed, or diminished to compliance with the Rules governing the preservation and proper disposition of the
the extent that the judgment could no longer be enforced against it. assets of the estate, e.g., the completion and appraisal of the Inventory and the
submission by the Administratrix of an annual accounting—appears legitimate, for, as
In the same manner that the Rules on Special Proceedings do not provide a creditor or the plaintiffs in the complaints for sum of money against Roberto Benedicto, et al., they
any person interested in the estate, the right to participate in every aspect of the testate have an interest over the outcome of the settlement of his estate. They are in fact
or intestate proceedings, but instead provides for specific instances when such persons "interested persons" under Rule 135, Sec. 2 of the Rules of Court x x x26
may accordingly act in those proceedings, we deem that while there is no general right
to intervene on the part of the petitioners, they may be allowed to seek certain prayers Allowing creditors, contingent or otherwise, access to the records of the intestate
or reliefs from the intestate court not explicitly provided for under the Rules, if the proceedings is an eminently preferable precedent than mandating the service of court
prayer or relief sought is necessary to protect their interest in the estate, and there is no processes and pleadings upon them. In either case, the interest of the creditor in seeing
other modality under the Rules by which such interests can be protected. It is under to it that the assets are being preserved and disposed of in accordance with the rules
this standard that we assess the three prayers sought by petitioners. will be duly satisfied. Acknowledging their right to access the records, rather than
entitling them to the service of every court order or pleading no matter how relevant to
The first is that petitioners be furnished with copies of all processes and orders issued their individual claim, will be less cumbersome on the intestate court, the
in connection with the intestate proceedings, as well as the pleadings filed by the administrator and the heirs of the decedent, while providing a viable means by which
administrator of the estate. There is no questioning as to the utility of such relief for the interests of the creditors in the estate are preserved.1awphi1
the petitioners. They would be duly alerted of the developments in the intestate
proceedings, including the status of the assets of the estate. Such a running account Nonetheless, in the instances that the Rules on Special Proceedings do require notice to
would allow them to pursue the appropriate remedies should their interests be any or all "interested parties" the petitioners as "interested parties" will be entitled to
compromised, such as the right, under Section 6, Rule 87, to complain to the intestate such notice. The instances when notice has to be given to interested parties are
court if property of the estate concealed, embezzled, or fraudulently conveyed. provided in: (1) Sec. 10, Rule 85 in reference to the time and place of examining and
allowing the account of the executor or administrator; (2) Sec. 7(b) of Rule 89
At the same time, the fact that petitioners’ interests remain inchoate and contingent concerning the petition to authorize the executor or administrator to sell personal
counterbalances their ability to participate in the intestate proceedings. We are estate, or to sell, mortgage or otherwise encumber real estates; and; (3) Sec. 1, Rule 90
mindful of respondent’s submission that if the Court were to entitle petitioners with regarding the hearing for the application for an order for distribution of the estate
service of all processes and pleadings of the intestate court, then anybody claiming to residue. After all, even the administratrix has acknowledged in her submitted
be a creditor, whether contingent or otherwise, would have the right to be furnished inventory, the existence of the pending cases filed by the petitioners.
such pleadings, no matter how wanting of merit the claim may be. Indeed, to impose a
precedent that would mandate the service of all court processes and pleadings to We now turn to the remaining reliefs sought by petitioners; that a deadline be set for
anybody posing a claim to the estate, much less contingent claims, would unduly the submission by administratrix Benedicto to submit a verified and complete
complicate and burden the intestate proceedings, and would ultimately offend the inventory of the estate, and upon submission thereof: the inheritance tax appraisers of
guiding principle of speedy and orderly disposition of cases. the Bureau of Internal Revenue be required to assist in the appraisal of the fair market
value of the same; and that the intestate court set a deadline for the submission by the
Fortunately, there is a median that not only exists, but also has been recognized by this administratrix of her verified annual account, and, upon submission thereof, set the
Court, with respect to the petitioners herein, that addresses the core concern of date for her examination under oath with respect thereto, with due notice to them and
petitioners to be apprised of developments in the intestate proceedings. In Hilado v. other parties interested in the collation, preservation and disposition of the estate. We
Judge Reyes,25 the Court heard a petition for mandamus filed by the same petitioners cannot grant said reliefs.
herein against the RTC judge, praying that they be allowed access to the records of the
intestate proceedings, which the respondent judge had denied from them. Section 2 of

Page 15 of 38
Section 1 of Rule 83 requires the administrator to return to the court a true inventory vs.
and appraisal of all the real and personal estate of the deceased within three (3) months ATTY. JESUS V. HINLO, JR.,** respondent.
from appointment, while Section 8 of Rule 85 requires the administrator to render an
account of his administration within one (1) year from receipt of the letters RESOLUTION
testamentary or of administration. We do not doubt that there are reliefs available to
compel an administrator to perform either duty, but a person whose claim against the
CORONA, J.:
estate is still contingent is not the party entitled to do so. Still, even if the administrator
did delay in the performance of these duties in the context of dissipating the assets of
the estate, there are protections enforced and available under Rule 88 to protect the This is a petition for review1 of the June 27, 2005 decision2 and October 27, 2005
interests of those with contingent claims against the estate. resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 82129.

Concerning complaints against the general competence of the administrator, the After Enrique Hinlo died intestate on January 31, 1986, his heirs filed a petition for
proper remedy is to seek the removal of the administrator in accordance with Section 2, letters of administration of his estate in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Negros
Rule 82. While the provision is silent as to who may seek with the court the removal of Occidental, Silay City, Branch 40. Ceferina Hinlo, widow of Enrique, was initially
the administrator, we do not doubt that a creditor, even a contingent one, would have appointed as special administratrix of Enrique's estate. On December 23, 1991,
the personality to seek such relief. After all, the interest of the creditor in the estate petitioners Nancy H. Zayco and Remo Hinlo were appointed as co-administrators in
relates to the preservation of sufficient assets to answer for the debt, and the general lieu of their mother Ceferina who was already sickly and could no longer effectively
competence or good faith of the administrator is necessary to fulfill such purpose. perform her duties as special administratrix.

All told, the ultimate disposition of the RTC and the Court of Appeals is correct. On March 4, 2003, respondent Atty. Jesus V. Hinlo, Jr., a grandson of Enrique and heir
Nonetheless, as we have explained, petitioners should not be deprived of their to his estate by virtue of representation,3 filed a petition for the issuance of letters of
prerogatives under the Rules on Special Proceedings as enunciated in this decision. administration in his favor and an urgent motion for the removal of petitioners as co-
administrators of Enrique's estate.4 Petitioners opposed both the petition and the
motion.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, subject to the qualification that petitioners, as
persons interested in the intestate estate of Roberto Benedicto, are entitled to such
notices and rights as provided for such interested persons in the Rules on Settlement of In an order dated July 23, 2002,5 the RTC revoked the appointment of petitioners as co-
Estates of Deceased Persons under the Rules on Special Proceedings. No administrators of the estate of Enrique and directed the issuance of letters of
pronouncements as to costs. administration in favor of respondent on a P50,000 bond. Respondent posted the
required bond, took his oath as administrator and was issued letters of administration.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioners received a copy of the July 23, 2002 order on August 2, 2002 and moved for
its reconsideration on August 9, 2002. The RTC denied the motion for reconsideration
in an order dated July 23, 2003.6

Petitioners received a copy of the July 23, 2003 order on July 31, 2003 and filed a notice
of appeal the same day. They submitted a record on appeal on August 29, 2003.

In an order dated January 5, 2004,7 the RTC denied the notice of appeal and record on
appeal. It ruled that petitioners resorted to a wrong remedy as the July 23, 2002 and July
G.R. No. 170243 April 16, 2008 23, 2003 orders were interlocutory and not subject to appeal. Even assuming that appeal
was the proper remedy, it was filed late:
NANCY H. ZAYCO and REMO HINLO in their capacity as judicial co-
administrators of the Estate of Enrique Hinlo, petitioners, Granting [a]rguendo, that the Orders dated July 23, 2002 and July 23, 2003
maybe the subject of appeal, the Notice of Appeal and the Record on Appeal
were already filed out of time. Records will show that the Order of this Court
Page 16 of 38
dated July 23, 2002 removing the former co-administrators were received by WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The June 27, 2005 decision and
them on August 2, 2002. Subsequently, they filed a Motion for October 27, 2005 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 82129 affirming
Reconsideration on August 9[, 2002] which was denied by this Court in its the January 5, 2004 order of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental, Silay City,
Order dated July 23, 2003 and was received by them on July 31, 2003. A Notice Branch 40 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The trial court is hereby directed to
of Appeal was filed on July 31, 2003 but a Record on Appeal was only filed on approve the notice of appeal and record on appeal and, thereafter, to forward the same
August 29, 2003. The 30 days reglementary period to file an appeal in special to the Court of Appeals.
proceedings started to run on August 2, 2002 when [the] former [co-
]administrators received the order of this Court and stopped to run when they SO ORDERED.
filed their Motion for Reconsideration and started to run again [on] July 31,
2003 when they received the order denying their Motion for Reconsideration
until they filed their Record on Appeal on August 29, 2003. Thus, from
August 2, 2002 to August 9, 2002, [the] former [co-]administrators
already consumed a period of 7 days and from July 31, 2003 to August 29,
2003, a period of 29 days[,] or a total of 36 days. x x x8 (emphasis supplied)

Petitioners challenged the January 5, 2004 RTC order in the CA by way of a petition for
certiorari and mandamus. In a decision dated June 27, 2005, the CA dismissed the G.R. No. 189533 : November 15, 2010
petition.9 It ruled that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC as
the notice of appeal and record on appeal were in fact filed beyond the prescribed MA. IMELDA PINEDA-NG, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE
period. PHILIPPINES,Respondent.

Petitioners sought reconsideration but the CA denied it. Hence, this petition.
RESOLUTION
Petitioners contend that the RTC erred when it ruled that the July 23, 2002 and July 23,
2003 orders were not appealable. They also claim that their notice of appeal and record NACHURA, J.:
on appeal were filed on time.

We agree. Before this Court is a Petition[1] for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Civil Procedure, seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision[2] datedJuly
An order appointing an administrator of a deceased person's estate is a final 10, 2009.
determination of the rights of the parties in connection with the administration,
management and settlement of the decedent's estate.10 It is a final order and, hence,
appealable.11
The facts are summarized as follows:
In appeals in special proceedings, a record on appeal is required. The notice of appeal
and the record on appeal should both be filed within 30 days from receipt of the notice
of judgment or final order.12 Pursuant to Neypes v. CA,13 the 30-day period to file the
notice of appeal and record on appeal should be reckoned from the receipt of the order
denying the motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration.

On December 19, 2007, an Information[3] for Qualified Theft was filed against: (1)
From the time petitioners received the July 23, 2003 order (denying their motion for
Richard Francisco (Francisco), Branch Manager of private complainant Philippine
reconsideration of the July 23, 2002 order) on July 31, 2003, they had 30 days or until
Business Bank (bank) located in Dolores, City of San Fernando, Pampanga; (2) Mailada
August 30, 2003 to file their notice of appeal and record on appeal. They did so on
Marilag-Aquino[4] (Aquino); and (3) petitioner Ma. Imelda Pineda-Ng[5] (petitioner).
August 29, 2003. Thus, the appeal was made on time.

Page 17 of 38
Amifaith Fider-Reyes (Judge Reyes).[8] In her Order[9] dated January 11, 2008, Judge
Reyes found probable cause to hold Francisco liable, and fixed his bail at P400,000.00;
The prosecution found that Aquino had drawn and issued the following checks in favor while she ordered the dismissal of the case against Aquino and petitioner for absence of
of petitioner: probable cause. Aggrieved, the bank filed its Motion for Reconsideration,[10] to which
petitioner filed her own Comment and Opposition.[11]

Drawee Check No. Date Payor Amount


Bank On April 30, 2008, Judge Reyes, acting on the bank’s motion for reconsideration, issued
an Order[12] reversing her earlier ruling, this time finding probable cause against
Aquino and petitioner, cancelling the bail fixed for Francisco, and directing the
Planters Bank 0204036 February 07, Imelda Ng P 625,000.00
issuance of warrants of arrest to all the accused. No bail was recommended.
2007
China Bank A0666301 February 21, Imelda Ng 1,180,000.00
2007
China Bank A0666309 February 26, Cash 1,560,000.00
2007 Unperturbed, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari before the CA. In its
China Bank A0666310 February 26, Cash 1,390,000.00 Decision[13]dated July 10, 2009, the CA dismissed the petition for lack of merit. The CA
2007 took note that, while it appeared that Judge Reyes, other than exhaustively
China Bank A0666308 February 27, Imelda Ng 2,080,000.00 quoting People v. CA,[14] failed to fully amplify her own findings, it could not be said
2007 that she did not review the records of the case, and that she merely relied on the
findings of the City Prosecutor. The CA stressed that, at the outset, in her Order dated
Planters Bank 0204030 February 28, Imelda Ng 900,000.00
January 11, 2008 issued in petitioner’s favor, Judge Reyes categorically indicated that she
2007
reviewed the records of the case. The CA ratiocinated that the judge already had
China Bank A0661638 February 28, Cash 1,000,000.00
knowledge of the case and that she need not reiterate or mention in the assailed Order
2007
that she reviewed the case. After all, Judge Reyes had the power to set aside her
P8,735,000.00 previous Order. Moreover, the CA held that while it is true that there is no crime of
“Conspiracy to Commit Qualified Theft” as argued by petitioner, the Information
TOTAL: charged all the accused with consummated Qualified Theft; thus, Aquino and
petitioner were charged as principals by direct participation. Subsequently, the CA
denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration in its Resolution[15] dated September 8,
2009.

In turn, petitioner presented these seven (7) checks for payment before the bank by
virtue of her Bill Purchase Accommodation facility through Francisco, who, in excess of Hence, this Petition ascribing grave abuse of discretion to the CA insofar as “the
his authority, approved the payment of these checks despite the fact that each check impugned decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals are inconsistent with and not
had a face value of more than P100,000.00 and that the same were actually drawn from supported by the law, the facts, as well as, the settled jurisprudence laid down by the
Closed Accounts and/or drawn against insufficient funds.[6] Honorable Supreme Court on the matter of filing of criminal cases against the accused
where there is no evidence sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that an offense was
committed.”[16]

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,[7] which was, however, denied by the
City Prosecutor because the Information was already filed before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch 42, presided over by Judge Maria
Page 18 of 38
Petitioner claims that being a bank client and not an employee of the bank, she could Moreover, we respect the findings of the CA when it held that Judge Reyes did not
not be held liable for Qualified Theft, and that there is no such crime as Conspiracy to solely rely on the findings of the City Prosecutor in reversing her earlier Order. We
Commit Qualified Theft. Petitioner avers that Judge Reyes merely relied on the findings observed, among others, that when Judge Reyes quoted our ruling in People v.
and recommendation of the City Prosecutor when she did not clearly state the basis for CA,[21]she underscored a portion thereof, clearly indicative of her reliance on said
the assailed Order, thus, violating petitioner’s constitutional rights to liberty and jurisprudence. Thus, it cannot be validly argued that Judge Reyes simply and blindly
presumption of innocence.[17] adhered to the recommendation of the City Prosecutor in rendering the assailed Order,
bereft of any factual and legal basis. Furthermore, we also accord respect to the factual
findings of the City Prosecutor and the CA that petitioner indeed encashed these
allegedly anomalous checks. Suffice it to state that a finding of probable cause does not
require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction – it
On the other hand, respondent People of the Philippines, through the Office of the
is enough that there is a reasonable belief that the act or omission complained of
Solicitor General (OSG), asseverates that the petition for certiorari filed before the CA
constitutes the offense charged.[22]
was validly dismissed because the assailed RTC Order was based on Judge Reyes’ fair
evaluation of the records; hence, there was no grave abuse of discretion committed by
the judge when she issued the order. The OSG also states that the petition raises
factual matters, and issues of fact are not proper subjects of a petition for certiorari, the In view of the foregoing disquisitions, we find no further need to resolve the other
same being limited to issues of jurisdiction and grave abuse of discretion. The OSG issues raised by petitioner, absent any reversible error on the part of the CA in
then submits that the determination of what should be charged in the Information is rendering the assailed Decision.
within the exclusive authority of the executive branch.[18]

WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED. No Costs.


We deny the Petition.

SO ORDERED.
Probable cause has been defined as the existence of such facts and circumstances as
would lead a person of ordinary caution and prudence to entertain an honest and
strong suspicion that the person charged is guilty of the crime subject of the
investigation. Being based merely on opinion and reasonable belief, it does not import
absolute certainty. Probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence
of guilt, as the investigating officer acts upon reasonable belief. Probable cause implies
probability of guilt and requires more than bare suspicion, but less than evidence which
would justify a conviction.[19] G.R. No. 162692, August 26, 2015
The general rule is that this Court does not review factual findings of the trial court,
which include the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of NILO V. CHIPONGIAN, Petitioner, v. VICTORIA BENITEZ-LIRIO, FEODOR
arrest. It is only in exceptional cases where this Court sets aside the conclusions of the BENITEZ AGUILAR, AND THE COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents.
prosecutor and the trial court judge on the existence of probable cause, such as cases
when the Court finds it necessary in order to prevent the misuse of the strong arm of DECISION
the law or to protect the orderly administration of justice. The facts obtaining in this
case do not warrant the application of the exception.[20] BERSAMIN, J.:

Page 19 of 38
This appeal seeks the review and reversal of the decision promulgated on October 30, There is no dispute that the estate of the late Isabel Chipongian was extra-judicially
2002,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the petition for certiorari that the settled on July 20, 1982 by and between Vicente O. Benitez and Nilo V. Chipongian and
petitioner had instituted to annul the dismissal by the trial court of his complaint-in- was published in the BAYANIHAN Weekly News on August 16, 23, and 30, 1982. The
intervention in Special Proceedings No. SP-797 entitled In the matter of the Intestate herein intervenor actively participated in the execution of the extra-judicial settlement
Estate of Vicente O. Benitez, Petition for Letters of Administration. Victoria Benitez Lirio of his sister's estate. As a matter of fact the intervenor therein "agreed x x x x x x to
and Feodor Benitez Aguilar, Petitioners. quitclaim and waive all my rights to the estate left by my declared sister Isabel
Chipongian and I hereby adjudicated them in favor of my brother-in-law Vicente O.
Antecedents Benitez" (Exh. 23-B)

The late Vicente Benitez was married to Isabel Chipongian, the petitioner's sister. Section 4, Rule 74 of the Rules, provides for a limitation of 2 years after the settlement
Isabel had predeceased Vicente, who died on November 13, 1989. The couple had no and distribution of an estate in accordance with either Section 1 or Section 2 of the
offspring.2 On July 20, 1982, after the death of Isabel, Vicente and the petitioner had same Rule, within which an heir or other person deprived of his lawful participation in
executed a deed of extrajudicial settlement respecting the estate of Isabel, whereby the the estate may compel the settlement of the said estate in the Courts for the purpose of
latter waived all his rights to the estate of Isabel in favor of Vicente.3According to the satisfying such lawful participation (Tinatan v. Serilla, 54 O.G. p. 6080 9/15/58). The
petitioner, however, Vicente executed an affidavit on the same date whereby he intervenor took part and had knowledge of the extra-judicial settlement of the estate
affirmed that the waiver did not extend to the paraphernal properties of Isabel.4 and is therefore bound thereby. If he was indeed deprived of his lawful share or right in
his sister's estate, it comes as a surprise why it took him more than 12 years assert the
Upon the death of Vicente, Victoria Benitez Lirio (Victoria), a sister of Vicente, and purported affidavit allegedly executed in his favor by Vicente O. Benitez.
Feodor Benitez Aguilar (Feodor), a nephew of Vicente, initiated proceedings for the
settlement of the estate of Vicente in the Regional Trial Court on September 24, 1990 Careful note was taken of the fact that the purported affidavit of Vicente O. Benitez in
(RTC).5 In its order dated May 13, 1994,6 the RTC appointed Feodor the administrator of favor of the herein intervenor was executed simultaneously with the deed of extra-
Vicente's estate. On May 20, 1994,7 it issued the letters of administration to Feodor. judicial settlement of Isabel Chipongian's estate which was published but the affidavit
was not. No reason was advanced by the intervenor why Vicente O. Benitez's affidavit
The petitioner intervened in Special Proceedings No. SP-797.8 On May 27, 1994, he was not published and why it was only after 12 long years that intervenor brought it
sought the partial revocation of the May 13, 1994 order in order to exclude the out.
paraphernal properties of Isabel from inclusion in the estate of Vicente.9 He cited the
affidavit of Vicente in support of the partial revocation. It is well-settled that the negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable
time warrants not only a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either had
Feodor countered with the request that he be allowed to continue to administer all the abandoned it or declined to assert it but also casts doubt on the validity of the claim of
properties left by Vicente, including the paraphernal properties of Isabel.10 ownership. Such neglect to assert a right taken in conjunction with the lapse of time
more or less great and other circumstances causing prejudice to the adverse party
On June 8, 1994, the petitioner specifically moved for the exclusion of the paraphernal operates as a bar in a Court of equity (Guerrero v. CA, 126 SCRA 109).
properties of Isabel from Vicente's estate. However, he withdrew the motion even
before the RTC could rule on it. Instead, he filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene and to WHEREFORE, on the foregoing premises, the complaint in intervention is hereby
Admit Complaint-in-Intervention.11 dismissed with costs. The petitioner's counterclaim is also dismissed.

Respondents Victoria and Feodor opposed the complaint-in-intervention.12 SO ORDERED.15


chanrobleslaw
The RTC granted the Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit Complaint-in-
Intervention, and admitted the complaint-in-intervention of the petitioner.13 The petitioner moved for the reconsideration of the judgment,16 but the RTC denied
the Motion for Reconsideration on March 8, 1999.17
Judgment of the RTC
Thus, on March 19, 1999, the petitioner filed a notice of appeal.18
On August 21, 1998, the RTC rendered judgment dismissing the complaint-in-
intervention, and ordering the costs of suit to be paid by the petitioner,14 pertinently On March 30, 1999, the RTC denied due course to the notice of appeal for having been
holding:cralawlawlibrary filed beyond the reglementary period.19

Page 20 of 38
in accordance with the provisions of the law. [Bello v. Fernando, 4 SCRA 135 (1962);
On April 19, 1999, the petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration vis-a-vis the order Borre v. Court of Appeals, 158 SCRA 660 (1998); Pedrosa v. Hill, 257 SCRA 373 (1996);
denying due course to his notice of appeal.20 People v. Esparas, 260 SCRA 539 (1996)]

On July 5, 1999, the RTC issued its order whereby it conceded that the petitioner had Petitioner paid the appeal fees only on March 31, 1999, but as admitted by him in his
timely filed the notice of appeal, but still denied the Motion for Reconsideration on the Motion for Reconsideration (Rollo, p. 61), the last day to perfect his appeal was on
ground that he had not perfected his appeal because of his failure to pay the appellate August 21, 1998. (Rollo, p. 68) In a long line of cases, the Supreme Court has held that
court docket fees.21 failure to comply with the requirement for payment on time of the appeal fees renders
the decision final. (Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, 322 SCRA at 90;
On July 26, 1999, the petitioner brought his Motion to Set Aside the July 5, 1999 order Pedrosa vs. Hill, 257 SCRA 373; Luna vs. NLRC, 270 SCRA 227) We see no compelling
denying his Motion for Reconsideration.22 reason to depart from this rule.

On August 13, 1999, the RTC denied the Motion to Set Aside.23 We find no further need to rule on the other assigned error. Suffice it to state that the
respondent court acted pursuant to law and established jurisprudence; hence, did not
Decision of the CA commit any abuse of discretion.

On October 26, 1999, the petitioner instituted his petition for certiorari in the WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the petition is DISMISSED.
CA,24 alleging that the RTC had committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing his appeal, and denying his Motion for SO ORDERED.33
Reconsideration. He averred that on March 19, 1999, he filed the notice of appeal;25 that chanrobleslaw
he paid the appellate court docket fees on March 31, 1999;26 that the RTC denied due
course to the notice of appeal on the ground that it had been filed beyond the On November 28, 2002, the petitioner sought reconsideration,34 but the CA denied his
reglementary period; that he thus filed his Motion for Reconsideration against the Motion for Reconsideration on March 9, 2004.35
order denying due course;27 that on July 5, 1999, the RTC issued its order whereby it
conceded that the petitioner had timely filed the notice of appeal, but still denied Issues
the Motion for Reconsideration on the ground that he had not perfected his appeal
because of his failure to pay the appellate court docket fees;28 that he filed his Motion to Hence, this appeal, whereby the petitioner contends that the CA gravely abused its
Set Aside Order, appending thereto the copies of the official receipts of the payment of discretion in dismissing his petition for certiorari assailing the dismissal of his
the appellate court docket fees;29 that through the order of August 13, 1999, the RTC complaint-in-intervention and the denial of due course to his notice of appeal by the
still denied the Motion to Set Aside Order, a copy of which order was received by his RTC on the ground of the late payment of the appellate court docket fees. He argues
counsel on August 27, 1999;30 that his last day to bring the special civil action that he should not be deprived of his right to appeal solely on the basis of the late
for certiorari was on October 26 1999, the 60th day from such date; and that there was payment of the appellate court docket fees.36
no appeal, or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. 31
In contrast, respondents Victoria and Feodor seek the denial of the petition for review
On October 30, 2002, the CA dismissed the petition for certiorari,32 opining because the petitioner did not file a record on appeal,37 as mandated under Section 2(a)
thusly:cralawlawlibrary Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.

The Supreme Court has time and again stressed that the perfection of appeals in the In his reply to the respondents' comment,38 the petitioner submits:cralawlawlibrary
manner and within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory but
jurisdictional. The failure to perfect an appeal renders the decision of the trial court x x x It is to be noted that the appeal was from the decision of the trial court to dismiss
final and executory. [Bank of America, NT & SA v. Gerochi, Jr., 230 SCRA 9 (1994) citing petitioner's complaint-in-intervention and not 'the final order or judgment rendered in
Alto Sales Corp. v. IAC, 197 SCRA 618 (1991), Falcon Mfg. v. NLRC, 199 SCRA 814 (1991), the case', obviously referring to the main case, that is, the intestate estate case. Since
Kabushin Kaisha Isetan v. IAC, 203 SCRA 583 (1991)] the intervention was not an independent proceeding but only ancillary or supplemental
to the main case, the rule on multiple appeals does not apply and the filing of a record
This rule is founded upon the principle that the right to appeal is not part of due on appeal is not a pre-requisite to the acceptance and consideration of the appeal by
process of law but is a mere statutory privilege to be exercised only in the manner and

Page 21 of 38
the appellate court. deceased person, or the administration of a trustee or guardian, a final
chanrobleslaw determination in the lower court of the rights of the party appealing, except
that no appeal shall be allowed from the appointment of a special
Ruling of the Court administrator; and

(f) Is the final order or judgment rendered in the case, and affects the substantial rights
The appeal lacks merit. of the person appealing, unless it be an order granting or denying a motion for a new
trial or for reconsideration.chanrobleslaw
Intervention is "a remedy by which a third party, not originally impleaded in the
proceedings, becomes a litigant therein to enable him, her or it to protect or preserve a The dismissal of the petitioner's intervention constituted "a final determination in the
right or interest which may be affected by such proceedings."39 If an intervention makes lower court of the rights of the party appealing," that is, his right in the paraphernal
a third party a litigant in the main proceedings, his pleading-in-intervention should properties of his deceased sister. As such, it fell under paragraph (c) of Section
form part of the main case. Accordingly, when the petitioner intervened in Special 1, supra, because it had the effect of disallowing his claim against the estate of Vicente,
Proceedings No. SP-797, his complaint-in-intervention, once admitted by the RTC, as well as under paragraph (e) of Section 1, supra, because it was a final determination
became part of the main case, rendering any final disposition thereof subject to the in the trial court of his intervention. Conformably with either or both paragraphs,
rules specifically applicable to special proceedings, including Rule 109 of the Rules of which are boldly underscored above for easier reference, the dismissal was the proper
Court, which deals with appeals in special proceedings. subject of an appeal in due course by virtue of its nature of completely disposing of his
intervention.
Section 1 of Rule 41 enunciates the final judgment rule by providing that an appeal "may
be taken from a judgment or final order that completely disposes of the case, or of a The proper mode of appealing a judgment or final order in special proceedings is by
particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to be appealable." In the notice of appeal and record on appeal. This is pursuant to Section 2(a), Rule 41 of
context of the final judgment rule, Section 1 of Rule 109 does not limit the appealable the Rules of Court, viz.:cralawlawlibrary
orders and judgments in special proceedings to the final order or judgment rendered in
the main case, but extends the remedy of appeal to other orders or dispositions that Section 2. Modes of appeal. -
completely determine a particular matter in the case, to wit:cralawlawlibrary
(a) Ordinary appeal. - The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the
Rule 109. - Appeals in Special Proceedings Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a
notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed
Section 1. Orders or judgments from which appeals may be taken. - An interested person from and serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be
may appeal in special proceedings from an order or judgment rendered by a Court of required except in special proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate
First Instance or a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, where such order or appeals where the law or these Rules so require. In such cases, the record on
judgment:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary appeal shall be filed and served in like manner.

(a) Allows or disallows a will;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary x x x x


chanrobleslaw
(b) Determines who are the lawful heirs of a deceased person, or the distributive share
of the estate to which such person is entitled;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary Under Section 3 of Rule 41, a party who wants to appeal a judgment or final order in
special proceedings has 30 days from notice of the judgment or final order within which
(c) Allows or disallows, in whole or in part, any claim against the estate of a to perfect an appeal because he will be filing not only a notice of appeal but also a
deceased person, or any claim presented on behalf of the estate in offset to a record on appeal that will require the approval of the trial court with notice to the
claim against it; adverse party, to wit:cralawlawlibrary

(d) Settles the account of an executor, administrator, trustee or Section 3. Period of ordinary appeal. - The appeal shall be taken within fifteen (15) days
guardian;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary from notice of the judgment or final order appealed from. Where a record on appeal
is required, the appellant shall file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal
(e) Constitutes, in proceedings relating to the settlement of the estate of a within thirty (30) days from notice of judgment or final order. However, an appeal

Page 22 of 38
in habeas corpus cases shall be taken within forty-eight (48) hours from notice of the decide the appealed matter.
judgment or fmal order appealed from.
x x x x
The period of appeal shall be interrupted by a timely motion for new trial or
reconsideration. No motion for extension of time to file a motion for new trial or The elimination of the record on appeal under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 made feasible
reconsideration shall be allowed, (n) (bold emphasis supplied)chanrobleslaw the shortening of the period of appeal from the original 30 days to only 15 days from
notice of the judgment or final order. Section 3, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, retains
For the petitioner, therefore, the period for perfecting the appeal by record on appeal the original 30 days as the period for perfecting the appeal by record on appeal to take
was 30 days from notice of the final order dismissing the intervention. The start of the into consideration the need for the trial court to approve the record on appeal. Within
period of 30 days happened on September 18, 1998, the date when his counsel received that 30-day period a party aggrieved by a judgment or final order issued in special
the decision dismissing his intervention. However, the entire time from the filing of proceedings should perfect an appeal by filing both a notice of appeal and a record on
his Motion for Reconsideration on October 2, 1998 until his receipt of the denial of appeal in the trial court, serving a copy of the notice of appeal and a record on appeal
the Motion for Reconsideration on March 18, 1999 should be deducted from the upon the adverse party within the period; in addition, the appealing party shall pay
reckoning of the period to perfect his appeal. He filed the notice of appeal on March 19, within the period for taking an appeal to the clerk of court that rendered the appealed
1999, and paid the appellate court docket fees on March 31, 1999.40 Initially, the RTC judgment or final order the full amount of the appellate court docket and other lawful
denied due course to the notice of appeal on the ground that it had been filed beyond fees. A violation of these requirements for the timely perfection of an appeal by record
the reglementary period; hence, the petitioner filed his Motion for on appeal, or the non-payment of the full amount of the appellate court docket and
Reconsideration against the order denying due course.41 On July 5, 1999, the RTC issued other lawful fees to the clerk of the trial court may be a ground for the dismissal of the
its order whereby it conceded that the petitioner had timely filed the notice of appeal, appeal.46chanrobleslaw
but still denied the Motion for Reconsideration on the ground that he had not perfected
his appeal because of his failure to pay the appellate court docket fees.42 Hence, he filed Considering that the petitioner did not submit a record on appeal in accordance with
a Motion to Set Aside Order, to which he appended the copies of the official receipts of Section 3 of Rule 41, he did not perfect his appeal of the judgment dismissing his
the payment of the appellate court docket fees.43 Nonetheless, on August 13, 1999, the intervention. As a result, the dismissal became final and immutable. He now has no one
RTC denied the Motion to Set Aside Order, and a copy of the order of denial was to blame but himself. The right to appeal, being statutory in nature, required strict
received by his counsel on August 27, 1999.44 compliance with the rules regulating the exercise of the right. As such, his perfection of
his appeal within the prescribed period was mandatory and jurisdictional, and his
In Lebin v. Mirasol,45 the Court has discussed the justification for requiring the record failure to perfect the appeal within the prescribed time rendered the judgment final
on appeal in appeals in special proceedings, viz.:cralawlawlibrary and beyond review on appeal. Indeed, we have fittingly pronounced in Lebin v.
Mirasol:cralawlawlibrary
The changes and clarifications recognize that appeal is neither a natural nor a
constitutional right, but merely statutory, and the implication of its statutory character In like manner, the perfection of an appeal within the period laid down by law is
is that the party who intends to appeal must always comply with the procedures and mandatory and jurisdictional, because the failure to perfect the appeal within the time
rules governing appeals, or else the right of appeal may be lost or squandered. prescribed by the Rules of Court causes the judgment or final order to become final as
to preclude the appellate court from acquiring the jurisdiction to review the judgment
As the foregoing rules further indicate, a judgment or final order in special proceedings or final order. The failure of the petitioners and their counsel to file the record on
is appealed by record on appeal. A judgment or final order determining and appeal on time rendered the orders of the RTC final and unappealable. Thereby, the
terminating a particular part is usually appealable, because it completely disposes of a appellate court lost the jurisdiction to review the challenged orders, and the petitioners
particular matter in the proceeding, unless otherwise declared by the Rules of Court. were precluded from assailing the orders.47chanrobleslaw
The ostensible reason for requiring a record on appeal instead of only a notice of appeal
is the multipart nature of nearly all special proceedings, with each part susceptible of In view of the foregoing, the petitioner lost his right to appeal through his failure to file
being finally determined and terminated independently of the other parts. An appeal the record on appeal, and rendered the dismissal of his intervention final and
by notice of appeal is a mode that envisions the elevation of the original records to the immutable. With this outcome, we no longer need to dwell on the denial of due course
appellate court as to thereby obstruct the trial court in its further proceedings to his notice of appeal because of the late payment of the appellate court docket fees.
regarding the other parts of the case. In contrast, the record on appeal enables the trial
court to continue with the rest of the case because the original records remain with the WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated
trial court even as it affords to the appellate court the full opportunity to review and on October 30, 2002 subject to the foregoing clarification on the correct justification for

Page 23 of 38
the dismissal of the appeal being upon the petitioner's failure to perfect his appeal in WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby renders judgment declaring the
accordance with Section 2(a) and Section 3 of Rule 41 of the Rules of PRESUMPTIVE DEATH of MARINA B. NARCEDA for all legal intents and purposes of
Court; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit. law as provided for in Rule 131, Sec. 3(w-4), Rules of Court, without prejudice to the
effect of re-appearance of the absent spouse.
SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SO ORDERED.12

Petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), appealed the foregoing
Decision to the CA. According to petitioner, respondent failed to conduct a search for
G.R. No. 182760 April 10, 2013 his missing wife with the diligence required by law and enough to give rise to a "well-
founded" belief that she was dead.13
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
vs. The CA dismissed the appeal ruling that the hearing of a petition for the declaration of
ROBERT P. NARCEDA, Respondent. presumptive death is a summary proceeding under the Family Code and is thus
governed by Title XI thereof.14 Article 247 of the Family Code provides that the
RESOLUTION judgment of the trial court in summary court proceedings shall be immediately final
and executory. The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:
SERENO, CJ.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED
OUTRIGHT on the GROUND OF LACK OF JURISDICTION, and this Court hereby
The present case stems from a Petition for Review1 filed by the Republic of the
reiterates the fact that the RTC Decision is immediately final and executory because by
Philippines (petitioner), praying for the reversal of the Decision2 of the Court of
express provision of law, the judgment of the RTC is not appealable.
Appeals (CA) dated 14 November 2007 and its subsequent Resolution 3dated 29 April
2008. The CA dismissed the appeal of petitioner, because it supposedly lacked
jurisdiction to decide the matter. It held that the Decision 4 of the Regional Trial Court SO ORDERED.15
of Balaoan, La Union (RTC) declaring the presumptive death of Marina B. Narceda
(Marina) was immediately final and executory, "because by express provision of law, The OSG filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but it was likewise denied through the
the judgment of the RTC is not appealable."5 CA’s 29 April 2008 Resolution.16

Robert P. Narceda (respondent) married Marina on 22 July 1987. A reading of the Petitioner now comes to this Court, through Rule 45, alleging as follows:
Marriage Contract6 he presented will reveal that at the time of their wedding, Marina
was only 17 years and 4 months old. 1. The Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the Petition on the ground of lack
of jurisdiction.17
According to respondent, Marina went to Singapore sometime in 1994 and never
returned since.7 There was never any communication between them. He tried to look 2. Respondent has failed to establish a well-founded belief that his absentee
for her, but he could not find her. Several years after she left, one of their town mates in spouse is dead.18
Luna, La Union came home from Singapore and told him that the last time she saw his
wife, the latter was already living with a Singaporean husband.8
The OSG insists that the CA had jurisdiction to entertain the Petition, because
respondent had failed to establish a well-founded belief that his absentee spouse was
In view of her absence and his desire to remarry,9 respondent filed with the RTC on 16 dead.19 The OSG cites Republic v. CA (Jomoc),20 in which this Court ruled:
May 2002 a Petition for a judicial declaration of the presumptive death and/or absence
of Marina.10
By the trial court’s citation of Article 41 of the Family Code, it is gathered that the
petition of Apolinaria Jomoc to have her absent spouse declared presumptively dead
The RTC granted respondent’s Petition in a Decision11 dated 5 May 2005, the dispositive had for its purpose her desire to contract a valid subsequent marriage. Ergo, the
portion of which reads:
Page 24 of 38
petition for that purpose is a "summary proceeding," following above-quoted Art. 41, An appellate court acquires no jurisdiction to review a judgment which, by express
paragraph 2 of the Family Code. provision of law, is immediately final and executory. As we have said in Veloria vs.
Comelec, "the right to appeal is not a natural right nor is it a part of due process, for it
xxxx is merely a statutory privilege." Since, by express mandate of Article 247 of the Family
Code, all judgments rendered in summary judicial proceedings in Family Law are
"immediately final and executory," the right to appeal was not granted to any of the
there is no doubt that the petition of Apolinaria Jomoc required, and is, therefore, a
parties therein. The Republic of the Philippines, as oppositor in the petition for
summary proceeding under the Family Code, not a special proceeding under the
declaration of presumptive death, should not be treated differently. It had no right to
Revised Rules of Court appeal for which calls for the filing of a Record on Appeal. It
appeal the RTC decision of November 7, 2001.24
being a summary ordinary proceeding, the filing of a Notice of Appeal from the trial
court's order sufficed. (Emphasis in the original)21
We agree with the CA.
The CA points out, however, that because the resolution of a petition for the
declaration of presumptive death requires a summary proceeding, the procedural rules Article 41 of the Family Code provides:
to be followed are those enumerated in Title XI of the Family Code. Articles 238, 247,
and 253 thereof read: Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous
marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent
Art. 238. Until modified by the Supreme Court, the procedural rules provided for in this marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse
Title shall apply as regards separation in fact between husband and wife, abandonment present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of
by one of the other, and incidents involving parental authority. disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the
provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be
sufficient.
xxxx

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding
Art. 247. The judgment of the court shall be immediately final and executory.
paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this
Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the
xxxx effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.

ART. 253. The foregoing rules in Chapters 2 and 3 hereof shall likewise govern summary This Court has already declared in Republic v. Granda25 that Jomoc cannot be
proceedings filed under Articles 41, 51, 69, 73, 96, 124 and 217, insofar as they are interpreted as having superseded our pronouncements in Bermudez-Lorino, because
applicable. Jomoc does not expound on the characteristics of a summary proceeding under the
Family Code; Bermudez-Lorino, however, squarely touches upon the impropriety of an
The appellate court argues that there is no reglementary period within which to perfect ordinary appeal as a vehicle for questioning a trial court’s decision in a summary
an appeal in summary judicial proceedings under the Family Code, because the proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family
judgments rendered thereunder, by express provision of Article 247, are immediately Code.26
final and executory upon notice to the parties.22 In support of its stance, it cited
Republic v. Bermudez-Lorino (Bermudez-Lorino),23 in which this Court held: As explained in Republic v. Tango,27 the remedy of a losing party in a summary
proceeding is not an ordinary appeal, but a petition for certiorari, to wit:
In Summary Judicial Proceedings under the Family Code, there is no reglementary
period within which to perfect an appeal, precisely because judgments rendered By express provision of law, the judgment of the court in a summary proceeding shall
thereunder, by express provision of Section 247, Family Code, supra, are "immediately be immediately final and executory. As a matter of course, it follows that no appeal can
final and executory." It was erroneous, therefore, on the part of the RTC to give due be had of the trial court's judgment in a summary proceeding for the declaration of
course to the Republic's appeal and order the transmittal of the entire records of the presumptive death of an absent spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code. It goes
case to the Court of Appeals. without saying, however, that an aggrieved party may file a petition for certiorari to
question abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. Such petition should be

Page 25 of 38
filed in the Court of Appeals in accordance with the Doctrine of Hierarchy of Courts. Francisco Carreon for petitioners.
To be sure, even if the Court's original jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari is
concurrent with the RTCs and the Court of Appeals in certain cases, such concurrence Augusto G. Gatmaytan for private respondents.
does not sanction an unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum. From the decision
of the Court of Appeals, the losing party may then file a petition for review on certiorari
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court with the Supreme Court. This is because the errors
which the court may commit in the exercise of jurisdiction are merely errors of
judgment which are the proper subject of an appeal. MARTIN, J.:

When the OSG filed its notice of appeal under Rule 42, it availed itself of the wrong These two interrelated cases bring to Us the question of what the word "resides"
remedy.1âwphi1 As a result, the running of the period for filing of a Petition for in Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules Of Court, referring to the situs of the
Certiorari continued to run and was not tolled. Upon lapse of that period, the Decision settlement of the estate of deceased persons, means. Additionally, the rule in
of the RTC could no longer be questioned. Consequently, petitioner's contention that the appointment of a special administrator is sought to be reviewed.
respondent has failed to establish a well-founded belief that his absentee spouse is
dead28 may no longer be entertained by this Court. On May 2, 1973, Virginia G. Fule filed with the Court of First Instance of Laguna,
at Calamba, presided over by Judge Severo A. Malvar, a petition for letters of
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED. The 14 November 2007 Decision of the administration, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 27-C, alleging, inter alia, "that on April
Court Appeals and its subsequent 29 April 2008 Resolution in CA-G.R. CV No. 85704, 26, 1973, Amado G. Garcia, a property owner of Calamba, Laguna, died intestate
dismissing the appeal of the Republic of the Philippines are AFFIRMED. in the City of Manila, leaving real estate and personal properties in Calamba,
Laguna, and in other places, within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court." At
the same time, she moved
The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Balaoan, La Union in Special Proceeding
ex parte for her appointment as special administratrix over the estate. On even
No. 622 dated 5 May 2005 declaring the presumptive death of Marina B. Narceda is
date, May 2, 1973, Judge Malvar granted the motion.
hereby declared FINAL and EXECUTORY.

A motion for reconsideration was filed by Preciosa B. Garcia on May 8, 1973,


SO ORDERED.
contending that the order appointing Virginia G. Fule as special administratrix
was issued without jurisdiction, since no notice of the petition for letters of
administration has been served upon all persons interested in the estate; there
has been no delay or cause for delay in the proceedings for the appointment of a
regular administrator as the surviving spouse of Amado G. Garcia, she should be
preferred in the appointment of a special administratrix; and, Virginia G. Fule is
G.R. No. L-40502 November 29, 1976 a debtor of the estate of Amado G. Garcia. Preciosa B. Garcia, therefore, prayed
that she be appointed special administratrix of the estate, in lieu of Virginia G.
Fule, and as regular administratrix after due hearing.
VIRGINIA GARCIA FULE, and HONORABLE SEVERO A. MALVAR, Presiding
Judge, Court of First Instance of Laguna, Branch Vl, petitioners,
vs. While this reconsideration motion was pending resolution before the Court,
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, * PRECIOSA B. GARCIA and AGUSTINA Preciosa B. Garcia filed on May 29, 1973 a motion to remove Virginia G. Fule as
B. GARCIA, respondents. special administratrix alleging, besides the jurisdictional ground raised in the
motion for reconsideration of May 8, 1973 that her appointment was obtained
through erroneous, misleading and/or incomplete misrepresentations; that
G.R. No. L-42670 November 29, 1976
Virginia G. Fule has adverse interest against the estate; and that she has shown
herself unsuitable as administratrix and as officer of the court.
VIRGINIA GARCIA FULE, petitioner,
vs.
In the meantime, the notice of hearing of the petition for letters of
HONORABLE ERNANI C. PAÑO, Presiding Judge of Court of First Instance of
administration filed by Virginia G. Fule with the Court of First Instance of
Rizal, Quezon City, Branch XVIII, and PRECIOSA B. GARCIA, respondents.
Page 26 of 38
Calamba, Laguna, was published on May 17, 24, and 31, 1973, in the Bayanihan, a Virginia G. Fule admitted before before the court that she is a full-blooded sister
weekly publication of general circulation in Southern Luzon. of Pablo G. Alcalde, an illegitimate son of Andrea Alcalde, with whom the
deceased Amado G. Garcia has no relation.
On June 6, 1973, Preciosa B. Garcia received a "Supplemental Petition for the
Appointment of Regular Administrator ' filed by Virginia G. Fule. This Three motions were filed by Preciosa B. Garcia on November 14, 1973, one, to
supplemental petition modified the original petition in four aspects: (1) the enjoin the special administratrix from taking possession of properties in the
allegation that during the lifetime of the deceased Amado G. Garcia, he was hands of third persons which have not been determined as belonging to Amado
elected as Constitutional Delegate for the First District of Laguna and his last G. Garcia; another, to remove the special administratrix for acting outside her
place of residence was at Calamba, Laguna; (2) the deletion of the names of authority and against the interest of the estate; and still another, filed in behalf
Preciosa B. Garcia and Agustina Garcia as legal heirs of Amado G. Garcia; (3) the of the minor Agustina B. Garcia, to dismiss the petition for want of cause of
allegation that Carolina Carpio, who was simply listed as heir in the original action, jurisdiction, and improper venue.
petition, is the surviving spouse of Amado G. Garcia and that she has expressly
renounced her preferential right to the administration of the estate in favor of On November 28, 1973, Judge Malvar resolved the pending omnibus motion of
Virginia G. Fule; and (4) that Virginia G. Fule be appointed as the regular Virgina G. Fule and the motion to dismiss filed by Preciosa B. Garcia. Resolving
administratrix. The admission of this supplemental petition was opposed by the motion to dismiss, Judge Malvar ruled that the powers of the special
Preciosa B. Garcia for the reason, among others, that it attempts to confer administratrix are those provided for in Section 2, Rule 80 of the Rules of
jurisdiction on the Court of First Instance of Laguna, of which the court was not Court, 1subject only to the previous qualification made by the court that the
possessed at the beginning because the original petition was deficient. administration of the properties subject of the marketing agreement with the
Canlubang Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing Association should remain
On July 19, 1973, Preciosa B. Garcia filed an opposition to the original and with the latter; and that the special administratrix had already been authorized
supplemental petitions for letters of administration, raising the issues of in a previous order of August 20, 1973 to take custody and possession of all
jurisdiction, venue, lack of interest of Virginia G. Fule in the estate of Amado G. papers and certificates of title and personal effects of the decedent with the
Garcia, and disqualification of Virginia G Fule as special administratrix. Canlubang Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. Ramon
Mercado, of the Canlubang Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing Association,
An omnibus motion was filed by Virginia G. Fule on August 20, 1973, praying for Inc., was ordered to deliver to Preciosa B. Garcia all certificates of title in her
authority to take possession of properties of the decedent allegedly in the hands name without any qualifying words like "married to Amado Garcia" does not
of third persons as well as to secure cash advances from the Calamba Sugar appear. Regarding the motion to dismiss, Judge Malvar ruled that the issue of
Planters Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. Preciosa B. Garcia opposed jurisdiction had already been resolved in the order of July 2, 1973, denying
the motion, calling attention to the limitation made by Judge Malvar on the Preciosa B. Garcia's motion to reconsider the appointment of Virginia G. Fule
power of the special administratrix, viz., "to making an inventory of the and admitting the supplemental petition, the failure of Virginia G. Fule to allege
personal and real properties making up the state of the deceased." in her original petition for letters of administration in the place of residence of
the decedent at the time of his death was cured. Judge Malvar further held that
Preciosa B. Garcia had submitted to the jurisdiction of the court and had waived
However, by July 2, 1973, Judge Malvar and already issued an order, received by
her objections thereto by praying to be appointed as special and regular
Preciosa B. Garcia only on July 31, 1973, denying the motion of Preciosa B. Garcia
administratrix of the estate.
to reconsider the order of May 2, 1973, appointing Virginia G. Fule as special
administratrix, and admitting the supplementation petition of May 18,1973.
An omnibus motion was filed by Preciosa B. Garcia on December 27, 1973 to
clarify or reconsider the foregoing order of Judge Malvar, in view of previous
On August 31, 1973, Preciosa B. Garcia moved to dismiss the petition, because (1)
court order limiting the authority of the special administratrix to the making of
jurisdiction over the petition or over the parties in interest has not been
an inventory. Preciosa B. Garcia also asked for the resolution of her motion to
acquired by the court; (2) venue was improperly laid; and (3) Virginia G. Fule is
dismiss the petitions for lack of cause of action, and also that filed in behalf of
not a party in interest as she is not entitled to inherit from the deceased Amado
Agustina B. Garcia. Resolution of her motions to substitute and remove the
G. Garcia.
special administratrix was likewise prayed for.

On September 28, 1973, Preciosa B. Garcia filed a supplemental motion to


substitute Virginia G. Fule as special administratrix, reasoning that the said
Page 27 of 38
On December 19, 1973, Judge Malvar issued two separate orders, the first, On January 30, 1975, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment annulling the
denying Preciosa B. Garcia's motions to substitute and remove the special proceedings before Judge Severo A. Malvar in Sp. Proc. 27-C of the Court of First
administratrix, and the second, holding that the power allowed the special Instance of Calamba, Laguna, for lack of jurisdiction.
administratrix enables her to conduct and submit an inventory of the assets of
the estate. Denied of their motion for reconsideration on March 31, 1975, Virginia G. Fule
forthwith elevated the matter to Us on appeal by certiorari. The case was
On January 7, 1974, Preciosa B. Garcia moved for reconsideration of the docketed as G.R. No. L-40502.
foregoing orders of November 28, 1973 and December 19, 1973, insofar as they
sustained or failed to rule on the issues raised by her: (a) legal standing (cause However, even before Virginia G. Fule could receive the decision of the Court of
of action) of Virginia G. Fule; (b) venue; (c) jurisdiction; (d) appointment, Appeals, Preciosa B. Garcia had already filed on February 1, 1975 a petition for
qualification and removal of special administratrix; and (e) delivery to the letters of administration before the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City
special administratrix of checks and papers and effects in the office of the Branch, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. Q-19738, over the same intestate estate of
Calamba Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. Amado G. Garcia. On February 10, 1975, Preciosa B. Garcia urgently moved for
her appointment as special administratrix of the estate. Judge Vicente G. Ericta
On March 27, 1973, Judge Malvar issued the first questioned order denying granted the motion and appointed Preciosa B. Garcia as special administratrix
Preciosa B. Garcia's motion for reconsideration of January 7, 1974. On July 19, upon a bond of P30,000.00. Preciosa B. Garcia qualified and assumed the office.
1974, Judge Malvar issued the other three questioned orders: one, directing
Ramon Mercado, of the Calamba Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing For the first time, on February 14, 1975, Preciosa B. Garcia informed Judge Ericta
Association, Inc., to furnish Virginia G. Fule, as special administratrix, copy of of the pendency of Sp. Proc. No. 27-C before Judge Malvar of the Court of First
the statement of accounts and final liquidation of sugar pool, as well as to Instance of Laguna, and the annulment of the proceedings therein by the Court
deliver to her the corresponding amount due the estate; another, directing of Appeals on January 30, 1975. She manifested, however, her willingness to
Preciosa B. Garcia to deliver to Virginia G. Fule two motor vehicles presumably withdraw Sp. Proc. Q-19738 should the decision of the Court of Appeals
belonging to the estate; and another, directing Ramon Mercado to deliver to the annulling the proceedings before the Court of First Instance of Laguna in Sp.
court all certificates of title in his possession in the name of Preciosa B. Garcia, Proc. No. 27-C have not yet become final, it being the subject of a motion for
whether qualified with the word "single" or "married to Amado Garcia." reconsideration.

During the hearing of the various incidents of this case (Sp. Proc. 27-C) before On March 10, 1973, Judge Ericta ordered the suspension of the proceedings
Judge Malvar, 2 Virginia G. Fule presented the death certificate of Amado G. before his court until Preciosa B. Garcia inform the court of the final outcome of
Garcia showing that his residence at the time of his death was Quezon City. On the case pending before the Court of Appeals. This notwithstanding, Preciosa B.
her part, Preciosa B. Garcia presented the residence certificate of the decedent Garcia filed on December 11, 1975, an "Urgent Petition for Authority to Pay Estate
for 1973 showing that three months before his death his residence was in Obligations."
Quezon City. Virginia G. Fule also testified that Amado G. Garcia was residing in
Calamba, Laguna at the time of his death, and that he was a delegate to the 1971
On December 13, 1975, Virginia G. Fule filed a "Special Appearance to Question
Constitutional Convention for the first district of Laguna.
Venue and Jurisdiction" reiterating the grounds stated in the previous special
appearance of March 3, 1975, and calling attention that the decision of the Court
On July 26, 1974, Preciosa B. Garcia and Agustina B. Garcia commenced a special of Appeals and its resolution denying the motion for reconsideration had been
action for certiorari and/or prohibition and preliminary injunction before the appealed to this Court; that the parties had already filed their respective briefs;
Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. No. 03221-SP. primarily to annul the and that the case is still pending before the Court.
proceedings before Judge Malvar in Sp. Proc. No. 27-C of the Court of First
Instance of Laguna, or, in the alternative, to vacate the questioned four orders
On December 17, 1975, Judge Ernani Cruz Pano, who succeeded Judge Ericta,
of that court, viz., one dated March 27, 1974, denying their motion for
issued an order granting Preciosa B. Garcia's "Urgent Petition for Authority to
reconsideration of the order denying their motion to dismiss the criminal and
Pay Estate Obligations" in that the payments were for the benefit of the estate
supplemental petitions on the issue, among others, of jurisdiction, and the
and that there hangs a cloud of doubt on the validity of the proceedings in Sp.
three others, all dated July 19, 1974, directing the delivery of certain properties
Proc. No. 27-C of the Court of First Instance of Laguna.
to the special administratrix, Virginia G. Fule, and to the court.

Page 28 of 38
A compliance of this Order was filed by Preciosa B. Garcia on January 12,1976. provisions of the procedural law, purely, the court attempting to exercise it loses the
power to exercise it legally. However, this does not amount to a loss of jurisdiction over
On February 4,1974, VIRGINIA G. FULE instituted G.R. No. L-42670, a petition for the subject matter. Rather, it means that the court may thereby lose jurisdiction over
certiorari with temporary restraining order, to annul the proceedings in Sp. the person or that the judgment may thereby be rendered defective for lack of
Proc. No. Q-19738 and to restrain Judge Ernani Cruz Paño from further acting in something essential to sustain it. The appearance of this provision in the procedural
the case. A restraining order was issued on February 9, 1976. law at once raises a strong presumption that it has nothing to do with the jurisdiction
of the court over the subject matter. In plain words, it is just a matter of method, of
convenience to the parties. 5
We dismiss the appeal in G.R. No. L-40502 and the petition for certiorari in G.R.
No. L-42670 for the reasons and considerations hereinafter stated.
The Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, confers upon Courts of First Instance
jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of the place of residence of the
1. Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: "If the decedent is an
deceased. Because of the existence of numerous Courts of First Instance in the country,
inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an
the Rules of Court, however, purposedly fixes the venue or the place where each case
alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate
shall be brought. A fortiori, the place of residence of the deceased in settlement of
settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resides at the
estates, probate of will, and issuance of letters of administration does not constitute an
time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of
element of jurisdiction over the subject matter. It is merely constitutive of venue. And
First Instance of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking
it is upon this reason that the Revised Rules of Court properly considers the province
cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise
where the estate of a deceased person shall be settled as "venue." 6
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 2. But, the far-ranging question is this: What does the term "resides" mean? Does it
appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction refer to the actual residence or domicile of the decedent at the time of his death? We
appears on the record." With particular regard to letters of administration, lay down the doctrinal rule that the term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual
Section 2, Rule 79 of the Revised Rules of Court demands that the petition residence" as distinguished from "legal residence or domicile." This term "resides," like,
therefor should affirmatively show the existence of jurisdiction to make the the terms "residing" and "residence," is elastic and should be interpreted in the light of
appointment sought, and should allege all the necessary facts, such as death, the object or purpose of the statute or rule in which it is employed. 7 In the application
the name and last residence of the decedent, the existence, and situs if need be, of venue statutes and rules — Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such
of assets, intestacy, where this is relied upon, and the right of the person who nature — residence rather than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the
seeks administration, as next of kin, creditor, or otherwise, to be appointed. statute uses the word "domicile" still it is construed as meaning residence and not
The fact of death of the intestate and his last residence within the country are domicile in the technical sense. Some cases make a distinction between the terms
foundation facts upon which all subsequent proceedings in the administration "residence" and "domicile" but as generally used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are
of the estate rest, and that if the intestate was not an inhabitant of the state at synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the term "inhabitant." 8 In other words,
the time of his death, and left no assets in the state, no jurisdiction is conferred "resides" should be viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal,
on the court to grant letters of administration. 3 actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies
physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term
means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or
The aforequoted Section 1, Rule 73 (formerly Rule 75, Section 1), specifically the clause
domicile. 9Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place,
"so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of the
while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it
estate," is in reality a matter of venue, as the caption of the Rule indicates: "Settlement
one's domicile. 10 No particular length of time of residence is required though; however,
of Estate of Deceased Persons. Venue and Processes. 4 It could not have been intended
the residence must be more than temporary. 11
to define the jurisdiction over the subject matter, because such legal provision is
contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with procedural matters. Procedure is
one thing; jurisdiction over the subject matter is another. The power or authority of the 3. Divergent claims are maintained by Virginia G. Fule and Preciosa B. Garcia on the
court over the subject matter "existed and was fixed before procedure in a given cause residence of the deceased Amado G. Garcia at the time of his death. In her original
began." That power or authority is not altered or changed by procedure, which simply petition for letters of administration before the Court of First Instance of Calamba,
directs the manner in which the power or authority shall be fully and justly exercised. Laguna, Virginia G. Fule measely stated "(t)hat on April 26,1973, Amado G. Garcia, a
There are cases though that if the power is not exercised conformably with the property owner of Calamba, Laguna, died intestate in the City of Manila, leaving real

Page 29 of 38
estate and personal properties in Calamba, Laguna, and in other places within the when the allowance or disallowance of a will is under appeal. The new Rules, however,
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court." Preciosa B. Garcia assailed the petition for failure broadened the basis for appointment and such appointment is now allowed when there
to satisfy the jurisdictional requirement and improper laying of venue. For her, the is delay in granting letters testamentary or administration by any cause e.g., parties
quoted statement avers no domicile or residence of the deceased Amado G. Garcia. To cannot agree among themselves. 14 Nevertheless, the discretion to appoint a special
say that as "property owner of Calamba, Laguna," he also resides in Calamba, Laguna, administrator or not lies in the probate court. 15 That, however, is no authority for the
is, according to her, non sequitur. On the contrary, Preciosa B. Garcia claims that, as judge to become partial, or to make his personal likes and dislikes prevail over, or his
appearing in his death certificate presented by Virginia G. Fule herself before the passions to rule, his judgment. Exercise of that discretion must be based on reason,
Calamba court and in other papers, the last residence of Amado G. Garcia was at 11 equity, justice and legal principle. There is no reason why the same fundamental and
Carmel Avenue, Carmel Subdivision, Quezon City. Parenthetically, in her amended legal principles governing the choice of a regular administrator should not be taken
petition, Virginia G. Fule categorically alleged that Amado G. Garcia's "last place of into account in the appointment of a special administrator. 16 Nothing is wrong for the
residence was at Calamba, Laguna." judge to consider the order of preference in the appointment of a regular administrator
in appointing a special administrator. After all, the consideration that overrides all
On this issue, We rule that the last place of residence of the deceased Amado G. Garcia others in this respect is the beneficial interest of the appointee in the estate of the
was at 11 Carmel Avenue, Carmel Subdivision, Quezon City, and not at Calamba, decedent. 17 Under the law, the widow would have the right of succession over a portion
Laguna. A death certificate is admissible to prove the residence of the decedent at the of the exclusive property of the decedent, besides her share in the conjugal partnership.
time of his death. 12 As it is, the death certificate of Amado G. Garcia, which was For such reason, she would have as such, if not more, interest in administering the
presented in evidence by Virginia G. Fule herself and also by Preciosa B. Garcia, shows entire estate correctly than any other next of kin. The good or bad administration of a
that his last place of residence was at 11 Carmel Avenue, Carmel Subdivision, Quezon property may affect rather the fruits than the naked ownership of a property. 18
City. Aside from this, the deceased's residence certificate for 1973 obtained three
months before his death; the Marketing Agreement and Power of Attorney dated Virginia G. Fule, however, disputes the status of Preciosa B. Garcia as the widow of the
November 12, 1971 turning over the administration of his two parcels of sugar land to late Amado G. Garcia. With equal force, Preciosa B. Garcia maintains that Virginia G.
the Calamba Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc.; the Deed of Fule has no relation whatsoever with Amado G. Garcia, or that, she is a mere
Donation dated January 8, 1973, transferring part of his interest in certain parcels of illegitimate sister of the latter, incapable of any successional rights. 19 On this point, We
land in Calamba, Laguna to Agustina B. Garcia; and certificates of titles covering rule that Preciosa B. Garcia is prima facie entitled to the appointment of special
parcels of land in Calamba, Laguna, show in bold documents that Amado G. Garcia's administratrix. It needs be emphasized that in the issuance of such appointment, which
last place of residence was at Quezon City. Withal, the conclusion becomes imperative is but temporary and subsists only until a regular administrator is appointed, 20 the
that the venue for Virginia C. Fule's petition for letters of administration was appointing court does not determine who are entitled to share in the estate of the
improperly laid in the Court of First Instance of Calamba, Laguna. Nevertheless, the decedent but who is entitled to the administration. The issue of heirship is one to be
long-settled rule is that objection to improper venue is subject to waiver. Section 4, determined in the decree of distribution, and the findings of the court on the
Rule 4 of the Revised Rules of Court states: "When improper venue is not objected to in relationship of the parties in the administration as to be the basis of distribution. 21The
a motion to dismiss, it is deemed waived." In the case before Us the Court of Appeals preference of Preciosa B. Garcia is with sufficient reason. In a Donation Inter Vivos
had reason to hold that in asking to substitute Virginia G. Fule as special executed by the deceased Amado G. Garcia on January 8, 1973 in favor of Agustina B.
administratrix, Preciosa B. Garcia did not necessarily waive her objection to the Garcia, he indicated therein that he is married to Preciosa B. Garcia. 22 In his certificate
jurisdiction or venue assumed by the Court of First Instance of Calamba, Laguna, but of candidacy for the office of Delegate to the Constitutional Convention for the First
availed of a mere practical resort to alternative remedy to assert her rights as surviving District of Laguna filed on September 1, 1970, he wrote therein the name of Preciosa B.
spouse, while insisting on the enforcement of the Rule fixing the proper venue of the Banaticla as his spouse. 23 Faced with these documents and the presumption that a man
proceedings at the last residence of the decedent. and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful
contract of marriage, Preciosa B. Garcia can be reasonably believed to be the surviving
4. Preciosa B. Garcia's challenge to Virginia G. Fule's appointment as special spouse of the late Amado G. Garcia. Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. 24
administratrix is another issue of perplexity. Preciosa B. Garcia claims preference to the
appointment as surviving spouse. Section 1 of Rule 80 provides that "(w)hen there is 5. Under these circumstances and the doctrine laid down in Cuenco vs. Court of
delay in granting letters testamentary or of administration by any cause including an Appeals, 25 this Court under its supervisory authority over all inferior courts may
appeal from the allowance or disallowance of a will, the court may appoint a special properly decree that venue in the instant case was properly assumed by and transferred
administrator to take possession and charge of the estate of the deceased until the to Quezon City and that it is in the interest of justice and avoidance of needless delay
questions causing the delay are decided and executors or administrators that the Quezon City court's exercise of jurisdiction over the settlement of the estate of
appointed. 13 Formerly, the appointment of a special administrator was only proper the deceased Amado G. Garcia and the appointment of special administratrix over the
Page 30 of 38
latter's estate be approved and authorized and the Court of First Instance of Laguna be On 25 February 1964 Senator Mariano Jesus Cuenco died at the Manila Doctors'
disauthorized from continuing with the case and instead be required to transfer all the Hospital, Manila. He was survived by his widow, the herein petitioner, and their two (2)
records thereof to the Court of First Instance of Quezon City for the continuation of the minor sons, Mariano Jesus, Jr. and Jesus Salvador, both surnamed Cuenco, all residing
proceedings. at 69 Pi y Margal St., Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City, and by his children of the first
marriage, respondents herein, namely, Manuel Cuenco, Lourdes Cuenco, Concepcion
6. Accordingly, the Order of Judge Ernani Cruz Pano of December 17, 1975, granting the Cuenco Manguera, Carmen Cuenco, Consuelo Cuenco Reyes and Teresita Cuenco
"Urgent Petition for Authority to Pay Estate Obligations" filed by Preciosa B. Garcia in Gonzales, all of legal age and residing in Cebu.
Sp. Proc. No. Q-19738, subject matter of G.R. No. L-42670, and ordering the Canlubang
Sugar Estate to deliver to her as special administratrix the sum of P48,874.70 for On 5 March 1964, (the 9th day after the death of the late Senator)1 respondent Lourdes
payment of the sum of estate obligations is hereby upheld. Cuenco filed a Petition for Letters of Administration with the court of first instance of
Cebu (Sp. Proc. No. 2433-R), alleging among other things, that the late senator
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petitions of petitioner Virginia Garcia Fule in G.R. died intestate in Manila on 25 February 1964; that he was a resident of Cebu at the time
No. L-40502 and in G.R. No. L42670 are hereby denied, with costs against petitioner. of his death; and that he left real and personal properties in Cebu and Quezon City. On
the same date, the Cebu court issued an order setting the petition for hearing on 10
April 1964, directing that due notice be given to all the heirs and interested persons,
SO ORDERED.
and ordering the requisite publication thereof at LA PRENSA, a newspaper of general
circulation in the City and Province of Cebu.

The aforesaid order, however, was later suspended and cancelled and a new and
modified one released on 13 March 1964, in view of the fact that the petition was to be
heard at Branch II instead of Branch I of the said Cebu court. On the same date, a third
G.R. No. L-24742 October 26, 1973 order was further issued stating that respondent Lourdes Cuenco's petition for the
appointment of a special administrator dated 4 March 1964 was not yet ready for the
ROSA CAYETANO CUENCO, petitioners, consideration of the said court, giving as reasons the following:
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THIRD DIVISION, MANUEL CUENCO, It will be premature for this Court to act thereon, it not having yet
LOURDES CUENCO, CONCEPCION CUENCO MANGUERRA, CARMEN CUENCO, regularly acquired jurisdiction to try this proceeding, the requisite
CONSUELO CUENCO REYES, and TERESITA CUENCO GONZALEZ, respondents. publication of the notice of hearing not yet having been complied
with. Moreover, copies of the petition have not been served on all of
Ambrosio Padilla Law Office for petitioner. the heirs specified in the basic petition for the issuance of letters of
administration.2
Jalandoni and Jamir for respondents.
In the meantime, or specifically on 12 March 1964, (a week after the filing of the Cebu
petition) herein petitioner Rosa Cayetano Cuenco filed a petition with the court of first
instance of Rizal (Quezon City) for the probate of the deceased's last will and
testament and for the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor, as the surviving
TEEHANKEE, J.: widow and executrix in the said last will and testament. The said proceeding was
docketed as Special Proceeding No. Q-7898.
Petition for certiorari to review the decision of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
No. 34104-R, promulgated 21 November 1964, and its subsequent Resolution Having learned of the intestate proceeding in the Cebu court, petitioner Rosa Cayetano
promulgated 8 July 1964 denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration. Cuenco filed in said Cebu court an Opposition and Motion to Dismiss, dated 30 March
1964, as well as an Opposition to Petition for Appointment of Special Administrator,
The pertinent facts which gave rise to the herein petition follow: dated 8 April 1964. On 10 April 1964, the Cebu court issued an order holding in
abeyance its resolution on petitioner's motion to dismiss "until after the Court of First
Instance of Quezon City shall have acted on the petition for probate of that document
Page 31 of 38
purporting to be the last will and testament of the deceased Don Mariano Jesus his home or which appears to be the center of his affairs. The
Cuenco."3 Such order of the Cebu court deferring to the probate proceedings in the petitioner, in thus filing the instant petition before this Court,
Quezon City court was neither excepted to nor sought by respondents to be follows the first choice of residence of the decedent and once this
reconsidered or set aside by the Cebu court nor did they challenge the same court acquires jurisdiction of the probate proceeding it is to the
by certiorari or prohibition proceedings in the appellate courts. exclusion of all others.5

Instead, respondents filed in the Quezon City court an Opposition and Motion to Respondent Lourdes Cuenco's motion for reconsideration of the Quezon City court's
Dismiss, dated 10 April 1964, opposing probate of the will and assailing the jurisdiction said order of 11 April 1964 asserting its exclusive jurisdiction over the probate
of the said Quezon City court to entertain petitioner's petition for probate and for proceeding as deferred to by the Cebu court was denied on 27 April 1964 and a second
appointment as executrix in Sp. Proc. No. Q-7898 in view of the alleged exclusive motion for reconsideration dated 20 May 1964 was likewise denied.
jurisdiction vested by her petition in the Cebu court in Sp. Proc. No. 2433-R. Said
respondent prayed that Sp. Proc. No. Q-7898 be dismissed for lack of On 11 May 1964, pursuant to its earlier order of 11 April 1964, the hearing for probate of
jurisdiction and/or improper venue. the last will of the decedent was called three times at half-hour intervals, but
notwithstanding due notification none of the oppositors appeared and the Quezon City
In its order of 11 April 1964, the Quezon City court denied the motion to dismiss, giving court proceeded at 9:00 a.m. with the hearing in their absence.
as a principal reason the "precedence of probate proceeding over an intestate
proceeding."4 The said court further found in said order that the residence of the late As per the order issued by it subsequently on 15 May 1964, the Quezon City court noted
senator at the time of his death was at No. 69 Pi y Margal, Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon that respondents-oppositors had opposed probate under their opposition and motion
City. The pertinent portion of said order follows: to dismiss on the following grounds:

On the question of residence of the decedent, paragraph 5 of the (a) That the will was not executed and attested as required by law;
opposition and motion to dismiss reads as follows: "that since the
decedent Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco was a resident of the City of
(b) That the will was procured by undue and improper pressure and
Cebu at the time of his death, the aforesaid petition filed by Rosa
influence on the part of the beneficiary or some other persons for his
Cayetano Cuenco on 12 March 1964 was not filed with the proper
benefit;
Court (wrong venue) in view of the provisions of Section 1 of Rule 73
of the New Rules of Court ...". From the aforequoted allegation, the
Court is made to understand that the oppositors do not mean to say (c) That the testator's signature was procured by fraud and/or that
that the decedent being a resident of Cebu City when he died, the the testator acted by mistake and did not intend that the instrument
intestate proceedings in Cebu City should prevail over the probate he signed should be his will at the time he affixed his signature
proceedings in Quezon City, because as stated above the probate of thereto.6
the will should take precedence, but that the probate proceedings
should be filed in the Cebu City Court of First Instance. If the last The Quezon City court further noted that the requisite publication of the notice of the
proposition is the desire of the oppositors as understood by this hearing had been duly complied with and that all the heirs had been duly notified of
Court, that could not also be entertained as proper because the hearing, and after receiving the testimony of the three instrumental witnesses to
paragraph 1 of the petition for the probate of the will indicates the decedent's last will, namely Atty. Florencio Albino, Dr. Guillermo A. Picache and
that Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco at the time of his death was a resident Dr. Jose P. Ojeda, and of the notary public, Atty. Braulio A. Arriola, Jr., who ratified the
of Quezon City at 69 Pi y Margal. Annex A (Last Will and Testament said last will, and the documentary evidence (such as the decedent's residence
of Mariano Jesus Cuenco) of the petition for probate of the will certificates, income tax return, diplomatic passport, deed of donation) all indicating
shows that the decedent at the time when he executed his Last Will that the decedent was a resident of 69 Pi y Margal St., Quezon City, as also affirmed by
clearly stated that he is a resident of 69 Pi y Margal, Sta. Mesa him in his last will, the Quezon City court in its said order of 15 May 1964 admitted to
Heights, Quezon City, and also of the City of Cebu. He made the probate the late senator's last will and testament as having been "freely and voluntarily
former as his first choice and the latter as his second choice of executed by the testator" and "with all formalities of the law" and appointed petitioner-
residence." If a party has two residences, the one will be deemed or widow as executrix of his estate without bond "following the desire of the testator" in
presumed to his domicile which he himself selects or considers to be his will as probated.

Page 32 of 38
Instead of appealing from the Quezon City court's said order admitting the will to Proceeding Q-7898 pending before the said respondent court. All
probate and naming petitioner-widow as executrix thereof, respondents filed a special orders heretofore issued and actions heretofore taken by said
civil action of certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction with respondent respondent court and respondent Judge, therein and connected
Court of Appeals (docketed as case CA-G.R. No. 34104-R) to bar the Rizal court from therewith, are hereby annulled. The writ of injunction heretofore
proceeding with case No. Q-7898. issued is hereby made permanent. No pronouncement as to costs.

On 21 November 1964, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision in favor of respondents Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a resolution of respondent Court
(petitioners therein) and against the herein petitioner, holding that: of Appeals, dated 8 July 1965; hence the herein petition for review on certiorari.

Section 1, Rule 73, which fixes the venue in proceedings for the The principal and decisive issue at bar is, theretofore, whether the appellate court erred
settlement of the estate of a deceased person, covers both testate and in law in issuing the writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court ordering it to
intestate proceedings. Sp. Proc. 2433-R of the Cebu CFI having been refrain perpetually from proceeding with the testateproceedings and annulling and
filed ahead, it is that court whose jurisdiction was first invoked and setting aside all its orders and actions, particularly its admission to probate of the
which first attached. It is that court which can properly and decedent's last will and testament and appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof
exclusively pass upon the factual issues of (1) whether the decedent without bond in compliance with the testator's express wish in his testament. This
left or did not leave a valid will, and (2) whether or not the decedent issue is tied up with the issue submitted to the appellate court, to wit, whether the
was a resident of Cebu at the time of his death. Quezon City court acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in taking
cognizance and assuming exclusive jurisdiction over the probate proceedings filed with
Considering therefore that the first proceeding was instituted in the it, in pursuance of the Cebu court's order of 10 April 1964 expressly consenting in
Cebu CFI (Special Proceeding 2433-R), it follows that the said court deference to the precedence of probate over intestate proceedings that it (the Quezon
must exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of the Rizal CFI, in which City court) should first act "on the petition for probate of the document purporting to
the petition for probate was filed by the respondent Rosa Cayetano be the last will and testament of the deceased Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco" - which
Cuenco (Special Proceeding Q-7898). The said respondent should order of the Cebu court respondents never questioned nor challenged by prohibition
assert her rights within the framework of the proceeding in the Cebu or certiorari proceedings and thus enabled the Quezon City court to proceed without
CFI, instead of invoking the jurisdiction of another court. any impediment or obstruction, once it denied respondent Lourdes Cuenco's motion to
dismiss the probate proceeding for alleged lack of jurisdiction or improper venue,
to proceed with the hearing of the petition and to admit the will to probate upon having
The respondents try to make capital of the fact that on March 13,
been satisfied as to its due execution and authenticity.
1964, Judge Amador Gomez of the Cebu CFI, acting in Sp. Proc. 2433-
R, stated that the petition for appointment of special administrator
was "not yet ready for the consideration of the Court today. It would The Court finds under the above-cited facts that the appellate court erred in law in
be premature for this Court to act thereon, it not having yet regularly issuing the writ of prohibition against the Quezon City court from proceeding with the
acquired jurisdiction to try this proceeding ... . " It is sufficient to testate proceedings and annulling and setting aside all its orders and actions,
state in this connection that the said judge was certainly not particularly its admission to probate of the deceased's last will and testament and
referring to the court's jurisdiction over the res, not to jurisdiction appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof without bond pursuant to the
itself which is acquired from the moment a petition is filed, but only deceased testator's express wish, for the following considerations: —
to the exercise of jurisdiction in relation to the stage of the
proceedings. At all events, jurisdiction is conferred and determined 1. The Judiciary Act7 concededly confers original jurisdiction upon all Courts of First
by law and does not depend on the pronouncements of a trial judge. Instance over "all matter of probate, both of testate and intestate estates." On the other
hand, Rule 73, section of the Rules of Court lays down the rule of venue, as the very
The dispositive part of respondent appellate court's judgment provided as follows: caption of the Rule indicates, and in order to prevent conflict among the different
courts which otherwise may properly assume jurisdiction from doing so, the Rule
specifies that "the court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a
ACCORDINGLY, the writ of prohibition will issue, commanding and
decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts." The cited Rule
directing the respondent Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IX,
provides:
Quezon City, and the respondent Judge Damaso B. Tengco to refrain
perpetually from proceeding and taking any action in Special
Page 33 of 38
Section 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is and jurisdiction over the subject matter is another. (Attorney-
an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a General vs. Manila Railroad Company, 20 Phil. 523.) The law of
citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration jurisdiction — Act No. 136, 11Section 56, No. 5 — confers upon Courts
granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the of First Instance jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of
Province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an the place of residence of the deceased. Since, however, there are
inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of the many courts of First Instance in the Philippines, the Law of
province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of Procedure, Act No. 190, section 600, fixes the venue or the place
the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise where each case shall be brought. Thus, the place of residence of
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction the deceased is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject-matter
assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence, of but merely of venue. And it is upon this ground that in the new Rules
the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested of Court the province where the estate of a deceased person shall be
in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the settled is properly called "venue".
original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.
(Rule 73)8 It should be noted that the Rule on venue does not state that the court with whom the
estate or intestate petition is first filed acquires exclusive jurisdiction.
It is equally conceded that the residence of the deceased or the location of his estate
is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue. This was The Rule precisely and deliberately provides that "the court first taking cognizance of
lucidly stated by the late Chief Justice Moran in Sy Oa vs. Co Ho9 as follows: the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of
all other courts."
We are not unaware of existing decisions to the effect that in probate
cases the place of residence of the deceased is regarded as a question A fair reading of the Rule — since it deals with venue and comity between courts of
of jurisdiction over the subject-matter. But we decline to follow this equal and co-ordinate jurisdiction — indicates that the court with whom the petition is
view because of its mischievous consequences. For instance, a first filed, must also first take cognizance of the settlement of the estate in order
probate case has been submitted in good faith to the Court of First to exercise jurisdiction over it to the exclusion of all other courts.
Instance of a province where the deceased had not resided. All the
parties, however, including all the creditors, have submitted
Conversely, such court, may upon learning that a petition for probate of the decedent's
themselves to the jurisdiction of the court and the case is therein
last will has been presented in another court where the decedent obviously had his
completely finished except for a claim of a creditor who also
conjugal domicile and resided with his surviving widow and their minor children, and
voluntarily filed it with said court but on appeal from an adverse
that the allegation of the intestate petition before it stating that the decedent
decision raises for the first time in this Court the question of
died intestatemay be actually false, may decline to take cognizance of the petition and
jurisdiction of the trial court for lack of residence of the deceased in
hold the petition before it in abeyance, and instead defer to the second court which has
the province. If we consider such question of residence as one
before it the petition for probate of the decedent's alleged last will.
affecting the jurisdiction of the trial court over the subject-matter,
the effect shall be that the whole proceedings including all
decisions on the different incidents which have arisen in court will 2. This exactly what the Cebu court did. Upon petitioner-widow's filing with it a motion
have to be annulled and the same case will have to be commenced to dismiss Lourdes' intestate petition, it issued its order holding in abeyance its action
anew before another court of the same rank in another province. on the dismissal motion and deferred to the Quezon City court, awaiting its action on
That this is of mischievous effect in the prompt administration of the petition for probate before that court. Implicit in the Cebu court's order was that if
justice is too obvious to require comment. (Cf. Tanunchuan vs. Dy the will was duly admitted to probate, by the Quezon City court, then it would
Buncio & Co., G.R. No. 48206, December 31, 1942) Furthermore, definitely decline to take cognizance of Lourdes' intestate petition which would thereby
section 600 of Act No. 190, 10 providing that the estate of a deceased be shown to be false and improper, and leave the exercise of jurisdiction to the Quezon
person shall be settled in the province where he had last resided, City court, to the exclusion of all other courts. Likewise by its act of deference, the Cebu
could not have been intended as defining the jurisdiction of the court left it to the Quezon City court to resolve the question between the parties
probate court over the subject-matter, because such legal provision whether the decedent's residence at the time of his death was in Quezon City where he
is contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with procedural had his conjugal domicile rather than in Cebu City as claimed by respondents. The
matters, and, as we have said time and again, procedure is one thing Cebu court thus indicated that it would decline to take cognizance of
Page 34 of 38
the intestate petition before it and instead defer to the Quezon City court, unless the a court of first instance it is found that the decedent had left a last will,
latter would make a negative finding as to the probate petition and the residence of the proceedings for the probate of the latter should replace the intestate
decedent within its territory and venue. proceedings even if at that state an administrator had already been
appointed, the latter being required to render final account and turn
3. Under these facts, the Cebu court could not be held to have acted without over the estate in his possession to the executor subsequently
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of jurisdiction in declining to take cognizance of appointed. This however, is understood to be without prejudice that
the intestate petition and deferring to the Quezon City court. should the alleged last will be rejected or is disapproved, the
proceeding shall continue as an intestacy. As already adverted to, this
is a clear indication that proceedings for the probate of a will enjoy
Necessarily, neither could the Quezon City court be deemed to have acted without
priority over intestate proceedings. 14
jurisdiction in taking cognizance of and acting on the probate petition since under Rule
73, section 1, the Cebu court must first take cognizance over the estate of the decedent
and must exercise jurisdiction to exclude all other courts, which the Cebu court The Court likewise therein upheld the jurisdiction of the second court, (in this case, the
declined to do. Furthermore, as is undisputed, said rule only lays down a rule Quezon City court) although opining that certain considerations therein "would seem
of venue and the Quezon City court indisputably had at least equal and to support the view that [therein respondent] should have submitted said will for
coordinate jurisdiction over the estate. probate to the Negros Court, [in this case, the Cebu court] either in a separate special
proceeding or in an appropriate motion for said purpose filed in the already pending
Special Proceeding No. 6344," 15 thus:
Since the Quezon City court took cognizance over the probate petition before it
and assumed jurisdiction over the estate, with the consent and deference of the Cebu
court, the Quezon City court should be left now, by the same rule of venue of said Rule But the fact is that instead of the aforesaid will being presented for probate to the
73, to exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. Negros Court, Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed the petition for the purpose with the Manila
Court. We can not accept petitioner's contention in this regard that the latter court had
no jurisdiction to consider said petition, albeit we say that it was not the proper
Under the facts of the case and where respondents submitted to the Quezon City court
venuetherefor.
their opposition to probate of the will, but failed to appear at the scheduled hearing
despite due notice, the Quezon City court cannot be declared, as the appellate court
did, to have acted without jurisdiction in admitting to probate the decedent's will and It is well settled in this jurisdiction that wrong venue is merely
appointing petitioner-widow as executrix thereof in accordance with the a waivable procedural defect, and, in the light of the circumstances
testator's testamentary disposition. obtaining in the instant case, we are of the opinion, and so hold, that
petitioner has waived the right to raise such objection or is precluded
from doing so by laches. It is enough to consider in this connection
4. The relatively recent case of Uriarte vs. Court of First Instance of Negros
that petitioner knew of the existence of a will executed by Juan
Occidental 12 with facts analogous to the present case 13 is authority against respondent
Uriarte y Goite since December 19, 1961 when Higinio Uriarte filed
appellate court's questioned decision.
his opposition to the initial petition filed in Special Proceeding No.
6344; that petitioner likewise was served with notice of the existence
In said case, the Court upheld the doctrine of precedence of probate proceedings over (presence) of the alleged last will in the Philippines and of the filing
intestate proceedings in this wise: of the petition for its probate with the Manila Court since August 28,
1962 when Juan Uriarte Zamacona filed a motion for the dismissal of
It can not be denied that a special proceeding intended to effect the Special Proceeding No. 6344. All these notwithstanding, it was only
distribution of the estate of a deceased person, whether in on April 15, 1963 that he filed with the Manila Court in Special
accordance with the law on intestate succession or in accordance Proceeding No. 51396 an Omnibus motion asking for leave to
with his will, is a "probate matter" or a proceeding for the settlement intervene and for the dismissal and annulment of all the proceedings
of his estate. It is equally true, however, that in accordance with had therein up to that date; thus enabling the Manila Court not only
settled jurisprudence in this jurisdiction, testate proceedings for the to appoint an administrator with the will annexed but also to admit
settlement of the estate of a deceased person take precedence over said will to probate more than five months earlier, or more
intestate proceedings for the same purpose. Thus it has been held specifically, on October 31, 1962. To allow him now to assail the
repeatedly that, if in the course of intestate proceedings pending before exercise of jurisdiction over the probate of the will by the Manila

Page 35 of 38
Court and the validity of all the proceedings had in Special In the case at bar, however, the Cebu court declined to take cognizance of
Proceeding No. 51396 would put a premium on his negligence. the intestate petition first filed with it and deferred to the testate proceedings filed with
Moreover, it must be remembered that this Court is not inclined to the Quezon City court and in effect asked the Quezon City court to determine the
annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter residence of the decedent and whether he did leave a last will and testament upon
was not the proper venue therefor, if the net result would be to have which would depend the proper venue of the estate proceedings, Cebu or Quezon City.
the same proceedings repeated in some other court of similar The Quezon City court having thus determined in effect for both courts — at the
jurisdiction; more so in a case like the present where the objection behest and with the deference and consent of the Cebu court — that Quezon City was
against said proceedings is raised too late. 16 the actual residence of the decedent who died testate and therefore the proper venue,
the Borja ruling would seem to have no applicability. It would not serve the practical
5. Under Rule 73, section 1 itself, the Quezon City ends of justice to still require the Cebu court, if the Borja ruling is to be held applicable
court's assumption of jurisdiction over the decedent's estate on the basis of the will duly and as indicated in the decision under review, to determine for itself the actual
presented for probate by petitioner-widow and finding that Quezon City was the residence of the decedent (when the Quezon City court had already so determined
first choiceof residence of the decedent, who had his conjugal home and domicile Quezon City as the actual residence at the Cebu court's behest and respondents have
therein — with the deference in comity duly given by the Cebu court — could not be not seriously questioned this factual finding based on documentary evidence) and if the
contested except by appeal from said court in the original case. The last paragraph of Cebu court should likewise determine Quezon City as the actual residence, or its
said Rule expressly provides: contrary finding reversed on appeal, only then to allow petitioner-widow after years of
waiting and inaction to institute the corresponding proceedings in Quezon City.
... 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, 7. With more reason should the Quezon City proceedings be upheld when it is taken
shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal into consideration that Rule 76, section 2 requires that the petition for allowance of a
from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction will must show: "(a) the jurisdictional facts." Such "jurisdictional facts" in probate
appears on the record. (Rule 73) proceedings, as held by the Court in Fernando vs. Crisostomo 18 " are the death of the
decedent, his residence at the time of his death in the province where the probate court
is sitting, or if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, his having left his estate in such
The exception therein given, viz, "when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record"
province."
could probably be properly invoked, had such deference in comity of the Cebu court to
the Quezon City court not appeared in the record, or had the record otherwise shown
that the Cebu court had taken cognizance of the petition before it and assumed This tallies with the established legal concept as restated by Moran that
jurisdiction. "(T)he probate of a will is a proceeding in rem. The notice by publication as a pre-
requisite to the allowance of a will, is a constructive notice to the whole world, and
when probate is granted, the judgment of the court is binding upon everybody, even
6. On the question that Quezon City established to be the residence of the late senator,
against the State. The probate of a will by a court having jurisdiction thereof is conclusive
the appellate court while recognizing that "the issue is a legitimate one" held in reliance
as to its due execution and validity." 19 The Quezon City court acted regularly within its
on Borja vs. Tan 17 that.
jurisdiction (even if it were to be conceded that Quezon City was not the proper venue
notwithstanding the Cebu court's giving way and deferring to it,) in admitting the
... The issue of residence comes within the competence of whichever decedent's last will to probate and naming petitioner-widow as executrix thereof.
court is considered to prevail in the exercise jurisdiction - in this Hence, the Quezon city court's action should not be set aside by a writ of prohibition
case, the Court of First Instance of Cebu as held by this Court. for supposed lack of jurisdiction as per the appellate court's appealed decision, and
Parenthetically, we note that the question of the residence of the should instead be sustained in line with Uriarte, supra, where the Court, in dismissing
deceased is a serious one, requiring both factual and legal resolution the certiorari petition challenging the Manila court's action admitting the decedent's
on the basis of ample evidence to be submitted in the ordinary will to probate and distributing the estate in accordance therewith in
course of procedure in the first instance, particularly in view of the the second proceeding, held that "it must be remembered that this Court is not inclined
fact that the deceased was better known as the Senator from Cebu to annul proceedings regularly had in a lower court even if the latter was not the proper
and the will purporting to be his also gives Cebu, besides Quezon venue therefor, if the net result would be to have the same proceedings repeated in some
City, as his residence. We reiterate that this matter requires airing in other court of similar jurisdiction." As stressed by Chief Justice Moran in Sy Oa, supra,
the proper court, as so indicated in the leading and controlling case "the mischievous effect in the administration of justice" of considering the question
of Borja vs. Hon. Bienvenido Tan, et al., G.R. L-7792, July 27, 1955. of residence as affecting the jurisdiction of the trial court and annulling the whole
Page 36 of 38
proceedings only to start all over again the same proceedings before another court of consent of the Cebu court, such proper exercise of jurisdiction would be nullified and
the same rank in another province "is too obvious to require comment." petitioner would have to continually leave her residence in Quezon City and go to Cebu
to settle and liquidate even her own community property and conjugal estate with the
8. If the question of jurisdiction were to be made to depend only on who of the decedent.
decedent's relatives gets first to file a petition for settlement of the decedent's estate,
then the established jurisprudence of the Court that Rule 73, section 1 provides only a 10. The Court therefore holds under the facts of record that the Cebu court did not act
rule of venue in order to preclude different courts which may properly without jurisdiction nor with grave abuse of discretion in declining to take cognizance of
assume jurisdiction from doing so and creating conflicts between them to the detriment the intestate petition and instead deferring to the testateproceedings filed just a week
of the administration of justice, and that venue is waivable, would be set at naught. As later by petitioner as surviving widow and designated executrix of the decedent's last
between relatives who unfortunately do not see eye to eye, it would be converted into a will, since the record before it (the petitioner's opposition and motion to dismiss)
race as to who can file the petition faster in the court of his/her choice regardless of showed the falsity of the allegation in the intestate petition that the decedent had
whether the decedent is still in cuerpo presente and in disregard of the decedent's died without a will. It is noteworthy that respondents never challenged by certiorari or
actual last domicile, the fact that he left a last will and testament and the right of his prohibition proceedings the Cebu court's order of 10 April 1964 deferring to the probate
surviving widow named as executrix thereof. Such dire consequences were certainly not proceedings before the Quezon City court, thus leaving the latter free (pursuant to the
intended by the Rule nor would they be in consonance with public policy and the Cebu court's order of deference) to exercise jurisdiction and admit the decedent's will to
orderly administration of justice. probate.

9. It would finally be unjust and inequitable that petitioner-widow, who under all the For the same reasons, neither could the Quezon City court be held to have acted without
applicable rules of venue, and despite the fact that the Cebu court (where respondent jurisdiction nor with grave abuse of discretion in admitting the decedent's will to
Lourdes Cuenco had filed an intestate petition in the Cebu court earlier by a week's probate and appointing petitioner as executrix in accordance with its testamentary
time on 5 March 1964) deferred to the Quezon City court where petitioner had within disposition, in the light of the settled doctrine that the provisions of Rule 73, section 1
fifteen days (on March 12, 1964) after the decedent's death (on February 25, 1964) timely lay down only a rule of venue, not of jurisdiction.
filed the decedent's last will and petitioned for letters testamentary and is admittedly
entitled to preference in the administration of her husband's estate, 20 would be Since respondents undisputedly failed to appeal from the Quezon City court's order of
compelled under the appealed decision to have to go all the way to Cebu and submit May 15, 1964 admitting the will to probate and appointing petitioner as executrix
anew the decedent's will there for probate either in a new proceeding or by asking that thereof, and said court concededly has jurisdiction to issue said order, the said order of
the intestate proceedings be convertedinto a testate proceeding — when under the probate has long since become final and can not be overturned in a special civic action of
Rules, the proper venue for the testate proceedings, as per the facts of record and as prohibition.
already affirmed by the Quezon City court is Quezon City, where the decedent and
petitioner-widow had their conjugal domicile.
11. Finally, it should be noted that in the Supreme Court's exercise of its supervisory
authority over all inferior courts, 22 it may properly determine, as it has done in the case
It would be an unfair imposition upon petitioner as the one named and entitled to be at bar, that venue was properly assumed by and transferredto the Quezon City court and
executrix of the decedent's last will and settle his estate in accordance therewith, and a that it is the interest of justice and in avoidance of needless delay that the Quezon City
disregard of her rights under the rule on venue and the law on jurisdiction to require court's exercise of jurisdiction over the testate estate of the decedent (with the due
her to spend much more time, money and effort to have to go from Quezon City to the deference and consent of the Cebu court) and its admission to probate of his last will
Cebu court everytime she has an important matter of the estate to take up with the and testament and appointment of petitioner-widow as administratrix without bond in
probate court. pursuance of the decedent's express will and all its orders and actions taken in the
testate proceedings before it be approved and authorized rather than to annul all such
It would doubly be an unfair imposition when it is considered that under Rule 73, proceedings regularly had and to repeat and duplicate the same proceedings before the
section 2, 21 since petitioner's marriage has been dissolved with the death of her Cebu court only to revert once more to the Quezon City court should the Cebu court
husband, their community property and conjugal estate have to be administered and find that indeed and in fact, as already determined by the Quezon City court on the
liquidated in the estate proceedings of the deceased spouse. Under the appealed decision, strength of incontrovertible documentary evidence of record, Quezon City was the
notwithstanding that petitioner resides in Quezon City, and the proper venue of conjugal residence of the decedent.
the testate proceeding was in Quezon City and the Quezon City court properly took
cognizance and exercised exclusive jurisdiction with the deference in comity and

Page 37 of 38
ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered reversing the appealed decision and
resolution of the Court of Appeals and the petition for certiorari and prohibition with
preliminary injunction originally filed by respondents with the Court of Appeals (CA-
G.R. No. 34104-R) is ordered dismissed. No costs.

Page 38 of 38

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